Category Archives: Reviews by Aubrey Wynne

5 Star Review: Divine Passion by Valerie Twombly

Divine-Passion

Published: 07/22/2015
Publisher: Resplendence
Genres: fantasy, paranormal romance
Tags: demons, dragon shifters, Fae, gods, vampires

Baal is a demon that likes to make his own rules and the thought of being tied down to only one woman makes his skin itch. When he rescues the human Ranata from becoming a sacrificial lamb, he gets more than he bargained for. With Hades insisting his fate is to bond with the beautiful female, he can either resist or risk losing his heart.

One minute Ranata is tending bar in a small hole in the wall, and the next she fears for her life. When a sexy demon comes along and saves the day, his golden eyes and hard body make him difficult to resist. With her sister in the clutches of the enemy, she must plan a daring rescue. Fate however, has other plans. Will she choose the path destiny has laid out for her?

Buy Links:

Amazon     Barnes & Noble     Resplendence Publishing     iBooks     Goodreads

 

Review

by Aubrey Wynne

Valerie Twombly has done it again. Her world just keeps getting better and better with each new storyline in this series. Baal is protective, arrogant and hot as hell. He has been burned (pun definitely intended) and very leery of love. He has no desire to commit to another relationship. Even as you roll your eyes at his opinion of women, you feel sympathy for his past and root for him.

Enter Ranata. A sassy bartender in the human world with enough attitude to catch his attention. She is headstrong (which drives Baal crazy but he really loves her for it), loyal (which he admires) and smart (which irritates him.) Her background and present situation are at odds and gives yet another layer to her character and their relationship. When they mate, they both convince themselves that love is absent.But their hearts know better.

Twombly’s stories are always strong in love and relationships. Divine Passion is no exception. Through the action and plot twists, the romance remains at the forefront along with a cast of steamy male characters and sizzling heroines. Paranormal fans, enjoy!

5 blazing hot stars

Excerpt

Baal had never been turned down by a woman. Not once. Ever. He stared at the female behind the bar, who’d refused to give him even her name. He’d closed down the place a couple of nights ago with Seth, the guardian he’d been charged with babysitting—or had it been longer ago than that? After taking a couple of those damn pills that helped immortals get drunk, he couldn’t remember. Either way, he remembered craving a piece of the vision who currently gave him the evil eye. He still did. He hadn’t come across a female like her in a long time.

Black hair curled around her shoulders; thick lashes fringed blue, almond-shaped eyes. Add to that high cheekbones and pouty lips, and you had exotic perfection. Not to mention curves he wanted to sink his fingers into while he fucked the hell out of her. “Seriously, why are you working in this shit hole? You should be strutting your stuff in designer clothes and high heels.”

She laughed. “I suppose you’re going to promise me a starring role in your next movie?”

He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out his card. “Nope, but I need a hostess for my casino.” He tossed it on the bar. She rolled her eyes then threw her towel aside and picked up the card.

“Dragon’s Cove?” She eyed him suspiciously. “I’ve heard of it.” She snorted and tossed it back on the bar. “Right, and I suppose you’re gonna tell me you own the place?”

He shrugged. “Okay, I won’t tell you that, but I do.”

“Please, I’m not that stupid. Why would someone who owns a highly successful Vegas club be here in, as you called it, this shit hole?”

“I came to help a friend who’s down and out.”

She reached for an empty beer bottle, rinsed it then tossed it in the recycling. “The dark-haired guy? He seemed like he’d seen better days.”

“He has, but I think things will improve for him soon. Now, back to my offer. I was serious when I said I need someone. You think about it, and if you’d like, I’ll fly you in for an interview and discussion of terms.”

She wiped her hands and picked up the card again. She stared at it while pulling her bottom lip through her teeth. He could almost see the gears turning. “I don’t get it. Vegas has to be full of people qualified for the job. What do you want from me?”

No way in hell could he tell her that what he really wanted was to strip her, toss her on top of the bar and taste every inch of her. He’d have to work his way up to that one. “You desire more than this; I can tell.” No lie there. The ability to read a human’s desire was bred into every demon. It was how the evil spread. Some chose to use it for bad and others for good. In this case, his intentions were for a little of both. “Your beauty shouldn’t be wasted here.”

“I’ve always wanted to leave but never had the means to do so.”

“Well, this is your chance.” He tipped back the last swig of his beer and set the glass on the bar. “I have to leave and head back. You can Google me all night long and see that I’m who I say. Call that number, and I’ll send a limo and my private jet to pick you up. You can have a room in the hotel. I promise; no strings attached.” His charm and demon good looks would bewitch the pants right off her. He just needed the chance.

“I’ll think about it.” She tucked the card into her back pocket, and suddenly, he was jealous of the tiny piece of glossy paper.

He tipped his head. “Fair enough.” Then he headed for the door.

“Wait!”

He stopped dead in his tracks and held his breath. Had she made up her mind already? “Yes,” he said and turned slowly.

“My name, it’s Ranata.”

 

About the Author

569VALERIE

Award winning and bestselling author, Valerie Twombly grew up watching Dark Shadows over her mother’s shoulder, and from there her love of the fanged creatures blossomed. Today, Valerie has decided to take her darker, sensual side and put it to paper. When she is not busy creating a world full of steamy, hot men and strong, seductive women, she juggles her time between a full-time job, hubby, and her two German Shepherd dogs, in Northern IL. Valerie is a member of Romance Writers of America and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers. She is also the founder of Sexy Scribblers, a group of romance writers who bring readers new and fresh stories every month.

