Flick by Keira Des Anges (review and author bio)

Flick.PDF.6.7.13_pic0001Flick is a beautifully written contemporary, coming-of-age paranormal work of fiction by Keira Des Anges. Following Leanna Matthews, a telekinetic whose ability it is to astral travel, Flick is full of great friendships and romance, and yet it subtley builds up to the horror and action that is to befall upon young Leanna.

Keira Des Anges immediately introduces the reader to Leanna, where we learn of her family life, her friendships and what she likes to do. Leanna is a good student, with some strong friendships in Melanie and Drew. She has a brother, Lionel, who she bonds with quite well at times – even if she isn’t comfortable to admit this straight away. And her Aunty Karen provides her with everything she could have hoped for had she had a sister. She could talk to Aunty Karen about everything, including her abilities even when she didn’t want to confide in others. Yes, Aunty Karen was her ‘soul mate’ in every way possible. But, Leanna’s life turned upside down when Karen was involved in a car accident and left in a coma.

Strangely enough, it was just before and around this point that Leanna had been having strange dreams of shadows and unsure if they were real or not. And then one day was the appearance of Simora, a spirit lady that began to warn Leanna of some kind of evil heading her way. What was this evil, and what did it want with Leanna?

Flick is set over the summer holidays and, whilst her parents are working/minding Aunty Karen, Leanna is at home with her brother. Her best friend Melanie is staying in the UK, whilst her friend Drew begins a job. After walking home, through her neighbourhood, Leanna meets up with gorgeous Piper, who longs to spend more time with her. Although her parents are a little against Leanna becoming involved with someone so early on, she is happy to spend her days with him, getting to know him in the park, especially as he is so nice and she is completely drawn to him.

However, Leanna keeps Piper a secret from all of her family and friends. She tells the odd white lie here and there to be with him. She completely forgets Simora’s warning of evil that is possibly waiting around the corner. Not only this but during a visit to her friend Drew’s house, Leanna uncovers the truth into why Drew and his gran have had very little visitors recently. Leanna wants to help their situation and yet Drew makes her promise not to tell. The last thing he wants is to be separated from his gran and made to live with his long aparted abusive father. This adds to the list of lies and secrets that she cannot open up to her parents, i.e. her powers, Piper and now Drew’s life with his gran.

Leanna is a very mature, sweet, family girl who would not wish to upset her parents or their faith in her. However, as she has to deal with situations that could affect the lives of those around her she chooses the option to lie with the thought of protecting them, especially in Drew’s case. However, Keira Des Anges makes some great examples of the consequences of lying and how that could result in far worse ways than if the character was to be open and honest.

I believe one of the story’s underlying messages is to encourage the reader, especially those in their adolescence, to tell the truth. Honesty would be the best policy – in Drew’s situation in particular. Wanting to live with gran for fear of having to go back to his dad, so when his gran had problems after his mum died he didn’t tell anyone.

As the story opens up, more and more is revealed and the reader is made aware of a different side to Piper. Is he keeping his own secrets from Leanna, and lying to her? Is Piper the one to bring the evil to her door? The reader certainly questions Piper’s motives and how trustworthy he is. I must admit this is something I love about Piper. On the surface he appears so loving and caring, gorgeous and magnetic, and yet there is a dark air about him that you just have to find out about.

My favourite support character is Drew. He is brilliant, so sweet and mature, a great listener and he has a genuine care for Leanna. I found myself urging Leanna to open up and at least be honest to him about Piper and her abilities. Leanna’s brother, Lionel, was sweet too and caring towards Leanna, which was nice to read as so many siblings tend to rival each other. As the reader doubts Piper’s true motives for approaching Leanna, it is Lionel that looks out for him as he tries to harass her at home.

Flick is a nice quick read with some really fun and interesting characters, with a paranormal twist and a fantastic subtle build-up to the horror and the action that is to come. The horror is built up slowly, giving time for the younger reader to process all that is going on. And Keira Des Anges has written the horror subtley so as not to completely freak kids out, but at the same time makes it clear to the reader exactly what is happening. The author has manipulated her words perfectly to create a great picture in the reader’s imagination. Flick is definitely a book I would encourage my 9 year old to read in a few years time. It was an absolute pleasure to read, a breath of fresh air, despite the dark aura coming to the fore now and again.

A Reader’s Review Blog would like to thank the author, Keira Des Anges, for providing a copy of Flick for the purpose of an honest and fair review. Please scroll down for details of the Virtual Book Tour for Flick and also for an author bio and contact details.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

VBT_Flick_Banner

Author bio for Keira Des Anges:-

Keira des Anges PicBy day, Keira des Anges has the distinct pleasure of assisting teenagers with disabilities find employment while helping empower one life at a time. By night, she is a writer and avid reader of anything spooky, magical and totally out of this world.  Keira is always a mother and a wife. Her children are her biggest inspirations and her husband is the rock that holds everything together while she continues writing and pursuing her dreams.

