Monday, October 29, 2012

Has It Really Been Two Weeks Since I Last Posted?????

O Dopey Me!!  I can't believe it has been so long since I even thought about posting.  No wonder so many of you don't stop in anymore.  I offer my sincere apologies for not keep up -- just trying to find a new house, trying to get lots of other stuff done that will mean we must start packing up our junque, and I just didn't stay up with this blog.  I love to read all your blogs, but I haven't been good about doing my part in the So. California blogging community.  Anyway . . . I have been reading some really good books and one that has piqued my interest is timely for the Halloween observance that is just a couple of days away.  We have been enjoying all the decorations people are putting up on their homes, at schools and public buildings, etc.  Even the fellowship hall in our church now has lots of fun decorations and the congregation really had a good time with Halloween cupcakes after church yesterday as well as a yummy potluck complete with my favorite:  deviled eggs.

Anyway . . . back to the book . . . I found it online just recently and so I want to share it with you.

Jordan Cross has returned to Holiday, Montana after eleven long years to clear out her late aunt’s house, put it on the market, and figure out what she wants to do with the rest of her life. Soon, she finds herself facing the town that turned its back on her because she was different. Because being labeled a witch in a small town didn’t earn her many friends...especially when it wasn't a lie.

Matt Cooper has lived in Holiday his whole life. He's perfectly content being a bachelor alongside his four single brothers in a very small town. After all, the only woman he'd ever loved ran out on him without a goodbye. But now Jordan’s back and just as bewitching as ever. Can they rekindle their romance with a town set against them?

Lots of fictional characters have piles and piles of personality flaws and inner hang-ups, but few have to contend with the burden of magic that has been handed down from female ancestors.  Jordan is a woman who has borne the burden of being different and her responses to a community rife with prejudice has crippled her views of living, her choices of future endeavors, and entering into positive personal relationships.  Most of all, the man she has really loved all her life has been left behind because she has given power to mean-spirited, prejudiced, angry and hurtful people in her hometown who even after she returns are continuing to make her life miserable.   A simple display of her magic when she was five years old alerted the community that she was a powerful person in the making and small-minded people, especially members of their "ruling" family, took it upon themselves to destroy her and drive her away.

Many of us are thankful that there are places in the world where a live and let live attitude prevails.  That is not so in towns and communities like Holiday, Montana where the community has allowed a powerful and greedy family to run rough shod over them, all because there is no one with the gumption to stand up against this brother and sister who think the town is there to serve their interests.    Now Jordan Cross has returned and along with "finding herself" she is also finding that the old feelings between her and Matt Cooper are still very much alive.  But Matt has a mysterious problem that is eroding his sense of purpose about any future he wishes to have with Jordan.  In a way this novel is a mystery upon a mystery even while we agonize with Jordan as she searches for the inner fortitude to take a stand for herself.

Yes, these people are really irritating . . . any town that allows the prejudice and small-mindedness of their mayor and his family to be the predominant spirit should all be horse whipped.  But the truth is that such communities with their closed off thinking really do exist.  I have lived in some of them, and one recognizes the power that some families--the power they don't deserve nor have earned--to influence strongly the way a community responds to people who are different.  Matt and Jordan are irritating too, as they are reluctant to deal with their own inner questions.  But those of us who have worked with people with sizable piles of insecurities and fears from the past know that breaking through that kind of obstacle to positive living is often very difficult.  It was a testimony to the power of their early life connection that Matt and Jordan were able to have any kind of renewal at all in their relationship.

I found this short novel to be interesting on lots of levels, even though I was P. O.'d lots of times at the arrogance of the mayor and his sister.  I don't deal well with cruel, arrogant, manipulative, abusive people, whether or not they be real or fictional.  Yet I appreciated the loyalty and comradeship of Matt with his four brothers, their acceptance of Jordan's unusual powers, and even the willingness of one of the brothers to speak his mind in a loving and corrective way during a crisis.

I think it is a fun read -- not long and certainly not complicated.  But it will be well received by Carrie Ann  Ryan's fans as well as those who are in the mood for a story with family and friendship that stands against prejudice and meanness.  I give it a rating of 3.75.

