Friday, 25 May 2018

73. Villains and Cake


Hello everyone! This month I attended a workshop on Heroes and Villains, but the group displayed such evil tendencies in our writing exercises, we focused more on the villain’s segments. LOL

The workshop was run by a wonderful author who delights in torturing her characters, yet to speak to her, one would swear butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth, she’s that lovely. :)

Ms Carolyn Wren took the group through details of what makes a great villain, a hero worth remembering, and all the variants in between. For instance, is a hero who kills someone for a good reason technically a villain? And is a villain who inadvertently saves the life of another whilst working through their own nefarious plot now a hero? There’s more than one kind of villain too.

The evil villain – the one who takes control, has no remorse, and seeks no redemption.

The bad villain – the nosy neighbour, bullies, interfering relatives, stirrers – anyone who is there to create conflict between the characters.

The Red Herring – their sole purpose is to make the reader think they’ve discovered something before the writer reveals it. It must be plausible and believable, but the red herring character is not the true villain.

The redeemable villain – the bastard hero – someone who turns out not to be the main villain. Again, their turnaround must be plausible, and the writer must convince their reader the character has grown, especially if it’s a character in a series.

The ultra villain – plays the long game – they appear to be helpful or incapable of committing a wrong deed, but they are the true villains and they almost always get away with it.

The most important note Ms Wren gave us was to remember it’s easier to show a redeemable villain visually than it is to write it.

We then worked on a suspense scenario where we were given five characters - a single mother and her daughter, a man new to the street but acting suspicious, an older woman who hates single parents with a passion, and an almost retired postman who is acting out of character, a crime scene - the mother's house was burned down, and various clues with which to create their story. 

I don’t know what this says about my suspense writing skills because the person I thought was the villain turned out to be innocent. It also revealed how much I like paranormal stories. I mean, no one suspected the little girl was really a demon in disguise, and a junior pyromaniac who tried to burn her mother’s house down to keep her from seeing her new boyfriend. ;) Ms Wren’s version showed us not to immediately suspect the obvious villain, but not to discount them either, to work out who the red herring was, and to notice all the details before discovering the identity of the true villain. I suspect I may have missed a clue or three there. :)

We did another exercise using story prompts to show examples of the different types of villains. My prompt was 'I regret nothing.' Can you guess which villain is shown here? :)

‘I regret nothing.’
The phone drops from my right hand to land on the blood-soaked carpet. Beside it lays my tormentor, his breath whistling as his lungs deflate. I stabbed him there. One strike for each time he slapped me, broke a bone, or left a bruise. Each time he took another piece of my soul.

I can feel the warmth of his blood sluicing through my fingers. The blade drips with my vengeance and twines down my wrist in a sanguineous river.
‘How does it feel?’ I say in a voice I barely recognise. ‘How does it feel to know you’re the one who’s helpless? You’re the one who is weak?’

He moves and my grip tightens on the knife. He slumps back though, the light dulling in his eyes, his mouth slack with disbelief, and I feel strong again. I step closer and admire my handiwork. The white shirt I never seemed to iron ‘just right’ is a burgundy canopy. The dinner he says I burned lays smeared across his jacket. My jaw hurts and I remember he punched me because I ruined yet another meal – stupid, useless bitch than I am.

The door opens and a policeman enters. I turn to him and say it again.
‘I regret nothing.’

Book Reviews

In contrast to the dark, suspenseful vibe of Ms Wren’s workshop, I read one of her novelettes, which was sweetness and light. :) The only villains here were cupcakes and a bit of wayward frosting.

Angel in the Baking by Carolyn Wren

Angelo Hart decides to spread the news of his new bakery, but ends up crashing into Kyle Waters, smearing him with lashings of squashed cupcake. 
Kyle was already having a bad day. His chance to debut his designs in a fashion parade had been thwarted by a catering disaster, so when the universe throws him a baker, Kyle hires him on the spot.

Angelo’s as reserved as Kyle is austere, so it’s a big deal for him to put himself out there, especially since he’s donned a pair of angel wings to help advertise his bakery business – Angel Heart Bakery. Then the unthinkable happens – he crashes into tall, dark, and handsome, and all Angelo can do is let out an embarrassed ‘sorry’ and run in the opposite direction as fast as he can. 

