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Showing posts from 2019

Review: Exit Strategy

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Exit Strategy by Martha Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This right here is why I love science fiction so much--human/non-human interaction! Fantastic action sequences! Deep moral and philosophical questions: (What does it mean to be human? And why would anyone aspire to be a meatsack anyway?) Snark! A mechanical entity who gives the Three Laws of Robotics the metal middle finger! And, best of all, primo writing, plotting and characterization.

I have been buttonholing everyone I know who's a science fiction fan and telling them to read The Murderbot Diaries. It's that good.

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Celebrating The Pirate's Secret Baby (High Seas #3) With Special Savings!

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Some years ago I had a villain who caught my imagination. Robert St. Armand wasn't just a pirate, he was a pirate with style and had far too high an opinion of himself and his success with women. Robert got his comeuppance in Castaway Dreams (High Seas #2) but just wouldn't leave me alone. He needed his own book.

How do you transform a villain into a hero? You throw a plot moppet and a puppy at him. If he catches them, he's capable of reform. Oh, and having a no-nonsense governess on hand to keep them all in line helps.

Five years ago I published The Pirate's Secret Baby (High Seas #3) which went on to win the Colorado Romance Writers Award of Excellence and the New England Readers' Choice Award. The Pirate's Secret Baby led to What the Parrot Saw (High Seas #4), the story of that little moppet all grown up and running the family business.

To celebrate that publication anniversary, the ebook edition of The Pirate's Secret Baby will be on sale at Smashwords f…

Review: A Dangerous Collaboration

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A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The best part of this novel wasn't the whodunnit, though that was well done, but seeing the interaction between Veronica, Stoker, and Stoker's brother. We saw Stoker and Veronica's relationship tested further, and we also learned about some of the tensions in the Templeton-Vane family that led to Stoker's estrangement from his home.

It's a great series with a heroine for our times--a scientist, an explorer, a woman who embraces her own sexuality--and the hero who appreciates her. I look forward to more Veronica Speedwell mysteries and many hours of reading enjoyment in months to come!

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Review: Devil's Daughter

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Devil's Daughter by Lisa Kleypas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love Lisa Kleypas historical romances because of the depth and quality of her research. It doesn't hurt that she packages that research into a fabulous love story.

We first met West Ravenel some books back in the Ravenel series when he was introduced to us as the pot-bellied, soft, wastrel younger brother of Devon Ravenel, Lord Trenear. But West's character began to undergo some changes and it's all come to fruition in the latest book as West meets Phoebe, Lady Clare, a beautiful young widow and the daughter of characters from the Wallflower series.

Phoebe wants nothing to do with the man who bullied her late husband when they were schoolboys, and West thinks himself unworthy of such a fine woman. I enjoyed how their relationship developed slowly rather than with instalust, and how each character uncovered the hidden strengths in the other.

Lisa Kleypas is an autobuy for me and has been since her very…

Review: Rogue Protocol

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Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another fascinating and satisfying Murderbot story from the very talented Martha Wells. I'm recommending this series to all my friends looking for interesting and intriguing SF.

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Review: Run Away

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Run Away by Harlan Coben
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It kept me up past my bedtime, which is high praise indeed.
The question always lurks in a parent's mind--what would you do to save your child? In the case of parents of drug abusers the question becomes even more complex and troubling, and Sam knows this, but when he sees his strung out daughter Paige in Central Park, he approaches her to offer help one more time.

This sets a series of events in motion which spiral into secrets revealed, murder, deeply buried crimes and answers the question "What would you do? How far would you go?"

I was flipping pages as the ending snuck up on me, leaving me once again impressed with Harlan Coben's talent as a mystery and suspense writer.

(This is a stand alone novel, not part of his ongoing series.)

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Review: Connections in Death

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Connections in Death by J.D. Robb
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes you get the murder mystery, sometimes you get the police procedural, in this book you get both, and it's still a satisfying experience nearly 50 novels into "In Death".

Eve Dallas is called in to investigate a suspected OD by a drug user, far below her pay grade but a favor for a friend. She quickly determines it's murder and we readers realize what cops say all the damn time--most crimes are committed by people who do stupid things, not by criminal masterminds. But watching her and her team (and Roarke, of course) unravel two gangs' businesses and rivalries is a delight to watch, especially the climactic battle and interrogations at the end.

