Cover for "The Last Good Girl"Allison Leotta
Anna Curtis Series – Book 5
ISBN: 978-1-4767-6111-4
ISBN: 978-1-4767-6113-8
May 2016

Detroit, Michigan – The Present

Anna Curtis is a successful U.S. Attorney in the Washing ton D.C. Sex Crimes Division. After her fiancé’s missing wife turned up, and Jody, Anna’s sister, called needing her as a lawyer for a murder accusation, she returned to her home state of Michigan. There she met Cooper Bolden, a veteran with PTSD, and other scars including a missing leg. After Jody’s house burned, Cooper invited them to move into the old Detroit mansion he has restored. He is urban farmer growing apples. His goal is the restoration of the distressed city. Jody has a new baby, and Anna for the first time thinks of becoming a mother. Her and Jody’s father abused their mother, and both daughters have trouble dealing with their past. Things have been going well, but then Anna receives a call from Jack, her former fiancé. He is in Michigan investigating college sex crimes. He wants her to help on the disappearance of the daughter of Tower University’s president. She accepts the job. She will be working with FBI Agent Samantha Randazzo.

Emily Shapiro was a freshman at Towers, an event she has looked forward to since a child, but even her father’s position won’t save her from an encounter at a prestigious fraternity’s party. There she meets Dylan Brooks. What Emily doesn’t know is this fraternity is often disparaged as ‘the Rape Factory.’ By her second day on campus as a student, a rohypnol-laced drink has made naïve Emily another statistic. She thought her father’s position would help her, but that is just another disappointment Emily must bear. Even with all the betrayal, hateful remarks, and shamming aimed at her, she remains determined to gain justice. However, the father of her rapist is a big donor to the Tower and a highly placed elected official in Michigan. After posting some vlogs about her rape online, neighborhood cameras show Dylan chasing Emily late at night, making him the last person to see her before she disappeared.

This volume follows A GOOD KILLING (2015), which I also gave a Perfect 10. If a book keeps me up all night, it deserves that award. Although it is a continuation, readers needn’t have read A GOOD KILLING to understand the action, but will want to. In THE LAST GOOD GIRL the interactions between all of the characters are superb and the triangle set up between Anna, Cooper, and Jack adds to the dynamics. The investigative and legal procedures are very realistic, and campus rape is a very current issue. Oh, and Cooper’s brother is pledging Dylan’s fraternity! Living with abusive or neglectful parents, and how the kids deal with it, is another sub theme. These elements all add up to perfection. Loved this story!


jilting the duke
Rachael Miles
The Muses’ Salon Series – Book 1
Zebra Shout
ISBN: 978-1-4201-4086-6
February 2016
Historical Romance

London, 1819

As a young man, Aidan Somerville  fell in love with Sophia, the orphaned niece of the man owning the estate adjoining that of his best friend Tom Gardiner. He asked her to marry him, and she agreed, but Aidan wanted to keep it secret. His father ordered him into the military, and before his ship even left dock, he discovered Sophia had married his best friend. Her betrayal has haunted his dreams for ten years. He is now the Duke of Forster, his father and two older brothers having died. One year ago Tom died in Italy, where he and Sophia had been living with their son Ian. Tom’s lawyer, William Aldine, has sent Aidan papers. Although neither man had seen each other in all that time, Tom requested his friend become his son’s guardian in conjunction with the boy’s mother. A plan evolves in Aidan’s mind. He will use the opportunity to seduce Sophia, and once she loves him again, he will cast her off to feel all the heartache he has suffered.

Still grieving and reluctant to enter a society she had never had entry into before her marriage, Sophia, Lady Wilmot, is surprised at all the plans Tom has kept from her. However, she knows Ian needs a man’s influence as he grows up and has always acquiesced to Tom’s plans. Still, she suspects Aidan’s motives and actions. Yet, he is also the only man she has loved the way she loved him, with all her heart. While she and Tom had worked on botanical books together, he accomplishing the writing, and she the illustrations, and although Tom saved her from a terrible situation developed by her step-aunt’s machinations, their love wasn’t what she shared with Aidan. She and Tom had been friends. It also comes as a shock to discover someone is willing to destroy her to get something Tom sent to England.

