I Think She Already Knows!

Somebody Tell Aunt Tillie She's Dead
Toad Witch Series #1
by Christiana Miller 
Kindle edition, 332 pages
Pub Apr 23, 2011 by HekaRose Publishing
first published Jan 1, 2011

GoodReads Summary:
A little magic can go a long way -- to really screwing up a girl's life!

Mara is having the worst month of her life. At least, that's what her cards tell her and they've never been wrong. She's evicted from her apartment, loses her job and is banned from Beverly Hills. So when the tarot cards predict her imminent demise, she uses a little magic to make her world right.

Suddenly, an aunt she's never met dies, leaving Mara as her sole heir. But when Mara moves into her inherited home, she discovers Aunt Tillie never moved out. She's still one pissed-off old lady, even post-mortem, and she blames Mara's magical meddling for her death.

When Mara accidentally releases a demon and awakens the spirit of the most powerful witch in history, Tillie's ready to kill her -- literally. It's the only way she can think of to save the girl from herself. The witch and the demon, however, have other plans for Mara's body.

My Review: 3-Stars
First response - Needs some work, but I liked it. Great spell casting! Full review on my blog.

First of all, the title is off the mark. Aunt Tillie knows very well that she's dead, and she's not happy about it at all. In fact, she blames Mara for her death! Poor Mara, just one in a whole pile of problems.

The cover art caught my eye with all the color, but it was because it was so bright. I like a lot of the elements on it. However, the house in the book sounded so wonderful and cozy. The one on the cover just doesn't do it for me. But I love the toad picture! A great element!

This book was fun and scary and tense. It had great spell-casting. The best I've ever seen in a book! Between Gus and Mara, those spells were awesome! Then there was Mara's card reading. She was really good, too good. That's what kept getting her in trouble.

The book is basically divided into three parts, before the move, the trip, and after the move. The first part was way too long. The relationship between Mara and Gus is wonderful and it is important to establish it. But it goes on too long. The trip was funny with her conversations with the toad and what she did and didn't eat or do.

The second half of the story, with the house, Paul, the whole scary stuff, is really the story. Paul is too flat; he needs to be more developed. I would have liked more family history in the second part, too, to support some of what was going on. It felt more like a play at times than a novel. Since this is the first of a series, I am really hoping that things get better in the second or third book, when and if I get there. For those of you who like witchy books, this might be one to try. Like I said, the spell-casting was really awesome. And you have to meet the toad!

This was a BookBub acquisition. My honest review is done for no compensation of any sort. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review 






How Much Fun Can It Be Growing Up In A Senior Citizens' Community?

Pineapple Lies
Pineapple Port Mysteries #1
by Amy Vansant (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 308 pages,
Pub Apr 8, 2015, -
Also available in paperback and audible

GoodReads Summary:
Growing up in one of Florida’s fifty-five plus communities, Charlotte never expected life to be wild. Golf cart racing with her surrogate mothers Mariska and Darla was about as nutty as life got...until she found the hot pawnbroker’s mom buried in her backyard.

Talk about making a lousy first impression. Armed with nothing but her wits, Pineapple Port’s questionable cast of characters and a growing crush, Charlotte is determined to solve the mystery of Declan’s mother’s murder.

Hey, at least this guy’s skeletons aren't in his closet.

My Review:
My first response - Quirky and cute! A cozy mystery with a sweet romance in a Florida retirement community. Full review soon.

Quirky and cute in a retirement community? Well, yes. Charlotte is a 20-something woman who lives in her grandmother's place, which was left to her when her grandmother died. The cadre of mother hens in the community have taken to looking out for her and mothering her since both her mother and then her grandmother passed away. Each of these ladies is as unique as the next. So Charlotte has grown up with a tolerant view of the world. She is however, employably-challenged, and always looking for her ultimate career. The mother hens are always looking for her ultimate husband.

Declan is a pawn broker living very close to the retirement community. It's convenient for buying up the estates when the senior citizens die. He's not a vulture, but he does need to make a living. He's another 20-something person in an area where most of the population is over 50. And he's not hard on the eyes.

When Charlotte decides to dig up her back patio for a garden, she finds more dirt than soil. When the sheriff asks questions, he gets more stories than answers. When Charlotte and Declan spend time together, they feel a warmth that's not from the Florida sunshine. But can they form a bond when the skull under the concrete is discovered to be his mother's and the gun has fingerprints on it that come too close to home?

Ms. Vansant has created characters who have the depth to create and survive crisis, conflict, laughter, and romance. Her story line twists and turns so that you won't know who did it until she reveals it at the end. And the story continues from this one book. Amy Vansant just released book #4 in the series this month on the 21st. So check out her series and other books at her site or on Amazon.