I expect Queen Nora has something special planned for "In Death, #50" and in the meantime, we'll cheerfully glom all the books she produces until that day. Incidentally, if you're not a fan, I insist you start with Naked in Death…

Review: Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design

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Blooms: Contemporary Floral Design by Phaidon Editors
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this book as a gift and it is drop-dead gorgeous. These are not your boring dozen roses & baby's breath, but a breathtaking look at modern floral design, design that incorporates found objects and flowers in all stages. It's the perfect coffee table book or gift because you don't sit down and read it from cover-to-cover, but rather sip at it like a fine cocktail incorporating carefully curated ingredients.

Full disclosure--one of the artists featured is @wifenyc (Sophie Parker) who is my son's significant other and a supremely talented botanical artist. Check out her work on Instagram!

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Review: Polaris Rising

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Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For readers who like science fiction with romance, this book hits all the right buttons. A princess who kicks butt and takes names, a hero who's capable and has her back, well drawn secondary characters, good plot and excellent world building. There's also a set-up for future Consortium Rebellion novels that's integrated without being heavy-handed. I liked it very much and it was a great whiz-bang, action filled, hot and heavy weekend read.

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Review: Snowdrift and Other Stories

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Snowdrift and Other Stories by Georgette Heyer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a perfect addition to one's Regency romance library, as the Divine Georgette gives us a short story collection with all the elements that have endeared her to fans over the decades. I do recommend spreading out the reading of these gems rather than consuming them in one sitting. Not every story is a keeper but some, like Hazard will have Regency fans grinning out loud.

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Review: The Night Tiger

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The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Very enjoyable tale of pre-WWII Malaysia, a land filled with English expats, Chinese, Malay, Indians and where magic walks on tiger paws. It's a story of family and friendship, a budding romance, a young woman who wants more, an orphan, a mystery, and maybe a shape-changer. I found it engrossing and entertaining and would definitely read more by this author.

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Review: An Unconditional Freedom

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An Unconditional Freedom by Alyssa Cole
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A searing and satisfying conclusion to the Loyal League historical romances. Searing because the anger and frustration of racism in America comes through loud and clear in the author's details of life during the Civil War, from the perspective of both enslaved and free people of color in the South. The trauma and precariousness of daily existence is told through the lens of a romance between two troubled people--Daniel, who survived his own enslavement after being born free, and Janeta, who's always had to struggle to please people lest she lose her place as a free woman in a slave-owning Cuban family.

Cole's trilogy is a refreshing alternative to the historical romances that glorify or downplay life in the Antebellum South and is recommended reading.

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Review: Pirates in History and Popular Culture

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Pirates in History and Popular Culture by Antonio Sanna
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A tip of the hat to Cindy Vallar of the Pirates and Privateers Newsletter for recommending this excellent collection of essays on the perception of pirates through books, plays, opera, manga, RPG and film through the centuries. Even the Pastafarians get a shout-out. I enjoyed the selections both for the depth of research and for the authors' conclusions on the role pirates have played, and continue to play, in popular culture.

One disclaimer--My novel Sea Change is referenced in the chapter "Really Romantic?--Pirates in Romantic Fiction" and this makes me very happy.

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Review: Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"

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Barracoon: The Story of the Last "Black Cargo" by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Fascinating and moving story of Cudjo Lewis, survivor of the last slaver ship to carry captive Africans to the United States. Lewis was interviewed by the great author and ethnologist Zora Neale Hurston and she lets him tell his own story in his own fashion. It's a moving tale of loss and hope and survival, and such eyewitness accounts of the horrors of slavery are all too rare when told in the victim's own voice. It's especially moving when the reader realizes that he was telling his tale less than 100 years ago, in the late 1920s. We are far closer to the tragedy of slavery and its legacy than people want to acknowledge.

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Review: Spacer's Cinderella

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Spacer's Cinderella by Adria Rose
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Now see, this is why reviews matter. I saw a mention of this book in a writer's Twitter feed and it intrigued me. A Cinderella story set in space sounded like just what I needed in a week filled with crazysauce, but this debut author's work captured me far more than I expected it would...and it never would have happened if someone hadn't left a review.

Aurora is a grad student conducting research on terraforming. She's living on the edge of poverty, working as a research assistant, a TA, and conducting her own experiments, all in the hopes her struggling home planet will benefit. Her mentor is fired and his successor is antagonistic and it's all circling the drain, so when her BFF insists on a night out clubbing, Aurora gives in.