Aidan’s anger and hurt are quickly established in JILTING THE DUKE. While Aidan’s desire for revenge is understood, his plot casts him in a scoundrel’s shoes. After all, he has had his share of mistresses and is known as a rake. Throughout the story, though, his actions contradict his nefarious purpose. The first instance is his behavior towards Ian, a young, intelligent boy who wins Aidan’s regard and then his love. As for Sophia, he finds it is one thing to want to hurt someone you still love, and another thing to actual do it; especially when he learns she is in danger. Strong, well-developed main characters with a huge cast of supporting characters, interesting situations including intrigue and spies, and a love that cannot be denied make this a entrancing read.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today



American DuchessEloisa James
Avon Books
ISBN: 978-0-06-238943-5
ISBN: 978-0-06-238944-2
February 2016
Historical Romance

England, 1803

At Lady Portmeadow’s ball, Merry Pelford becomes engaged to Lord Cedric Allardyce. It is her third engagement and saves her reputation. Her previous two engagements were to Americans, who at first she loved, but the men’s behavior quickly changed her opinion. So her aunt and uncle, who have raised her since her father’s death, brought her to England for a fresh start. To prevent tarnishing her reputation further, she must go through with her engagement to the Duke of Trent’s younger twin brother. Escaping the guest’s scrutiny, she slips onto the balcony outside the ballroom. There, Merry encounters a man who makes her heart beat faster. Later at another ball, after an altercation in the house’s library, Merry’s fiancé threatens her: marry him or endure the awful consequences.

Trent discovers the anonymous women he encountered on the balcony not only interested him more than any women ever had, but she is also engaged to his brother Cedric. He soon learns Cedric doesn’t love Merry, an uncivilized American, but does want her large inheritance. Their mother had always preferred Cedric, and when their father and mother both died in a carriage accident, Cedric had become a secret drunk. This behavior was hidden from all but Trent, but he won’t interfere even though he wants Merry, a smart, entertaining, and stubborn American, and one woman who isn’t uninterested in his title. The situation is difficult, and it grows worse because neither Merry nor Trent can resist the temptation of the other, even though Trent doesn’t believe in love.

While MY AMERICAN DUCHESS starts out as a Regency romance, but things change when Merry does become a duchess. Soon the story delves into an exploration of what love is and how to recognize it, especially in a society where title, position, and wealth always trump love.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today

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demure miss manningAmanda McCabe
Harlequin Historical
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-29858-7
November 2015
Historical Romance

London, England 1805

Mary Manning is the daughter of one of England’s diplomats. Since her mother’s death, Mary has acted as her father’s hostess, staying in the background, always remaining polite, and helping her father at all the locations he is asked to go. Right now they are in London, where a vivacious friend of Mary’s leads her through society’s gatherings. Here she meets the man being proclaimed a heroic, Sebastian Barrett. Upon first meeting this soldier, his demeanor, along with his extreme handsomeness, draws Mary’s attention. Then, at a gathering, he draws Mary to a balcony. They share a passionate kiss that Sebastian’s friends witness. It seems his romantic move was a wager. Mortified, Mary leaves. At home she finds her father packing, and she is pleased to learn they are going to Portugal immediately.

Lisbon, Portugal, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – 1807

Mary has recovered from her humiliation at Sebastian’s instigation, but she has never forgotten the passion of the kiss they shared. She has sworn never to be so vulnerable again. However, at the moment, danger looms. Napoleon is invading Portugal, and the English delegation of diplomats, including her father, are working hard to convince the monarch to move his dysfunctional family and adherents to Brazil for safety. To her surprise, Sebastian is part of the delegation working with her father. He has left the army and is a diplomat in training, now one with some experience. As the court moves to Rio, Sebastian is a great help, not only to Mary’s father, but also to her. She has hardened her heart to his advances, but every touch, every stolen kiss, weakens that resolve.

