Review: All That’s Unclaimed by Constance Phillips

All That’s Unclaimed is the story of Ben and Anna. Ben has recently returned to his mother’s horse therapy farm, and Anna is the barn manager who has worked at the farm since she was a teenager. When Ben’s mom has an accident, it prompts him to overcome his nervousness and ask Anna out.

I loved the details about horses and how they are used for therapy with children with both physical and emotional challenges. It added a unique note to this book.

I found Anna to be a strong heroine, but I had trouble liking Ben. He’s dealing with issues from his childhood, and through most of the book comes off as angry, whiny, and kind of a jerk (although he wasn’t intentionally a jerk!). This made the story drag for me, as it took a long time for the people in his life to finally call him on his bullshit. It also made it hard for me to buy into the attraction Anna felt for him. I suppose their referred to history made her see him more fully than I, as the reader, could see him.

The last third of the book was the most enjoyable. Ben finally started having to deal with his past and get over his anger and resentment. There were also some secondary characters who had some nice growth.

This was a pretty predictable story, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, I do love romances because I know there will be a HEA. 🙂 Overall, though, I felt either this story should have been longer, with a few more twists and turns, or shorter with less time spent in Ben’s head while he was having an angry pity party. I give this book 3 cat kisses.

3 cats


Ben Crawford has always believed the professional respect and acceptance he desired couldn’t be found at Sunnydale Farms. There were just too many ghosts residing in his broken home. Only when Anna Jenkins, the one constant at his mother’s therapeutic riding facility, announces she is leaving to start her own stables is Ben forced to grasp hold of all he’s left unclaimed.

About the Author

Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, two kitties, and four canine kids.

When not writing stories of finding and rediscovering love, Constance is counting down the days until her son and daughter-in-law make her a grandma and planning a cross-country motorcycle trip with her husband for the not-so-distant future…if they can find a sidecar big enough for the pups.

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Review: Old West fun in Much Ado about Miners

Jacquie Rogers brings a bit of humor and love to the Old West in Much Ado about Miners. This is the story of Iris and Kade, who knew each other as teenagers and are brought together later in life.

There was much I really enjoyed about this book. The characters had big personalities–most notably a yellow cat who steals almost every scene he’s in. [And if you know me, you know I love cats in stories. If you haven’t figured that out, look at what I use in place of stars to rank the books I review. ;)] Both Kade and Iris were such likable characters that it was easy to root for them.

The only difficulty I had with this story is that at times I felt like either Kade’s or Iris’ wacky plans seemed to change and I didn’t follow why or how exactly. It just suddenly was, and I was left wondering if I missed something, which could’ve been the case a time or two, but it was enough that I doubted it was just my faulty brain.

And once, the cat was called by the dog’s name. Them there are fightin’ words in my book. 😉

Overall, this was a fun book. I give it a solid 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats


The third novel in the Hearts of Owyhee western romance series!

Cupid’s bullet…

Hired gun Kade McKinnon interrupts a bank holdup and is shot by the teller, Iris Gardner, whose victims have a tendency to be the next groom in town.  Will he be the groom this time?

Cupid’s bow…

Iris Gardner, a smart, independent bank clerk, fell in love with Kade when she was too young to know better.  So when he walks back into her life and her bank, it’s only fitting that she shoots him … by accident, of course.

Cupid’s blindfold…

Kade doesn’t know Iris’s company is the one who hired him to escort a bullion shipment, and Iris doesn’t know Kade owns the security company, but they both know robbers are on their trail.  Which is more likely to be stolen—the silver, or his heart?

$2.99 Amazon

Amazon CA

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Books by Jacquie Rogers

Hearts of Owyhee series (western historical romance)

  • #1: Much Ado About Madams
  • #2: Much Ado About Marshals
  • #3: Much Ado About Miners
  • #4: Much Ado About Mavericks

About the Author

I’m a former software designer, campaign manager, deli clerk, and cow milker, but always a bookworm. Reading is my passion—westerns, fantasies, historicals of any era, all with a splash of humor and a dash of romance.

While I’m a country girl by birth, I currently live in suburbia with my very patient husband where we’re humble servants of The Cat Annie.  I don’t think you can ever take the country out of a girl’s heart, though, which is why my stories often take place in Idaho where I grew up. (Hearts of Owyhee series and some of my short stories, too.)

For the latest news, subscribe to the Pickle Barrel Gazette, my newsletter:

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For fun times, join my Facebook group. Search for Jacquie Rogers’ Pickle Barrel Bar and Books.

Author links

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Review: Vengelys Series books 1 & 2

Through the Oracle’s Mist, Vengelys Book 1:

Through the Oracle’s Mist starts the story of the Vengelys brothers. This book is written in first person and alternates between Tynan, one of the Vengelys brothers, and Cyrenna, his match-mate (think soul mate). The brothers are banished from their home world of Amaranth to the human world. Cyrenna follows Tynan, and this book is the story of their encounters over many lifetimes on Earth.

