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Truth and Solace by Jana Richards

Truth and Solace*

Compelling Third Installment of Excellent Series

After Lies and Secrets (books 1 and 2), we finally have Truth in the Love at Solace Lake series. Maggie, the youngest of the Lindquist daughters, is the heroine of this second-chance-at-romance story. When she was a young teenager, she fell in love was a young man named Luke who was a few years older than she was. After dumping her in a most dramatic and painful fashion, he went to California for schooling and ultimately got a job there. He comes back to the Minnewasta area because his mother is terminally ill with lung cancer. He works in hotel and restaurant management and has agreed to do that temporarily at the lodge so he can be with his mother in Minnesota. Because of their respective jobs in the lodge, Luke and Maggie often work together, which is not always easy for Maggie. They have so much shared history and still-existent feelings for each other, but there are also hurt and abandonment issues.

Will Maggie be able to look beyond the past hurts? Can Maggie and Luke find love again as adults? How will Luke deal with his mother’s illness? What truths will be revealed?

Yet again, the author has written a fantastic book. The past backstory and the current plotlines weave together and mirror each other in a complex way that was beautifully done.

I was wondering how she was going to handle the first chapter, which in the other two books of the series showed the sisters’ parents’ deaths from that book’s heroine’s perspective. But I knew that Maggie was just a baby when her parents died. In this book instead, Maggie gets into a fight with her grandmother about Luke just before her grandmother dies, causing Maggie to feel guilty that she may have caused her heart attack.

In this book, you will finally learn the truth about the death of the girls’ parents as well as the truth about Maggie’s parentage, which was hinted at in the prior book. Another truth revealed in the book is the reason why Luke left back when they were younger.

Yet again, this author is not afraid to address difficult and taboo topics, which are not common in contemporary romance. In this book, she looks at sexual harassment, parental abandonment, cancer, and marital infidelity as well as continuing to address alcoholism. Even though there are many hard topics she explores, she does so with sensitivity and compassion.

If you enjoyed either of the first two books of the series, you will find answers to the questions raised in them, told in the compelling way you have come to expect from this author. If you haven’t read the other books and enjoyed heartfelt contemporary romance, I suggest you start with Book 1 and make it to this one because the journey of the characters in these novels is amazing to watch unfold.

Seducing the Scientist by Riley Cole

Seducing the Scientist*

Edison Meets His Match in Female Scientist

If you’re familiar with the first book of series about the Restitution League, you know about the cousins who are the core of it. This is Edison’s story, and has he ever met his match! The league investigates a case brought to them by a man who is clearly lying about it and find themselves embroiled in a need to protect a female scientist on the brink of sharing her world-changing discovery. Will the League be able to keep her safe? Will her invention fall into the wrong hands? Will others take credit for what she has done?

Just like the first book, I found this story to be delightfully well-written. In the parts narrated by Edison, he comes across as cocky, slightly jaded, and on the prowl for his next adventure or female. His commentary is often quite amusing, like when he said the heroine had “the delicacy of a stevedore,” which made me laugh out loud. Other sections are narrated by Philomena and Ada; the former is Edison’s sister who was the heroine of Book 1, and the latter is this book’s heroine. I love Ada. She’s a strong, smart woman who has taken care of herself and her grandmother while pursuing her interest in science. Ada is a smart cookie but vulnerable, too, especially in her dealings with men about whom she might have a romantic interest as well as those who would belittle her mind and discoveries.

Those who enjoyed Philomena’s and Spencer’s story in Book 1 will be happy to hear that we continue to see their relationship grow and flourish in this book.

This delightful series about the Restitution League is for readers who appreciate strong women, good-hearted rogues, witty internal monologue and external dialogue, and stories where good–even if in the guise of reformed criminals–triumphs over evil. Personally, I can’t wait for the next installment!

For whatever reason, this book is listed as Saving the Scientist on Goodreads.

Secrets and Solace by Jana Richards

Secrets and Solace*

Taboo Topic Explored in Second Installment of Love at Lake Solace Series

The second book of the Love at Solace Lake series features Harper’s sister Scarlet and Ethan’s brother, Cam. If you enjoyed the love story between Harper and Ethan, you get to see their wedding from Scarlet’s perspective before they leave on their honeymoon to Paris. Scarlet and Cam must work together in several circumstances, and they have an almost immediate mutual dislike even though they are also somewhat drawn to each other. Scarlet doesn’t appreciate that Cam seems to think Harper is just after Ethan for his money. Ethan doesn’t like this either, and after a particularly rude statement during the wedding brunch, Ethan tells Cam that he will not put up with this treatment of his wife. Cam has a young daughter, Tessa, born out of wedlock and is an alcoholic who has been dry for three years.

