Category Archives: Romance

JFK and Mary Meyer: A Love Story by Jesse Kornbluth

Reviewed by James Eaton

I read this book hoping it’d be all canard, gossip, and balderdash. I checked it out via Google and such. It isn’t. So that makes it what, a horror novel? Mr. Kornbluth claims, perhaps tongue-in-cheekly, that it’s a romance. Maybe then it’s the first of a new breed, a new genre: horror romance.

A note I took a third into the reading:

“I find myself hoping that nothing in this book is true, even as I admit without hesitation that I believe it. It is not a novel, per se, not even of the epistolary kind if one adheres to the literal definition. But it is something of a revelation, and its overarching theme, relevant to the madness of our current political situation is: Wherever you go, there you are.”

If this were written today about the current White House occupant, it’d be lauded by half and hated by the other, so to speak. And of course, the political leanings and motivations of the author would immediately be called into question. Kornbluth is telling it like it is, Kornbluth is a liar, Kornbluth is an angel, Kornbluth is the devil. But unless it’s intended as a cautionary allegory, JFK and Mary Meyer hasn’t got anything to do with our world of today. Ahem. Not at all. No, instead, we as readers are offered a close up glimpse of a man many recall as something of a fallen saint who instead turns out to be an almost Me Too textbook predator. The account is credible in a sense because it’s written from the perspective of a woman who was, to say the least, complicit in the goings on. Camelot? Lord help us.

Acts of Faith: Part 1 of The Inquisition Trilogy by Martin Elsant

Reviewed by Ray Palen

The British Jewish historian Cecil Roth, who was educated at Oxford, wrote a book that was of special interest to author Martin Elsant. The book was entitled History Of the Marranos and of the many figures covered in it was one Diego Lopes of Pinancos in Coimbra, Portugal. Ironically, Mr. Elsant is a former radiologist living in Jerusalem and Mr. Roth died in Jerusalem in the year 1970.

While much of ACTS OF FAITH is dedicated to the descendants of Diego Lopes, Martin Elsant includes two quotes prior to his Author’s Notes from different sources. One in particular I found quite interesting: “Folded under the dark wing of the Inquisition…the influence of an eye that never slumbered, of an unseen arm ever raised to strike. How could there be freedom of thought, where there was no freedom of utterance? Or freedom of utterance, where it was as dangerous to say too little as too much? Freedom cannot go along with fear.” – William H. Prescott, The Age of Phillip II and the Supremacy of the Spanish Empire, 1858.

It is easy to pick up a history book or click on Wikipedia to find out about Diego Lopes. I prefer, whenever possible, to read historical fiction — an infusion of actual history within the opportunities that allow for creativity when re-examining historical events. I believe that this is what Martin Elsant is doing with ACTS OF FAITH, retelling historical events during one of the most difficult times in human and religious history — The Inquisitions — in such a way that it feels as if the reader is enjoying a book of fiction, filled with all the expected plot twists and turns.

Guess Who by Nesly Clerge and Joyce L. Shafer

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

Guess Who by Nesly Clerge and Joyce L. Shafer is a sultry romance story nicely wrapped in a cop thriller. A pleasant read for these cozy winter nights.

In the center of all stands Tessa, a woman with a tumultuous past and full of contradictions. She becomes entangled with a chain of bank robberies. After her intuition unexpectedly kicks in upon reading a newspaper article about the crimes, she decides to fully immerse herself in the case to help untangle its mysteries. But the task she set out for herself is not easy. Her first major obstacle proves to be the main detective working the case, Max Walker. He seems impervious to her intention and explanations, hanging up on Tessa’s numerous calls. So, what is a girl to do? Get on the next flight to New York, of course, and make the detective listen.

While the pretense of the plot would label the novel as a thriller, the bank robberies and law enforcement setting serve more as the backdrop for romance. In the hectic city of New York, and in the even bigger turmoil of her personal life, Tessa finds herself the object of desire for many potential suitors. Although she tries to maintain her focus on the job she went there to do, the temptations prove to be overwhelming; especially when it comes to detective Walker, who is playing an intense and frustrating game of push and pull. But to what end?

