Branna Lind’s self-esteem rests at the bottom of the Mississippi River. She canceled her “wedding of the decade,” though she isn’t saying why. She wants life on her own terms, no ready-made job in the family business: no safety net of close-knit kin, and no more betrayal.
College professor James Newbern prizes his bachelorhood. Experience has taught him beautiful women are high-maintenance trouble and Branna fits that type. He is happy to avoid her until the college vice president assigns him to mentor the newest hire–Branna.
Branna is on her way to a new life, but will the scars of the past send her running from love? Even if she stands her ground, can she convince James that she truly is his “type”? Review: 4 out of 5 Stars
It can be difficult to review a part of a larger piece because the pacing is so different than that of a standalone novel. As the first in a series, Linda Joyce’s Bayou Born
is an excellent introduction to the complicated love story (and histories) of Branna Lind and James Newbern. As part of a larger whole, Bayou Born is almost a teaser (300 page teaser, mind you). One is left wanting more of the story; always a good thing in a serialized piece of work.
But a warning to those of you wanting Bayou steam: this novel only scratches that itch briefly. James and Branna “connect” early in their relationship but the rest is yearning. When an epic series is involved, the pace is slower. If you are the reader looking for continual sensuous distraction, this will not be the book for you. This is not an erotic romance. It is a romance which includes the real world of near-miss car accidents (and one helluva plane incident), sinks gone awry, cheating, stalking fiancés, new jobs, and one’s first trip to a honky tonk.
Did I say honky tonk? Yeah I did. I live in “the North” in Canada (and I mean NORTH). We don’t have honky tonks. We have bars and “the Legion”. I want to go to a honky tonk now. I think we’re missing some great fun.
There is a particular character I have to mention in this novel which I grew to love: the South. The South plays an integral role in this novel. Those from the South should surely identify, those of us (freezing our buns off) in the North are fascinated. Mississippi and non-Disney Florida are entrenched in this story. They are as important to the narrative as James and Branna. Social mores, food, weather. The South is now new to me and I look forward to its return in Ms Joyce’s next Fleur de Lis
novel. This novel could not be set anywhere else. It’s not urban contemporary, it’s South.
James and Branna are both complicated characters that are, as required in the genre, hampered by their pasts yet seek to overcome their personal reticence to find love. Both burned by previous “loves”, they come to each other full of baggage and misconception. Slowly but surely they begin their healing but a word of caution: this is a series and it’s only on book 1. Miles to go. No quick fixes here, just like in real life.
In short (too late, I know), this is a slow sensuous lingering book of complicated relationships, eventually surmountable barriers, and anticipation. The love is real, as is the pacing. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Bayou Born
. So get yourself a sweet tea, put your bottom down, feet up, and enjoy being languid a few hours as you head South for a love epic. Excerpt
She tilted her head, and then leaned close to him, her chin rested on his shoulder. They were cheek to cheek. His breath softly blew against her ear producing shivers that reached her toes.
“You asked earlier, ‘How far are we going…’”
He wanted to talk now? “Yes?”
James stilled. She could tell he held his breath.
“We’re going to go as little or far as you want tonight.”
Her insides melted. Desire magnified and bloomed. She pressed her lips to his, hard. Her hands grasped for his, and she laced their fingers together.
Then, she whispered in his ear, “It’s all or nothing.”
Straddling his hips, she removed her blouse and unhooked her bra. A move she’d never made before. She pushed herself to standing on the bed, then stripped, dropping each piece of clothing in a pile on the floor.
Beneath her, James, his eyes trained only on her, wrestled off his clothes. They landed on top of hers.
The night had suddenly grown even more interesting. Available on Amazon
About Linda Joyce
Linda Joyce is an award-winning writer born in Biloxi, Mississippi, who calls New Orleans home. Her Louisiana roots run deep, and they’re intertwined with her Japanese heritage. She grew up traipsing across the United States from one Air Force base to the next, add in a four-year tour of Japan, though she always returns to New Orleans to recharge and reconnect.
She graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Business Management and for a while worked in corporate America. She currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and three dogs: General Beauregard, Gentleman Jack, and Masterpiece Renoir. Linda is a member of Romance Writers of America, Georgia Romance Writers and Southeastern Writers Association.
Bayou Born is the first book in her Fleur de Lis
Leah is a young woman who is trying to break free from a strict religious background and pursue her dream as a pianist in the world of show business. While trying to find her independence her heart is held captive by Jason Rowe, a local basketball star who established an organization to help troubled youth. When Jason is found murdered in his home, Leah is determined to get answers from a closed investigation. During her state of emotional turmoil, Leah finds comfort not only in the melody of her music, but in the arms of a married man named Calvin. With her dreams at her fingertips, Leah is tangled in a web of lies and deceit. Despite the fear of learning the truth, Leah has to realize that only the truth can set her free.
A dead lover, with a trail of broken hearts…
A married man, with a double-life…
A dream chaser, with a killer at her heels…
A piano, with eighty-eight keys… Review: 4 out of 5 Stars Eight-Eight Keys
is an excellent debut novel. Well-written, intriguing and twisty, yet reasonably plausible. Characters either too-true NOT to be real, or entertaining and larger-than-life. There are a few stories going on here, woven for the most part in a itinerant yet provocative manner, like trying to keep your eye on the ball. You think you saw it, no, really you did, but you were surprised to find you missed it.
We start at a death, end at a piano. I am always pleased when I cheat by reading the end of a novel (yes, I always do this) and find the ending makes no sense whatsoever unless I read the book. You may think that takes the suspense out of a suspense novel but it doesn't. For me it showed that Ms Lavender's narrative traveled, in more ways than one. Some forks in the road led out, some brought you back home.
