In Her Dreams – Katherine Givens

IHDFans of Pride and Prejudice will adore Katherine Givens novella In Her Dreams, all the required elements are there busybody mother – check, sisters of a marriageable age –  check, a very eligible and proper member of the gentry – check. Clandestine meetings while sleeping…not so much, regardless I loved this quick satisfying historical.

Evangeline Vernon is a woman on the verge of spinsterhood — until the prim and proper Duke of Manchester steps in. Her family is pleased with the match, but the duke is not the passionate man Evangeline craves. Her heart belongs to an alluring, golden-haired gentleman, perfect in every way…except one: he doesn’t exist.

Angela Vernon is everything a proper, well-brought-up woman should be. She knows her place and understands society’s expectations — which include not being jealous of her sister and not coveting her sister’s suitor. But how can she bear the heartache of watching the only man she loves marry not only her sister, but a woman who doesn’t see past his exterior to the man he is beneath?

While it is not precisely a Pride and Prejudice variation In Her Dreams touches on many of the beloved tale’s mores and themes and Katherine Givens has done so skillfully and with a deft use of the supernatural. My criticisms of this novella are few, perhaps an uneven use of the paranormal elements of the story with little or no explanation to their origin and only pertaining to one sister rather than both, an acceptance of them that is not quite in keeping with the historical setting. A conclusion that just a little too pat, with no real fallout from the sister’s actions but ultimately In Her Dreams is a light, satisfying read that is well worth the effort.

AUTHOR: Katherine Givens

RATING: 3 1/2 Stars

GENRE: Fantasy Romance

http://www.escapepublishing.com.au/product/9780857990884

Disclaimer: ARC was kindly provided by the publisher for an honest review. 

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The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells – Andrew Sean Greer

ILGWAndrew Sean Greer is a gifted writer, of that there is no doubt, however something integral was missing from The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. Although on the surface this story bears more than a passing resemblance to The Time Traveler’s Wife, a novel that I not only cried copiously while reading but was literally reduced to openly sobbing (in front of my husband no less) the first time I read it yet I was left strangely unmoved upon completing The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells.   

When you were a little girl, madam,” he said, gesturing to her, “was this the woman you dreamed of becoming?

Andrew Sean Greer’s protagonist Greta Wells explores that question in three different incarnations. The electroconvulsive therapy that her doctor prescribes for the paralyzing depression she suffers after the death of her twin brother has a startling and unexpected result. With each treatment she awakens in one of three versions of herself each living in a different time surrounded by varying versions of her friends and family.

Greer perfectly captures the oppressive immobilizing quality of a treatment resistant clinical depression. The dual blows of her twin’s death and her abandonment by her long time lover Nathan, has crippled Greta and when conventional treatment fails her doctor suggests the radical option of electroconvulsive therapy.

During the course of her treatment, Greta cycles between her own time and her alternate lives in 1918, as a bohemian adulteress, and 1941, as a devoted mother and wife. Separated by time and social mores, Greta’s three lives are achingly similar, fraught with familiar tensions and difficult choices. Each reality has its own losses, its own rewards, and each extracts a different price. And the modern Greta learns that her alternate selves are unpredictable, driven by their own desires and needs.

While the circumstances of Greta’s treatment and the impossible result was interesting I found I had problems identifying with or even empathizing with her character. In contrast, I found the struggles her brother had in his lives in 1918 and 1942 as a closeted gay man far more compelling. I hesitate to say this but wonder if it all comes back to the old writing adage of “writing what you know” and Greer as a contemporary homosexual was just far more adept at crafting his male characters than his female protagonist. Regardless, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells was skillfully written with an interesting concept and would definitely appeal to fans of Daphne Du Maurier’s House on the Strand and Richard Matheson’s Bid Time Return.