But the universe has other plans because tonight Kyle is showing his first clothing collection and when the caterer he booked cancels at the last minute, he knows exactly who to call – an earth angel who’s been heaven sent, just like his baking abilities. Now all he has to do is convince the sexy baker to let go of his nerves and take a chance on Kyle too.

I loved this. Their first meeting was so sweet, (pun definitely intended.) For a character who seemed so unflappable, especially when he’s in the business of designing fashion, I loved how Kyle was instantly taken with Angelo. After all, it’s not every day you crash into an angel, complete with wings. It was a beautiful portrayal of a fledgling romance. Now I feel like cupcakes. :)

You can find more of Ms Wren’s stories, both sweet and suspenseful, but always romantic, here. :)


Wolf Bound by Leisl Leighton

One pack, one coven, a destiny intertwined...
Five hundred years ago, facing extinction, a group of powerful witches united to create a pact with the Were to save witch–kind. The pact expelled an ancient evil, known only as the Darkness, that was blocking the Were from their wolves. With the Darkness destroyed, the Packs and their Covens grew strong as they thrived beside each other in their brand–new world.
But the Darkness was not destroyed.
Skye Collins has been brought up to fear her magic and shy away from witch and Were alike. But when Jason McVale, the Alpha of Pack McVale, comes in search of her, she is intrigued and tempted. Her mistrust of magic and wariness of the intensity of passion she shares with Jason threatens her control–and if she loses control, she just might turn into the weapon the Darkness intended her to become all along.

Not even skiing down the beautiful snow-filled valley allows Skye Collins to be free. She’s always ‘running’ from something, but it’s impossible to escape the powerful and evil magic that dwells inside her. She’s a danger to everyone, especially those she loves – almost killing her twin brother when they were children is testament to that. Fortunately, her grandparents weaved a protection spell to warn Skye in times of trouble, their whispered words combining with a powerful headache whenever her magic stirs. So, when Jason McVale crashes into her on the slopes and offers his hand to help her, those voices scream at her not to touch him. With no warning headache to stop her, instead of obeying, she does the opposite, and an explosion of desire and the elusive thought she knows this man, this stranger, envelopes her.

Alpha wolf, Jason McVale has been searching for his pack witch, who was stolen from the pack as a young child. He’s certain Skye is that witch, but he had no idea she’d mean so much more. What happened to her the night she was stolen? What did her captors do to ensure not only won’t she use her magic, she doesn’t seem to recognise him either? If anything, she seems to fear him, especially when he shows her his wolf form. And why is she denying him the possibilities of a relationship and the magic he needs to help the pack because where they’re concerned, he’ll do anything it takes to ensure they’re safe.

But now there’s so much more at stake, for there are those who would do anything to possess Skye’s magic and turn it against not only his kind, but hers as well. Skye and Jason need to trust each other and their magical bond if they’re going to get through the horrors to come.

Magic, witches, werewolves, oh my! I’m in paranormal heaven. The magic of Ms Leighton’s writing is seamlessly woven through this story. Believable characters, high stakes, suspenseful moments, great action, and the kind of sensual scenes that will have you waving both hands on front of your face in some vain attempt to help you cool down. :)

I also loved how well the secondary characters worked in this story, and it’s these characters whose adventures we follow in the series, each playing their part to restore the balance of magic ‘The Darkness’ threatens to destroy.

You can find more about Ms Leighton and her stories here. :)


News

Besides being halfway through MOONBOUND, the second book in Ms Leighton’s series, and eyeing off my growing TBR pile, I’m still busy writing. I pressed ‘SEND’ on a competition entry this afternoon after stressing over the synopsis. They’re not one of my strengths. The short story isn’t going the way I hoped, but I’m working on it. The looming deadline is certainly making things interesting. :/ And I’m rewriting a story I began a couple of years ago. Hindsight is a wonderful thing...