This was a BookBub acquisition. This is my honest review for which I am receiving no compensation. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review 


Sarah's Bookshelf: Daughter of the Gods

Hey there! I hope all is well and that you've been reading some wonderful books. I thought I'd drop in with a book review for you all today, sharing a read that I salivated over when I was counting down the days to its publication. Stephanie Thornton's Daughter of the Gods was released back in 2014, but I can remember how impatient I was for it to hit the shelves so that I could get my impatient little fingers on it! As some of you already know, I grew up a history nerd and a fascination for ancient Egypt was a given. I lapped up any information about the Pharaohs, pyramids, and animal-headed gods I could. How was I not going to love a novel about Hatshepsut, the infamous female Pharaoh who shoved the men of her family out of the way to claim the foremost place in the ancient world? I ask you...

Anyway, I'd already read The Secret History, a novel focusing on the dramatic life of Empress Theodora, so I was familiar with Thornton's work. For those of you who are unfamiliar with her work, Thornton is a history teacher whose goal is: "Retelling the stories of history's forgotten women." How does that not make you want to raid the bookstore for her work, right? If her goal as an author generates some fascination for her, please continue on and read my thoughts on her second published novel...


Daughter of the Gods



The Gloriana of the Ancient World, Hatshepsut is the kind of historical personality who demands stories to be written about her. Strong, bold, powerful, she was a breathing force of nature. A commander who oversaw the battlefield as her loyal warriors suppressed the foes of the Isis Throne. A savvy politician whose capable fingers plucked the strings of her court like a master musician plays a harp. An absolute ruler with a vision, with the determination to realize it. And at the same time a tender mother and passionate lover. A flame burning brightly ... a fire dangerous to those closest and dearest to her.

Stephanie Thornton isn't afraid to take on a challenge. The infamous saying, "Well-behaved women rarely make history" is her motto and that is clearly reflected in her composition. Unlike many other historical fiction authors she doesn't cringe away from showing the dirt and tarnish her characters collected along the path to glory and power. If you're going to tell the story, then tell it! And she does. Her previous portrayal of Empress Theodora was magnificent, gritty, and poetic, if not exactly lyrical. I was delighted to learn that she was working on bringing Hatshepsut to glowing, pulsing life as well.

Thornton's Hatshepsut is dynamic and impressive. Her thoughts are vibrant, a strong will reaches out to snatch at your mind. The commanding personality and the intelligence that had to fuel this ancient She-Pharaoh comes across clearly in this story. Sadly, though, it didn't exactly take center stage.

More than anything, this book was a love story. As Elizabeth I had her Robert Dudley, Hatshepsut had her Senenmut. It's one of the tantalizing bits of racy gossip from history that has survived to the modern day. The female ruler and her beloved, lusty architect. Is this scandal a whisper that was blown all out of proportion, or did the lowly-born Senenmut actually claim a place in the bed of one of the most powerful women to cross the world's stage? Who knows, there is no definite answer as it stands right now. There is only imagination, and that makes the tidbit of potential romance fair game for the pen-wielder.

While the relationship Hatshepsut and Senenmut came to share was very sweet and well-written, it came to overshadow Hatshepsut's personal story of trial, accomplishment, and an immortal victory against history. That isn't to say we didn't witness her loneliness and sense of helplessness during her marriage to Thutmosis, or the tension of her game of shadows against Mensah. Those episodes took a backseat, though. I have to admit I was disappointed.