Favorite Romance of the Summer: Blind Love by Kishan Paul (Review)

I had the pleasure of meeting Kishan Paul at the Romantic Times Convention in Dallas. She is talented, smart and beautiful inside and out. I won’t mention she’s a bit on the clumsy side—which only makes her human and more loveable. If you read only one contemporary romance (and suspense) this summer, make it this one. You won’t be disappointed. 

me, kishan and val

Aubrey Wyne, Kishan Paul and Valerie Twombly (paranormal author of the Guardian Series)

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Title: Blind Love

Author: Kishan Paul

Release Date: June 2, 2015

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

She doesn’t need a hero. But a sexy Marine…that’ll work.

At twenty nine, psychologist Lauren Baxter has a successful counseling practice. Since becoming legally blind at fifteen, her world has been a blurry mess of colors. Her greatest fear is also her ultimate reality. One day that fuzzy realm will forever turn black. Refusing to let blindness define her, she builds a life for herself with her dog, Jack Sparrow, and best friend, Sunny Daye.

Lauren has no tolerance for pity or for Superman swooshing down and rescuing her. She is capable of saving herself just fine. That is until Gabe, the great smelling, former Marine, from Texas moves in next door. Her attraction to him is immediate and, unfortunately for her, mutual.

When Lauren’s ex-husband shows up begging for another chance, she is confused and fragile. She also finds herself in the arms of her secretive neighbor. Little does she realize that her decision for a steamy roll in the hay with Gabe will suck her into his mysterious past, thrust her ex-husband back into her life, put her in the middle of a murder investigation, and place her life in danger.

Gabriel Briggs has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Short term flings are all he can afford for more reasons than one – reasons he never plans to share. Until he moves in next door to the beautiful, green eyed, feisty, Lauren. One night with her and he’s reconsidering promises he made almost a decade ago. When a woman from his past is murdered, his world is turned upside down. Secrets are revealed and innocent lives are threatened. Can Gabe win Lauren’s love and save her life before it’s too late?

Product Warnings: Contains a blind therapist who doesn’t consider herself impaired; a meddling, erotic-novel-writing best friend; a hot ex-Marine with a shady past; and a loyal guide dog that howls “I love you” and is probably the sanest one of the bunch.

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JQAu8M

Barnes & Noble http://bit.ly/1PVz8xC
Kobo http://bit.ly/1PVzvID
All Romance http://bit.ly/1PVzAff
GooglePlay http://bit.ly/1QitOzi

Add the book on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/1LDxXNx

Review 

By Aubrey Wynne

Kishan Paul’s debut novel reminded me of why I love romance and a strong heroine. Lauren has a sight disability. She is not totally blind but can see shapes and swirls of color. Since she was not born with the disease, Lauren struggled with losing not only her sight but her independence. Her parents, always hovering and concerned, made her even more determined to have her own life without being dependent on others. And with the help of her crazy best friend and dog Jack, she manages just that: a degree, a growing therapy practice, her own home and her own life. Everything she wanted, or so she thought until the hunky ex-Marine ‘bangs’ into her life.
Gabe had a much different upbringing from Lauren. He battles his own demons and hides some dangerous secrets. I fell for him as fast as Lauren did. He is a compassionate but tough hero, and you can see Lauren cracking his carefully constructed walls. Their growing attraction pulls in the reader and makes us hope against hope for a chance between the two.
But enter: her interfering parents AND the ex-husband. But this ex is a likable guy who realizes what he’s lost. He is a cop who must deal with all the stress and cynicism that job entails. You feel for him and find yourself hoping he may find some happiness along the way. The cast of secondary characters were interesting and made you wonder more about their story. The best friend, Sunny, MUST have her own story.
But I have to say my favorite secondary character was Jack. This dog, in his own subtle way, was as much a therapist as Lauren. He helped mend relationships and eased tense situations as well protect and love his master.
Ms. Paul has done a beautiful job creating layered characters and a love story with just enough suspense to keep you turning the pages. The romance and relationships are key, though. The disability is explored with empathy and tact. I never felt sorry for Lauren but admired and cheered for her every step of the way. This story made me laugh and cry. Yes, that sounds cliche but I haven’t enjoyed a contemporary romance this much in years. I can’t wait to read her next one. ***** 5 Stars

Excerpt:

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I can’t help you,” the cabbie said.

Gabe put the last of the supplies into the large metal toolbox and padlocked the lid.

“He’s a guide dog. Isn’t it against the law for you to refuse services because of him?” Lauren asked.

He bit back his urge to help.

For him, the girl spelled trouble.

T.

R.

O.

U.

“The sign right there says no animals.” The driver pointed to the backseat window.

B.

L.

E.

She grinned. “And if I wasn’t blind, I’m sure I would have seen it.”

Gabe chuckled. He loved her fake smile. Leaning against the truck, he watched the performance.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t—I mean, you don’t look blind.”

Still grinning, she cleared her throat and pulled on the dog’s harness. “I am. Which is why I need my guide dog. He goes everywhere with me.”

The beast raised its ears and looked at Gabe. He averted his eyes, pulled off his baseball cap and tucked it into his jean pocket. Her monster of a pet was making him feel guilty as hell.

“I’m sorry, but I’m allergic to animals. He can’t come in my taxi.”

“I can pay you extra for your troubles. The place is a few blocks after the highway. It would only be ten minutes of your time.”

“Look, ma’am. It’s not going to happen. If you want, I’ll call another car to pick you up.”