Ah, back to the cake - the bakery delights haven’t stopped this month. Not only did I read a story about baking, I also attended the successful book launch of a friend’s first published novel. I helped Ms Georgia Tingly celebrate in style as she shared the release of her story – Justice – and would you believe it? she had a cake that was a replica of her book cover. It was brilliant, both the cake and the event. :)


Yes, this masterpiece is really a cake. :)



The other cake I had was to celebrate my birthday. I didn’t bake it, so there’s no danger of me sharing a photo and showing off my lack of decorating skills. But for a store-bought cake that oozed chocolate and cream atop its fudgy, muddy base, it was delicious and didn’t last long at all. :) I’m also keen to get to the movies – Deadpool 2 and Star War’s Solo are on my list, so to outrageously plagiarise, and perhaps butcher a popular saying, until next time, ‘may the words be with you,’ because the colourful vocabulary for which Deadpool is known may be a little too intense. :)

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

72. Writing Frenzy

Today is a special day in modern history as far as Australia and New Zealand are concerned. April 25th is when we acknowledge the sacrifices made at home and at war on behalf of our respective countries. So, on behalf our ANZAC’s –

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."



This month I attended a Self-Publishing workshop hosted by none other than the President of Romance Writers Australia - Author, Claire Boston. :)

It was an intense few hours and I soon discovered how little I knew about the subject – about nine A4 pages of notes’ worth to be exact. We talked about the motivation behind wanting to self-publish as opposed to being traditionally published. How much control we wanted over our work, which, when you’re self-publishing, is all of it. Then there were all the must haves – professional editing and proofreading, professional cover art, the blurb, formatting, purchasing an ISBN number, organising a schedule for your book and sticking to it, and are you going to do a hard copy run or a print run only? We then progressed to marketing, advertising, keeping track of your expenses and copyright. And that’s just the overview. Phew!

Ms Boston showed us varying ways of getting our stories out there, shared some of her experiences, and provided a list of reputable contacts. It was an awesome workshop, and while I admired writers for getting their books published on their own steam before, I am now amazed at just how much hard work they do behind the scenes. The workshop gave me a different perspective and a future option I hadn’t given the full consideration it deserved, but it’s certainly making me think now.

You can learn more about Ms Boston, her books, and her workshops here. :)


Book Reviews

I read a trilogy by Charmaine Ross who recently chatted to our Aspiring writers group when she was our guest author a couple of months ago. Ms Ross was generous with her experiences, her answers to our many questions, and her time. :)

I read these books one after the other. Should you decide to read all three, I suggest you only read the review for the first book as elements in each book (and therefore the reviews) lead on from the previous comments. :)

Ghost: a Paranormal Ghost Romance: Damned Series Book 1

What happens if you could suddenly see ghosts? With amnesia?

Cassie Hunter wakes to find a man with serious green eyes staring down at her in the morgue, but her initial confusion turns to absolute horror when she realises this man has been dead for over seventy years.

Elliot Stone doesn’t know he’s dead. Or how he came to end up in the morgue. Or why he can’t keep his eyes off the sexy doctor. Or anything else, for that matter.

But the truth is, the family curse has awakened. Something Cassie went out of her way to prevent from happening. How can she turn away the soulful, amnesiac detective who strikes a chord in her like no—living—man has ever been able to do?

Ghost is a powerful new paranormal romance series that will captivate your imagination. Follow Cassie on her journey through perilous dimensions of reality to fight for the love of her life.

Dr Cassie Hunter regains consciousness in the morgue of the hospital where she works as a cardiologist. She has a vague recollection of how she got there, but where did the handsome detective come from and why is he wearing clothes more suited to the 1930’s? Then one of her patients, who was very much alive when she left him, walks into the morgue with a simple request – find his will, and Cassie realises something startling – they’re both ghosts. In truth, it would be more of a shock if it weren’t for her mother, a woman who’s always been terrified of the things she could see, wasn’t cursed with a similar ability. Cassie knows it meant the world to her mum that neither she or her sister inherited that ability, but clearly that’s all changed.

Cassie soon learns she has an important part to play in not only helping her recently deceased patient, but also helping Elliot because apart from his name, he has no idea who he was or how long he’s been in limbo. A pity the road to uncovering the truth never runs smoothly. There’s her patient’s murder to solve, Elliot’s past to uncover, battling strange creatures intent on crossing into her reality and stealing the life forces from all they touch, and of course there’s a growing attraction between herself and a man she can see and hear but never touch. And in the process, if Cassie’s not careful, she’s going to lose more than her hard-won reputation and her heart. She may even lose her soul.