AUTHOR: Andrew Sean Greer

RATING: 3 Stars

GENRE: Literary Fiction

Releasing the Dragon (Myths and Legends #1) – Stacie Simpson

RTDIf you want to hide in plain sight what better a place than a city, in the vast network of night clubs and casinos. An entire supernatural world exists among us, in supernatural enclaves hidden within the human world. Releasing the Dragon introduces us to The Myths and Legends Casino Resort on the Mississippi Gulf Coast which is more than it appears, carefully hidden under the guise of a nightclub is actually a haven for shapeshifters, vampires and demons.    

 Two souls destined to be one. An old enemy enraged. Will his love for her be enough to save her?
Shapeshifters, demons, vampires, and sorcerers are all just part of the show at the Myths and Legends Casino Resort.

Or are they?

When Dragon and Serafina come together their passion ignites and she is drawn into his world where myths and legends are very real and danger lurks around every corner.

Releasing the Dragon introduces us to a world where vampires, shapeshifters, demons and things that go bump in the night exist. Reminiscent of the world of Jeaniene Frost‘s Night Huntress series Stacie Simpson has written an entertaining paranormal. Serafina Leroux has always dreamed of dancing professionally and that wish is just a hair’s breadth away. Little does she know that the reason that she has been brought to the Mississippi Gulf Coast is to fulfill her part in an ancient prophesy to break the curse laid on the Dragon King.

Donovan Drake abandoned his search for the Phoenix destined to release him from the centuries old curse. His people live in an uneasy truce with the vampires who trapped their animal counterparts yet the Dragon who lies dormant within him stirs at the sight of Serafina. The connection between Donovan and Serafina is instantaneous and undeniable. Is it possible that she is the prophesied Phoenix? Savior of his people and his mate.

Stacie Simpson has written an imaginative highly readable story managing to cover the well trodden paranormal ground while keeping the reader’s interest. I enjoyed the world of shapeshifters, demons and vampires of The Myths and Legends Resort. My only criticism lies with the character of Serafina, she was amiable and even tempered and took everything in stride almost to the point of insipidness. Even when she was supposed to be angry it felt like posturing but this was only a minor concern as the rest of the story was so well constructed that Serafina’s lack of fire was only a minor annoyance.

Releasing the Dragon marks the beginning of what I believe will be a satisfying paranormal series and I am looking forward to seeing what Ms Simpson has in store for Donovan’s head of security Rook in her follow up to Releasing the Dragon Destined for Time.

AUTHOR: Stacie Simpson

RATING: 3 Stars

GENRE: Paranormal Romance

Sweater Weather – Autumn Preview

Is it just me or is there just not enough time in the day? The kids are back to school and perhaps for some people this means that they have more time but I feel like there is even less than during the dog days of summer. Or was I the only one reading at the soccer pitch when I was supposed to be watching? Anyway, enough excuses thankfully my carefully cultivated habit of walking and reading is coming in handy because I have found lately that I need every spare second to try and fit in my reading. Laugh all you want I have never run into anything yet, although now that I have said this.

Here’s a sampling of what you can look forward to seeing featured this fall…

HBHell’s Belle – Karen Greco                                                                    Half vampire, half human, Nina Martinez spent most of her life underground as part of an elite secret team of government agents that quietly take down rogue monsters, the human world none the wiser. She moves back to her hometown of Providence, RI to keep an eye on the recent uptick in supernatural activity, and to help run the bar she co-owns with her aunt.Her attempt at a “regular” life, not to mention a budding relationship with smoking hot FBI agent Max, is cut short because of a string of ritual murders targeting the city’s community of witches.

Hell’s Belle is definitely one for Jeaniene Frost‘s  Night Huntress series fans, especially now with the series wrap up coming in 2014.

