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He’ll protect her reckless heart No matter the cost… Lily Travis may be a Harvey Girl, but she’s a rebel—and a romantic—at heart. Too bad her impulsive nature led her to marry a man who promised a life of ease and prosperity, only to disappear the very next day. She’s kept her secret as best she can, and now she’s convinced she’ll never find true love…not even with the handsome local sheriff she can’t get off her mind. Cody Daniels knows Lily isn’t the right woman for a by-the-book lawman with political ambitions. She’s brash, headstrong…and entirely too tempting. But when Lily’s past catches up with her and the villain she married threatens everything she holds dear, Cody is determined to defend her honor and show her the future they could have together—no matter the consequences.

Dear Ms. Schmidt,

In the first book of this series we saw the set up – three heroines who are Harvey Girls and working at a hotel in Juniper in the New Mexico territory. One is now married and happy but I figured that the feisty one, Lily, would be next.

Lily Travis has been a Harvey Girl for years now. After she fled her home due to an awful stepfather (TRIGGER WARNING for sexual abuse), she eventually ended up applying for and becoming one of the waitresses who work in the Harvey restaurants along the Santa Fe trail. But before that, she thought she’d found love with a man who married her and then abandoned her the next day.

Sheriff Cody Daniels can’t keep from thinking about the pretty and outspoken young woman working at the hotel. The more he’s around her, the better he likes her but his job is a dangerous one plus he’s got plans for a future that could involve politics. They’ve butted heads before over Lily’s friend, the now married Grace, and Lily doesn’t appear ready to further their acquaintanceship. Then one night she comes calling to the jail about a fellow worker who has been threatened.

As Lily and Cody try to help Jake, Lily’s past catches up to her. Now she’s got to juggle her job, her desire to help her friend, a man who can ruin her, and her growing feelings for a man she doesn’t feel she deserves. Can Cody prevent dangerous outlaws from striking the town and get Lily to believe in their future?

I think newcomers can start with this book as the pertinent details of the previous one are sprinkled where they’re needed to explain things. Of course as soon as Lily revealed her Dark Secret to her friends who have been trying to match make her with the Sheriff, I knew he’d show up. At first, Victor Johnson is merely oily and annoying but he quickly shows his true colors. Lily wonders what she ever saw in him but given what she tells her friends and then Cody, I can understand why she allowed herself to be caught in his net.

Lily has had horrible luck with the men in her past except for her beloved father and it’s the memory of her parents’ love that keeps her even thinking of finding her own love one day. It’s not surprising that in that day and age, Lily would be loaded with guilt over what happened to her. Lucky for her that Cody is a sweetheart with a mind frame probably ahead of his time. Their romance progresses slowly but surely with only a few steps back for Lily as she grows to accept her blamelessness and the love of a good man.

She is headstrong so it also didn’t surprise me that she would insist – no, I insist – on taking part in trying to figure out who was threatening her friend and then later tracking down the outlaws. Despite all Cody’s pleas for her to stay put so he won’t have to worry about her, she does end up in the thick of it. I will give her credit in that she does use her intelligence and calmly saves the day. The way that Grace and her husband Nick are brought into this book is well done too.

I liked the way that the rest of Lily’s past is dealt with as well as having my questions about Grace’s parents answered. But the chapters that wound up the book after the villain is brought to justice did tend to drag a little. Still it’s nice to see women working in a western though I wish that I hadn’t seen most of the plot coming ahead of time. B-

~Jayne

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Salacious Summer by Celeste-Marie Lyon $ 0.99

From the Jacket Copy:
JOIN FOUR COUPLES THIS SUMMER AS THEY FIND LUST AND LOVE ACROSS EUROPE.

BRIANNE AND KEN, A YOUNG MARRIED PROFESSIONAL COUPLE FROM LONDON HOPING TO RECONNECT ON A WEEKEND TRAIN TRIP.

A BERLIN NIGHTCLUB SPARKS A FLIRTATION BETWEEN KATRIN AND PETER THAT ESCALATES QUICKLY ON THE DANCE FLOOR.

