Review: Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren

Title: Waterfall (River of Time #1)

Author: Lisa T. Bergren

Publisher: David C. Cook

Format: ebook ($.7.39) Paperback ($9.99)

Length:  384 pages

Release Date: February 1, 2011

Genre: young adult historical romance, time travel

Available at: AmazonBarnes & NobleDavid C. Cook

Summary: Gabi and Lia Betarrini are used to traveling the world with their archaeologist parents. They’ve spent summers in Italy ever since they can remember, but since their father’s death, their mother has thrown herself even more into her work. Her latest discovery brings them to ancient Etruscan tombs. Even though they know it’s off-limits, the two girls sneak into one of the tombs while their mother is pre-occupied. Inside they find handprints painted on the cold stone wall, but the handprints are warm to their touch, and when both girls touch the prints at the same time they are sent careening back through time into the 14th century, where they find themselves in the middle of a medieval skirmish for territory.

The problem is they land in that time a few days apart, so they have to find each other again. With two warring families fighting over that territory, it becomes a difficult prospect. Add to that an incredibly good-looking medieval lord with a jealous fiancee’, an evil rival lord who would love nothing more than to take over their castle, some well-played strategies, and two vicious she-wolves. They’ll be lucky if they can make it back to their own time in one piece!

Review: It keeps you fully occupied from start to finish. So action-packed! It’s written in first person, so you get an in-depth view of the main character and all the challenges she goes through that help her grow into her role as the savior of Siena. The plot keeps moving, never a moment for Gabi to rest. There were a few places I would have liked more description, a few places there was more telling than showing, but then again, the story was moving at a steady pace and the extra description might have interrupted the rhythm.

Recommendation: It is a great book for any age group if you like adventure. A little romance, but nothing you wouldn’t want your eleven year old to see. Good clean fiction. Loved it! Gotta give it five quills:

Five Quills

 

This is the first of three novels in the series, plus there are two companion novellas. I’ve purchased all the others and have them waiting on my Kindle! Good stuff!

Review: His Chosen Bride by Sherry Gloag

His Chosen Bride by Sherry Gloag

Title: His Chosen Bride (Gasquet Princes #2)

Author: Sherry Gloag

Publisher: Astraea Press

Release Date: February 14, 2012

Pages: 98 pages

Format: ebook ($1.99)

Summary: Prince Henri is too busy running a country to worry about minor details like marriage. His father has been sick, and he has taken the reins in his more than capable hands. But his family is worried about him, and they all but force him to take a vacation.

Having no choice in the matter, Henri travels to his brother’s quiet country horse ranch. It’s there he sees Monica again.

He had met her before…at his brother’s wedding. And he knew then she would be trouble for him if he let her get too close. Now, thrown together by his well-meaning family, Henri has to fight his growing feelings for the mysterious, beautiful woman.

So much for letting his father choose his bride.

Review: This is a novella, so a pretty quick read. Henri is your typical work-a-holic with a twist. He’s the crown prince in line to inherit the throne. He acts the way you would expect him to when he finds out that he is being relieved of his royal duties and forced into taking a much needed vacation. He’s upset and takes it out on any likely scapegoat, in this case Monica.

Both characters are likable and well-written. The reader wants them to end up together from the beginning. There is good chemistry between the two main characters and the sense of duty on Henri’s side versus the sense Monica has of not fitting in anywhere provides a solid conflict they both believe to be insurmountable. It’ll keep you reading to the end.

There are a lot of flashbacks that can cause confusion if you’re not paying attention. Pair that with a few places near the end where significant time lapses occur, and the storyline can be a bit difficult to follow in certain parts. Not impossible, but challenging.

Recommendation: This is a sweet romance, so suitable for romance readers of all ages. It is the second book in a series, and it mentions characters and plot points from the first book, and I hadn’t read the first book. It is possible to read it out of sequence without feeling like you are missing critical pieces of the story, but I found that it made me want to read the first book to get in on the story of the secondary characters. I have added From Now Until Forever to my TBR list. Can’t wait to find out how Liam and Melanie got together. I give this one  three quills: Three Quills

Summer Lovin’ Giveaway Hop

Summer Lovin' Giveaway Hop

For this Summer Lovin’ Giveaway, a fun, light beach read:

Every Girl Does It by Rachel Van DykenEvery Girl Does It by Rachel Van Dyken

COVER BLURB:

Amanda turned down Preston’s prom invitation in front of her entire high school, but that was eight years ago.

Somehow, her past mistakes always have a way of catching up with her, and making her pay. Amanda’s sarcastic wit mixed with Preston’s insufferable ego make sparks fly in more than one way.