Alcoholism is not a typical backdrop or source of conflict in a romance, but the author has done a good job showing how this has impacted Cam in the past and affects him in the present, decreasing his feelings of self-worth, which causes problems in his relationships with women. He’s a good father to Tessa despite his alcohol issues and problems with women.

Both Cam and Scarlet have secrets, Scarlet’s having to do with her parents’ death. She witnessed an argument that occurred between them just before their accident, and she believes she is responsible for what happened. I love how these first two stories in the series start with each girl’s memory of the day their parents died; we are privy to the same sentinel moment from different perspectives.

What will happen as Scarlet, who’s working on publicity for the lodge, works with Cam as he is renovating the lodge? Will they continue to butt heads? Will they come to a greater understanding of each other? And will that lead to more? Will secrets cause more distance between them?

I love the complex world the author has woven for this series. So far, each sister is totally unique in her fears, goals, and motivations. Their men, too, are unique–a lottery millionaire and an alcoholic contractor. Yet, overarching these stories is the underpinning mystery about the girls’ parents’ relationship and deaths as well as the modern story of renovating the lodge that pulls all these people together in a satisfying way.

If you enjoy the first book of the series, which I thought was a well-written book, you will enjoy this love story of the siblings of the first couple. If you like steamy romance that isn’t afraid to embrace difficult topic, you might enjoy this book.

I received a free copy of this book, but this did not affect my review.

Sweet Compromises by Dean Hodel

Sweet Compromises*

Romance and Reticence

This book is an odd combination of romance and reticence. Skye, the heroine, is coming up on the first birthday that will not be shared with her twin. He was a nurse in the military and was accidentally fatally shot. He has tasked a friend to bring her a final note from him on their birthday with the instructions that this man is here to help her through her grief so that she can move on. Caleb is a strange hero. It takes a bit to pick apart his history but suffice to say he is very closed off emotionally. Skye appears to be all happiness, but her pain at the loss of her family makes life difficult for her. Did twin Stephen hope to heal both his friend and his sister and bring them together? Is Caleb willing and able to open up himself up to someone else? What about the new project manager at a neighboring ranch, who seems to have an interest in Skye? Part of what makes this book odd for me is that it is often touching in recounting some of their separate histories, fears, and doubts while at other times, characters discuss concepts in a way that people just don’t talk and think about them. For instance, at the very start, Caleb talks about wanting to help heal Skye. It just seemed odd to see him think like this when he barely knows her. The problem had more than the usual amount of errors with grammar, punctuation, and usage. For instance, the need for another quotation mark at the start of a new paragraph of dialogue said by the same person was not followed. The story had some interesting characters aside from the main ones, and it looks like from the epilogue that this is the start of a series.

The Viscount’s Promise by Joyce Alec

The Viscount's Promise*

Fascinating Hero in This Regency Suspense

What a dramatic beginning for this book! We are placed in a courtroom where a man is being sentenced for murder. On the dock, the accused man proclaims his innocence and asks his friend in the courtroom take care of his sister. After exacting this promise, the accused then drinks from a vial and keels over dead. After a year of mourning has passed, this friend, Lord Sharpe, as well as a kindly marquess and marchioness, come to town to support this sister, Julianna, in a London season. Lord Sharpe has been troubled by the brother’s claim of innocence and is not quite willing to believe that his former friend is guilty. Will Lord Sharpe figure out the correct murderer who framed his friend? Will he fall for Julianna himself or help her to wed another man?

I found the character of Lord Sharpe to be an interesting one. He is not portrayed as the typical Regency romance hero, who can definitely be a little touchy-feely to appeal to modern readers. Instead, he is portrayed as stiff and formal at first, bringing to mind Mr. Darcy (although he is more willing to dance!). He’s one of the reasons I think the book should have been longer. It would have been more appropriate for him to gradually become more comfortable in Julianna’s presence, and a longer book would have been needed for his character to relax. For a novella, this book has some surprising twists and turns. In fact, that’s the second reason why I think the book should have been expanded: to give more insight into thoughts, emotions, and events of the story.