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ANGEL, A SOLO TRAVELER FROM AMERICA AND HER HELPFUL ADMIRER ANDRIS WHO SEIZES AN OPPORTUNITY TO TALK TO THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN THE BUDAPEST CAFE.

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Cold Evidence by Rachel Grant $ 0.99

From the Jacket Copy:
The frigid waters of the Pacific Northwest are about to get hot…

The only thing Navy underwater archaeologist Undine Gray fears more than facing former SEAL Luke Sevick is never scuba diving again. But when a dive on a Cold War-era US Navy submarine ends with an accidental explosion, she’s terrified of going into the deep, forcing her to beg the most experienced diver she knows to take her back to the bottom of the cold Salish Sea.

Luke wants nothing to do with the woman who destroyed his career a dozen years ago but finds it impossible to turn his back on her plea. Caught off guard by an attraction he doesn’t want to feel, he’s eager to be done with this mission of mercy. But when they dive on the wreck, he only gets sucked in deeper. Someone has been digging on the Navy sub…and it appears the explosion that almost killed Undine was no accident.

To find the truth, Undine must navigate murky waters and the unexpectedly hot undercurrents swirling between her and Luke. Worse, divers are searching for something lost in US waters during the Cold War, and they’ll do anything to keep Luke and Undine from finding it first.

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Bitter Sweet Love by Jennifer L Armentrout $ 2.99

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Dying of the Light by George R. R. Martin $ 1.99

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In this unforgettable space opera, #1 New York Times bestselling author George R. R. Martin presents a chilling vision of eternal night—a volatile world where cultures clash, codes of honor do not exist, and the hunter and the hunted are often interchangeable.

A whisperjewel has summoned Dirk t’Larien to Worlorn, and a love he thinks he lost. But Worlorn isn’t the world Dirk imagined, and Gwen Delvano is no longer the woman he once knew. She is bound to another man, and to a dying planet that is trapped in twilight. Gwen needs Dirk’s protection, and he will do anything to keep her safe, even if it means challenging the barbaric man who has claimed her. But an impenetrable veil of secrecy surrounds them all, and it’s becoming impossible for Dirk to distinguish between his allies and his enemies. In this dangerous triangle, one is hurtling toward escape, another toward revenge, and the last toward a brutal, untimely demise.

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Got a book you want to talk about? Frustrated with a book or series? In love with a new one? Found a buried treasure? An issue that keeps popping up in the books you are reading? Just want to chat about stuff in general?

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Who says you can’t run away from your problems?

You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” LESS shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Review: 

Dear Andrew Sean Greer,

My friend Sunita gifted your book to me. I attempted to start it couple of times, but had to put it down – I was not in the mood for literary fiction but also I was a little nervous knowing that the novel won a Pulitzer prize (simply because if I ended up hating it I would have first and foremost questioned myself rather than blamed the book.) 

For the most part, I really loved the story of Arthur Less. Since I often review m/m romance I cannot stress this hard enough for a romance reader who will read this review – this book is NOT that, even though it does have a happy ending. This is literary fiction and the language is a big part of why I rate the story so highly. I often call myself a defective reviewer because I often miss problems with the writing style, but I hope I can at least note an excellent one and I loved how this book was written.

When I just started the book, I thought it was written in the third person POV present tense, only that was not quite true. The narrative shifts to the third person past tense, and sometimes (very few times) in the dreaded second person POV. And I thought the writer did it so elegantly and it didn’t disturb the flow of the story at all for me. I do confess though that I needed to know the identity of the narrator and at about half of the book when I strongly suspected that I looked in the end. I was right :), but that was the main reason why I knocked half the star off – not because I was not happy about the ending, I was, but because I was not sure how the narrator would know all the details which one would know from narrating in the third person limited POV

Of course beautiful writing or not, I still hoped to see the main character I can root for and sympathize with. And I found Arthur Less to be such a character even if he is presented as flawed person whose flaws sometimes were exaggerated for comic effect. I still thought the writer was gentle towards him. The plot is very simple and described in the blurb perfectly. Arthur is a writer who turns fifty and his last boyfriend Freddie of nine years whom he was stupid enough (mostly vain enough) to let go is marrying somebody else. Arthur is having a mid-life crisis and he is upset about Freddie’s upcoming nuptials which he didn’t want to attend, so he decides to accept invitations from all kinds of literary events and basically go travel across the globe. Basically Arthur is trying to run from himself and when did it ever work out?

