"Angel of Death' by Jennifer Hinsman

Angel of Death by [Hinsman, Jennifer]


Friends from college, Tancy and Audrey love one another like family. They grew up in very different worlds, one poor, with absent, drug-addicted parents, the other with wealth and privilege. As roommates, they delve into the seedy world of escorts as they try to solve a cold case murder from Tancy's childhood. Chance meetings and twists of fate alter both their lives. Romance, steamy sex and danger await the women, as everything about the murder is uncovered. Shocking details emerge that change their lives forever and reinforces the bond of true friendship.

In "Angel of Death' by Jennifer Hinsman, there are plenty of multi-dimensional relationships to be explored. A friendship formed between Tancy and Audrey, even though their backgrounds differed severely. Audrey wound up bound to an alternative lifestyle in an attempt to gain independence from her parents and maintain her usual comforts. Tancy found true love in her first real boyfriend. My favorite part of the story was the way their lives intersected, their families connected to the unsolved deaths, and how Angel always looked out for Tancy until it was solved. The truth about Angel surprised me in a good way, but then, I had some questions about how she managed to keep Tancy from starving to death. A lot of sexual scenes in this book. I would have preferred more about the bones of the story and the path to uncovering the mystery and revealing the bad guy; I enjoyed that aspect. Overall, I liked where the author went with it.

"Hearts in the Storm" by Elmer Seward

Hearts in the Storm

Trista is on a mission and looking for someone to help her accomplish her goal. The details of that goal are withheld long enough for you to get a little background information about the characters' lives. Trista meets a local man affectionately referred to as "Duck" with a past of his own that he can't escape. He agrees to take her out on his boat in the eye of a storm because he knows more about her secrets than he is letting on and honestly wants to help her. In doing so, he feels he may be able to find redemption for himself and finally be free of his own demons. His sister thinks he may be crazy but she doesn't argue with him because she can see glimpses of the brother she used to have and wants him to be emotionally whole again. She can see a bond forming between Trista and Duck and hopes a relationship will mean a new beginning for them.

This is a touching story about loss, tragedy, and overcoming it. The way the author pulls you along spilling bits of the past only hints at the losses felt by Trista and Duck, but when the entire truth was revealed, it gave me goosebumps. The conclusion had some surprises as well. I thought it was going to end one way, but Mr. Seward managed to surprise me. Job well done.

I was given a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. I would recommend it.


"The Second-Best Ranger in Texas" by Kathleen Rice Adams


His partner’s grisly death destroyed Texas Ranger Quinn Barclay. Cashiered for drunkenness and refusal to follow orders, he sets out to fulfill his partner’s dying request, armed only with a saloon girl’s name.
Sister María Tomás thought she wanted to become a nun, but five years as a postulant have convinced her childhood dreams aren’t always meant to be. At last ready to relinquish the temporary vows she never should have made, she begs the only man she trusts to collect her from a mission in the middle of nowhere.
When the ex-Ranger’s quest collides with the ex-nun’s plea in a burned-out border town, unexpected love blooms among shared memories of the dead man who was a brother to them both.
Too bad he was also the only man who could have warned them about the carnage to come.

Kathleen Rice Adams paints a descriptive picture of setting and characters in her historical novella, "The Second-Best Ranger in Texas." Even Barclay's horse Bulls-Eye has a personality. Dulce and Barclay form a connection within the limited pages that can be difficult to attain, but this author makes you care about them both and believe they are falling in love. She weaves a story of circumstances that show the depth of their strengths and weaknesses and show they are human. There are also confrontations and action scenes that are highly exciting. I enjoyed this story and would recommend it as a quick, exciting read that leaves you wanting more.


"Hexed: A Purr-fect Catastrophe" by Wendy Jayne

Hexed: A Purr-fect Catastrophe by [Jayne, Wendy]


Red Ribbon winner of The Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2018.

A year ago, an unknown assailant heart-hexed Cassidy.
Covertly, she’s used her witches’ powers seeking a counter spell, but to no avail.
The year of enforced celibacy is grating on her sexual nerves. Cassidy’s situation worsens when she falls for the very sexy warlock, Hunter Rutherford, but must keep him at arm’s length.
Sparks fly when they kiss, but these sparks are the type that burn.
The only way they’ll be able to consummate their relationship is by finding who cast the hex and convincing them to remove the curse.