This short novel was released by Fated Desires Publications in October, 2012 and it can be purchased at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Deep Wounds of Child Abuse: "Nobody's Perfect" by Kallypso Masters

Savannah Gentry, now Savi Baker, escaped the torture and degradation forced upon her by a sadistic father for eleven years and has made a safe life for herself and her daughter. When her father threatens her peace of mind—and her daughter's safety—Savi runs to Damián Orlando for protection. Their one day together eight years earlier changed both their lives and resulted in a secret she can no longer hide. But being with Damián reawakens feelings she wants buried—and stirs up an onslaught of disturbing flashbacks that leave her shaken to the core with little hope of ever being a sexual being again. 

Damián has his own dragons to fight, but has never forgotten the one perfect day he spent with Savannah in a cave at the beach. He will go to the ends of the earth to protect Savi and her daughter, but can never be the whole man she deserves after a firefight in Iraq. Besides, the trauma of war and resulting PTSD has led him to find his place as the Masters at Arms Club's favorite sadist. Savi needs someone gentle and loving, not the broken man he has become. But he sees that the lifestyle he's come to embrace also can help Savi regain control of her life and sexuality. How can he not help redirect her negative thoughts and actions if she needs him?

This fourth book in a riveting series about Alpha males and the women who tame them . . . the author's description, I might add . . . is a continuation of the story of two young people who met when they were 19 years old, both at a crossroads in their lives and who collided and shared a love that changed their lives, even though they didn't know it at the time.  Now, eight years later, both have been radically changed, their life paths have once again crossed and they now share a daughter.  

Damian is no longer the rather irresponsible teen who ultimately found no way forward back then and decided to enlist in the Marines.  Landing in Iraq, he experienced one of war's most devastating lessons--that no one can keep everyone alive.  Losing his own foot took Damian out of action, but his life was forever changed, and if it were not for encountering his former Marine leader, he might have ended his life.  Now he has regained control over his life, come to some very important self-understanding, learned some deep insights about the human soul, and is a co-owner of the Master at Arms club in Denver.  It is to Denver that Savannah Gentry flees when her abusive and sadistic father again locates her and tries to enslave her once again.  She is now Savi Baker and she has her eight year old daughter in tow--Damian's child conceived on that remote beach in So. California eight years earlier.  She doesn't know that Damian has carried her in his heart through the days of war's hell and the recovery that followed his injury.  Now Savi is the one who has been forever marked by her father's pedophilia and sadism, by his use of her body as a child and later as a "gift" to his political and business clients who have  sexually abused her and sadistically beaten her almost to death.

This story is really a continuation of the other books in this series.  It is most certainly not a stand alone novel in the truest sense of the word, but I do believe that someone who picked this book up without reading the first books would catch the gist of this story but would be left in the dark about the characters who are background here but whose stories have been featured in the earlier novels.  There is also a very strong BDSM presence in this book, one that demonstrates the positive aspect of the lifestyle for those whose life experiences have been so wounding that the external pain of BDSM can help to release the inner pain that is so overwhelming that those who have been victimized literally shut down.  The scenes themselves, however, are quite mild.   In Savi's case, her own self-medicating involved cutting, a phenomenon that is well-known in the mental health community as a way of inducing endorphins that can soothe and tranquilize and make it possible for victims of abuse to move through their lives.  Damian's way of helping Savi release her inner pain was very mild and along with his treatment of her were the insights that helped her to get past her "triggers" and fears for herself and her daughter.  

I found this book to be another fine example of writing skill from a relatively new author and one whose following is growing as we speak.  I am delighted to have found the initial novella and have been chomping at the bit, waiting for each new book's release.  Due to happenings in the author's life they have not come to us as quickly as originally indicated, but as one who reads lots and lots of books, I find this novel to have been compelling.  It is a highly emotional story, one that will resemble an emotional roller coaster by the time it is all done.  It also highlights the deep and soul deadening wounds that come from child abuse and the awful hurts that can kill the body as well when sadism is out of control and used without regard to the victims.   I highly recommend it, not as a particularly easy book to read, but one that brings forth that kind of satisfaction when one realizes they have read a really good book.  It is a story that deserves to be read and appreciated.  I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

This novel can be purchased both at Smashwords and Amazon.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Uber-Alpha Male: What's With This Guy? "Staking His Claim" by Lynda Chance

Twenty-one-year-old Elaina Ruiz has only just begun college when she meets Raul Vega for the first time. Recognizing his ruthless intensity for what it is, she doesn't correct him when he assumes she is an eighteen-year-old freshman.