The characters in this story are written so vividly they almost step off the page. Elliot’s 1930’s demeanour is a mix of old-fashioned charm and manners combined with sheer frustration regarding his thoughts of women are capable of and how they should behave. Cassie’s a contemporary woman, a doctor leading in her field, and her reaction to Elliot’s mannerisms makes for interesting reading. This book covers a variety of paranormal happenings, but Ms Ross does well with her world building. An enjoyable read.

Spirit: a Paranormal Ghost Romance: Damned Series Book 2

Thrown against a sinister threat, Cassie Hunter must race to save the soul of her sister.

The Grey-Mists, the dimensions between dimensions, are filled with perilous danger. But what’s a girl who can see the unimaginable to do when souls are annihilated right in front of her eyes?

Cassie and detective Elliot Stone are thrust into a world between worlds. The place where souls are trapped for all existence. And Cassie and Elliot are trapped right alongside them.

Although they can still touch, kiss, and love each other, things are not as good as they seem. When the villain that has ties to Elliot’s life captures Cassie, bad turns to worse. An evil force has plans to open a portal with enough power to decimate life on Earth and everything in between.

How can a ghost and a living soul ever hope to overcome such dark power?

Spirit is the second instalment in the Damned series. Follow Cassie on her journey through perilous dimensions of reality to fight for the love of her life.

Paranormal journalism takes on a new meaning when Cassie Hunter discovers her sister has connections that not only uncover her ghost lover’s past and the reason he died, but also discloses more questions about his future. Laura manages to share a little of what she’s uncovered before a soul eater steals her soul. Cassie is determined to get it back even if that means travelling into the world between worlds, a place she promised Elliot she wouldn’t return to, especially not alone. While her sister’s body is kept alive in hospital, Cassie once again travels to the world where she can feel Elliot’s touch, only this time, it’s a world neither of them recognizes – at first.

Amnesia may be a huge obstacle in Elliot’s death, but he soon realises the buildings and everyone in them belong to the time before he died. Then he sees an all too familiar face – Black John – formal criminal, gangster, and all around bad guy. Other memories come back too, those of a wife and child he left behind.

Heartbroken at the thought Elliot still loves his long dead wife, Cassie’s determined to save Elliot, for in this strange world Black John’s created, pain and agony are all too real. The gangster demands Elliot give him the power he promised him before he died, an artefact that allows the owner the ability to control everything in the world between worlds. And if he does that, then Black Joh can return to their reality and create havoc once more. But in this world, Elliot’s home exists, and inside it is something Elliot asked his wife to keep safe long ago. Something that just might save them from Black John’s crazy plans and help recover Laura’s soul too if Cassie can just work out what it is and how to use it.

Ms Ross ramped up the stakes in the second book. While havoc, worry, and heartbreak abound, it also gave Elliot and Cassie a magical moment. Finally they can be together, to touch, to hold, to kiss, but that brings about more torture than either of them are prepared for, and that’s just the beginning. J

Soul: a Paranormal Ghost Romance: Damned Series Book 3

How bad can bad get?

Pretty damn bad. That’s the conclusion Cassie Hunter draws, and it’s quite easy to reach. Not only is she the embodiment of a powerful portal that can open dimensions of reality, but she has accidentally unleashed an entity so dark it is annihilating thousands of souls right in front of her eyes.

The darkness is intent on Cassie’s destruction, but she must stay alive to protect the innocent. Cassie and detective Elliot Stone find themselves in a desperate corner, condemned to make an impossible choice that will forever change the human world.

Besides that, Cassie can’t touch the man she loves. An unknown entity has taken up residence inside her. And she won’t survive long enough to tell Elliot how much she loves him.

Soul is the third instalment in the Damned series. Follow Cassie on her journey through perilous dimensions of reality to fight for the love of her life.

By travelling to another reality, destroying a long dead gangster’s plans for ultimate power and saving her sister’s soul from the creatures in the Grey Mist – the one place she and Elliot can actually touch, Cassie has unwittingly released a demon into her reality that’s intent on destroying the world. What she doesn’t realise is that something else has come along for the ride.

Then there’s Elliot’s grandson, Thomas. The boy he never met has been acting as a lawyer for the grandson of Elliot’s enemy, Black John. Trouble is, no one knows whether he’s a pawn in a dangerous game or someone far more sinister. The only thing they know for sure is that Thomas is the key to discovering what’s happening in contemporary Melbourne, a city now besieged by a dark and powerful entity. A city where more than one power hungry monster is desperate to take control.

