‘Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair’ by Stephanie Laurens

sl lr tromsSTORY: Miraculously spared from death, Malcolm Sinclair erases the notorious man he once was. Reinventing himself as Thomas Glendower, he strives to make amends for his past, yet he never imagines penance might come via a secretive lady he discovers living in his secluded manor.

Rose has a plausible explanation for why she and her children are residing in Thomas’s house, but she quickly realizes he’s far too intelligent to fool. Revealing the truth is impossibly dangerous, yet day by day he wins her trust, and then her heart.

But then her enemy closes in, and Rose turns to Thomas as the only man who can protect her and the children. And when she asks for his help, Thomas finally understands his true purpose, and with unwavering commitment, he seeks his redemption the only way he can—through living the reality of loving Rose

REVIEW: As promised, after my review of The Masterful Mr. Montague: A Casebook of Barnaby Adair Novel, which I found lacking, I’m back with reviewing Loving Rose and I’m not just going to recommend it. I am going to ask you to read it. Please! It is now officially my favorite Stephanie Laurens book.

When I read the title and found out that Malcolm Sinclair gets introduced in To Distraction (Bastion Club), then shows up again in The Taste of Innocence (Cynster Novels), I ran to my SL Keeper shelf and dug those two books up, so I can do the character justice and get to know why he needed this redemption. Boy was I happy to do that! Honestly, if you don’t read these two books, you’ll miss out on two great stories and on characterization of Malcolm.

That said, if you can’t track those two books down, it’s okay to read this one. SL does a great job of catching you up on everything that passed before, plus I really want you to read this overwhelmingly touching love story.

This is the third book in the Barnaby Adair series, and if you’ve read the other two, then you know that Barnaby Adair and his wife Penelope with their friends, Stokes and his better half, they team up and lend their services as investigators to the élite society.

What an awesome rendition of redemption!

It is told with care and at a pace that makes it believable and acceptable to the reader. Malcolm was not a good man, and we needed to accept him and his actions of before and after his character turns the leaf of his life. We needed to feel the remorse he felt and SL delivered in spades!

As for Rose, I loved her from the start and if anyone could have helped this man be all that he could, it was her.

There is the mystery here of Rose and who she really is, but it easily fell on the wayside of my brain which totally concentrated on the journey these two had to go through to be together.

I’m not sure about you, but SL, at least for me, is always either a hit or a miss, and usually it’s if I liked the one I read, it almost goes without a fail, I’ll not be happy with the next one, or the opposite. This is a MUST! Did you hear what I said?! MUST!

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher


Spotlight on Dawn Crandall and ….

Everstone Chronicles [Whitaker House Books]

dc thhThe Hesitant Heiress
After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.
Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been “managing her life” isn’t who she thought at all.
Book 1, The Hesitant Heiress releases August 2014
dc BoundHeartThe Bound Heart 
One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.
When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption… and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?
Book 2, The Bound Heart releases November 2014
dc CaptiveImposterThe Captive Imposter 


Sent away for protection, hotel heiress Estella Everstone finds herself living undercover as a lady’s companion at Everston, one of her father’s opulent hotels in the mountains of Maine. Within the week, Estella discovers that her ex-fiancé is in the area and is set on marrying someone else. Reeling from her feelings of being unwanted and unworthy, Estella forms a friendship with the manager of Everston, Dexter Blakeley. She soon discovers that he is not simply the manager, but the new owner.
Saddened by this fact, Estella severs their friendship. She manages to avoid Dexter until she finds herself fired from her position due to a misunderstanding. Coming to her rescue, Dexter offers her a job as companion to his sister. Though she doesn’t want to be indebted to him, Estella sees no other choice. While rebuilding their friendship, Estella realizes that although she’s been lying to Dexter about her identity, she’s never been freer to be herself in her life. However, when he proposes, she has to tell him the truth—a truth he isn’t happy to find out.

Book 3, The Captive Imposter releases February 2015

dcAUTHOR BIO: A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010 when her husband found out about her long-buried dream of writing a book. Without a doubt about someday becoming published, he let her quit her job in 2010 in order to focus on writing The Hesitant Heiress. It didn’t take her long to realize that writing books was what she was made to do. Dawn is represented by Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary.

Apart from writing books, Dawn is also a first-time mom to a precious little boy (born March 2014) and also serves with her husband in a premarriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Dawn is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, secretary for the Indiana ACFW Chapter (Hoosier Ink), and associate member of the Great Lakes ACFW Chapter.

The Everstone Chronicles is Dawn’s first series with Whitaker House. All three books composing the series were semifinalists in ACFW’s prestigious Genesis Writing Contest, the third book going on to become a finalist in 2013.

Social Media: Facebook / Book Review Blog / GoodReads / Pinterest / Email / Twitter

‘The Hesitant Heiress’ by Dawn Crandall

dc thhSTORY: After being unjustly expelled from the Boston Conservatory of Music, Amaryllis Brigham sees her dreams of founding a music academy disappearing before her very eyes. Now the only way to achieve her goal comes with high stakes for someone set on avoiding men as much as possible: marry within the year to inherit her grandmother’s fortune. Amaryllis reluctantly takes part in her aunt’s society, intent on getting to the west coast on her own… and without a husband.