Raul Vega has never met a woman he couldn't do without. Until he meets Elaina Ruiz and knows she has to belong to him--even if it means waiting for her to grow up.

Right from the beginning of this short novel you will be introduced to this I'm-going-to-have-you-whether-you-like-it-or-not kind of hero and if you are like me, you won't like him very much.  He spies Elaina, makes some assumptions about her, not the least of which are that she is way too young for him.  But he is determined that she is going to be his woman and from that point on he makes sure that no other male gets within shouting distance from her.

There is, however, one other factor in Raul's response to Elaina.  He is Hispanic and macho to the core.  He not only has his own personality traits to contend with, but he also has his cultural norms mixed in as well.  He is the man and his woman will always recognize that or else.  For a good portion of this book I really silently applauded Elaina's  subtrefuge about her age.  She had no intention of making it easy for this man.  That she responded to him with equal wanting is never in question.  But she has enough steel in her spine that she is going to  make him work for her and that she does with a vengence.  

Yet this story has a very tender and loving back story and as Raul and Elaina's relationship goes from turbulent lust to deep connections, the reader is aware that as she steals his heart she is also discovering that he is a man of great loyalty and gentle protection.  A simple touch of Elaina's hand is sufficient eventually to calm Raul when he is ready to fight the world.  He will fight the world to keep her for himself or to protect her, but her deep love will keep him tender and caring when nothing else will.

This is another one of Lynda Chance's great stories and is one that will be an emotional roller coaster for most readers.  It will be the kind of story that one will either like completely or dislike completely.  Alot of that has to do with the reader's own context and one's ability to relate to such strong characters.  They are gritty and lusty and there is no half measures here.  Her love scenes are very erotic and the loving is hot.  So all in all, this is another of her works that will please most readers and especially those who are really "into" the alpha male.  But don't worry:  Elaina is just as strong.  Her soft curves hide a woman who is every bit as determined to be herself as Raul is to have her.  It makes for some very entertaining reading.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.  

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Can Love Survive Betrayal, Disappointment, and Grief? "Ready for Love" by Marie Force

For four of the best summers of his young life, Luke Harris was in love with Sydney Donovan, a wealthy seasonal visitor to Gansett Island. Then Sydney went off to college and never came back. She married another man and had two children while Luke remained on the island, working at McCarthy's Gansett Marina and wondering what had gone wrong between him and the only woman he ever loved. Fifteen months after Sydney suffers the tragic loss of her husband and children, she's returned to Gansett to figure out what's next, and that may very well be a rekindled love affair with the one man from her past she’s never forgotten. But is she ready for a second chance at love?

He was an upstanding, hard-working young man, but he had not wealth nor was he considered "upper crust."  Therefore, the Donovans didn't consider him good enough for their daughter Sydney.  In spite of the fact that Luke loved  Sydney with a mature and life-long love, she left and never returned until after her family had all been killed in a terrible auto accident and she was truly alone.  Now she has returned to Gansett Island with the hope of finding some peace and some relief from her bone-crushing grief and loss.     Every night, under the cover of darkness, Luke would quietly come up onto the back section of the Donovan property and silently watch over Sydney, not stalking are planning anything harmful to her.  He didn't even hold out any hope for the future with her.  He just simply loved her still and needed to be sure she was OK.

This is a story that will indeed pull at your heart strings.  Third in the "McCarthys of Gansett Island" series, this is probably the best story so far for a number of reasons.  First, it is very emotional and full of pathos--Sydney's sense of loss is at times overwhelming.  Luke's deep sadness over the loss of their love affair years earlier has marked him making him even more shy and quiet.  Second, as with many series, this book also continues the stories of couples from the first two books as well as the experiences of other full time residents of the island.  It continues to be filled with that warmth and togetherness that pervades the other books and which forms the foundation for the relationships that make this such a wonderful place to  live.   Marie Force has such a compelling style of writing that readers will most accutely feel Sydney's struggles as she wants to move forward yet must deal with that sense of "betraying" or "cheating" on her dead husband as she allows her old love for Luke to resurface.  Also, there is the still present sense by Sydney's parents that Luke isn't quite good enough for her and she must make some decisions about who is in control in her life and of her future.

