May 2023 Magazine

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Table of Contents 10 Amy Daws: From Writer’s Block to the Silver Screen! 22 33 28 38 Rising Star Spotlight: Marc Sanderson! The World’s Thickest Skins: Records and Anecdotes About Rejection Paul Stansfield Audiobooks: An Explosion of Sound! Maria V. Snyder Typography and fun with Fonts: Tamara Cribley
May 2023 Historical: Contemporary: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy Paranormal Suspense/Thriller: Novella Mystery: LGBTA+ Science Fiction Time Travel Inspirational Audiobook 59 Reviews 42 50 46 Are We Communicating Effectively? Ignatius Fernandez Path of the Gods: Chapter 9 Julie L. York The Reviews Are In… Or Are they? S.L. Carpenter 72 73 76 82 86 90 91 93 94 96 97

Our Staff:

Publisher: Editor-in-Chief

TJ MacKay

Executive Editor:

Katy Nielsen

Copy Editors: Julie York, Marc Joseph, Penny Baker

Special Publications Editors: Sarah McEachron, Ryan Jo Summers

Social Media:

Laura Trujillo, Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick


S.L. Carpenter,Tamara Cribley, Julie L. York

Transcription: Ralph Conley


Elle J. Rossi, Rachel Rossano

RONE Awards Coordinator: Sarah McEachron

Technical Editors: Gabriella Sawyer

Reviewers* Chelsea Anderson, Belinda Wilson, Lynn-Alexandria McKendrick, Tricia Hill, Viola Robbins, Emerson Matthews, Sarah E. McEachron, Roslynn Ernst, Carey Sullivan, Victoria Zumbrum, Austen Grace, Tonya MatheniaJoan Lai, Cara Cieslak, Jennifer Shepherd, Sadie Wilson, Piper Valentine, Ruth Lynn Ritter, Valerie Vicars, Leah Neale, Stephanie Bell, Rika Chandra, Amy Rubottom, Simone Dover, Nicole Harlow

*Please note, ALL InD’tale staff are required at times to read and review books.

Material in this publication may not be reproduced in any form without written permission. All books and material reviewed by InD’tale have been read by the stated reviewer and are the opinions of that reader.

Editor’s Note

that states we are not accepting submissions at this time because of systems maintenance. Come June, we will enter our 12th year of publishing (Woohooh!!) and yet we have never changed our system of running and functioning. Yes, there have been updates over the years and we have done our best to keep abreast of the vastly - and quicklychanging landscape, but we haven’t actually done an overhaul, and it is time. The problem is, we just don’t have the means to do the work that is necessary unless we pause all the new incoming long enough to dig in!

SO… please be patient with us as we work to navigate, update, innovate, and improve your experience with us. We absolutely adore every single one of you and NEVER take your support - and patience - for granted! Please keep checking in, however, no changes take forever!

If you are a reader, I’m sure it has been hard not to notice all the hoopla over the big reader voting round of the RONE awards that is going full guns this month (I hope you are voting!) If you are an author, you may have noticed a never before seen notice on our website - specifically on our review submissions page

Smiles, TJ Mackay

Paul Stansfield

Paul was born and raised in New Jersey, and works as a field archaeologist. When he's not digging in the dirt, he enjoys writing, especially horror tales. He's had stories published in numerous magazines. He also has stories in three horror anthologies which are currently available--"Undead Living","Coming Back" and "Creature Stew". He enjoys tennis, craft beer, and stories told from the perspective of claustrophobic tapeworms.

Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder started her career as a meteorologist, only to find herself writing her New York Times Bestselling Study Series, which in turn gave way to many more chart-topping book series and a number of hobbies and experiences in the name of research, from glass blowing to fencing to Karate to travel. This remarkable author has visited all 7 continents and 71 countries so far! On top of other hobbies such as volleyball, photography, reading, and cello, she is writing several amazing series from fantasy to sci-fi.

Julie L. York

Julie is an author, editor, and momthough not always in that order. She also teaches English to adult and incarcerated students. She was was born and raised in the East Bay Area, California, graduated with a B.A. in English, minoring in Business Computers... got married and had children. Then she completed a Masters of Fine Arts in Media Design. Oh, and did she mention she is a voracious reader? Thanks to iBooks and the Kindle App, Julie has consumed thousands of eBooks and claims reading is her first love.

S.L. Carpenter

A lifetime Californian, Scott Carpenter lives the ordinary life of a husband and father. Humor has always played a large role in his life, and he enjoys making people smile. His stories range from the outright absurd to the deeply poignant, and his mastery of the short story format is undeniable. If asked, he'll describe himself as just another guy. His many fans will tell you that his writing paints quite a different picture.

Tamara Cribley

Tamara Cribley is a self-professed formatting junkie who believes beautiful books don't happen by chance. Having worked as a Commercial Photographer, Graphic Artist, and Art Director, Tamara’s unique skills enable her to put together classy and professional books that keep the reader focused on the story. She resides in Colorado where she gives back to her community by being an active Search and Rescue volunteer, and in her free time enjoys reading, gardening, and exploring with the dog.

Amy Daws From Writer’s Block to the Silver Screen!


Anyone who is familiar with Amy Daws' books would expect the author to be a fun person to talk to - and she is that and a whole lot more! Amy's bubbly and fun personality shines through as she talks about her family and her stories... and we will never look at a tire store waiting room the same again! Join our Executive Editor, Katy Nielsen, as she gets to know one of her favorite authors… And see why Amy’s books are so addicting and fun to read. You will laugh out loud - guaranteed!

InD: Tell us a little bit about you. Where were you born, and grew up?

AD: I grew up in Iowa and I went to college there. I am now living in South Dakota, just two hours from my hometown, so I am de=initely a Midwest girl at heart. I grew up on a farm, where we raised animals and all of that stuff. I went to college for Electronic Media Communication. I really wanted to make commercials or do something in television, and I did that for about 10 years in South Dakota before I found my passion with writing.

InD: That is really cool. I bet growing up on a farm you have some funny stories to share.

AD: Yes, de=initely! There was always excitement like roosters chasing you around the acreage and things like that. I was de=initely a Freddy's 4H'er. We had animals in the fair every year. Now that I am such a city girl, I =ind it kind of hard to believe I lived a whole other life for so long.

InD: It is quite the change to go from farm girl to city girl, isn't it? Do you ever wish that you could go back?

AD: No, not necessarily. I kind of like my life the way it is right now.

InD: Did you have siblings getting into trouble with you on the farm?

AD: Yes, I have two sisters, and I am the classic middle child. I was always seeking

attention everywhere I would go, and I am de=initely someone who likes to be heard in a room, so that is that middle child coming out of me, I am afraid.

InD: So you are the stereotypical middle child. It’s awesome that you still live so close to your parents.

AD: Yes, it’s great. My dad recently passed away this last summer, so it’s been hard, but it was good to be close. We were all with him in the end, and now we are there for our mom. My two sisters actually live here in South Dakota, in the same town I do, so when my mom comes and visits us, it works out really well.

InD: Wow, that is really cool. So besides being the typical middle child, what were you like when you were younger? What sort of things did you like to do?

AD: I was de=initely a jack of all trades. I did sports. I did theater. I was very musical. I was =irst chair trombone player. I was in choir, and all of that. I almost majored in music in college, but I did not really have a passion for it, it was just something that I was good at, so when I decided to go to college I =igured it was time to =ind my own identity. I was a very active, busy kid, and I always had a job working to earn money, so it was a busy childhood.

InD: Now for the big question… were you a reader?


AD: Oddly enough, I was not! I didn't start reading until I was in college. My older sister handed me a paperback and told me to read it because it was the book that was turned into a movie I liked, "The Wedding Date" with Deborah Messing. The book was called “Asking for Trouble" by Elizabeth Young. I read it, loved it, and became obsessed with British chic-lit. I consumed all sorts of British Romances. They weren't real steamy. They were light and =luffy, but there was always a love story happening and that was what I loved about it. I don't know for sure, but I think that is kind of why my books end up taking place in London or overseas somewhere, because I just enjoyed that extra escape a different location in the novel provided for me. It was almost like a fantasy for me. I had not traveled abroad back then, so it felt like it was a magical place I had never visited, so why would I not want to write about it?

InD: I actually love that about your books because I grew up in the U.K. I was born and raised there, so when I run across some city or town in the U.K. the book is based in, it’s an extra dose of excitement for me, especially if something or somewhere is mentioned that I have been to or seen. I think it’s really great when the author has done such thorough research, or they have actually been there and include it.

AD: Yes, and it is a little bit of both for me. With the =irst book I wrote before actually going there, I had a lot of British theater readers helping me and I did a lot of research. I really try to honor the city in the country of whatever I write to be true to the area. I have been overseas and to London a few times since then, but I am sure there are probably some locals who would criticize some of my lingo.

InD: People say the Americans and British people speak the same language, but we really don't. It is completely different. I was actually pretty impressed that you managed to catch the British lingo, and you actually did it very well.

So going back to that Lirst book from your sister, is that what made you decide to write your own book? Or was there something else that made you decide to delve into the writing world?

AD: For sure! Actually, stepping back a little further, my husband and I had struggled with fertility issues

for almost =ive years and suffered through a lot of miscarriages. I have lost six babies, but I have a beautiful 10-year-old daughter, now. The =irst book I wrote was a memoir about those struggles, “Chasing Hope”, and it covered the experience of pregnancy loss and the struggle that goes along with it. I kind of wrote that for myself.

It was sort of therapeutic and it helped me out, and when I =inished it, I had learned so much about the publishing industry and self-publishing, so I thought I would like to try my hand at =iction because I have always been kind of a creative person. I was making TV ads at the time and reading copy for script, and I enjoyed the writing process so I decided "What if I could take my experience with infertility and apply it to a romance novel?"

That was when I wrote my =irst book called “Broken Us”, which was my =irst =iction novel. That one was almost an alternate ending for my life, because my husband and I were struggling with fertility so much, I had a fantasy of, "What if I left everything behind and moved overseas and started a new life? One where I was not this Midwest girl focusing on starting a family and all the pressures coming from where I live and just moved overseas…"

I wrote a book about a heroine who breaks up with her partner and moves to London to stay with her best friend, and of course it includes a second chance romance after she goes through a lot of her infertility emotions. The majority of the book was set over there. That was how it started, and it basically grew like crazy from there. I kind of got stuck in London with all of the secondary characters she met while she was on her journey.

InD: And of course, they needed their own stories, didn’t they?

AD: Exactly.

InD: Having suffered through miscarriages myself, I would imagine that was hard to write in some ways, because of having to draw on your own experiences and getting re-immersed in all of the emotions you went through at the time. Was it hard for you in that way, or was it just more therapeutic than anything else? You made it incredibly realistic and heartbreaking, that’s for sure.


AD: When you look at the early books from my London Lover’s series, they are very angsty, very emotional, and you can tell I was still really working through a trauma, as I am sure you can relate. I was just healing through the act of writing. So as my books progressed – there are 22 out there now – they get lighter and brighter and funnier. Still, there is always still a trace of emotion in all of my books. I think that if you live with the trauma of suffering a great loss, that trauma always stays with you a little bit, and you’re always connected to that part of you. That touch of angst will probably be in my books forever, but de=initely my brand has shifted more towards comedy and they’re a bit more light with touches of emotion, whereas in the beginning, they were very emotional romances.

InD: You get all of these feelings out and put them on paper, and it helps you heal in ways you never would have thought. And people say that books are not therapy… I think they are wrong.

AD: Oh yeah, and it was very therapeutic for me. InD: Tell us about this husband of yours. How did you guys meet?

AD: Oddly enough, he went to the Community College in my hometown when I was still in high school, and we met at a party. I kind of knew him from around town, but I was not even in college yet. Then, he had moved on to a four-year school when I reached college age and I thought I would never see him again. But three years later we ran into each other, and I said, "I met you at a party when I was in high school." At this time I learned we happened to be going to the same college. He was a few years older and I was a freshman, so it was this sort of crazy second chance romance, not that there was a romance when we =irst met, but there were sparks. It's kind of funny how the universe put us back in each other's path when we were both ready.

InD: Fate or Destiny at its Linest, right?

AD: Yes, de=initely!

InD: That’s awesome! Did how you met play a role in the characters you create now and how their relationships begin?

AD: Oh gosh, I don't know. I love an interesting meetcute, but I actually really hate writing Second Chance Romance! I have written a couple, and I hated them every time. I

don't know why… they just torture me in a way no other Romances do. Since my own romance was a little bit of a second chance romance, I can't say it has in=luenced me a lot, but it has de=initely helped in other ways because there are things that are funny that have happened to both of us in our relationship, and I'm like “I have to put this in a book!”

InD: Can you give us an example?

AD: Some jokes we have with each other, and we act very goofy and funny with each other, but I'm blanking on speci=ic examples… the only one I can currently remember is kind of dumb. [both laughing]

InD: Like inside jokes between you that make it into some of your books?

AD: Yes, just inside jokes and the banter and ribbing each other. A lot of my characters are tough on their friends, and I =ind that’s a way to show the closeness between two characters and still feel safe in the relationship. So, that is de=initely inspired by what I have with my husband.

InD: What’s life without a little bit of teasing?

AD: Yes, exactly.

InD: It’s great that you can draw upon your own experiences and add them to your characters. It makes them more realistic.

AD: Yeah, I’m constantly searching for realism. I'll ask my reader group for input sometimes.

InD: For what kinds of things?

AD: I'll ask what their hobbies are and why they like to do them, because I also hate to write only from my own lived experiences. For instance, if I had never written a knitting character, I would try to =ind someone that actually knits and put that in as a character trait and get some real insight on what it is


like to knit. But yes, I de=initely pull from all sources in my life to give my characters their own unique twist.

InD: I think it’s fabulous you can do that. Having a reader group seems like a built-in source of information! Have any of your family members inspired characters or character traits?