While the story is largely from Mary’s viewpoint, the reader learns some of Sebastian’s thoughts. He knows what he did to Mary was wrong, but in London he had just returned from war, from seeing friends and comrades dead and dying. Those memories had affect him. In Portugal, he hopes to win Mary back, but if he can’t, he will still see to her safety in the morass of complications involved in moving the court to Brazil. Although he hopes he takes her to safety, there are those who do not want to leave their home in Portugal, and do not want an alliance with the English.

The historical background of this story is well researched and fascinating, and while it forms the background of the story, it does not overpower the story between Mary and Sebastian, partly because they play integral parts (fictional) in that history. Emotional suspense, suspenseful action, interesting characters, and vastly different landscapes set this historical romance apart; in a word: captivating.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today

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Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance – Bob Rich PhD

Ascendng Spiral
Ascendng Spiral

Marvelous Spirit Press
ISBN: 978-1-62599-186-0
ISBN: 978-1-61599-187-7
March 2013
Philosophical Novel – Purchased by reviewer

The story begins in 2011 where Dr. Pip, a psychologist, is communicating with his patients, and then he tells the reader his existence spans 12,000 years. The suffering he has endured has steeled him for his job to help save humanity. The remaining story is divided into some of his reincarnations beginning with Padraig, who lived in the early ninth century AD. Padraig meets this being’s love for the first time, a woman named Sheilagh. The name changes but she reappears through the story. Their island community is raided by Vikings. Then Pip goes through life as Dermot, an Irish Rebellion rebel, who ends up transported to New South Wales, Australia. His next consciousness is as Amelia, a woman trapped as a possession-wife. Pip even goes through a period as an intelligent plant on another planet (not so farfetched for someone who already believes in plant intelligence), and then as the being whose sins begins this soul’s journey. The last part is Pip’s life which is also plagued with prejudice, bullying, hatred, and abandonment. Pip also works to overcome his own negativity, but delivers the final warning to all humanity.

Each short story of Pip’s character evolution contains emotional situations, adversity, and also some awareness of previous lives, plus a historical placement. This gives Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance aspects of both a historical and a science fiction novel that evolves into psychological character studies about the human condition. While it has philosophical and religious overtones, it is not about either. Who the intelligence talking to Pip after his many deaths is unclear and left questions about what was beyond his sentience, and whether this is Pip’s last life. Will he evolve again, or is it a situation where all humans must reach a certain level of ethical integrity to save ourselves and our world? This is left to the reader to judge.

As a reader, I agree with the precept of the novel’s final warning, and found Pip’s many incarnations entertaining. The idea of the other characters also being on their own transformative journeys but in groups that influenced each other repeatedly in different lives seemed somewhat strange, and that these souls were at different stages in their development raised questions that distracted me from the reading. A few long sections of a character telling of their past rather than enacting it slowed my reading. However, the ideas behind the novel make it a worthwhile and thought invoking read.

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TEMPTED BY THE NIGHT by Elizabeth Boyle

This book was published in August 2008, but it is still available as an ebook. Just because it isn’t new doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be read!

Book cover
Book cover

ISBN: 978-0-06-137322-0
September 2008
Paranormal Historical Romance

London, England – 1810

Hermione Marlowe, one of those ramshackle Marlowes, is in her third season. None of her prospects look encouraging, especially since the man she desires is out of reach. Nonetheless, she tries to attract his attention wearing her trademark color of Capucine (orange!) and striking ‘poses.’ She refuses to believe the Earl of Rockhurst is the bounder and rake society proclaims. She wants to prove he is an upright man. Two things happen. She finds her friend’s ring on the floor and puts it on thinking that is the safest place to keep it until she can return it. Then she makes a wish to be a phantom from sunset to sunrise, so that she might discover all of Rockhurst’s secrets.