Regardless, this is an excellent read and captures the world of the New Kingdom at the height of a Golden Age. The ending is an interesting explanation for the defacement of Hatshepsut's works, while also a fitting tribute to one who remade the world she lived in and conquered it for her own.
~~~

Interested? You can visit Thornton's website here: Stephanie-Thornton.com

Blue Cat Update

Buggy, the Blue Cat, has had very bad news recently. She has been diagnosed with oral cancer. It's an aggressive form and we have been told that our good byes are not far off. After 15 years of being together, this is difficult and I will miss her greatly.

Read 'Em and Weep...

The ladies of the COYER Winter Challenge were asked to share some of the names of books that they'd read that made them cry and stayed with them for awhile. This is part of the list they came up with and I thought you might enjoy seeing it. So be forewarned...read 'em and weep!

                             

                               

                                   



               
                                       

and one of them said anything by Jamie McGuire. I hope you can find something in this list to appeal to you. These ladies will read anything and everything in an attempt to find the best to review and recommend to readers. And when they recommend them to each other and discuss them among themselves, you know these have to be the best books to read.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review







Love Across the Pond by Amy Corwin

Love Across the Pond
The Archer Family series, #6
Amy Corwin (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 282 pages
published Jul 22, 2016, Fireside Romance

GoodReads Summary:
Edward Archer walks right into the den of lioness Charity Stonewright when he sails across the pond to South Carolina to resolve a property dispute for his cousin, the Duchess of Peckham. Astute but bookish, the Englishman isn’t prepared for Charity, a strong-willed woman determined to prove the Charleston mansion is hers. And unbeknownst to Edward, Charity has a secret purpose. She is searching for the lost Stonewright fortune, hidden over sixty years ago, somewhere within the walls of the old, decaying mansion. Finding it will mean an end to the grinding poverty she’s endured and fulfill her dream to establish herself in Charleston society as a wealthy heiress.

Drawn to the mysterious woman, Edward is increasingly torn between duty and his growing love. But Charity seems determined to keep him at arm's length, stubbornly maintaining her distrust of him.

As the mysteries of the mansion threaten to tear Edward and Charity apart, they must learn to listen to their hearts and discover that the real treasure may be love.

My Review:
First response: He's just trying to help out his cousin with a legal matter. She's just trying to hang onto her home and survive. He's English. She's American. Can they set aside their differences and find their similarities long enough to find the treasure and love? Full review coming up on my blog.

Edward Archer isn't a barrister, but he does know English law. His cousin, the Duchess of Peckham, the former Charlotte Haywood, has some property in Charleston, S.C. with a disputed title. Her American lawyer, Mr. Tarte, doesn't seem to be in any hurry to settle the matter, so the duchess asks Edward to go to Charleston and resolve the issue once and for all. He sails for America with his sister, Lady Hildegard, a typical sheltered young lady of her day.

If this ran true to romantic formula, the rich Englishman would find a lovely, but penniless American girl with no claim to the house, whom the criminal American lawyer has been threatening. He would turn the lawyer over to the authorities, fall in love with and marry the girl, and take her back to England. In the meantime, his sister would have met a perfectly acceptable rich young man to fall in love with and marry in America. They would move into the Duchess' old home and raise several children of their own for the next generation's stories. But, I liked Ms. Corwin's idea even better! It was far more exciting and I hadn't read it before. A refreshingly new historical plot!

Edward and Charity (our lovely, young, American girl) were well written. You got to know them well enough to understand them and what was going to set them off (anything the other one did or said). The secondary characters weren't quite so well defined. Lady Hildegard was perhaps better done than the rest because of the role she plays at the end, but still not fully fleshed out. This did serve to keep you focused on the main combatants and their attempts to outwit each other and survive the twists and turns as the plot winds up to its crisis. And I couldn't tell until the very end which one was going to give in.
I recommend this book for those of you who like your traditional historical romances with feisty heroines and handsome heroes. This was a BookBub acquisition via Amazon. My honest review is given without any compensation. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

The Magister Series by July Hall

Magister Series by July Hall
If You Want Me #1
Kindle edition, 348 pages,
published Nov 12, 2016, Lucky Opal Press
Also in paperback

If You Want Me #1

Let me introduce you to our cast of characters. The head of the Magister family, CEO of the family business, 45-year old widower is billionaire Charles Magister. Charles is not only rich, but he's handsome, elusive, and alone. His brother and best friend, Stephen, is gay and the CFO of the company. Stephen is seeing Craig. Their sister, Rosalie is divorced and the doting mother of their nephew and bad boy, Bradley. Bradley is the family heir and thinks that means he can get away with anything.

Bradley is currently dating Sandra Dane, a 25-year old interior designer who's new to the Magister world and not in-the-know about all of Bradley's bad habits. Sandra was a virgin until a few months ago when Bradley convinced her to let him change that. She thinks Bradley is wonderful until she's lost in a pair of green eyes just before meeting the Magisters at a house party. She doesn't know who he is, but Bradley stopped existing with that one look. Dinner reveals the green eyes belong to none other than Charles Magister himself, and he's as lost as she is.