After a long pause, she shook her head and bit her lip. “No, it’s fine. I understand. Thank you.”

A few seconds later, the cab pulled away. Lauren stood cross-armed, staring out.

Gabe gripped the truck to make sure his legs didn’t get any crazy ideas.

This is not my problem. Maybe if he said it enough times, he’d believe it.

“Come on, Jack. It’s time for Plan B,” she said and grabbed the dog’s holster.

Plan what?

Stunned, he watched the two stroll down the road. She said the place was a few blocks after the highway. Which meant they’d be walking alongside one of the busiest boulevards in Denver for a few yards before she’d ever reach the interstate. He looked at his watch. Four fifty, on a Friday afternoon. The two would be smack dab in front of the I25 overpass during rush hour traffic—a dangerous situation for anyone, much less a blind woman.

She wouldn’t, would she?

When Lauren got to the end of the street and turned left, he cursed under his breath.

Yeah, she would.

blindloveswag

Where to buy:

Publisher: https://www.samhainpublishing.com/book/5449/blind-love

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JQAu8M

Blind Love Trailer: http://bit.ly/1JQAVju

About the Author Kishan

From daring escapes by tough women to chivalrous men swooping in to save the day, the creativity switch to Kishan Paul’s brain is always in the “on” position. If daydreaming stories were a college course, Kish would have graduated with honors.

Mother of two beautiful children, she has been married to her best friend for over seventeen years. With the help of supportive family and friends, she balances her family, a thriving counseling practice, and writing without sinking into insanity.

Her novella, Taking the Plunge, is currently available in the Love Least Expected Anthology on Amazon.

She can be found at:

Website: http://kishanpaulauthor.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KishanPaulAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@kishan_paul

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kishanpaul

TSU: https://www.tsu.co/kishanpaul

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1JQBudd

Sign up for her newsletter: http://mad.ly/signups/119110/join

 

Bk#3 Guardian Series: Primal Hunger by Valerie Twombly

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Primal Hunger

Guardians #3

Release Date: January 14, 2015

Paranormal Romance

252 pages

Cursed since the day of his creation, Seth has struggled with his identity. While his sanity balances on a razor’s edge, it is only a matter of time before he succumbs to the evil inside him. When realization strikes that the fiery Kaitlyn belongs to him, he must not only battle his past but fight his desire to claim her or chance killing them both.

Handed a dagger as a child, Kaitlyn O’Hara has slaughtered demons her entire life. It should come as no surprise that she is also destined to save a crazy vampire. When fate reveals her true identity, she must search her heart for the courage to move forward.

Katie holds the key to help save humanity. With Seth’s dark side edging closer, he prays he can keep it together long enough to protect her through the challenges she must face. However, he could prove to be her biggest threat.

He fights his desire to claim her. She battles to save him. Together they wage war to protect humanity. Who will survive?

Buy Links:

Amazon

Resplendence Publishing

All Romance

Barnes & Noble

iBooks –coming soon

Excerpt

The cell door opened, and a woman walked through. Seth picked up his head to study her and recognition hit.

Katie.

The redhead turned to look behind her. “Lock the door, and don’t come back until later.” The gate slammed shut, and they were left staring at each other.

“Are you here to feed me?” he snarled. The need to have her gone pulsed through his veins. He would show her his darkest side if need be, though he hated like hell for this to be the way she would remember him.

She tipped her head, and blue eyes flashed at him. “I’m here to save your sorry ass.” Her gaze narrowed, and she thrust her hands on her hips. “If you think you can fool me into leaving you, you’ve got another thing coming, mister.” She stepped closer. “How dare you! I need you to help me so I can set events in motion. If you want to drop out of the picture, you do it after you’ve meet your obligations.”

“You’re as crazy as I am.”

She raised her chin. “You bet your fucking ass I am. We make the perfect pair. Now, are you gonna play by my rules?”

He let a slow smile curl upward, and his fangs dropped. “You should fear me, because once I get my hands on you, I will relish pinning you down while I take every last drop of your blood. Your body will be left here on the concrete floor to grow cold while I gain strength.” He laughed. “Do you really wish to unleash my thirst on the world?”

The voices started chanting. Kill her. Kill her. One rose above the others and demanded silence then whispered, Lure her in. You can finally have what you desire.

Yes, yes, he could, and for once, he had to agree. His hunger twisted his gut into a burning knot. He licked his lips. “Very well. Come closer, and I’ll let you save my sorry ass.”

She took a hesitant step, and her fear slammed into him, causing saliva to fill his mouth. He remained still. He’d allow her to come to him then he would pounce. He’d have to be quick because he was sure this was all a trick, but maybe, he could use her to bargain his way out.

Their gazes never left each other, and before he knew it, she was within reach. He grabbed her arm, swung her around and jerked her to his chest. His cock stiffened when her tight ass brushed against him. He pushed her hair aside and exposed the silky flesh of her neck. He wanted to sink in his fangs, but instead he kissed the soft skin. She moaned, which caused him to harden further.

He suckled, taking care to bring the smaller vein closer to the surface, all while the dark one screamed in his head to hurt her. Seth managed to hang onto the small, thin scrap of sanity he had left and fight back. When he could stand it no longer, he pressed his fangs against her skin and let them slide into her vein. Sweet strawberries coated his tongue then the back of his throat. His gut rumbled as the nectar reached it, and his cock throbbed.

He’d never tasted anything so intoxicating in his entire existence. Even the voices sighed in relief at finally being fed. He wrapped his arms around her waist and held her firm to him. His mind hardly registered the moans that escaped her as her body experienced orgasm.