I thought that while this was first and foremost a comic novel, the author managed to deal with some serious issues as well. When Arthur is feeling that he is probably the only man of his generation who reached fifty, one can think of Arthur as vain (and he is most certainly that), but we also know just how hard AIDS hit the gay men of his generation or around his generation and Arthur’s little exaggeration does not really feel as one to me.

Throughout the story Arthur is attempting to figure out how to accept turning fifty and how not to think about the love of his life too much. I thought he managed to do the first, but second – not at all. The memories of the guy he loved/s come on the page so often that one would feel the man is present with Arthur on his travels even though he is not.

“She turns to him: “What if one day you meet someone, Arthur, and it feels like it could never be anyone else? Not because other people are less attractive, or drink too much, or have issues in bed, or have to alphabetize every fucking book or organize the dishwasher in some way you just can’t live with. It’s because they aren’t this person.”

I did think Arthur learned some truths about himself throughout the book and that he didn’t want to run from himself any longer.

This is what he is thinking while in Morocco with some acquaintances he met there:

“It is, after all, almost a miracle they are here. Not because they’ve survived the booze, the hashish, the migraines. Not that at all. It’s that they’ve survived everything in life, humiliations and disappointments and heartaches and missed opportunities, bad dads and bad jobs and bad sex and bad drugs, all the trips and mistakes and face-plants of life, to have made it to fifty and to have made it here: to this frosted-cake landscape, these mountains of gold, the little table they can now see sitting on the dune, set with olives and pita and glasses and wine chilling on ice, with the sun waiting more patiently than any camel for their arrival.”

“There is an old Arabic story about a man who hears Death is coming for him, so he sneaks away to Samarra. And when he gets there, he finds Death in the market, and Death says, “You know, I just felt like going on vacation to Samarra. I was going to skip you today, but how lucky you showed up to find me!” And the man is taken after all. Arthur Less has traveled halfway around the world in a cat’s cradle of junkets, changing flights and fleeing from a sandstorm into the Atlas Mountains like someone erasing his trail or outfoxing a hunter—and yet Time has been waiting here all along.”

***

“He realizes that, even after Robert, he never truly let himself be alone. Even here, on this trip: first Bastian, then Javier. Why this endless need for a man as a mirror? To see the Arthur Less reflected there? He is grieving, for sure—the loss of his lover, his career, his novel, his youth—so why not cover the mirrors, rend the fabric over his heart, and just let himself mourn? Perhaps he should try alone.”

I hope that I gave you some glimpse of the writing but I cannot advise strongly enough – before deciding whether to get this book or not, grab the sample and read it first. It worked for me well, but you need to see if it works for you first

Grade – B+

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The Doctor’s Secret Bride by Ana E Ross $ FREE

From the Jacket Copy:
Michelle Carter has been down on her luck since the day she was born. So it comes as no surprise when through a series of unfortunate events, she finds herself jobless, penniless, and practically homeless. In a desperate attempt to get back on her feet, Michelle accepts a job as a nanny, and finds it absolutely impossible to resist the sexual magnetism of her handsome, sexy, billionaire boss—but resist she must for as long as she could, especially since she’s keeping secrets from him.

Believing that his late wife betrayed him with another man, falling in love again is the last thing Dr. Erik LaCrosse wants to do. But fall, he does, and so hard, he secretly marries the alluring nanny from the wrong side of the tracks. However, when he unearths a disturbing secret from Michelle’s past, Erik must choose between his loyalty to a dead woman and the love burning in his heart for one who is very much alive.

One review mentioned this and so I’ll bring it up just in case it will be an issue.