AD: Yes, for sure. In the beginning of my early works, pretty much all of the friends were based on someone I knew in real life. The best friends of my heroine went over to live in London. I had a best friend who lived in Barcelona at the time, so I based so much of her character and her collectiveness on that friend. I think when you =irst start out with writing, you sort of write what you know because it's easier, but as I've grown as an author, I have had to push myself beyond that because I don't want to write the same character over and over. As my writing has progressed I’ve written more differentiated characters.

InD: I love that about your books because there aren't any two that are the same, and everybody's different. One of my favorite things about your books is that your heroines are usually sassy and hilarious. I have had my kids look at me like I’m crazy because I’ve been laughing out loud at something I’ve read, and their typical response now is “Oh, Mama's reading again!” and my reply is usually “Yeah, this author is funny!”

AD: Thanks, I appreciate that.

InD: Do you have an all-time favorite character you have written?

AD: I love them all for different reasons, but I de=initely think Kate from “Wait with Me” is the most like me. Not just because she's a Romance novelist, but because she's very bold in how she speaks and she is very brave, and puts it all out there. I may not be like that all the time, but it's what I aspire to be, so de=initely a lot of Kate, and her quirkiness and comedy came from me.

InD: She's actually one of my favorites, and I'm Linishing up that book again right now. I have laughed my way through it!

AD: Yeah, she's a wild one and she says whatever is on her mind. That one was fun to write.

InD: In your bio there is something about a tire store and you writing a book?

AD: Yes, the book “Wait with Me” is based on my own experience. It is about a Romance novelist who sneaks into a tire shop’s customer waiting area, working on her next novel, and she gets busted by a hot mechanic. I think it's been =ive years now since I =irst quit my day job and decided I was going to be a full-time writer. I was suffering from a horrible case of writer's block and I think the pressure of doing this full time got to me. I was sitting at home every day, unable to write, so I was searching for different coffee shops and places

like that to try to =ind my mojo, and nothing was working! One day I had to go to a place called Tires, Tires, Tires for a new set of wheels, and all of a sudden, I could write!

They had this beautiful waiting area with free coffee and cookies, and I opened my laptop and the words just started =lowing. I actually kept going back, bringing in other people's cars for service! When I ran out of other people’s cars to take, I was sneaking in. I was doing anything I could, because when you =ind that streak or lucky spot, you don’t want to let it go, but the whole thing kind of blew up from there. Buzz Feed ended up doing a report about it because I was posting about it on social media, I thought it was pretty funny. The manager of the store found out and he thought it was hilarious, and so this whole hilarious situation just kind of blew up! All of a sudden, my agent was all “Why are you not writing a book about a Romance novelist who sneaks into a tire store’s waiting room to write and gets caught?!” And I go, “Oh my gosh, that is a genius idea! Let me see if I can write something like that.” At that point, I had been writing Sports Romance, and my British soccerplaying mother and I were pretty focused on that series, but my agent’s idea sounded kind of fun to try. So, I wrote that entire book in 13 days because it really was my narrative. It started a whole new series. InD: It blew those Lloodgates wide open!

AD: Yes, the scent of new rubber inspired me. [both laughing]

InD: Please tell me you didn't go and buy a rubber scented candle?

AD: I did not, but I did have a reader send me burned scented wax. I got a lot of funny gifts from readers


during that crazy time. I was doing news interviews from stations all over the United States, and my sneaking into the tire store, which completely changed the trajectory of my career in a really cool way.

InD: It deLinitely did! I would imagine you went from a lady who was freaking out from quitting her full-time job, “Oh my gosh, I have to write full time and I can't write anything!” and then, there you were, on news stations everywhere! It must have been kind of surreal.

AD: Oh, it was completely unreal. Every day I would get an email request for an interview, and I was like, “How is this my life right now?” Plus, I got the book done so fast. It was a fun whirlwind of a

moment. It was really fun for the whole Romance community too, because so many people knew me because my situation was blowing up into an international story! It was just fun to watch. It was a fun time.

InD: Did your husband think it was funny as well?

AD: Oh yes. Every time I got an interview request I would go, “Oh my gosh, someone in Chicago wants to interview me!” You know, just funny things like that. But he is kind of used to me being his zany, quirky wife, so he was very supportive, but not surprised.

InD: It’s fabulous he’s so supportive of you being a writer. Does he read your books?

AD: He is not a big reader but he does enjoy listening to my audiobooks, especially when he is mowing the lawns and doing stuff like that. He likes the Sports Romance better. Those are de=initely his favorite.

InD: I don't think a lot of people, especially if they're not readers, get how books can be such a big deal. My husband isn’t a book guy at all, and I’m still wondering how I married someone who does not understand that books are a huge deal! [both laughing]

AD: My whole family is supportive of my writing. My mom reads my books, and so does

my grandma, but I had to cut her off because I thought they were too spicy for her. She is so cute. She buys the paperback copy and donates it to her local library with every single release, so she is very supportive and loves seeing all the pictures showing what I get up to with book signings, movie deals, and things like that. It has been fun.

InD: Oh, talk to us about the movie deal! That must have been another full dose of surreal right there!

AD: Oh, yeah. They optioned the tire shop book, “Wait With Me”. Quirky and unique ideas are universal! So about three years ago we were in talks with Passion=lix (the company that optioned the book), and then the pandemic hit, so then it seemed like it was never going to happen. But then, they emailed me this past fall, telling me they are now running with the production and are going to send me a link for it. They wanted my input for as much of it as I would be available for, so it has been crazy! They were going to shoot it in a threeweek time period, and I got to be on set the whole time. It was a life-changing experience, I am so grateful to have had.

InD: What was your favorite thing about it? Seeing your characters as real people? Or just knowing that even nonreaders were actually going to


get to see your funny tire store story?

AD: There were so many highs from that whole experience that it is hard to even pick one! Obviously the =irst day on set was a huge one. They were already shooting when I arrived, so I got ushered behind the set of what they call “video village”, where the Director, the Videographer, and the Director of Photography sit. Kate Miles and Andrew Madison (the actor and actress) were on set already, but they stopped real quick and came and hugged me. I'm like "Oh my gosh, I'm really hugging them, and they're dressed up as my characters!"

I got behind the screen and I'm watching them and I'm thinking, “I can't believe it is actually happening”! I looked over at the Marketing and she was recording me. My eyes were watering up and I was just crying, as I was looking at the screen, and saw

was getting caught on camera. I'm kind of glad because this is something I want to remember forever.

InD: That must be just a shock all the way around. You went from struggling to write a book to actually writing a book about your tire store escapade, and now it's going to be on the big screen for everyone to see! That has got to be an unbelievably huge shock, but really cool at the same time.

AD: Oh yeah. During the entire time I spent on set, every 20 minutes or so, I would get a rush of adrenaline because I'm looking around and there’s 30 or 40 crew-members all working to turn this story of mine into a movie. I couldn't believe how professional it all felt. I don't know why I thought it wouldn't feel that way. I just had no idea what to expect! To see that many people who have worked in the movie business for years and know what they're doing turn my little book into a movie… it was just super humbling.

InD: I bet. Wow! So did your previous career working with TV

commercials lend any understanding to you? Did that experience ever inspire any of your stories to go a whole different route? Because I am sure so many of us know nothing about how cameras and behind the scenes at movie shoots are done, so it would be really interesting to read about.

AD: I de=initely have a more critical eye with a picture layout and things like that. I designed most of my book covers because I have a graphic background to go along with the TV background, so I would say I de=initely have a more critical eye than some authors would have. I just try to stay humble and realize that these people are professionals in the industry and they're doing the job they know how to do. I am just the writer.

InD: You are just there trying to hold back your inner happy dance.

AD: Yes, and they did seek out my input quite a bit. More than I expected, honestly. There were some quick rewrites we did to the script when things weren't working, so it was really valuable for me to be on the set, I think. But, for the most part, the production and crew members did a really beautiful job.


InD: When is that going to be released for all of us to watch it?

AD: It was released on March 30th on Passion=lix. We did a private red carpet premiere in Denver the night before it dropped, where I got see the actors again and give them hugs, then we all watched it together in the theater. It was so exciting!

InD: What was the whole red carpet experience like?

AD: Absolutely incredible. Like a dream that I still can't believe happened to me. I felt like the belle of the ball in my evening gown, rubbing elbows with the actors and answering questions after the premiere. To hear the audience's reaction to my actual words was surreal on so many levels. What a dream come true to see my story on the big screen, and I feel so lucky that I had such

an amazing cast and crew to make that movie magic happen.

InD: Did your husband go with you?

AD: Yes, he sure did, but not my daughter. I think it is a little bit too spicy for her. She is only 10, so she stayed home with Grandma. InD: That is so awesome! I am so excited for you. It has got to be the best feeling in the world that one of your books got optioned for a movie.

AD: Yes, it is crazy, and I still have a hard time believing it!

InD: I bet. Back to the beginning for a minute, what made you pick Romance out of all the genres you could write?

AD: I just love it. Honestly, it's like I said, I used to read the British Chic-Lit books and there was always a love story. It wasn't necessarily steamy or spicy, graphic scenes, but I just love them. Even in movies, like "The Hunger Games" or the Divergent series, the thing I care about the most is the love stories that develop while the world is falling apart around them. It is literally just what I like. I always look for something with that content. I can consume it in TV shows, the

movies, anywhere. I can't imagine writing anything else, and have no desire to do so. I don't even have a desire to write Paranormal Romance. I am in the lane I want to be in, and I am very happy there.

InD: So it's deLinitely a case of you write what you like to read.

AD: Yes, de=initely.

InD: Does your daughter know you are an author? And does she understand the whole scope of what it is that you do?

AD: Oh, yes. She understands and she loves to brainstorm with me. She really loved brainstorming the nanny books I wrote a while ago. She thought it was so fun that the dad was going to fall in love with the nanny and the little girl was going to get a bonus mom. She was just really into that story. She was very mad that she did not get to go to the movie premiere.

InD: I think she's a little bit too young for that one, too.

AD: Yes, and she knows why. She knows the books are for grownups and there are certain movies we don't let her watch because they are for grownups, but she wants to be a part of it all.

InD: That's awesome, and hopefully she'll be even more of an inspiration for you as she gets older. I am sure you will be able to put teenage shenanigans in one of your books somewhere.

AD: Yes, de=initely.


InD: Is there any particular sub-genre you would like to write in that you haven't written yet?

AD: I am working on releasing a new mountain man series. I am not very far in the =irst book yet, but I'm excited about the small town romance with mountain men. I am very excited for that. There will be quite a bit of outdoorsy-type stuff.

InD: Are you basing this on a real place?

AD: It is kind of a spin-off of my “Wait With Me” series. In book =ive of that series, called “Last on the List”, the hero has three brothers who live in a compound up in the mountains and they all have their own individual cabins, and that's where I introduced them. They are not in the town of Boulder, Colorado, where the other ones are, but in Jamestown, which is a small town about 30 minutes north.

InD: Oh, nice! Have you ever lived in Colorado to base your series there?

AD: No, I sure haven't. When I picked Boulder, Colorado, for my “Wait with Me” book, I remember thinking I didn't want the location to be a huge place, but something kind of like where I live, so I needed a little-big town. You know, someplace where the population is big enough, but not a super big metropolis. I don't know… I think I picked it because I like the outdoorsy aspect of it and the scenery up there. Similar reasons to why I picked London.

InD: When are you hoping to release your next book?

AD: I have been trying to write for months. When my dad passed away this past summer, I had just released “Last on the List”. That book was =inished and ready to go right when my dad went into the hospital. I managed the release while I was sitting with my dad in the hospital everyday for several weeks. I don't know, it has just been hard to get back into the writing chair, and then the movie thing popped up and that took my attention away.

In some ways, that was a gift because I feel like I needed something to distract me. The writing felt too hard. The movie turned out to be a big, enjoyable distraction, and I have been riding the movie train since then. Luckily, I've been busy with other things since the writing has been slow, but hopefully I can get another book out this summer and make everybody happy.

InD: That would be awesome. I'm sure you have readers emailing you, demanding, "Just give me another book already!"

AD: Especially when I teased the three mountain men brothers in my last release. I think they =igured out I was teasing my next release and they were right, I just needed to get going on it.

InD: What is the easiest part of writing a book for you?

AD: I wouldn't say any part of writing a book is easy. Honestly, it's the hardest, most challenging part of the job for me. But I do enjoy a good epilogue.

InD: What is the hardest part for you?

AD: Every single part is hard! Haha. The breakup scene, the beginning... all of it!

InD: Do you have a favorite book out of the ones you've written?

AD: I will always have a special place in my heart for “Blindsided”.

InD: Why that one?

AD: I gave a lot of my own experiences living as a plussized person to my heroine, Freya. I really got a lot of wonderful messages from readers who related to a lot of Freya's inner thoughts and feelings about her body. InD: As a reader, it’s always an extra special experience when you can relate so much to a


character you are reading about. Is there any place in particular you'd love to visit for research, so you can set a book/series there?

AD: I will never say no to a trip to London. London has been the home for so many of my stories, but I think it'd be fun to write a small English village type of story. Going somewhere remote and staying for a week and learning what the community is like sounds so fun. Total “The Holiday" vibes. [both laughing]

InD: What is your favorite time of day to write?

AD: Nighttime actually, which is sometimes why I think I get behind on my words because I screw around all day, and then something comes up for us to do that night and so we go out or do something and I don't get my words in.

InD: Where do you think you draw your main inspiration from?

AD: I am de=initely a character driven author. Once I’ve =igured out the characters’ backstories and things like that, the inspiration =lows from there.

InD: So you are deLinitely one of those "Don't make the author angry because she'll put you in a book and kill you" kind of authors?

AD: Yeah, sure. Maybe not kill exactly, but karma’s going to get you. [both laughing]

InD: Now let me ask you some favorites. What is your favorite dessert?

AD: Cheesecake.

InD: Any particular Llavor?

