Reading in bed just got a little hotter.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Shattered Dreams by Anna James


AUTHOR: Anna James

MAIN GENRE: Contemporary  


LENGTH: 84 pages





Natalie and Reed seemed so happy when they got married just a few short months ago, but an unexpected pregnancy and a subsequent miscarriage throw their marriage into turmoil.

Natalie deals with the loss by burying herself in work. Reed is supportive but doesn’t understand why she is spending so much after-hours time with her handsome, sexy boss. And what about their dream of having a family? How can that happen when with each passing day Natalie becomes more distant?

Will Reed and Natalie find a way to work things out, or will all their dreams be shattered?

They say love can conquer all things, but misunderstandings and betrayal are equally powerful in their ability to destroy it.

Nicole’s dreams have finally come true. She has a wonderfully loving husband, they’re starting a family, and they’ve found the perfect house. So why is her joy overcast with doubts and fear? She wants the baby, doesn’t she? Reed seems delighted by the pregnancy. And yet, she can’t seem to shake the dark shadow hovering over her happiness.

Despite the suddenness of Nicole’s pregnancy, Reed is ecstatic about the baby. He senses her hesitation, but just figures she’s a little overwhelmed. When she wants to start working, he isn’t thrilled, but doesn’t want to smother her with his concern so he lets her do what she feels is best. When she loses the baby and subsequently begins withdrawing from him and their relationship, he can’t help but think the worst, especially when evidence of her betrayal comes in a shocking form.

But there’s more to the reported sightings of Nicole and her boss than either of them know. Who is betraying who? And can their relationship be salvaged once the truth finally comes out?

Shattered Dreams is a wonderfully touching story about what can happen in a good relationship when outside factors come in to play. I was able to relate to Reed and Nicole, and experienced the myriad of emotions they both were going through. This is a good, down to earth tale that makes you realize how good communication is so very important between two people. As well how badly things can go wrong when stubborness, misunderstanding, and withdrawal can threaten the very foundations of love. Ms. James does an excellent job of giving the reader a glimpse into the lives of her characters—their hopes, their disappointments, and their emotions. I really enjoyed Shattered Dreams and look forward to reading more from this talented author.

If you enjoy stories where sometimes the major dilemmas start within the main characters, and then seem to multiply when outside forces join in, then you’ll love Shattered Dreams by Anna James. She reminds us how it takes more than just love and attraction to make a good relationship work and survive the heartaches and trails of life, as well as the interference of others.


To find out more about Anna James and her writing, please visit her at:

Thursday, January 19, 2012

A Ranger's Tale by Mysti Parker

TITLE: A Ranger’s Tale

AUTHOR: Mysti Parker

MAIN GENRE: Paranormal * Fantasy 

SECONDARY GENRE: Romance * Adventure   

TERTIARY GENRE:  Fairy/Fae * Magic 

LENGTH: 187 pages


OTHER: M/F * Multiple Partners



Once upon a time an elven noblewoman longed to leave her gilded cage. A half-breed former pirate wanted nothing more than to escape his guilty past. Easier said than done...

In the fantasy world of Tallenmere, the high elf, Caliphany Aranea, nearly a century old, has never been allowed to travel farther than a few miles out of the capital city of Leogard. Her father, Sirius, leads the Mage Academy, and after losing his only son, he expects Caliphany to take his place one day. The trouble is, she doesn't want to study magic and doubts she'll ever be as good a wizard as her father. She dreams of leaving Leogard to explore the world and strike out on her own--lofty goals for Sirius' daughter, who also happens to be King Leopold's niece.

When two brutes at Leogard Harbor attempt to kidnap her while she dreams of faraway lands, half-elf ship captain and ranger, Galadin Trudeaux, comes to her rescue. From their first chance encounter, to the finale, where Caliphany must decide where her heart truly lies, she and Galadin will face more adventure, more love, more heartache, than they ever thought possible. Through it all, they discover the power of forgiveness and of a love that stands the test of time.


And they lived happily ever after…It’s what everyone expects from a fairy tale. But what happens before THE END? The journey there is what makes the story truly exciting.