Twitter:  Keira des Anges@KeiradesAnges
Bookswelove.com
 

To Steal a Highlander’s Heart, by Samantha Holt – Released Today!

SamanthaHolt_ToStealAHighlandersHeart_200px.jpg.opt166x249o0,0s166x249[1]Faerie Magic Reunites Friends as Lovers!

Sensual Historical Paranormal Romance

This is Samantha Holt’s first foray into writing a Highland romance and I found it to be both a fun and romantic read. It also maintains the level of sensuality that I have come to expect and love from this author. Setting a medieval historical romance in the Highlands is an inspired choice to invoke beings such as faeries, and the central captor/captive theme, which in this novel is paired with the theme of friends to lovers, is one which never fails to please me!

In To Steal a Highlander’s Heart, the teenager Alana Campbell is shocked when her childhood friend Morgann McRae is banished for stealing from her father, the laird, leading to a bitter feud between both clans. Eight years pass, until Morgann kidnaps Alana in a desperate attempt to reveal some truths and compel others to stop he treachery which he knows is afoot, which risks the wellbeing of those he cares about and the future of his clan. However, what was a close childhood friendship now heats up into something far stronger as passion is ignited between the couple. Alana resolves to resist her attraction towards Morgann and to escape to prevent bloodshed. Similarly Morgann strives to ignore his instinct to claim Alana as his own and risk the further wrath of her father on his clan.

The plot is further complicated by the actions of a meddling faerie, Tèile, who is tasked to do all she can to ensure that this stubborn couple recognise their love for each other and marry. However, the actions of another threaten the couple’s welfare and means that she must work hard to ensure that she completes her task before it is too late.

The couple are well matched and believable. Alana is a feisty heroine who has missed her friend Morgann since his banishment. She immediately senses that he is not the fun loving boy he once was. Instead he has grown into a handsome and brooding warrior, to which she finds herself increasingly drawn. Morgann notices that Alana is now a beautiful woman, far more confident than the young girl he remembers, one that can well match him in intelligence, charm and wit. The repartee between the couple sparkles as they spar with and tease each other in some fun and sexy scenes. Of course, Tèile engineers things as best she can to give them every opportunity to explore their attraction in some humorous and inventive scenarios, which often leave the couple a little confused with events, which I found to be a nice touch!

Tèile is a great character. Whilst being frustrated at the stubbornness of the couple in acting upon the love and passion they undoubtedly have for one another, and wishing to return to the world of the fey, she develops genuine affection for them and pulls out all stops to come to their aid when it counts.

In addition to the fairy Tèile, the secondary characters include Morgann’s stepmother Margot and Finn, his cousin, another male hottie – what is it with these Highland warriors and where are they hiding? I was immediately drawn into the tale that involves a great deal of sexual tension and passion between the main couple, which culminates in some sensuous and playful lovemaking scenes.  There is also plenty of action, danger and treachery before the plot concludes.

I recommend this novel to romance readers who like a romantic read set in the Highlands, particularly those who enjoy a touch of paranormal injected into the story. I am looking forward to any further novels Samantha Holt sets in the Highlands and finding out more about the world of the sidhe and any other magical creatures she decides to call upon.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

An Advanced Reader Copy of this novel was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Check out To Steal a Highlander’s Heart on Amazon and find Samantha online and click on her blogspot for a great release day giveaway!

Buy on Amazon UK  Amazon US

https://www.facebook.com/romanticfiction

http://www.samanthaholt.org.uk/

http://www.samanthaholtauthor.blogspot.co.uk/ – click for giveaway

Last Few Days to Enter our International Giveaway – Enter by Midnight GMT, 27th September 2013!

13609447[1]TheBadDeath-KindleCoverCalling All Fans of Dark Vampire Romance, Horror and Suspense

Author Naima Haviland has kindly agreed to provide a digital copy of both Bloodroom and The Bad Death to one lucky reader of our blog. The winner will be drawn at random from those submitting their name to the comments section at the bottom of our recent review of The Bad Death (click on the title for the review). If you prefer you can register your interest instead by adding your name to the comments section of this post.

There is still time to add your name to the list if you would like a chance to win digital copies of these two books in her vampire trilogy. A name will be drawn at random after the closing date and time of midnight GMT, 27th September 2013.

Both books are great gothic inspired reads and the hero Julian is one of my favourite fictional heroes!

THE COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED AND THE LUCKY WINNER WAS DAN FUGATE. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!

Tina 🙂

For my review of Bloodroom click on the title.

The One Percenters by John Podgursky

The One Percenters

In this dark psychological thriller/horror, The One Percenters, the reader has an insight into the mind of Edward Caine, who believes himself to be a one-percenter. A one percenter is one that can assist the natural selection process by ending the lives of those that do not seem fit to breed. Those that are only alive due to advances in medicine, technology and money.