73 Things To Do Before I Kill Myself: A Love Story by Doc Longfellow

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

There are at least 73 reasons to read Doc Longfellow’s book, but I will only stop on the highlights. 73 Things To Do Before I Kill Myself: A Love Story is a witty and suspenseful account of a man’s downfall and his struggle to pick up the pieces and reconstruct himself.

Everyone knows a Duncan Jones, he is your friend, colleague or neighbor; he is also the main protagonist of the novel. A pretty nice guy, by all accounts, blossoming in all areas of life: love, career, friendships… or at least until the unimaginable happens and he quits his job and ends a relationship with someone that should have been the one.

So, what next?

Nothing. There is nothing to keep Duncan going.

But as he succumbs to his early end he stumbles upon a bucket list from his childhood. While, this will not be a sufficient incentive in itself to change his mind, at least he postpones the due date until the completion of the list. Although there were originally 100 items on it, as you might have guessed from the title, only 73 remain. It has it all: stealing a street sign, bungee jumping, the Simpsons marathon… but one entry in particular poses a great challenge to Duncan, asking out his first love. For this, he must return to his hometown, revisit friends and console the past with the present.

Bollywood Invasion by Ricardo Alexanders

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

Bollywood InvasionAt once engaging and cleverly creative, Ricardo Alexanders’ Bollywood Invasion enrapts readers with a fun and fantastical coming of age story, set in a well posed merging of reality and fiction which surpasses the reaches of time and continents.

Instantly the story draws you in, as initially, we meet John Palmieri living in modern times in Brooklyn; he’s a nerd and Beatles lover in high school and unsatisfied with his lower middle class existence. Things start with him in the throes of a dream, once again being bested by his arch-enemy Frank Castellano. He loathes Frank, who seems to have so much more than John; smarter mouth, bigger house, more friends, better stuff, including, the attention of the girl he secretly loves -Samantha.

The real adventure begins when fate crashes into his life, via an accident, knocking John unconscious. When John awakes, he finds himself in a parallel existence, where he has been transported back in time to late 1950’s, India. He wakes up as eighteen year old Raj Scindia, a prince in the Indian royal family. Naturally, he’s initially confused by his sudden transportation to a completely foreign life and culture with many humorous moments ensuing as he tries to wrap his head around what has happened to him.

The River and the Ravages by J. M. Lawler

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

The River and the RavagesThe River and the Ravages by J.M. Lawler touches on universal themes from a predominantly female perspective. This fiction-romance tells the story of a girl coming to terms with her true self, while being pulled in opposite directions by competing forces.

The core relationship explored by J.M. Lawler seems to be that between mother and daughter. Aaliya only felt truly understood by her mother, of whom’s recent passing threw the world off-balance. Freeing burning emotions is not something that comes naturally to her; instead she keeps the pain to fester inside. In her desperate desire to find a way to cope with a seemingly unbearable loss she recklessly throws herself in different directions, into the arms of a lover or into the hard labor of saddle making. The way to redemption and acceptance is crookedly paved, but this makes the journey all the more interesting and relatable.

Legacy: Book Three of the Fire Chronicles by Susi Wright

Reviewed by Chris Phillips

LegacyThis Young Adult fiction is the 3rd in the Fire Chronicle series. It is very good and thoughtful uplifting even when presenting unsurmountable evil and odds.

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In a fantasy world where races of creatures, usually humanoid, are often fighting each other, order has come to much of civilization. The Alliance was formed in fire with a great battle where Lord Luminor was injured deeply. He leads this group of people beneficently with powers that have been unmatched until now.

There is danger now, a new and fearful evil has begun to invade the Morvians. These people live beyond the Impossible Mountains. Although, this does not affect his domain, Luminor must defend these people from the encroaching menace. He forms his army, the greatest so far, combining many groups into a single fighting force. He heads North leaving hearth and home behind protected by a regent and wise Elders to protect his domain and his family.

This leaves Espira, Essie familiarly, and Ardientor sitting at home and worrying about their father. As hybrids, combining human and Gaian ancestry, they are the first and possibly the only salvation of the domain, but they must overcome sibling rivalry and a confining spell placed by their father. When all seems lost, they find the way, Espira especially, to reconcile the personalities and the powers, first to summon assistance from the Ancient Realm and then to lend its use to the army across the Impossible Mountains.