Charles hasn't been in a relationship since the death of his wife 10 years ago, and Sandra is supposed to be in one with his nephew. How do you bring two such people together in a quiet relationship of their own? For the man in control, it may prove to be a nightmare. For this woman of his dreams, it may prove a rude awakening.

Come And Get Me #2
Kindle edition, 476 pages,
published Nov 12, 2016, Lucky Opal Press
Also in paperback

Come And Get Me #2

Sandra's working on trying to get a rare piece of porcelain to replace one long lost from Charles' collection. This requires her to set up a trade in Hong Kong with a dealer. Charles goes along for business and pleasure but loses his temper when the dealer asks for something that has become precious to Charles 

The family is in the spotlight for the big event of brother Stephen's marriage to Craig. A suitable escort (an old flame) is provided for Charles by sister Rosalie for the wedding and neither Charles nor Sandra is happy. They're both tired of having to keep their relationship a secret and sneaking around. A photographer catches too much with his lens and life for Charles and Sandra is no longer about sneaking around to see each other.

Prove You Love Me #3
Kindle edition, 412 pages,
published Nov 12, 2016, Lucky Opal Press
Also in paperback

Prove You Love Me #3

Bradley's been up to his old tricks and he's in jail. Only this time, Uncle Charles decides not to bail him out, hoping that having to pay for his sins will teach him something. Bradley and his dead beat Dad try to blackmail Charles. When that doesn't work, Rosalie is convinced Charles is doing this because of Sandra and takes the photos to the NYT!

Sandra holds a press conference without discussing it with Charles and puts her own slant on things. Then Sandra's health fails her and she collapses in front of Charles' front door with lots of paparazzi as witnesses. Charles tries to do what's right for her and tells her she should leave him, so, heartbroken, she does.

And Charles gets drunk.

Have And Hold Me #4
Kindle edition, 419 pages,
published Nov 12, 2016, Lucky Opal Press
Also in paperback

Have And Hold Me #4

Sandra goes home to her parents' place in upstate NY to recuperate. She attends a party and is caught on someone's phone camera kissing an old friend. It gets put on YouTube and shown to Charles. Who wastes no time driving there. Sandra and Charles finally have a chance to talk things out and figure out what they want together if only her father doesn't shoot him first with her mother's shotgun.

They finally have a chance to be together and be real people. Then they return to the city and decide to come out to the world. They go out on the town on New Year's Eve.

Come Back To Me
Kindle edition, novella,
published Dec 2016, Lucky Opal Press

Come Back To Me, Magister Novella

This is the story of Sandra's boss, Arnaud Diablo, and her sister, Kristen Dane. They flit in and out of the first four books as secondary characters, support for Sandra. Here is their own story.

In the whole series, the elegance and richness, the fancy clothes and expensive wines and liquors are all the perfect setting for this extremely powerful man. It's not just his money that makes him powerful. You feel the strength of Charles' personality and the attraction between 
Sandra and him. As each secondary character plays their part you see them move into his sphere of influence and out. Charles Magister is such a strong character, bigger than life, that even Sandra seems to be secondary to him at times. But definitely, the whole series revolves around these two people and their involvement.

In five books, there wasn't a dull moment. Ms. Hall had things happening constantly that kept this a fast-moving, interesting story. I don't usually like books that have cliffhangers that require you to buy the next book and the next to get the whole story, but this author told you up front that's what was happening. And each book was approximately 350-500 pages long, other than the novella. You definitely got your money's worth. So, if you like big books full of twisty stories and lots of crises and hot, steamy sex, try this series by July Hall.

The first book was a BookBub acquisition from Amazon, but the rest were purchased at full price after reading the synopsis and explanation of the four books. I am receiving no compensation for my honest review. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

A New Novella to Add to the Elemental Assassin Series!

Nice Guys Bite
Elemental Assassins series novella #15.5
by Jennifer Estep (GoodReads Author)
ebook, 100 pages
published Dec 12, 2016, Pocket Star
Also available in Kindle and Audible editions

GoodReads Summary:
New York Times bestseller Jennifer Estep continues her Elemental Assassin urban fantasy series with a novella starring Silvio Sanchez, the vampire assistant of Gin Blanco, as he goes on a holiday date that turns out to be more deadly than romantic.

Working for Gin Blanco (aka the Spider, the assassin who runs the Ashland underworld) doesn’t leave much time for romance, especially with Gin’s holiday party planning in full swing. But when he catches the eye of a charming gentleman, Silvio finds himself going out for coffee.

All’s fair in love and war, though. Just as Silvio is starting to enjoy himself, he realizes he’s being watched. His nice guy date doesn’t sense the danger, and Silvio wants to keep it that way (and, well, keep the guy alive) so Silvio ends the date early—only to be abducted by some villainous giants.

Will Silvio survive the night and make it back to the Pork Pit in time for Gin’s holiday party? Only if he decks the hall with bodies...


My Review:
We finally get to see just what Silvio is made of in this novella. He's on his own and really has to rise to the occasion or he won't make it to the party. And that would make the boss quite unhappy as she's gotten him the best Christmas present he could possibly ask for, especially after the night he's had! She doesn't have a clue about computers or phones, but for Silvio, it couldn't be better or more timely. The hug just makes it a sweet moment. Get your copy if you haven't already, to tide you over between Spider fixes.