Edward did not always think in this manner but after his wife’s rape and murder by a serial killer his mind drifts over time (and over a drink or two!) and he begins his mentally spiralling journey. His wife, Jill, was a good, loving human being with a kind heart. She was innocent. She didn’t deserve to die. In fact, Jill would have been perfect in the natural selection process, with her beauty and all. She most definitely wouldn’t have been picked by a one percenter!

Ed’s character, I thought, was fairly easy to connect with considering all he had been through with Jill. He is bitter and begins wanting revenge for her murder. However, as his thoughts become so dark as to even consider taking lives of those that had absolutely nothing to do with what happened, the reader begins to understand how disturbed this guy is. Although the connection largely gets lost by this point, I felt I just had to read on to know the outcome as John Podgursky leaves the reader asking questions of what path Ed is going to take and what will become of him.

In the beginning, even though it is a serious subject matter and Ed is in a state of depression and drink after losing Jill, he is so open with his thoughts that some off-the-wall suggestions and sarcastic, cynical remarks are made. However, as the novel continues it does become much more darker and serious.

The story is told from Ed’s POV. The written style of The One Percenters is as if Ed were talking to the reader directly as he tells his story in first person, past tense and the use of language is quite direct. The use of the direct and casual language can, at times, lighten the mood by making Ed’s cynical, sarcastic remarks a little comical. Because of this, I did find myself smiling to myself in some instances at Ed’s dry humour. Due to the written style it is a fairly quick read and set at a reasonable pace.

I was initially surprised as it read as a narrative from Ed’s POV. I was expecting the story to be told in third person, however after reading the story, that idea certainly wouldn’t work so well on the psychological side. I was also expecting the story to follow fellow one-percenter , as the synopsis mentioned ‘Edward and his brethren’. The further into the book you delve the more psycholgical horror you come across as Ed’s actions and indeed his thoughts become darker and darker. This story is definitely not for the faint of heart. The One Percenters is an adult read due to the seriousness of Ed’s thoughts and the violence and pyschological horror that this story offers.

There is a reference to ‘Doctor’ every now and then. This makes the reader think that Ed is possibly speaking to a psychiatrist at the end of the book. Will this be revealed towards the end? What will become of Ed, and will he accomplish what he set out to do? The reader has many questions and must read to the very end to reveal the full truth of this great thriller.

It is the significance of Jill’s rape and murder that start Ed’s pyschological problems. She was so innocent, so helpless. Ed begins to question the behaviour of humans and life, which leads to him believing that those that are ill, are ill for a reason: they are weak and so must die. It is only through money, technology and medicine that the ill are kept alive. This in-turn allows them to breed and pass on their weak genes and possibly weakening mankind. He, as a chosen one-percenter must help control this and eliminate these people. Will Ed allow his thoughts to control his actions, or will he give in?

I would like to thank the author, John Podgursky, for providing us a copy of his book in return for an honest and fair review. If you would like to contact the author, you can e-mail him at darwinspal@hotmail.com.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

My Brother, My Rival – All out of love (book 1) and My Brother, My Rival – How can I not love you? (Book 2, by Eve Rabi

18405661[1]18323152[1]Torn Between Two Brothers!

Warning – contains sex scenes, violence, racial themes and coarse language.

My Brother, My Rival, comprising two books, is a modern day love story with larger than life, no holds barred characters and plot lines, told in the author Eve Rabi’s indomitable style. Both the reader and the characters are put through their paces in an emotional boot camp, examining the tensions between romantic love and familial love when two brothers fall for the same woman. It is yet another addictive read!

In My Brother My Rival, Bridie, a young woman meets the man of her dreams, a charming and handsome man called Scott, who serves in the military. Cupid seems to be smiling as Bridie and Scott go on a date and are equally smitten. However, afterwards, to Bridie’s disappointment, he does not call. Our heroine then catches the eye of a cheeky bad boy, Cody, a love’em and leave’em type, who frequents the bar where she works. Cody won’t take no for an answer and Bridie agrees to date him, resolving to guard her heart. However, it’s not long before both fall for each other. Imagine Bridie’s (not to mention everyone else’s) surprise when on her first visit to Cody’s parents, it transpires that Cody’s brother is none other than Scott, the man she met at the bar. Scott had big plans to marry Bridie and did not return her call as he had been sent abroad on a mission and could not get a signal on his cell phone.

The tale that transpires is a fast paced, roller coaster ride containing humour, heartbreak, fun times, sad times, jealousy, deception, misunderstandings and violence, but also a heavy dose of romance and passion, before the tale resolves itself. The story is told in a plot which will have you laughing one minute and crying the next. How will this complex love triangle resolve itself? Who will Bridie choose? Will it be the right choice? How will the brothers and their family react as Bridie has come between the brothers? Will the war in Iraq affect her relationships with the brothers? I had no idea where the plot was going next or how it would conclude as it had so many twists and turns. I will not reveal any more as further revelations will spoil the plot. Suffice to say that as usual this is no tame boy meets girl romance. Eve’s larger than life characters deal with big issues, many of them topical in today’s society.