Preston, against his better judgment can’t fight the desire to get under Amanda’s skin and mercilessly tease her, but when that teasing becomes flirting, and flirting becomes something dangerously more, neither of them are prepared for the adventure that follows.

(This is classified as Christian romance)

~OR~

You might prefer the contemporary Regency-styled romance,

Compromising Kessen also by Rachel Van Dyken

COVER BLURB:

Compromising KessenThe last thing career-driven Kessen Newberry wants is to leave her home in Colorado to spend a Season in London, far away from her job, her friends and the memories of her mother. However, her father, the Earl of Newberry, threatens to disinherit her unless she gets in touch with her British roots. She complies, but has no intention of enjoying the experience.

That is until she meets Christian Vandenbrook, the arrogant and irritatingly handsome future Duke of Albany and her father’s business partner. Unfortunately, Christian hates Americans. And coffee. And apparently, Kessen.

A hatred this passionate can only lead to one thing… marriage.

Caught in the middle of a Regency-inspired nightmare, Kessen and Christian are forced to marry in only one week’s time. Resigned to their fate, the two resolve to give the relationship a chance—which would be much easier if everyone would stop interrupting them every time they found a moment alone.

The winner of this giveaway will receive her or his choice between these two ebooks. All you have to do to enter is FOLLOW my blog (upper left corner in the dashboard line) and then leave your following name and email in the comments. One winner will be chosen at random, notified and posted on July 18th.

THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING! Back to the linky list.

Review: Life on the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux

Life On the Edge by Jennifer Comeaux

Title: Life on the Edge

Author: Jennifer Comeaux

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: ebook ($2.99) Paperback ($12.99)

Length:  435 pages

Release Date: January 3, 2012

Genre: contemporary romance, sports fiction

Available at: AmazonBarnes & Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Emily Butler is a pairs figure skater with Olympic aspirations. It’s a life that revolves around the rink. Training all day every day to become the best of the best. With so little time to spend socially with anyone outside of the skating world, it is natural that her circle of friends consists of only other skaters. When Emily starts to spend time outside the rink with her coach, a young Russian man who used to be a champion pairs skater in his own right, she finds she has a lot more in common with him than just skating.

The two struggle with their growing feelings for one another. Relationships between coaches and skaters are frowned upon and can cause Emily’s Olympic dreams to grind to a screeching halt. And not just hers. Crossing that line can do more damage than any of them are willing to admit.

Review: I love the level-headed yet innocent Emily, who tries to fight her feelings for Sergei. A losing battle, of course. And Sergei, a man with integrity, though still mysterious, is willing to risk everything for Emily. Two well-developed characters the reader can fall in love with. The life of a skater was shown in living color. All the work that goes into preparing for the Olympics. How one wrong move in a competition can crush those dreams and the emotional roller coaster of the competitors. Jennifer Comeaux is a talented writer with true voice.

Recommendation: Though I’m not necessarily a fan of figure skating, this book was a wonderful love story and well worth the time and money spent. Clean with strong values exhibited. Good for anyone who loves a good clean romance. Loved it! I give it five quills.

Five Quills

Looking forward to the sequel!

Review: Wildflowers from Winter by Katie Ganshert

Wildflowers from Winter

Title: Wildflowers from Winter

Author: Katie Ganshert

Publisher: WaterBrook Press

Format: Paperback (ARC) $9.99

Length: 314 pages

Release Date: May 8, 2012

Genre: Christian romance, Inspirational

Available at: Amazon, Christianbooks, WaterBrook, Barnes & Noble

Summary: Bethany Quinn finally has the life she always wanted. A relationship with a successful lawyer which seemed to be moving forward. A good job with a prestigious architectural firm in Chicago, nice car, expensive clothes, fabulous apartment. A far cry from the broken down trailer and second-hand clothes she knew as a girl. Far away from the small town life she hated. Far away from the memories of her childhood tragedy. Everything is perfect. Just the way she always wanted it to be.

Then everything starts to fall apart, and the small town she was certain she had left behind for good starts to reel her back in, kicking and screaming.

Evan Price knows Bethany’s grandfather better than she does, so when she shows up to care for him after the heart attack, he is understandably resistant to the intrusion. After all, she hadn’t been to visit the man in the entire five years Evan had lived and worked with him. Now she waltzes in with her designer clothes and fancy car, thinking she can make up for years of silence. He is certain she has no concern for anyone but herself. Anyone who can leave her family and best friends without so much as a word has to be a horrible person. So why does he find himself mysteriously drawn to her?