Ms Ross ties all the loose ends in this book, but she also delivers some amazing twists. Some hinted at in the previous books, and some that are completely unexpected. Let’s just say I was satisfied with the conclusion. :)


News

I’ve been working my ‘writing’ fingers to the bone this month. The beta-reading is complete and I’m looking forward to seeing where the stories take their respective authors. The current book I was editing for a client is complete. I finished editing a story that grew from a novella to a novel and I entered that into a competition. (Yes, I am certifiably insane.) The short story is progressing. I attended the self-publishing workshop as mentioned earlier. I have another workshop to look forward to in early May, which is close to the deadline of the short story I’m working on. And I’ve started rewriting another story. The fun never stops. :)

Until next month, may your words be golden, Happy Star Wars Day for May 4th, Happy Mother’s Day wishes to all the mums, and big hugs for those who find this particular day the hardest to manage.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

71. Book Bonanza

It’s not long now until Mr, or is it Miss, E Bunny takes a trip around the planet to deliver Easter Eggs. Currently, it’s a relatable task. For one, I feel like I’ve been running around in ever increasing circles while trying to set the house in some sort of order. And two, I’m sure I’ve eaten as much chocolate as the good bunny tends to deliver. In fact, I hope they have back up.

 

Things are going well with the new house though. We have turf now, so hopefully that will discourage the dogs, and the dust bunnies, from bringing dirt and dust inside. Chocolate bunnies only allowed. I’m also blaming the extra dust for messing with my computer, which seems to be quite temperamental of late. It has its positive side though. Less computer time means reading more books, hence my book bonanza. :) And more books mean I seem to be getting less housework done. Such a shame! LOL

Book Reviews

Secret Confessions: Down and Dusty Secret – The Complete Collection –

Casey – Rachael Johns
Lucky – Cate Ellink
Kelly – Fiona Lowe
Brooke – Eden Summers
Clarissa – Mel Teshco
Skye – Rhyll Biest
Maree – Elizabeth Dunk
Frankie – Jackie Ashenden

Welcome to the heart – and heat – of Australia…
They say that no one has secrets in a small town – these women prove them wrong.
Eight stories from some of Australia's hottest writers in Australia's hottest genre. From the bar stools of the local pub to the wide-open plains of the biggest stations in the world, these tales travel the dusty roads to the heart of Australia and the women who understand how to work hard – and play even harder.
In the latest in the wildly successful Secret Confessions series from Escape Publishing, the women of Down & Dusty invite you into their lives – and their bedrooms.

Casey Cooper left her husband and the small town of Milpinyani Springs in her dust a year ago, vowing never to return. But a favour to a friend finds her back in town - and back in her husband's garage, where he offers her a proposition too sexy to refuse. A naked Joel has always been the one thing Casey can't resist - but can her heart handle the heat?

As the single female owner of Milpinyani Spring's only pub, Lucky has learned that her behaviour has to be above reproach. She works hard at home, and when she needs to play hard, she does so - far away from the prying eyes of her neighbours and friends. So when the hot new cop swaggers up to bar, she knows the rules: look, don't touch. But Dare doesn't know how to play her game, and he's about to show her that the only rules that count are the ones that you break.

Kelly Wilkins' marriage has always been a team effort, but lately, under the daily grind of work, kids, and an unrelenting drought, she feels like her team has dwindled to one. The lack of rain in Milpinyani Springs isn't the only dry spell affecting her and, despite her best efforts, her once attentive husband hasn't touched her in weeks. With the threat of a long, dry summer stretching out in front of them, can Kelly and Grant rediscover their spark, or will their relationship be another casualty of the drought?

Brooke's brothers practically define over - protective, and while Brooke appreciates their concern, their efforts have left her climbing the walls in sexual frustration. But no man in town is willing to risk their ire, and all Brooke wants is one guy who thinks she is worth the effort. One guy who will stand up for himself - and for her - against her overbearing, old - fashioned family, and whisk her away to sexual and emotional fulfilment. The only issue is that the one guy who looks like he might is the one guy who broke her heart - the one guy that she can't risk falling for again."