The three central characters, Bridie, Cody and Scott are fantastically well drawn. Bridie is hard working and devoted to her family, who are from the Hood, in contrast with Scott and Cody, who have middle class origins. This dichotomy makes for some hilarious scenes when the two families meet throughout the novel. Bridie is shocked when she realises that Cody and Scott are brothers and I really felt for her as she tries to do her best in an increasingly impossible and complex situation. Bridie likes to be in control, but she is anything but as the plot unfolds.

The brothers are so different to each other. Cody is the archetypal loveable bad boy who up until now likes to play the field and have a good time. He is attracted to Bridie big time, as she is like no girl he has ever met before, and has a lot of growing up to do in the course of the novel which spans five years plus. Scott is a much more responsible individual and is equally attracted to Bridie. He is very protective of her and wants to do right by her. Both brothers want Bridie for themselves, which provides the main tension in the plot.

There is a great supporting cast, the main ones being Scott and Cody’s parents, in particular their socialite mother, Stephanie and their sister Jenna and Bridie’s family, a collection of loveable and kooky individuals, who, as Bridie was, were all adopted. These characters all add depth to the plot and help drive it forward. The fact that the tale is told in chapters which alternate between Bridie and Cody’s POV also adds a lot more intensity to the novel. There are many love making scenes, some humorous, some passionate and sexy and others  poignant.

I recommend My Brother My Rival to adult readers who like to read intense, sexy and entertaining contemporary romance/chick lit novels which examine the full range of human emotions.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this book was given to me by the author for a fair and honest review.

http://everabi.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/eve.rabi

Book 1 of My Brother, My Rival is currently avaiable at a special price on Amazon, 77p in the UK and $1.20 in the US.

Amazon UK 

Amazon US

Eve Rabi’s book You Will Pay for Leaving Me is currently available FREE on Amazon.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Update from Tina

From Contemporary and Historical Romance to Fantasy and Psychological Thriller/Horrors

The summer holidays are over and it is back to school for many children and back to normality – or what passes for it! My youngest has just started school full time so last week was a big week for us all as we waited to see whether she would settle in or not. So far so good, we’ve had no tantrums  – at least from me anyway! I am a little sad to see the summer end as I do like it hot and prefer the flexibility and freedom of summer clothes over winter woollies. There is always some domestic tension this time of the year as I try to turn the heating on and hubby tells me to put a jumper on! I love the harvest time however and I have been busy picking the fruit and veg from our garden and filling our freezer with apple puree, green beans, pea soup and courgette and tomato pasta sauce to enjoy throughout the coming months.

Read on for a summary of our recent reads and those that we have planned for the next few weeks.

Recent Reads – Tina

During the last few weeks I have reviewed some fantastic reads – click on the book title for the review. Also don’t forget to enter our current giveaway of a digital copy of Bloodroom and The Bad Death, donated by the author Naima Haviland. Simply enter your name in the comments section on our review of The Bad Death. One lucky reader will win the prize!

TheBadDeath-KindleCoverThe Bad Death, by Naima Haviland – A Gothic Masterpiece of Dark Romance, Horror and Suspense . Part of the author’s’s vampire trilogy and prequel/sequel to Bloodroom, reviewed on the blog last year (click title for review). Here the vampire myth with African Gullah legends to create a dark and gripping narrative. In The Bad Death, a mysterious African beauty emerges from the family crypt of Julian Mouret. This woman enthralls this handsome slave plantation owner with an outlandish tale of peril and flight. Fearing for her sanity, he determines to keep Anika (or Annie as she is known) safe as a series of horrifying mutilation murders ensues, indicating to the slaves the presence of “plat-eyes”—shape-shifting blood-sucking supernatural creatures. Anika becomes empowered to end the rampage, but at stake is not only her own life but the soul of the man she is coming to love.

The Antique Love, by Helena Fairfax – A sweet contemporary romance, where the hero Kurt, a financial high flyer 18342845[1]who hails from Wyoming, does not believe in love and passion, seeing how devastated others can be when such emotions burn themselves out. Instead he is convinced that he can select a wife based on rationality and logic alone. However, he finds that Cupid has other ideas when he asks Penny, who runs an antique shop in London to furnish his new home adjacent to Richmond Park. Penny is an incurable romantic and has her own past hurts to deal with. Will Kurt succumb to the power of love and will Penny believe that she can be anything more than a kid sister to Kurt?

9196442[1]Wolfkeeper’s Woman, by Lisa Day – A passionate and heart rending romance between homesteader Cassie and Wolfkeeper, a native American warrior whose raiding party killed her husband and who has gifted her baby to his brother and sister- in-law. Can Cassie survive being held captive by a people so very different to her own? Will she free her son and escape? And what of her growing feelings towards Wolfkeeper as he demands control over her body?