So that’s a treat right there for me: little surprises. A book called Eighty-Eight Keys
, understandably, must involve at least one piano or a defective typewriter. Mercifully, we have a pianist here (Leah) who hitherto has lived what one can easily identify with: an unsatisfying life. Her true desire has been sublimated into relationships with inappropriate men. She is on the wrong path, despite the Bible-thumping parents who insist it is the music which will lead her astray. No. The piano saves her (without revealing… I think that’s ok).
But we have a murder. We have suspects. Many with motive, means, and opportunity. Leah isn’t a pithy gal with moxie who solves mysteries. No. This is a very real after-the-death-then-what story of a woman bereft of her unsuitable love (the victim) and her trying to fill that gap (or opportunity). The case runs cold, but a death threat appears at her door. She’s tired of repressing her music, she wants out and the letter helps to impel her to new action outside her (and her parents’) comfort zone.
There are wonderfully sympathetic secondary characters and surprisingly a fewcharacters we love-to-hate show us a better side at the end. In short, well-rounded secondary characters who work together to tell us that while this novel is self-described "suspense" it is also a bit of a twist of the bildungsroman
, saving us, mercifully, the coming-of-age part. This is a book about characters changing and shifting, like pieces of music in their intricacies and movements. I would go so far as to suggest that structurally, this novel is not unlike a piece of music. One movement is adagio, another may be scherzo, a bit of allegretto, key change, modulation, then back again to adagio. It is still one piece of music, but with growth, pace, shift and change, and a very satisfying ending for more than one character, not the least of which is Leah. Amazon
| Barnes & Noble
| Books A Million
About Catherine Lavender
Catherine Lavender is from Baltimore, Maryland but now resides in Tampa, Florida with her miniature schnauzer name Ripken. She is an animal activist, as well as a supporter of the organization First Book which helps supply literature for underprivileged children. In her spare time, Catherine enjoys reading classic literature and playing the acoustic guitar. Site
Ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes in a male strip club? Are those guys gay? How do they stay so ripped? Do they stuff their trunks? How did they get into such a business? How much money do they make? Do they have wild sex every night? This book takes you backstage and into the lives of two successful male strippers over a span of twenty years in the business. From their rookie days to their wild sexcapades and practical jokes, Take It Off! is a laugh-filled, action-packed joyride. Justin Whitfield and Taylor Cole are the stage names of male exotic dancers who have performed for women in Europe, the Caribbean, South America and Canada, as well as at various casinos, on cruise ships and in hundreds of clubs across the United States. Both have been featured on television and radio, as well as in newspapers, calendars, and magazines. Both are also official Ellora’s Caveman cover models and appear on our erotic romance covers and at our conventions and tradeshows. Now updated with sixteen color photos of the guys!
Available as Ebook or Paperback! Review: 5 out of 5 Stars
I know what you’re thinking. I requested to review this book just so I could read about sensuous men who "take it off". Delicious straight men who adore women. Gorgeous and really decent guys who wrote a book about their lives on and off stage?
And what’s so wrong with that? What warm-blooded woman wouldn’t want to read this book (now with photos… my review copy was just a text-only, sigh).
I can honestly say I loved every minute of this book. It’s not flashy, it’s sincere. It’s heart-felt, well-written, fascinating. And it’s just what you’re hoping it’s about: fabulous sexy guys who love women, and who love to strut their stuff.
And I love THEM. The book is absorbing. Full of wonderful details, stories, anecdotes, insider-tidbits. It’s juicy but not seedy.
Warm the cockles of your hearts ladies and shell out for these hard-working fellows who’ve written a book which should grace EVERY bachelorette party. Another reason to go to Vegas. As if we needed another.
This book is pure taste enjoyment and for what it's worth, I have nothing but the utmost respect for these "cavemen". It's not easy task to get up there and put on a fresh performance, deal with the new guys, "advancing years" and goodness knows what else. It's a bumpy road, and hat's off to them for sharing their world with us.
There is so much more to the male stripper than meets the eye. About Justin Whitfield
Justin Whitfield has a diverse background, he has graduated from the University of Texas with a Bachelor's in Economics & Finance. He holds a former title of Mr. All-Natural Southwest U.S.A. and is a fitness model with numerous magazines. Justin is also an entrepreneur; owning his own sports bar in Houston called "The End Zone". He has worked at male review clubs all over the U.S., in a span of twenty years and he is currently a Caveman model for Ellora's Cave. About Taylor Cole
Taylor is from Texas. He is a Romance novel cover model and a male entertainer. Taylor is an international strip off winner and has won the Mr. Jamaica title. He has been on on countless posters, calendars, magazines, book covers, and in newspaper articles. Taylor has also appeared on ABC, CBS and NBC.Ellora's Cave
| Barnes & Noble Facebook Fan Page
A bachelorette weekend with her girlfriends takes a steamy turn as full-figured Sara Fenyes unexpectedly encounters her secret crush in the city of sin. A self-proclaimed wallflower, Sara knows that when it comes to relationships, being alone is always a safe bet. Now if she could just remember that in the presence of a certain sexy firefighter, who also happens to be the groom’s best man.
Ethan la Montagne has had it bad for sultry Sara for as long as he can recall, but he can’t seem to hold her down in one place long enough to tell her! A stag party in Vegas offers a perfect opportunity to catch her unawares, and he’s man enough to raise the stakes on this cat-and-mouse game they’ve been playing.
