Monday, January 31, 2022
Saturday, January 29, 2022
Friday, January 28, 2022
When playboy police lieutenant Ryker Lange stops Kitt Boynton for driving on the wrong side of the road, his attraction to the feisty Irish lass is immediate. Yet, despite the sizzling chemistry between them, Kitt quickly turns him down.
Kitt has moved to River’s Edge for a fresh start and is ready to focus on her new marketing job at her cousins’ winery. She’s done with players, and vows she won’t let the local sexy cop distract her, but Kitt, a flirt herself, is definitely tempted. To keep her sanity as she prepares for several Valentine-themed winery events, she and Ryker make a bet: for the next three weeks, neither of them can flirt with the other.
The game starts out lighthearted, but when the town takes sides, Ryker and Kitt must choose between winning a wager or finding lasting love.
Tuesday, January 25, 2022
Following a near-death experience, Selena Hudson is finally going after the career she wants. And since casting directors won’t see her as anything but a rom-com queen, Selena signs on to produce and star in her own movie—an edgy psychological thriller. But just as the cast and crew arrive on location in Wild River, Alaska, the leading man drops out of the production.
Reporter Gus Orosco is hiding out in Wild River—he’s waiting for the dust to settle after his on-camera “overreaction” triggered by watching his ex-fiancee get engaged to a superstar hockey player. Gus doesn’t want to be anywhere near the film crew shooting at his family’s campgrounds, but Selena makes him an offer he can’t refuse: she’ll snag Gus an interview with Sports Beat if he’ll be her leading man. All Gus has to do is learn his lines, hit his marks and somehow ignore the sparks flying between them…even though they’re hot enough to melt the Alaskan snow.
Monday, January 24, 2022
Saturday, January 22, 2022
You’d think being abducted by aliens would be the worst thing that could happen to me. And you’d be wrong. Because now the aliens are having ship trouble, and they’ve left their cargo of human women—including me—on an ice planet.
We’re not equipped for life in this desolate winter wasteland. Since I’m the unofficial leader, I head out into the snow to look for help.
I find help all right. A big blue horned alien introduces himself in a rather . . . startling way. Vektal says that I'm his mate, his chosen female—and that the reason his chest is purring is because of my presence. He’ll help me and my people survive, but this poses a new problem.
If Vektal helps us survive, I’m not sure he’s going to want to let me go.
Some elements in this book worked very well for me. Others, not so much, but that’s where subjective tastes come in. What didn’t work for me might be the very thing you like best. With all that said, let’s start by looking at the things I liked.
The lead characters, Georgie and Vektal, are strong, smart, empathetic, and responsible. I liked them both a lot. Georgie becoming the de facto leader of the women from Earth was believable, and she’s an easy character to root for. When the alien kidnappers dump their cargo on the ice planet, Georgie ventures out to see whether there’s any help available.
She finds rather more than she bargained for when she encounters Vektal. He’s the chief of a tribe that’s dying out because of its low female birth rate. We learn a bit about their history in a way that fits the story well, adds to it, and doesn’t slow things down. His intense devotion to Georgie fits with the way his tribe is established. I tend to prefer that fated mates not be so all-in about it immediately, but that’s a matter of personal taste.
The story moves at a good pace with solid action scenes and alternating points of view. I’m not a huge fan of first person present tense, but it worked fine for me here. The stories after the end of the novel are a nice bonus.
The supporting characters are not developed extensively, but
giving them a lot of page space would take away from the main story. I was
content to have Liz and Kira spotlighted among the Earth women and to have a
general sense of each of the others. The same goes for Vektal’s tribe, with the
healer, Maylak having the most attention.
The language differences and resulting communication problems are handled logically. The scene where the women scavenge clothing to protect Georgie in the icy wastes is well done though understandably unpleasant in places due to the state of the clothing and the reason it’s available. The tribal men’s longing for mates and their resulting eagerness to meet Georgie’s comrades makes perfect sense in context. The cultural differences about nudity and sex are well drawn and believable.