The next full-length book in the series,
Snared #16, is due out April 25, 2017, from Pocket Books. It's 400 pages, so it's something to sink your teeth into. So far it's got a four and a half star rating from reviewers, so it's looking pretty good!

This was a BookBub acquisition through Amazon. I give my honest review without compensation of any kind. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

Three for One! And a New Favorite Author!

A Stranger in the Family
Bardville, Wyoming Trilogy #1
by Patricia McLinn (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 3rd, 248 pages
Published April 3, 2011, (first pub April 1, 1995)

GoodReads Summary:
A sexy, intriguing stranger arrives unexpectedly at her Wyoming ranch, threatening the one thing Cambria protects more fiercely than her heart - her family.

Bodie's discovery that he fathered a son 17 years ago starts a search that leads him to the warm and welcoming Weston family. But his response to one member of the family is far more than he ever expected. The sparks between him and Cambria are real ... and so

My Review:
First response: I think I might have just found a new favorite author. Full review soon.

Yup! I gave this first book in the trilogy a 5-star rating, and then I read the rest of the three books! I really enjoyed the way the books were written. I looked through my Kindle library and discovered that I have a half a dozen or so more books by this author, so I must like the story lines in the summaries for her books. I guess you'll be seeing more reviews of her books. But for now, I'm going to do a review of the trilogy all in one. 

The story takes place in Bardville, WY. That's where the Weston Ranch is with its Guest Quarters. Downtown, Jessa Tarrant owns a store called, Nearly Everything, but people mostly just call it Jessa's place. Near to the Weston Ranch(near is relative in WY) is the Circle CR owned by Dax Randall and his son, Will. There's a sheriff that keeps the peace, named Tom Milano. Sheriff Milano talks out of two sides of his mouth, but he makes sure that people are taken care of and they are safe. Those that need the law, get the law and those that need help, get help. He's just waiting to retire while the new sheriff he's picked gets himself elected. But I can't say more about that 'cause that would be a spoiler.

In the first book, Boone Dorsey "Bodie" Smith comes to Bardville looking for the son he didn't know he'd fathered by his high school girlfriend before he went into the Army. He's not much of a people person, so he steps all over things and makes quite a mess. He wants a reservation at the Guest Quarters a couple weeks before they even open for the season. He wants to stay a month when most people stay a couple of days. And he's driving a shiny, top-of-the-line four-wheel-drive vehicle that he parks next to a ramshackle pickup truck that belongs to the ranch. Ted and Irene Weston's daughter, Cambria, knows he's up to something from the very beginning, but she can't figure out what. So she won't give him an inch, even though the two are having a hard time resisting each other. Well, book one has its HEA for the couple. Bodie just has to learn that he can't have everything his way all the time.

These characters and situations were drawn with such skill, I read this book in one sitting. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, and I don't usually like the "western" or "cowboy" romances. This one was set in a small town and had cowboys on horses, so it definitely was a cowboy romance, but it just had something that made it so readable, I just didn't want to put it down even to stop to eat. Mr. Blue Cat was kind enough to bring me a mug of soup with some crackers so I could keep going. So sweet! Romance lives!

**This was a Book Bub purchase on Amazon. The following two books were purchased on Amazon at full price after reading the first one. I am providing honest reviews, but am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.**

A Stranger to Love
Bardville, Wyoming Trilogy #2
by Patricia McLinn (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 256 pages
Published Nov 9, 2010

GoodReads Summary:
She's been a stranger to love for so long ... Now, because she will not abandon a boy who is both trouble and troubled, she's tied to this intense, stubborn man who arouses her in ways she's never known ... and who could break her completely.

He's everything she doesn't want, especially a former cop who still has law enforcement in his veins. And she told him that once before, so surely he's not interested in a second chance romance. And, yet, there's that undeniable pull... As well as her recognition that he truly wants what's best for his nephew, even as they disagree on how to accomplish that. And she has a feeling that he's very good at his job. Not that she'd ever need protection in peaceful, small-town Bardville, Wyoming ... will she?

It all comes down to can she take the risk of finding a stranger to love?

Finalist for Virginia Romance Writers' HOLT Award

And my take on book #2?
I only gave the second book a 4-star rating. This one didn't flow as well for me. There was too much interference in it. The sheriff was meddling in things a lot trying to get Cully to stay in Bardville and run for sheriff. And I felt like I was always looking into the dark, out on a dark night, into a dark room, up a dark ladder. I felt like I was squinting and needed to turn on a light. But it was a good story. I liked Jessa's defense of Travis, Cully's nephew. Cully saw him as a bad seed and Jessa saw him as a kid who needed a chance.

I think Ms. McLinn allowed us to see into Jessa more than she allowed us to see into Cully. We got his story objectively and from third parties. Cully never really opened up too much. He just wasn't as three-dimensional as the other main characters.

This book definitely had a darker aspect to it than book one did. But the HEA was there where I needed it, so that's just fine. Cambria got to keep her "bestie" close, Boone got to keep his childhood buddy, and the sheriff gets to keep being mysterious.