When inhibitions fly out the window, Sara and Ethan generate enough heat to rival the brightest lights on the Strip. But what happens afterward, when reality intrudes and misunderstandings tip the odds against their favor? Together they must decide if what happens in Vegas should stay in Vegas. 4 out of 5 Stars
What a treat! Really! What a treat to read a story in which the heroine is larger than my post-partum size. With so many women NOT being a size 6 or less, it's surprising there aren't more. I guess we like to fantasize but you know, some days I just want to read that a hunky firefighter wants to do the hoo-hoo cha-cha with me, a size 14 - 16 (depending on where I shop).
So here we are. Sin City Tryst
. Hunky fireman on a bachelor binge. Stagette for the girls. They cross over somehow. Vegas is a small town after all. And there we have Ethan who has been pining, not so secretly, for zaftig Sara for years.
He loves her curves.
And we love his chiseled good looks. Yum.
He has been besotted for years and thanks to a chance encounter and a mishap with a pink vibrator this couple is brought together. The sex is steamy goodness as he worships her. Despite her random ruptures of self-consciousness Sara gives in to Ethan's wiles because that's what Sin City is all about: cavorting.
As expected, there is a break, then a reunion.
The style is quick and light. Sex artfully described in gory detail, just the way one would expect a Vegas story. Descriptive and lush. Sin City Tryst
is a quick read. A warm-you-up-on-the-way home story. Or something you'd curl up with, popcorn at your side. Satisfying. Like carbs. And hey, carbs are OK.
For an excerpt, tootle on over to Ellora's Cave: http://www.ellorascave.com/sin-city-tryst.html. Hard to describe where they keep the excerpts now... here we go: Once you are on the page, click the magnifying glass on the top right-hand corner of the cover-image and voila! Ellora's Cave
| Barnes&Noble About Kim Tiffany
Kim Tiffany grew up in Northern California and after college dabbled in the fields of finance, law, and medicine before the writing bug finally and firmly took hold. She now lives in Southern California with her partner and three dogs (while her parents still bemoaning the loss of a doctor in the family).
Something is not quite right in the leafy Savannah neighborhood of Gordonston.
As the friends and fellow members of her afternoon cocktail club gather to mourn the death and lament the life of their neighbor, Thelma Miller, not all is what it seems.
When old friends vie for the attention of widower, Alderman and mayoral candidate Elliott, jealousies surface and friendships are strained. An old woman with a dark secret and an infamous uncle plots her revenge for a perceived wrong done over thirty years before, a once successful children’s writer with his own secret is haunted by memories of the past and aspiring model Kelly Hudd has just won the trip of a lifetime.
As secrets are revealed and history, both old and recent, unravel and an intertwined web of deceits and lies surfaces in the middle class neighborhood a killer lurks and is anyone really who they seem to be? A mysterious European gentleman in South America, a young Italian count parading the streets of Paris and a charitable and kind-hearted nephew recently arrived from India add to the remarkable assortment of characters in this story of intrigue, deceit and revenge. What is the secret a recently retired accountant is trying to hide and just why did the former showgirl and attractive sixty two year old widow Carla Zipp really have plastic surgery?
Soon the plot thickens and as the temperature rises we discover who is destined for an early-unmarked grave in the wooded park that centers the tree-lined avenues of Gordonston.
A mysterious organization with links to organized crime, a handsome fire fighter who can do no wrong and a trio of widows with deep hidden agendas compound a story of simplistic complexity. As twists and turns lead the reader to a conclusion that they will not see coming and a sucker punch ending that will leave readers breathless, the Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club’s top priority remains the need to chastise the culprit who refuses to ‘scoop’ after his dog walking sessions in their treasured park. Review: 5 out of 5 stars
This book reminds me of when artwork was being restored in the Sistine Chapel. You've spent your entire life having a vision of what the Sistine Chapel looked like and then slowly, as the original colours and detail emerge, that vision is forever changed.
Gordonston is not unlike this process. Although the first images, in glorious medias res
, are of a burial--surreptitious as it should be when someone's been murdered--the locale and key members of the tale are defined. Then with great care, the layer over each character is revealed to show its true face.
This is an excellent story. The characters are clearly drawn if not from persons known to the author, then persons known to each one of us readers. The story is palimpsestic, it is the story of layers as well as connectivity. And at times, one might think things are too convenient or too close for comfort, but I believe we all know such small world stories.
As one reads one cannot help but ask where one's own tragic flaw will lead. This is a mystery (peppered with wry humour) of classical proportions. One misdeed, uncorrected, or one impetuous gesture (Oedipus, did you really have to cut that man down at the crossroads?) and one's fate is sealed. Starting a book knowing someone is doomed is always a good and terrible thing. Reading a book realizing that each of us have often been steps away from doom is scary but exciting. We like to think we know better than that, would react better than that, but we don't always, do we?
I know I don't.
This book is larger-than-life while being sutured into reality. Would someone really put a hit on someone else for the insult of... well, I'll leave it to the reader. Perhaps. Any quick glance at a newspaper will tell you that yes, grudges do grow exponentially over 20+ years, yes, jealously can foster a rage blinding enough to.... and yes, perhaps that nice little old lady down the street has a secret room in her house which no one enters, not even the dog.
Tension. Humour. A tightly woven web pulling the characters in before they know it.
Innocent white lies and misunderstandings... that's the path the the everlasting barbecue. You've been warned. Now pick up after your dog, alright? Really. Always pick up after your dog.