Coming Reads

18405661[1]My Brother My Rival (Books 1 and 2), by Eve Rabi – A modern day romance where two brothers unknowingly meet and fall18323152[1] for the same girl, who is also at first unaware that they are related. The characters of the brothers are like chalk and cheese – one is a ladies man, looking for a quick fling and the other for a more permanent relationship. However, what happens when they both decide they want to play for keeps? Who deserves the girl and who will she choose? This is an Eve Rabi book and therefore promises to be no simple love triangle. I have my tissues at the ready for another of her trademark emotional rides where I expect to laugh one minute and cty the next.

SamanthaHolt_ToStealAHighlandersHeart_200px.jpg.opt166x249o0,0s166x249[1]To Steal a Highlander’s Heart, by Samantha Holt –  I am a huge fan of Samantha Holt’s sensual medieval romances. This title, release date 30th September, which is set in the Highlands, also has a paranormal element. In it Alana meets Morgann for the first time in years and he captures her, reigniting the rift and the threat of war that’s existed between the two clans since her father accused Morgann of theft. Unfortunately for Alana, the faeries seek to interfere with her plans to escape and endeavour to ensure a union between the couple. Morgann has his own reasons for taking Alana and they are nothing to do with marriage or war. If only he didn’t find his childhood friend so attractive. When circumstances force them together, Alana’s life is threatened and war is imminent. Can Morgann reveal the truth without losing Alana? And will the faeries meddling help or hinder his cause?(

Gem of Gravane, by Amber Dane – I have read many positive reviews of this author’s work and am15741229[1] looking forward to this medieval romance where, Alric, a loyal knight and a reluctant bridegroom is gifted both lands and a lady by his lord and King William. He comes to  claim his prize of the lady and her manor a year after he has been gifted it. Annabelle can only hope that the coming union will improve the lot of her people, who have suffered in recent years, for the reaction of the knight on seeing her for the first time shows his displeasure. Treachery awaits the couple as they struggle to adjust to married life and learn to trust each other with their secrets and open their hearts to love.

Bellas%20Betrothal%20200x300[1]Bella’s Betrothal, by Anne Stenhouse – Release date 20th September 2013: While travelling north to find sanctuary from the gossip of the Ton, Lady Isabella Wormsley’s room at an inn is invaded by handsome Scottish Laird, Charles Lindsay. Charles has uncovered a plot to kidnap her, but Bella wonders if he isn’t a more dangerous threat, at least to her heart, than the villainous Graham Direlton he wrests her from. Bella hopes the delivery of her young cousin’s baby will eventually demonstrate her own innocence in the scandal that drove her from home. However, Bella’s presence disrupts the lives of everyone connected to her. Mayhem, murder and family secrets also enter the fray. Will the growing but unacknowledged love between Bella and her Scottish architect survive the evil Direlton engineers?

Meanwhile, Caroline returned to the blog from her hols and settling back into her normal routine with her long awaited review for Brooke Morris’ debut fantasy, The Pull (The Nademi Series #1).

the-pull_1The Pull is a young adult fantasy following the main character, Maggie, who discovers that she is half faerie and half demon whose mother escaped from the Old World and into the New. Maggie is at her happiest when hiking and enjoying the forests and yet, in her dreams, she slowly watches forests dry up and wither away. But as she finds out more about who she is will she be able to save her Old World from dying? Whilst in the meantime she discovers that as a half-breed she was meant to be destroyed as her kind (half-breeds) are feared by others including faeries, demons, umbrokers, witches, dwarves and men!

After sorting through e-mails and review requests Caroline has been adding to her ever-growing ‘to read’ list and will be writing a post within the next week or so to provide an incite into some of the requests we have been sent and some of the books that she is excited to read.

The One PercentersAlso, within the next week Caroline is hoping to post her review of John Podgursky’s psychological thriller/horror, The One Percenters. After a man’s wife is murdered he becomes a one percenter, where he decides on who can carry on the human race and eliminates those he believes are weak, ensuring that they do not breed. But will he be able to keep to these rules? Find out more later this week when the review is posted.

Following The One Percenters, Caroline will begin to read the young adult paranormal, Flick, by Keira Des Anges. Please click on the link for more information/synopsis at Amazon.com.

Last but not least, we are interested in hearing your views as authors and readers into the Man Booker Prize rule changes. Will allowing in authors globally mean that many authors will be ignored or pushed aside, or will it allow for more fiction and choice, opening up for all? Please feel free to comment below!

Happy reading!

Tina and Caroline 🙂

The Pull (Book One of the Nademi Series) by Brooke Morris

the-pull_1The Pull is Brooke Morris’ debut novel. It is a young adult fantasy following the main character, Maggie, who discovers that she is half faerie and half demon whose mother escaped from the Old World and into the New. Maggie is at her happiest when hiking and enjoying the forests and yet, in her dreams, she slowly watches forests dry up and wither away. But as she finds out more about who she is will she be able to save her Old World from dying? Whilst in the meantime she discovers that as a half-breed she was meant to be destroyed as her kind (half-breeds) are feared by others including faeries, demons, umbrokers, witches, dwarves and men!