I thought it odd that states that it takes place in “Nineteenth century, England” while the cover states it is a Regency; why not be specific if you are as on-point as Regency? The Regency period is a very narrow timeframe in English history and certainly not nearly as vague as the 19th century!

There are some issues with grammar, punctuation, and spelling. Surprisingly, even a character’s name was misspelled. Sometimes the baron is either referred to as Baron Holland or Baron Hollard. There are some issues with word choice as well, as sometimes the same or similar words were used right next to each other.

Despite all that, this is a relatively well written short Regency suspense.

Savage Possessed by September Stone

Savage Possessed*

Reverse Harem Group on Quest at Behest of Mother Nature

In the second book of the series, Sophie and the men are on a quest. Mother Nature wants them to find Elowen. What will happen when they find the mage? Will they be safe from her magic? Will Mother get what she wants?

I found it interesting how the author was able to make each of the males very distinct. I was especially intrigued by Valor, the vampire. At the beginning, he was so withdrawn and penitent. You could sense the horror he feels at his past actions as he tries to atone in the tiniest of ways in all his actions and reactions. Hagan was also a surprise, especially at the end, but I won’t ruin that for you.

The book has some issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, but they do not distract from the story. If you enjoy steamy RH fantasy, this book could fill the bill.

Lies and Solace by Jana Richards

Lies and Solace*

Big Dreams In Small-Town Romance

What a sweet and lovely small-town romance! The hero and the heroine have complex backstories that are revealed in a perfect dripwise fashion that show the basis for their goals and motivations, allowing the reader to easily empathize with them as they struggle with inner conflicts dealing with their secrets and what they have withheld from each other.

The book starts off dramatically with a scene from the distant past when the heroine’s parents died in a drowning accident when Harper was a child. The book then fast forwards to her at the age of 32 when she is trying to obtain investment capital to help restore the lodge that’s been in her family for three generations. Ethan, the hero, is a complex character, on the one hand sweet and caring and on the other fearful of rejection or maltreatment due to his secrets.

Now, when I said the book was sweet up above, I didn’t mean it wasn’t steamy! They have a caring bond that does carry over into intimacy towards the end of the book. Will their secrets tear them apart? Will Harper have the lodge of her dreams? Will her sisters start pitching in?

This book was refreshingly light on punctuation and grammar issues. It was a delight to read in that aspect as well as the good storytelling as detailed above.

If you like small town romance with complex characters, you’ll find this book a treat.

One Kiss From Ruin by Nancy Yeager

One Kiss from Ruin*

After Five Years of Heartache, Can They Find Happiness?

There is so much going on in this book! The hero and heroine were to be married five years ago, but the marriage never happened because the hero, Daniel, became embroiled in a scandal about the possible illegitimacy, and therefore, his eligibility for his title of marquess. Her family shunned him, lying to the couple. He was told that she never wanted to see him again and regretted everything they shared; she was told nothing, so she was left to assume he just abandoned her. As neither knows the truth, both are still infatuated with each other but hold some sadness (on her part) and resentment and anger (on his). Scandal and gossip have continued to follow him, some instigated by a longtime friend. She has decided to join the Spinster Society and help with their work. Now, he’s about come and claim his title after most of the issues around the illegitimacy claim have been resolved, but he still needs to go before a committee, so he must live a very upright and proper life. No scandals. And he needs to find the right society wife.

Of course, when they see each other again, they still have an attraction and a desire to be together, especially after they realize that they’ve been lied to for all these years. But she has a secret that can ruin it all for him. Will she help him find the proper wife he needs, or will he figure out some way that they can be together?

This book had some of the common issues with grammar, punctuation, and usage, but it wasn’t distracting. I found the heroine to be sweet and sad. The hero is definitely a rapscallion, especially the way he first treated her when he didn’t quite realize that he had broken her heart. But even afterward at times, he is unkind. But in general, their love and affection for each other shines through.

We also learn some about what the author is calling the Harrow Five, five young heirs to titles who were a group to be reckoned with when they were lads at Harrow. I’ll be interested to see where else the author takes us with the Harrow Five.