My only lament with this excellent book is that it ended; but I've been reassured by the author, Duncan Whitehead, that there is another in the works as well as a third novel, disconnected from this series. Amazon
| Barnes & Noble
About the Author: Duncan Whitehead
Duncan was born in England in 1967. After a successful career in the military where he served in British Embassies throughout South America and saw service in the Gulf War he joined the world of super yachts as a Purser onboard some of the world’s largest private vessels, working for many high profile individuals, being fortunate enough to visit some of the world’s most luxurious and exotic places. Eventually retiring to Savannah, Georgia, he began to partake of his greatest passion, writing. Initially writing short stories he finally put pen to paper and wrote The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club, inspired by the quirky characters and eeriness of his new environment, the book, a thriller, which boasts an assortment of characters and plot twists, set in the leafy neighborhood where he lived. His passion for comedy saw submissions to The Onion and a stint performing as a stand- up comedian.
He is a former boxer, representing the Royal Navy and an English under 19 team as an amateur and is a qualified teacher of English as a foreign language as well as a former accomplished children’s soccer coach.
In 2011 Duncan returned to South America, spending six months in Brazil and a few months in Paraguay before travelling to the Middle-East and Europe before returning to the United States to settle in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and lists his hobbies and passions as cooking, the Israeli self defense art of Krav Maga and the pressure point martial art Dim- Mak.
Duncan has written over 2,000 spoof and comedy news articles, under various aliases, for an assortment of web sites both in the US and UK.
As well as his other activities he performs volunteer work, as a hospice volunteer visitor and teaches English to refugees arriving in South Florida.
He has penned a further novel; a comedy set in Manhattan, The Reluctant Jesus, and of course the second and third books in The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club trilogy. Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club Site
About White Diamonds
Sandra Rutledge has been in front of cameras most of her life. She longs for the quiet existence of a university professor. A PhD candidate in mathematics, she’s at the family cabin in the Pocono Mountains when she finds Wyatt Randolph, the missing junior senator from Pennsylvania, bleeding to death on the road. Saving his life puts hers in danger. Attracted to the senator, she’s appalled when he accuses her father of treason. Together they set out to find the truth.
Wyatt Randolph’s best friend was killed for a cache of diamonds. His death set off a chain of events that go all the way to the White House. It’s up to Wyatt to discover what the stones entrusted to him do and why people are willing to kill for them. With the reluctant help of Sandra Rutledge, the daughter of the man Wyatt believes holds the key to the entire project, the two of them fight to find the truth and stay alive in the process. Review: 5 out of 5 Stars
I confess I read White Diamonds years ago and was pleased to have a chance to revisit this old friend in its re-release. White Diamonds stands the test of time, I am delighted to say. And a book as richly written as this can be picked up, at least ten years later, and continue to surprise and delight.
Ms Hailstock’s writing is exquisite. This tale of intrigue and love is rife with detail, necessarily so for its genre; but the story is never bogged down by minutiae. Readers loving the intelligence of a thriller, the heart-pounding run-for-your-life action (with a gorgeous man at your side), the strategy, will not be disappointed. Those less familiar with the genre will be easily drawn in by the beauty of the prose. Nothing can be more tedious than a book wallowing in detail, just as nothing is more frustrating than vague and poorly delineated plot and characters. White Diamonds triumphs in finding this balance.
I love the female protagonist Sandra Rutledge. Smarter than smart and sexy as hell to her leading man, junior Senator Wyatt Randolph (yeah, she sutures his wounds then flies him out of danger, did I mention the helicopter?). Secondary (and tertiary) characters whom you see before you… not as little flies to swat away or distract you, but as characters who are easily identifiable, memorable, and who add to the story. Ms Hailstock is wonderfully deft at nailing, in an instant, little details and side characters, locales, refrigerator coffee (we’ve all had it), so fine at her craft that you, in a sense, never see the page. I read this novel and I am instantly transported. I see the action before me. The words disappear. To me that is the mark of a good book: its invisibility. In film this is called “suture”, wherein we forget the camera. Here, we forget the book.
White Diamonds offers a satisfying plot and resolution delivered on a plate of intelligent, beautiful, seamless (and sexy) writing. Buckle up (check for bombs) and bring some oxygen because even reading the ending won't bring your heart rate down. This book truly isn't done until the last page.
For those fond of food metaphors I put it thus: imagine eating a fantastic meal, your favourite foods (hang the diet!), including dessert; and you wake up the next morning having not gained an ounce. Why? Because this book delivers high impact cardio with its perfect meal. This novel is pure taste enjoyment.
And for those who want to know, Ms. Hailstock has about 30 other books just waiting to be devoured.
Find an excerpt here: http://web.archive.org/web/20081202015721/http://www.geocities.com/shailstock/diamonds.html Amazon
Shirley Hailstock began her writing life as a lover of reading. She likes nothing better than to get lost in a book, explore new worlds and visit places she never expected to see. As an author, she can not only visit those places, but she can be the heroine of her own stories. A past president of Romance Writers of America, Shirley’s has authored 29 books and won many awards and accolades for her work. www.shirleyhailstock.net
Rebecca Schwartz, nice Jewish lawyer with a few too many fantasies, is happily playing the piano in a whorehouse when she suddenly finds herself assigned to make sure a near-naked state senator escapes a police raid. That dirty job done, a lovely evening turns even more delightful when she’s picked up by the cops and spends the next two hours at the Hall of Justice. Could this day get any worse? Of Course! Guess who arrives home to find a dead hooker on her living room floor?
Handsome Parker Phillips, Rebecca’s new beau and the most attractive man she’s met in ages, is arrested for the murder. (Worse, she suspects he might actually have done it.)
On the plus side, another very attractive man is following the case--reporter Rob Burns of the San Francisco Chronicle, a possible ally. And there are other possibilities.
Fans of Janet Evanovich, Joan Hess, and Elizabeth Peters will get a kick out of this one.