AD: No. Pretty much the classic, or an Oreo, or crè me brû lé e, or with coffee… that is pretty good, too.

InD: Oh coffee, are you a coffee girl?

AD: Yes, I do love my coffee. As long as it is complimentary, I love it. [both laughing]

InD: From the tire shop, of course! What is your all-time favorite food?

AD: Oh gosh, I love everything, but we could say pizza today.

InD: Do you have a favorite color?

AD: I have always been partial to red.

InD: Why red?

AD: I don't know. Maybe it's because it is the color of love and it's bright and bold.

InD: It suits your personality. It is vibrant, fun and you can't miss it. What is best piece of advice you’ve been given, whether it's from your personal life or professional life?

AD: When I was going through my miscarriages, people used to say to me “Everything happens for a reason”. I just hated hearing that because when you have a baby loss after being 18 weeks pregnant, it is NOT very comforting. But, oddly enough, now that I've seen the big picture and I am a bit further removed from the pain, it does mean a lot to me.

I kind of avoid talking about why I wrote “Chasing Hope” because I never forgot what was bad that happened to me, but the bad got me to the good, and things are really good right now and I hope they stay that way. But if not, I hope there's another turn around the corner where things are going to get better.

InD: Do you use that in your professional life as a writer as well as in your personal life?

AD: I try. Usually everything happens for a reason. Like for me, if I'm not writing or a scene is not coming together, I usually tell myself there is a reason for it, like maybe there's something off with the character and I need to reconsider something because there's something blocking me. So that advice does apply to writing as well.

InD: Absolutely! Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.


The World’s Thickest Skins: Records and Anecdotes About Rejection

Rejection. The bane of our profession. Those emails, or in the old days, slips of paper, which discourage writers, make them question why they bother, and may even cause them to abandon their dreams.

Some don’t even get this far. Sometimes people are so reluctant to risk rejection they don’t send their stories out, or even allow another person to read them.

When I’m interested in something, it very often turns into an obsession. I tend to dwell on the facts, the actual statistics. Therefore, when I decided to discuss rejections, it got me to thinking – what was the highest number of rejections a particular unpublished story received, or an eventually published book, or the most by one author for multiple submissions?

Obviously, determining the number of rejections isn’t as objective as something like a major league player’s home runs, or an element’s atomic weight, or how many number one hit records a musician had. Presumably, an author could save every rejection letter, and produce them if necessary, but I’m relying on their honesty, and the honesty of the websites that reported most of these.

I didn’t spend months researching this, so it’s entirely possible I may have missed some. In addition, some authors, especially under or unpublished ones, might not broadcast their totals out of embarrassment, so there’s that, too.

Without further quali=ication, here’s what I came up with. (Clearly, with a few exceptions, these were all fantastically successful books/authors. Some totals include agent rejections along with publishers.)

Most rejections – one manuscript/book:

1. 245 – Gilbert Young, for “World Government Crusade”. The English Mr. Young wrote this political treatise in 1958 and endured this staggering total over the next 30 years. So many, he claimed to have run out of publishers to try. The eventual fate of this book is a bit murky – he made the Guinness Book in the 1970’s (with the 106 rejections he’d gotten at that point) and several articles in 1988 claimed the 245 number. However, Amazon listed this title as being published in 1988, but it was currently unavailable. The publisher was listed as “G. Young”, so I’m assuming it was self-published.

2. 217 – Bill Gordon, for “How Many Books Do You Sell in Ohio?” copyrighted 1986. After achieving this total, he started his own publishing company and put this book out, which makes one wonder if he would have overtaken Mr. Young if he hadn’t. Plus, is self-publishing cheating in this case?


3. 123 (133?) – Jack Can=ield and Mark Victor Hansen, for the =irst “Chicken Soup for the Soul” published in 1993. Huge bestseller, and spawned a huge series – over 200 books! Both of these men are listed as owning the publishing company that put this out, so maybe this could be considered self-published, too.

4. 121 – Robert Pirsig, for “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” published in 1974.

5. 112+ – Darcie Chan, for “The Mill River Recluse” published 2011.

6. 111 – James Lee Burke, for “The Lost Get-Back Boogie” published in 1986.

7. 60+ – Vince Flynn, for “Term Limits” selfpublished initially, in 1997.

8. 60 – Kathryn Stockett, for “The Help” published in 2009.

9. 38 – Margaret Mitchell, for “Gone With The Wind” published in 1936.

10. 26 (29?) – Madelaine L’ Engle, for “A Wrinkle in Time” published in 1962.

Feeling better yet?

To defend the publishers/editors/agents a little, we don’t know the follow-up. Presumably, they realized later how wrong they’d been, and you’d like to think they admitted this, and apologized to the author,

maybe even publicly. Of course, there is the nature of creative endeavors – their subjectivity. Some books, no matter how successful, how classic they’re considered by millions of readers, simply don’t appeal to some individuals.

Which makes the publishers wrong about how well they’d sell or be appreciated by others, but not incorrect about their personal opinion. I’m sure we can all think of examples of best-selling books we think are actually terrible.

Here’s a few editors’ quotes to various famous and successful authors, which came back to bite them on the butt:

Rudyard Kipling: “I’m sorry, Mr. Kipling, but you just don’t know how to use the English language.” From a "San Francisco Examiner" editor.

Mary Higgins Clark: “We =ind the heroine as boring as her husband did.” Editor discussing “Journey Back to Love”.


H.G. Wells: “An endless nightmare… Oh don’t read that horrible book.” About “War of the Worlds”.

George Orwell: “It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA.” About “Animal Farm”. (I’m no literature expert, but I kind of think that this book just might be a political allegory, and not a children’s book.)

As an aside, I wonder which is worse – an impersonal, “doesn’t suit our current needs” form rejection letter, or an agonizingly detailed personalized one, that goes point by point about why the editor didn’t like your story? The former one in some ways is easier on the ego – it’s not insulting, and you can comfort yourself that maybe it’s sincere, maybe they liked your story but it just didn’t =it. But, on the other hand, it is impersonal – it doesn’t give you any constructive criticism, or answer why they rejected it. In fact, you don’t even know if anyone actually read your story in depth.

Whereas with the personalized rejection, sometimes they do give good advice that might help you change your story, and maybe get it published elsewhere. Plus, you know someone actually did read it carefully, gave it a chance. But it can still hurt way more than the form rejection, especially on the rare occasions when the editor is blunt, or even nasty. When all is said and done, I prefer the personalized ones, but the explanation sometimes comes at a stiffer price.


back to numbers again.

Here are the most rejections for a single author before their =irst sale, for multiple submissions.

7000(!) – William Saroyan. Evidently a stack of rejections 30 inches high (I suppose this could be

tested, "Myth Busters" style). Even allowing for exaggeration, that’s some damn dedication!

22 years – Gertrude Stein. (No number of rejections given.)

10 years – Pat Barker.

6 years, 85 rejections – Steve Berry.

A bag too heavy for her to carry – Meg Cabot. She told how she saved every rejection in a bag, her thought being when she was successful and giving public speeches, she’d use it as a visual aid, but then she found she couldn’t lift it. So a vague total, but surely a lot, unless Ms. Cabot is pathologically weak.

Enough to tear down a nail – Stephen King. Mr. King stated he hung up his rejects using a nail, but eventually there were too many. So he replaced the nail with a spike, and kept at it.

Enough to wallpaper all four walls of his room – Lee Pennington. He doesn’t give the room’s dimensions, but still, probably quite a high total. Kind of depressing dé cor, though.

500 rejections, of =ive novels, over 12 years –Anonymous writer, told in Andre Bernard’s “Rotten Rejections” published in 1990.

Back when I was still snail mailing manuscripts (and I did so a good =ive to ten years after most writers had moved to their computers, due to my Luddite-ism, and paranoia about Skynet), I fairly stalked the mailman on weekends or during my usual seasonal layoffs from work. I would check the mailbox frequently, especially if I thought I heard a noise near the front door (sometimes it was a breeze against


the mailbox lid, sometimes phantoms in my mind).

Occasionally, I’d even walk outside and look to see if his mail truck was on our street, or if I was driving through the neighborhood. I’d check to see if he or his truck was at least a street or two away. Then, paradoxically, when it arrived, and there was a manuscript reply, I’d sometimes hesitate before opening, afraid of yet another rejection. I learned to be depressed if the envelope was heavy, indicating a returned manuscript instead of a one page acceptance letter.

Of course, sometimes they did accept it, but send the manuscript back for minor edits. Now that I submit almost exclusively online, I have to act semi-crazy in different ways.

Two entertaining anecdotes:

A. Wilber Stevens, later an English professor at UNLV (and a respected poet), received a particularly harsh rejection. The editor torched his submission, and mailed back the ashes! Now, that’s cold.

After E. E. Cummings’s (or e e cummings) novel, “The Enormous Room” was =inally published in 1922, he dedicated it, “With no thanks to:” and then listed the 15 publishers who rejected it. That’s a deliciously bitter “screw you” to the editors.

One “Dishonorable Mention”

That’s Somehow Even a More Tragic Example: This is one I recall from my childhood. I used to love to read “The Guinness Book of World Records,” and in several of the 1970’s editions, they included a “Least Successful Author” category which told the unhappy story of William A. Gold, who was English-born but settled in Australia. Over several decades, Gold reportedly wrote over 3,000,000 words, in the form of 8 non=iction books, 7 novels, and over 100 short stories.

He “succeeded” in getting one piece published for no fee, and then his big sale – for 50 cents from a newspaper. (Some editions even included a photo of Gold hunched over a typewriter, head in his hands.) As an update, I recently learned that Mr. Gold self-published a book, “One Best Seller: A Satire on the Publishing

Game” in 1984, and sadly passed away in 2001. Guinness discontinued this category in the 1980’s – maybe it was too cruel? But, to defend Gold, he did show an almost inhuman amount of perseverance, and he did get two acceptances, and one sale. Barely! Now to my personal totals. I tallied up my numbers, and kind of depressed myself. My total is 1060 rejections and 46 acceptances, for a tidy .041 average. Ouch!

It took me =ive years to get my =irst sale, and about 300 rejections (though I didn’t =igure that exactly). My =irst attempt at a novel sadly could make the =irst list, as it’s been rejected 63 times (publishers and agents). But hey, I’m on the board, and I’m sure some writers have worse percentages, or even no acceptances.

So, I hope prospective, or established, writers can take heart from this. Even the most successful writers usually get their share of rejections, and pretty much every best-seller was rejected at least a time or two.

“The point is, I can’t tell you how to succeed, but I can tell you how not to: Give in to the shame of being rejected and put your manuscript – or painting, song, voice, dance moves (insert passion here) – in the cof=in that is your nightstand drawer and close it off for good. I guarantee you that it won’t take you anywhere.” Kathryn Stockett Keep plugging away!

If you would like to read more about Paul and his writing, visit:



An Explosion of Sound!

From its humble beginnings in 1931, when the American Foundation of the Blind and the Library of Congress established the Talking Book Program, the audiobook has evolved into a major branch of publishing.

From its humble beginnings in 1931 when the American Foundation of the Blind and the Library of Congress established the Talking Book Program, the audiobook has evolved into a major branch of publishing. Technology has played a signi=icant role in its development, starting in the 1950s when record companies began distributing albums for books. The invention of the cassette tape in 1963 allowed audiobooks to become more accessible. Fast forward to 2002, when CDs changed the market and ruled until digital downloads dominated. Back in 2009, approximately 4,600 audiobooks were recorded, and in 2021 approximately 74,000 audiobooks were recorded. Not only an explosion of sound, but of sales.

Audiobooks are the fastest growing aspect of digital publishing. US sales were estimated at $1.6 billion dollars in 2021—a 23% increase from 2020. The US is the world’s largest audiobook market. Back in 2019, audiobook sales surpassed eBook sales, earning 22% more money than eBooks. The growth in revenue is expected to continue at a rate of 20-25% per year over the next seven years. The numbers con=irm that this is not a trend, but a viable income source.

Over 116 million people in the US listened to audiobooks in 2021. Listeners aged 18 to 29 years old make up 30%, with 30-49 year-olds coming in a close second at 27% and those 50 to 64 years-old at 22%. A 2022 Survey Monkey poll reported 73% of consumers listen to audiobooks while commuting; 33% while


doing chores; 25% while exercising; 15% while at work; %5 while shopping, and 8% while doing other tasks.

All this market information is great news for authors. Publishers and audiobook producers are actively seeking content. And the technology exists where independent authors can produce their own audiobook. Lots of options, but also lots of information and lots of confusion for authors. Where do you start?

If you have a publisher that is interested in acquiring your audiobook rights there are some things to

Also be aware that Audible Originals will only sell your audiobook through Audible, Amazon, and Apple Books. When you consider that Audible has a 63.4% market share of audiobooks sold, that might be in your best interest. In all cases, read through the contract thoroughly and know exactly what the publisher will provide.

If you decide to produce an audiobook on your own, there are two options. One, you hire an audiobook production company to record your audiobook from start to =inish. You pay them and, in the end, the book is yours to do with as you will. Companies like Cedar House Publishing, ASJ Publishing, and Mosaic Audio are all happy to work with you. The second option is to do it all yourself. You hire a narrator, =ind an engineer, and upload the =iles. It’s a massive undertaking, but can be quite rewarding.

If you choose door number two, all the experts agree that you need to hire a professional voice actor. A bad narrator can kill a good book. Unless you are an actor,

consider. Do you already have a reader base? If so, then you might want to produce the audiobook yourself to earn higher royalties. If you’re a new author, then selling those rights may be for the best. Publishers can afford to hire top level narrators and have the distribution channels. Once you’ve built up a listener base, then you can decide if you’d rather produce your future books. If you sell your rights, try to be as involved as possible. Ask for narrator approval, and, if they don’t agree, have a list of narrators you think would best =it your protagonist. Also provide a list of pronunciations and be open to a phone or Zoom call to go over this list with your narrator.

