Category Archives: Amy P

3.5 Stars for The Beast That Never Was by Caren J. Werlinger #FF #FairyTales

CoverTitle: The Beast That Never Was
Author Name & Publisher: Caren J. Werlinger (Corgyn Publishing LLC)
Publication Date & Length: June 1, 2016 – 211 pgs

Synopsis

What if Beauty was the Beast?

Lise’s father is dead, and the life of plenty and freedom that she has known as the daughter of the King’s Huntsman is gone. She must now live a life of duty to her mother and sisters, helping them to cope in their altered circumstances. But where her mother would have her wed a childhood friend to secure their future, Lise knows that is not what she longs for.

When she meets a mysterious woman in the forest, Lise feels the stirrings of emotions she cannot give voice to, but with this woman, she doesn’t have to say anything—Senna knows.

Cursed, hunted, and feared, Senna has been forced to wander from place to place for more years than she cares to remember. She gave up hope long ago that there could ever be an end to her isolation.

Odd sightings in the forest—monsters of legend come to life, old enemies back from the past, fearsome beasts on the prowl—begin to frighten the people of Lise’s village. Somehow, all of these things are connected to Senna. As the villagers’ fear grows, so does their hatred.

Senna prepares to flee, accepting what has become her fate, but Lise isn’t ready to give up her one chance for happiness. Soon, only Lise stands between the villagers and the woman she has grown to love.

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Review

 ThreeandHalfStars

I hate to review books like this. Werlinger has put together a wonderfully written story, with an interesting and engaging concept, that I didn’t really like. My problem with the book is most likely about pacing. I felt it started really slowly, which agrees with others I’ve discussed the book with. Others told me that it gets better, so I decided to keep with it. And yes, while the pace did pick up, things still moved rather slowly for me. It’s almost as though the details, especially of the day-to-day life of Lise and her village, bog the story down too much. At the end of the book, I understand why others liked the story. I love the idea of this interpretation of the fairy tale, but as much as I was looking forward to reading this, it just wasn’t for me. The problem with my rating is that I totally respect the way Werlinger crafted her story; her writing skills are great, and I like her characters. Her style just didn’t click with me.

AmyP

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4.5 Stars for Dyre: A Knight of Spirit and Shadows (Dyre #2) by Rachel E. Bailey #FF #SciFi @Rachel_E_Bailey

CoverTitle: Dyre: A Knight of Spirit and Shadows (Dyre #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Rachel E. Bailey (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: August 16, 2016 – 192 pgs

Synopsis

Jennifer “Des” Desiderio is a werewolf on a mission…a mission to retrieve her queen, Ruby, who was abducted on Des’s watch.

But it’s not as simple as following her nose, fighting the good fight, and saving the day. Des must first team up with her rival for Ruby’s affections, Thierry LaFours, to track the kidnappers to and through Paris. With the help of a tarot card-reading werewolf named Nicolae, and Des’s new found ability to go dream-walking, they manage to close in on the kidnappers. But to save her queen, Des must once more play the champion and battle not only for her and Ruby’s lives, but for all the North American Packs and their entire way of life.

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Review

FourandHalfStarsThere may be a few spoilers in here so read at your own risk.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from book two in this series, but I can honestly say I’m glad I picked it up. I remember most of the plot from book one, and what I didn’t remember this book jarred out of the steel trap, so reading it felt much like a continuation of the first one regardless of the time between. I don’t, however, quite remember the pacing of the first book. This book starts fast, and keeps that pace throughout. This is a good thing – things are happening that are time-sensitive and the pace keeps the story moving and the reader turning pages. A couple of things kept this from being a full 5-star read for me. I know the pace was fast, but some things seemed rushed that I wish Bailey had spent a little more time on. I feel a little cheated by the final battle; I didn’t expect a Dyre to run like a coward, so that seemed a little out of character. Although the cheating was definitely in character. I felt like Ruby needed some sort of resolution for her nightmares. If this is PTSD, the solution doesn’t have to magically clear anything up, but I felt like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop, and that isn’t a good way to end a book. Also, Thierry’s death felt a bit like a cop out, like instead of having to deal with him in the future, he was killed in order to make things easier for Ruby and Des to be together. None of these things kept me from thoroughly enjoying the book. If you’ve read the first one, you’ll definitely like this one. If you haven’t read the first one… why not? Go read it first!