Enter Quince and Milton. It is never explained quite what these two are, but certainly magical beings. Milton claims to be the owner of the ring Hermione wears. His former wife Quince grants the wishes of the ring’s bearer; and so she answers Hermione’s wish.

Hermione learns Rockhurst is the Paratus of London. He fulfills the duties his family has carried out for the last eleven hundred years. He and his wolfhound, Rowan, fight the demons from hell and close the holes they open to emerge into the city. She sees this first hand during one of his battles, and Rockhurst learns of his Shadow as he comes to call her — an invisible lady, who seems to be a debutante miss. He sets out to find the young lady, but for what purpose? The most reasonable one is that if he can get his hands on Milton’s ring, he can end the reign of his family’s terrible duty as Paratus. That means killing the ring’s wearer.

TEMPTED BY THE NIGHT captures the feel of a Regency novel while infusing the story with urban fantasy. It makes fun, delightful reading. Hermione develops from a shallow, innocent girl who thinks fashion alone attracts a man, into a loving and courageous woman dealing with the pain of unrequited love. Yes, Rockhurst is attracted to his Shadow by night, but doesn’t recognize or even notice Hermione by day. While the story is dramatic, bold and entertaining, the characters provide humor and poignancy. Well worth reading.

Some of the characters mentioned and Milton’s ring are from the 2006 novel, HIS MISTRESS BY MORNING. However, TEMPTED BY THE NIGHT is very much a stand alone story.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today

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SMOKE ON THE WATER – Lori Handeland

smoke on waterSisters of the Craft Series, Book 3

St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-1-250-02014-7
August 2015
Paranormal Mystery

Northern Wisconsin Mental Health Facility – The Present

Willow Black is incarcerated in a mental health facility. She killed a man before he could stab, brand, and burn her as her visions had shown her he would. Her rambling about water and her visions landed her in prison for the mentally insane. Found abandoned as a baby, she has been in foster care all her life. Because of her extreme fear of water and her reactions to it, she changed families frequently. If she sees a reflection on water, it brings her visions of things yet to happen, leading to her fear.

In the hospital, another inmate, Mary McAllister, has become dependent on Willow. She tells Willow she is a witch like Mary herself. While Mary frequently goes off the deep end of her psychosis, she manipulates Willow like a master. (Mary plays a part in HEAT OF THE MOMENT, the second book in Sisters of the Craft.) Mary’s scheming brings Mary and Willow to the attention of the facility’s new administrator. Willow recognizes the man. She has seen him in her visions, even made love with him, which is strange considering she is a virgin.

Sebastian Frasier is a psychiatrist, but his new patient tempts him beyond reason. Mary, however, brings him trouble when she disappears from the facility twice with no sign of how she escaped. Somehow he knows Willow in involved, but when he learns how, it takes him somewhere he never believed possible. Somewhere he wouldn’t even believe if it hadn’t actual happened.

Willow’s upbringing is far different from the sisters she will soon discover she has. Her life will be turned upside down, not only in learning about who she is, but also in accepting what she is. She and Sebastian have a difficult romance because Willow is technically his patient and off limits. There are dangers for Willow in the facility, and even more out of it, but the story is an interesting journey. Characters from the previous stories eventually show up to help fight an exceeding dangerous man from the past.

This appears to be the last in the “Sisters of the Craft Series.” I found it very enjoyable, reading at least one of the stories in one night. This series is sure to make fans for Lori Handeland, and send them looking for future (or past) books from this author.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today

Amazon link for Smoke on Water


This is from 2008, but I really enjoyed it so thought to post it here.  This is the third book in this series, but the whole series is wonderful.
queen of dragons
Perfect 10
ISBN: 978-0-443-80528-4
January 2008
Fantasy Romance
England – 1782

Princess Maricara of Transylvania and her younger brother inherited the leadership of the drákon at the castle of Zaharen Yce in the Carpathian Alps after the thief, Zane, and Amalia Langford of the Darkfirth drákon killed Maricara’s horrible, power-grasping husband. Maricara was eleven at the time. Now, ten years later, she knows she must go to the drákon of Darkfirth in York and warn them that the Sanf inimicus, also known as Others, the mostly human hunters of drákon, know about them. The Others both hate and fear the fabled drákon, creatures who appear human, but can change to smoke and dragon. Worse, they know how to trap Drákon s and make them helpless.