Her blood continued to flow, bringing strength to his weakened muscles. She struggled against his hold, but he pinned her in place, not wanting to give up her taste. It was better than the addicts he’d drunk from and much more preferable to the blade he’d substituted in its place.

Realization smacked him as her heartbeat weakened and images of Vivian lying dead on the ground assaulted his memories, yet he still drank. Then something zinged through him, and his body tingled. He lost his grip, and Katie shoved herself away. She turned to face him, blue eyes glaring. Blood still trickled down her neck from the twin punctures, and he wiped his hand across his mouth. Then dawning hit.

He’d tried to kill his mate.

valerie-twombly

About the Author

As a child, Valerie would often get into trouble for peeking at her mother’s favorite TV show, Dark Shadows. She can still hear her mother saying. “It will give you nightmares.” She was right of course, but that did not stop Valerie from watching. As an adult, her love of the fanged creatures never waned. She would watch any vampire movie she could find.

Being a true romantic, Valerie was thrilled when she discovered the genre of paranormal romance. Her first read was one of Lara Adrian’s, Midnight Breed Series and from there she was hooked.

Today, Valerie has decided to take her darker, sensual side and put it to paper. When she is not busy creating a world full of steamy, hot men and strong, seductive women, she juggles her time between a full-time job, hubby and her two German shepherd dogs, in Northern IL. Valerie is a member of Romance Writers of America and Fantasy, Futuristic and Paranormal Romance Writers.

Connect with Valerie:

Website| Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |Google+| Pinterest

Book Trailers:

Eternal Flame, Guardians #1 http://youtu.be/qkQkcFT-6Q0

Fatal Desire, Guardians #2 http://youtu.be/WN4jAlcYhnM

Primal Hunger, Guardians #3 http://youtu.be/TlyH1gVkTgQ

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Review: Amore and Pinot Grigio by Veronica Bell

 

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Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Bookstrand

When Sigrid O’Herlihy and Sandro Totti meet a short time before Christmas—with the help of an injured cat and a pink Vespa—the last thing either wants is love. Sigrid can’t forget the betrayal of her ex-fiance, and Sandro can’t forget the Italian beauty who broke his heart. But the attraction between Sigrid and Sandro is sizzling, so they decide to give lust a try. Love, after all, is for the naive and Sigrid and Sandro, both in their thirties and both determined to avoid future pain, take a more practical approach. With the Eternal City as their playground, the pair enjoy their Vespas—and occasionally Sandro’s fancy Italian sports car—fine wine, and helping homeless animals. A holiday visit to Sandro’s family in Tuscany, however, threatens their no-strings agreement and forces the pair to face their feelings and their fears. Will a little Christmas spirit be enough to bring about a leap of faith?”

Buy links:

Amazon           Nook            Kobo

 

Excerpt:

“Time to face her, Sandro thought grimly, walking towards the bedroom with two cups of coffee in hand. She was sitting up in bed, having put her panties and shirt back on. She was checking her phone for messages. “Buongiorno,” he said, giving her a kiss on the nose, as though she were an annoying young friend entrusted to his care, not an equal, not a lover. He handed her a cup of piping hot black coffee.

“I didn’t know how you took it, so if you want milk or sugar, I can go get those for you.”

“No, no, black is fine. No calories.” She smiled. Awkward, she thought.
“You are slim. You could stand to take some kilos.”

“Women love hearing that,” she said. “And I am sure my remaining weeks in Italy will help in that regard.” Goodness, I sound so stilted, she thought. My remaining weeks in Italy will help me in that regard? I sound like a visiting public official. Such passion with this man last night and now we’re all weird and formal with each other. “The food here is amazing. But I try to be careful, now that I’m over thirty. Weight doesn’t come off easily as one gets older.”

“You look like a kid. I couldn’t believe it last night when you said you were over thirty.”

Finally! “Thanks, yes, I’ll be thirty-two in March.”

“And not married?”

“No,” she said indignantly. “But neither are you and you are how old?”

“I haven’t said.”

“I know, but how old are you?”

“I’ll be thirty-four in May. But it’s different for men.”

Sigrid rolled her eyes. “Of course it is. Have you heard from the vet?” Best to change the topic, she told herself, than embark on a never-ending argument about double standards.

“For once you don’t want to fight with me,” he smiled.

“No, I don’t. How is Pinot? Have you heard anything yet?”

“The bad news is that he will have to have his front right leg amputated. The good news is that he can live well like that, provided he is cared for safely indoors, and the even better news is that the staff at the hospital say he is much less of a street cat than we realized. He is friendlier now that he has been fed and given some flea treatments and is feeling more trusting.”

“So what are you saying?”

“I am saying that he needn’t be euthanized. I know that you were against that and I only thought it was an option when I believed he was a very feral cat who could never live indoors.”

“We have to find a home for him, though. I can take him, of course, and I will if needs be, but it would be better to find someone in Rome. I mean, if he comes to Canada with me he’ll have to learn to speak English, just for starters, though, of course, there is a big Italian community in Toronto.”

Sandro laughed. “For a moment I thought you were serious. You can really be quite funny when you aren’t being difficult.”

“Well, thank you, I think. But I wasn’t fully kidding. I mean, he would have to learn English in Canada.”

“Yes, well, in fact, that won’t be a problem. We don’t have to find a home for him. I have been informed that one of the young veterinary technicians at the animal hospital has already fallen in love with him and is determined to adopt him and take him into her home once his surgery has been successfully completed. I can’t think of a better match, for she will know all the proper care he might need as a cat with a disability. And of course, he will have to be neutered, as well.” Sandro winced and put his hand protectively between his legs as he said the word.