I can’t understand why the author would compare a black man even a biracial (part black) man to being “like an ape beating his chest and staking his claim”. I’m tired of the black man /ape/monkey comparison. Yes I know the author is black but that doesn’t even give her license to go there and she went there a lot .

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Sweet Bea by Sarah Hegger $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:
Garrett has sworn vengeance on Sir Arthur of Anglesea for destroying his life when he was a boy—and forcing his mother into prostitution for them to survive. And he has chosen as his instrument Sir Arthur’s youngest daughter, Beatrice . . .

In a family of remarkable people, ordinary Beatrice strives to prove herself worthy. When her kin are threatened with losing everything, she rushes to London to find a way to rescue them. But little does she know her chosen savior is the very man who will see her family brought to shame. Now the only hope is that Beatrice’s kind heart may teach Garrett that love, not revenge, is the greatest reward of all . . .

Quite a few complaints about editing and the use of anachronistic profanities.

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Finding Home by Lois Greiman $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:
What will she do with one broken down mare, two baby lambs, three lost teens—and a busted-up bronc rider with more balls than brains . . . ?

In Casie Carmichael’s opinion, they all add up to trouble. She’s come back to Hope Springs, South Dakota, with only one thing in mind—selling the family’s tumbledown ranch so she can return to Sioux Falls and her very practical fiancé. But leaving isn’t as easy as she imagined, not when every bedraggled stray in the territory has a homing beam straight to her barn.

Suddenly, angry parents, hairless goats, and a former flame’s new heat aren’t Casie’s most pressing problems. Her own mixed-up heart is at the top of the list, and as she throws herself into making a safe haven for her motley crew, she realizes home is a lot closer than she thought.

From an author who’s been named Romantic Times Storyteller of the Year, and who is actively involved in horse training and animal rescue herself, this is a heartwarming, hilarious tale about how unexpected love can be.

This is 7.99 at iBooks so I don’t know if that means the price is going to flip at Amazon soon.

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Tank by M. Malone $ FREE

From the Jacket Copy:
I had one job…NOT to fall in love.

My plan is simple. Stay away from men and graduate college. And nothing is going to distract me. Not my horrible boss, my sister’s pervy boyfriend, or the fact that I can’t afford it.

Then I get an offer I can’t refuse. A million dollars for helping an old, eccentric billionaire connect with his estranged son. Easy. How hard can it be to convince a guy to give his old man another chance?

Pretty hard it turns out since the guy in question is Tank Marshall, the only man who drives me crazy and makes me want to forget about all my plans. Tank is blunt, crass and pretty much everything I don’t want in a man. But he’s also honest, loyal, and has an unexpected soft spot for rescue cats.

Just who IS this guy?

And why am I suddenly unsure exactly what a million dollars is worth?

The sizzling first book in M. Malone’s USA TODAY bestselling series about the true bonds of brotherhood. Start your next binge read today!

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In 1950s London, a career girl decides it’s high time she snared herself a husband.

Professional dog photographer Louisa Datchett is indiscriminately fond of men. And they take shocking advantage of her good nature when they need their problems listened to, socks washed, prescriptions filled, or employment found.

But by the age of thirty, Louisa is tired of constantly being dispatched to the scene of some masculine disaster. It’s all well and good to be an independent woman—and certainly better than a “timid Victorian wife”—but the time has come for her to marry, and marry well. With the admirable discipline and dedication she’s always displayed in any endeavor involving men, Louisa sets out on her own romantic quest.

Review

Several years ago I first saw the movie “Cluny Brown” which is based on the novel written by Margery Sharp. I instantly adored it but had no idea it was based on a book. Of course I then wanted to read the book which lead me to buying several more Sharp novels. As with “Cluny Brown,” this book deals with England in changing times.

Louisa Datchett is a professional woman, supporting herself in 1960 London. But there’s something about Louisa that men batten onto. One glimpse of her and they feel they can lay all their problems at her feet. Since Louisa likes men and is good natured, she’s always willing to help.

