Wednesday, August 16, 2017

THE SECRET OF THE INDIA ORCHID by Nancy Campbell Allen

THE SECRET OF THE INDIA ORCHID by Nancy Campbell Allen. This is another fantastic proper romance from Shadow Mountain. There have been a couple of books I've read recently set in India, and I have loved all of them. This is no exception. This story is full of mystery, secrets, and broken-hearted love. Anthony is an Earl caught between duty and his heart. Sophia is just trying to understand why. As the plot unfolds and thickens, the pages fly by to see whether or not secrets are revealed in time and hearts can forgive. It's a wonderful story that is for anyone who loves mysterious secrets with their love stories. I highly recommend it.

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Anthony Blake, the Earl of Wilshire, is in love with his best friend's sister, Sophia Elliot. But his plans to court her are put on hold when he is forced to resume his role as an undercover spy for the Crown. A secret document listing the names of the entire network of British spies—including his own—has been stolen. To protect Sophia, Anthony cuts off all ties to her and exchanges his life as an honorable earl for the facade of a flirtatious playboy.
Heartbroken and confused, Sophia travels to India, hoping to find healing in one of the most exotic regions of the British Empire. But the exotic land isn't as restful as she had hoped. Instead, she finds herself embroiled in a mystery of a missing sea captain, a possible murder, and a plot that could involve the prince of India. And when Anthony appears at the British Residency, asking questions and keeping his distance from her, she is stunned.
She still loves him, and, in her heart, she knows he loves her too. But how can she rebuild her relationship with him if he won't confide in her? Does she dare offer her heart to him a second time, or will their love be lost under the India sun?




Friday, August 11, 2017

HAVENCROSS by Julie Daines


HAVENCROSS by Julie Daines. I thoroughly enjoyed this Regency Romance. It had elements of piracy, betrayl, love, King Arthur, and much more woven throughout the story. Elaine and Gareth were wonderful characters to get to know and love. Havencross itself was a beautiful setting that was perfect for everything that needed to happen, and it helped me fall in love with this particular area. Julie did a wonderful job of keeping the pages turning. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a story full of adventure love, intrigue, and forgiveness, this is the book for you. 


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When a shocking scandal involving her father spreads through London society, Elaine Cardinham and her parents are forced to retreat to their country home in Cornwall for refuge. But Havencross is no sanctuary for Elaine. She is haunted by the mysterious disappearance of her brother—and the heartbreak she left in her wake all those years ago. It has been five long years since Gareth Kemp last saw Elaine—when she rejected his marriage proposal. Her reappearance convinces him of one thing: he has never stopped loving her. To put his feelings for her aside, he focuses his attention on the dangerous smuggling plaguing the Cornish coast. As Elaine attempts to run from her past, she ventures ever closer to a dangerous truth—and Gareth may be the only one who can save her from a deadly finish.

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Monday, August 7, 2017

Guest Post -- Marlene Bateman

Today I have a guest post by Marlene Bateman. She has many books out, her latest being SEARCHING FOR IRENE. Be sure to check out all her books. Enjoy her Tips on Plotting.



Marlene Bateman Sullivan grew up in Utah, and graduated from the University of Utah with a Bachelor's degree in English. She is married to Kelly R. Sullivan and they live in North Salt Lake, Utah with their two dogs and four cats. Marlene has been published extensively in magazines and newspapers and wrote the best-selling romance/suspense novel, Light on Fire Island. She has written three other cozy mysteries; Motive for Murder, A Death in the Family, and Crooked House, as well as the romance, For Sale by Owner


Marlene has also written a number of non-fiction, LDS books:  Latter-day Saint Heroes and Heroines, And There Were Angels Among Them, Visit’s from Beyond the Veil, By the Ministering of Angels, Brigham’s Boys, Heroes of Faith, Gaze into Heaven; Near-death Experiences in Early Church History, and The Magnificent World of Spirits; Eyewitness Accounts of Where We Go When We Die. 





Tips on Plotting
By Marlene Bateman, author of Searching for Irene

Plot is built of significant events in a given story. The events are significant because they have important consequences.  For a plot to be effective, there must be something very specific at stake—something vital.  Ask yourself what the central conflict is, the struggle that’s the basis of plot.  Then ask yourself how to show—rather than tell—why this is so important to the character and how to best make the reader understand, empathize and care about what happens.
  • Make Tension Fuel Your Plot. Without tension, there is no plot.  Remember, whenever the protagonist’s desires are denied, tension arises.
  • Make Certain There Is a Two-way Urgency.  Your protagonist wants a particular, important desire fulfilled as soon as possible, and the antagonist wants to wreck the chance of that happening, also as soon as possible. 
For Example, if the hero wants to preserve his valuable stamp collection and the villain has stolen it and intends to sell the items piecemeal their wants are on a collision course. But why would the reader care about the stamp collection? If it belonged to President Franklin Roosevelt, an avid stamp collection, the reader will care more. He will care if the protagonist cares.