RTDReleasing the Dragon – Stacie Simpson                                   Serafina Leroux has always dreamed of becoming a professional dancer. When she responds to a mysterious invitation to the dance auditions at Myths and Legends she not only gets a shot at her dream job, she also meets a tall, dark, devastatingly handsome stranger whose every touch consumes her with desire.
Donovan Drake is the charismatic owner of Myths and Legends known around the world as Dragon. His roguish good looks make him one of the most sought after bachelors alive, but only one woman can satisfy his carnal needs and the beast that shares his soul.
When Dragon and Serafina come together their passion ignites and she is drawn into his world where myths and legends are very real and danger lurks around every corner.

IHDIn Her Dreams – Katherine Givens                                                  Evangeline Vernon is a woman on the verge of spinsterhood — until the prim and proper Duke of Manchester steps in. Her family is pleased with the match, but the duke is not the passionate man Evangeline craves. Her heart belongs to an alluring, golden-haired gentleman, perfect in every way…except one: he doesn’t exist.Angela Vernon is everything a proper, well-brought-up woman should be. She knows her place and understands society’s expectations — which include not being jealous of her sister and not coveting her sister’s suitor. But how can she bear the heartache of watching the only man she loves marry not only her sister, but a woman who doesn’t see past his exterior to the man he is beneath?

AIWIYAll I Want Is You – Elizabeth Anthony                                            An innocent girl 1920                                                              Seventeen-year-old Sophie is a scullery maid at a large country house, Belfield Hall, but what she truly desires is to dance on stage in London.                                                              Caught up in a dangerous game                        Glamorous Lady Beatrice offers her assistance, though not without an ulterior motive. A new heir – the seductively handsome Lord Ashley – is about to arrive at the Hall: a man that Beatrice will do anything to ensnare…even if she has to exploit her young maid.

Downton Abbey

All I Want Is You will appeal to all those Downton Abbey fans out there and if you want to truly go retro there is always Upstairs Downstairs the PBS classic to be considered. If you are not familiar with one or both I would highly recommend adding them to your “to be viewed” list.

The title logo for the series

novaksmokecoverThrough the Smoke – Brenda Novak                                                      Riches. Power. An ancient heritage of pride. The Earl of Druridge wanted only for an heir. So when he learned that his wife was carrying another man’s child, he was filled with a thirst for vengeance. But he wasn’t the one who caused Katherine’s death. Or was he? To his horror, he remembers nothing of that dreadful night, when their last shocking confrontation ended in scorching flame and cold blood.

Jane Eyre (2011 film)

If the wait for mid-October’s release of Through the Smoke is too long for those of you like me who need immediate gratification or at least some sort of distraction while waiting, perhaps now is the time to reread Jane Eyre available through the Kindle or Kobo sites for no charge or watch one of the film adaptations. I recommend the 2011 version with  Michael Fassbender it’s truly splendid, true to the original plot and just visually stunning overall.

becomingnadia_333X500Becoming NADIA – Cyrus Keith                                                            There’s only one thing that pretty, popular TV reporter Nadia Velasquez is missing: her memory from before the explosion that killed everyone else in the room, including the President of Nigeria. But from the moment she meets FBI agent Jon Daniels, all hell breaks loose. Friends turn into deadly enemies overnight, and no one can be truly trusted.

Healer – B.N. Toler FREE @ the Kindle Store

healerI recently was given the opportunity to read Healer by B.N. Toler, a fantastic paranormal. It is available right now on Amazon for FREE –  http://www.amazon.ca/Healer-The-Series-ebook/dp/B00DUEEJVY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379880370&sr=8-1&keywords=healer+b.n.+toler

It’s worth the read.

There is balance in life most know nothing about. Some are put here to simply exist, while others have been placed here to ensure life. Healers such as Aldo Lawson understand the power of their gift, although at times, it seems more a curse. Upon meeting a handsome young healer named Thomas, Aldo’s life heads into a tailspin. With his arrival, Aldo’s aunt is forced to share a hard and scary truth—vampires exist. And not only do they exist, but they thirst for healer blood.

Despite this new and frightening information, Aldo longs for a normal senior year. So close to achieving her goal, her world turns upside down when her aunt is murdered and Thomas disappears. Riddled with questions, she sets out to find him.