Review: I love the way the author wove this story from start to finish, including powerful and inspirational themes that carry a message of freedom and renewal. Even though it seemed like tragedy was following tragedy for each of the three main characters, the way every one of those tragedies came together to draw each of the characters to where God wanted them to be demonstrated how God can work everything out for his perfect purpose. What was awesome was that it didn’t seem overly preachy, but more as a natural proof of how He draws us to himself, even in the midst of pain we think will never end. Like the way abundant wildflowers follow the harshest winter. Love that.

The characters were true-to-life in the way they reacted and handled themselves when faced with all their personal trials, which made the development of the relationships among them progress in a way that made perfect sense. Bethany’s buried anger and bitterness over her father’s death and the way her mother handled it, Evan’s loss of his brother and the impending loss of his dream life as a farmer, and the sudden death of Robin Price’s husband, leaving her to deal with life and a new pregnancy all alone.

Recommendation: This is a clean and inspirational story that deals with death, grief, faith, renewal, and love. It’s a well developed plot with real conflicts that deal with the human condition. If you’re in the mood for a light read, this wouldn’t be a good choice for you. But if you are looking for something meaningful and moving, Wildflowers from Winter is definitely worthy of a good look. In fact, it’s worthy of five quills in my book.

Five Quills

I was given a free advanced reading copy of this book for my honest review by Blogging for Books.

For more information about the author, the book, or to read an excerpt check out the links below:
Author’s Bio                   More Info @ Book               Read an excerpt                 Author’s Site 

Review: The Redemption of Lord Rawlings by Rachel Van Dyken

The Redemption of Lord Rawlings

Title: The Redemption of Lord Rawlings

Author: Rachel Van Dyken

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book

Pages: 204 pages

Release Date: March 2012

Genre: Romance – Regency/Historical

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Lord Rawlings is in trouble. His inheritance comes with strings. He must get married before his next birthday or he loses everything. After having given up his chance with his former betrothed for a life of wild oats, he now finds himself with no money, no prospects and no hope.

And that’s where his only hope finds him. Down and out and sitting in the rain all alone in the park.

The problem? He still thinks of the young lady as the little girl in pigtails he used to know. And it’s up to her to change his perception of the situation. And all this amidst the public scrutiny of the revered Mrs. Peabody who seems to have it out for him.

Review: I was offered the opportunity to read this book before its release in order to give an honest review. This is the third book in the House of Renwick series. In both the first and second books Rawlings was an antagonist, and a bit of a slimeball at that. I was anxious to see how the author would develop her third protagonist into a character worthy of redemption, let alone deserving of his happily ever after.

Van Dyken did not disappoint. From the very beginning, the character development was well done. All Rawlings’ former rogue-ish qualities were shown to be steps on the way to that redemption. The heroine in this book was younger than the first two, and she often behaved like a spoiled child, but her growth also led her to maturity worthy of being Rawlings’ match.

The attraction between the two characters is undeniable, and the tension is built throughout the story through passionate interactions, though clean and sweet. I love this author’s ability to build the intensity of the relationship without crossing the line. Add to this, her usual knack for comedic wordplay, and you have a winning combination.

Recommendation: With every new release, Rachel Van Dyken’s books keep getting better and better. I was completely absorbed in Lord Rawlings’ story from start to finish, in spite of hating his guts after the first book and being on the fence about him after book two.  This is an enjoyable story, one of the best romances I’ve read in a while. I give it my highest rating:

Five Quills

The third book in The House of Renwick series is a don’t miss in the trilogy. And if you haven’t read The Ugly Duckling Debutante and The Seduction of Sebastian St. James, you should add them to your must read list.

Review: The Black Duke’s Prize by Suzanne Enoch

The Black Duke's Prize

Title: The Black Duke’s Prize

Author: Suzanne Enoch

Publisher: NYLA

Format: E-book ($2.99)

Length: novella

Release Date: November 23, 2011

Genre: Romance – Regency

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble

Summary: The Black Duke is a man with a temper who strikes fear in everyone who knows him. He does what he wants and pity the fool who gets in his way. In spite of his bad humor, he does have a close circle of friends who seem to tolerate him. A group of friends who take under their wing one Katherine Ralston, a young lady of considerable strong will herself — and the only one, it seems, who can put the Black Duke in his place and live to tell about it.

Katherine is the heiress to her deceased parents’ estate, but her uncle is in control of it until she comes of age. He sends her away to London for a Season to live with her godparents, while he secretly sells her inheritance off piece by piece. She suspects his motives and is determined to keep her property. But her plans are thwarted by her own godfather and the Black Duke himself…or so she believes. And in spite of her connection to her inheritance, she will have to choose between that and rescuing the man she loves.