Bonus Short Read: Snakes & Apples.

I absolutely loved this short story. Another hit from Wendy Jayne. Cassidy's journey to uncover the person who heart-hexed her provided sensual tension, humor, and a bit of mystery. 100% enjoyable. Recommended! Get your copy today!


'Lost Time: Family Ties' by Maretha Botha

Lost Time: Family Ties by [Botha, Maretha]


A love triangle remains the topic of many romantic tales, but when it occurs within families, someone always gets hurt, and there's seldom a winner. Two sisters - twins - adore the same man. Can familial love be strong enough to move those involved to make sound choices or will unforeseen circumstances control the outcome?

Twin sisters' relationship with each other and romantic entanglements with the same man could weave a captivating web. The description enticed me to read the book. Finding how one sister truly views the other proved interesting. The dialogue confused at times, and the reader is put inside different characters' heads within the same scene. Nelle didn't appear to have any redeeming qualities.

"The Marathon Man" by Liz Cowan

The Marathon Man (Perception Book 2) by [Cowan, Liz]


When is a problem not a problem? What if it is a conscious choice?

Thorn Burdette is a real life long tall, gorgeous Texan with the lean physique of an outdoorsman. He is content with his life. What’s not to like? Success, wealth and women equal smooth sailing, right?

P. J. McConnell is not your average police detective. If fact, average would be the last word Thorn would use to describe the Dallas special detective. She is tough and alluring in one potent package.

Smart, stunning and sassy, with evolving paranormal abilities, P. J. is nothing like the women who have conga-danced through Thorn’s life.

They have nothing in common. Nothing . . . except irresistible desire and a strong sense of destiny neither can ignore or resist.

Then she discovers his secret. A secret which leads them on a twisted journey of passion and pain neither could have foreseen.

And P. J. may be the only one who can save him . . . save them.

In "The Marathon Man" by Liz Cowan, the two main characters have unlimited potential. Each one with select attributes that make them attractive. Patricia is a beautiful detective with paranormal abilities. Thorn is a gorgeous, affluent businessman. The two meet and immediately know they are meant to be a couple. They face Thorn's past reputation and the reasons his previous paramours dubbed him 'the marathon man' which render him incapable of complete intimacy. Patricia's devotion and boundless patience are admirable. Thorn is vulnerable behind his macho facade; his interactions with Patricia's niece prove sweet and endearing. Several compelling scenes read well. The book contained very few errors.
In my experience, what I didn't like evenly balanced what I did like. The dialogue didn't flow in this story; I had difficulty with Thorn and Patricia's hot to cold and passion into argument transitions. Patricia is a detective, but after just finishing the story, I don't remember much in the book that involved her job, and I found it difficult to believe her role as a police officer. It felt like her paranormal ability was restricted to explain her immediate, unbreakable connection with Thorn and to figure out his suppressed problem, so much time spent inside her head, and repetition of her feelings about the situation. Patricia takes sexual actions at the end of the story to save her husband after a life-threatening injury that I couldn't accept.


"Slimmer" by Wendy Jayne

Slimmer: A Contemporary Romance by [Jayne, Wendy]


An unexpected wedding invitation spins Pippa’s world off its axis. The bride-to-be’s sexy brother, Alex, is sure to be there. Seven years ago, he jetted out of Pippa’s life, oblivious to her teenage fantasies. This time she’s determined to lasso his heart.
The calorie countdown is ticking, Pippa has only ten weeks to become ‘slimmer’.
If you’ve ever struggled to lose a few unwanted pounds, you’ll empathise with Pippa’s theatrics!

Laugh out loud funny. I became a fan only paragraphs into the first shorty story I read by Wendy Jayne, and I thoroughly enjoyed SLIMMER as well. The humor tickles, and the romantic satire never disappoints; believable characters in an interesting and relatable scene laced with hilarious moments. I highly recommend this book.