She was constantly being either sent for, like a fire engine, or dispatched, like a lifeboat, to the scene of some masculine disaster; and fond of men as she was, by the time she was thirty she felt extremely jaded.

It is after expressing this to her milkman, and adding yet another day’s yogurt to her tab for the starving flautist next door, that Louisa decides she’s tired of looking after men and being a modern woman. It’s time she found a rich husband to look after her. From now on, Louisa is going to look after number one. Her first chance occurs shortly when a rich, older man she met while in Cannes on a job, contacts her. That’s the one, she thinks. Only it’s not quite what she fondly hopes. Still she gets some useful advice on getting a man.

Her next job is photographing the show dachshunds of a happily married couple. The job is a breeze and the wife offers the reason for her marital happiness as having the good fortune to marry a man with a steady job. Aha, thinks Louisa and casts her mind back to a boy from her past. After insuring that he’s a) single and b) owns his own business, she arranges to get back in touch with him. All seems to go swimmingly until she realizes that this isn’t going to work either. Plus she has to depress the importance of a fellow lodger whom her landlady keeps trying to puff up to her.

After another false start – and Louisa had been so sure of this one – she decides she’s had enough of trying to find a husband. She’s supported herself up until now and she’ll go on doing it. But there’s one last man who doesn’t need Louisa to be the one who does all the helping. Will she be willing to take one last chance …?

The book was published in 1960 and addresses the new world of working women but also in a way looks forward to the era that arrived after the 70s and 80s when some women decided that they didn’t want to work. I’ve always supported myself but several of my friends decided that they wanted to be house wives and mothers which I’m perfectly fine with. To each her own.

Louisa encounters all sorts – there’s the dainty woman who would have no idea of how to support herself, the happily married couple, the aristocrat who seems to think Louisa’s job is just a hobby, a father set in his father-knows-best ways and then the mystery man. Some may dislike Louisa for her determination to snag a man but I say “why not?” She’s done the independent woman thing and cheerfully put up with men relying on her for help – not as a martyr but just as a friend. Now she’s ready to be taken care of.

In each situation though, it’s Louisa who recognizes the truth of what is before her and why this situation won’t work. She could have pushed forward and got a husband each time but she’s honest enough and decent enough to pull back. I immediately pictured her as the actress Kay Kendall and ended up liking her a lot.

I noticed a difference in the author’s writing style between this book and the other two I’ve read which were written decades before. There are a lot of colons and semicolons in this book. I mean a lot. Once I got into the rhythm and flow of the writing, I was okay but it took me about a chapter. But Sharp’s subtle, British humor is still all over this one. B

~Jayne

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Playing Dirty by Kiki Swinson $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:
Essence® bestselling author Kiki Swinson keeps it coming with a gritty drama about one cunning sistah playing a very dangerous game with the law.

Playing dirty is a skill that Yoshi Lomax has perfected. By bribing cops and officials, sleeping with her boss, and convincing her friend in the DEA to make evidence disappear, Yoshi has become a top criminal defense attorney. And she has the multimillion-dollar Miami pad and Aston Martin to prove it. But when she takes the case of badass Haitian mob boss Sheldon Chisholm, her usual way of doing business–by any means necessary–doesn’t work. Someone has gotten to the people on her payroll and an unknown enemy is sabotaging her every move. With the list of people she can depend on dwindling, Yoshi’s got to toughen up if she’s going to survive. . .

This book ends in a cliffhanger. Some readers felt that it required certain leaps of faith that might have been too big for some.

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A Tale of Two Dragons by G. A. Aiken $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:
Braith of the Darkness likes going through life unnoticed. Not an easy task for a She-dragon of royal descent. But the evil plots of her father are turning her quiet, boring life upside down, and she has now become the enemy of the most vicious queen her kind has ever known. But for once, Braith won’t have to fight alone. Not when the warrior dragon of her dreams is willing to risk everything to save her neck.