Much of the historical events and places described are captivating. There is a formality to the writing style that took me a while to get into so I could read at a quicker pace. At times it seemed that the author had spent a lot of time crafting some of the sentences to the point that they had a poetic quality that matched the sweeping grandeur of the overarching tragic love story being told. Other times it seemed the author hadn’t paid enough attention, as the tense switched from present to present perfect to past to past perfect so often and with a degree of randomness that left me frustrated.

Despite some hurdles, I did find the story line interesting, so I give this book three cat kisses.

3 cats

Warrior’s Watchtower, Vengelys Book 2:

This book picks up where the last left off, only this time there are more narrators. There are still passages from Tynan’s and Cyrenna’s first person POV, but there are also passages from Tynan’s sister Jondre (her narrative is in first person and italicized in what, I presume, is an attempt to make it clear when we are in her head). In addition, a host of other characters get their stories told in a mostly limited third person POV (on occasion sections are omniscient third person POV).

Unfortunately, unlike in the last book, the person who’s head we’re in isn’t indicated at the beginning of each passage as it was in book 1. Combine that with the continued waffling between tenses, and this book is a bit of an aggravating mess to figure out. There are also more typos, misused words, and improper/confusing punctuation in this book. I was given a review copy, so it is possible some of the mistakes were cleaned up for the final version.

The story itself is interesting and the world continually becomes more complex, as do the characters. The cliffhanger at the end suggests an intriguing direction. I can’t say a whole lot more about the plot without giving things away.

It’s too bad that the writing isn’t more consistent and refined, as this series has a good concept and characters. However, I have to give Warrior’s Watchtower only two cat kisses.

2 cats


 

Cyrenna thought she died the day she watched Tynan and his brothers jump through the banishment portal in an act of solidarity with Rigor. Little did she know that it would be the first of many deaths she would experience in her quest to claim his heart. She would surrender not only her immortal soul, but a mortal one repeatedly. Through a deal with the great Oracle, she has multiple mortal lifetimes to change the direction of her future and have a chance with Tynan. From the GenPei War in Japan and the Silk Road west, to Cromwell, the Three Kingdoms and modern times, she lives and dies repeatedly hoping to get her heart’s desire.

Near the end, she makes a misstep, breaks one of the rules of her covenant with the Oracle, and cannot return. The burden falls to Tynan and everything she was able to share with him to that point. The only thing that is absolute is her fervent hope that he will come, but there’s one big problem. Through it all, he doesn’t so much as know her name.

Amazon


“I am yours and you are mine…Whatever comes now, we are one.”

Her heroes are gone, taken together in a flash by a vengeful God leaving Jondre to find her way alone. Befriended by a woman who knows more than she’s telling, she makes a choice to try to help what’s left of her family and finds herself at the seat of power but also the center of the expanding abyss. Her world is nothing that it seemed.

A Eupion raid near the boundary delivers a surprise to High House, a new tragedy to deal with and the catalyst for an even more difficult future to come. Just when she thinks there cannot be more, she sees the most fearsome immortal she’s ever encountered, and as match-mates are revealed, this one is hers. Nothing is simple anymore.

Amazon


About the Author

There is no simple description for Aedan Byrnes. Obsessive, dreamer, reclusive, compulsive, outdoorsman and wordsmith would be among the list if one were started. The displaced Gael lives in the upper Midwest with family between jaunts wherever the road goes. A frequent traveler, Aedan is as likely to be found rock climbing, spelunking, sitting fireside dreaming or aimlessly floating away as hiding with pen and paper working on the next tale.

A lifelong lover of words and writing, Aedan claims a diverse reading appetite and the writing reflects the myriad influences. A self-proclaimed ‘reader’s writer’, the emotional and sensory results of word combinations outweigh the visceral comprehension of phrases for the stories and drives the prose.  The original ‘Eclectic Bard’ enjoys the special magick of storytelling, those who embrace the challenge of writing, and the dreamers who get whisked away by the words making the journey worth taking.

You can find Aedan Byrnes here:

Review: Always the Quiet Ones by Cassandra Carr not as geeky as advertised

Always the Quiet Ones by Cassandra Carr is the story of IT consultant Marty, self-proclaimed king of the geeks, and how he finds himself entangled with two women–one who was more of a one night stand while traveling for business and one who has potential for more.

The story, which is fairly short, moves along at a quick pace. It’s a light read with emphasis on the sexual encounters and some narrative exposition to tell us how Marty is feeling (the book is from Marty’s POV).

The main thing that threw me about this story is that Marty kept saying pretty suave things to the women in his life and then wondering how he knew how to say what he said. I found myself wondering exactly the same thing. Not much about him seemed all that geeky, but then we never learned anything about his hobbies or interests.