For independent authors, you have a couple options as well. You can sell your audiobook rights to an independent publisher, you can do it yourself, or you can go hybrid. Just like the traditional publisher, the audiobook publishers come in all different sizes. The bigger ones like Harper Audio, Recorded Books, and Books on Tape will only accept submissions from agents. Then there are the ones like Brilliance Audio and Oasis Audio who prefer an agent, but will consider unagented submissions. However there are plenty like Audible Originals, Novel Audio, and Upfront Books that will consider submissions from everyone.

If your book is accepted, then the publisher will produce and sell the audiobook. If you sign with one of these publishers, try to be as involved as possible.


or have taken voice-over classes, you’ll need to =ind someone to narrate your book. Don’t believe me? Read this fabulous article: https://

Where can you =ind narrators to hire? There are a number of places that list narrators and their contact information. One website is AudioFile Magazine (, which lists them in alphabetical order and has a page on of “Golden Voices” who are the best of the best.

Voice 123 ( has a searchable data base of voice actors. You enter the parameters for a narrator like, female, British-accent, snarky, and hit the search button. Plus it has =ilters for ages, language, and prices. Audiobook narrators are paid per =inished hour (PFH). Rates span from $50 to $400+ PFH. Newer narrators looking to build a portfolio are cheaper than the established pros. Gabra Zackman, a professional actress living in New York City who has recorded over 500 books, charges $450 PFH. Most narrators have demos you can listen to before contacting them. Also consider narrators that have recorded books in the same genre as your book. Many of them have their own fans who will listen to any book they narrate.

Voice 123 also allows you post a project with your parameters. In that case, narrators who are interested in recording your novel will contact you. You can request auditions, and then pick your favorite. Some narrators will have a standard contract they use for new clients, or you can create a simple contract that outlines the requirements for each party.

For example, I recently hired Raphael Corkhill to narrate my latest release, The Study of Poisons. In our contract, I listed when I would provide him a =inal manuscript, that I would pay him $300 PFH (worth it!), which included union fees, and in exchange, he

would send me the =irst 15 minutes for approval by a certain date. Getting that 15 minutes is key. After you listen, you can request adjustments or ask for changes in accents or voices. Once I approved the sample, he recorded the rest of the book. It took him about two weeks. In the contract, we also agreed to a phone call to go over pronunciations, for him to send the =inished raw =iles to the sound engineer, and for him to be willing to do pick-ups to correct any errors.

The sound engineer? Yes, they are a critical part of the process. They go through the raw =iles and delete those extra long pauses, the stomach gurgles, the hiccups and burps, the sirens in the background, etc. The engineer also ensures the narrators follow the story and will =lag wrong words or skipped sentences. They also charge a PFH rate and a good engineer will cost around $100. Some narrators, like Gabra, include the cost of the engineer in their rates, other’s don’t. Ensure you know what is included in your narrator’s PFH.

If an engineer isn’t included, you can =ind them through AudioFile’s searchable database https:// search by narrator, by publisher, and by services (where you’ll =ind the engineers).

Side note on recording studios. Technology has once again changed how narrators record books. Before, narrators had to go to professional studios. They’d either rent time at a studio or record it “in-

“ Technology has once again changed how narrators record books..

house.” For example, Audible’s headquarters are located in Newark, NJ. They have a dozen sound-proof studios in the building for their narrators to use. Today, most narrators have their own studios at home. With a high-quality microphone, professional sound-proo=ing equipment, and software, many have transformed walk-in closets and other small spaces into studios.

Once you have an audiobook, the next step is to upload it to the different audiobook sales platforms. You’ll also need a square-shaped cover art to upload along with the =iles. There are many retailers that will allow you to list your book on their site. Findaway Voices, LIstenUp, Overdrive, Kobo, Audible/Amazon, Librivox, Hoopla, Draft2Digital,—the list goes on! Each one has different royalty rates, different services, and some charge fees.

For example, Audible has ACX, which is the service for independent audiobook producers. You can list your audiobook on Audible through ACX for free and earn a 25% royalty. You can also make it an Audible exclusive and earn a 40% royalty. Going exclusive means you can’t upload your book to any of the other distributors. When you consider they have 63.4% of

the market, it might be worth it to stay with them. Plus, you can opt out after 90 days and go wide.

If you don’t wish to do all the work, or give your baby completely over to another, you can go hybrid.

Audible’s ACX is one example of going hybrid. Other hybrid companies are Findaway Voices and ListenUp. Working through these companies have many moving parts and options. I will explain all the details in a follow-up article on audiobooks in June’s issue.

Producing an audiobook takes a great deal of time and money so do your research and =igure out which option will work the best for you. I can’t guarantee that you’ll earn back your investment, but I can guarantee that when you hear your narrator read your words for the =irst time, it’ll cause an explosion of goosebumps.


While I can wax poetic about body fonts (fonts used for the main text of your book), today, we’ll jump into the fun side of typography and using display fonts for covers and chapter titles. The fonts you use can have a big impact on how your words are perceived. For example, the phrase “I can’t live without you,” can communicate very different messages depending on your font choice.

And Fun With Fonts!

One of the many reasons that authors choose to self-publish is the control you retain over the appearance of your book. Certainly, the cover has a big impact on setting the reader’s expectations. Mood, period, and subject can all be

communicated through more than just words. Even without graphics, we can communicate all these characteristics with the use of appropriate fonts.

One is =lirty and sweet, while the other may leave you concerned for your safety.

There are several characteristics of fonts that can impact how your reader perceives your message. Let’s look at different classi=ications of fonts: Serif, Sans Serif, Script, and Decorative. These are the four primary classi=ications. There are many subcategories for each of these classi=ications, so if you really want to geek out, has an excellent primer to dive into.


Fonts like Garamond, Baskerville, Trajan, and Bodoni Classic are all serif fonts. Serifs are the slight projections at the terminations of letterforms. In the context of display fonts, (see example on =irst page) they tend to convey tradition. They might indicate a historic period or an academic in=luence. They’re structured, familiar, and easy to read. For body fonts, most novels use serif fonts.

By far the largest category, decorative fonts, can take on most any shape. Often, they are the most literal representation of a theme. Think about "Diary of a Wimpy Kid". The font that was chosen replicated the handwriting of a child. It can be a very effective tool. However, decorative fonts are most impactful when used sparingly. They work well to emphasize a particular period or theme.

Arial, Helvetica, Gotham, and Calibri are examples of sans serif fonts. ‘Sans’ is French, meaning ‘without’. These fonts are without serifs. In everyday life, this class is found heavily in digital applications: websites, smart phone interfaces, etc. They tend to feel a bit more modern, and rely heavily on weight and sometimes angle to communicate mood.

In large blocks, they can become challenging to read. They often use unconventional spacing or letter forms which can contribute to eye fatigue and dif=iculty deciphering letters and words at small sizes. They can work exceptionally well when paired with a complimentary font to emphasize a particular word or phrase.

Now that we have the classi=ications down, let’s talk about characteristics that when combined with a font, convey additional information.

Script fonts can vary greatly in mood, period, and style. They can replicate early 17th Century writing or modern-day cursive (Is cursive still modern??). Like sans serif fonts, weight can play a part in conveying your message. The Edwardian Script on the left is formal with embellishments. It can convey a sense of history, wealth, and stature, while the SignPainter font on the right is much more informal.

Weight – The heavier or darker the font, the more impact it has. Think about thrillers that use heavy, sans serif fonts. They are bold and dominate the page. They’re also frequently condensed (narrow), creating visual tension for the reader.

Angle – The direction and degree that a font leans— either when italicized, or modi=ied for impact—can indicate speed or movement.


Embellishments & Glyphs – Many pro fonts contain glyphs, alternate letterforms that have different styling or embellishments (like swashes). Desire Pro for example (below), has a whole host of alternative glyphs that can be fun to use. Many pro fonts have at least a few different options. If these kinds of embellishments are desirable for you, when considering fonts, look at the full glyph set to see what options are available. These fonts can be pricey, but sometimes are quite worth the investment, especially if you intend to use them for a full series or in complementary marketing assets.

work well in paragraph form. They should generally be used sparingly, for emphasis, and it’s important to consider tracking (space between letters) and leading (the space between lines). Spacing can impact readability.

Not all fonts read exactly as you intend them. Just google “Bad Font Choices” and you’ll see some excellent (and unintentionally offensive) examples of fonts that might be technically correct but which look like different words because the stylized letter shapes are similar to other letters.

Color – There’s a great deal of research on the psychology of color and its in=luence on buying habits. Red for example creates a sense of urgency. Greens are often associated with health and calmness. While you could easily be sidetracked by doing research about the best colors to use, color is often something we have an innate sense for. When considering different colors, ask yourself if they evoke the mood that you’re hoping to achieve, and do they match the genre of the book. Now, let’s talk about some cautions with display fonts. As mentioned previously, they work well for titles and sometimes subtitles. Decorative and Script fonts rarely

An often overlooked, but incredibly important consideration for Indie authors, is licensing for commercial use. Most authors are familiar with licensing images for commercial use. Fonts are also intellectual property and may require a license for commercial use. Some fonts are considered freeware, like the fonts that are preinstalled on your computer or with software you pay for, like Microsoft Word. If your license to the software isn’t a student version or only available for non-commercial use, those fonts can generally be used without an additional license. Other fonts, however, may require a fee for commercial use and it’s important to know which applications are permitted. Fonts can generally be licensed for print, eBooks, or websites. Sometimes a license will cover some or all of these uses, or you may need to upgrade your license to include additional applications. Many fonts include various styles (bold, italics, black, condensed, etc.). You often have the option to license


individual styles or entire font families. Fonts with a vast library of alternate glyphs can be very expensive, but fear not, there are also free fonts available for commercial use.

When I say that there are free options for commercially licensed fonts, I do not mean that you should search the font you want by name and =ind a free download. There are many sites with pirated fonts. Always go to reputable sites that very clearly state speci=ic licensing. Many type foundries also offer a handful of free fonts for download. Be sure to review licenses to ensure they include a commercial license for your speci=ic needs. While there are several sites that list free commercially licensed fonts (read the =ine print!), is one of my favorite resources. License types are clearly identi=ied, and are a wide variety of styles. As an Indie author, free, professional resources are always appreciated. Go have fun with fonts! Don’t forget to run them by fans, beta readers, and friends and family to make be sure your font choice doesn’t make one word appear as an unintended alternative.

You’re invited to join the Professional Indie Publishing Roundtable. If you’d like to be part of the conversation with industry pros and other independent authors, join me for periodic virtual meetings. Be part of the conversation, ask questions, and share your experiences, challenges, and successes. Visit Roundtable to sign up for meeting access details and information.

Rising Star Spotlight Marc Sanderson

What were you like as a child?

As a child, I was always the kid who ended up in the creek at a family outing, simply because I wanted to tromp through the water. I loved being outdoors, and because I have a very large mine-your-ours kind of family, I never lacked for someone to play with and get in trouble with. But as a middle child I was also a peace maker, often trying to run interference between warring sides in my big clan. I always wanted to keep things light and happy. One year when I was eight or nine, my mother, who divorced from my father when I was =ive, was too broke to buy Christmas presents, so she embroidered poems which she’d written for each of her kids, onto orange felt with bright yellow yarn. Mine, which still hangs in my house today, begins, “Warm and sensitive, funny and bright, Marc is a jokester, loves to play…” I like to think of my childhood that way.

Was reading and/or writing part of your childhood?

My mother used to read to us when we were little. When I was about ten years old, my mother, myself, and one of my brothers took a train ride from the San Francisco Bay area up to Yakima, Washington, to visit my grandmother. The trip took two days, and during that time, mom began reading ‘The Hobbit’ to us. It was magical and really my =irst experience with a story that transformed the world around me. Because I’m dyslexic, reading on my own was somewhat traumatic. I was always in the “slow” reading group in grade school, and I couldn’t really read aloud since the words tended to get mixed up, so I stumbled over every word and became terribly self-conscious. It wasn’t until junior high school that I read my =irst novel. I remember it was a short western, but I loved it. Then I read a book about a football player and

loved that one too. After that I read a lot, and started to jot down stories of my own. When I =inally conquered Tolkien’s ‘Fellowship of the Ring’ after the third time starting it, I was hooked as a lifetime reader.

Are there particular books or authors who inspired you to write?

My =irst loves as far as books go was The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and then all the various fantasy worlds that =lowed after Tolkien opened the =loodgates. Anne McCaffrey’s dragon series, Patricia A. McKillip’s Riddle Master series, and Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni series all kept me with my nose in books. As a freshman in college, I got excited by Robert Ludlum’s ‘Borne Identity’ and the whole spy genre. And then one day, my little sister Lulu gave me a copy of one of Nora Robert’s earlier romances, a genre which I had turned my nose up at for years, and within =ifty pages I was hooked. I found that I loved stories that were centered around a love relationship and had conclusions that satis=ied my desire for happy endings. I still read broadly, but I love a love story best of all.

You've studied science, literature, education, history, and law - did all lead to degrees, or are some just hobbies?

I was a professional student and would still be if someone paid me to keep going to school. I started as a biology major and worked for a few years as a marine biologist; then I switched to study history and that’s what I got my B.A. in. Then I went to UCLA for one term in the doctoral program in medieval history, but I disliked the program and so ended up getting my teaching credentials in History, Life Science, and Social Science, but at that time, schools were only hiring people with speci=ic multiple credentials: History/English or Science/Math. One day I was wandering around the Cal Poly campus and ran into a professor friend who suggested I get my Master of Arts in English which would work as a credential—so I did. After =inishing my M.A. and teaching at Cal Poly, I went to U.C. Davis in the doctoral program in English Literature. I specialized in early English Literature, especially 14th century non-Arthurian romances. There are some really wonderfully gruesome stories that have complex plots and interesting characters! I =inished all the requisites for the doctorate but life intervened, and I never =inished my dissertation. After a stint teaching high school English, I studied law and worked in a law of=ice, but my dyslexia made passing the California Bar above my pay grade. But working for a decade in a law of=ice as a paralegal did give me time to write.