  • Create Tension Through Opposition.  The role of the antagonist is to thwart the intention of the protagonist. Make the antagonist as smart, wily, and brave as the protagonist.
  • Work to Express the Core Plot In a Sentence Or Two. Pretend you’re writing a description for the TV guide.  See how brief and direct you can make your summaries.  For example; The police chief of a New England vacation community, although terrified of the ocean, sets out to destroy a huge killer shark. (Jaws)
  • Make Tension Grow As Opposition Increases.  It’s a chain of cause and effect, which builds and produces conflict and tension, which you need to keep the story going.  Every time something happens, the stakes grow larger, the actions snowball.
  • Throw in a Surprise or Two or Three. Nice surprises are one of the pleasures of life. When reading a book, readers thrill to the unexpected: a new obstacle, an unexpected confrontation by an enemy, or a sudden twist of circumstance. Every twist in your story starts adrenaline pumping and pages turning. Surprises aren’t hard to create. Look at each important incident in your plot and see what you would expect to happen next. Then have the opposite happen.
  • Make Change the Point of Your StoryWe expect events to affect the main character in such a way that they force a change in his personality.  Your main character should be a different person at the end of the book than he was at the beginning.
  • Balance Scene and Exposition. After an intense scene, have some exposition to cover events of a day or two or a week.  You can account for the doings of several characters that don’t merit full scenes or describe distant events that have a bearing on the here and now.  
  • When Something Happens, Make Sure It’s Important.  Plot is your compass.  You’ve got a general idea of the direction you’re headed. If you write something that is specifically related to the advancement of the plot, keep it. If not, chuck it.  
  • Make the Causal Look Casual.  Everything in your writing has a reason, a cause that leads to an effect, which in turn becomes the next cause. For example; If a shotgun is necessary, show it casually—in a way that the reader almost doesn’t notice.  Later, when a gun is called for, readers will remember seeing one earlier.
  • Make Sure Your Lead Character Performs the Central Action of the Climax. Keep the main character on center stage with the action. Your main character should act, not be acted upon.
THANK YOU, MARLENE!!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

SEARCHING FOR IRENE by Marlene Bateman


SEARCHING FOR IRENE by Marlene Bateman. This was an interesting book. I found I loved each individual character by themselves. I loved most of them together, but I had a hard time following some of their "mood swings." It was obvious that Anna had something to hid in the beginning, and as her secrets were revealed, I wondered if they were revealed too early in the storyline. In the end, her secrets were laid out at the right time which helped things along. As the story progressed though, I had a hard time figuring out who the culprit was. Just as I was solid with evidence and person, something else would happen that caused me to question my deduction. When everything came to a conclusion I still felt confusion. As I thought about it I felt like there were too many red herrings for my taste. I will have to go back through the story again to see if I missed some cleverly hidden clues as to the true guilty party. I'd be curious to see what other people think about this.

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Anna Coughlin is a modern 1920s woman, armed with a college education and a partiality for numbers. Now, within the walls of a fantastic castle-like mansion in the hills of Virginia, her skill will be tested as never before. Hired to serve as financial advisor to wealthy Lawrence Richardson, Ann finds the welcome she receives anything but warm. Lawrence's handsome but antagonistic son Tyler wants nothing more than to send her packing. The household staff isn't much better, but who can blame them, considering the way Lawrence's last advisor, Irene, disappeared...
Convinced that one of the enigmatic members of the household had something to do with Irene's disappearance, Anna doesn't dare trust anyone—not even temperamental Tyler Richardson, who, despite her best intentions, is beginning to steal her heart.
A series of frightening incidents ensnare Anna in a maze of intrigue, putting her life in peril. But even as Anna begins uncovering the secrets hidden within the mansion's stone walls, she harbors a secret of her own. Now, the only question that remains is whether she will disappear as mysteriously as Irene.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2017