Despite her own misgivings, she soon finds herself falling in love with the most unlikely of men, Nathan Everstone, whose father not only had a part in her expulsion, but whose ominous presence has haunted her dreams for a decade since her mother’s tragic death. Nathan turns out to be much more than he seems and everything she never knew she wanted. But just as everything Amaryllis has recently hoped for comes to fruition, it all falls apart when she finds that the real culprit who has been managing her life isn’t who she thought at all.

REVIEW: When Amaryllis Brigham’s mother died in a shipwreck, her father sent her to a girls’ school and later to study music at The Boston Conservatory.  At the age of 25, her Aunt Claudine returns to the U.S. after some time spent in France.  She calls Amaryllis home to stay with her and informs Amaryllis that she has been left a large inheritance.  The stipulation is that she must agree to marry by the end of a year.  At first, Amaryllis is taken aback by this because her dream is not necessarily to get married but to open her own music school so she can teach.

Aunt Claudine is especially anxious to pair Amaryllis with the very handsome and very wealthy, Nathan Everstone.  While Amaryllis finds him quite attractive, she is not interested in a relationship with him due to some ill feelings his father, Bram Everstone, has for her.

With the book taking place in the late 19th century, we meet the über rich young people of that day. Many of them are great friends and have known one another all their lives. Many of the young men are attracted to Amaryllis.  Her feelings are that they are mostly attracted to her inheritance instead of her.

As the story proceeds, readers learn bits and pieces of a mystery that slowly reveals the reasons for ill feelings, sad past events and the greed and revenge of some..

I admit that I had to really concentrate to keep up with the characters and plot of this story.  I kept feeling that I had missed something along the way, but it turned out that there was a mystery to be solved that I had not realized at first.

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the author

‘Emulsion’ by Suki Singh [Movie Review]

Emulsion-Movie-Poster-Suki-SinghPLOT SUMMARY: EMULSION is a Psychological Thriller about a man looking for his missing wife. When Isabella [Claudia Bassols] mysteriously disappears from a car park her husband, Ronny [Sam Heughan], becomes obsessed with finding her.

In an attempt to stay close to her he even takes a job at the car park. It becomes his life. One night a prostitute is attacked in the car park and bundled into the boot of a car. Ronny chases the assailant deep into a forest where he eventually locates the car empty, apart from a reel of film. As Ronny avidly views the film he discovers the truth about his wife’s disappearance that changes his life forever.

MY THOUGHTS: This review is in no means written by a film critic, just someone who loves the Film Noir genre.

Film Noir, especially a Psychological Thriller movies are not for all. If you’re not a fan of film noir, everything in this film will be over your head. I am speaking from the experience of watching it with someone who just ‘didn’t get it’. On the other hand, if you love the genre, you’ll like the movie because it is visually stunning, the story is mind twisting and the end is pure brilliance.

Award Winning Director Suki Singh
Award Winning Director Suki Singh

The story is intriguing, compelling and mind-boggling. The audience is in constant state of flux as they try to figure out the mystery of Isabella’s disappearance, much like Ronny is and all kudos must go to director Suki Singh for an excellent job of keeping us in the dark until the very end.

As for the performance of the players, I must admit that I wasn’t familiar with any of them but Sam Heughan and he has such an expressive face, that you could feel and not just see the emotions his character was going through, and by the end of the movie I felt sadness, triumph and an overwhelming urge to hug Ronny Maze.

Sam Heughan as Ronny Maze
Sam Heughan as Ronny Maze

This movie is not playing in every local theater, but it is playing around the country and here is the FB page so you can check out if it’s in your neighborhood. I saw it courtesy of the director, Suki Singh, tugg.com and my FB Outlandish Chicago group organizers, Lori McKiernan and Nicole Spataro. My thanks to all those involved that have brought this to an audience that can appreciate these small and independent films which pack a mighty punch.

Emulsion Official Site

Suki Singh Facebook for Emulsion

‘Chasing Lord Mystery’ by Aileen Fish

af clmSTORY: Lord Northcotte is not in the holiday spirit when he joins his sister’s family shortly after the brutal death of a friend. Discovering a matchmaking scheme is afoot, he tells them he will never marry Lady Miriam or any other woman. Now if only his heart would listen.

Lady Miriam’s mother accused her of chasing Lord Mystery after a noble act by a handsome gentleman six years ago became the measure of all other men. Now he’s staying at the home where she’d hoped to escape a summons from her grandfather, the Duke of Danby. Terrified Northcotte will recognize her and reveal the contents of the scandalous letter she wrote him years ago, she can’t decide which is the bigger threat: the duke armed with a special license, or Lord Mystery, who carries a secret she’d never live down.

REVIEW: Robert Hurst, Earl of Northcotte, is soured on marriage after learning that a friend’s wife had killed her husband using a fire iron.  Even though the man had mistresses, his friends could not understand why that would cause the woman to kill him.  *insert laugh* The group of six friends had gathered together to remember their friend and to vow never to marry.