Sigrid laughed. “It’s not you being neutered!” And what a tragedy that would be.

“Well, I know, but I feel for him.”

“Believe me when I tell you, it’s better for him to be neutered, for myriad reasons.”

“Certo. My father will be happy to hear this outcome—he was worried about the little fellow yesterday. And the Totti family will be happy to pick up the cost of the surgeries and recovery time in the hospital for Pinot.”

Sigrid gasped. She had gotten so carried away the night before she hadn’t even realized that Sandro’s father might have been right down the hall the whole time. “Your father? Is he here? Does he know that I’m here?”

“No, no, don’t worry. He went to Tuscany late yesterday afternoon. We are alone here. Now, can I get you some breakfast? Would you like to take a shower? I don’t mean to rush you but I have some meetings starting in about an hour.” It was a lie. He had no meetings, at least not that morning.

Sigrid felt a figurative jackboot in the gut. Any woman who had been single long enough could recognize what was happening. Something had changed. Sandro wanted her out of there and he wanted her out of there fast. No post-sex cuddling or cooing and billing. He was distancing himself, drawing lines. It was the apparently inevitable “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” moment.”

 

REVIEW

BY AUBREY WYNNE

Aubrey Wynne is a member of the Coffee Talk Writers and a guest reviewerThis review was originally published on June 12 on http://coffeetalkwriters.com

Amore and Pinot-Grigio is a classic love story. Both main characters came out of relationships that left them sour on romance. Sigrid O’Herlihy is a Canadian determined to tackle Rome with enthusiasm and independence. (I would not manuever those narrow streets and raucous drivers on a pink moped.) Deceived by her fiancee, she is on a mission to forget men and love. Sandro Totti is haunted by another Italian beauty who broke his heart. When they meet, sparks fly but both decide they will proceed with a ‘no-strings attached’ attitude. The scenes are steamy but do not border erotica.

This practical relationship works perfectly until Sandro decides to take Sigrid to his family’s house in Tuscany. (Again, travel lovers will eat up the details. No pun intended!) Things start to unravel from here. Do you run the other way when true feelings of passion come to the forefront? Do you take a chance and trust someone one more time?

What starts out as a typical ‘boy meets ‘girl’ formula quickly turns into a warm and entertaining holiday romance with the necessary misunderstandings and memorable secondary characters. Ms. Bell creates an adorable accomplice in Guido (cats and animals in general brought the pair together). The story also included the magic of Christmas and a mysterious man, Niccoli, who offers advice and guidance. But will the two scorned lovers listen and allow love to heal their scarred hearts?

As a past tourist in Italy, this took me back and made me appreciate the Eternal City all over again. It brings me back to spectacular vacation packed with wonderful wine, food and lovely people. Those who have not visited will want to book a ticket after closing this book. I am also a humane investigator so the animal rescue theme made me smile and appreciate both characters even more. Love, Christmas, cute furry rescues–what more do you want? I give this story a hearty four mugs.

Hot, strong, and addicting!

4 coffee mugs

Characters: 13/15

Plot and pacing: 12/15

Setting/s: 10/10

Technique and Editing: 9/10

Total: 44/50

 

About The Author

 Veronica-Bell_Profile_120px

Veronica Bell grew up in British Columbia, Canada. She loves wine, travel, reading, writing, her handsome husband and her adorable pets…and not in that order. ‘Amore and Pinot Grigio: A Guido la Vespa Christmas Tale’ is her first book and she is working on a sequel which will allow Guido la Vespa to make some more mischief.

Keep in Touch With Veronica:

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Veronic93398537
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7472009.Veronica_Bell

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café: The Other Boleyn Girl

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café

by Aubrey Wynne

In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A modern classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.

These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated. And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.

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The Other Boleyn Girl

By Philppa Gregory

Published:     Publisher:  Touchstone    POV: First person

Setting: England: Tudor Court 1521-1536

 Are there any Tudor fans out there? Prepare for a heavenly read of historical fiction. The Other Boleyn Girl, the first book I read by Philippa Gregory, consumed my time and thoughts until the last page. It revolves around the older sister of Anne Boleyn. The twist in perspective grabs the reader immediately. The little known life of Mary Boleyn brings a unique and fascinating picture of the Tudor Court and Henry VIII.

Mary catches Henry’s eye at the tender age of fourteen. Henry Tudor was not always the fat, unpleasant king presented in the numerous portraits of dusty history files. Once a handsome king, he caused flutters in the hearts of women young and old. The athletic monarch played tennis, hunted and jousted. He was competitive, fit and loved women and adventure. In today’s world, I would compare him to Prince Harry.

So the dazzled Boleyn falls in love with the ruler of England. Yes, she has a slight moral qualm over betraying her Queen. But Katherine of Aragon does not see Mary as a threat. She accepts her husband’s weaknesses and looks the other way. Mary’s husband, William Carey, is not so forgiving. But what can he do? He accepts the bribe offered, and for the most part, keeps his mouth shut. Even when Mary becomes pregnant with a child that is most likely not his.

Enter: little sister Anne just returned from her stay at the French court. The younger Boleyn is sophisticated, witty and flirtatious. An immediate enmity grows between the sisters. In the back of Mary’s mind echoes the warning Anne gave as she left for France. “Anyone can attract a man. The trick is to keep him.”