Beginning very much from an average American teenage girl’s persepective, The Pull allows the reader to instantaneously connect and understand Maggie. Her parents are separated, she is living with her father and his partner but gradually Maggie begins to have strange, mysterious dreams. After meeting Andrew, a friend of one of her best friend’s brother, she feels a little more uncomfortable but this is just the tip of the iceberg! What is it about him that makes her feel so awkward? Surely he can’t be the one that enters her dreams?

One of my most favourite areas of this novel is when Maggie is dreaming. It is very mysterious and a little too real in parts and the reader goes through the process with Maggie in trying to establish whether her dreams are real or not. As the story moves on it does become clearer what is happening and why.

The Pull is complete with good strong characters in Maggie and Andrew. You never quite know what to expect from Andrew but whether his intentions are good or bad you can’t help but like him and his unpredictability. I am intentionally being a little vague as I wouldn’t want to give anything away and feel that to find out which ‘side’ Andrew lies is to be found out by the reader. Either way, I do like him and would have liked a little more tension between these two – not to say that there was none, but I do like to be on the edge of my seat!

The ‘Dark Force’ of the whole story is another half-breed, Damien, who we discover is the cause of the Old World dying. It’s almost like he is challenging Maggie to come out of the woodwork and face him, almost testing her to see how strong her powers are – even though he believes quite strongly that she will never be able to prevent the death of the Old World and ultimately herself. This is also where the reader has to decide which side of the fence Andrew lies. It appears he is being used by Damien to bring Maggie to the Old World through her dreams, and even as the reader begins to like Andrew we are still fully aware of one of his thoughts – that he needs to gain her trust completely in order for her to follow him to Damien!

The Pull is told mostly from Maggie’s point of view with small insights every now and then into Andrews thoughts. This definitely helps the reader to connect with Andrew even when he may not be being completely good to Maggie, however understanding or at least knowing his viewpoint does add to his likeability.

Maggie, on the other hand, is the main character and a good, strong heroine. Her point of view is told very clearly and a large part of her likeability is the fact that she is so like any one of us – with her confusion at times and her vulnerablities. And yet she has the courage to move on and try to do the best that she can even when she doubts or misunderstands how strong her abilities are or can be.

My main criticism throughout is that the story seems quite slow in parts and needs filling out. There wasn’t enough excitement at times to stop my mind from wandering, however the last few chapters were certainly more gripping. There were moments when I felt that the plot could have been a little more complex with more action and support characters being mentioned more often, however it all ‘pulls’ together in the end and Brooke Morris wraps the story up beautifully.

It wraps up so well that it could be a stand alone. However, as Maggie’s world is so vast and the characters are so well written it would be a shame to let this go. It is my understanding that The Pull is the first in a series. It will be interesting to see where Brooke takes the characters from here.

I would like to thank the author, Brooke Morris, for providing a copy of The Pull for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

The Bad Death, by Naima Haviland

TheBadDeath-KindleCoverA Gothic Masterpiece of Dark Romance, Horror and Suspense – Review and Author Giveaway

The Bad Death, part of Naima Haviland’s vampire trilogy, tantalises the reader with a spellbinding paranormal tale of romance, horror and suspense. The author skillfully weaves the vampire myth with African Gullah legends to create a dark and gripping narrative, which, when read in conjunction with the accompanying novel Bloodroom, will forever haunt your dreams.

In The Bad Death, set in South Carolina in 1788, a mysterious African beauty emerges from the family crypt of Julian Mouret, the owner of Lion’s Court plantation. This woman enthralls this handsome slave owner with an outlandish tale of peril and flight. Although Julian fears for her sanity, he determines to keep Anika (or Annie as she is known) safe as a series of horrifying mutilation murders ensues, indicating to the slaves the presence of “plat-eyes”—shape-shifting blood-sucking supernatural creatures. Anika becomes empowered to end the rampage, but at stake is not only her own life but the soul of the man she is coming to love.

The Bad Death does contain a  Bloodroom spoiler, so if you intend to read it you may first want to read Bloodroom, to which this book serves as both a prequel and a sequel. Scroll to the end of this review for a link to our Bloodroom review. Naima Haviland is also kindly offering one lucky reader of our blog a digital copy of both Bloodroom and A Bad Death. Scroll down for details of this giveaway, where all you need to do is comment with your name.

I absolutely adore this series! I fell in love with Julian in Bloodroom, being both repelled and attracted to him – I cannot get him out of my head. The Bad Death gives the reader an insight into his actions in Bloodroom, where as a creature of the dark he maintains a thread of humanity. In The Bad Death Julian values rationality over superstition, yet Anika and the events which occur are anything but rational. He refuses to acknowledge the existence of beings which science does not recognise. Julian cannot explain the sexual pull and connection he feels to Anika, whom readers of Bloodroom immediately recognise is possessed by the spirit of Natalie his human lover in that book. Although compelled to keep Anika close, he is also repelled by her as he believes that she is a liar and a trickster at worse and at best mad. What will be Julian’s downfall? – Madness if he realises that such evil actually exists or ignorance as he does not realise the true horror of what he and others face?