That's where she meets Magnus Thorne. Fill in the blank with every hunky, muscled, brilliant hero description and you've got him. The evening doesn't end t…

Review: Picture Perfect Cowboy

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Picture Perfect Cowboy by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another "Original Sinners" erotic romance winner from Ms. Reisz with a delightful cowboy who's almost too good to be true, but afraid to fly his kink flag until he meets a sub from NYC who shows him the ropes. Literally.

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Special savings for #NationalPuppyDay

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Daphne turned and walked blindly back to her cabin. Pompom greeted her and jumped into her lap when she sat on her bunk, staring at the empty covers of the bunk across from hers. He licked her hand and she put her head down next to the warm body snuggled into the crook of her arm.
“At least you love me just the way I am, Pompom,” she whispered to the bichon.--Castaway Dreams (High Seas #2)


I posted pictures of my favorite puppy, Diva Dachshund Dodi, on #NationalPuppyDay, but I forgot to mention my second favorite puppy, Pompom from Castaway Dreams(High Seas #2). In honor of Pompom and all the good doggos out there, I'm discounting the ebook edition of Castaway Dreams, 50% off at Smashwords with codeUM65Q through March 31. Stock up now for your summer beach reading!


Review: Artificial Condition

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Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I'm enjoying this series so much! It reminds me of why I love SF--great worldbuilding, snappy writing, memorable characters, all the whiz-bang excitement of life in space, and a protagonist different enough to be alien, but one with whom the reader can relate.

Our self-named "Murderbot" is traveling back to the scene of the crime to try and discover what went wrong. It's aboard a ship with ART, who becomes a sidekick of sorts, a massive ship AI who has a disturbing sense of curiosity. Once again our security specialist bot is forced to interact with and protect humans, bringing it's own self-aware decision-making skills into play.

Sometimes when you finish reading a book you're filled with glee that there's another story awaiting you in that particular universe, and that's how I feel about Artificial Condition.

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Review--All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries, #1)

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All Systems Red by Martha Wells

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Fabulous SF with action galore! It’s renewed the “sensawonder” that made me fall in love with science fiction.



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Review: The Bengal Bridegift

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The Bengal Bridegift by Anne Cleeland
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This novel had been on my radar for ages and I'm so glad i finally got around to reading The Bengal Bridegift. It had everything I love: a mystery (where's the bridegift?), a plucky heroine who is brave and makes good decisions, wonderful and well-drawn secondary characters and a hunky pirate hero. What's not to love?

Juno has been raised in India while her father, a sea captain, works for the East India Company. She's just survived a massacre at her convent school when a bold pirate shows up (as they do.) Jost is absolutely delightful. He struggles with English language idiom but as more than one bloody encounter reveals, he's most definitely a pirate at heart. Fortunately for Juno, he's also a friend of her late father's...or so Jost says.

There were so many great twists and turns in this story that it kept me reading late into the night, and left me completely satisfied at the end. I…

Review: Lady Derring Takes a Lover

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Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Julie Anne Long is an auto-buy for me, and her latest (and the start of a new series!!!) didn't disappoint. There was excellent character development, effervescent dialogue, and some fabulous LOL moments (the cigar smoking scene was especially memorable.)

Delilah, the widow of an earl who was pretty much a waste of space, is left with nothing. No home, no family, no money, just a property down near the London docks. A chance meeting at her solicitor's office introduces her to her husband's mistress and these two unlikely allies, aided by the most inept lady's maid ever, pool their resources to open a most singular boarding house.

I really loved this book, and it filled a weekend afternoon with delightful reading. I can't wait for the next book in the series, and while I love Ms. Long's contemporary novels too, it's her Regency era books that have a prominent spot on my "keeper&qu…

What The Parrot Saw

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This week saw the release (aka #BookBirthday) of What the Parrot Saw (High Seas #4), my eighth historical romance (available in ebook and print from all booksellers).

Parrot is the tale of a grown-up Mathilde St. Armand, aka "Marauding Mattie". Mattie started as a "plot moppet", a secondary character in The Pirate's Secret Baby (High Seas #3), the child Robert St. Armand never knew he'd fathered. Secret Baby was Robert and Lydia's book, but even as I was writing it I knew I'd have to tell Mattie's story some day. She was the illegitimate, mixed-race child of a pirate and a prostitute, and she wasn't going to fit in well in Victorian England, no matter how much Robert and Lydia loved her.

