Monday, May 31, 2010


Amaryllis by Jayne Castle

Amaryllis Lark is one of the best psychic detectives on St. Helen’s, the earth colony recently cut off from the mother planet, yet not so very different from home. Lucas Trent, the rugged head of Lodestar Exploration, isn’t keen on the prim type—and from her crisp business suit to her cool evaluation of his request to bust a corporate thief, beautiful Amaryllis is excruciatingly proper. But when a bold hunch heats up into a twisting murder investigation, by-the-book Amaryllis must let her guard down and break some rules—and a red-hot love affair ignites. Now, as they race to solve a puzzle of deadly intrigue, no power—otherwordly or otherwise—can keep them apart!
--Amaryllis by Jayne Castle, Copyright ©1996 by Jayne Ann Krentz, published by Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

My Review

After reading the story, I found the blurb on the back a wee bit misleading. It says Amaryllis is a psychic detective, but that’s not what she is. She’s a level-10 prism talent, able to help non-prism talents focus their own psychic talents. Sort of like the way eyeglasses help you see better…everything comes into focus and you can concentrate better. And the earth colony wasn’t “recently” cut off…the cut off happened nearly two hundred years ago, St. Helen’s time.

Yeah, I know…picky, picky…back to the review.

Lucas is in need of a high-level prism to help him focus his own off-the-charts talent so he can find out who’s selling his company secrets. Amaryllis is the only one at Psynergy, Inc. who can properly help him channel his talent, despite the fact that she doesn’t believe in his theory. She accompanies him to a reception where the initial mystery is solved, but the unexpected arousing side-effect of combining their two powers almost gets the better of them.

Though Lucas is satisfied that the mystery is solved, Amaryllis isn’t, and she makes a connection to the recent death of a dear friend and mentor. Despite Lucas’ objections, she begins to dig into his death and finds there’s more to his passing than was previously suspected. Local politics, past scandals and corporate rivalries interfere with, but do nothing to dampen the feelings that are growing between Lucas and Amaryllis. Can they resolve the feelings they have for each other and get to the bottom of the mystery before time runs out for them both?

I give this story FIVE STARS.

Tears of the Moon

Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts

In order to break a centuries-old spell that keeps him from his true love, Carrick, Prince of Faeries, must help pub-owners Aidan, Darcy and Shawn Gallagher fall in love. In Jewels of the Sun, the first step of Carrick's plan was completed when Aidan married Jude Murray. Now Carrick has turned to Shawn, a handsome daydreamer who spends his days composing music in his head while cooking for the pub. The faerie prince hopes to match Shawn with Brenna O'Toole, a fiery-haired carpenter with a longtime secret crush on Shawn. The problem is that Shawn is perfectly happy as a single man; he informs Carrick that he will have nothing to do with his plan. But, as anyone familiar with Irish lore will tell you, mere mortals don't stand a chance against the whims of the faeries.
--Tears of the Moon by Nora Roberts, Copyright ©2000 by Nora Roberts

My Review

Not my favorite story in the series, but an enjoyable read nonetheless. Brenna rubs me a little the wrong way—she’s one of these types who thinks she knows what’s best and, though she’ll give you a little time to come around to her way of thinking, if you don’t fall in line, she’ll bulldoze over you to do what she wants and then pay the price later. That’s not to say she’s a bully. She just sees no need to play games in life. “If you want something, go for it” would be her motto, I suppose. And Shawn’s an affable sort of fellow, content with his life as it is and not looking to shake things up, though he could use a little shaking up and Brenna is more than happy to do it. The ending, of course, is a happy one, with a proposal and a ring.

Because Brenna did bother me a bit, I was more interested in reading this book for one of the other story lines. Being part of a trilogy, it continues a running theme that started with the first book, Jewels of the Sun and will conclude with Heart of the Sea. The Gallagher family owns a bit of land behind their pub and a developer based in New York City is interested in purchasing the land to build a live entertainment theater. The two businesses would be joined and be mutually beneficial to both parties. In Jewels of the Sun, a man from the developer’s company spent some time in Ardmore scoping out the site and the Gallaghers themselves. In Tears of the Moon, the deal is struck between the developer, Magee, and the Gallaghers. Sounds boring? Ah, well, it’s the telling of the tale that makes it interesting, rather than just a quick summary. Anyway, reading this story was not a trial and I did enjoy it, if only to get through it to the third in the trilogy.