What has been your favorite job?

I suppose of all the non-writing jobs I’ve had, teaching English Literature at U.C. Davis was the most fun. Teaching to a large class of highly motivated, intelligent, and thoughtful students gives one a real high. When a lecture is going well and the students are engaged and offering interesting and insightful feedback, it’s probably one of the best feelings in the world.

What inspired you to actually take the dive into becoming a fiction writer?

When I switched from a bio major to a double major bio and history, it was with the idea that I wanted to write historical =iction. I had taken just about every history course available at Cal Poly. I loved the stories; the movement of people and ideas. Of course, life got in the way and it was many years before I had the time and gumption to actually sit down and write actual text. I was famous for long intricate outlines and jotting the beginnings of stories. Eventually, I decided if I was ever going to do it, I would have to take C. S. Lewis’ advice and just sit down and write. He prefaced that by saying you had to turn off the radio, so I had to turn off the television and computer games.

What made you decide on the genre(s) that you write in?

I decided to write romances because for me the love relationship in a story is crucial. Love is one of the most powerful motivators of human action, and so it’s one of the most interesting reasons for characters to move through a story, the drive pushing the action along. But romantic =iction comes in an almost in=inite variety of subgenres. My =irst novel, The Emerald Wiccan, was a contemporary paranormal with a political intrigue twist. From there I moved over slightly to contemporary environmentally themed romance for the Jenns Cove series, which is set in a small =ictional town on the northern California coast. And because I love family centered series, it follows the loves and struggles of

the Gallagher family’s children as they return to their hometown. The last book in that series is ready to send to my publisher now—or after one last read through. After =inishing Jenns Cove (for now… might be one more story there that I need to tell), I’m switching to my love of history. My father’s four-times great grandfather left France at the time of the French Revolution on a corsair pirate ship as its surgeon and wound up on the island of Mauritius where he settled and founded our family. Since my father was also a surgeon, I’ve been fascinated by the story. Why did he leave France? How did he end up staying on Mauritius? So, I’m diving deeply into the history of the French Revolution, the age of the tall sailing ships, 18th century medicine, and the history of Mauritius, a French sugarcane and coffee colony with a large slave population and a major port for the French privateers who plagued the British East India Company’s merchant =leet as it tried to bring the riches of India, Sumatra, and China back to England. I only have the bare bones of my ancestor’s story based on a genealogy my uncle Louis commissioned, so I get to stretch my imagination and imagine the world at that time. Good historical =iction, though, requires a great deal of research and care during the writing. I’m currently reading a short treatise on the treatment of wounds and fractures published in 1775. Let me tell you, you did not want to get injured in the 18th century!

What has been your experience in publishing been like?

I began by trying to get a traditional publisher and had no luck—a common story. But the advent of selfpublishing =irst through Amazon, and later with Smashwords opened up a new world for publishing. If you have a story to tell, you are pretty much guaranteed that you can get it published. The catch is twofold. First, if you self-publish you have to not only write a great book, but you have to learn how to be a publisher. Those two skillsets are not at all the same. Just because you write a great story doesn’t mean you can get anyone, other than your mom, to read it. The second catch is that pretty much everybody has at least one story in them, and currently the number of books being published is so vast that it’s very dif=icult to get your story in front of an audience! Hence back to catch number one. Along with self-publishing came a raft of small, indie publishers, like mine. They help somewhat but don’t have the kind of budgets to do much advertising or the power to get past all the weirdness of

Amazon and the web world; so, they help, but the author is left to do most of their own promotion. That’s where publications like InD’tale come in. It’s one of the few platforms where authors can get their work seen, reviewed, and even advertised at minimal cost. Back to catch one!

What would you like to change about the publishing world?

I’m not sure what I would change other than perhaps making Amazon more user friendly for authors. Getting your book published on Amazon is fairly simple… it’s the promotion, hardcopy formatting, all that stuff publishers used to do, that hurts the brain. Smashwords/D2D may be the answer there. I would love to see more reader-writer conferences other than the biggies that cost an arm and a leg. Covid sort of gutted the more reasonable conferences, but hopefully they’ll come back now that things are normalizing. Oh… and I would invent magical editing and rewriting, my least favorite part of writing— that’s why writing is work not play.

What do you most enjoy about being an author? What I enjoy most is when I get time to sit and write for hours on end with no interruptions, no distractions! Something which happens very rarely. I’m one of the weirdos whose minds constantly churns out stories. I jot down little notes and outlines —I’m an outliner, not a pants’er—so it’s truly heaven when I get to shut out the rest of the world and dive into worlds of my own making. It’s also pretty great when I get positive feedback from readers or get a glowing review. Knowing someone has enjoyed what I’ve written really keeps me writing.


7 The Reviews Are In… Or Are They?

You’ve had one of those days when you were actually surprised they didn’t fit you for a straitjacket and show you politely into a nice, padded room. Your stress levels have been through the roof, and no amount of alcohol or chocolate could have eased your mind, even though you bravely gave them both a try.

At last, you ease yourself into bed. The lights are perfect, the cat’s snuggled next to you, having already attacked the other side of the bed and kneaded the blanket, causing little pulls of thread in your $400 bedspread. But you do your best to ignore it, because he’s purring happily beside you. Now’s the time you need your newest book to help relax you and take you away.

It’s from your favorite new author, so it has to be great because the other three in the series were fantastic. The hype was massive, and you pre-ordered it to make sure you would have it for times like this.

Time to binge read.

As you =inally delve into the pages, you get rapidly drawn into the imaginary world created by the writer. Sometimes it can be genuinely addictive, and you

binge read a book in a day or less. Other times it takes you longer, savoring each page, but either way, you end up =inishing it.

And once you’ve reached “The End”, you start asking yourself “How was it?”, “Did I enjoy myself?”, “Will I reread this book and buy another from this author?”

All the same sort of questions you’d ask yourself after seeing a movie, or going on a hot date. Unlike that hot date, however, you don’t have to wait for a call. A book isn’t something you have to wait for, unless it’s the next in a series.

You’ll know after you’re done reading it whether you liked it or not, and a book doesn’t make you wait for your phone to ring or chime on a text, worry if your breath was bad, if you wore the right clothes, and whether you laughed at all the moronic jokes that


were thrown at you over pizza. (I didn’t need to put that in there, but there are more than a few similarities. They don’t call characters “book boyfriends” for nothing).

Anyway, what I was getting to was how you think about the book once you’ve =inished it. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in the story we never want it to end. Every single feature was amazing, and we can see and hear their voices speaking as we read the words. A grand Oscar-worthy movie played out in the mind. Books like this make us hunger for more.

This is how people can easily end up getting hooked on a writer and setting their accounts to auto-buy. Especially when it comes to series, because those damn clif=hangers always leave you dying to know if she will marry the man she loves, or whether that idiot who paid her father was going to force her to marry him – the one with the nasty, beady eyes, =latulence issues, and an annoying snort laugh. You are convinced she belongs with the hero, a man who is blessed with rippling muscles and the cutest dimples on either side of his… well, I’ll leave that to your imagination.

The bottom line? You loved it.

Sadly, there is always another side to this story: the books we start to read and sort of enjoy, but don’t really grab us. It doesn’t take too long to sense that something is missing – a mood or vibe which doesn’t really do it for you. If you see a spelling or obvious

grammer issue, the hole book is urined. (Did you catch that? I made those mistakes on purpose. Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.)

Readers have a unique perspective on a book that its author will never have. Writers are so close to the story, have read and re-read, tweaked, deleted, added, and changed parts of it over it a million times, and simply cannot see it from a distance. That’s why readers are so important – and why sharing your thoughts means so much to an author.

There are more than a few ways you can let a writer know your thoughts on their book. Reviews are one thing writers value and appreciate more than readers might think. Whether good or bad, there’s something to be learned from every single comment, and many of them help make the next book a little better.

Both positive and negative comments about plots and characters can be of great use. The little nuances of how a character acts, or how they don’t react, can point out strengths or weakness the author will remember and either use or avoid in their next book.

Writers, in general, love knowing readers enjoyed their world and the heroes and heroines they’ve created. They’re thrilled when you liked how they made a brand-new alien planet, or magical forest, or


small town in the mountains that transported you into the adventure. They need to hear how you felt about the villain, who was a complete idiot. And they’ll love to know you hated his snarling and cackling laugh. What a turd.

The reason I started thinking about readers and reviews is because I recently released a new book and have been very curious about what everyone thought about it. I don’t know a single writer who isn’t interested in what their audience thinks of their work. For my part, I’ve had both ends of the spectrum when it comes to reviews. Sometimes I hear they love the tales I spin. Then there are other times they made it quite clear they didn’t understand my twisted sense of humor, and told me the book was now hanging in their outhouse, since they felt it was the only place it would be of any use.

In a weird way, I took each opinion as a compliment. Someone purchased something I wrote and took the time to read it and share their thoughts in a review. It was a win-win situation for me. Some folks felt good after reading it, and got a laugh or a hot =lash from it. Others felt different urges (see the outhouse comment above). Either way, they reacted to it, and let me know.

So, the point of my ramblings is directed at all you wonderful readers. Don’t ever hesitate to make your thoughts known about the book you just read. Whether it’s leaving a review on the site where you purchased it, commenting on your favorite social media site, or sending an email to the author, just do it!

Good or bad, every point of view is important to a writer, and will be welcomed. Mostly. (I’m still not sure about that reader and the outhouse...)


Are We Communicating Effectively?

Some Suggestions on Storywriting

“What we are communicates more eloquently than anything we say or do.”

A job applicant was told to complete a form. One question in it read: "Length at residence?" He wrote: "About 30 feet." He =igured that the question was on dimensions, because meanings are found less in words, but more in person, and the way they interpret those words. After all, words are only the attire that thoughts wear, and, if that is the case, then thoughts de=ine who we are.


More often than not, good thoughts spring from good people, like a good tree yielding good fruit. Likewise, not-so-good thoughts =ind their source in not-sogood people, like a bad tree yielding bad fruit. When such good or bad thoughts (which always precede words) are expressed, we attempt to communicate.

But, is our communication effective?

The answer to that question depends on the response we get. A kind person may forgive an unkind thought, but an unkind person may retaliate. A kind person may not ascribe motives to the words, but the unkind person will see shadows where none exist. An understanding person will give the bene=it of the doubt to the one who is communicating.

Essentially, communication at its core, is about

understanding and being understood. To make that possible, the communicator would do well to remember to be honest, clear, and simple – to express and not to impress. When the three elements unite, effective communication is easier to understand. No wonder Somerset Maugham wrote: “To write simply is as dif=icult as being good”.

Let’s look at some ways we can become better communicators, whether in writing or in speech:


Be simple. When communicating a speci=ic point or thought, try to use simple words that clothe honest thoughts, ones most readers will understand. Skip the big sounding, but often obscure, words. Draft and redraft until your words will make sense to all readers.

Why do spouses divorce, families fall apart, children leave home, friends break bonds, employees become spiteful, and countries go to war? Most often, there are grave misunderstandings in such fractured relationships. There is a wide gap between what was intended and what was understood. Communication and relationships are inseparably bonded. If only we came to terms with that implication, we would have a new world!

But, sadly, we are so trapped in the rules of grammar, guidelines for sentence construction, correct idioms, and other facets of the language, we seldom think of the feelings behind those words.

Some experts compare communication to an iceberg. The smaller, visible part represents skills – diction,

Essentially, communication at its core, is about understanding and being understood.

phonetics, word carpentry, and the rest. The larger, hidden part is the person – beliefs, values, and feelings. Skills are important, but not as important as understanding the person or the group to whom the message is directed. Is there scope for empathy?

When we go beyond the words and imbue those thoughts with feelings, we understand and unite with the process, then suppressed feelings are no longer caged but released and communication becomes free. The reward for such selfdisclosure is what is referred to as Peak communication – something that is not normally achieved often, because we are imperfect.

Step aside from the religious denotation for a moment, and simply read the words of Jesus. He viewed and communicated to each person he encountered with love, compassion, and mercy.

Like him, when we empathize with the one communicating, we climb a few rungs on the ladder of expression. It is obvious that communication is rooted in openness and responsiveness. Deep reverence for each other leads to uninhibited exchange of thoughts –when tactful honesty displaces careless bluntness. So how we say or write is as important as what we say or write.


Probe the feelings of the characters in your plot. They are =lesh and blood. From those feelings, tap into the purpose and meaning of their actions to lend your story a human and pulsating edge. The villains in the plot do not only have bad thoughts and feelings. Bundled into those negative thoughts and feelings are a few good ones. They are human and have the potential to be good people. It is the mix that makes a lasting impression.


Even as your characters spout words, their bodies speak. Try to link body language with dialogue to enhance impact. In life, good communicators read the body language of the speaker to add meaning to his or

her words. A nod adds to the power of a “Yes”. A shake of the head reinforces our “No". The way a person moves their shoulders speak, body language

Great speakers know that body language will enhance our skills, and writers should learn how to use this to allow us to create deeper characters in our writing. Some characters are more pronounced in their body language. Others are subdued with their bodies. Bring out the play of such body movements to paint vivid pictures of your characters. Some characters, over years, develop mannerisms that are like trademarks. Flash them in key moments of the plot. Readers will be enthralled.


Use role-reversal. In life, when we step out of our shoes and step into the other person’s, we can better see their point of view, we may sense the fears that keep him down, exorcize the demons of insecurities that haunt, and gently, but surely, show that put-on behavior is unnecessary. In role reversal we do not disarm a person or character, but allow the ability to express without fear.

So try not to be detached from your characters as you give them roles in your story. Instead, step into their shoes. Try to think like them. Speak like them. Behave like them. The transformation in your portrayal of people in your story can be amazing.