I do not need to list the details. Readers who enjoy this genre already know the basic facts and timelines. What I found fascinating was the attitudes and inner thoughts spun by Gregory. The research is flawless; her interpretation captivated me. She did not choose one of the many opinions explored throughout the centuries. Instead, she combined several. And in my creative mind, it made perfect sense.

The rivalry between the sisters rang true: they fought, even hated each other at times then worked through their problems as families often do. Mary’s affection and loyalty for her sister falters but never dies. Anne is relentless in her quest to win the king’s heart. She plays the game well and wins for seven long years. Mary tries to move on and even leaves court. Yet each time, Anne relentlessly pulls her back into the plotting and intrigue. Mary even throws herself on the King’s mercy at one point to save her sister’s life. Yet in the end, nothing can save Queen Anne. She burns too many bridges, refuses to hold her tongue and allows paranoia to take control of her life.

I am a history geek like most historical romance writers.  The stories created in my head to fill in the gaps in history provide countless hours of diversion during long trips or boring conferences. Yet nothing prepared me for this novel. Philippa brought the Tudor court to life in a way I had never before experienced.

The conversations rang in my head after I closed the cover. Images popped into my mind’s eye throughout the day and I could not wait to get home and read more. When the movie came out, I jumped for joy. Sadly, it did not do justice to the book.

This is the first novel I have given five mugs. I am not a harsh reviewer but to give a work a perfect score means there was no piece of it I would change. The complex characters, excellent pacing and riveting plot mesmerizes the reader. I did not skim a paragraph of this novel. I did not edit in my head while I read it. I just sat back in the glow of Gregory’s words and enjoyed darn good story.

5 mugs copy

About The Author

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Born in Kenya in 1954, Philippa Gregory moved to England with her family and was educated in Bristol and at the National Council for the Training of Journalists course in Cardiff. She worked as a senior reporter on the Portsmouth News, and as a journalist and producer for BBC radio.

Philippa obtained a BA degree in history at the University of Sussex in Brighton and a PhD at Edinburgh University in 18th-century literature. Her first novel, Wideacre, was written as she completed her PhD and became an instant world wide bestseller. On its publication, she became a full-time writer, and now lives with her family on a small farm in the North of England.

Her knowledge of gothic 18th century novels led to Philippa writing Wideacre, which was followed by a haunting sequel, The Favoured Child, and the delightful happy ending of the trilogy: Meridon. This novel was listed in Feminist Book Fortnight and for the Romantic Novel of the Year at the same time – one of the many instances of Philippa’s work appealing to very different readers.

The trilogy was followed by The Wise Woman, a dazzling, disturbing novel of dark powers and desires set against the rich tapestry of the Reformation, and by Fallen Skies, an evocative realistic story set after the First World War. Her novel A Respectable Trade took her back to the 18th century where her knowledge of the slave trade and her home town of Bristol produced a haunting novel of slave trading and its terrible human cost. This is the only modern novel to explore the tragedies of slavery in England itself, and features a group of kidnapped African people trying to find their freedom in the elegant houses of 18th century Clifton. Gregory adapted her book for a highly acclaimed BBC television production which won the prize for drama from the Commission for Racial Equality and was shortlisted for a BAFTA for the screenplay.

Next came two of Gregory’s best-loved novels, Earthly Joys and Virgin Earth, based on the true-life story of father and son John Tradescant working in the upheaval of the English Civil War. In these works Gregory pioneered the genre which has become her own: fictional biography, the true story of a real person brought to life with painstaking research and passionate verve.

The flowering of this new style was undoubtedly The Other Boleyn Girl, a runaway best-seller which stormed the US market and then went worldwide telling the story of the little-known sister to Anne Boleyn. Now published in 26 countries with more than a million copies in print in the US alone, this is becoming a classic historical novel, winning the Parker Pen Novel of the Year award 2002, and the Romantic Times fictional biography award. The Other Boleyn Girl was adapted for the BBC as a single television drama and a film is now in production starring Scarlett Johansson as Mary Boleyn, Natalie Portman as Anne Boleyn and Eric Bana as Henry VIII.

A regular contributor to newspapers and magazines, with short stories, features and reviews, Philippa is also a frequent broadcaster and a regular contestant on Round Britain Quiz for BBC Radio 4 and the Tudor expert for Channel 4’s Time Team.

She lives in the North of England with her husband and two children and in addition to interests that include riding, walking, skiing and gardening (an interest born from research into the Tradescant family for her novel, Virgin Earth), she also runs a small charity building wells in school gardens in The Gambia. Fifty-six wells have been built by UK donors to date.

Connect with Philppa Gregory at www.philippagregory.com

Note: Book cover, author photo and bio were taken from Amazon.com. Both cover and photo are linked to the original source. Click and enjoy. 

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café

In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A modern classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.

These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated. And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe. 

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The Present

By Johanna Lindsey

Published: 1998    Publisher:  Avon Romance    POV: Third person

Setting: England 1825 and a generation earlier

 Johanna Lindsey fans will love this book. In fact, her dedication reads: to the many fans who love the Malorys as much as I do. This present is for you.

I will admit, I have not read many of Ms. Lindsey’s books. However, my sister and I have a tradition of buying a Christmas book each year in December. This story is a result of that tradition. This year, we pulled it out and read it again. That should tell you something about the quality of the story.

The Malorys, a title family and members of the ton, gather at Haverston, the ancestral estate, each year for Christmas. They are quite a crew. Handsome rakes now tamed by spirited women with beautiful children following in the footsteps of their parents. Except for the oldest brother of the family.