I’ll Be Looking at the Moon: A novel about finding Home by Lucia Barrett

Reviewed by Timea Barabas

I'll Be Looking at the MoonA fitting book for spring, since it is about rebirth and life, I’ll Be Looking at the Moon by Lucia Barrett will fill your lungs with the fresh smell of wild flowers. While it can easily be cataloged as romance, the novel has deeper layers to it, which surpass the stereotypical love connection between a man and a woman. It is also a story about family and above all about the Self.

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The story kicks off with a strong start. The reader is practically thrown into the inner world of the lead protagonist being exposed to her most personal thoughts. Once we share a glimpse of Elizabeth Parker Morgan’s present, we are torn away from it and sent back to the past, on a journey to discover (alongside her) why and how this present came to be. With a Freudian approach, the focus falls on her childhood and how the relationship with her parents and brother, but especially her mother, helped shape her as a person, and more particularly her capacity to give and receive love. As she matures into a successful businesswoman, she experiences France with all the romantic perils that would make such a cultural experience whole. She meets a man torn from her dreams in which she finds the coveted reciprocity she longed for all her life. But the illusion of a fairy tale love story soon shatters and both parts are left only with shards that will not fit together anymore. It is up to Elisabeth to rebuild herself and integrate this story into her life experience.

While the main focus falls on the love Elisabeth shared with Antonio, there are several other romantic strings that run through the pages of the book. Lucia Barrett takes on an intergenerational love story presenting very different type of relationships. First, there is the accomplished couple represented by Elisabeth’s grandparents, who are best friends for life and still care deeply about each other at their old age. The second pair, Elisabeth’s parents fell in love with each other easily, but they grew apart over the years. Their shared experiences uncovered mainly their differences and widened the gap between them. Finally, the love story of the heroine remains for you to discover in which category should fall, but hold your judgment until the last pages of the book.

I’ll Be Looking at the Moon is a play on perspectives. A surface will materialize before our eyes depending on how the light will cover it. Whoever controls the light source controls what we see. In this case, Lucia Barrett takes the steering wheel and directs your attention to unexpected details.

Tempting Skies: Book Three, Beyond the Wood Series by Michael Roueche

Reviewed by Teri Davis

Tempting SkiesHow would you like to read your ancestors’ journals about their lives while living through the Civil War? Would you be able to understand the perspectives of both sides?

Just recently in the year 2012, while searching through the attic of a mansion in Lexington, Kentucky, scheduled for demolition, a manuscript and letters revealed the history of this estate beginning in the 1820s. These documents are the foundation of the third book of this trilogy.

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Betsy Richman Henderson Gragg appears to have a charmed life. Born as a privileged daughter of a slave-owner and beautiful, she married a Southern gentleman who fought for the Confederacy. When he dies in battle, who quickly remarries. Fortunately, Betsy finds love again and this time marries a Union soldier, Their love quickly has her carrying their child.

Limelight Kisses (Love Behind the Scenes Book 1) by Michelle Segal

Reviewed by Veronica Alvarado

Limelight KissesIn her romance novel Limelight Kisses: Love Behind the Scenes, author Michelle Segel presents a steamy tale of opposites attracting in modern-day Hollywood. Filled with classic genre twists and sexy bedroom scenes, Limelight Kisses is a tale that comparatively makes real-life Hollywood love-stories look like a box-office flops.

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After a brief prologue set in the present day, Limelight Kisses opens in the early 2000s, in historic Williamsburg, Virginia. Twenty-six-year-old Ryan Lancaster is there working as a production assistant on the set of the historical cinematic drama, Mrs. Woodbridge’s Daughters. After a female lead is forced to drop out of the film, Ryan presides over an open casting call, and in walks in the young and beautiful college coed, Katherine Walker. Although she’s only there to support a friend, Ryan, sunned by her beauty and natural charisma, has her take a screen test. It comes as no surprise that she is perfect, and immediately, despite of her lack of credentials, lands the part. After some initial hesitation, Katherine takes a leave of absence from school, and following heart her and her passion, accepts the part.