At Lady Mariam Thornhill’s first season four years earlier, she was feeling quite down due to the lack of men wanting to make her acquaintance.  After one such man actually insulted her, another man immediately asked her to dance.  They had not been introduced first so she never caught his name, but for years afterward she remembered how handsome he was.  She referred to him as Lord Mystery.  Since that time, she had not had any men interested in her and had thus resigned herself to be a spinster.  Her grandfather, the Duke of Danby, kept pushing her to marry and she was not at all receptive to an arranged marriage.

Christmas is approaching and Lady Mariam is staying with a good friend to be with her during the birth of her friend’s baby.  When more friends join them for the holiday, she realizes that one of the guests, Lord Northcotte, is her Lord Mystery.  While she is thrilled to see him again, she is afraid he will recognize her.  At one time she had sent him a letter that was rather embarrassing at the time and she would be mortified to come face-to-face with him now.  Will she be stuck with an marriage arranged by her grandfather or is there some way she can attract her handsome Lord Mystery to be her groom?

Connie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher

‘The Governess Affair’ by Courtney Milan

cm tgaSTORY: She will not give up…

Three months ago, governess Serena Barton was let go from her position. Unable to find new work, she’s demanding compensation from the man who got her sacked: a petty, selfish, swinish duke. But it’s not the duke she fears. It’s his merciless man of business—the man known as the Wolf of Clermont. The formidable former pugilist has a black reputation for handling all the duke’s dirty business, and when the duke turns her case over to him, she doesn’t stand a chance. But she can’t stop trying—not with her entire future at stake.

He cannot give in…

Hugo Marshall is a man of ruthless ambition—a characteristic that has served him well, elevating the coal miner’s son to the right hand man of a duke. When his employer orders him to get rid of the pestering governess by fair means or foul, it’s just another day at the office. Unfortunately, fair means don’t work on Serena, and as he comes to know her, he discovers that he can’t bear to use foul ones. But everything he has worked for depends upon seeing her gone. He’ll have to choose between the life that he needs, and the woman he is coming to love…

REVIEW: This little gem started the whole Brother Sinister series. It tells the story of Hugo Marshall and Serena Barton.

Hugo is to Duke of Claremont what Ray Donovan [my newest TV obsession; Showtime’s best show of 2013] is to the Hollywood scene, a ‘fixer’ of problems. He makes the duke’s mistakes disappear. In this case, Hugo is given the task to get rid of a stubborn woman that has been plaguing the duke and that just happens to be Miss Serena Barton, and Hugh is having a hell of a time doing it.

This was an extraordinary story about two ordinary people that are brought together by circumstances that were out of their hands. Both characters were strong, and both were determined to fight and succeed in their task and I was fascinated with both. I eagerly anticipated the outcome and was elated with it.

I love stories of survival of the fittest, and this certainly was that, except we had two people that I rooted for, but one could only be the winner!

If you’ve never read this author, I urge you to snatch this novella [it’s still FREE] and start to read this series. It really is a little gem I hope you don’t pass up.

Melanie for b2b

‘Falling For The Pirate’ by Amber Lin

al fftpSTORY: London, 1820

After the deaths of his parents and a dark, troubled childhood, Captain Nate Bowen vowed he would have his revenge. But he never expected to have the tool of his revenge dropped so neatly into his lap. Juliana Hargate is not only the daughter of his enemy, but is destitute, very much alone – and exquisitely desirable. And now that Nate has saved her life, she’s at his complete mercy…

Captive. All Juliana wanted was to clear her father’s name. Instead, she’s been struck with amnesia – unable to recall even her name – and imprisoned by a tall, imposing, and entirely unscrupulous pirate. A pirate whose eyes seem to look past her skirts and many petticoats, and whose touch sends delicious ripples of desire through her. With every passing day, she finds herself tempted to give him the very thing he’s determined to take

REVIEW: This is the second book of the Men of Fortune series by Amber Lin, Letters At Christmas being the first and telling the story of Captain Hale Martin who is our hero’s business partner and you should get it ASAP as it’s FREE [Amazon / B&Nonly until July 21st, 2014.

Let me tell you. I hate revenge stories, and pirates are not my favorite trope. It takes me forever to forgive the person that’s seeking revenge, and a plot sometimes tends to be a bit tedious with all of it playing out on a ship. That’s why I dreaded reading this story, but I do like this authors voice, so on I went with both, my eyes and ears open and guess what? Amber Lin did an awesome job in presenting Nate’s hate and revenge so well that I actually came to love the guy. For a pirate, the man had integrity and a soft heart when it came to protecting his own.

I also liked Juliana and really felt for her and the predicament she finds herself in. Ms. Lin did an outstanding job in showing me the conflicted emotions in those two characters and the chemistry between the two was palpable. As for that ‘pirate trope’ worry of mine, it was all for naught!

If you’re like me and like reading romance novels that are filled with suspense, humor and sensuality, then you’ll like this one for sure. This was a very good story, with great characters, fast pace and an interesting plot.

Melanie for b2b

Complimentary copy provided by the publisher