Mattie's tale, as more than one beta reader and reviewer pointed out, is darker than my other novels. Yes, there's still humor, but much of the book concerns enslaved people in Florida Territory. That is not a topic to be treated lightly and slavery&#…

Review: Out of the Dark

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Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X, aka The Nowhere Man has two tasks to complete, each separated by an entire continent: 1. Help a mentally disabled man find justice and 2. Assassinate the President of the United States.

This is boffo, non-stop excitement and I loved every page of it. If you've never read an Orphan X book it's best to start with No. 1, Orphan X, but if you're an action/adventure fan who likes Jack Reacher, Bob Lee Swagger, John Rain, John Wick, Jane Whitehead--you get the idea--you'll fall under the spell of Evan Smoak and his special skill set.


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Review: The Burglar

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The Burglar by Thomas Perry
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a real-page turner, and I especially liked the heroine being small statured and using that to her advantage. Cunning can win out over size, particularly if one cheats. There were points where I was worried the heroine might be making choices that moved her into the TSTL column, but I hung in there and was rewarded for my patience with a rousing tale of burglary, friendship, justice and street smarts.

I'm a huge fan of Thomas Perry and he's come through again for his legions of readers.

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Review: Watch the Wall, My Darling

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Watch the Wall, My Darling by Jane Aiken Hodge
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first Jane Aiken Hodge book I stumbled across in my public library. Long before ebooks or the Internet or modern romance genre as we know it, this book hooked me on Regency era historicals with a strong, capable heroine and the man who loves her. It has mystery, intrigue, romance (of course) and solid historical research. I still recommend Aiken Hodge, and I went on to read every book of hers I could track down.

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Valentine's Day

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“Do you not want to cut a dash in society? Never mind, I do not know why I even bother. If I said I needed a new hat you would say, ‘You only have one head, why do you need more than one hat?’”

“I am perfectly willing to acknowledge you need a warm hat for winter wear and a straw hat for summer. This conversation is nonsense. I do not need to change my ways to catch a wife. I have money saved, and all of my limbs and my teeth. I am a man of abstemious habits. I cannot imagine how having a waistcoat of daffodil satin would make a bit of difference in my prospects.”

Daphne perked up.

“Now you are putting your brain to work!” She pointed her finger at him. “With your coloring daffodil satin would be a handsome choice. Not for a coat though, that would be a bit much. As you say, for a waistcoat. I had no idea you were taking fashion so seriously.”

“I am not taking this seriously, for a very good reason. That statement about my wearing something as ridiculous as daffodil satin was meant t…

Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God

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Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This classic of Florida and Afro-American literature was the perfect re-read during Black History Month. Zora Neale Hurston's life story of being put down by members of the literary establishment, and cleaning houses in her later years, is now well known, thanks to Alice Walker and historians who've helped us reclaim our great women writers. But not everyone has actually read her work, and that's a shame. Ms. Hurston had a gift for dialogue and bringing characters to life--poor, uneducated characters who through her skilled craft become people to take note of.

As a romance writer I also have to acknowledge the great love story of Janie and Tea Cake. Their struggles together, their care for one another--it resonates down through time. Janie is one of my favorite heroines. She's strong, capable, aware of her own sexual needs and is willing to go for satisfaction and not settle for anyth…

#WhatTheParrotSaw ARCs

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Are you a #NetGalley reviewer? Check out #WhatTheParrotSaw and get transported from your chilly winter to tropical islands with a pirate captain, her cabin boy, and what Roscoe the parrot saw (but he's not telling!) You can also pre-order in ebook or paper from your favorite bookstores.

But wait, there's more! ARCs of What the Parrot Saw are also available at #Booksprout. If you're a reviewer, now's a great time to get some hot reading for cold nights.


Review: A Bridge to the Sky

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A Bridge to the Sky by Margaret Ball
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the kind of involved historical with a great deal of research and detail that satisfies my inner reader. Unfortunately, in some ways the depth of character for the protagonists seemed sacrificed for the joy of sharing the intricacies of architecture in the age of great medieval cathedrals.