"Somewhere Between" by Patty Wiseman

Somewhere Between by [Wiseman, Patty]


1856 Texas
Phebe Whiteside, a thirty-seven-year-old governess, finds new employment at Queens Court Acres, a stately mansion in South Texas.
She also finds a ghost.
The three-story mansion harbors the spirit of Edmund McAdams, the former owner of the estate. His murder was never solved.
Old mysteries are revealed, and Phebe begins a quest to bring Edmund’s tortured spirit peace and reunite him with his lost love.
A Pandora’s Box of secrets and lies are unleashed as she digs deeper into forbidden territory. Everyone has something to lose if the secrets come out. One will kill to see that doesn’t happen.

I enjoyed "Somewhere Between" by Patty Wiseman. Phebe's intelligence, curiosity, and bravery while investigating the family mystery and ghost in the attic kept me reading. Filled with multi-dimensional, strong characters, this story flowed well, and the ending surprised. The love match at the end, however, felt rushed, but it provided a happy note for the finale.


"The Hunted" by Karen Black


When Yvonne’s tranquil existence is invaded by nighttime terror, her days become haunted, filled with exhaustion and fear. From a garden lush with lavender to a forest brimming with danger, the Hunted will take you on a journey bursting with perplexity, incomprehension, and disbelief. In the end, you’ll understand.

In "The Hunted" by Karen Black, Yvonne abruptly moves between two worlds; one calm and happy and the other a nightmare. The beginning felt awkward, but the story soon gained traction, and my favorite parts fell during her terrifying dreams with the author's portrayal of action and emotion. Within fourteen pages, the tale holds a couple of surprises. What is real?


'Just Stay' by Michelle Abbott


The last place Pia wants to be is on a family vacation in a sleepy Cornish village. She's anticipating two weeks of mind-numbing boredom. Then she meets Trey, a local boy. He's absolutely gorgeous. The trouble is — he knows it. He's arrogant and egotistical, and Pia intends to avoid him at all costs. 

But Trey is not the kind of guy who gives up easily. When he sets his sights on Pia, her resistance is futile. 

It's just a holiday romance, some light-hearted fun, right? But one of them is about to discover that still waters do, indeed, run deep. When what lurks beneath the surface finally erupts, the consequences may prove to be catastrophic. 

For ages 17+ due to sexual content and strong language

In "Just Stay" by Michelle Abbott, Pia's family guilted her into joining them for a final family vacation before she headed to uni; she anticipated a boring trip but agreed to go. A local boy named Trey entered the scene. Pia finds him creepy. Pia's mother unwittingly helps Trey in his pursuit of Pia in a comical misunderstanding. Spending time with persistent Trey, Pia falls under his spell; but, she doubts his fidelity and sincerity due to his admissions and his friend's warnings. Trey's relationship with his mother overflowed with heartache. The poor guy seemed like a whipping boy for anyone that ever hurt her, but Trey never showed anger towards her. Their relationship also caused stress on Pia and Trey's budding romance. Not a flowery love story; it has some dark moments but is a worth-while read, and Trey is a powerful character.


"Journey to the Rainbow's End: A Drag Queen's Odyssey" by Forrest Stepnowski


Forrest Robert Stepnowski captures the essence of "coming out" and coming of age as a gay male today, and over the past three decades. "Journey to the Rainbow's End" captures the joys of love, the pain of heartbreak, surviving the darkness of suicide, and the self-discovery of finding one’s voice and place in society. Forrest Robert Stepnowski is a community advocate, a writer, a social worker, and a female impersonator, known as Victoria Eyesli, in the Pacific Northwest. He has been writing poetic works and prose for many years and focuses on empowering others who have dealt with similar pathways of self-hate, self-deprecation, and self-loathing, in the hopes they can find they are not alone, that they are not deviants, nor are they against “human nature.” We all have voices, and the world should hear them all.

This book contained a collection of poetry, but I favored the short story that finalized the author's thoughts. I have a family member who went through this emotional rollercoaster more recently. If you think things have changed dramatically, you're probably correct. If you feel young people struggling with their identities don't face these same challenges and attitudes anymore, you're wrong. Thank you for a peek into your personal experience and baring your soul to help others. 