I give this story THREE STARS.

An Honorable Man

An Honorable Man by Darlene Gardner

A rugged stranger asking questions.

Sierra Whitmore figures the guy is just a journalist doing his job. That’s before the reserved doctor gives in to the powerful attraction simmering between them. Before she discovers the real reason Ben Nash came to Indigo Springs.

Uncovering the truth behind his mother’s death seems to be Ben’s driving mission. But when his quest unearths a secret in Sierra’s own family, how can she ask this passionate, honorable man to choose between her and justice? Or maybe Ben has already made his choice. Especially if he knows that exposing the past could cost him his future…with Sierra.
--An Honorable Man by Darlene Gardner, Copyright ©2010 by Darlene Hrobak Gardner, published by Harlequin Books

My Review

A slight change in gears, as this is a Harlequin Super Romance title as opposed to a…um…non-Harlequin title. The first line—or hook—from the back of the novel, well, it hooked me because the story I’m starting to write includes a stranger coming to town and unearthing family secrets, as the hero in this novel does. I thought it would be interesting to read another writer’s take on the same plot.

Darlene Gardner tells a good story and I enjoyed it. This wasn’t a deep, layered, insightful story, but a light mystery with a nice romance thrown in (or maybe that should be the other way around). It also gave me a little bit of insight as to how my story should probably develop, so I’m glad I read it.

I give this story THREE STARS.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Jewels of the Sun

Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts

In the small village of Ardmore, Ireland, Gallagher's pub is the center of the lively seaside community and the home of three passionate siblings: Aidan, Shawn, and Darcy. As a world traveler and a barkeep, the eldest brother Aidan has just about seen and heard it all, but when a quiet professor from Chicago enters his tavern, he is instantly intrigued--and certain that there is more to Jude Murray than what meets the eye.
Jude has returned to her grandmother's ancestral home to sort out her thoughts, know her heart, and "find Jude F. Murray in six months or less." After a life of deliberate security, Jude finds herself recovering from a failed marriage and a disappointing career. With the pretense of a research expedition, Jude leaves her life in Chicago and moves into the charming house on top of the faerie hill. Surrounded by the awesome scenery and relieved by the simplicity of life, Jude excuses her visions of ghosts and faeries as signs of her mental recovery.
But the inhabitants of Ardmore, and Aidan Gallagher in particular, don't dismiss these apparitions with such convenient logic, and Jude learns to listen more carefully to the messages in the world. As Aidan and Jude draw closer to each other, Jude struggles to discover, balance, and define the complex parts of her soul.
--Jewels of the Sun by Nora Roberts, Copyright ©2000 by Nora Roberts

My Review

I think Nora Roberts’ trilogies are wonderful and this one is no exception. She manages to recreate in words the visual beauty of an Irish coastal village and the lives of the people and families that live in it. The story weaves in traditional Irish folklore as the female protagonist, Jude F. Murray, researches the tales for a psychology paper that quickly turns into a novel, the kind of writing she’s always secretly longed to do but never had the courage to try. She meets Aidan Gallagher, the proprietor of Gallagher’s, a village pub and family business that he runs with his younger brother and sister, Shawn and Darcy.

Aidan is drawn to the shy, pretty visitor from Chicago and begins to court her with his charming smile and knowledge of the tales she wishes to research. One of those stories is of Carrick, prince of the Faeries, and Lady Gwen, whose ghost haunts Jude’s cottage. Carrick fell in love with Gwen, but because he couldn’t give her what she longed for the most, he lost her to the whims of time. They can be reunited, but only if Aidan and Jude will cooperate and fall in love.

But love cannot be commanded by a prince, no matter how much he may wish it. Can Jude and Aidan find their hearts’ desire, both within themselves and with each other? And can their love set Carrick and Gwen free?

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.

And I’ll make a promise to my readers. Once I finish this trilogy, I’ll lay off the Nora Roberts for a while, though it will be hard…I have so many of her books and I love reading (and re-reading) them.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Savor the Moment

Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts

Laurel McBane has always relied on her friends for support, especially when her dream of attending culinary school was almost ruined by her parents’ financial problems. Now Laurel is repaying the kindness of her friends by creating extravagantly luscious tiers of cakes and other confectionary delights that add the perfect touch to their clients’ weddings.