A Q&A with Julie
can be found here
A Guest Post by Julie
can be found here
Excerpt Chapter One
The argument was getting loud, so I played loud to drown it out. I was looking at the keyboard, I guess, or maybe staring into space, I don’t know which. Anyway, I didn’t see two uniformed cops come in the door with guns drawn. I just heard a hush and then some screams. That made me look up. I saw them and stopped playing. People in the foyer were crowding back toward the stairs. Elena Mooney was backing toward the fireplace.
“Awright, everybody quiet,” said one of the cops. “This is a raid.” Those very words.
It’s funny how you react in a situation like that. I should have been terrified. I should have had visions of lurid headlines: “Lawyer Caught in Bordello Raid.” I should have despaired of my Martindale-Hubbell rating and started planning how I was going to explain to my mother. But I didn’t. I was looking down the barrel of a gun and hearing someone say “This is a raid”—a thing I’d done a million times in movie theaters. I gripped the piano so I wouldn’t holler, “Cheezit, the cops!”
Then the lights went out. I don’t mean I fainted; I mean it got dark. A hand closed over my forearm, jerked me to my feet and started pulling. People started screaming again, and one of the cops fired. I didn’t know if anybody was hit or not, but the reality of the situation dawned on me and I offered whoever was pulling me no resistance. We bumped into a lot of people getting through the saloon room, but it took about two seconds, I guess. I vaguely heard things like “Don’t panic” and “Be quiet,” which I suppose came from the cops, and I heard two more shots and a lot more screaming.
My rescuer pulled the kitchen door open and me through it. The kitchen window had cafe curtains, and there was a little light from outside, enough to see that I was with Elena. She dropped my arm, grabbed a flashlight from the top of the refrigerator, and opened a door that I imagined led to a pantry. But I was wrong. Elena shone the light on steps descending to a basement.
She gestured for me to go first, then followed, locking the door behind us. There was a tiny landing at the bottom of the stairway and, on the right, a doorway to the basement itself. You couldn’t see into it from the stairs.
When I got to the landing, I waited for Elena to join me with the light, but she turned it off as soon as she got there. I noticed a faint glow coming from the doorway to the basement. Elena put a finger to her lips and squeezed past me into the room. I followed.
The room was unfinished, but the plasterboard was painted. The light came from a silver candelabrum on the floor, with all its black candles lighted. Attached to two beams on the far wall were manacles at ankle and shoulder level. Some scary-looking hoists and pulleys hung from ceiling beams, but I can’t say I was in a mood to examine them too closely. In fact, it’s a miracle I noticed them at all, considering what else was in the room—a brass bed with a naked man lying face up, spread-eagled on it.
His wrists were tied to the headboard and his ankles to the footboards. Even without his customary conservative suit, I recognized him. He was State Senator Calvin Handley. That same week I’d seen him on TV holding a press conference about the bill he’d just introduced to legalize prostitution. At least he wasn’t a hypocrite. Review
5 out of 5 Stars
I cannot imagine what I did not like about this book. The writing is both humorous and exquisite. The book is replete with clever and insightful turns of phrase. Characters are artfully drawn. The action is fast-paced and surprises turn up at every corner.
Our heroine, Rebecca Schwartz, is my kind of gal: plucky, intelligent, fun-loving, and entirely not afraid to take a leap or two into the existential void. A feminist lawyer playing piano for one of the local whorehouse’s parties? Why not? Who wouldn’t want to have an opportunity to break out of one’s day-to-day? She does things we all kind of wish we could do, if given the chance. How we envy people who do something out of the ordinary. Rebecca is just that Every Woman.
As with so many good books, the plot is ultimately simple. Dead body. Suspicious characters. Money appearing randomly in planters. Red Herrings. You know, those old chestnuts. This book is more process than goal oriented in my opinion. The whodunit is also a journey for Rebecca (as it should be with all great mysteries). Some may figure out who the culprit is before the end, others may not. It’s the telling. This book is about the telling and the journey.
The writing is brisk, pulling you along from the very first page. Time isn’t wasted with set-up. No. Chapter one is a raid. Cops. Guns drawn. A naked senator in the basement. Secret passage way. Escape. Collision. A trip downtown to the station house. Not bad for one night’s piano playing in the brothel. Ms Smith keeps the momentum going. Although this wild ride takes place over a brief period of time (with flashbacks) and despite my bitterness that I don’t have this much excitement in ten years, I find this story quite believable. The action is shoot-now-explain-later.
Sit back, buckle-up, and enjoy the ride.
Originally published in 1982, Death Turns a Trick
is also a thoughtful glimpse into the shifting mores of the time. Charismatic San Francisco is a character in and of itself in this story.
When his former elite gymnast tumbles after his heart, one man must choose between his sense honor and giving in to desire.
Anna Fortier has had the hots for her gymnastics coach since the first day he walked through the gym doors. Now nineteen years old, her feelings haven’t faded one bit. Soon to attend University in another province, Anna decides to act like the woman she is, and win his heart.
Twenty-four year old Ukrainian ex-Olympic gymnast, Taras Volkov, traveled to Canada to continue his coaching career and further his education to provide for himself and his family back home. A man who values honor, he fights his attraction to his beautiful ex-gymnast. When she declares her feelings for him, he takes a leap of faith in re-defining their relationship.
Life couldn’t be more perfect until a careless winter driver causes an accident that renders Anna blind. Taras vows to take care of her no matter what. But when he discovers his mother has fallen ill back home in the Ukraine, he is torn between his duty to family and his love for Anna. Their hearts may tumble as one, but will it be enough to keep them together.