Addolgar the Cheerful wishes he could say he’s helping the pretty royal strictly for honorable reasons–but he’d be lying. It’s not his fault, though! He didn’t tell Braith of the Darkness to have the most delicious tail he’s ever seen! Yet before Addolgar can get his very strong claws on that tail, heads are going to roll. Just hopefully not theirs. . .

Plenty of good reviews for this Shelly Laurentson/Aiken romance.

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The Pregnancy Test by Erin McCarthy $ 1.99

From the Jacket Copy:
If life is a series of tests, Mandy Keeling just hit the mother lode.

Ordinarily, I’m a fan of pink–lovely color, does smashing things for the complexion. But not when it’s the bright, glaring stripe staring back at me on the pregnancy test. Then, pink is the color of major oops, of morning sickness, of boyfriends who seemed decent but now are part of some Jerk Witness Protection Program.

Still, I’ve got a few things going for me–bitter humor, a divine right to eat till I’m the size of Marlon Brando, and good friends who’ve managed to get me a job interview with one Damien Sharpton: in need of a personal assistant, and some say, a good, swift kick in the arse. If you want to make a lasting impression, by all means, toss your cookies in your future boss’s wastebasket, which is located directly between his excruciatingly sexy legs.

Apparently, Mr. Gorgeous-But-Unbearably-Anti-Social must like personal assistants who violate his trashcan, because I got the job. And if I can avoid him via text messaging for the next nine months of free health insurance, everything will be just fine. Except that he’s just asked–no, insisted–that I go with him on a business trip to the Caribbean. Gulp. Ordinarily, this would be cause for celebration. Ordinarily, I’d shave my legs, pack my bikini, revel in day-glo drinks and my seething lust for Mr. Swarthy-And-Secretive. But there’s nothing ordinary about this situation. . .which means it could be absolutely extraordinary. . .

Per the reviews, this is a Harlequin romance under the guise of a chick lit book so beware there are graphic sex scenes.

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The Thorn Queen by Richelle Mead $ 2.99

From the Jacket Copy:
Eugenie Markham is a shaman for hire, paid to bind and banish creatures from the Otherworld. But after her last battle, she’s also become queen of the Thorn Land. It’s hardly an envious life, not with her kingdom in tatters, her love life in chaos, and Eugenie eager to avoid the prophecy about her firstborn destroying mankind. And now young girls are disappearing from the Otherworld, and no one–except Eugenie–seems willing to find out why.

Eugenie has spilled plenty of fey blood in her time, but this enemy is shrewd, subtle, and nursing a very personal grudge. And the men in her life aren’t making things any easier. Her boyfriend Kiyo is preoccupied with his pregnant ex, and sexy fey king Dorian always poses a dangerous distraction. With or without their help, Eugenie must venture deep into the Otherworld and trust in an unpredictable power she can barely control. Reluctant queen or not, Eugenie has sworn to do her duty–even if it means facing the darkest–and deadliest–side of her nature. . .

The first book is on sale for $3.99 and the other two are availalbe for $2.99 so it’s a good time to stock up on this romance if you’re interested.

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Marianne was young, she was in Paris – that perfect setting for romance-and she was in love with Nat. The only snag was that she was not at all sure of Nat’s feelings for her. Did he have any more than a brotherly affection for her? Could she possibly hope for more in the face of the very stiff competition provided by the glamorous Lisette? It was a good job, Marianne reflected, that she had nice kind Roger Senloe to turn to and to advise her.

Review

Ever since I read “Under the Stars of Paris,” then learned there was a sequel, I’ve been waiting for it to be digitalized. Alas, no it still hasn’t been (though there are used copies on the market) but I got tired of putting off reading it so here we go. Pay attention to the title as it sets the order of importance of both things in the story.

Marianne is another British woman fleeing heartbreak in England by heading across the Channel to Paris. Unlike Gabrielle in “Stars” it wasn’t her own fiancé acting a cad. Marianne has been hopelessly in love with her sister’s fiancé Nat (ugh, what a name) and when sister Yvonne calls it off, and Nat goes to Paris, Marianne follows him with the idea of finally snagging him. But living in Paris isn’t cheap and a job is needed.