As for romance, Laurel believes in it—in theory. But she’s too low-key to appreciate all the luxuries that other women seem to long for. What she does appreciate is a strong, intelligent man, a man just like Parker’s older brother, Delaney Brown, on whom Laurel has had a mega crush since childhood.

But some infatuations last longer than others, and Laurel is convinced that the Ivy League lawyer is still out of her reach. Plus, Del is too protective of Laurel to ever cross the line with her, or so she thinks. When Laurel’s quick-silver moods get the better of her—leading to an angry, hot, altogether mind-blowing kiss with Del—she’ll have to quiet the doubts in her mind to turn a moment of passion into forever…
--Savor the Moment by Nora Roberts, Copyright ©2010 by Nora Roberts, published by Berkeley/The Penguin Group.

My Review

I finished this book four or five days ago (sorry, my new job keeps me pretty busy).

If you’re looking for a light-hearted, happy romantic story (and you’ve read the first two books in this series!), then you’ll enjoy Savor the Moment.

The first two books, Vision in White and Bed of Roses hinted (with the force of a sledgehammer) at the coming romance between Laurel, the resident baker at Vows and Del, the company’s lawyer. The two had known each other since they were children and Laurel developed a powerful crush on her best friend’s brother, a crush he was completely oblivious to. Now that they’re adults, Laurel should have no trouble acting on her feelings, right?


Del, in the meanwhile, has always treated Mac, Laurel and Emma as sisters, watching out for them and taking care of their problems. Thinking of Laurel as a woman instead of a sister takes some getting used to, but he manages to make the transition just fine after Laurel plants a hot, sizzling, curl-your-toes kiss on him when he was least expecting it.

Del is forced to rethink his feelings for Laurel, but it really isn’t that hard for him to do. The two tumble into love (and into bed, of course), but their road is not entirely smooth. When Del inadvertently jabs at Laurel’s pride, they both (mostly she) have a little work to do. But in the true romance-novel style, they work through their issues and the story culminates much as expected.

Nora Roberts’ return to traditional romance is welcome by her long-time readers. This third book in the Bridal Quartet series is well done, drawing on the foundation built in the first two stories and hints at the final installment. A wonderful story, worthy of a lazy, summer afternoon read in the back yard or on the beach.

I give this story THREE and a HALF STARS.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Shatter by Michael Robotham

Winner of Australia's Ned Kelly Award for Best Novel, Robotham's compelling fourth thriller (after The Night Ferry) finds clinical psychologist Joe O'Loughlin and his family in Somerset, where he teaches part-time at the University of Bath. When Joe fails to persuade a suicidal woman not to leap from a bridge to her death, he becomes obsessed with understanding the woman's motives. The woman's grief-stricken teenage daughter tracks down Joe, but the police don't take notice until another woman ends up dead under suspicious circumstances. Joe calls on an old friend, retired London detective inspector Vincent Ruiz, and together they race to catch a killer who uses psychological techniques Joe recognizes from his own practice to destroy people. Robotham smoothly mixes Joe's investigation and personal struggles with glimpses into the killer's mind. Even the sharpest readers may not anticipate all of the plot's agile switchbacks or foresee the chilling climax.
--Shatter by Michael Robotham, Copyright ©2009 by Michael Robotham, published by Doubleday

My Review

It is four years after the events chronicled in Suspect (Robotham's first novel). Professor Joe O’Loughlin, his wife Julianne and their two children, Charlie and Emma, are now living in Somerset. Their lives are good and everyone’s happy…until a woman jumps off a bridge. Suddenly, Joe is pulled into a twisted game controlled by a devious mastermind who only wants the truth and will use any and all means at his disposal to get it.

This individual brings a new level of definition to the term “mind-f**k.” Seriously.

He’s an army interrogator, whose mind has broken at the loss of his wife and daughter. They died in a ferry accident, but their bodies were never recovered. Desperate to find out if they truly died or might still be alive, he uses his vast array of skills to seek revenge against his wife’s friends, whom he believes have betrayed him. The skill with which he taps into their minds and finds that one thing that could break them, and then leads them straight to, and then over, that breaking point is both fascinating and horrifying.