In addition there were abrupt point of view shifts in some scenes which I find off-putting, but YMMV. Overall it was a fascinating look into an age of faith and wonder, and would be enjoyed by readers who like stories about extraordinary people in the Middle Ages who weren't powerful knights and nobles, yet left an enduring legacy.

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My Boskone56 Schedule

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It's February, so time to look at my once-a-year winter wardrobe and think about packing for #Boskone, New England's longest running science fiction convention. Yes, that's how much I love science fiction and my friends and fans who will be at Boskone56. Despite this week's Big Chill I'm willing to go from Florida to Boston because, books.

Of course, it helps that I have a return ticket that says "Florida".

You can buy memberships at Boskone.org and at the door, and it's a great way to spend a weekend. There are YA and family-friendly program items as well.  Here's my schedule, and where it says (M) next to my name, I'm moderating that panel. I'll also be reading from What the Parrot Saw, available now for pre-order and releasing on February 26 in print and ebook.

The Streaming Universe
Format: Panel
15 Feb 2019, Friday 18:00 - 18:50, Marina 2 (Westin)

Just wave your magic clicker to enter a new universe of space and time, where SF/F/H stor…

Hunker down, snowbirds!

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During hurricane season all eyes are on Florida, and I receive a lot of comments and tweets from folks hoping we'll weather (heh) the latest climate disaster without too much drama.

Now it's my turn. When I see friends posting screen shots of temps in Chicago, Minneapolis, Millwaukee, Duluth, colder than what's recorded on the surface of Mars (Seriously. Heard that today on #NPR) it's my turn to say, "Y'all take care of yourselves up there! It's an excellent day to hunker down with a bowl of hot soup, a nice fire and a fully charged Kindle."

Of course, I recommend reading a hot romance set on a tropical island (*koff* Castaway Dreams *koff, koff*) to remind you that soon it will be warm again. In the meantime, take care of yourselves!

Review: Dare to Love a Duke

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Dare to Love a Duke by Eva Leigh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the things I love about our romance genre is when a talented author takes a premise that seems unworkable...and succeeds spectacularly in making the reader keep turning the pages.

Eva Leigh is one such author. This third London Underground tale is the best yet, following an unapologetic prostitute who's risen to management levels. Just as in one of my favorite novels of all time, Fanny Hill, or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Lucia is a survivor who deserves her own HEA.

I also liked that the hero, Thomas, was basically a nice guy suddenly elevated to a position of power and great responsibility, and he walks a fine line of taking care of business and his family while giving up hope for his own HEA, until he meets Lucia.

I recommend all of Leigh's books, and one can read this one as a stand-alone book.

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Win Free Books!

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The Goodreads Giveaway is live and you can enter to win a signed copy of What the Parrot Saw. Click on the link, and good luck!



Goodreads Book Giveaway



What the Parrot Saw
by Darlene Marshall

Giveaway ends February 25, 2019.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter Giveaway





A day of reflection and celebration

Today is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, a day to celebrate the life of a great American, a leader who spoke truth and inspired people of all races and backgrounds to come together for change and hope. Here in Florida, as in so many other locales, the struggle for justice continues on 90 years after Dr. King's birth. Just this past year Florida voters overwhelmingly voted to restore rights to convicted felons who'd finished their time and were regular citizens, but still couldn't vote--a carry-over from Jim Crow days.  It's estimated four million voters, many of whom are black, had their rights restored.

It's also Tu B'Shevat, the "New Year of the Trees" in the Jewish Calendar.  It's a celebration of nature's renewal in the Northern hemisphere and I feel it in North Florida far more than I would buried beneath snow and ice up north.

When I look around my community today and I see people coming together in a day of service and helpin…

Review: The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man

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The Sabbath: Its Meaning for Modern Man by Abraham Joshua Heschel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In an age of constant bombardment by texts, tweets, email and news cycles it has become more important than ever for me to take some sacred time to renew myself. It's oftentimes hard to explain what it means to observe the Sabbath to the degree I do, having to turn down opportunities for booksignings, attend events, go places and do things, and when I feel stressed by these choices I like to re-read this slim little volume to ground myself anew.

It's been said that if some religions have a catechism, Jews have a calendar. The Sabbath (Shabbat) is a gift that we too often don't appreciate and Rabbi Heschel (z"l) helps put that gift in perspective in a way that all people an understand.