The Rancher Meets His Match
Bardville, Wyoming Trilogy #3
by Patricia McLinn (GoodReads Author)
Kindle edition, 227 pages
Published Nov 8, 2010

GoodReads Summary:
For his teenage son, Wyoming rancher Dax will do anything - even become a role model in the dating department. Enter the perfect stranger: an Easterner, visiting for just two weeks. But soon Hannah, no longer a stranger, becomes the greatest danger of all to a stubbornly solitary heart.

And book three...
I gave this one a 5-star rating as well. I think this one might have been my favorite of the three books. Somehow, this one seemed the most personal to me. Personal in that I felt closer to the characters. They felt most real to me of all the characters in the story so far. The situations and emotions were family-related to things I could understand and empathize with. There was a warmth to this one, very much like a going home feeling.

Dax Randall and his son Will own the Circle CR out by the Weston Ranch. Dax's sister, June Reamer runs the car rental for the small airport that services Bardville, so she knows who's coming into town before anyone else. She mentions Hannah Chalmers to Dax.

Will has always used his father as his role model, including the way he avoids getting involved with women. But Will is a young teen and should be getting involved, so Dax is going to have to show him how it's done. By doing! Hannah seems the perfect choice because she's a stranger and isn't staying for long. She won't expect forever. Dax and Hannah both get a whole lot more out of her two weeks in WY than either of them anticipate, but he has to drive all the way to North Carolina to bring her back to get their HEA!

This is quite the trilogy. Of the three books, I think that the first and third could be read as standalones, but I think that the middle book is more a series book. All of them will leave you with a good feeling. Give Patricia McLinn's Bardville Trilogy a try and you may get hooked on her style. I strongly recommend her to romance readers who like a good storyline, a hot romance between strong men and women, family life and hometown echoes.

~Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


That's the Perfect Title!

Liberated by the Duke
by Grace Fletcher
Kindle, 70 pages, published August 14, 2016

GoodReads Summary:
Georgina Williams is in dire circumstances. Not only is she mourning the recent loss of her father, but she is also now trapped and mistreated in her own home by her conniving stepmother Edith and her stepsister Laura.

As a temporary reprieve, Georgina goes for long walks in the countryside. One day, quite by accident, she bumps into an old childhood neighbor and friend, John Crampton, the Duke of Stanford.

John can sense all is not right as the disheveled Georgina is not the smiling, happy girl he remembers. The more time he spends with her, the more his feelings towards Georgina grow. As a widower and father, he is expected to find a wife and Georgina, to him, is perfect.

Without any regard for Georgina, Edith comes up with a devious plan to solve her own financial problems and enable her daughter, Laura, to marry.

John learns of these schemes through his family connections. Will he take courage and intervene in the affairs of another household? Even though all is not as it appears, will John listen to his own heart and rescue Georgina before it is too late?

My Review:
First response: A typical little Regency romance. My favorite character is Beatrice! I'm sure I'll have more to say in my full review.

Grace Fletcher has a reputation for writing clean, wholesome Regency romances, and this one certainly fits that description. There is no sex and only a couple of kisses. So if you're looking for hot and steamy, this isn't the author for you. But, if you're looking for those sweet love stories with all the pomp and style that goes with the Regency era, Ms. Fletcher is the perfect author for you.

Georgina is trapped by her stepmother, Edith, and stepsister, Laura, as an abused servant. On her weekly afternoon off, Georgina takes long walks around the estate. On one of her walks, she meets an old childhood friend, John Crampton, Duke of Stanford and his daughter, Beatrice. John is now a widower and raising his three-year-old daughter on his own. 

Edith and Laura are going through Georgina's father's fortune and Georgina's inheritance very fast. The estate and Georgina are suffering. On her walks, Georgina continues to meet John and Beatrice. John can see that something is wrong. And Georgina seems like she would be the perfect wife for him and mother to Beatrice. But John has always followed the rules.

Edith and Laura have plans for Georgina to pay off their rising debts and for Laura to get the Duke. John falls for their stunt and turns away from Georgina. How can you have an HEA if John continues to play by the rules? Will John get there in time to liberate Georgina?

Well, you'll just have to read this sweet little romance to find out how it all works out. I gave it three stars for being just what it is, a nice little Regency love story. For those of you who read them, I recommend this one and this author.

I acquired this ebook short story from Book Bub via Kindle. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

Other short stories by this author:

Do You Eat It Or Kiss It?

A Honeybun and Coffee
(Honeybun Heat #1)
Sam Cheever (GoodReads Author)
Kindle, 240 pages, published Sep 4, 2013, Electric Prose
Publications (first published Dec 18, 2008)
Four Stars

GoodReads Summary:
“This does sort of taste like chicken,” Angie told him, surprise in her voice. “You’re good.”
Alastair grinned at her. “I have to admit you stretched my abilities with that request. I’m glad you like it.”
Angie nodded. “We need to have a plan you know.”
Alastair swallowed his last bite of fish and wiped his mouth. Standing up he carried their plates into the kitchen. Angie got up to help him.
“Well, the first thing we need to do is call work and tell them we won’t be in for a few days.” He looked at Angie. “That’s going to be a bit more complicated for you I’m afraid.”
Angie frowned and nodded. “I’ll tell Petey to call a few people. I’ll have to promise him a manager’s bonus for covering for me.” Angie looked up and smiled, “He’s very ambitious for a nineteen-year-old.”