As the only remaining heir of Sirius Aranea, one of the last great wizards in Leogard, Caliphany is expected to fill her father’s shoes and become a powerful mage. But Caliphany wants more out of life than useless magic and boring scenery. She wants to see the world and the amazing creatures in it. Unfortunately, her father doesn’t share her enthusiasm. The loss of her older brother many years ago has changed her once loving, doting parent into a cold, cruel man. His determination to mold her into his wishes borders on abuse. While her mother tends to disagree with his behavior, she isn’t bold enough to stand up to him, leaving Caliphany to suffer his unmerciful wrath.

But Caliphany isn’t one to just let others tell her what to do. She’s always been what some might consider a difficult child—having her own ideas, speaking her mind, and other things that normal, well-behaved elven noblewomen didn’t do. A chance meeting opens a doorway to an escape out of her situation, and the possibility to experience life as she so desires.

Galadin had everything he once loved ripped from him by the cruelty of pirates. He spent years as nothing more than a slave to the ones who destroyed his life. He learned how to steal and pillage, but he never could accept the killing of innocents. When his captor/mentor invaded a place he once called dear, he decides to leave the carnage behind and change his life. As a mercenary, he trades goods and devotes his life to making up for all the wrongs he’s committed. So when a high elf comes and asks for his help, he feels obligated to assist. Of course, the fact that she’s beautiful and has a handful of gold to offer him helps make his decision a little easier. What he never anticipated is the feelings Caliphany evokes in him. Falling in love was never in his plans.

A Ranger’s Tale is a wonderfully realistic version of the journey of life and love. Despite the characters being fae and a world filled with magic and other non-human beings, the trials and tribulations they go through are easy to relate to. Both characters experience some major emotional and developmental changes. They recognize their own flaws and strengths and slowly grow as individuals. The plot subjects both Caliphany and Galadin to painful life lessons, but it only makes their character development that much stronger.

The tale is written in first person, but the viewpoint changes from chapter to chapter. I’ve never read a story like this and it took a little time to get my bearings. Ms. Parker does a good job of keeping things straight. She clearly specifies whose point of view you’re in at the beginning of each change, typically at the start of a new chapter. If I ever got confused on whose point of view I was in, I’d just go back to the chapter beginning and reorient myself.

I do want to caution the reader on some of the plot changes. There are things that occur that most readers might shy away from. However, that being said, it’s worth sticking with the story until the end. There were points when I felt like it had all just gone downhill, but I can honestly say, it all works out as it should. Despite the bumpy road there, the characters reach a happy ending that’s both acceptable and satisfying.

If you like a story that’s nonconventional, one that doesn’t follow all the rules, then you’re bound to love A Ranger’s Tale by Mysti Parker. Get ready to take a deeply moving trip through the turbulent lives of Caliphany, Galigan, and the people closest in their lives. It one destination that definitely provides a satisfying ride.


North Leogard, the Aranea Estate, 15 Xaviel, LV 259 (The 259th year of King Leopold Vaeloria’s reign)

Fresh hay tickles Caliphany’s nose, and she stifles a sneeze. Hide-and-seek is her favorite game, except Aelendyl is allergic to hay, and she knows it. Below the loft, he runs and calls for her. He starts to climb the ladder and breaks into a sneezing fit. Caliphany giggles and picks a ladybug off her pointed ear. She watches it crawl along her finger and catches her breath when it opens its wings and flies away.

“Come on, Caliphany, I know you’re up there!”

A spark of fire springs to life in Caliphany’s hand. She knows she shouldn’t, but Aelendyl’s been making her play Mage Academy for three hours. If he wants to see magic, she’ll show him magic. She crawls to the edge of the loft and peeks over. Aelendyl’s headed for the stable door. She flicks the flame down toward him, and it lands at his feet with a loud pop.

He screams, “I’m telling!” Then, he runs from the stable.

“No. Please!” Caliphany hurries down the ladder, but trips on the hem of her dress. She lands with a thud on the dirt floor. A spark flies from her hand when she lands, straight into the dry hay at the rear of the stable.