Clarissa may have been daydreaming about her head stockman, Brandon, every day and night of the long, hot drought, but Brandon has never been anything more than friendly and professional, and Clarissa has long accepted that life will never imitate fantasy. Until Brandon recommends an old friend–a renowned bull–rider and stockman–for a job, and suddenly Clarissa finds herself in the middle of a competition between two of the hottest men that she's ever seen. But Clarissa doesn't fancy herself a prize–and with two cowboys willing to do whatever it takes to make her happy, she might just decide that the winner takes all.

After five years in the city earning her veterinary degree, Skye Malone is happy to be heading back to Milpinyani Springs, and her best friend Bret. Sure, her crush on him is still at epic proportions, but she managed to ignore it this long, and a good friend is a valuable commodity in a small community like theirs. But Bret spent the last five years growing up, and suddenly Skye's girlhood infatuation evolves into something much stronger and much more dangerous–an adult woman's desire.

Maree Haraldson has done all the right things as Milpinyani Springs' only teacher–she's good at her job, the children and parents have accepted her, she's even become a local at Lucky's pub. Now it's time for Maree to do something right for herself, and that means finally seducing the school groundsman Brad Williams into her bed. Maree has always been a woman who goes after what she wants, but a small community means there's no place to hide if Brad turns her down, and Maree has been out of the seduction game for a long time. Her small schoolroom is safe and comfortable, but life isn't meant to be lived on the sidelines. With the rodeo in town, Maree is ready to step up, take her risks, and throw her hat into the ring of love.

Frankie has lost a lot to her stepbrother, Mac: her father's affection, the family cattle station, her teenage daydreams. But Mac has never shown any interest in taking what Frankie wants to give: her heart, her soul, and her body. So Frankie has no choice. She can't continue to live with Mac, loving him as she does, knowing he doesn't want her in return. She has finally saved enough money to buy Mac out of the station and out of her life for good. But Mac has an offer of his own: one night together, and he'll walk away. One night for full ownership of the cattle station. For Frankie, it's an offer too tantalising to resist, an offer too dangerous to consider– an offer she can't refuse.

Down and Dusty is a collection of stories set in the fictional town of Milpinyani Springs crossing from the local pub to the hospital to life on the outback stations in a time of drought and worry. Whether our heroine is a cook, a nurse, a vet, station owners, a publican, or a teacher, they’re putting their hearts on the line for true love and some very sensual moments – as in reading this while you’re waiting at school pick up may not be the best time to indulge your book habit.

Add to the mix a set of amazing romance writers, some of whom I know write successfully in different romance genres, and you’ll understand just how wonderful the talent here truly is. The way these eight authors seamlessly wove their stories together by interacting with other characters while staying true to their own stories was brilliant. Each story brought a different facet to the theme, and I doubt readers would be able to choose a favourite. A couple of these authors were new to me, so you know what that means – more books to add to the TBR pile.

Note* These stories are also sold separately.


The Troll Bridge by Jenny Schwartz

A witchling child befriends a troll boy and changes the fate of a kingdom.

Trolls aren't born. They're made, and they fight for the kingdom of Adynn. They are its first and fiercest protectors, guarding the roads into the mountain kingdom.

When young Morgana befriends a newly made troll boy and names him Peter, she unwittingly reveals her magic to his creator. Sorcerer Veritas removes her from her remote village to the School of Sorcery. There she will learn to cast spells and forge charms, but she’ll also learn the high price of friendship, and the reality that someone with her magical ability will always be a target for others who seek power.

War is coming to the kingdom of Adynn. The Vlad Empire, with its death magic and slaves, is closing in. Morgana will be trained as a war wizard, but in her heart, she resists the role. She doesn’t want to fight, and she refuses to kill. So Sorcerer Veritas will provide a little motivation.

A powerful story of friendship, magic and high adventure. 

Once again, Ms Schwartz has taken me in a new direction. I love the diversity of this author’s stories. I feel, if she wanted to, Ms Schwartz could easily pursue a path in the Young Adult / New Adult genres.