Anika is a fantastic kick-ass heroine, protecting those she cares about in any way she can. Although this book is very much focused on Anika, Natalie’s influence is pivotal, as through her possession she imparts her ballet dancer’s strength and flexibility on Anika and also her knowledge of how to defeat vampires. Natalie’s spirit (whom Anika refers to as ‘the Hag’) also gives Anika an insight into Natalie and Julian’s dark romance. Anika regards her possession more favourably as the novel progresses and becomes increasingly attracted to Julian. She is torn between her attraction to Julian and to Marcus, the Mouret’s slave driver, himself a slave. Bitter rivalry and jealousy exist between both men over Anika  and there is also plenty of sexual tension and well crafted sensual love making scenes throughout.

There are a host of supporting characters. These include Tumba, the resident witch doctor, a free black man, whose role appears to be a malevolent one. We also meet the teenage Jane Eliza, whom readers of Bloodroom will recognise as Swisher, who plays such a key role in that book. Julian’s mother, Miss Elizabeth, is a character whom I loved, as she is brave and resourceful and whilst not fully comprehending the true evil around her is supportive of Anika.

The novel contains horror and violence and visceral scenes of bloodlust and gore juxtaposed with passionate lovemaking and lush descriptions of the landscape. I was particularly impressed by the dark, gothic descriptions of the waterways, which link Lion’s Court to adjacent plantations, the descriptions of these and the rice fields and the overarching sky became more and more threatening as the novel progresses. I also enjoyed the magical scenes where Natalie takes possession of Anika  and compels her to dance the ballet and imbues her with visions and feelings from the future. The author has carried out a lot of research into the history of slaves and plantation owners, the Gullah language, folklore and culture and the environment of South Carolina in the late eighteenth century. I was held spellbound and totally immersed in the world and minds of the characters.

The Bad Death is an original and haunting tale. Don’t take my word for it – check out the author’s web and blog sites to read her excerpts and to gain an insight into the characters and the world that she has created. I am certainly looking forward to book 3 of the trilogy, due for release next year.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this book was given to me by the author for an honest and fair review.

For my review of Bloodroom click here

http://naimahaviland.com/

https://www.facebook.com/Books.by.Naima.Haviland

To buy a copy – currently available both in paperback and Kindle. Click to buy at Amazon US Click to buy at Amazon UK

For a chance to win a digital copy of both Bloodroom and The Bad Death simply leave your name below in the comments section. A draw will be made on 27th September 2013 and the lucky winner informed.

Wolfkeeper’s Woman, by Lisa Day

9196442[1]A Compelling and Emotional Romance!

I was blown away by the emotional intensity of this unorthodox romance between sworn enemies, a Native American warrior, Wolfkeeper and an American homesteader Cassie. I devoured the book in a day as I was so captivated by it!

In Wolfkeeper’s Woman, Cassie, who has recently given birth, finds her home attacked by Indians. Her husband is killed and Cassie finds herself captive of one of the men instrumental in his murder, a powerful and terrifying warrior, Wolfkeeper.  Wolfkeeper gifts Cassie’s son to his brother and sister-in-law, who have already lost three pregnancies, which naturally leaves Cassie devastated. Cassie is referred to as The Ghostwoman by the tribe, shunned by many and is not allowed to communicate with her son. There are some truly heartbreaking scenes as Cassie’s son is taken from her and what occurs whenever their paths do cross. Wolfkeeper assumes the role as Cassie’s protector, ensuring that she obeys his command to keep away from her son, whom he tells her is now dead to her, and that she strives to assimilate into the ways of his people.

Cassie has little choice but to cooperate if she is to have any chance of escaping with her son. She despises Wolfkeeper for what he has done to her and her family. However, she is forced to rely upon him for protection, guidance  and at times comfort in this strange new world, where she does not even speak the language and is ignorant of its complex customs, which are so different to those of the white man.

Wolfkeeper demands total compliance from Cassie, who finds herself carrying out daily tasks for him and having to permit his touches, which increase in intensity, becoming more and more sexual. Although their relationship is not immediately fully consummated, Wolfkeeper demands dominion over Cassie’s body to bind her to him, in a number of sensual scenes, and she is powerless to resist, knowing that no one will come to her aid. She permits his caresses at first because she is fearful of the consequences of refusal and then because she enjoys them, even while she despises him. Yet how can she permit her body to betray her when he has committed the sins of killing her husband and taking away her child? Can she possibly let him into her heart or even forgive him?

Wolfkeeper at first regards Cassie purely as the enemy and treats her harshly. However, he comes to respect her inner strength. He is pleased when she does begin to assimilate into the life of his people. Cassie begins to penetrate Wolfkeeper’s heart and he decides that he wants to make her his. He is a wise and patient man and knows that he must bide his time if he is to win her. However, the issue of her son is always between them. Will Cassie accept that her son is lost to her forever and embrace Wolfkeeper and the ways of the tribe or will she reject them and escape at the first opportunity?   There are many twists to the tale as Cassie and Wolfkeeper both struggle with the feelings that they develop for each other and I was hooked from start to finish!