Ultimately, communication is the sharing of thoughts and feelings, and their interpretations, to achieve a purpose and build relationships. The ear, eye, heart, head, and hand must act in concert: the ear to listen patiently, the eye to read diligently, the heart to empathize, the head to sift fact from =iction, and the hand to reach out.

More easily said than done, but worth attempting! Story writing is the creation of a surreal world into which your reader enters and is hesitant to leave.


** ***With Ebbe and Emme trying to enter where the Laws are located, and Donal and the Guardian having discovered that Yana may know more and be doing more than anyone knows, her journey to become the Leveler continues, amidst ongoing attacks and pain.***

“So Emme’s holding the location of the Laws, but it’s =lickering. The Guardian and the tall guy,” “Donal,” Yana said, not pausing in gathering together what was needed for tomorrow, the beginning of the work days.

“Yeah, him, they’re in your…” Kit paused, head tilted, listening, “...=ine yours and his library. Apparently you’ve been adding stuff lately...”

“I probably have,” Yana admitted.

“What? How? And why didn’t you say anything?” Kit asked. Glancing to her right, where the Guardian’s... shadow... stood, speaking to her.

“I can’t see or hear anything, so how am I supposed to know if it’s real? And besides, it was just a bunch of thoughts, random ones I put together, like a game board until they made sense, and I kind of –” Yana

made a =licking motion with her =ingers. “When I get ideas or thoughts, my hands tingle or get heavy, and I discovered that doing that makes it go away. It’s distracting to have weight or tingles in my hands, especially if I have to get work done, or try to sleep, or go shopping, drive...”

“Instinctively knowing where to send them, but not consciously knowing,” the Guardian’s shadow murmured. Kit repeated it to Yana.

“Well, yeah, I guess so, but... is that something wrong?” Yana asked.

“It is not wrong, it’s just simply not done. What you mean to do, your intention, has little to do with anything in the Hereafter. You must have knowledge, an elemental shelf, learn the sigils, and be at the correct god level,” the Guardian’s shadow explained, with Kit having to repeat.

Having to wait for Kit to “hear and repeat” was driving Yana insane, but her inability to hear anyone in the Hereafter herself made it necessary, so she bit down a retort and sighed, “No, you don’t have to learn any of that. Intention is all that matters.”


“No, you’re incorrect because intention is how it’s supposed to be. Yes, you need knowledge and understanding of elements and how they work, mixing them and such, but it’s not like you need to memorize a book of recipes, or carry everything on you at all times. I mean, really, look around,” she waved an arm absentmindedly, “elements are all around. Everything is made of elements. Everything. Why memorize anything? We’re literally made of elements, thoughts themselves are probably elements...” Yana paused, “let me rephrase, thought itself is an element. As are things like knowledge, light, all our emotions... anyway...

“Somewhere along the way, the Hereafter got all kinds of backwards. Somewhere, someone did something, and the way things were got lost and turned into the way things are,” Yana explained with a shrug. “And don’t have the next question be “How do you know?” because you ask that all the time and I keep telling you the same thing, and it’s not going to change. I just know.”

Kit paused. “Just me and my opinion, but you’d think by now they’d stop asking that because it always comes back that you were right and there was something hidden they didn’t know about, or, yeah...”

“What I =ind more irritating than always being questioned, is how unknowing the supposed allknowing Hereafter actually are,” Yana said.

“Oh, that hit a nerve,” Kit muttered through an almost closed mouth. “He does have a point, though.”

“Which is?”

“If just a simple fact, like the location of the Laws of Progression was hidden from everyone, wouldn’t it follow that they’re kinda =lying blind about a lot of other things too?” Kit said, not quite repeating it exactly how the shadow had said it, but close enough.

“Valid point,” Yana said, “and not untrue. That does explain a lot, but not everything.”

Turning to face empty space, according to what Yana saw, Kit continued, “By the way, I keep hearing a name, or title of someone, and I think you’re talking about Yana.”

swear everything I’m hearing seems to have to do with you and what you... =lick or toss or whatever it is you do, which I know you don’t actually know...”


“Oh, sorry, yeah. Leveler.” Kit said.



“Like the tool used to keep housing and building angles straight?”

“Yes. Wait. No.”

“Which is it?” Yana asked, exasperated, slamming the last item needed for work onto the counter, a bit harder than needed.

“What I find more irritating than always being questioned, is how unknowing the supposed all-knowing Hereafter actually are,”

Kit tilted her head, eyes closed and nodding. After a few clicks, she said, “Both is correct, because you are a tool...”


“...but it’s also a really super important title,” Kit said ignoring Yana’s sarcasm, pausing again before continuing. “From before time was ticked and marked as time, there’s been a Prophecy about a Leveler, a being of unlimited power who will come forth and put everything straight.”

“Straight. As in the god and goddess of our planet don’t seem to know what I know, but when they search, they =ind I’m right?” Yana questioned. “Or the fact that what you do, you do without

“Because you are the Leveler, how you were created way back, at Essence, makes you able to do what you do...” Kit paused, “ what is necessary.”

Yana rubbed her face, and massaged her head, trying to relieve the mounting internal pressure. “I am a nobody and no one. How in cold ochu could I possibly be... this?” she waved toward Kit, and where Kit had been looking during this whole conversation.

Kit sat next to her on the settee. “You have been hurt so many times, and even though you can’t see it, you can feel it. You feel the weight and tingles and pinches and thumps, the pain and wounds. That zing thing you talk about, in your head... you said you’ve always had that, and yet, you always just keep going. You never stop. Yeah, you say you have a job and responsibilities, but I’ve seen others crack, curl up, and cry for less than you get put through from one rise to another. I mean, maybe you don’t see it, but I do.”

Dropping her head down, =ingers laced around her neck, Yana contemplated Kit’s words. Maybe they were the Guardian’s, or his shadow since he said he wasn’t exactly able to be here in person. Whatever. Leveler or not, what had been going on for several moon cycles now had become... overwhelming.

Taking a long inhale to clear her mind, Yana stood, walked over to the shades and yanked them open, glaring up at the moons. She took a step back, closed her eyes, and held her arms out to the sides, bent, ingers curved, as if about to extend claws.

“Uh, what are you doing?” Kit asked nervously. Clear as the mid-rise hour, she saw purest white sparks lowing from... nowhere... gathering and swirling around Yana’s form. Some were going through her, some around; some in circles, some in geometric patterns.

knowing how you’re doing it; you just know it’s right, and you just have the right thoughts about it, like what it needs to do...” Kit paused. “Yeah, he says that’s what he means by intention. Your Spirit had to have learned an awful lot...”

“But because Mortals don’t remember their Spirit life,” Yana continued.

“What you’re doing is what you studied and planned for as a Spirit and now you’re just doing it by instinct,” Kit =inished.

“It’s like I know what to do, but don’t know how, and it just... happens,” Yana =inished, the thought of the knowledge and responsibility rocked heavy on her body. All she could do was sit and stare at the =loor.

Stepping through the portal Yana had opened, with perfect precision... a normally functioning portal... the Guardian and Donal looked on in awe, and not a small amount of fear. Planet and moon elements, ones of the Hereafter, Ancient ones, merged and joined the dance around Yana. Sigils wrote themselves in the air around her, known colors, and many unknown ones, hidden planes and dimensions twisting through them, pulled from times and realities long forgotten, all expanding with every deep inhale she did.

Pulling her arms in close, Yana moved her hands in front of her, =ingers still bent. The elements, and more, began to coalesce, whirling in tighter formations, creating solid where there was once wispy.

“You have been hurt so many times, and even though you can’t see it, you can feel it... and yet, you always just keep going.”

The Guardian and Donal stared in wonderment, Donal with no small amount of admiration. “That’s my girl,” he whispered. “Do you recognize any of this?” At his nod, Donal smiled. “She’s pretty amazing, isn’t she?”

“Only you would not be terri=ied of her while the literal elements of massive destruction swirl around a Mortal who has no understanding of what she is commanding,” the Guardian said, his voice laced with dark humor, his visage never changing. Nor did his eyes miss one particle in the mass. He knew them all, or at least knew of them all.

“Her Mortal self may not know, but her Spirit self that’s housed within is in absolute control,” Donal said. “Did you ever pause to think that whatever it... they, she, he... was that deemed it necessary for someone like Yana to eventually exist, would not take into account that her Mortal body may need to be... exceptional? The entirety of the Hereafter may not have thought it possible for the Leveler to be Mortal, but what if... it... knew?”

“This is a far cry from the protection-covered Incorrupt who panicked as she tossed mixes at the moons,” the Guardian said, a small smile playing at his lips.

“I didn’t show you what she has been doing lately while at our library. I realized, even in this unremembering form, she is still who she was, completely, thoroughly, with no taint of Mortality, like the rest. It’s as if she has all her knowledge available, but no memories,” Donal said. He saw the whirls of the elements re=lected in the black eyed gaze of the Guardian. “She knows. She is there, all of her, in all the power she had, all she learned, accumulated as a Spirit. Her Divide keeps her safe, but allows a =low through, as she needs it.”

“This is information Ebbe and Emme must know...”

A piercing shriek stopped the Guardian’s words. Donal couldn’t help laughing at Kit, curled up, hiding in the corner as a voice, louder than Yana’s elements were bright, reverberated through the room. Yana had kept her hands still, but she’d turned a worried face to Kit’s huddled form. He knew the bombastic voice.

“WHY HAS A MORTAL DARED SUMMON ME?!” the voice yelled. Kit whimpered.

The Guardian yanked a particular strand from Yana’s whirling mass. Walking over to Kit, he spoke gently. “I have… unplugged… the volume. He can’t be that loud anymore. Lift your head, child. It is safe.”

Raising her head just enough to show one eye, she mumbled into her arm, “What is that?” Her eyes grew large at the deep, sonorous cursing coming through the line the Guardian held.

“Not a what, a who. Though in your understanding, he is a what,” the Guardian answered. Handing the thread to Kit, he continued, “Hold it tightly. He does need to be reined in from time to time. He is the star for Ebbe and Emme. All gods have stars, equal partners, a symbiotic relationship necessary for all to ascend on the Path. There are more beings than those of us; the Path is for all. His name is Olbok.”

Kit eyed the glowing, pulsing thread warily. “He doesn’t bite Mortals, does he?

The bark of a laugh escaped the Guardian’s mouth

humorous, though ignored soliloquy about this being the sign of the end of all things.

“No, though he has been known to squash Demons and Incorrupt solely for amusement,” the Guardian said, his composure resumed.

“Kit? Are you OK? Why is your hand like that?” Yana asked. She was looking at Kit, hands moving in time to the pulsing whirl, rotating the solid mass.

“I... um... you called a star to show, and, he’s, speaking like we do,” Kit began.

“Wait, there’s a star in my living area?” Yana asked, looking around. The darkness of night was falling, the

The bark of a laugh escaped the Guardian’s mouth…
“No, though he has been known to squash Demons and Incorrupt solely for amusement.”

two moons in their slivered phase. She saw no extra light.

“No, I don’t see him, I heard him. He’s really loud. I’m holding a thread to him,” Kit answered. Looking at the Guardian, she continued. “I think you’re supposed to do something with him. Or tell him something. All the sparkly, colorful stuff you have =loating around you summoned him. His name is Olbok.”

A sarcastic comment about living, sentient stars started, but Yana closed her mouth. A zing hit the back of her head.

“Olbok, you need to go to Ebbe and Emme. Now. Do you have pockets?” Yana asked.

Kit shook as the sputtering rage quivered through the thread. “I can’t understand all the words, but I think he’s cursing at you. The Guardian says the answer is yes.” She paused. “The dead Oracle, Donal?”

“Yes?” Yana asked, moving her hands closer together. “He’s on the =loor laughing, like rolling around,” Kit answered. “I don’t get what’s so funny.”

Yana shrugged. She didn’t understand either, though being told what to do by a Mortal was likely a little insulting. “You need to =ind Ebbe and Emme, and put them in a pocket. Hide,” Yana said, studying the weight in her hands. It was heavy, her arms hurt, and it was bouncing from one hand to the other. “This is almost ready. I think.”

A frightened curse from Olbok drew Donal’s attention to Yana. Taking a deep breath and holding it, the Guardian spoke what he was thinking. “I certainly hope she knows where to aim that.”

Glossery of Names and Terms

Alil–AH leel (husband)

Alili–AH leelee (wife)

Ama-(Ah mah) - mom

Concilium–cohn SIL eeyum (a council of high gods/goddesses who guide others on the Path of Progression and oversee much of the running of the Hereafter)

Corrupt–the dead whose Mortal life choices and doings align them with evil and the Demons

Datter-(daa tr) - daughter

Deisos–DEE sohs (after death “paradise”)

Deisos Teacher(s)–Mortals spiritually and higher skilled than Oracles, rarer too, few known, can talk to/see Ebbe/Emme when allowed

Donal–DOH nul (male protagonist)

Ebbe–EH beh (Cycle God)

Emme–EH mee (Cycle Goddess)

Gods/Goddesses–those who were Incorrupt, then passed their various tests and trials in Deisos, allowing their ascension to godhood on the Path of Progression; god(s) is often gender neutral, as they are equals, but lazy, and the word is shorter to write/ say

Ochuroma–O schu ROH mah (after death “hell”)Hereafter–the life continuation along the Path of Progression that occurs after Mortal existence endsIncorrupt–the dead whose Mortal life choices and doings align them with the gods/ goddessesGuardian–a guide, helper, from Deisos, who assists Mortals

Olbok (Ohl bohk) – a sentient being, a star, belonging to Ebbe and Emme Oracles–Mortal version of prophets, seers who can talk to/see the Incorrupt, Guardians, Void - realm of the Demons (devoid of light)

Yana–YAH nuh (female protagonist)


Guide to Our Reviews and Ratings:

Our rating system is the standard 5 star rating system:

5 = exceptional

4 = excellent

3 = good

2 = fair

1 = poor

CNF = If the problems in a book are such that a reviewer is unable to finish it, the book will be given to another reviewer to read. If both reviewers are unable to finish the book, it will receive the rating of “CNF” or “Could Not Finish”

We also rate the "Steam" or sex factor so readers can enjoy whatever level they are most comfortable with. The criteria is as follows:

1 Steam Kettle = Nothing but kisses

2 Steam Kettles = Passionate kissing,

3 Steam Kettles = Sex but the door is closed

4 Steam Kettles = Slightly steamy sex with some description

5 Steam Kettles = Steamy sex with somewhat graphic description

Those books receiving a 4.5 or a 5 star review will also be awarded the "Crowned Heart" for excellence. This symbol will be seen beside the review in the magazine.