"Strange Hwy: Short Stories" by Beem Weeks


If you ever find yourself on the Strange Hwy—don’t turn around. Don’t panic. Just. Keep. Going. You never know what you’ll find. 
You’ll see magic at the fingertips of an autistic young man, 
•A teen girl’s afternoon, lifetime of loss.
•A winged man, an angel? Demon—?
•Mother’s recognition, peace to daughter.
•Danny’s death, stifled secrets.
•Black man’s music, guitar transforms boy.
•Dead brother, open confession.
•First love, supernatural?—family becomes whole!
You can exit the Strange Hwy, and come back any time you want.
See, now you know the way in, don’t be a stranger.

A collection of short stories with plenty of meat and backbone, brimming with a variety of characters, settings, and ideas that provoke thought and wonder; Mr. Weeks entertains every moment in his tales, but if I had to choose a favorite, I'd pick "Overcome (Holy Water)." I highly recommend this book; it is one of my top reads this year, and I favor the author's voice.


"The Rancher's Baby Bargain" by Mary Sue Jackson


Former class nerd, Lucy Carr, comes home with a tantalizing offer for hometown hottie Aiden Harper: she’s developed a natural pesticide that will kill off the spider mites eating his crops, and she’ll give it to him for free…if he agrees to father a child for her. Time is running out to go the traditional route for finding a man, and Lucy wants her baby to be smart AND good in gym class.

Aiden has put everything he has into his fields of hops, and the award-winning beer he brews with them. But one more year of mites eating half his crops and his family’s farm and legacy—as well as his dreams for his brewery—are going to go under. When Lucy shows up looking hot, and being hailed for her scientific achievements, Aiden is more than a little jealous. He remembers how fun science class was the year they’d been lab partners and how much more enticing Lucy had been than the cheerleaders on the football field. He’d never had the guts to admit his crush in high school—after all, jocks and nerds didn’t mix. Now Lucy has everything, and he’s on the verge of losing it all.

But what starts as a trade of necessity to achieve their goals turns into a tangled jumble of emotions when they realize they might have found more than bugs and babies: they may have found the person who completes their lives.

"The Rancher's Baby Bargain "by Mary Sue Jackson is a cute and sweet, mellow story with a happily ever after. I enjoyed the "baby bargain" plot. The main characters, Lucy and Aiden, were likable. It didn't include an abundance of drama or angst. A couple of scenes with Aiden's ex-girlfriends were awkward and strange, but overall the story flowed smoothly. Lucy and Aiden harbored a secret attraction from the past that neither one was afraid to act on now. Although he was a hunky main character, Aiden's bad knee gave him a human element which endeared him. The near break up/ warm and fuzzy reuniting proved a satisfying ending.


"OPEN, SHUT: A Short Story" by Nonnie Jules


Darcy Lynn has a few problems: her sister, Lola, killed by a drunk driver, leaves her with an eerie message right before her death; her parents are atheists; her father drinks a little too much, and her brother, Bud, is just annoying. But, her most pressing issue is that things are mysteriously opening and closing around her and she hasn't a clue as to why...or how.

In this short "sad but uplifting story with a wonderful message," as one reader tags it, Author, Nonnie Jules flexes her writing chops once again, by introducing her readers to a normal, everyday family, whose lives are altered, not once, but twice by unexpected and unusual circumstances.

If you came into this story only believing in things seen with your own two eyes, and things heard with your own two ears, you walk away with a new and refreshing added sense...the ability and the courage to change, based on where your heart leads you.

"OPEN, SHUT: A Short Story" by Nonnie Jules inspired me with proof that love can alter a person's beliefs. Change can happen no matter how long it takes. When a loved one leaves us, they aren't truly gone. A relatable, emotional and touching story that made me cry and left me with a sense of calm fulfillment, it was a worth-while journey.


'Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir' by Karen Ingalls


When Karen Ingalls was diagnosed with Stage IIC ovarian cancer, she realized ho little she knew about what is called "the silent killer." As Ingalls began to educate herself she felt overwhelmed by the prevalent negativity of cancer. Lost in the information about drugs, side effects, and statistics, she redirected her energy to focus on the equally overwhelming blessings of life, learning to rejoice in each day and find peace in spirituality. In this memoir, Karen is a calming presence and positive companion, offering a refreshing perspective of hope with the knowledge that "the beauty of the soul, the real me and the real you, outshines the effects of cancer, chemotherapy, and radian. It is a story of survival and reminds readers that disease is not an absolute, but a challenge to recover.

Outshine: An Ovarian Cancer Memoir by Karen Ingalls looks at her personal experience with cancer. No person will react to a traumatic event exactly as another dealing with the same problem. I find every individual's story of strength and courage inspiring. Ms. Ingalls gave a valid account of her fears and worries and positive steps she followed to keep her chin up. She was also brave enough to show her weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and flaws of character at the same time. Outshine was a good read with a myriad of emotions.

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IF YOU LOVE ME, I'M YOURS by Lizzie Chantree


‘If you love me, I’m yours…’

Maud didn’t mind being boring, not really. She had a sensible job, clothes, and love life… if you counted an overbearing ex who had thanked her, rolled over and was snoring before she even realised he’d begun! She could tolerate not fulfilling her dreams, if her parents would pay her one compliment about the only thing she was passionate about in life: her art.

Dot should have fit in with her flamboyant and slightly eccentric family of talented artists, but somehow, she was an anomaly who couldn’t paint. She tried hard to be part of their world by becoming an art agent extraordinaire, but she dreamed of finding her own voice. 

Dot’s brother Nate, a smoulderingly sexy and famous artist, was adored by everyone. His creative talent left them in awe of his ability to capture such passion on canvas. Women worshipped him, and even Dot’s friend Maud flushed and bumped into things when he walked into a room, but a tragic event in his past had left him emotionally and physically scarred, and reluctant to face the world again.

Someone was leaving exquisite little paintings on park benches, with a tag saying, ‘If you love me, I’m yours’. The art was so fresh and cutting-edge, that it generated a media frenzy and a scramble to discover where the mystery artist could be hiding. The revelation of who the prodigious artist was interlinked Maud, Dot and Nate’s lives forever, but their worlds came crashing down. 

Were bonds of friendship, love and loyalty strong enough to withstand fame, success and scandal?

IF YOU LOVE ME, I'M YOURS: The cover of this book is adorable. I love it. The premise of the story grabbed my attention; 'what a great idea,' I thought; I hadn't read anything similar. The characters of Maud and Dot are likable, interesting, and unique, and they have plenty of conflicts. When Maud pulls off stunts to gain admirers for her art because she's not confident in her abilities, some comical things happen. This book left me torn. I couldn't decide if I was reading a romance or a story about a girl finding her power. Maud grew into her talent and took control of her life, and that satisfied. In the romance category, I yearned for more because the potential was there. The few moments Maud and Nate spent together had latent chemistry that if tapped into could have set the pages on fire. The style of telling versus showing isn't my preference when reading, but the way Nate and Maud ended their story was a true "awe" sweet moment, and Lizzie Chantree sewed up the theme for 'If You Love Me, I'm Yours.' 


"Just Three Dates" by David Burnett


Since Karen broke up with her last boyfriend three years ago, she has not dated the same guy twice, and only one man in ten has received so much as a goodnight kiss as she turned him away.

Mark still dreams of his almost-fiancée, and his date book has been empty since he threw her out a week before he’d planned to ask for her hand.

Karen’s mother tells her she needs a husband. Mark’s mother says he needs a wife. But left on their own, these opposites will never attract. As a result, their mothers become matchmakers. They entangle their children in a series of blind dates, suggesting that, in the absence of love, a marriage of convenience is a live option. ... But is it?

I was lured in by the description and completely enjoyed the beginning of this book; the meddlesome but endearing mothers convincing their children to agree to three dates in hopes they'd fall in love or at least marry for convenience sake. The urgency to wed didn't make sense when Mark and Karen were both rather young. Mark was hung up on his ex-girlfriend for most of the story, and that made it a little awkward for me; especially when the truth about their break up was revealed. Some scenes seemed far fetched; Karen falls down a mountain, gets badly-injured and can hardly move but goes dancing for hours immediately afterward; but the setting and descriptions drew a beautiful picture in my mind, and I was happy with the ending.