MORMON GIRL: INCOGNITO by Kari Iroz

MORMON GIRL: INCOGNITO by Kari Iroz. I always hesitate when books say they have an LDS aspect to them. For me, most of the time it feels over the top on the religious aspect of the story. This book weaves in the religious side of things very naturally. It's not over the top and is in fact well done in my opinion. I loved this story. I loved how Jacky finds herself in this situation and they way she handles herself. I love the adventure and the way Damon grows throughout this book. The only thing I found frustrating was the reference to another story that we obviously should have known about. As the pieces fell together, I felt like I knew the other story but couldn't place where I had read it. I looked for other books the author had written but could find any information in the book. I finally figured out what other story was being referenced and things made even more sense. It would have been nice to have the other book (A DATE WITH A STRANGER) mentioned somewhere, (usually there's a seperate page that lists the author's other books in the beginning). Other than that, I loved everything about the story. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves a great adventure full of tension and high stakes.

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Hilarious heroine Jacklyn Wyatt is back—this time in a dicey Vegas adventure! Jacklyn “Jack” Wyatt is just your average Mormon girl—other than her brief stint with the FBI, her subsequent brush with death, and her dreamy boyfriend, Special Agent Damon Wade. But in the eight months since she helped save a kidnapping victim, Jack’s life has returned to its mostly stagnant state. She’s still trapped in a dead-end job, and even her relationship seems to be stuck in a rut. These days, adventures are few and far between. So when Damon heads to Las Vegas on assignment, Jack sees the perfect opportunity to surprise her boyfriend and rekindle the spark in their relationship. But the surprise is on her: she has just landed herself in the middle of a high-stakes operation involving Russian criminals. Unwittingly drawn undercover once more, Jack is all too aware that the survival of Damon and his associates depends on the success of her charade. In the unfamiliar world of luxurious limos, exclusive nightclubs, and gambling, Jack must convince the high-rolling hustlers that she is a terrifying international arms dealer. If only she knew anything about poker. Or guns . . .

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Tuesday, June 6, 2017

ROMANCING DAPHNE by Sarah M Eden

ROMANCING DAPHNE by Sarah M Eden. I just love Sarah's books, and I just love the Lancaster family. It is so fun to see the stories of others involved in the stories I've thoroughly enjoyed. Daphne is so easy to love and sympathize with. Then James joins and the story gets even better. The twists and turns keep one turning the pages to discover how the situations work out. It is a wonderful story of love, hope, love lost, risk, deceit, and sacrifice. I highly recommend it to anyone who loves a good, romantic story.

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As her first London Season looms before her, the thought of the impending social whirl fills Daphne Lancaster's timid heart with dread. She hasn't her sisters' beauty nor their talent for conversing easily. Even her family's enviable connections may not be enough to prevent disaster.
But Daphne's misery turns to surprised delight when the first even of her Season brings an unexpected visitor to her door—James Tilburn, whose tender kindness stole her heart in her youth. When the handsome young gentleman expresses his desire to court her, Daphne is elated. Their feelings for each other quickly grow, and it appears that, much to Daphne's disbelief, her happily ever after is within reach.
Yet nothing is as it seems. The couple finds themselves caught in a tangled web of greed and deceit, leaving James and Daphne to determine whether they are willing to risk everything for true love.



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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

WRONG FOR YOU by Jenny Proctor

WRONG FOR YOU by Jenny Proctor. This was such a fun read. I loved everything about it. The setting was perfect as were the characters. Lane's take charge, get involved attitude had me on her side from the very beginning. Both Jaime and Simon were endearing in their own ways, and I wasn't sure who I wanted her to end up with through most of the book. But in the end, she ended up with the right one. The flow of the story had me turning pages late into the night. It is a fantastic read for any and everyone. I highly recommend this book to any and everyone who loves a good story.

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Lane Bishop is a hardworking, intelligent, beautiful young woman. And with her recent move to Chapel Hill, she is determined to leave behind the drama and effort of keeping up with the dating scene. Even so, Lane somehow manages to get dragged out by a gaggle of girls to go watch boys play soccer. Just watching is not Lane's forte, so she joins in the fun and leads her team to victory.
Rather than feeling intimidated by the vivacious beauty on the opposing team, Jamie Hamilton is intrigued. Risking his "untouchable" dating status, he decides to pursue Lane—with a little help from his older brother Simon. With Simon's behind-the-scenes assistance, Jamie proves irresistible, even to a disillusioned dater like Lane. But as she gets to know both brother, Lane can't help but wonder—beneath the grand gestures and romantic words, is she falling for the wrong guy?