But those bring me to the biggest things that didn’t work for me, again matters of personal taste.
This is a little bit of a spoiler, so I’ll try not to be too specific.
I don’t like it when the hero or heroine has sex with a stranger. I doubly don’t like it when either one initiates sex with said stranger who is unconscious or asleep, and I triply don’t like it when the unconscious or sleeping one wakes up and decides this is all good. I also dislike frequent use by heroes and heroines of the P and C words for female anatomy.
I found those aspects of the story really off-putting. I also realize other readers may be fine with them.
The ice planet is well drawn, and the references to Hoth from Star Wars are cute. While I generally like the worldbuilding, I have some issues. There are trees but not much else in the way of plants. This is not a climate hospitable to agriculture. So are all the animals carnivores? If people are drinking tea, what’s it made from?
I found it odd that people deciding whether to leave their homes and lives behind forever don’t have more regret and grief over that, especially ones who refer to friends and family. It wouldn’t take more than a few sentences to cover that. Despite a different hard choice necessary for survival, I think actual people would be a little more freaked out about that result. Again, a few sentences would’ve dealt with that.
Reviewers should judge a book on what it intends to be, not compare it to some other kind of book the reviewer has read. This book isn’t marketed as science fiction, where readers pore over worldbuilding details. It’s marketed as science fiction romance, where readers care much more about the character relationships than the world or, in many cases, plot details.
Rating the book, I considered my qualms about character and choices, downplaying the four really-off-putting-to-me factors, and balanced those against the things I liked. If the four I mentioned early on are deal breakers for you, this book won’t appeal to you. If they’re not, I think you could enjoy it immensely despite my character issues.
Overall, I recommend the book to readers who don’t consider those four factors deal breakers.
Friday, January 21, 2022
In this cozy mystery, American art history major Hadley Evans joins an art detective agency in Florence, Italy, working for Massimo Domingo, once a major player, now the Inspector Clouseau of the art world.
Determined to save the flailing agency and prove her worth, Hadley and her sexy carabiniere boyfriend, Luca Ferrari, take on a mysterious client behind her boss's back. While hot on the trail of a missing masterpiece, they discover a hidden cache of stolen Nazi art in a Venetian villa and encounter a dangerous enemy with a link to an evil past.
Thursday, January 20, 2022
Olivia LeClair's experiment with speed dating is not going well. First there was the nasty encounter with the date from hell who tried to murder her and now the mysterious Harlan Rancourt—long believed dead—sits down at her table and tells her she's the only one who can help him locate the legendary Vortex lab.
This is not what Olivia had in mind when she signed up for the package offered by the dating agency. She doesn't have much choice, though, because her psychic investigation firm works for the mysterious Foundation and Victor Arganbright, the director, is adamant that she assist Harlan. There's just one problem—no one knows Harlan's real agenda. His father once ran the Foundation like a mob organization, and Harlan was destined to be his heir. There's a real possibility Harlan has returned to claim his inheritance.
For now, however, it's a case of because others are after the secrets of the long-lost lab. Unfortunately for Olivia, the one thing friend and foe have in common is that everyone is convinced she is the key. Her unique psychic talent is required to defuse the ticking time bomb that is Vortex.
Neither trusts the other but Olivia and Harlan soon realize they must work together to survive and unlock the Bluestone Project's most dangerous secrets before more innocent people die.
Lightning in a Mirror
“If I disappeared tomorrow would you walk into hell to find me?” Olivia asked.
She did not look up from her phone. She wasn’t supposed to be on it. The rules of the speed dating event were quite specific about that. All phones, watches and assorted tech were to be powered down for the evening. But she had concluded the event was a waste of time, so she had palmed her phone from her handbag. She was now holding it under the edge of the cocktail table, where the event coordinator could not see it.