"Here The Truth Lies" by Seb Kirby


Sometimes your past is stranger than you ever imagined

Emma Chamberlain has a consuming ambition - to prove the innocence of a convicted murderer sentenced to life. But the more she digs into the evidence, the more she is forced to confront threatening secrets about her own past that lead her to the ultimate question - who is Emma Chamberlain?

To discover the truth, Emma must expose those responsible for a dark conspiracy that has ruined the lives of many and now threatens her own.


Emma Chamberlain is an investigative journalist, and she's also an alcoholic who reaches an all-time low when she works on cases her boss has warned her away from, and she's suspended. Corruption of police officers and an imprisoned man that Emma believes was wrongly convicted; she can't let go of them. She has no memory of her childhood, feels the people she's told are her parents are strangers. A ghostly little girl visits her bedroom at night, but Emma's not afraid of her. She wants to help the girl, and she'll have to follow clues to uncover her true identity, and in doing so, several layers are peeled and merge in this intriguing story that leads to a satisfying ending. I didn't want to stop reading. I highly recommend this book.


'Memoir of a Mad Woman' by Vashti Quiroz-Vega


A novelette from the award-winning author of The Fall of Lilith and Son of the Serpent, Vashti Quiroz-Vega.

Who can explain how madness begins?

This is the story of Emma. Reared by a religious fanatic, orphaned at a young age and sent to a mental institution and an orphanage. Molested and betrayed by the people who should be watching over her…

Who can say that madness has no logic?

During a fight, Emma's best friend punched her in the abdomen. Since then, Emma has believed there's something damaged inside of her.

Every month… she bleeds.
She tries to fight it all her life, but the pain and the blood return twenty-eight days later… and the cycle begins again.

But Emma, even in her madness, knows how to take care of herself.
She knows how to make things right…

You may not agree… 
But, who can reason with insanity?

'Memoir of a Mad Woman' by Vashti Quiroz-Vega was a short read made quicker by the desire to find out what happened to this little girl, Emma, or what happened to those around her. The 'evil' deeds committed upon this girl and the way she interprets and responds to them make you wonder; was she disturbed before the torturous events or was her mental state caused by them? You also feel sympathetic towards her; even though the revenge she exacts is quite brutal, a little part of me thinks they deserve it. Well done, Ms. Quiroz-Vega with a few tantalizing final lines that lead the imagination to what trouble Emma will find herself in next. 


"The Duke's Bride in Disguise (Fairfax Twins Book 1)" by Claudia Stone


When poor orphan Ava Smith comes face to face with a girl who looks exactly like her, she is certain she has seen a ghost! But, Lady Emily Fairfax, is no ghost and is sure that she and Ava must be long lost twins. Despite her better judgement, Ava allows Emily to convince her to swap lives for a month, in order for Ava to scupper Emily’s engagement to a cold-hearted, brute of a man.
Imagine Ava’s surprise when Emily’s betrothed turns out to be none other than her unrequited crush, the Duke of Kilbride!

Raff Alexander Hamilton, the Sixth Duke of Kilbride, knows that he must do his duty to the line by marrying and procuring an heir. Love was never in the equation in his search for a bride. All that he required was a lady who was well-bred, quiet and biddable—and he thought that he had found just what he was looking for in Lady Emily Fairfax.
Imagine his surprise, when overnight, his betrothed goes from meek and compliant to outspoken, alluring, and decidedly unimpressed with him.

As Raff battles to woo his bride to be, Ava must navigate the sumptuous world of Regency London, while trying desperately not to fall in love - no matter how much her heart wants it.

Twins separated at birth by unfortunate secret circumstances find one another as young women. What do you know? One twin is engaged to a man she wants nothing to do with, and she plans to trade places with her sister who will have a much easier time chasing away the unwanted fiancé. But, wait, her sister is in love with him.
 I enjoyed this story; it made me laugh, made me angry, and made me sad. Each character had something that drew a connection; and as a romance blossomed, a mystery was solved. I recommend this book.


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