The Troll Bridge features a strong female character – Morgana, a young witchling, Peter, a created stone troll, and a magical war that forces everyone to grow up well beyond their tender years. In the tradition of classic fairy tales, this is one heck of an adventure. True love, magic, war, tragedy, and as always with Ms Schwartz’s books, a twist at the end, which made me smile. The reader feels everything Morgana feels, her triumphs and her failures, her loneliness and how huge her heart truly is. I know my teen will love this story. In fact, I wish she’d hurry up and read it, so I can talk to her about it. I also think this story would be an excellent introduction to those who are new to this genre, just as I believe there’s potential for more stories from the land of Adynn. :)


Oasis by DL Gallie

Three friends embark on a much needed, girls’ only getaway to celebrate their graduation from college. They all agree; dancing, cocktails, and tanning are what's needed, but no guys. However, that changes when they meet three sexy as sin men before their flight even leaves the ground. Sparks fly. Temperatures rise. Desire builds. They decide to ditch the no guys rule and give in to temptation. Maybe a hot and steamy weeklong fling is the best way to let loose. What they don’t count on are the feelings, which develop in the short time the girls are with them. Oasis: where the sun is hot, the drinks are cool, and the heat isn't contained to the beach. Will it just be a holiday fling at this posh resort? Or will they each find something they don't want to let go? What happens in Oasis, stays at Oasis…or does it?

What a naughty little romp of a book this was. This is pure fun, silliness, girly get-togethers, feeling young and being free. Of course, these hot summer romances are supposed to begin and end in the same season. After all, Serena and her girlfriends are having a last little fling before they settle down to the more serious matters of their careers. There’s no time for romance, men, or the heartache they bring. It seems Oasis, their holiday destination, has other ideas. Temptation soon beckons our three lovely ladies with three hot, gorgeous men who seem too perfect to be true. Despite her best intentions, Serena knows she’s falling for Blake, but summer flings, like summer holidays, must end and suddenly their casual romance doesn’t seem so casual at all. Such a fun read.


The Dark Highlander by Karen Marie Moning

Journey to a world of ancient magic, breathtaking sensuality, thrilling time-travel.... Journey to the world of The Dark Highlander. Crisscrossing the continents and the centuries, here is a novel as gripping as it is sensual—an electrifying adventure that will leave you breathless....
I am Dageus MacKeltar, a man with one good conscience and thirteen bad ones, driven to sate my darkest desires…

From his penthouse lair high above Manhattan, Dageus looks out over a glittering city that calls to the darkness within him. A sixteenth-century Scot trapped between worlds, he is fighting a losing battle with the thirteen Druids who possess his soul, dooming him to an eternity of sexual pursuit. When Chloe Zanders, student of antiquities, is drawn into his world, she finds the insatiable alpha male an irresistible lure. Before long, she is caught up in an ancient prophecy that will sweep her back into time to medieval Scotland. Plunged into a world of timeless magic and dark seduction, she will soon face the challenge of a lifetime: fighting thirteen evil spirits for the heart of one irresistible man....

Dageus MacKeltar broke a four-thousand-year-old compact with the ancient, powerful, and magical people, the Tuathe De’ Danaan, for purely selfish reasons, something the MacKeltars are expressly forbidden to do – he did it to save his twin brother’s life. In doing so, the souls of thirteen evil druids now live within Dageus, tempting, teasing, and torturing him in body, mind, and soul in their attempts to be released. If he just gives in to their demands, they promise he’ll be free, but Dageus knows that will never be. Instead, he must find a way to break the curse and return the druids to the dimension in which the Tuathe De’ Danaan banished them. Only then can he return home to the place of his birth not in shame, but with his honour restored. To do that, he needs the help of a ravishing, and undoubtedly the most stubborn lass he’s ever seen.

Chloe Zanders is no fool. Innocent in the ways of men and sex she may be, but no, she’s not stupid. There’s no way she’s about to hand over a priceless book to a man who can’t possibly read its ancient languages let alone appreciate such a valuable piece of history. She’s prepared to tell him exactly what she thinks of the dangerously attractive man too, but all that fades into comparison to the wonders he can share with her. Indeed, the wonders he can show her too. But not everything /adds up when it comes to this strange man who seems more suited to the Scottish Moors than contemporary New York City. Chloe’s afraid she may lose so much more than her heart to this wild man, a man who claims he is not of this time. A man who is so much more than he seems.

I’ve been fascinated by the Tuathe De’ Danann and Celtic tales in general for many years, so not only was I excited to read something that touches on this belief, but also to step out of my comfort zones and read a time travelling story. In the Dark Highlander, I found both.