Having worked in the exclusive fashion stores of London, she thinks to try her luck at being hired by one of the Parisian fashion houses and what better one than Florian’s. Quickly disillusioned as to her suitability as a mannequin (remember mannequins were the women wearing the haute couture while the dresses are the models) by the superior Directrice of the Salon, Marianne is fortunate that The Man himself happens to pass by and listens to her appeals to join the House in some capacity. She might not be mannequin material but her references and selling ability secure Marianne a place in the smaller accessories boutique. Employment obtained, Marianne is sure that she’ll be able to contact Nat and finally kick-start a romance.

It’s too bad that a waspishly behaving mannequin also set her sights on Nat and Lisette is the type to lie, cheat and steal to get what she wants. Or to throw up barriers in the path of a potential rival. Devastated by the fact that Nat is taking Lisette out to dinner at a charming little place frequented by foreigners, Marianne flees into the night and is found crying on a bench by the river by a handsome Englishman she recalls seeing at Florian.

Poor Roger came in in second place in “Stars” and is still in Paris doing his diplomatic thing while remaining friends with Florian and Gabrielle. He’s the type to see a woman crying and try to be helpful. He also listens well and hears out Marianne’s story of her unrequited love for the unfortunately named Nat. Nat meanwhile moves around in cheerful ignorance of Marianne’s true feelings because she’s never told him how she feels.

Lisette knows though and proceeds to act up, say nasty things (or as nasty as Burchell seems willing to have a character be) and stir up anything to discredit Marianne. Only Nat seems oblivious to all this. Monsieur Florian gets several chances to act the fashion fairy godfather all the while launching his latest collection to gasps of delight from fashion devotees – some of whom kill each other with kindness at the shows. The two directrices of the House – one in the Salon and the other in the boutique – are also icily polite in that way that indicates just how much they dislike each other.

Meanwhile Marianne gets to know a squashed cabbage of a vendeuse with whom she works and is given the chance by Burchell to show us just how much kinder she is than that beautiful heifer Lisette. Will Marianne finally get the man she’s been mooning over? Will Lisette stir up enough sh!t to finally get something to stick against Marianne? Will Georges Florian get his latest gorgeous clothes launched in between arranging the love life of his newest employee? And what will Marianne do when the scales finally fall from her eyes?

What I like best here is that Marianne isn’t spineless. She is suitably awed to be working in this major fashion House but when she needs to speak up for herself or another, she does. This impresses M. Florian just as it did when Gabrielle once stood up to him. As his beloved wife of five years reminds him, honesty is a rare thing in this world.

The romance toddles along though Burchell makes sure we see Roger being kind and decisive in defense of Marianne and more than willing to listen to her troubles. Marianne finds that she discovers in Roger all the traits she wants to see in Nat. Lisette is a bit of a one dimensional character without even the voice of Peroni – who sings again at the opera – to justify herself. Oh and Roger knows all the quiet little dinner places to take Marianne that are unpretentious yet serve superb food. This is, after all, Paris. I nearly forgot, I want the Florians’ lux penthouse apartment too.

It isn’t quite as good as “Stars” but “Paris – and My Love” is a nice follow-up that takes us again to the world of high fashion and the demanding man who rules the House of Florian while also negligently managing a romance. He also gets to clear his conscience about getting the girl at Roger’s expense the first time around. I wish there had been a bit more romance but, it is what it is. B

~Jayne

If you are interested in buying a used copy at Amazon – look down until you see the “more buying choices” with the lower sticker price.