AmyP

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4 Stars for Capturing Forever by Erin Dutton #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: Capturing Forever
Author Name & Publisher: Erin Dutton (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: August 16, 2016 – 240 pgs

Synopsis

Jacqueline Knight is driven and ambitious, always focused on getting to the top. But when her father’s failing health demands her attention, she must consider putting her career on hold. Though she struggles with her new responsibilities, she won’t admit she can’t do it alone. And the last person she wants to accept help from is her ex, Casey.

Since their breakup eight years before, Casey Meadow s has concentrated on co-parenting their son and making a new life for herself. While she’s happy to offer her help, spending time with Jacqueline threatens to open the box in which she’s locked away their past relationship.

Will the lessons learned in eight years apart be enough to mend the mistakes of the past?

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Review

 FourStarsI’m not sure I can say much about this book. Dutton again has a well-written, tightly plotted, character driven romance, so in that way I can definitely say this is a good book. However, I was reluctant to keep reading once I started. Most of us have that first love who, in the sublime discovery of passion, sex, and deep emotion, we’ve given all of ourselves to. And again, most of us have parted ways, for one reason or another, from that first love. We leave those relationships missing a piece of ourselves, a piece that changes us forever. It changes the way we love, and how much we put into the next relationship. And to read about these two people, who each still had pieces of the other, made me a bit melancholy. To read about how they each hurt the other, each hurt for the other, and still after all this time cared so much about each other, it makes the heart sore for all the time together that they missed out on. So this book took me a lot longer than usual to finish. Because Jacq and Casey both needed the time apart to grow into people who could change enough to fit back together. And while the results were everything you could wish for, it was still hard to watch them go through it.
AmyP

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5 Star and 4.5 Star Reviews for First Position by Melissa Brayden #FF #Romance @MelissaBrayden

CoverTitle: First Position
Author Name & Publisher: Melissa Brayden (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date & Length: August 16, 2016 – 264 pgs

Synopsis

Anastasia Mikhelson is the rising star of the New York City Ballet. She’s sacrificed creature comforts, a social life, as well as her own physical well-being for perfection in dance. Even her reputation as The Ice Queen doesn’t faze her. Though Ana’s at the peak of her career, competition from a new and noteworthy dancer puts all she’s worked for in jeopardy.

While Natalie Frederico has shown herself to be a prodigy when it comes to ballet, she much prefers modern dance and living on her own terms. Life is too short for anything else. However, when the opportunity to dance with the New York City Ballet is thrust upon her, it’s not like she could say no. Dealing with the company’s uptight lead is another story, however. When the two are forced to work side-by-side, sparks begin to fly onstage and off.

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Review
FiveStarsfinds it hard to relax and make friends. When free spirit Natalie joins the company she finds herself drawn to her and slowly begins to open up and embrace friendship. Although they are complete opposites and annoy the hell out of each other, their attraction is so strong. I loved the growing relationship between them as it brought out a different side of Ana especially. Her career was everything to her but she was so buttoned up until Natalie came along. Unforeseen circumstances force Ana to read-evaluate and her struggles were difficult for both of them. Ultimately it was a beautiful love story, with moments of real tenderness and a lot of heat. I found the ballet life really interesting and the NY setting was an exciting background to it all.
Kitty Kat

FourandHalfStars

There’s definitely something about Melissa Brayden’s books that I enjoy. This one started a bit slow, and I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get into it. That worry disappeared around the third chapter. I was a bit worried that this book would be a big struggle between the two main characters for one position, but the turn that took was actually rather enjoyable. It created an atmosphere that engendered cooperation and support between Ana and Natalie, allowing them to grow closer. I also love those stories about a character who is emotionally isolated, who is then drawn out of her shell by our other heroine. It’s like something in Natalie allows Ana to loosen up and reach outside her comfort zone. At the same time, something about Ana pushes Natalie into growing up and realizing that she has responsibilities. Watching her move from shallow party girl who doesn’t want to sell out to someone who stays because she’s made a commitment is a wonderful story arc. The other part of the story is what happens after someone who has made their life out of their passion no longer has the ability to engage in that passion. The career-ending injury that occurs may not have been what was expected, but it’s no less devastating. The events after leave both women devastated and unsure how to move forward. It was wonderful to see how they got back to each other. I also really enjoyed seeing some of the characters from previous books; it was nice to see old friends. If you’ve liked previous Melissa Brayden books, this will be another hit for you.