Jason fell in love with Molly thirty years earlier. Molly fell in love with Jason. Great, right? No. Jason is titled and Molly is a servant. She refuses to cross the social line and let him risk scandal. So he marries within his rank and is miserable. So the two continue their affair until the wife finds out. Ah, now the can be together. Nope.

The wife, also extremely unhappy, threatens scandal if she does NOT get a divorce. Jason happily signs the papers and assumes he will now sweep Molly off her feet. But Molly won’t budge. She insists the ton will never accept her so the marriage will not work. They continue their secret affair and even have a child who is accepted by the social realm.

Fast forward to the present. The son is grown, now knows about his parentage, yet Molly remains obstinate. As the family gathers for the holidays, a mysterious present appears on the mantle. It stirs curiosity. The family, bickering and experiencing underlying tensions, are distracted by the mystery. It turns out to be a journal written by the grandparents, second Marquis of Haverston and his wife.

Within the pages are the ruminations and confessions of Christopher Malory and his gypsy wife, Anastasia. The fact that the Marquis’ wife was not of proper birth remained a secret until the discovery of this journal. The love story that unfolds is unique, well told and very romantic. Their lives also run eerily parallel to Jason and Molly.

Johanna Lindsey writes a Christmas story of love, betrayal and family. As Anastasia says in her note to future generations, “To our children and their children and so forth… we leave this written record to you, to be read at your leisure, and with your own imagination lending it life… And I give you fair warning: If you have been led to believe that we are individuals that could do no wrong, then read no further. We are human after all, with all the faults, passions, and mistakes that humans are known for. Judge us not, but perhaps learn from our mistakes.”

                 While the story itself was outstanding, there were elements I did not care for. The dialogue occasionally threw me off with the improper grammar I did not expect from the upper crust. I am not used to the frequent use the word ain’t used. Some of the dialogue also seemed a little out of place.  But these minor issues did not slow down my reading.

I have not read any of the previous books containing the Malory family. It did not hinder my understanding of the plot and the tale stood alone without previous background knowledge. Ms. Lindsey provided the reader with any information necessary to the plot.

The Present is a perfect read for the holidays. I loved the romance, strong but stubborn men and feisty, intelligent women. I loved the family dynamics and might pick up another book with these likeable characters. But the star of the novel is the couple from the journal. Anastasia, daring and desperate, is a perfect match for the obstinate yet passionate Christopher. I recommend this for all historical romance fans that believe the magic of Christmas.

I give The Present three and half mugs.

3.5 coffee mugs

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café


In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page.
These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated.  And every so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.

Christmas Jars
By Jason F. Wright

Published: 2005     Publisher: Worzalla Publishing     POV: Third person
Setting: Present day in Anywhere, USA

As Thanksgiving approaches, I am reminded of the lilting words sung by Bing Crosby, “Oh, I have plenty to be thankful for.” With the upcoming holidays, I find myself counting my blessings. Since this is a major theme that runs through Christmas Jars, I thought it would be appropriate for my next book review.

No matter how bad life gets, there is always someone who has it a little bit worse. Take Louise, for instance. She is a hard-working, old maid housekeeper. Her Christmas Eve tradition is dinner at Chuck’s Chicken and Biscuits. One year, she comes down with the flu and must postpone her annual holiday meal until New Year’s Eve. That evening, she finds an baby abandoned. A note from a desperate mother explains the abuse in the house and her hopes for a better life for her child. Louise never looks back. She takes on a child she cannot afford and her life explodes with happiness.

After her death, daughter Hope continues the holiday tradition and endures an emotional Christmas Eve meal at Chuck’s Chicken and Biscuits. When she returns home, she finds her apartment ransacked and anything of value stolen. As the police go through the crime scene, Hope finds a paper bag. Inside, is a jar with silver change and some bills  and the words ‘Christmas Jar’ painted on the outside.

As an up-and-coming journalist, the mystery and the motive appeal to her. She is determined to find out where the jar came from and why it was given to her. As she investigates, she finds newspaper archives  with several letters from others who have received Christmas jars. Each story had a common thread: sadness, frustration, loneliness or despair chased away by the giving of jar. In some cases, it provided financial assistance, for others it offered hope.

The story follows Hope as she searches out and spends a day with the recipient of each jar. The encounters provide not only a great newspaper article but renew her faith in people and their desire to help one another.

Christmas Jars is a heartwarming holiday tale that will remind you to count your own blessings. The reader will not find an actual romance between the pages. Yet, the idea of strangers reaching out to help others is a story of love in its own right. The novel is well written and avoids the sappiness of a Lifetime movie. If you are feeling cynical as this jolly season approaches, I highly recommend this book. It is a short and easy read and good for the soul.

The author tells us in his acknowledgements: “It is indeed thrilling that the spirit of Christmas Jars is now bigger than this book… with countless stories and no limits to the good it can do. Each of you is to be thanked for fueling this simple miracle. I hope that when you give your jar away, or if you’ve received this book with a jar meant for you, you will visit www.christmasjars.com and tell me about it. The world would love to hear your anonymous story.” Go ahead, grab the box of Kleenex and visit the site. Then hug your family and find a way to continue this altruistic tradition.

I give this wonderful, uplifting novel 4 mugs.

4 mugs

It's finally here. Welcome to the Halloween Seduction Hop Giveaway!

In honor of All Hallow’s Eve and my fellow Coffee Talk authors of Paranormal Romance, I will be posting eerie and bizarre tidbits throughout the next week. As a lover of history, we will look at a few of the better known Halloween legends that began with some basis in truth. Win some prizes while exploring fun holiday facts.