Alastair laughed, “A kid after my own heart.”
They worked in silence for a few moments, lost in their own thoughts. Alastair washed and rinsed the dishes and handed them to Angie to dry. She managed to find a spot in the cabinets for each of their dishes.
Angie finally broke the silence. “Have you had any luck remembering what you might have seen that would make the thugs come after you?”
He shook his head. “I’ve gone over it and over it in my head. I can’t come up with anything.”
Angie placed the last glass in the cupboard. “Okay, let’s go over everything you’ve done over the last two weeks. I doubt it happened longer ago than that.”
Alastair nodded and grabbed two more bottles of beer out of the refrigerator. They sat down at the table again, across from each other.
“Okay, weekend before last.”
Alastair thought about it. “I got up on Saturday morning, did a couple of hours of work, then cleaned up and took my car to get the oil changed.”
Angie picked at the label on her beer bottle. “Then what?”
“I grabbed some lunch…”
“Where?”
He looked sheepish. “Actually I met some friends at Hooters.”
“Very classy.”
Alastair shrugged, “They love the place, they force me to go there at least once or twice a month.”
Angie grinned. “They force you?”
He grinned back, “Kicking and screaming.”
“Mmm hmm.”
“No really, I hate the place. Those women don’t turn me on in the least.”
“They don’t?”
He shook his head and the ghost of a smile sat on his lips. “No way. I prefer my women flat chested and ugly.”
She smacked his arm. “Ass.”

My Review:
This was a crazy, fast-paced introduction to a series with EIGHT brothers. The romance was sweet. The crime solving was hectic and absolutely not by the book. But the men are sexy and the women forgive them. Full review coming on the blog.

Yes, eight brothers and they are all sexy and have their own book. So, if you like this one, you have lots more reading to do! This bro is named Alistair, "Stair" for short. He's 6'2" and well muscled with red hair and a dachshund named Jaws. He's tired of the singles scene and doesn't like going to Hooters with the guys.

Angie overhears the threat to his life while accidentally trapped in the men's room of her coffee shop. She's a good doobie and she's trying to warn him his life is in danger. It takes him a while to really accept that she's serious. In the meantime, trouble has arrived. Share the ride from his place to safe house to apartment, family home, and army base before the bad guys finally bite the dust. Each brother gets to step in and lend a hand, too! Angie and Alistair find some time for hot, steamy sex in all of this, as well. Though the scorpion sort of spoils the mood.

This was a really fun read and I look forward to reading the brothers' stories. So why isn't it a five-star review? Well, I wanted to slap Angie for chewing her fingernail all through the book. That's a really nasty habit. Okay for a secondary character, but not for your main female character.  Plus, I got tired of the really corny names - Cinnamon Parker, Bones & Louie, Mr. Bigg, Mr. Bratz and Private Jeeves. But it's a twisty plot of who done it - keep your eye on the relatives! And a really great introduction to the Honeybun family, which seems to go back a generation or so, be full of great looking men, and bake good chocolate cake. Yes, I recommend this book!

A Honeybun and Coffee was a Book Bub offering. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review



Can a Person Be Too Nice?

The Making of Minty Malone
by Isabel Wolff (GoodReads Author)
Kindle Edition, 392 pages
Published August 26, 2016, by KPR Publishing
first published January 1, 1999
Also available in paperback

GoodReads Summary:
Minty Malone is terribly nice. But being nice doesn't save her from being jilted at the very altar by her domineering fiancé, Dominic. Ditched rather than Hitched, a shocked Minty takes stock, and on her husbandless honeymoon she vows to become just a little less 'nice'. Joined by her fiery cousin, Amber, whom no-one could describe as sweet-natured, Minty sets out on a quest for the self, in which she will finally learn how to say 'No'. But then she stumbles upon the real reason for Dominic's dreadful defection. Faced with the dreadful truth, Minty prepares to move on, let go, and learn how to say 'Yes' once more. The re-issued second novel from the internationally best-selling author of 'A Vintage Affair'.

My Review:
Poor Minty, people couldn't even get her name correct; and she didn't kick her free-loading cousin out of her apartment, even when she weaseled her into trading bedrooms! This girl had the spine of a gummy bear! Left at the altar, she quietly went on the honeymoon trip to Paris with her maid of honor, Helen, even though she wanted to go to Venice. That's where she meets Joe.

Joe, who's been dumped by a woman who went back to her former husband even though she and Joe were talking marriage. So Joe's not looking for a woman with any baggage. And Minty certainly has baggage! She also has couples all around her who are great examples of what should and should not be happening in a relationship. She can see their problems quite clearly. But she can't figure out what went wrong between Dominic and her.

Then comes the Nice Factor, the class that teaches you how not to be too nice. In other words, how not to get taken advantage of by your friends and coworkers. Remember, if you lie down someone is bound to walk on you. And this course tries to teach you not to lie down by teaching you how to insult people, at least in your head. If you can do it in your head, it changes your attitude and posture and people treat you differently. Eventually, you stop being automatically treated that way by people because you have stopped acting so nice all the time. You're still a nice person, but you're not so easy to take advantage of. Joe is also a student at this course. Joe and Minty have fun with the insults, but Minty still has baggage.