Available as ebook or paperback.REVIEW
5 out of 5 stars
What a hot sweet treat this book was! I was dismayed I had not yet read the first two in the series (by the way, the three are unique stories so you needn't read the first two, but why not live a little?) Tumbling Hearts
serves up a tender and heart-warming love story with several scorching side orders. This is truly a romance unfolding between former gymnast Anna and her former coach Taras, both of whom have been smouldering for each other for years. Imagine the steam when the fog of repression lifts and these two finally consummate!
Written simply, Tumbling Hearts
is a contemporary romance set in wintery Winnipeg, Canada. Taras, the seeming dispassionate (still waters run deep here) former coach to Anna exudes raw masculinity and that large wall about him just begs to be torn down (by the right woman). His fire for Anna is all-consuming. He is besotted but all alpha male when you need him to be. He knows what he wants (ANNA!) and he is not afraid to express himself as Anna finally comes to voice her preoccupation with the taciturn Taras.
Lest Taras sound like a rogue, at the opening of the tale, Anna is now age-appropriate and no longer his protégée. It is later revealed that, the consummate gentleman, Taras attempted to remove himself as her coach because of his interest in her.
The passion between the two, once voiced, is immediate; we are instantly drawn into their desire. The work up to their first moment is almost agonizingly slow. Once the fire has been lit though, there is no going back. The intensity continually rises throughout the novel. For those wanting to know: Ms Kamryn gives good steam. It is sometimes hard to imagine such raw sexual passion within a warm love story, but isn't that how it should be? Taras may be the courtly gentleman, solicitous and protective of his love, but his passion and prowess have "BAD BOY" stamped all over. Tumbling Hearts
is real: rife with the whole range of emotions from rage, to lust, to sorrow, to joy and rich in secondary characters (and an adorable little brother) peppered with just enough backstory to weave it all together. And there are some funny (and cringe-worthy) tidbits as well. I think we've all been there and as readers we cannot help but laugh, cringe, and nearly cry with Anna. I hate to reveal so will say only that it involves a bed, a sexy man, and an unexpected visitor.
There is some tragedy, a few tears (I personally did get choked up once or twice). Both Taras and Anna show vulnerable sides which is only to Ms Kamryn's credit. These are well-rounded lovers and a robust narrative. The obstacles are believable and perhaps that touch of reality serves to remind us, the readers, how beautiful and aching love can be. But this is, after all, a romance. A love story. And love conquers all.
And now, time to find Ms Kamryn's other books.
Oh, and as a bonus for those who wonder: the story also sheds some insight to the world of gymnasts (imagine the positions... that's just a personal aside). I haven't heard the words "tumble track" in decades.EXCERPT
Excerpt Taras watched Anna retreat for the second time tonight, and again, she didn’t look happy. What now? He excused himself and went after her, finding her in Shelley’s office, standing before the window looking out at the falling snow.
He closed the door behind him with a soft click and locked it. The action brought his mind to an afternoon a year ago in this very office,when he’d threatened to quit due to his feelings for her. What a difference a year makes.
“Anna, what’s wrong?”
Her voice trembled when she spoke. “Was I that bad to be around?”
Ah. Shelley must have said something to her. “No. Well, yes.”
Confusion clouded her features when she whipped around to face him.
He blew out a slow breath, choosing his words carefully. “The more time I spent with you, the more attracted I became to you. It was not right given my position.”
“You told Shelley.”
“She’s my boss. I agreed to stay on because I felt bad leaving her in a bind, and it was only a matter of months until it wouldn’t be an issue any more, or, at least I tried to convince myself.”
“Why wouldn’t it have been an issue? Were you going to tell me?”
He swallowed hard, not answering.
“You weren’t going to say anything to me, were you?” She shook her head sadly. “You obviously didn’t quit which means you were glad when you didn’t have to coach me anymore.”
“Yes. You were planning to retire from the sport, and I’d no longer be your coach.”
Anna crossed her arms over her chest, taking a pissed-off stance he’d seen once or twice. The angry fire in her eyes only fuelled his desire for her. He cleared his throat, accepting whatever mud she was about to sling at him.
“If I hadn’t come to you tonight and declared my feelings for you, you would’ve kept yours to yourself like a coward?”
“Whoa there, Missy.” The word coward hit his pride like a punch to the gut. “You think me a coward for doing the right thing?”
“The right thing?” Her voice rose in pitch. “Was it the right thing to make me believe you didn’t like me? To walk away from me every chance you got? To only coach me, but not favor me with your smiles and jokes the way you did everyone else?”
The way she said it made him feel like an ass. “I never wanted to hurt you. Please believe me.” He took a step toward her. “Forgive me.I didn’t know how to treat you the same when I didn’t feel the same way about you as I did the other gymnasts. I even tried dating otherwomen—”
Her near shriek made him cringe. Wrong thing to say. The crushed expression on her face clenched his heart. “Nothing.”
Anger, hurt, betrayal—all those emotions showed on her face. She tried to stalk past him, but he caught her arm and pinned her to the closed door with his body.
“Let me go,” she said, her voice a fierce whisper.
“I can’t.” He brushed back some of her hair. “Now that I have you, I can’t let you go.”
Lips trembling, she fought back tears.
His lips brushed her cheek. “Please try to understand what it was like for me to be in a position of authority. I didn’t want to hurt you, and I’m sorry I did. You’ll never know how much, but I did what I thought was right at the time.”
“You did what you thought was right,” she repeated, the hurt evident in her voice. “By making me feel I was less than nothing to you?”
He clenched his jaw. “You meant a lot to me. You mean a lot to me now.”
Anna clutched at his forearms and looked down between them, heaving a sigh. “I tried dating, too, you know, but whenever I was with someone, I would wonder what it would be like to be with you.”