The Lady and the Barrister (Return to the Ladies of Sommer by the Sea Book 1)

motives. The plot is just convoluted enough to keep the reader engaged. However, this tale drags from the beginning to the end. There are several passages where it is dif=icult to discern who is speaking. The timeline is uncertain. At one time, Anna has not seen Fraser in =ive years, then it is expanded to ten. Still a neat story, it combines many concentrated emotions from several characters, bringing them to life. A moving tale and a great way to begin a series!

due to her family's scandalous reputation. Unexpected danger, unforeseen tragedy, plus the threat of treason are a few of the obstacles thrown into the newlywed's path; leaving Val to wonder if having Juliet as his wife is worth the career he's spent years cultivating.

"An Unusual Courtship" is an exceptionally amazing tale of loyalty and love pitted against ambition and avarice.

Lady Marianna (Anna) Ravencroft is surprised when Captain Fraser Castleton, lately Duke of Willbury, walks into the lending library with his friend, Barrington. He is home in Sommer-by-the-Sea after returning from the Napoleonic wars. She has not seen him since before he left some ten years before. They take up as best friends, just as they were before he left. They realize they share the same problem: men swarm to Anna because of her family’s wealth, not caring a whit about her, and ladies and their mamas all seek him out just because he is a wealthy Duke. They decide to pretend to be a couple while trying to =ind the perfect match for the other. Little does Anna know Fraser has already found the perfect woman in her. Now he just needs to convince Anna to marry him.

“The Lady and the Barrister” has some laughable times thrown in with the somber moments. Anna, Fraser, and other characters are well written with much depth and fortitude while working well together for the overall good of the town. The villain who is also vying for Anna’s hand has ulterior

An Unusual Courtship - The Brazen Burrells, Book 2

Dysfunctional family drama, societal etiquette, and political maneuvers merge to provide a unique backdrop to burgeoning passion. Although it is the continuing saga of the Brazen Burrell Sisters, this story may be read as a standalone novel about the middle sister, Juliet. Her intelligence and outspokenness provides a relatable, likable heroine perfect for Val; a cool, restrained hero. Provocative women and cunning men give secondary and crossover characters life. Society's rules and bureaucratic measures give license to corrupt villains. Ms. Connolly's storytelling provides a unique perspective on a speci=ic historical time ensuring bibliophiles will enjoy surrendering to the tumultuous plot where mere words may alter the course of careers and love.

Val, a diplomat serving Britain's Foreign Of=ice, is in need of a wellconnected bride to further his career. Juliet, one of the adventurous Burrell Sisters, is the total opposite of what he needs, but she’s exactly what he wants. Informally engaged to Juliet's best friend, Val is ready to put aside his desire for Juliet until he learns his betrothed is in love with another. While circumstances preclude a hasty betrothal between Val and Juliet, she refuses to allow herself to believe marriage is possible

57 Historical

Jesse and the Mail Order Bride (Texas Hill Country Mail Order Brides)

Caroline Clemmons

until the very end. The story is a fast read that leaves one wanting more. Caroline Clemmons, writes an enjoyable story with a suspenseful plot and likable characters. There are Christian elements woven throughout the tale which make the story so much more enjoyable. The reader will love all the characters, along with the small-town setting where the locals are very close and caring to one another. If you love sweet romances, this is a must read for you!

progresses, her heart falls for Seth. However, Seth doesn’t know Ruby’s secret behind the reason why she was there taking care of the duke. As Ruby continues to fall for Seth, she is =illed with guilt. Ruby doesn’t want to hurt Seth, but he has to know the real reason why she’s there. What will Ruby do? Will she tell Seth the real reason why she is helping the duke and run the risk of ruining their relationship? Or will Ruby follow through with her plan and keep her secret?

“Deceiving the Duke” is a romance full of deception.

Jesse Cameron was born and raised in Scotland by his parents. After leaving Scotland, he comes to Harrigan County, Texas and =inds he loves the place and people. Jesse stays and is made Sheriff of Harrigan County. He keeps all the troublemakers and criminals away from the town but is fair and well respected. Now that this new resident has a steady job and a home, he feels like it is time for him to have a wife and family. Along with Zan, his friend and deputy, they write to a matchmaker, both looking for wives. Rosalin grew up in an orphanage and now she is in the clutches of Develin, an evil man who has her picking pockets and participating in other illegal crimes. No one has ever escaped this evil man and lived to tell the tale. Rosalin, along with her best friend, Mary, and an 8-year-old boy who is abused and mistreated, devises a plan to escape from Develin’s clutches by becoming mail order brides.

“Jesse and the Mail Order Bride” is a heartwarming tale. The reader will be hooked from the very =irst page, staying engrossed

Deceiving the Duke (Gems of London book 1)

Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Lady Ruby McAllister sets out on a mission. She is trying to get a share of the textile mill that the duke had promised her father. When a position for the duke’s night nurse opens up, Ruby sees a chance to get close to him so she can tell him about the share her father was supposed to inherit. Ruby’s plan is falling into place –until she runs into Seth Musgrave. Ruby and Seth have a connection that brings them together. Seth is estranged by his father, the duke, but is the one behind his father’s success. As Ruby’s plan

Elizabeth Ellen Carter has a unique way of showing how two characters who come from opposite sides meet and fall for each other without even looking for love. Ruby’s heart is full of hatred toward the duke for deceiving her father from his share of the mill, but through the author’s clever imagery, she shows the readers how a person can change in an instant when they fall for someone. By the end, Ms. Carter not only shows readers how Ruby grows away from pure hatred to a place of understanding, she also shows how the duke came to be where he is as a person. With the spiciness of each turn of the page, the story draws the readers in as the relationship between Seth and Ruby intensi=ies. An addictive tale!

58 Historical

How to Court a Covert Lady (Ladies Covert Academy Book


Jenny Hartwell

Jack Dashwood, Earl of Hartwick, is in search of his sister. He is frantic because he does not know if she has run away or if she is captured. He asks the LCA (Ladies Covert Academy) to assist him, but does not have much help when he takes the search into his own hands when he runs into Miss Pippa Chester, who has recently entered into society. With little aid from the LCA, he threatens to expose it for what it really is if she doesn’t help him =ind his sister. However, Pippa wasn’t expecting something like falling for Jack as she assists him in his search. Even though Pippa has agreed to help, she still has to save the LCA from Jack’s threat. Will Pippa and Jack =ind his sister? And will Pippa save the LCA?

“How to Court a Covert Lady” is an adventure =illed romance. Jenny Hartwell keeps her readers on their toes with each turn of the page with her spicy innuendos. This is an adult read as steam rolls off the pages with every descriptive imagery. This is an unexpected fairy tale about two characters who happened upon

each other. They have an instant connection as the author portrays their tangy relationship with her =iery phrases. However, this isn’t just a romance, but it’s also about revenge from someone who cares for their father. The author mixes revenge with romance to keep the spiciness alive between the characters, making this a great read!

Stephanie Bell

ladies during the Season. Her most recent proté gé , Rachel, is proving dif=icult, spending more time with her country friends from Shrewsbury than in making a match. This puts Etta in frequent contact with Wynn Firth, the father of Rachel’s friends. His pointed statements and insightful questions force Etta to question everything she values. “A Most Unsuitable Suitor” takes place in London during 1770. Lady Charlotte Duchamps and Julian, Lord Wesley, are acquaintances until Julian discovers a wager on the books at his club regarding both of them. Using this information, he decides to make sure the wager comes true, so he can receive the funds when it does. To do this, he inserts himself into Lady Charlotte’s life in several awkward encounters. By doing so, they discover quite a bit of common ground.

A Lady’s Wager (Timeless Georgian Collection Book 2) Arlem Hawks, Josi S. Kilpack, Sarah M. Eden

ANTHOLOGY: This anthology includes three stories. “The Diamond of Bristol” is set in 1793. Corah Bradford lives in Bristol, England. Derrick Owens is a Lieutenant in the British Navy, and has some time off between commissions. He is staying in the home of a friend and biding his time until his next assignment. Corah and Derrick spend time together, knowing he will soon depart; however, when that happens, they both realize they are missing something essential. “Women of a Certain Age” is set in 1788. Colletta (Etta) Markshire is entrenched in her London life and in her role sponsoring young

These three novellas offer readers a peek at life in England during the late 1700’s. It’s refreshing when competent authors tell stories in novella form, as almost every paragraph advances the storyline. Each of these stories succeeds in that mission, leaving readers wishing for additional details about each protagonist as they live out their happily ever after ending! This collection is delightful!

59 Historical

relationship so easy to connect to, as it isn’t a fairytale. “The Lyon’s Puzzle” is a compelling read, full of raw emotion and growth that will leave readers asking for more.

The Lyon’s Puzzle


Mrs. Dove-Lyon certainly has made an astounding match when she arranges a marriage between Montague Bassage and widow Mrs. Adriana Roberts. Both have been dealt a whirlwind of trauma and heartache to last several lifetimes, with broken hearts, failed relationships, and scarred reputations. While both are set on making new lives out of their situations, they never expected they would end up here: betrothed to one another in an arranged marriage. The two face their fears and insecurities together, slowly unraveling until they end up in each other’s arms.

The romance between Montague and Adriana is incredibly compelling and very heartfelt. After all of the heartbreak and emotional damage both characters go through creates a strong sense of hesitancy and distrust when entering their newly arranged. However, the walls they have built are what drives their connection, and they have to learn to tear them down and understand each other if they are ever going to live happy, compatible lives. This helps to make their characters and

The Lady Takes It All (Unexpected Heirs of Scotland Book 1)

attraction to one another could also be deadly.

A wonderful tale of deception, betrayal, secrets and romance all rolled into one! Ms. Williams doesn’t disappoint with the convoluted plot twists, excitement and spurts of action. At times, some details aren’t explained fully, leaving some confusion about what is actually going on. At =irst it’s easy to get lost, but as the story progresses, despite the plot getting more twisted, it gets easier to follow. Many of the side characters almost take center stage. Readers may =ind it dif=icult to connect with Arabella because for most of the story she is playing a role, and some may like her as the housekeeper more than herself. Joshua, the secretive hero, is much more likable. Despite its bumps, this book still spins an enjoyable, captivating tale that is well worth reading!

Viscount of Dunalastair, Joshua Robertson, is heading home late. Joshua is hiring a new housekeeper and wants to meet her. When Joshua =inally gets there, he is entranced by Mrs. Clara Lewis and hires her on the spot despite the objections from his butler. Joshua is secretly attracted to Clara yet realizes that he can’t have her because she is part of his staff. Clara also holds a secret; she isn’t really Clara Lewis but Arabella MacGibbons. Arabella wants to =ind out the truth about what happened to her father, who also worked with Joshua. Arabella plans to expose Joshua and ruin him. But as Arabella gets to know Joshua, she falls for him. Love wasn’t part of the game plan for either Arabella or Joshua. What’s worse, their

60 Historical

An Unwitting Alliance (Matchmaking Mamas book # 2)


This story of two young people making “An Unwitting Alliance” is set in London in the year 1821. Cassandra Vail, a lovely yet stubborn ingé nue, attends Lady Kellen’s ball in the hopes of winning a husband before her parents are able to carry through with their obnoxious intentions of matching her to a wealthy bachelor of their choosing. She would very much prefer to select her own husband. Lord Tom Harwood is a proud member of London’s Rebels and dances with a pretty woman in order to save his friend from unwanted attention. Too late, he realizes he has danced with—and embarrassed—the wrong woman. Soon Cassandra and Tom learn they have been matched by their parents. But the only thing they can agree on is that neither one wants to get betrothed.

“An Unwitting Alliance” opens with a particularly strong beginning, quickly cementing the characters =irmly in the reader’s heart. This is the second book in the Matchmaking Mamas series, and though it can be read as a standalone, reading book one of

the series =irst will help to make things clearer for the reader. The story’s con=lict is not as organic as one might like, with misunderstandings usually at fault. Communication between Cassi and Tom is poor to nonexistent at times, creating further problems. Aside from those issues, Cassi is pleasant and sweet, and Tom is a fast thinker, able to wiggle out of any trouble with charm and wit. Together, Tom and Cassi form their own great unwitting alliance.

is Tay Munro, called The Leviathan, who has a history of driving female recruits off his training =ield. But Tay is drawn to Athdara like none other since his past heartache two years ago. He may relent and agree to teach her everything he knows, but her mission will be a dangerous one. When Athdara completes her training, will Tay be able to let her go?

The Leviathan (The Blackchurch Guild: A Medieval Romance)

Kathryn Le Veque

Kathryn Le Veque introduces a Guild =illed with superlative and intriguing warriors that stirs the imagination and tempts desires. Athdara would have been more comfortable as a chatelaine, but =ights tooth and nail for her father’s legacy. Tay’s masculine physicality de=ines his purpose at Blackchurch. However, falling in love with the duke’s daughter allows Tay to realize some emotional clarity and healing. Athdara’s determination, Tay’s compassion, and both the nobility and villainy of various supporting characters all are painted with easy and brilliant brush strokes. Action, romance, and even misguided foolishness conspire to prevent the reader from putting this novel down. “The Leviathan” is the start of a new series, but its instant appeal con=irms the work of a seasoned master writer.