Personally, I prefer books with a little more meat to the relationship building and character development, but if you want a quick read with lots of sex and a bit of kink, this would be a decent choice. I give it 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats

King of the geeks Marty Johnston suddenly finds himself juggling two women. How did this happen? Even a principal IT Consultant like him can’t figure that out, but he does know he wants to get serious with his co-worker , Elizabeth.

So what about the one-night-stand-but-maybe-more Marty had on his last business trip before meeting Elizabeth? He’s comfortable dealing with computers, not people. Can he keep the one he’s falling for, or will he lose both with his bumbling ways?

 

Excerpt

After paying the bill over Elizabeth’s objections, they walked back to her car. Marty smiled again, wondering what kind of luck rained down on him that she’d parked a good block and a half from the happy hour bar, so they were unlikely to encounter coworkers. She hit the remote and the car beeped, but she didn’t get in immediately, instead turning and leaning on the door.

“I had a great time.”

Marty’s grin got even wider. He’d break his face at this rate. “Me too. Thanks for asking me to dinner.”

“Thanks for paying, even though you really didn’t have to do that.”

“I wanted to.” And he’d do it again and again for the chance to know her better.

She looked up at him from underneath her lashes and he remembered reading in a Maxim magazine on the plane a few months ago that when a girl did that she wanted him to kiss her. Did she want him to kiss her? Did he want to kiss her? Hell yeah, he did.

He bent his head very slowly and gauged her reaction. She didn’t cover her mouth or knee him in the gonads, which he took for a good sign. By the time he brushed his lips over hers his pulse pounded and he hoped his eagerness didn’t, um, display itself too much. She leaned into the kiss and he took it deeper, licking over the seam of her lips and pulling her into him by her hips. Elizabeth’s arms crept around his neck and he felt her go up on tiptoe as her mouth opened for him. A little moan escaped her and he wanted so badly to push her against the car and have his way with her, but didn’t want to scare her either. With reluctance he backed away.

Elizabeth’s lips were swollen from his kisses and her round, firm tits heaved. He needed to get the hell out of there before he took things faster than he’d intended.

About the Author

Cassandra Carr is a multi-award winning romance writer. When not writing she enjoys watching hockey and hanging out online. Cassandra’s books have won numerous “Best Book Of” awards and her novella Unexpected Top was nominated in the E-book Erotic Romance category of RT’s Reviewers’ Choice Awards.

She thinks the best part of being a writer is penning stories about love and sex while most others struggle with commutes, micro-managing bosses and cranky co-workers.

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Review: His Wicked Celtic Kiss serves up contemporary bad boy

His Wicked Celtic Kiss by Karyn Gerrard features Julie, a former fat girl who still has body issues, and Lorcan, an Irish ex-military spy with PTSD. I read an ARC copy, so I assume the few continuity errors will be corrected for the final version.

Overall, this was a decent story, but I admit that I had trouble connecting with the characters. Partially, this is just one of those personal preference things. Someone else might love these characters. They were well drawn and the story moved at a decent pace. One thing that slowed the book for me was the large amount of rhetorical questions used in both main characters’ internal monologues. I’m not opposed to using rhetorical questions and sometimes it makes sense; however, when I see it a lot (sometimes three or four questions in a row) it makes a character sound whiny and slows down the reading pace. It is akin to restating the characters insecurities/motivations over and over. The other item that turned me off to Julie is that I felt she gave too much credit to Lorcan’s interest in her to rebuild her self-esteem. Again, this is a personal preference for more independent heroines.

I think that this book could definitely appeal to a different reader than me, so I’m going to give this book 3.5 cat kisses.

3.5 cats

It took just one teasing wink and a sexy Irish lilt from bad boy Lorcan Byrne to turn Julie Denison’s world upside down. The problem is, he’s only in town for six months, and happily ever after isn’t in this world traveler’s vocabulary.

Julie’s worked hard to get her life in a good place—dropping substantial weight and getting a great job at her friend’s bakery. But this handsome charmer is just as tempting as any of the decadent pastries she sells, and she can’t resist his advances for long. Julie fully expects Lorcan to break her heart—but she’s planning to enjoy every second she can of their explosive chemistry.

After years of danger as a soldier and a spy, Lorcan fled to tiny Rockland, Maryland for some boring downtime. He didn’t count on meeting someone who could ignite his libido and soothe his damaged heart, and their passion soon leads to deeper feelings. But can Julie convince Lorcan he has more to offer her than just his wicked Celtic kiss?

Sensuality Level: Sensual

Amazon

About the Author

Karyn lives in a small town in the western corner of Ontario, Canada. She whiles away her spare time writing and reading romance while drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. Tortured heroes are a favorite. A multi-published author with a few bestsellers under her belt, Karyn loves to write historicals and contemporaries with various heat levels.

As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise, she assumes everything is golden.
Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward.

Karyn’s Site/Facebook/Twitter/Pinterest

COMING SOON:
Bold Seduction from Kensington Publishing/Lyrical Press Early 2015 (historical)
Tour Organizer: NK Author Services