Review: This is a well-written and clean romance novella. It was a quick read and sucked me in to the story line immediately. The plot was well-developed throughout. And the characters were both strong. Their evenly matched tempers made the tension mount steadily, which developed the relationship between them as well as set up the climax of the story. My least favorite thing about it was the double-antagonists, which is less a reflection on the writing and more a reflection of me as reader. I can only take so much confrontation. 🙂

Recommendation: What’s not to like? Great writing. Strong characters. Clean romance. Suspenseful twists and surprises. It’s easy to see why The Black Duke’s Prize has been a top-seller for such a long time. A very enjoyable read. I give this book four quills:

four quills

Review: Aegean Intrigue by Patricia Kiyono

Aegean Intrigue by Patricia Kiyono

Title: Aegean Intrigue

Author: Patricia Kiyono

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book ($1.99)

Pages: ? (Short story/Novella)

Release Date: February 1, 2012

Genre: Romance – Mystery

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press, Smashwords

Summary: Francie Vasileiou is a graduate student working on her PhD in archaeology in beautiful, culture-rich Greece. Raised by a famous archaeologist father and a famous actress mother, her life was anything but average. In spite of her mother’s plans for her future, she chose a life as an archaeologist– her true passion. Unfortunately, on every dig she is involved with, priceless artifacts have disappeared without explanation, leaving a dark cloud of suspicion on her integrity.

Enter Alex Leonidis, a tall handsome private investigator, hired by a wealthy man with interests in the latest dig site. His objective: to observe Francie closely in order to prove her involvement in the missing artifacts. His plan: to go undercover as a Project Director of the dig site. Alex observed her closely all right — drawn inexplicably to her beauty, her passion and her work ethic. He has a difficult time keeping his mind on his primary objective.

But artifacts are still disappearing. Is Francie the culprit? Or is it one of the other crew members — the old, absent-minded professor, the seemingly inept newbie who is always checking his phone, the crew cook? And what will happen when she finds out he’s been lying to her about who he really is?

Review: This story is one of those whose plot is so engaging you are drawn immediately in. It’s difficult not to want more when it’s so good but it ends so soon. As a short story, it can’t be judged by the same criteria as a full-length novel (though a longer format would have given the room to flesh out all the details of this amazing story).

I would have liked to see more development in the relationship between the two main characters, as most of it is brought about through the internal dialogue of the respective character and not as much through their interaction with one another. But overall, a very enjoyable read. As it is, there is romance, mystery, twists and turns, betrayal, reconciliation, and much more. It’s incredible how the author can pack so much into this story.

Recommendation: This a great book for an afternoon or evening read. You can read it in one sitting, and it keeps you intrigued from start to finish. I give Aegean Intrigue four quills.

four quills

I have The Legacy waiting on my Kindle to read. And I also recommend The Christmas Phoenix — a great Christmas novella.

Review: Minna and the Valentine by S.G. Rogers

Minna & the Valentine by S.G. Rogers

Title: Minna & the Valentine

Author: S.G. Rogers

Publisher: Astraea Press

Format: E-book ($1.99)

Pages: 64 pages

Release Date: January 31, 2012

Genre: Romance – Fantasy

Available at: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astraea Press

Summary: Minna’s father hates wizards, so Minna has had to keep her secret powers hidden from him. When the head of the wizard school and his protege show up on her doorstep asking for help to seal a rift in the fabric dividing alternate realities, Minna is forced to choose between saving the world and guarding her secret.

Minna and the wizard’s protege set off on their quest to retrieve the magic letter opener and repair the rift, but they get much more than they bargain for when they realize their destinies are connected inextricably on both sides of the rift.

Review: This a short read with a straightforward plot. It was light-hearted and clean, and fun to read. Since I hadn’t read anything from this author before, it gave me a small taste of what to expect from her longer works. As a short story or novella goes, it was well done. It focused on two main conflicts: the rift had to be fixed and the two main characters had to realize they were meant for each other.

If the author wanted to make this into a longer novel, it could easily be done. I definitely would read the longer version as well. It would give more time to develop both conflicts and build suspense. As it is, the characters and setting are well written and offer an enjoyable story, including some surprising twists along the way.

Recommendation: I haven’t read a whole lot of magic/fantasy. The genre makes me a little nervous, but S.G. Rogers did an excellent job with this story. I believe the primary age group is young adult here, but adults who enjoy fantasy will like this as well. A great book to read when you want something light, quick and fun. I give Minna & the Valentine four quills.

four quills