Since the Drákon Council in Darkfirth learned about Maricara ten years ago, they have attempted to arrange a visit and, without her consent, engaged her to their own Alpha Lord, Kimber Langford, Earl of Chasen. Maricara is the only known woman capable of changing to dragon other than Kimber’s mother and three sisters. As an alpha in her own right, Maricara realizes the council’s aim. Having been married before, she is not inclined to repeat a past mistake, either by choice or by force. And she is able to out fly and outwit the best of the drákon.

Kimber will try his hardest to seduce the woman he knows to be his true mate and hopes his dragon side doesn’t force the issue. In the meantime, he has to protect the drákon of Darkfirth without the humans of England learning there are dragons. He must also convince the Council they cannot imprison Maricara to keep her captive.

QUEEN OF DRAGONS is a gorgeous story. The words flow in near lyrical prose. The drákon are beautiful physically but each one’s personality seems to match their exterior, and the dangerous edge of their dragon side only adds to the appeal. When drákon turn to smoke they are not easily seen, but when they become dragons, they turn into daunting, iridescent and colorful creatures that inhabit the night sky. The eighteenth century is such an unusually period for a fantasy, but the wigs, powder, silk embroidered waistcoats and panniers add to the mysterious and delightful setting of this series. The Darkfirth Council and the Sanf inimicus create enough conflict and danger for Maricara and Kimber to create a page turning thriller. All of these create a book that is a Perfect 10. Be sure to read the previous two books, THE SMOKE THIEF and THE DREAM THIEF.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today.

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HEAT OF THE MOMENT – Lori Handeland

heat of the momentSisters of the Craft Series, Book 2
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-1-250-02013-0
July 2015
Paranormal Mystery

Three Harbors, Wisconsin – The Present

Four hundred years ago, Roland McHugh at the behest of King James went on a secret mission to purge witches from Scotland. He burned Henry and Prudence Taggart at the stake. Indeed the two were witches, but to save their triplet daughters, they made a spell from the fire and their blood that threw their three daughters into a future time when witches would not be hunted.

Veterinarian Becca Carstairs comes from a loving family with three brothers and a sister. Her bright red hair defines her, but what no one knows is that she can hear her animal patients’ thoughts. The local police chief arrives at Becca’s clinic to tell her three cats, a dog, and a rabbit, all black-furred pets, have gone missing. It is close to Halloween, so could local children be involved? Maybe. On her evening run that evening, Becca recognizes the large black wolf that she has seen many times since childhood, and then sees a light at a place where none should be. She stops to investigate and finds Owen at his mother’s abandoned house. Owen McAllister was Becca’s one and only love, but he left her ten years ago. He brings back strong memories. Inside the house are five butchered and burned animals. The next night, someone tries to smother Becca in her apartment above the vet clinic. The witch hunters are in Three Harbors.

Owen had to have his mother institutionalized. Her hearing voices craziness, her alcoholism and drug abuse have affected his entire childhood, not only the home lifestyle, but also everyone in town belittling him as the crazy witch’s son. Becca was his closest friends, and the woman he still loves. They slept together once, and then, warned away, he left to join the Marines. Now, Owen has come home to sell his mother’s house. On the day of his arrival back in Three Harbors, he discovers the house in worse shape than he expected. Nor did he expect to find burned animal carcasses inside, or have the expectation that Becca would be the first person from Three Harbors that he would see. An even bigger surprise arrives when a black wolf shows up. His dog, Reggi, a bomb-sniffing military working dog, barks as the wolf that growls at Owen. Becca demands he call of his dog, the wolf won’t hurt him. Strange. Both Owen and Reggi suffer from severe wounds from an explosion. Owen limps. He hopes for a complete recovery for both he and Reggi, so they can return to the military as a team. Even with that thought in the back of his mind, when someone attacks Becca, everything changes. He will protect her.