AmyP

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TWO 5 Stars for Welcome to the Wallops (The Wallops #1) by Gill McKnight #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: Welcome to the Wallops (The Wallops #1)
Author Name & Publisher: Gill McKnight (Yiva Publishing)
Publication Date & Length: June 29, 2016 – 242 pgs

Synopsis

The villages of High Wallop and Lesser Wallop have graced either end of the Wallop valley since medieval times. And competition between the two has never ceased since, especially over the famous Cheese and Beer festival.
As head Judge of Show, Jane Swallow has always struggled to keep peace, friendship, and equanimity within the community she loves, but this year everything is wrong. Her father has just been released from prison and is on his way to Lesser Wallop with the rest of her travelling family and their caravans.
Her job is on the line, and her ex-girlfriend from a million years ago has just moved in next door.
Her life is going down the drain unless she can pull off some sort of miracle.

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Review
FiveStarsI absolutely love The Wallops. Gill McKnight has managed to dream up a village full of characters I can believe in and want more of. Jill is strong, caring and goes way beyond the call of duty. When her ex Renata turns up she is thrown off kilter and old feelings threaten to change the idyllic life she has made for herself. Their very complicated relationship is only part of what kept me reading till the early hours. I loved Bishop Andrew – he was such a mischievous fun character. He was such a counterpoint to the intensely annoying Colin Harper. The  mystery of St Poe’s and Renata’s research raised the story to a much higher level.  I am so glad that there are going to be more of these novels as the main characters Jane and Renata give me a warm fuzzy feeling.
A totally involving read, well written and with scope for a series of wonderful tales.
Kitty Kat

FiveStars
I found this book highly entertaining. There were many scenes that made me laugh and one scene that made me laugh for quite some time. In fact, I related that scene to my partner and she laughed just as hard. It was quite surprising to tell the truth. I wasn’t quite sure I would like the book in the beginning, when the two women had their initial reunion. The vitriol seems insurmountable. The entire reason for the end of their previous relationship centers around Jane and her experiences with her family. The question is whether or not Renata can understand and forgive Jane for running away. Jane considers it her own cowardice, but I see it more as a matter of her own survival. There were several things that were revealed that came as a tremendous surprise. I admire McKnight’s skill in making those revelations not only surprising but fitting. The entire plot hinged together tightly and resulted in a story that kept me turning pages and totally satisfied at the end. Oh, my mistake. Not totally satisfied. There was a preview for book 2, Wendy of the Wallops, at the end of the book. I’m totally not satisfied because that book isn’t out yet. I can’t wait and it is definitely on my list to get as soon as it comes out.
Amy P

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4.5 Star and TWO 4 Star Reviews for Piece of Cake: The Wedding (Wedding Novellas) by Gun Brooke #FF #Romance

CoverTitle: Piece of Cake: The Wedding (Wedding Novellas)
Author Name & Publisher: Gun Brooke (Bold Strokes Books)
Publication Date: August 1, 2016

Synopsis

Kendal Moore knows she’s being used shamelessly by her boss, Holly McAllister. What’s more, Kendal has willingly agreed to it. Holly needs a wife to remain in the US despite an expired visa. Now it’s their wedding day. Kendal is about to marry the woman she secretly loves, but she is afraid. What if she fails Holly by getting last-minute cold feet?
Holly McAllister tries to keep up her usual stern demeanor. If she doesn’t marry, all she’s worked for is lost. She is surprised that the only person she can imagine marrying is her assistant, Kendal, whose loyalty she always relied on. Now Holly’s heart and conscience insist she must talk to Kendal and call off the wedding. She can’t take advantage of the woman she’s grown to love. Kendal deserves more.

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Review

FourandHalfStars
This is such a sweet short. Holly and Kendal struggle with their situation because both are afraid to expose the feelings they each have for the other. At the 11th hour, both women are having second thoughts, not because they can’t stomach the idea of being together, but because they’re afraid that the other will have sacrificed too much and come to resent the other. And they each care too much for that to happen. Even so, most of the story the two are dancing around any type of admittance of how they really feel. It almost feels like an entire courting ritual in the space of a few hours. I liked how each genuinely had feelings for the other. Also, I really enjoyed the interracial aspect of the relationship, because it was dealt with so matter-of-factly. And also Brooke used such a deft touch letting us know about it that we got the picture without the type of heavy-handed repeated descriptors reminding us that Kendal was black every time Holly looked at her. It felt like it was mentioned because it was notable, but then, having let us know, we were allowed to relax in to their relationship without having to constantly be reminded. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it was treated like it was just a normal thing, and that was wonderful to read. I did knock off a half a star, simply because like most short stories that I enjoy, I would’ve liked more. I would have loved to have gotten more of their story before the wedding, and mostly because I liked Holly and Kendal so much I didn’t want to let them go. I believe this was written and included in an anthology centering around a wedding theme, and if so, I’d definitely go looking for the anthology based just on how good this story was.
Amy P
FourStars
Gun Brooke has written a lovely novella of hidden love between two women about to marry. Kendal and Holly are marrying to keep Holly in the country and are insisting it’s a marriage of convenience. On the day of their wedding we find out their true feelings for each other are romantic and sexy and intensely loving. I enjoyed this story as it was just the kind of mushy romance I love.
Kitty Kat
FourStars