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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

COMPASSIONATE SOLDIER by Jerry Borrowman

COMPASSIONATE SOLDIER: REMARKABLE TRUE STORIES OF MERY, HEROISM, AND HONOR FROM THE BATTLEFIELD by Jerry Borrowman. This was a fascinating book. It covered stories from all of the wars that are not commonly shared. These stories show the true character of people, their dedication to serving their fellow men even with their own lives at risk, their innate desire to do what they believe is right despite all odds, and many other things that restore faith in humanity. I thoroughly enjoyed joined reading each story, shaking my head in awe of these people and what they did. True heroism, mery, and honor from the battlefield. I highly recommend it to anyone, especially those who love the different war eras.

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Compassionate Soldier illuminates fascinating yet largely unknown stories of men and women whose humanity led them to perform courageous acts of mercy and compassion amid the chaos and carnage of war. Arranged by war from the American Revolution to the Iraq War and global in perspective, it features extraordinary stories of grace under fire from valiant soldiers and noncombatants who rose above the inhumanity of lethal conflict and chose compassion, even knowing their actions could put their lives and liberty at risk.
Included are the stories of Patrick Ferguson, a British officer during the American Revolution who had the chance to kill George Washington but refused to shoot a man in the back; Richard Kirkland, a Confederate soldier during the Civil War who took water to wounded Union soldiers during the battle of Fredericksburg; and Oswald Boelcke, a German WWI flying ace who was one of the most influential tacticians of early air combat and was known for making sure the airmen he shot down made it to the ground alive.
These and other inspirational stories illustrate that even in the midst of the unspeakable horrors of war, acts of kindness, mercy, compassion, and humanity can prevail and, in doing so, expand our conventional thinking of honor and battlefield glory.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

THE VICAR'S DAUGHTER by Josi S Kilpack

THE VICAR'S DAUGHTER by Josi S Kilpack. This was a wonderful read. I enjoyed all the characters and their different personalities. Cassie's spunk and Lenora's shyness create a perfect combination for trouble. It's a wonderful mess that's created and I wasn't sure how things were going to end. When the natural consequences played out, I accepted that and knew it was okay. However, there was a surprise at the end that brought a smile to my face. I would recommend this book to any romantic at heart. 

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Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There's only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.
Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle's heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted.
A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister but her good intentions may lead to disaster.
As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar's daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

MISS WHITAKER OPENS HER HEART by Jennifer Moore

MISS WHITAKER OPENS HER HEART by Jennifer Moore. I was interested in this book because of its location, Australia. I love Australia and have to say that I haven't read many books with an Australian setting, especially in this era. The historical aspect of it alone had me fascinated. A headstrong woman in the middle of Australia as the head of a ranch. Incredible with just that alone. The characters were wonderful. It was easy to see exactly why they did what they did and made the choices they made. Sometimes all the self-questioning that happens in a romance bothers me, but in this story I could really feel why the doubts were there and why the questions kept being asked. It was a fantastic story that held everything you could imagine: heartbreak, betrayl, love, hardship, suspense, growth. I would highly recommend it to any and everyone, even those who are not really fans of romance. There is a lot to learn in this story.

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Australia, 1814
As a young child bound for a strange country, Sarah Whitaker dreamed of life with her father on his sprawling Australian ranch. But her hopes were shattered when she learned of his death and of her new role as heiress of the largest sheep farm in New Wales. Orphaned in a land greatly populated by petty criminals exiled from England, the future seemed grim. But now, ten years later, Sarah has defied the odds and become a successful businesswoman—much to the chagrin of her male counterparts. Hardened by the dishonesty of both her fellow ranchers and the felons in her employ, Sarah has learned one important truth: no one is to be trusted.
Daniel Burton is a lucky man. Sentenced to death for his role in a horse-race scandal, Daniel was granted reprieve thanks to the influence of his wealthy relatives. Now, rather than death, Daniel faces exile in Australia—an opportunity to put past mistakes behind him. But when he purchases land with the intention of farming it, he unwittingly arouses the wrath of his new neighbor, Sarah. What begins as a battle of wits, however, soon becomes a warm friendship—and perhaps something more. But when Daniel's secret past is revealed, will Sarah be able forgive yet another deception?

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

DEADLY INHERITANCE by Clair M Poulson

DEADLY INHERITANCE by Clair M. Poulson. This was a great suspense. I loved the twists and turns that happened as Andi, Bolden and Mason worked toward Gramps's murder. It kept me on my toes the entire book. The characters were instantly likable and it was fun to read about them. The story is fast-paced and keeps the pages turning. However, the romantic element that was present felt forced throughout most of the book. I cringed anytime things seemed to happen. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a great suspense and can put up with a little awkward romance.