Ms. Wolff has developed these characters, especially Minty, so well, that you feel like they could walk through your own door and be totally 3D. I was a little let down at the end, but that was because it ended. I just wanted it to keep going. So why didn't I give it five stars? I got really tired of Minty's baggage. She just wouldn't let go of trying to figure out what went wrong, and it got old for me. Thank heavens, cousin Amber could put up with her.

The Making of Minty Malone was a Book Bub acquisition from Amazon. This is my honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review

The DNA isn't the only thing that's twisty here!

When You Make It Home
by Claire Ashby (GoodReads Author)
Kindle Edition, 273 pages
Published July 12, 2014, Red Adept Publishing
Also available in hardcover, paperback, ebook

GoodReads Summary:

Meg Michaels, a bookstore owner, has already walked away from two cheating exes. She’s learned her lesson and has her mind set on success—until she gets knocked up. Embarrassed and unwilling to discuss her situation with friends and family, she wears layers to hide the pregnancy.

When Meg gets sick at a party, she’s mortified. Even worse, Theo Taylor, the guest of honor, discovers her secret. Theo, an Army medic wounded in the war, agrees not to reveal her condition, and the two forge a bond of friendship that blossoms into love.

Theo is soon filling all of Meg’s late-night cravings—and not just the pregnancy-induced ones. But can their love overcome all the obstacles that stand between them and creating a happy family?

My Review:
First response: Oh my, this one really made me cry several times as Meg and Theo and the rest of them worked out their issues. But it has such a sweet HEA that it was worth it all. Full review on my blog coming soon.

Twisty? Yah, this one is twisty all right. No one is really who they seem to be. There are so many secrets in these families. Everyone should have their DNA checked! I can't tell you who's who, because that would spoil things. And I don't do that. 

I liked that Ms. Ashby took two "types" and worked them into a fabulous story. Taking a pregnant woman and all the physical and emotional problems that come with that and putting her together with a recently disabled, combat Veteran and all his baggage. It made for a powerful, emotional morass that kept me reading this book in one day. And these two aren't the only ones with secrets. There are enough secrets to go around when you start looking into other members of the family.

This is a debut novel from an author I strongly recommend you keep your eye on!

This was a Book Bub purchase through Amazon. This is an honest review for which I am receiving no compensation of any type. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review


The Cover Caught My Eye...

The Cryptographer
The Second Sons series #1
by Alice Wallis-Eton (GoodReads Author)
Kindle Edition, 254 pages
Published August 11, 2015 by author (first pub Jan 1, 2015)

GoodReads Summary:
Everybody has a secret, but some are harder to decipher...

England, 1813. Aster Tanner is alone in the world and keeps a roof over her head by working the one asset she has - her mind. She needs her job; she does not need a Scotsman underfoot, making her heart flutter with heated glances and impertinent questions.

Iain McIntyre, Captain in the Second Dragoons, has a confidential assignment: find a list rumoured to name traitors working against England. He is looking for anything unusual -- like a woman working as a secretary. He tells himself his fascination with the lass is because she holds a man's position, and nothing to do with his rising desire to know the sharp mind hidden behind her darkened glasses.

When Aster is targeted by those intent on recovering the list, she must decide who to trust. She has seven encrypted names. But whose? Meanwhile, Iain is on the trail of a double agent. Time is running out, and secrets must be decoded before lives and hearts are sacrificed.

My Review:
First response: What a great story! Love the concept of this book. Full review to follow!

The first time I saw the cover of this book, I wanted to read it. I bought it immediately. The artwork on the cover is rich and three dimensional. It drew my eye immediately. The mixed media is wonderful. The dark, threatening clouds used in the background. The handsome young couple on top. Then the torn and worn handwriting. The wonderful fonts used for the title and the author's name. Then the red wax seal with white pen writing on it. Marvelous! But it was the story that held me engaged.

I'm hoping the rest of this series is as well done and that I get an opportunity to read it. This story is based in a series about second sons. Iain McKintyre is a Captain in the Second Dragoons, Scotts Greys. This is a division that has been held back and used for various covert assignments, but are generally laughed at for not being in the battle. Iain's older brother has recently died, so now he is the heir to the Earl of Kinloch, but not very happy about it. 

Aster Tanner, along with her dog Dougal, work in the Records office for Sir John Warrington. He has a reputation for being impossible to work for because of his quirks. He likes everything just so and gets quite irate if things aren't the way he likes them. Sir John has severe OCD. Something which really wasn't recognized at the time. But since Aster has a form of it herself, she understands it and can work with it in Sir John. But it's this OCD that enables them to work the codes as they do. They presently have a coded list that isn't cooperating for Sir John. When Sir John disappears, the list comes to Aster and she doesn't know who to trust until she can get that list decoded. And one of the names could be Iain McKintyre.

Ms. Wallis-Eton has created a really interesting situation inside the intelligence community of the time with fairly well-developed characters. Iain isn't as well-drawn as Aster, I felt. But this is a good solid story line and there are really interesting quirks in the characters. It makes for a good read. I recommend this for those who like the brainy heroines, because this one thinks circles around the guys!

I acquired this book from Amazon and this is an honest review for which I am not being compensated in any way. All opinions are fully my own.
~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review