I enjoyed getting to know Holly and Kendal! I love the idea of the boss and the assistant. This little story was a great break in my day.

Well written, entertaining, and sweet! Would have loved a full novel with these ladies, but loved to meet them just the same. My only issues with the story was not getting to know the characters more; however, that is the downfall of a shorter work and was to be expected. All-in-all, it was a sweet story that was well worth the read!

Tori

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3.5 Stars for Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2) by Lilah Suzanne #FF #RomCom @LilahSuzanne

Burning Tracks 900px FRONT (Tumblr)Title: Burning Tracks (Spotlight #2 – Standalone)
Author Name & Publisher: Lilah Suzanne (Interlude Press)
Publication Date & Length: August 11, 2016 – 224 pgs

Synopsis

In the sequel to Broken Records, Gwen Pasternak has it all: a job she loves as a celebrity stylist and a beautiful wife, Flora. But as her excitement in working with country music superstar Clementine Campbell grows, Gwen second-guesses her quiet domestic bliss. Meanwhile, her business partner, Nico Takahashi and his partner, reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson, face uncertainties of their own.

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Review

ThreeandHalfStars

This was a difficult read for me. We’re reading about Gwen and Flora, who’ve been together for almost 10 years, and they’ve hit a rough spot where Gwen is freaking out about their lives together and Flora seems to be a bit clueless, even though this is definitely par for the course for Gwen. Toss in the fact that their best friends and family, Nico and Grady, who are definitely still in the honeymoon stage, have just had a fight and may be breaking up, and it sets the stage for Clementine, a client of Gwen and Nico’s and a friend of Grady’s, to come in and make things a bit murky for Gwen. I have big problems with cheating in the stories I read, so this book seemed to be headed down a predictable road that I really wasn’t sure I wanted to travel along. But I told myself that I didn’t necessarily know what the author was going to do, so I should stick with it. I’m glad I did, as things didn’t go exactly as I’d thought, but it definitely was a wake up call for Gwen. My problem with the book, and I’ll admit that it was all personal preference, is that Gwen seems to love Flora too much to go down the road she was headed. She acts like an immature brat instead of talking to her wife about her feelings, and she almost messes things up. Especially as someone who grew up with the parents that she had, it’s very difficult for me to believe that she’d treat the person who loves her so much so recklessly. And while she may have stepped up in the end, I didn’t enjoy the ride along for her stumble. The book was pretty well-written, and interesting, and if Suzanne decides to write about Clementine finding a woman of her own, I might pick that up. But I see that the first and third books are about Nico and Grady, and I’m not too sure I’d pick those up. Again, I’d say it’s more personal preference than anything really bad about the book or story.

AmyP

Excerpt

“There’s a reason you two aren’t allowed to hang out alone.” Arms crossed, one impeccable eyebrow raised, lips twisted, hair artfully tousled, and dressed to the nines: Alexander Wang black-on- black tropical-printed board shorts, a slim fit black-and- white chino and matching black lapel jacket, black boots, and a black and white scarf to tie it all together. “Nico,” Gwen says.

“Nico?” Grady is up in a flash. “You came?”

Nico’s face softens into his Grady look. “Of course I came. Did you really think you were getting rid of me that easily?” Grady comes closer, and Nico brushes a spiraled lock of hair from his face.

“I’m sorry it took me so long. There were storms over Dallas, and I got stuck on the tarmac with a dead phone. I barely made my connection, and the clusterfuck of morons known as the United gate at JFK could not get its shit together, and I may be banned outright from Charlotte-Douglas International, can you believe they flag you as a security risk and hold you in a room with no phone signal or Wi-Fi just for threatening one person with shoving that goddam intercom up their—” He opens his arms for Grady; his look of annoyance slips away the moment they touch.