The fire spreads like a plague, and smoke fills the stable. Coughing, she hurries to the stalls, opens them, and shoos their three horses out. By the time she escapes, flames have engulfed the structure, and the heat has scorched her skin like a too-hot bath. Her mother, father, and Aelendyl come running from the manor.

Father’s voice booms, “Caliphany! What have you done?”

Mother rushes to her side. “Oh, my darling, are you hurt?”

“We were playing hide-and-seek. I just…I’m sorry!”

She looks at the little high elf boy. He trembles and rubs his nose on his sleeve. Her parents keep talking of their future marriage. She’d sooner marry a goat, but she never wanted to hurt him.

Father grabs her by the shoulder. “You could have killed Aelendyl, or our horses, or yourself. Stand back!”

The great wizard lifts his hands, chants a familiar spell, and the wind whips above the stable, spinning the fire into a cyclone. A dark gray cloud materializes, heavy laden with rain. One more chant, and the cloud releases its torrent over the inferno. A few minutes later, the burned-out shell of the stable smolders in front of them.

Aelendyl nods and bows to them. “I should go home now.”

When he leaves, father bends toward Caliphany. “Your behavior was inexcusable.” He yanks Caliphany up, tucks her under his arm, and heads for the manor. She screams and kicks.

Mother runs behind them. “Sirius, what are you doing?”

“We’ve coddled her too long, Ellawen. It’s time she learns her place before we lose another child.”

Inside the manor, he puts Caliphany down, grasps her arm, and drags her downstairs. He opens a storage room door. She wails and pulls against him, nearly knocking them both down. With one last burst of strength and a blast of wind from his wizard hands, Father hurls her into the small room, and shuts the door.

The wooden bar slams down, the sound of it sealing her fate. She runs to the door, pounds on it, tiptoes to peek out the window.

Father turns Mother around leads her up the stairs. “Stop crying. I won’t leave her in there forever.”

Caliphany turns, rubs her arms, slides down the door. Lamplight from the hallway makes flickering shadows in the room. Behind the crates, jars, bags, and stored furniture, she imagines ghosts lurking, hairy spiders, and unimaginable things with mouths watering at the thought of feasting on her flesh. She buries her face in her hands and cries, wishing she had never been born.


Be sure to stop by Ms. Parker's blog to find out more about her writing.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Inn at Little Bend by Bobbi Groover

TITLE: The Inn at Little Bend

PUBLISHER: Melange Books LLC

MAIN GENRE: Historical 








In antebellum America, life for an abandoned woman was difficult at best. But when young Grayson escapes her sadistic guardian, she finds freedom just as hostile. The lonesome, starving wanderer flees straight into the path of vicious marauders. Only one thing keeps the rustlers from violating the curvaceous, dark-haired beauty but the punishment they intend to mete out for her crimes borders on insanity.

Not far away a lone rover hears the screams, yet continues down the road. He wants nothing more of life than to be left alone. He has his own debts to account for. Once a headstrong irresistible rakehell, the drifter had bolted, shuttered his heart and retreated deep within himself. But now the wafting agony tears at him--his own and the wails of another. Swearing under his breath, he whirls the horse around.

Grayson Ridge struggles to survive her fated trials and conceal the secrets that plague her. Her exploits collide with the life of Drake Somerset, a scraggly yet oddly dashing drifter besieged by dark shadows. Neither realizes their chance encounter could free them both. Their wrangling ignites a turbulent journey and sets their worlds on fire.

Like a moth to the proverbial flame, the Inn at Little Bend draws the broken-hearted, the desolate, and the hopeless.

Grayson, River, Raven, Ridgely, Gracie…five different personalities all rolled into one complicated woman with a desperation to survive. What Grayson doesn’t expect is how complex the simple act of pretending to be someone she’s not will become. Somewhere along the line, she loses her heart to the one man she can’t confide in. But her web of lies has grown so multifaceted, that she fears she will soon be exposed for the fraud she is. Orphan, runaway, murderer…seems fate has left her desolate and alone, just like her parents. When the temptation of love is dangled before her, she yearns with everything in her to grab it and rejoice, but fear and deceit keep her from confessing all and claiming that coveted prize. She’s learned in life that good things come with a price, and she’s not the only one who’s paid.