A Gentleman’s Promise by Jane London

A Gentleman's Promise*

Romeo & Juliet in Regency England Misses the Mark

This is a Regency version of Romeo and Juliet. Juliet Hill–yes, she is actually named Juliet in the story–is the daughter of a wealthy merchant of marriageable age. In fact, in the first scene, she and her parents are entertaining a potential suitor; his sneezing and clumsiness mean that his suit will not go far. We meet the hero, Christopher Monroe, as he talks with his father. We soon find out that the Hills and the Monroes have a long-standing feud of some 20 years’ duration over some sheep that Monroe thought Hill swindled him over. The hero and heroine have a chance meeting on a street in London, and they find an instant connection, only to find out quickly that their fathers are enemies.

This book had potential, being based on the very interesting idea of having a Romeo and Juliet backdrop to fuel the conflict and motivations of a Regency couple. There are a few more archetypal romantic couples than Romeo and Juliet, but I found this particular story to be melodramatic, and frankly, the author didn’t develop the romantic aspect between Juliet and Christopher well enough. It was instant attraction but with little build-up or chemistry to warrant it.

Also, too, the author didn’t seem to have a sense of some of the customs and viewpoints of Regency England, or at least Regency England as we see it typically portrayed in historical romance. For instance, she called the first suitor that she had a gentleman, even though he owned his own tailoring business. He might have been born a gentleman–though this wasn’t stated–perhaps a second, third, or fourth son, but as he is actively involved in trade currently, he wouldn’t be considered a gentleman by the Upper Ten Thousand or even other gentry. More oddly, after Juliet and her friend Olivia dress as maids to return Christopher’s coat to him near midnight–it was strange enough that she and her friend would attempt to do this–he considers her actions and thinks that they might make other people of more gentle society see her acting as a thief or a “woman of ill repute.” Again, in a Regency romance, such actions of a gentlewoman or a middle-class woman would be seen as reputation-damaging if she were caught, but she wouldn’t be called a woman of ill repute! Loss of reputation doesn’t equal a woman of ill repute; the latter has a wholly different connotation.

The book also had issues with spelling, grammar, and punctuation. In the very first line, folder is used instead of folded. There were other strange misspellings and wrong words throughout the text. The conversations didn’t sound natural at all, they were definitely stilted, and everyone sounded the same. Scenes were overdramatic, tending to go from zero to a hundred rather fast in an almost melodramatic fashion. The scene where the couple’s father’s accidentally meet in a pub is a case in point.

I am a big fan of Regency romance, and I’m usually willing to cut the author’s a bit of slack if they tell me a good story. But I found this story to be silly, contrived, and overdramatic.

I did receive a free advance copy, but–as you might imagine–this did not affect my review

The Prince’s Prisoner by Klarissa King

The Prince's Prisoner*

More Beast Than Beauty in this Very Dark Retelling

I am not quite sure what to make of this book. It says it is a dark retelling of the classic children’s story Beauty and the Beast but I did not find that it truly was. It is about the fae, as promised, and it is indeed dark. Very dark. So dark that there appears to be very little light or hope throughout the entire book.
Modern-day Callie goes to search for her friend who disappeared overnight after going to a forest frolic outside of a small town in Scotland. Callie finds herself literally thrust in the world dark world of the fae. An animal she finds after crossing that threshold told her that she must avoid four things to not be trapped there. The fae don’t play nice. One essentially forces her onto the dance floor, one of those four things that must not be done, and now Callie is trapped in the fae realm along with her friend. She attempts to bargain with one of the princes of the realm for her and her friend’s lives, but it doesn’t go as she had hoped. She is now well and truly trapped for reasons that I won’t go into.
I found the story for most of the book to be rather slow-moving and uninteresting even though all the things above were going on. The language is sparse; sometimes days or weeks go by with just a few words about what has past. Not much in the way of emotion is expressed to make us empathize with Callie beyond what we would feel for anyone in her position. There is very little action to speak of besides moving around rooms and occasionally going outside. The prince, Rain, I found totally unlikable and unredeemable. He is unkind and cruel, as one would expect from the Beast, but unlike the original tale, that doesn’t ever seem to change. The whole book, in all honesty, is a bit of a downer. You keep reading, hoping that something good will happen, that the bad guy will show the good but buried part to his personality, or that Callie will have some hope. But none of that transpires.
The cover is pretty, but I do not see how it relates to the book.
I found this to be a dark, gloomy read with not much to recommend it.

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The asterisks (*) by the book title denote the source of the book copy.

One star = I received it as a free advance/review copy.

Two stars = I borrowed it through my Kindle Unlimited subscription.

Three stars = I’ve purchased the book outright (sometimes for free).

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