Becca’s situation is similar but also very different from her sister Raye’s in the first volume IN THE AIR TONIGHT. Like Raye, she has a voyage of discovery to make about herself under a very difficult, actually murderous, situation. Readers will empathize with Owen’s plight and love his partner dog, Reggie. Characters from the first volume play important parts in HEAT OF THE MOMENT, including Raye and Bobbie, ghost Henry, four-hundred-year-old wolf Prudence, FBI agent Franklin, and Cassandra, the voodoo priestess. Love, family, betrayal, and secrets in a small town all play important parts in this superb and thrilling story.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today, reposted with permission.


IN THE AIR TONIGHT – Lori Handeland

Perfect 10
Sisters of the Craft Series, Book 1 in the air tonight
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
ISBN: 978-1-250-02012-0
June 2015
Paranormal Mystery

New Bergin, Wisconsin – The Present

Four hundred years ago, Roland McHugh, at the behest of King James, went on a secret mission to purge witches from Scotland. McHugh burned Henry and Prudence Taggart at the stake. Indeed, the two were witches, and to save their triplet infant daughters, they made a spell from the fire and their blood that threw their three daughters into a future time when witches would not be hunted.

Raye Larson knows that as a baby she was dumped, naked, on the side of an interstate on a July day. No one could trace where she came from. Her adopted mother loved her despite her strange habit of talking to empty spaces, but her father, dismayed by this persistent strange behavior, demanded she stop. He left her feeling inadequate. What nobody knows is that she sees and talks to ghosts, all the time, everywhere. As a black-haired girl in a community with a blond-haired Nordic population, she has never fit in, but she has one good life-long friend, Jenn. Raye is the kindergarten teacher at the local elementary school, Jenn the attendance secretary who doesn’t like dealing with young children. Walking to school, they pass a crowd gathering as the police handle a murder, the first in New Bergin in generations. Raye sees the ghost first. Jenn points out the body with an arm missing, partially burned, and with a brand of a snarling wolf on her neck. The ghost tells Raye, “He will burn us all.”

New Orleans Detective Bobby Doucet investigates murders. He and his partner have been looking into strange cases that might involve a serial killer. All the victims share only one similarity: a snarling wolf branded on their bodies. When a photo arrives from Wisconsin with a victim marked with such a brand, Bobby goes to the small town of New Bergin. As he is driving down the street upon his arrival, a woman rushes from a building saying someone was in her apartment brandishing a cleaver. What he discovers is a beautiful woman — raven-haired Raye, who seems to be in danger. Bobby wants to protect Raye, but the deaths of his daughter and her mother still haunt him because he believes he was responsible.

IN THE AIR TONIGHT is an extremely entertaining story, well written for fast, mesmerizing reading. It melds the reality of genetically inherited gifts with witches’ magic. A vicious witch-hating group has revived McHugh’s desire to burn all witches, and they desire to resurrect McHugh himself, even if they must use dark magic to do it. Go figure. The interactions between Raye and Bobby are steamy and obstacle filled, especially after she learns her witch background and that she has sisters. Bobby is not a believer. Raye’s view of the relationship between herself and her adopted father is hard to fathom, as he often seems so very protective of her. She has a ghost, Henry, and a black wolf protecting her, too. Jenn’s self-confidence adds a welcomed dose of humor. The ghosts pique interest as the vile crimes add suspense. Readers who love witch stories will enjoy this story, especially since author Lori Handeland has interspersed quips referring to other TV and movie shows that dealt with seeing ghosts. A great start to a new series, earning it a Perfect 10.

Reviewed for Romance Reviews Today  and reposted with permission.