Joe is drawn into his intricate web even though he knows that doing so will further damage his already rocky marriage to Julianne. Their seemingly happy marriage is plagued by hints of infidelity and Joe’s involvement in the investigation not only impacts his marriage, but draws his wife and oldest daughter into the killer’s dangerous game. Can Joe find out who the killer is and put an end to his mind games before he loses Julieanne and Charlie?

I give this story FOUR STARS. A fantastic story. This is Michael Robotham's fourth novel to date. I missed his third, The Night Ferry but will remedy that sometime this summer.


Spectre by Phaedra Weldon
Travel At Your Own Risk…

Zoë Martinique hasn’t been your ordinary still-single-but-looking twenty-something girl ever since she learned she has the extraordinary ability to travel outside her body at will. As if that wasn’t weird enough, she gained additional powers that not only freak her out but have done damage to her budding relationship with Atlanta homicide detective Daniel Frasier.

Zoë and Daniel are thrown back together when she’s drawn into the investigation of a series of bizarre murders (the sort where body parts are missing). She hopes to help Daniel stop the killer—one she’s sure is from the darkest levels of the astral plane—without letting him find out about her special abilities.

Then danger strikes close to home when Zoë’s mom disappears—and Zoë must use all the powers at her command to save her, even though she knows doing so might permanently ruin her love life and turn her into something no longer entirely human…
Spectre by Phaedra Weldon, Copyright © 2008 by Phaedra Weldon, published by Ace Books

My Review

I was prepared to stop reading this series after this book if Zoë didn’t reveal the truth to Daniel about what she was. I really hate it when vital information is kept from a character “for their own good.” It never works. It’s one of the reasons I liked, and then fell out of like, for Karen Marie Moning’s Fever series (though I will read the fifth and—thank goodness—final book when it comes out). Nobody tells her heroine, Mack, anything, and so she stumbles about, discovering things for herself and getting into heaps of trouble. She wouldn’t get into trouble if Barrons and V’lane would just tell her what she needs to know…but then, if they didn’t it wouldn’t be a five-book series.

The also story suffers from “too-much-itis,” where too many things are happening to properly keep track of what’s going on. I can just imagine the massive flow charts in Ms. Weldon’s home office, diagramming Zoë’s various abilities and how her abilities grow in each story and exactly what’s happening in each story line and how it’ll affect the next. Not to mention the character charts. Whew!

Okay, I’m off my high horse. Back to Spectre

Spectre picks up where Wraith leaves off and continues Zoë’s adventures as she learns about her powers and just what she can do with them. She’s been contacted again by Maharba to spy on a meeting between Senator March Knowles and an Atlanta businessman named Francisco Rodriguez. This time, however, they not only want information, they want proof that she was really there. “Bring us a souvenir,” she’s told and, reluctantly, she heads off to do their bidding. She listens in on the meeting and attempts to retrieve what they want, but she’s interrupted because, well, someone’s trying to kill her. Again.

The mysterious Joe from Wraith returns and this time we get to find out more about him. He’s a cop, working undercover, and his investigation weaves in and out of Zoë’s misadventures, adding to her already complicated life.

Daniel’s still there, still being supportive and caring, and even admitting to Zoë that he loves her—awww—and she admits the same back—awww—but she still hasn’t told him what she can do—arrrrgh! I was all set to put this series away for good after this book, but Ms. Weldon saved a reader at the very, very end. Daniel is clued in to the fact that all is not as it seems in Ms. Zoë’s world when he sees her talking to a ghost.

Daniel stood in the door—his eyes wide. He had his gun out, lowered, his feet spread wide apart. He was pale.

And he was perfectly quiet. Until—

"I heard you. Just now. Talking. You were talking to Holmes, Zoë. I saw Holmes standing beside you. You can’t talk. You told me you couldn’t talk!”

Mental note: what the—

For those who came in late, in Wraith, Zoë had her voice stolen by another astral entity. That's why Daniel can't hear her because she can't speak. I know why Daniel can now hear her—I won’t give that secret away—but that’s not why I’ll continue on to Book 3. I’ll continue to read the series because now Zoë can’t hide the truth from Daniel any longer. Finally, the poor man can come out of the dark-—I hope.

I give this story THREE STARS.