I like series because I like to get deeper into the experiences of the characters, to journey with them into the future, to read about where their lives have gone and how their relationships have played out.   Those qualities are very much present in this series and are more evident here than in the preceding novels.  Obviously, as the series continues there is that build-up of information about the characters that keep on making their appearances.  But there is something very special about Luke and Sydney's story, a kind of love affair that brings on that peculiar version of "warm fuzzies" I feel when a couple seem to fit to an extraordinary degree.  

If you like the family-oriented love story mixed in with some spice and set in a delightful island community, you'll love this novel and those that came before it.    It is really a joy to read and this author is one that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.  I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Healing Power of True Caring: "Need: Finding Anna Book Two" by Sherri Hayes

As Brianna comes to terms with the realization that she is no longer a slave, she must figure out what she wants for her life. Forgetting her past isn’t an option. It is an integral part of who she is now, and it will forever shape her view of life. The one thing she knows is that she cannot imagine her life without the man who saved her, but can she be what he needs? 

Stephan never imagined falling in love with the woman he rescued, but the thought of her no longer being part of his life is physically painful. The scars from her past continue to haunt her, and he is helpless to stop them. All he can do is try to help her work through the traumas of her past. Can he be everything she needs and help her move on?

The two must figure out how to navigate not only their relationship with each other, but also the outside world. A friend from Brianna’s past shows up where she least expects them, and Uncle Richard continues to enforce his well-meaning agenda to get Brianna more traditional help. As forces, both friend and foe, threaten to tear them apart, Stephan and Brianna have to navigate the turbulent waters and find what they need in each other.

Earlier this month I reviewed the first book in this series, Slave:  Finding Anna Book One  where Brianna and Stephan were introduced.  As a young woman sold into sexual slavery by a father deep into gambling debts, Brianna had lost her sense of self, her connection with her past, any love for her father, or the ability to think past whatever her "master" was commanding her to think or do.  With Stephan she began to reclaim who she was, a glimpse of the woman she could be, a new understanding of how a male/female relationship could function even outside the BDSM world that had tortured her, and to be re-introduced to some of the simple pleasures of cooking and reading.

Now we see how her rehabilitation is progressing, what Stephan must continue to do to help Brianna become an independent, vibrant and free-thinking woman, the one he sees lurking underneath her fears and the brain-washing done to her by her old sadistic "master."  As a young Dom he knows both the good and the bad that the lifestyle contains.  He also knows that as his attachment to Brianna grows he is himself caught in a dilemma about how to set her free, knowing that in doing so she may even decide to not only leave the old hurts and fears behind but him as well.

This is a very emotional book, one that will take the reader on Brianna's up and down emotional roller coaster.  Her few steps forward, few steps backward are sometimes difficult to bear.  Her learning curve is very hesitant at times.  When it seems she has made great progress she will meet someone who she remembers from the horror days or who reminds her of old memories, and she retreats back into herself to a degree that one wonders if she can ever be made whole.   Some reviewers have expressed an impatience or boredom with Brianna's experiences, but I found the entire book to be compelling and one that really tugged at my heart.  As a helping professional in real life, I have had to work with people who are damaged and whose future ability to function wholly is very much in question.  Someone who is as profoundly modified as Brianna is a true puzzle to people who don't understand the pathology--someone like Brianna's friend from the past who wanted to blame Stephan or who had no real understanding of the depth of the damage that had been done to her.

This is a story that is not easy to read but is pertinent to the contemporary social ill of sexual slavery so rampant throughout the world.   There are other authors who have addressed this ill in compelling novels.  Cherise Sinclair's To Command and Collar deals with the rehab of a rescued woman although that book contains far more overt BDSM practices that bring that woman back into a healthy understanding of herself.  I would encourage you to do some research and to become educated about the depth and breadth of this problem.  It is estimated that 75,000 individuals are abducted annually in the United States, the majority of them women, and sold into sexual slavery.  This book may be truly helpful in seeing the hurts such terrible practices can cause.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.