Category Archives: Romance

Time Off for Good Behavior by Lani Diane Rich

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

It all starts when Wanda Lane was testifying for a case involving the Hastings Gas and Electric Company. They were responsible for the explosion three years ago that destroyed Whittle Advertising. At the same time, the explosion nearly killed Wanda.

After a heated exchange with the defense attorney, whom Wanda called pencil face, she pulled back to take a swing at him. He did not see her swing coming as he turned to look at other Hasting Gas and Electric guys. The witness stand railing gave out and slammed Wanda’s head to the floor. She ended up in the hospital with a concussion and some swelling of the brain.

This was only one of Wanda’s problems. She kept getting calls from her ex-husband. He wanted her to forgive him – other times he would threaten to kill her. Wanda’s parents haven’t spoken to her in years. On top of all this, she lost her job. She is also “hearing” music as a result of her fall.

What can she do? She decides the only answer is to start over.

Sam’s Letters to Jennifer by James Patterson

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Jennifer has been through a difficult time in her life. Her husband, Danny, and baby were killed in an accident. Jennifer receives an urgent phone call informing her that Sam, her best friend, and grandmother, was in the hospital. Sam packed and was on her way to Lake Geneva where she grew up. When Sam arrived at the hospital, her grandmother was in a coma. Reverend Farley gave her a key to Sam’s house.

When Jennifer arrived at Sam’s house, she was getting ready to place her bag on the vanity table and noticed something already there. It was a stack of about a hundred envelopes each numbered and addressed to Jennifer. Jennifer told Sam that she would like to hear her story one day. Apparently, this was the way Sam wanted to tell Jennifer about her life. Sam explained in the letters that she made a decision to tell Jennifer the secrets that she never told anyone before. As Jennifer began to read the letters, she was in for a big surprise. What was it?

Good Grief by Lolly Winston

Book Reviewed by Nancy Eaton

Sophie Stanton never expected to be such a young widow. She was only thirty-six years old when her husband, Ethan, passed away from cancer. After all, as Sophie states, “widows are supposed to wear horn-rimmed glasses and cardigan sweaters that smell like mothballs”. She had only been married three years. Sophie has a difficult time dealing with her loss and turns to items like Oreos and ice cream to comfort her. She falls apart if a telemarketer calls to ask for Ethan or when she receives mail with his name on it.

Her psychiatrist suggested she attend a form of group therapy to help with her healing. She was thoroughly disgusted with her mother-in-law who wanted to come over and help her clean out Ethan’s clothes so they could be given to Goodwill.

Saw the Forest: A Novel by Patrick L. McConnell

Reviewed by Lisa Brown-Gilbert

A read which keeps your heart as invested as your mind, Patrick L. McConnell’s Saw the Forest explores life through a multi-faceted lens, bringing attention to aspects of the human condition, wrapped in layers of emotion and motive through the experiences of life. Presented with a grove of eclectic characters, each on their own life’s journey but whose paths cross in dynamic and life-altering ways.

A deft storyteller, author Patrick L. McConnell, captures the attention quickly with his literate narrative, which features a well-drawn cast of characters, each as interesting as the next to meet, as well as somehow entangled within the same web of a diverse community collective. Moreover, the story divulges uniquely posed aspects of human nature, exemplified through the characters, inclusive of traits like love, bravado, religion, violence, as well as politics. Moreover, skillfully presented amidst relatable interactions which create an interwoven mosaic of human frailty and strengths, making exciting fuel for this evocative, character driven read.

Immediately, this literate, detail focused narrative brings into view the Right family; father, Artemus a doctor, Mother Taniaz, and their sons, Philip and Adam. The brothers are a unique pair, in that, younger brother Adam takes care of his elder brother Philip, who is considerably larger and stronger than him, but his mind is that of a child. As the family dynamic changes over time, after having lost both parents, the pair of brothers live humble lives as adults, still sharing a close bond. Adam, quietly stalwart, socially awkward, even reticent but well-meaning remains his brother’s faithful keeper who at times can become an unintentionally aggressive and intimidating handful.

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.