“It was the same for me.” Taras pressed his lips to her neck and spoke between soft kisses. “You fuelled many of my fantasies.”
She let out a small moan when he nipped her earlobe. Her flowery scent filled his senses. Being with her like this made him hard, and he shifted to show her exactly how much he desired her. “If I was around you too long, this is what would happen.” He nudged her pelvis with his, and her eyes widened as his arousal pressed up against her belly. “I feared everyone would know how much you affected me, so I did the only thing I could think of to keep you away from me.”
About Kellie Kamryn
Kellie Kamryn is a former nationally ranked gymnast and gymnastics coach, single mom, author of ten erotic romances and one book of poetry, narrator of audio books for Romance Divine and the Killion Group, and motivational speaker. Find a complete listing of her books and audio books on her website, Amazon, iTunes, Audible.com, and several other online outlets. Hear excerpts of her work on her YouTube channel, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Facebook
A guest post: Starting the New Year Right!
A Q + A with Cara Alwill Leyba
is here.5 out of 5 Stars
This wonderful book is a treat and my biggest regret is that this book tour was scheduled for after the Christmas rush. If anyone deserves to sell a lot of books, it's Cara Alwill Leyba.
Chock-full of wonderful advice delivered with the most engaging candor, Sparkle
is a must-read for any woman (or man, but let's focus here). For those not familiar already with The Champagne Diet
, here's an opportunity to get acquainted with it, then go one step further. This book is small but packs a wallop. Perfect to carry around with you. Brash and bold, there is nothing preaching or finger-wagging about this "Girls Guide to Living a Deliciously Dazzling, Wildly Effervescent, Kick-Ass Life
". How can you go wrong with such a terrific subtitle?
We've all been on diets. We've been through self-help, interventions, advice (solicited or not). But carb-free life is not for me. I want champagne. Abstemious self-denial? Not my style. I want kick-ass. I want to change my life because I love myself, not because I hate myself. That's where we all go wrong. We become negatively motivated.
Time to read this positive high-energy and very personal book and give our heads a shake. Take a page from this book (page 11, if you're curious) and pull yourself up by your stilettos.
Structurally speaking, this delightful book is written in small sections. Perfect for the commute, lunch breaks, sharing tidbits with friends. Like the advice contained therein, this book is offered in easily digestible pieces. You can read cover-to-cover or just pick it up for a flash of insight. How many "lifestyle" books have been written which were just so ponderous? This book is not ponderous, nor is it frivolous, it is, as the title suggests, effervescent. Effervescent: high spirits, energy, excitement, and, of course, bubbly. Sparkle
is about empowerment. Confidence. About living a proactive, not a reactive life. It's about learning to say no when you should really say no. About saying yes to a well-deserved indulgence. It's about forgiving yourself for being so harsh, for internalizing so much negative energy.
So pull yourself up by your stilettos, pick up a bottle of bubbly, shake that negative energy away (and believe me, once you start your own personal sparkle, others will try to bring you down). Sparkle
, like champagne, is about the little things, the bubbles. The very antithesis of the millions of tiny, deceptively negative distractions and downward pulls which keep us from our effervescent purpose.
2013 is the year you rise to the top. The year you sparkle. Reading this well-written and accessible book is your beginning. Thank you, Cara.About Sparkle
As women, we have become professional self-critics. We've become so convinced by society that we need to attain a level of perfection that just isn't real. Whether it's trying to get skinnier, look younger, get that promotion, please our parents, get fuller lips or rid ourselves of cellulite -- we're on a never ending mission to change and it always makes us feel like crap.
Instead, why not focus on all the fabulous qualities we already possess? There is so much to celebrate when we look at all of our accomplishments. In this straight-up girlfriend's guide, lifestylist and wellness coach Cara Alwill Leyba encourages women to discover what makes them sparkle so that they can design the lives they desire and deserve. So raise your glass and toast yourself. You're about to start shimmering, shining, and dazzling every day. Because isn't everything better when it sparkles?
Excerpt from Chapter 2: Uncork Your Best Self © 2012 Cara Alwill Leyba
Chasing our passions and figuring out what makes us sparkle is crucial, but we can’t get there if we aren’t confident. And as women, we have mastered the art of being professionally critical of ourselves. From crash diets and plastic surgery to wrinkle creams and colonics, we’ve done it all and then some. We’ve read books on why men like bitches, and strived to be more of a bitch. We’ve read articles on why we should stop eating bread to lose weight, and we’ve stopped eating bread (and, God, wasn’t that hard?) We’re constantly being told that we should look younger, be skinnier, have fuller lips, act a certain way to obtain the job we think we should have, and we’ve bought into it all. And frankly, I am over it.
It’s time to start celebrating ourselves! We’ve come a long way, baby. Women are now mothers, wives, girlfriends, professionals, executives, students, politicians, doctors, teachers – the list goes on. We’re beautiful, we’re strong, and we are empowered, and we have carved a pretty unique niche into this world. We’ve proved that we can do it all. Raise the children, run the household, and run the boardroom – sometimes all in the same day. In short, we’re pretty damn amazing.
So let’s stop obsessing over our flaws and start toasting to the deliciously authentic creatures we are. Let’s get our attitudes in check and start appreciating all the fabulous things we are blessed with. Let’s rock our best ass
-ets and forget the rest. Sound good? Good. But first, we’ll need to change our mindset.
Available on Amazon
as a paperback or Kindle.
Cara Alwill Leyba
Cara Alwill Leyba is a best selling author, and certified life and wellness coach from New York City who empowers women to live their most effervescent lives and celebrate themselves. She encourages women to indulge in the things that make them happy, and swears that every woman can live a "champagne life," no matter how busy she is or how tight her budget.