Let’s begin with my Romance Review below. Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney carried on an infamous love affair at the turn of the century. But in the end, it went terribly wrong.  Some say it was their ‘just desserts’ for their blatant immorality. You be the judge.

CLICK TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY FOR A $15 GIFT CARD TO ANY STORE OF YOUR CHOICE ON FACEBOOK. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Looking forward to your comments. And remember to keep a light on and the wooden stakes, salt and silver bullets by your bedstand.

Aubrey’s Ageless Romance Café

In this literary world, a handful of stories will stand the test of time. A modern classic novel holds the attention of every generation with a thoughtful plot, complex characters and a scene or two that lingers long after the final page. These books will never be traded in at the paperback store or sold for a quarter at a garage sale. An ageless romance is passed on to your sister, then to her daughter who loans it to a friend. By the time it makes it back to your shelf, the pages are yellowed, earmarked and appreciated. And ever so often, when you need to be reminded of the remarkable power of love, you dust off that old friend and peruse its pages again. These are the stories I want to share with you in Aubrey’s cafe.

Loving Frank

By Nancy Horak

Published: 2007       Publisher: Ballantine Books       POV: Third person

Setting: Oak Park, IL and Spring Green, WI 1907-1914

Spoiler alert! A true story with the ending discussed in graphic detail.

Loving Frank is an historical romance about the love affair between architect Frank Lloyd Wright and feminist Mamah (Mahmuh) Borthwick Cheney. In the beginning, we think: classic boy meets the right girl at the wrong time. Although both Frank and Mamah were married, the attraction proved too strong to resist.The affair became headline news and reporters followed their journey from a passionate escape to Europe, their cold welcome home to the ghastly, abrupt end of their relationship.

Even in childhood, Mamah Borthwick considered herself an outsider and chose books for her closest friends. The written page filled her mind with adventures and she longed to ‘do something’ with her life. As a young woman, she left her hometown of Oak Park, Illinois and attended the university in Ann Arbor, Michigan. There, she caught the freedom bug and a feminist flu. Hoping to become an author in support of the Woman Movement, she moved to Port Huron to teach high school and later ran the public library. After six years, her determination to maintain her independence waned as one by one, her friends married and family became their new focus.

Edwin Cheney lost his heart to Miss Borthwick on their first meeting and vowed to win her hand. She saw thirty drawing close and realized independence also meant loneliness. His persistence finally convinced Mamah to give up the ‘modern’ life and give in to conformity. Her life took on a comfortable routine. With the birth of a son, Mamah soon convinced herself that contentment and affection were a fair substitute for passion.

Frank Lloyd Wright, an eccentric, up-and-coming architect, had made a name for himself and his Prairie Houses outside of Chicago. The focus on nature in the construction of a home became a hot trend for those who could afford it. The simplicity and open concept of his design appealed to men; his charming manner and larger than life personality appealed to women.

Enter: the Cheneys. Edwin commissioned Wright to build a Prairie House in Oak Park. Since her husband worked long days, Mrs. Cheney handled most of the consultations throughout the project. The housewife and architect found they were kindred souls intellectually. Just as they considered becoming intimate, Mamah discovers she is pregnant and refuses to see Frank again.

Jump ahead several years later. Frank Lloyd Wright is speaking to a group of women in Oak Park. Mamah knows it is dangerous to attend the presentation but can’t help herself. The moment their eyes connect, the reader knows there can only be one conclusion.

This is a story of a woman who gave up everything for love. Yet with this sacrifice, she eventually finds her own self worth and makes a name as a literary translator. While she never regretted her decisions, the reader is left to wonder if she would have done it differently if given the choice.

It is the account of a man who considered his talent a gift to the world and only Mamah could keep him grounded. The reader learns not only the intricacies behind Frank’s genius but the flaws within the man as well. He left behind a legacy accompanied by a mountain of unpaid bills.

Nancy Horan accurately describes the time period with intellect, humor and grace. She plops the reader in the middle of Europe, sipping tea in a German or French cafe and introduces us to the social radicals of the time. We share the frustration of women at the turn of the century as they struggle to transform their roles in a changing society. The author also brings us step by step through the construction of Frank Lloyd Wright’s beloved home, Taliesin. We are transported into an extraordinary time when architecture began to alter not only the landscape but the world.

I thought this story appropriate for October and Halloween because of the brutal murders of Mamah and her children. John was twelve and Martha only nine years old. In August of 1914, a disgruntled household servant, Julian Carlton, dished up lunch as usual for the master’s family. He then went outside, locked all the doors except for one, poured gasoline around the perimeters of the house and lit a match. Back inside, he took an axe to the family, split their skulls and watched them burn. Other staff, eating in another part of the home, smelled smoke and ran for the only open door. An axe greeted them as they exited. Martha lived for several hours so severely burned she was unrecognizable. Mamah’s ex-husband dug through the ashes to find his son’s bones. Frank Lloyd Wright rebuilt Taliesin only to watch it burn again. He never fully recovered from the tragedy. I found this novel to be engaging and thought-provoking.

A few times in the middle of the novel, I skimmed a chapter or two. Yet, I also found myself hoping that the novel would end differently and my heroine would live happily ever after. A huge a happy-ever-after fan, I cannot give five mugs but highly recommend it with four to fans of historical romance, Frank Lloyd Wright or architecture.

4 coffee mugs
Hot, strong, and addicting.