“Anyway, I’m here.”

Grady sighs, crowds into Nico’s space, and tucks himself into Nico’s body. Much better, a perfect fit. “God, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Nico sinks one hand into his hair, strokes the nape of his neck with other, breathes him in, and closes his eyes. “I’m so sorry. About the apartment and taking off and not being here yesterday, I tried to so hard to make it because I know how difficult it is for you. You shouldn’t have been alone.”

Grady sniffs and holds him tighter. “It’s okay. We’re okay. I’m sorry, too.”

Still ensnared in the sheets and duvet and barely awake, Gwen presses her hands to her cheeks and awws. “You guys,” she coos.

Grady lifts his head from Nico’s neck to smile at Gwen. “I wasn’t alone, though.”

“Mmm” Nico says. “And how much trouble did she get you into?”

“None,” Gwen says, defensive. Here she kept Grady safe and sound, searched all over Nashville and Las Vegas while he was off burying himself in work and what thanks does she get? None.

But then Grady smirks and says, “Kind of a lot.”

“Grady.” Gwen throws a pillow at him. “You’re such a tattletale, gosh.”

He bends to whisper something in Nico’s ear, and Gwen doesn’t miss the way his lips drag and linger on the shell of it, or the way Nico’s breath catches and his eyes roll back. When Nico lifts Grady’s shirt and traces around the tattoos with reverent fingers, Gwen takes that as her cue to extricate herself from the bed, put on some pants and a bra, and go fetch her luggage.

“‘Kay you guys have fun and make sure to change the sheets when you’re finished.”

“Wait.” Nico tugs Grady’s shirt down. Then he goes to the case he always has nearby. “You have trouble of your own, Gwen. Thought you might want to know about this.”

Gwen catches the magazine and folded-up papers he tosses her way: screen grabs from a few entertainment websites printed out in black and white.

Is This Clementine Campbell’s Girlfriend? Our source says, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”

Clementine and Gal Pal Definitely More Than Pals Sunning On Vegas Pool Deck.

Our exclusive source and close confidant of both says: Clementine’s married girlfriend “would cheat for sure. She was always touching her. There’s been an energy between them from the very beginning.”

There are pictures: her rubbing sunscreen on Clementine’s bare back, which looks far steamier in a fuzzy long-range picture than it actually was; a picture of them from the back at the store in the Venetian with their hands clasped and Clementine curled in close and her lips on Gwen’s cheek; and most damning of all, grinding together at the VIP club at the Bellagio just last night.

“I don’t—” Frantic and confused, she flaps the magazine and printouts in the air. “What is this? This isn’t— Nico, I didn’t, I swear.”

Nico holds both hands up. “Hey, I am well aware of the slander of tabloids. I get it.” He gives her a sympathetic look. “I’m just not sure Flora is going to.”

AuthorInterview

Tell us about your pets – past or present. Pictures are a must! (Not really, but they would be welcome.)

 

Currently I have four pets: Tank, a chihuahua-Jack Russel mix (yes he’s exactly as crazy as you imagine) a blue and white parakeet named Sky, and two orange tabby cats: Buttercup and Dandelion. By happenstance I have only ever had orange tabby cats, and though I lack the experience to say for sure they are favorite kind of cat.

 

In a flashback chapter in Burning Tracks Gwen and Flora rescue two orange tabby kittens from a dumpster, and this is sort of borrowed from my life, as my current cats are also rescues, though we found them ditched on the side of a very busy road. Luckily I didn’t have to wade through garbage to save them, but the traffic racing by was pretty scary, and an enormous spider landed on my head. I think I’d pick swimming through a dumpster if given the choice, honestly.

 

We spend most the story later on, when Gwen and Flora only have one of the rescue cats, Cheese. And as I’m incapable of writing an animal in my stories without them becoming essential to the plot the story, Cheese and her siblings take on a lot of symbolism: Gwen’s fierce heart, Flora’s unshakeable faith, and Clementine’s continued sacrifices.

 

I don’t usually base characters directly on people (or pets) in my life, but for Cheese I did base her on Buttercup: They’re both enormous, lazy orange tabbies. Both love food and hate food somehow at the same time. And both cats are skittish and sensitive and very sweet. And so far Buttercup is taking being immortalized in a novel in stride, she’s spends just as much time sleeping under my bed as she always has. The the nice thing about orange tabby cats: they’re humble. Or, as humble as a cat can be, I guess.

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