Her blog, The Champagne Diet
, boasts a following of thousands of loyal readers and has been featured in Glamour, Shape, Cafe Mom, Daily Mail UK, MSN Australia, AOL UK Lifestyle, and a host of other publications worldwide. Cara's writing has been featured in The Huffington Post, xJane, Mind Body Green, MTV News, and many other sites.
Cara regularly appears on the “Ask Dr. Fritz” radio show on WWRL New York, where she helps host Dr. Fritz answer questions from callers about love, career, family, relationships and more. She also hosts her own lifestyle and wellness show, "Uncork Your Best Self" on Blog Talk Radio.
Cara's first book, SPARKLE, became an immediate #1 bestseller on Amazon in both the Happiness and Self-Esteem categories upon hours of its release. She celebrated the release of her book with a book signing in New York City this past fall.
When she’s not popping bubbly, blogging, or working with her coaching clients, Cara spends her days leading a digital advertising team at MTV Networks. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and dog-child. For more on Cara visit www.LiveCreateSparkle.com
. Her blog can be found at www.TheChampagneDiet.com
Part of a Chick Lit Plus
4 out of 5 Stars
Fractured Fairy Tales, I think, says it all. Charlotte Henley Babb writes fractured fairy tales. And it’s Maven’s job to unravel, reconstruct, and resolve.
Down-on-her-luck former teacher Maven is literally living on fumes and small change inside her van, hovering about the public library to use the computers to see she’s still out of work and down-on-her-luck. But what she didn’t factor in that day was magic to take the place of luck.
Co-opted by Fiona, the one remaining Fairy Godmother, to help save the Faery world from destruction, Maven leaves the Mundane world (could there be a metaphor here?) and begins training as a new fairy godmother. They are few and far between and clearly, as the mundane crashes into them (in the form of “Silicon/Brewster Jones”) the world of Faery is more than fractured. It is not what we thought it to have been. Their world and its stories are often entirely lost or the stories are so wildly altered that the untangling becomes quite the learning curve for Maven.
Both worlds are richly described although we slough off the mundane, thankfully, quickly. It is a dreary place. You know those days: think grey, damp, cold, rain and you have a full day ahead and by 9am your feet are soaked and you have no change of socks. The day wears on with no end in sight. That is Mundane. Soulless. Cold. Miserable.
Faery is charming and awe-inspiring. Magical creatures, story characters come-to-life. That is the superficial read. As we follow Maven through her training we see a more profound read of our fairy tales. Sure, Cinderella (or Ashleigh) gets to the ball, but who will introduce her to the prince? She is not chaperoned and just who are her people anyway? Imagine the smell of so many unwashed bodies in a hot sequence of ballrooms. No A/C. Oops, the Mundane does slip into the world of Faery in so many ways.
Maven is intrepid, thoughtful, and defiant. She’s a character I could enjoy being. Given her instructions, she turns her back on all but the letter of the law. She reads her “clients” and sees what they are really asking for (or does she? Wait for the end.) You’ve heard that warning: be careful what you wish for
? Here the warning is also be careful which wish you grant
Maven's journey, depending on which time-space continuum you follow, takes place over her first week of training. Learning the stories, the characters, granting the wishes, paying attention and following (or flaunting) instructions. The ultimate mission: to replace the current fairy godmother Fiona, and save the rupture of the veil separating the Mundane and the Faery. A lot to accomplish in one book, over one week. This highly concentrated plot is deftly handled. The writing is visual, the worlds quickly brought forth with rich language, humour, and some very keen observation.
The worlds in Maven are also not so straight-forward, and that's to its credit. Time, physics, and a bit of math artfully tossed about with current and pre-industrial stories passed (and altered) generation to generation. Those looking for deeper meanings will be appeased, if only in the naming of characters (Little Nell? I smiled). And any book in which a fairy godmother-eating Troll named Grizelda
wishes for a sun bath is alright by me. The story pays visits to the usual suspects in any book of fairy tales: an Enchanted Castle, a prince and princess trapped (or hiding) in another form, a wish for small feet, a wolf. Each offered with a new perspective and by the end, very interesting resolutions.
This book made me sit back and re-evaluate (in a very good way) my New Year’s Resolutions. I realized that what I was thinking I wanted to give up, or improve, wasn’t always quite what I wanted or needed. Some wishes or resolutions which I pushed aside as frivolous were in fact valid and necessary. Others, superficially loftier in tone, were not as profound as they seemed. This book continually and successfully worries the difference between manifest and latent content
of dreams, hopes, desires, and, of course, wishes.
I understand there is another book in the works. I look forward to it.
Charlotte Henley Babb is a web designer and college writing instructor in Spartanburg, SC.
Charlotte began writing when she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name–although she sometimes mistook “Chocolate” for “Charlotte” on the sign at the drug store ice cream counter.
When her third-grade teacher allowed her access to the fiction room at the school library, Charlotte discovered Louisa Alcott and Robert Heinlein, an odd marriage of the minds. These two authors have had the most influence on her desire to share her point of view with the world and to explore how the world might be made better.
In the meantime, Charlotte has fallen prey to steampunk and the gears are turning…corset, bustle and magic, oh my! She brings to any project a number of experiences, including work as a technical writer, gasket inspector, cloth store associate, girl Friday, and telephone psychic.
She has studied the folk stories of many cultures and wonders what happened to ours. Where are the stories are for people over 20 who have survived marriage, divorce, child-rearing, education, bankruptcy, and widowhood?
Charlotte loves Fractured Fairy Tales and writes them for your enjoyment.Site
/ Book Site
/ FB Maven
/ Author FB
/ Be Your Own Fairy Godmother