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Andi Buckner and her twin brother, Bolden, have had enough of the rough streets of Detroit. When they can no longer bear the drugs and abuse within their home, the twins make their escape: Bolden to the military, and Andi to wherever the wind takes her. With few belongings and no specific destination, Andi eventually finds herself across the table from a kind old man in a quaint cafe in Spring Hollow, Montana. Louis "Gramps" Granger, a retired cop, takes Andi under his wing. Andi soon finds a peace she's never known as she roots herself in the small town, working at the cafe and living in a cabin on Gramps's property. But her peace is short-lived...
When an enemy from Gramps's past murders the old man, Andi's need to see justice served draws her into an investigation far beyond her own abilities. But hundreds of miles away, her twin brother senses her despair and heeds her silent plea for help. Andi is soon reunited with her brother as well as with Bolden's friend, private investigator Mason Crowther. Together, the trio delves into a mystery and soon discovers that the murderer's motive goes far deeper than any of them imagined. With the truth almost within reach, they find themselves directly in the path of a killer who will stop at nothing to finish what they've started...


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Thursday, March 23, 2017

DRAGONWATCH by Brandon Mull

DRAGONWATCH by Brandon Mull. I have loved every single book in the FABLEHAVEN series and was very excited about getting back with Kendra and Seth. This book is as fantastic as the first five. I loved learning more about some of the characters that were introduced in the fifth FABLEHAVEN as well as getting to know new characters that will be with us through the next series. The dragons are incredible. The tension is high. The kids are amazing. The story will be one you won't be able to put down. I am so glad to be back in this world. The only downside is having to wait for the next book.

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In the long-awaited sequel to Fablehaven, the dragons who have been kept at the dragon sanctuaries no longer consider them safe havens but prisons, and they want their freedom. The dragons are no longer our allies...
In the hidden dragon sanctuary of Wyrmroost, Celebrant the Just, king of the dragons, plots his revenge. He has long seen the sanctuaries as prisons, and he wants nothing more than to overthrow his captors and return the world to the Age of Dragons, when he and his kind ruled and reigned without borders. The time has come to break free and reclaim his power.
No one person is capable of stopping Celebrant and his dragon horde. It will take the gathering of the ancient order of Dragonwatch if there is any chance of saving the world from destruction. In ancient times, Dragonwatch was a group of wizards, enchantresses, dragon slayers, and others who confined the dragons into sanctuaries. But nearly all of the original Dragonwatch members are gone, and so the wizard Agad reaches out to Grandpa Sorenson for help. 
As Kendra and Seth confront this new danger, they must draw upon all their skills, talents, and knowledge, as only they have the ability to function together as a powerful dragon tamer. Together they must battle against forces with supernatural powers and breathtaking magical abilities.
How will the epic dragon showdown end? Will dragons overthrow humans and change the world as we know it?




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

LOVE, JANE by Ranee S Clark

LOVE, JANE by Ranee S Clark. I have loved Ranee's books. This one was interesting. The beginning and ending were fantastic. The story flowed, the characters interacted well and it was fun to read. The middle, for me was a different story. Understand why we needed to read the letters back and forth between Jane on her mission and Sean at home. They both had a different growth arc but it felt stagnant. I had a hard time reading it and finding myself just wishing the story would move on more quickly. I'm not sure how that would have been accomplished and still shown the growth, especially on Jane's part, without the middle but it was harder than I wanted it to be to get through. It is a delightful love story that ends exactly as it should, with wonderful characters that are easy to relate to. I would recommend it to anyone if you can get through a slower type middle section.

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Jane Reeves and Sean O'Callaghan seem to be a match made in heaven—but the timing is all wrong. Jane has her heart set on serving a mission, and she can't delay telling Sean the news any longer: not only has she quietly submitted her mission papers, but she's also leaving in a month ... for Alaska. Shocked and devastated, Sean struggles to come to terms with Jane's decision. Unable to deny the depth of their feelings for one another, Sean makes a promise to wait for her.
Life unfolds for both Jane and Sean, with communications limited to weekly e-mails. But with just a few months left in Jane's mission, Sean's messages stop. When she receives the dreaded "Dear Jane" breakup along with the news that she has been replaced by Sean's former flame, Jane knows the future she envisioned now belongs to another woman. But upon her return home, Jane quickly realizes some things are worth fighting for—perhaps, most of all, a shot at true love.


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