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Review: Educated

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Educated by Tara Westover
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A fascinating memoir of a childhood being raised so far off the grid that what most of us would consider normal life in the 21st century is an unexplored country. The most amazing part is how Westover used her strengths to not only survive, but to academically excel.

It's a wrenching document of a childhood filled with danger and downright weirdness, but also a testimony to what one individual can achieve despite being raised in harsh circumstances.

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Review: Dark Sacred Night

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Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the challenges for an author who ages characters in real time is, eventually they're going to be too old to function in the same fashion. That's when it's important to bring secondary characters to the forefront. Detective Harry Bosch, LAPD veteran, Viet Nam War, vet is aging out, but before he goes he's going to continue to give his all to his on-going work solving cold cases and current crimes.

Enter Renee Ballard, an LAPD detective with her own career issues. They make an odd couple of cops but share a common passion for justice and righting wrongs, and that will help to steer both Harry and Renee in a new direction that will allow Connelly to continue entertaining us long after Harry's sitting listening to jazz and enjoying the view from his hillside home.

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Review: Nightchaser

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Nightchaser by Amanda Bouchet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Here's a space opera I could really sink my teeth into! Evil Overlords! Plucky rebels! Enigmatic and hunky space rogues! Booksellers! It had a lot going for it and was a perfect weekend read. Ms. Bouchet played with Greek Mythology for her Kingmaker Chronicles, but now she takes the action to the stars with a new SF series and I'm on board with this new direction.

Captain Tess Bailey is a wanted woman, Shade Ganavan is a SRP (space rogue phenom--seriously, he identified himself that way and it made me snicker.) Tess needs Shade to fix her disabled ship, Shade needs Tess...well, that's a predictable but fun spoiler so I'll leave it to the reader. Oh, and there's a kitten named Bonk because every vessel needs a ship's cat and a cast of supporting characters worthy of their own stories.

It was good fun and I'm eagerly awaiting the next Endeavor novel from Ms. Bouchet.

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Review: Not the Duke’s Darling

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Not the Duke’s Darling by Elizabeth Hoyt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Elizabeth Hoyt is an autobuy for me and will continue to be so going forward, but for some reason this one book didn't hit all the right notes. It's the start of a new series and I suspect part of what threw me off were the subplots and characters crammed into what was an extremely interesting premise, a society of Wise Women who are branded witches for their actions.

While helping a mother and baby escape an abusive family situation, Freya de Moray encounters Christopher Renshaw, her girlhood crush and the man she believes destroyed her family. Sparks fly when they're thrown together at a house party. The relationship between the two of them is intriguing enough that it could have been fleshed out for an entire novel, but so many other characters with problems are introduced that the focus shifts from the protagonists and their issues.

Again though, I'm optimistic about the series going forward…

Review: A Midwinter Night's Dream

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A Midwinter Night's Dream by Tiffany Reisz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

For fans of the Original Sinners, a holiday novella that is, as the title promises, a dream. It's Victorian England with Baron Soren Stearns, his ward Eleanor, and his valet (and literal whipping boy), Kingsley.

I'm not certain how this would read to people unfamiliar with the long-running (but enjoyably erotic) Original Sinners saga about the triad relationship of Soren, Nora and Kingsley, but I found it a delightful winter interlude. There's enough of a story to entertain, the dialogue is as witty as one would expect from this author, and the sex is steamy but doesn't overwhelm the narrative.

The only reason I wouldn't give it a whole-hearted recommendation is that I'm so familiar with the characters and their intertwined lives. I recommend readers new to Reisz's series start with The Siren, not the first book in the characters chronology, but the first book in the series.�…

Review: The Earl I Ruined

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The Earl I Ruined by Scarlett Peckham
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Georgian story with its fabulous clothing (for men and women) was a nice change of pace, and I enjoyed how the characters in this tale revealed their motivations. The heroine could have been dismissed as a silly socialite but her story unfolded like a delicately painted fan. We knew from the outset that the hero had deep secrets, and how they worked out their problems together, sometimes at loggerheads, other times in tandem, kept me reading late into the evening.



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Review: Clarissa and the Poor Relations

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Clarissa and the Poor Relations by Alicia Cameron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was in the mood for a traditional Regency and wanted to like this one more than I did. The constant head-hopping within scenes threw me out of the story, especially because there were so many POV characters.


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