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“London, 1925. Glamorous medium Gloria Sutter made her fortune helping the bereaved contact loved ones killed during the Great War. Now she’s been murdered at one of her own seances, after leaving a message requesting the help of her former friend and sole rival, Ellie Winter. Ellie doesn’t contact the dead-at least, not anymore. She specializes in miraculously finding lost items. Still, she can’t refuse the final request of the only other true psychic she has known. Now Ellie must delve into Gloria’s secrets and plunge back into the world of hucksters, lowlifes, and fakes. Worse, she cannot shake the attentions of handsome James Hawley, a damaged war veteran who has dedicated himself to debunking psychics. As Ellie and James uncover the sinister mysteries of Gloria’s life and death, Ellie is tormented by nightmarish visions that herald the grisly murders of those in Gloria’s circle. And as Ellie’s uneasy partnership with James turns dangerously intimate, an insidious evil force begins to undermine their quest for clues, a force determined to bury the truth, and whoever seeks to expose it… “

Dear Ms. St. James,

When I checked on the release date of your next book and realized it isn’t going to be for a while, I decided to go back and read another of your earlier books that hasn’t been reviewed at DA yet. I enjoyed a lot of it but I had serious issues with several things and thought that the ending was all that plus the kitchen sink thrown in.

Ellie Winter is the real thing – a true psychic. She’s also pissed off at the unknown man who sits across from her, obviously trying to test her by asking Ellie to find something that doesn’t exist. He is grimly determined to continue and Ellie finally has to call it quits. Then she makes the mistake of telling him about something else, something she couldn’t have known about and thus proves to him that her abilities are real. Before she knows it, he’s roped her into finding out what happened to his sister.

Once Gloria and Ellie were – well not quite friends but acquaintances with benefits. Or perhaps a better way to describe it is that they were two of a kind and relieved to finally find someone who understood their world – the good and the bad. Gloria was the only other person besides her own now dead mother whom Ellie knew to be a real psychic. Gloria and Ellie had a past falling out and initially Ellie refuses to help Gloria’s brother. Then he pulls out a trump card and hints at official pressure he can bring to bear should Ellie not agree to assist with the investigation. Ellie’s career was almost ruined once and she can’t afford more negative public scrutiny.

Their next, public meeting draws the attention of another person from Ellie’s past who was one of the people to publicly proclaim Ellie’s mother as a fraud and Ellie’s powers as questionable. He’s one of the last people Ellie wants back in her life but he has contacts and skills. Soon he’s in on the quest even if Ellie doesn’t always tell him – or Scotland Yard – everything.

Gloria’s life was filled with shady characters and the last seance she did broke all her rules. What was behind that and what do people know that they’re not saying? Ellie’s not sure whom she can trust but once more murders are committed, she knows she has a killer on her trail.

The atmosphere in this book is wonderful: Dark, rain swept streets of London, seedy clubs where faux psychics try to work the crowd, nasty flats where the fringes of society live. Ellie straightens her stockings and her cloche hats and never goes out without her gloves. The romance between Ellie and James is slow burning but intense for all that. They are two wounded souls but I still think that their love isn’t built on survivors clinging to the same raft. They will help each other but the feelings are real.

The horrific losses of World War I hang over everyone. Bereaved loved ones are the bread and butter of psychics. But James survived the front lines only to continue fighting his battles at home. When Ellie “sees” something from his past, she is horrified but immediately understands what drives him to debunk people who prey on and profit from the desperate people trying to find peace. For James, this is personal. Ellie’s vision here and a few other times show clearly why she doesn’t try to contact the dead anymore.

There are many psychic things that Ellie says she won’t or can’t do – and then does. I could understand her reticence at first – those scenes where she does see ghosts are ghastly – but then as a killer stalked Ellie and the book wound to a close I was shaking my head. She could use her powers and quickly solve the murder. Someone knows who she is, what her powers are and where she lives yet Ellie walks out alone and then sets herself up. What?? It was a bit reminiscent of the movie character who goes into the basement knowing there is a serial killer on the loose. And despite the elaborate plot, I immediately figured out who the killer was as soon as he was described. The paranormal pile on at the end was just too much. Suddenly everyone’s a psychic and can see ghosts??

The setting and atmosphere were great and the romance is satisfying. I actually enjoyed a lot of the paranormal aspects but even with Ellie’s reasons, I couldn’t understand, beyond the plot, why she didn’t use her powers earlier. Then the denouement jumped the tracks and when the killer was unmasked, it was no surprise to me. C

~Jayne

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