Cassie is a great heroine, showing great strength of character for one who has suffered so much. She has been given few choices in her life, being very much a victim of circumstance. However, she responds with courage and dignity. I found the growing respect, trust and affection between the couple a beautiful and touching love story, surprising given the circumstances of their relationship.

There are a number of supporting characters in the novel, some of them native American Indians and some of them other white settlers. One of my favourite characters, apart from the main couple was Wolfkeeper’s grandmother. I also liked the character of Becky, the widow of Todd, the friend of Cassie’s husband, who also lost his life in the Indian attack on Cassie’s home. The author weaves her story throughout the main narrative and I found it to be a touching one. I was also fascinated by the customs of the Native Americans and how they differed from those of the white man.

I recommend this novel to readers of western historical romance, especially those who like an emotional and sensual read. It will particularly appeal to those who like to examine forgiveness and acceptance and how individuals from different cultures can come together. The author Lisa Day has a true gift for original storytelling and I have already downloaded her latest novel, Love and Betrayal on the Santa Fe, also set in the American frontier, to read very soon.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

http://lisaday.weebly.com/

The Antique Love, by Helena Fairfax

18342845[1]There’s No Accounting for Love – A Tale of Rationality versus Romance!

Sweet Contemporary Romance

The Antique Love, a contemporary tale, is a deeply romantic read, which affirms the power of love which can bowl over even the most rational of us! It is Helena Fairfax’s second novel and focuses on the relationship between an English woman Penny and a Wyoming man Kurt. Kurt, a top flight accountant, has purchased a house overlooking Richmond Park and now seeks a wife to share it with.

Kurt enters Penny’s antique shop one day and is struck by her affinity and passion for antiques. He offers her the job of refurnishing his new home, a strictly business arrangement – Kurt even tells his sister back home that Penny is not marriage material! Kurt begins to date women he has meticulously selected from an exclusive dating agency as he is keen to find a polished and professional wife who shares his values and outlook. He has seen those in his life badly let down and destroyed by romantic love and grand passion and wants no part of either, believing that they lead to heartbreak.

Penny is attracted to Kurt, initially mistaking him for a cowboy due to his demeanour and rugged good looks, which causes her some embarrassment! She finds herself reluctantly agreeing to his proposition to refurbish his home when he offers to look over problems she is having reconciling her accounts. Kurt tells Penny of his decision to find a wife based on logic and calculation and Penny realises that she is the last person that would fit the bill, being more of a romantic, passionate and intuitive type. Penny knows that she must guard her heart lest it gets broken, especially when Kurt makes it clear that he regards her as little more than a kid sister.

However, as the weeks pass and Kurt and Penny meet to discuss her accounts and the furnishing of his new home, things do not go according to plan for either party! The more Kurt gets to know Penny, the more he cannot stop thinking about her, even when he dates other women. He realises that he is wildly attracted to Penny whilst acknowledging that she is far from the type of woman he seeks to marry. Penny finds it impossible not to fall for Kurt. Once she has finished refurnishing Kurt’s home will they part as friends, cool decision making and rationality having prevailed, or will Kurt open his heart and realise that Penny is the one for him? Similarly will Penny drop her cool façade around Kurt, which she has assumed to protect her heart, to let Kurt realise how much he means to her?

The Antique Love is a very romantic read, with well defined and realistic main and secondary characters. Both Kurt and Penny have been shaped by traumatic past events and they need to confront their feelings before they can resolve their relationship. I loved Kurt as although he is clearly a man used to being in charge he is at the same time considerate and honourable, supporting Penny when she is having a difficult time.  Penny is a heroine who you immediately root for and will her to get her man. She is hardworking, enthusiastic and kind and prone to wild romantic imaginings, which Kurt is drawn to despite himself! Unfortunately she also has low self-esteem, due to her life experiences. Penny and Kurt make a couple, who have the capacity to make each other whole again, despite their past hurts; it just takes them a while to see it!

I also loved the imagery Helena Fairfax uses in this novel to help illustrate the emotions of the characters and progress the plot, from the antiques that Penny enthuses about to the colours and furnishings she selects for Kurt’s home. If you enjoy a sweet and traditional contemporary romance, with well drawn characters, which is also a deeply romantic and a satisfying read look no further than The Antique Love.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

A copy of this novel was given to me by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

http://helenafairfax.com/

Published by Museituppublishing

Cover designer Charlotte Volnek

If you like the sound of The Antique Love, you may want to find out about Helena’s other romance, The Silk The Silk Romance 333x500-001Romance (click the tiltle for our review). Alternatively click on the links to find out more about Helena and her work and to go to the publisher’s site where you can purchase her novels.