Guilt and despair have changed Drake from a life-loving Lothario to little more than a hermit. A tragic accident in his past has robbed his purpose for living. Unable to come to grips with the mistake that cost another their life, he travels the countryside in aimless sorrow. He’s constructed an impenetrable wall around his heart and soul. All he has left is his music and his misery. That is, until a little “peach-fuzz” of a boy enters his life and begins chipping away at the fortress he’s so carefully crafted to keep others out. But there’s more to the scrawny runt than meets the eye. Somehow, the kid worms his way into his life and his heart, he just can’t figure out how or why. There’s something odd about River, but he hasn’t the time for wayward adolescents and feelings, he needs to get moving on. So why can’t he leave?

The Inn at Little Bend was an excellent story. It’s been a very long time since I’ve picked up a book where the characters are superbly penned. Ms. Groover has done a marvelous job with description and emotion. You really get a good feel for the depth of Drake’s misery, as well as the desperation of Grayson’s situation. The secondary characters are equally crafted. There’s a lot of emotion in this book and it’s not one to take lightly. You don’t whizz through the characters, plot, and setting. It’s very deep and intense. Ever so slowly, you see Drake and Grayson change. It’s like watching a flower open its petals, waking up to new life and displaying the beauty hidden inside. The beginning starts out strong and just keeps going. But be prepared to go through the gamut of emotions. There’s a lot of punch packed into these 292 pages.

Other than a couple of missing words, I didn’t find any major editing or grammar errors. Point of view shifts are clearly delineated with asterisks, which is always a plus when there’s so much information to ingest. Over all, this was a wonderful story. Very thorough and expertly crafted. Congratulations to Ms. Groover for penning an excellent historical romance, and thank you for letting me review it.

If you like deeply emotional stories with complex characters and a thorough journey through their change and development, then I highly recommend The Inn at Little Bend. Bobbi Groover most definitely delivers. Drake and Grayson are sure to warm your heart and remind you how much true love is worth fighting for.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Take One At Bedtime by Jenny Twist

TITLE: Take One At Bedtime

AUTHOR: Jenny Twist

MAIN GENRE: Contemporary, Paranormal 


LENGTH: 108 pages




Nobody ever goes upstairs in Margaret's house. So what is making the strange thumping noises up there? And why is there a toy rabbit under the kitchen table?

Margaret's Ghost is just one of a collection of short stories consisting mainly of horror and science fiction, ranging from a classic gothic tale – Jack Trevellyn – to the Wyndhamesque Victim of Fortune, and the modern Waiting for Daddy, with its spine-chilling twist.

There is also the occasional excursion into romance with A Castle in Spain and Jess's Girl.
But most of these tales take you to a place which is not quite as it seems.

It's bedtime now. Time to go upstairs. Time to take a look. Just one look.

WARNING: Do not exceed the stated dose.

Chillers and creepers, fuzzies and weepers—Take One At Bedtime has a little bit of everything.

This charming collection of short stories is difficult to label with just one genre. Some will make your skin break out with goose bumps, while others might just have you reaching for a tissue. For horror junkies to romance lovers—with such a wide variety—there’s bound to be something for everyone in this book.

I think what I liked most about this collection is that each story was different. After the first few, I realized that each held a new surprise. Typically, a collection of stories follows the same genre—horror, romance, mystery, etc. Not with this one. No, Ms. Twist certainly keeps you guessing what each new tale will bring.

Ms. Twist handles Grammar and punctuation well, and doesn’t make any point-of-view violations that distract from reading. If they were there, I didn’t notice. Despite the shortness of each story, the author does a pretty good job with character development. She manages to give enough information to get the reader interested in what happens with the main characters, but not so much that it weighs down the story and you get lost in the details. Kudos to Ms. Twist for successfully keeping my interest peaked with each of her unique tales and her skillful story telling.

Take One At Bedtime…how often have you disregarded the directions and taken more than you should? Beware the urge to overdose on Ms. Twist’s enchanting stories. Once you get started, you won’t want to quit, not until you’ve digested every last enticing tale.