Submerged in a world filled with sex and danger, Aldo hopes to find the vampires that will lead her to Thomas. When they find her first, she is forced to piece together truths, deal with her pain, and find that not everything is what it seems.

Dear Adam – Ava Zavora

DEARADAMDear Adam by Ava Zavora was a wonderful surprise, really how could I not read a love story about a book blogger? Unlike Eden, I am happily married but the plausibility of the situation she found herself in was intriguing and I read Dear Adam in a single evening. Although waking up to take my child to hockey practice the following day at 6:30 a.m. was particularly unpleasant.

Eden receives a random tweet complimenting her review of the most recent novel of one of her favorite author’s, truly there is no surer way to a blogger’s heart, and so begins a series of exchanges with the mysterious, intellectual Adam, her long lost book twin.

So this was why @adamagelast was paying such a particular interest in her. A  prelude to a request for her to review his book.

(@adamagelast) Unfortunately unless you and I become close friends you will never be able to read my book…

The disappointment which had started to build instantly vanished.

Eden is a 35 year old divorced mother of 17 year old Dante, and seven years Adam’s senior. Despite her doubts about Adam’s intentions before long they are corresponding daily.

To book blogger Eden, Adam is the embodiment of every literary fantasy she’s ever had. Intelligent, wickedly funny, sexy, and attentive – he and his fascinating life seem right out of a novel. Their whirlwind relationship is so intense and all consuming that soon she can’t imagine being with anyone else.

But there’s one little thing that’s keeping Adam and Eden from their happily ever after.

They’ve never met. She doesn’t even know what he looks like.

Despite how hard she’s fallen for him and how he makes her feel, Eden’s doubts begin to threaten their passionate love affair. Why is he so mysterious? Why does he seem reluctant to meet her? What is Adam hiding?

Afraid that she’s being made a fool of, Eden is forced to choose between her heart and her head. Is Adam too good to be true, as her common sense is telling her, or is the truth more startling than fiction?

In this age of social media Eden’s concerns about the veracity of Adam’s persona, if not his intentions, are valid. Urban Dictionary even has a term for those who misrepresent themselves in this fashion – a “catfish” is someone who pretends to be someone they’re not, using Facebook or other social media to create false identities, particularly to pursue deceptive online romances.

She tried to tell herself that she must have been so starved for attention that she has made more of an online flirtation than it actually was. Yet she woke up the next day much too excited to go to work to see what the next stage of their conversation will bring.

What I found particularly compelling was the exchanges between Eden and Adam, their tweets, emails and Skype communications drew the reader into their developing relationship all the while Adam’s character remained convincingly masculine and enticing. Ava Zavora has crafted a modern enchanting tale of love with a proper online stranger that is completely worth staying up well past midnight to read like I did.

AUTHOR: Ava Zavora

RATING: 4 Stars

GENRE: Contemporary Romance

Love Vs. Blood – R.L. Smith

Love Vs. Blood CoverEthan Burke only has eyes for Emily, the problem?  She’s human and he’s a vampire.  He watches over her, trying to protect her until one night she vanishes.  Kidnapped by a Master Vampire who killed his parents years ago.  Ethan believes the Master is using Emily to lure him to his lair, convinced he only wants to finish the Burke family off. Ethan seeks the help of Devin Riley, the vampire which took him in as his own.  Together they set off to find Emily, only Ethan gets a surprise.  After finding Emily, he sees his mother for the first time, she’s not dead but one of the undead.  Forced with making a decision, will Ethan choose to save the mother he’s never known or the girl he’s just met?

AVAILABLE NOW:

About The Author: I was born in Baltimore, MD and came to WV with my parents when I was a small child. I have two grown children. When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading and crocheting. I currently live in Southern WV with my three dogs.

Contact: R.L. Smith @ half_pint715@hotmail.com   https://www.facebook.com/pages/RL-Smith-Author/512301618851284