I admit I was disappointed when I first read about an experienced man who falls for a sweet, innocent virgin. It seemed so cliché. But I had to consider when it was written, and the more I read, the more drawn into the story I became. And it was so much more than just a romance. It had my Celtic legends, ancient artefacts, and my favourite paranormal topic – curses. If you’re like me and you love Celtic tales, you’ll enjoy this story. And if you like sexy Scottish men – well, need I say more? :)


Blow (a retelling of The Three Little Pigs) by Demelza Carlton.

Three sisters. An absent prince who promised to protect them. And the wolf is at the door...
Once upon a time...
When war breaks out, Rudolf promises Portia and her sisters he will protect them. But his father falls in battle, and Rudolf is forced to return home to command his father's armies.

Shifting alliances turn Portia and her family from friends to sworn enemies. To win the war, Rudolf must conquer her home, and risk losing her forever.

When the wolf is at the door, who will win - love or war?

Exiled from his family home for offending the reigning queen, young Rudolf finds refuge in the house of a warlord who teaches him how to fight. In return, Rudolf promises to protect the warlord’s three young daughters with his life. Growing up together, his relationship with the triplets was more like sibling rivalry, but there’s always been something special between he and the oldest, Portia.

When war breaks out, Rudolf must return to his homeland only to discover that where once Portia was an ally, now she’s the enemy. And if he is to reclaim their love and end the war, he has little choice but to ‘blow her house down.’

Rudolf was meant to protect Portia, but she’s doing a good job keeping herself and her virtue safe. And now the wolf is at the door, promising an end not only to her home, but also her innocence and the heart that beats for a man she’s certain has betrayed her. A man she can never claim because she must marry someone worthy of her station, never for love. As far as she’s concerned, Rudolf’s little more than a great warrior, not a lord or a prince, is he? And it seems even he’s succumbed to the Wolf.

This is another type of story I find fascinating – the reimagining (retelling) of traditional fairy tales. They’re certainly not the versions the likes of the Brothers Grimm shared. Ms Carlton sets this story against the time of the Vikings yet twists into her tale a cheeky comparison to the three little pigs and the wolf who just might devour them. I liked how she made the story her own.


Justice Book One by Georgia Tingley

WARRIOR ANGEL

Independence Day, 4th July 1976 - Thirteen-year-old Christine Conroy mysteriously vanishes from her back yard in a small country town in North Western USA. Folks think Christine has run away to Hollywood as she threatened, but people who know what really happened are determined to hide the truth.

Forty years later, Justice Smith is commissioned to find her body and her murderer - not an easy task after so much time has elapsed. Luckily for him, he has a secret weapon - Justice Smith is a Warrior Angel!

Sent down to Earth to seek justice for those that can't, he uncovers a deadly secret - the bodies of several young girls. A serial killer has gone undetected, living among a small community for four decades.

To complicate matters further, Justice has a mortal connection to the prime suspect's daughter Andi. He finds himself teaming up with an unlikely ally and while working together to uncover the truth, he crosses the boundary to break the heavenly rules for a forbidden love. Will the price he has to pay be too high?

For those who read last month’s blog, you’ll know I had the pleasure of interviewing Ms Tingley on her debut release. This is also one of the books I beta read, so I know how hard she’s worked to give her readers the best story possible.

This story begins as a cold case in which Justice Smith, a warrior angel, has been ordered by the Angelic Council to solve. His reward, apart from bringing peace to the ones who were left behind, is the opportunity to advance through the angle ranks and earn his ‘wings.’ For now, while he’s in human form, he may be stronger, and in possession of some amazing gifts, he is still bound by what it means to be human and all the emotional baggage that comes with it. For example, the human woman he’s falling in love with, something that’s strictly forbidden for his kind. The real kicker is learning her father is the killer he’s been sent to find. Proving this man’s guilt may cost Justice more than just his wings. It may even cost him his soul.

Wonderful story with a procedural feel I could easily see as a telemovie or a television series. The story was engaging, had subtle humour, clever twists and wonderful imagery. I think people who like romantic suspense will enjoy this story as much as I did. :)


News

I’m beta-reading two stories, editing a third, and writing a short story for an anthology submission due out later this year. I have two workshops to look forward to (so far) and two conferences to attend in the Spring so I had better get cracking – Easter Egg cracking! LOL. (Apologies for the Dad humour that occasionally sneaks in.)

Happy Easter to those who celebrate it. Enjoy the long weekend for those otherwise inclined. :)