The knee-length burnt orange wool coat she was examining was stunning, but, sadly, the color was over-the-top for Seattle. Most of the outerwear on the city’s streets came in shades of gray, black, navy and forest green. If she were to stroll down Pine Street in a burnt orange coat, she might as well carry a sign that shouted tourist.
The man who had just sat down on the other side of the small, round table did not respond to the question. With a sigh, she looked up. It was obvious from his uncertain expression that he thought she was texting.
“I said, if I disappeared tomorrow would you walk into hell to find me?” she said.
“Excuse me?” He looked around and then leaned forward. He lowered his voice. “I think they said that we should turn off our phones.”
“Sorry.” She dropped the phone into her large handbag, wedging it between her turmeric-yellow wallet and the vintage camera. She took a closer look at her new date. The name tag stuck on his shirt identified him as Nathan.
“Hi, Nathan. I’m Olivia,” she said, going for bright and sparkly. “I’ll repeat my question. If I disappeared tomorrow would you walk into hell to find me?”
“Uh.” Nathan got a deer-in-the-headlights look.
She recognized the expression. Nathan was rapidly coming to the conclusion that she was weird. Within the next thirty seconds he would do what the previous dates had done—excuse himself and take off to find the restroom, where he would hide out until the bell rang.
It was not Nathan’s fault she had signed up for the Four Event Success Guaranteed package offered by the speed dating agency. So far most of the people she had met had been nice. A bit boring—but nice. The experiment had been a disaster for her, however.
She had purchased the package because it was 20 percent off. The first event had been a washout, but she had told herself to be optimistic. You couldn’t expect immediate success. But now she was midway through the second event and the prospects were looking even more dismal.
“I’m not sure exactly what you mean,” Nathan said.
He did a quick, furtive glance around the room. It didn’t take any psychic talent to know he was searching for the restrooms
She gave him another shiny smile. “The matchmaker said we are supposed to ask each other questions. That’s my question.”
“Oh.” Nathan cleared his throat. “Well, uh, I guess it would, you know, depend.”
At least Nathan was considering his answer, not running for the restroom. That was promising.
“What would it depend on?” she asked.
“How well I knew you. Whether or not you and I were, you know, close.”
“And if we were close?” she pressed. “Then would you walk into hell to find me?”
Panic sparked in Nathan’s eyes. He glanced at the table where the event coordinator sat. When he realized there was no salvation coming from that direction, he made a heroic effort to move forward.
“My turn,” he said, bubbling with artificial enthusiasm. “My question is, where do you like to go on vacation?”
“Hawaii. My turn. If I went missing would you walk into—”
“I guess I’d call your friends first,” Nathan said. He sat back in the booth, putting a little more distance between them. “See if they knew where you were. Then, uh, maybe call the cops. Hey, I like Hawaii, too. Do you snorkel?”
“No.” She leaned forward, closing the space he had just made. “How hard would you look for me?”
“Well, uh, I’m not an expert when it comes to search and rescue work. Don’t you need a dog for that?” Nathan shot to his feet. “Excuse me. Gotta hit the restroom. Be right back.”
And another one bites the dust. No, that wasn’t right, Olivia thought. I’m the one who just bit the dust. Again. She realized she didn’t care. The speed dating experiment was a failure. If she hadn’t bought the Four Event Success Guaranteed package she would leave right now. But she had made an investment, and the fine print was firm—no refunds.
Wednesday, January 19, 2022
Resisting the pull of dating apps, Caitlin embarks upon a series of disastrous singles events where she bumps into fellow villager, and astronomy buff, Archie Sutherland, who is nursing his own past secrets.
Lisa Hobman has written many brilliantly reviewed women’s fiction titles – the first of which was shortlisted by the RNA for their debut novel award. In 2012 Lisa relocated her family from Yorkshire to a village in Scotland and this beautiful backdrop now inspires her uplifting and romantic stories. Her first title for Boldwood Dreaming Under an Island Skye was published in February 2021.
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