The Blackchurch Guild, in a remote forest of thirteenth century Devon, England, is an elite training ground for the greatest warriors of the age. Its trainers are brutal and effective, with monikers such as Tempest, Protector, Avenger, and Dragon. Young Athdara de Ghent, daughter of the murdered Duke of Toxandria, comes to Blackchurch to seek the training that she believes will allow her to retake the duchy on behalf of her baby brother. The =irst of her teachers

62 Historical

Gamble of Hearts

Virginia Barlow

with at a very slow pace but gains pace as the story continues. The story is cliché d with the trope of the Duke falling in love with his ward. “Gamble of Hearts,” however, contains several stories within stories making it a convoluted and interesting tale. Nathan is well-written with lots of depth and cunning. His cohorts are not as deep, but just as evil as he. A lot of courageous moves happen throughout this story keeping the reader engaged while rapidly turning the pages to see what will happen next!

reminds him of his faithless =irst wife, and even though Beatrice is =ighting to get away from the cad, Augustus blames Beatrice entirely. He goes through with the wedding, then the day after, sends her away to his crumbling country estate with a meagre allowance as he goes away to Europe. So begins the new life of Countess Beatrice Hardwick.

Amora Elizabeth Hargrove is beaten by her brother, Nathan. He makes her play cards with his nefarious friends because he knows she always wins. Nathan wins too, by cheating and has stolen several family fortunes this way. This morning, Alexander Xavier Remington, Duke of Ravencroft is at the door to collect his winnings from Nathan which includes his sister! Alexander is at a loss as to what to do with Amora. She is thin, battered, and unattractive. He learns she is to be his ward until she weds.

Alexander goes away for several weeks and comes back to see Amora has changed! The cuts, bruises, and swelling on her face are gone, and she is beautiful! She is prepared for the Season and given dancing lessons, but what she really wants is a kissing tutor. The Duke can hardly resist such a request.

“Gamble of Hearts” is an adventurous tale following Amora and Alexander as they wind their way through a very intricate plot. The hero and heroine are very complicated and sophisticated individuals who carry the story quite successfully. This tale begins

Emily Royal

“Ruined by the Ton” begins as a happy tale of two injured, very intense characters very much in love. The con=licts in this story are very obvious for both the hero and heroine. Augustus fears having another faithless wife, and Beatrice guards her heart because she is afraid of having it broken by Augustus a second time. After the wedding, the account becomes all angst that is readily felt by the reader. The characters revolve around each other. The ending feels rushed. Beatrice has grown up in her solitude as has Augustus. This is a unique tale with very interesting characters and situations. Descriptions of both characters and the world bring the story to life. Enjoy a rollercoaster of emotions, while journeying along with Beatrice and Augustus!

Beatrice Thorpe, recovering from a near scandal the previous season, must be on her best behavior lest she risk her reputation. At a ball, she locks eyes with a very handsome gentleman, Augustus Hardwick. She accepts a dance with him, and her fate is sealed. A few months later they are engaged. Two days before their wedding, they attend another ball. Juliette, a woman jealous of Beatrice, sets her up in a compromising position, then calls Augustus to see the sight. It

63 Historical
Ruined by the Ton (MisLits of the Ton Book 2)

The Charmer without a Cause (The Prestons Book 3)

Baron Ashforth. This is a slowmoving tale that never increases its pace. Lydia is not the most likeable heroine. She does not recognize Benjamin’s worth, while she works to swindle him out of his inheritance. Lydia is one dimensional and thinks of Benjamin as collateral damage in her cause to free the Irishmen. For the most part, the secondary characters have no substance. People interested in the quandary of the Irish in history would greatly enjoy this authentic story of the 1800’s.

Benjamin Preston just inherited ten thousand pounds. Suddenly he is very popular with the young ladies and mothers of the ton. He is interested in marrying for love, so he is disinterested in the women =linging themselves at him. He does have a history of falling in love instantly and has already been in love with three ladies. All of them enjoyed him till someone better came along. When a woman catches his eye at a musicale—though the statuesque blonde beauty stays back from him—it is love at =irst sight for Benjamin. Lydia Devereaux happens to be interested in him for his money to help her cause of freeing the Catholics in Ireland. She is very invested in this cause and will stoop to any level to further her cause, even entering into a loveless marriage.

“The Charmer Without a Cause” is a well-researched novel which encompasses the plight of the Catholics in Ireland in the 1800’s. This dilemma is aptly brought to life when the death of Lydia’s lover is described. The Preston family is delightful with their quirks imposed by their patriarch,

Sophie Barnes

Victoria Leighton has seen few people in the year she has been widowed. Left with an almost insurmountable debt, she has struggled to =ind ways to provide income and stay out of debtor’s prison. Wracked with emotional scars left from her late husband, Victoria is afraid no one will even notice if she’s gone – until the day an equally scarred man arrives at her door. Colin West does his best to avoid people. Left with a terribly scarred face – a gift a bomb and a war gave him – the horrid reactions of people are too

much to bear at times. He understands his life going forward will be void of the dreams he used to hold, those of a wife and children… or happiness. That is driven home one day as he is caught in a severe rainstorm and must ask aid from a beautiful yet reclusive widow. Finding her estate in dire need of help but realizing she is completely unequipped to handle the problems, he kindly comes up with a plan to help her learn proper management. The challenge will be in keeping his heart from breaking completely. What a wonderful Regency romance! It is a perfect story for those who enjoy a more realistic look and =low to the era the characters inhabit. The relationship between Victoria and Colin progresses at a believable rate, and imbues all the horrible insecurities each must overcome. Although a bit slow in a couple of places, it is both heartbreaking and heartwarming as each must learn to live and love again. It ultimately leaves a happy sigh and smile when that happily-everafter =inally happens! A delightful read!

64 Historical
Mr. West and the Widow

Shield of Fire (Flames of Winter Book 2)

Bree Wolf

these main characters; this is a story showcasing the lengths one family will go to keep the hearts of those they love safe. While the pages might not steam up while reading this, reader’s hearts will certainly be beating hard when the Whickerton’s show that nothing gets in the way of family. Get ready to fall madly in love with Sarah, Keir, and Loki!

the loss of her husband, something about Stephen draws her in. Yet, as Stephen and Gemma become closer, others begin to intervene, leaving them caught in trouble neither of them expects.

Sarah Mortensen is ruined. Her father’s debts led her to a forced engagement, and only a plan formed by Dowager Countess of Whickerton saved her from the undesirable marriage. Sarah can cry off her engagement after spending a fortnight away when she was “kidnapped”. When secrets begin to unravel she =inds that the man she thought was hired as part of the plan is a friend of the Whickerton’s and is not a mysterious stranger after all. Keir MacKinnear, son of the Laird of Clan MacKinnear has willingly taken part in the plan to help Sarah escape her forced engagement, but like Sarah, his feelings extend far beyond the plan. When Sarah wishes to travel to her sister who she worries is keeping secrets and needs help, Keir is right there protecting her and helping her navigate the dangerous situation they may be heading towards.

At the beginning of this story, it takes a little while to catch up with events prior to where this tale starts and can be a little overwhelming at =irst. Once one has come to know the characters, it is easy to understand this is a story of more than just the love of

A Devious Secret: A Regency Romance (Gentlemen of London Book 6)

Laura Beers

A lovely Regency tale, Stephen and Gemma slide together as friends before becoming romantic partners. Their romance is not the instant ease of soulmates or the intense bickering of old friends. Rather they are skittish of love due to their pasts, but drawn together by mutual understanding. As such, the romance between the pair is sweet and provides the main focus of the story. The antagonists are believable and provide just enough con=lict to further Stephen and Gemma’s relationship. Although the plot and characters are not original, the way the main characters address their grief and the support from their families and friends is encouraging, and the story has a way of sweeping the reader along. Overall, lovers of light regency romance will =ind this a delightful read!

Mr. Stephen Wycomb returns home out of duty to his family and his men. After the loss of his ship, his men, and his subsequent capture by the enemy, he is full of grief and determined to personally offer his condolences to the families of the last of his men. While his newly wedded sister hopes he will marry and =ind a reason to live again, Stephen’s recently failed courtship has soured him on romance… until he meets Gemma, the Countess of Hawkinge. Gemma is relieved to receive an invitation to spend the Season with her family in London. Despite her continued grief over

65 Historical

The Duke I Came For (The Ashton Park Book 4) Abigail Bridges

quickly learn that there are worse things that can happen when a scandal leaves a young woman alone. This book covers a lot of the pain caused by rumors and bad choices, while still focusing on the growing feelings between Kit and Beth. The reader =inds themselves on a journey into an already created cast of characters but does not =ind themselves lost. The author does a wonderful job of ensuring you can fall in love with Kit and Beth and the other residents of Timmons’ house without feeling like you are missing part of the journey. Delightful!

Duke has promised to keep her safe, and now he is also determined to win her love. In order to be close to Delilah, the Duke =inds himself working for the same theater as her. The pair have a tumultuous history, but despite that, Duke Sebastian Crewe will stop at nothing to have his heart’s desire.

Lady Beth Ashton has been set aside by a marquis after a family scandal. Looking for a way to spend her days and remove herself from London, she seizes an offer from her sister-in-law, Rose. She will travel to Timmons’ house which is the home of Rose’s Aunt Sophia. From the outside the house looks run down, but Beth quickly =inds that the outside is just a cover to protect the secrets inside. Kit, the eighth Duke of Kirkstone arrives at Timmon’s house after a twomonth search for his sister, Mary. Before he can do more than demand to see his sister, he collapses and loses consciousness. Beth, shocked to see a face she recognizes from her season decides to care for Kit until his health improves, giving her the chance to not only keep the secrets of the other residents of the house, but also to spend time caring for the man she now wonders if she should have chosen instead.

This book is an emotional journey that showcases the darker side of London’s Society. It shows the many ways scandal can ruin a girl's life. Our main characters

Lady Delilah Dares a Duke (Windermeres in Love #4)

So=ie Darling

“Lady Delilah Dares a Duke” is the fourth book in the series, but it could potentially be read as a standalone. However, readers may miss out on some important information by not reading the previous books. This story is a very fast-paced enemies-to-lovers romance that is =illed with some very cute moments as well as some very hot and steamy ones. The characters are developed well, and the dialogue between Lady Delilah and the Duke is very quick-witted and fun. The plotline is engaging and =lows effortlessly. Readers will love the atmosphere of the book from the masquerade ball to the theater and the sizzling romance between the characters that has the pages quite literally burning up. Historical romance readers are sure to eat this one up!

In this steamy fourth installment of Windermeres in Love, readers follow Lady Delilah as she embarks on an adventure to ful=ill her dreams. Running away with a theater company for the summer and pretending to be only an actress and not a Lady is enthralling for Delilah. That is until the handsome Duke Sebastian Crewe =inds her and can’t seem to let her go. As a best friend of Delilah’s brother, the

67 Historical

Quinn and the Mail-Order Bride (Texas Hill Country Mail Order Brides)

Caroline Clemmons

with Quinn and Priscilla. While the relationship between the two lovers is engaging, as is the family dynamic between the brothers, the plot itself was a little slow, with the central con=lict being Quinn’s inner demons keeping them apart, which drags down the pacing of the story. However, for fans of historical romance, this one will give you a love to remember.

looking for the clock, and their adversary is not opposed to using deadly means to =ind it. As the Count and his lady get closer, they decide to join forces to =ind the curio clock before one of them pays the ultimate price.

Quinn McRae is as rough and tumble as they come. The youngest of the McRae brothers, he has the reputation for being the wildest, and the only one who hasn’t settled down. But when times get tough after the Civil War, Quinn =inds himself heading back to Texas and the brothers he’d once left behind. But Quinn’s demons travel with him, and even back on the farm, he =inds himself trying to escape the war. His brothers, in an attempt to tame Quinn’s wild side, =ind him a mailorder bride. But when Priscilla arrives from Boston, she expects to =ind a loving husband, not a man at war with himself. Priscilla and Quinn must either =ind a way to come together as man and wife if they want to build a life together or accept things as they are and live separate lives in the same home.

“Quinn and the Mail-Order Bride” is a sweet historical romance set in Texas after the Civil War. The dialogue, narration, and setting pull the reader into the past where they can experience the wild, wild West with the McRae brothers, and struggle to =ind love

A Curio for the Count (Gems of London Book Two)

Elizabeth Ellen Carter

Told from the point of view of both Count Armand Danger and Miss Jade Bridges, this historical thriller has it all: danger, romance, and intrigue. The mystery of Jade’s anonymous benefactor draws you in and won’t let go, especially when the romance heats up between Jade and the Count. The narrative is smooth and places the reader smack in the middle of nineteenth century London, just as if they were there. The relationship between Armand and Jade is rife with con=lict and heat, and the reader gets to go on a wild ride as they fall in love while also trying to survive. For fans of exciting historical romance, you won’t be disappointed with this love story!

Nicole Harlowe

Count Armand Danger is a wealthy London bachelor, trying to reconcile his past with his present. His journey into his French past as he seeks to reconnect with his father’s memory leads him to an antique shop where he encounters the gorgeous valuer, Jade Bridges. The connection between the two is immediate and electric. But when Armand begins looking for the curio clock that once belonged to his father and Jade takes a commission from an anonymous benefactor for the same artifact, the two =ind themselves at odds. But Jade and Armand are not the only ones

Flames of Winter

Bree Wolf

Sarah Mortensen, daughter of Baron Hartmore, is afraid of everything because of an accident she suffered as a child. She


doesn’t want to disappoint her parents, but they have gone too far in forcing her to marry Lord Blackmore to pay off Hartmore’s gambling debts. She fears Lord Blackmore most of all, which is what he prefers. Feigning a kidnapping, Sarah runs away the night before the wedding straight into the arms of Keir MacKinnear —all at the direction of Grandma Eddie, a Dowager Countess and grandmother of Sarah’s closest friend. Though not related, Grandma Edie is the only one with Sarah’s best interests at heart and is quite the matchmaker! Will Keir and Sarah be able to survive the faux kidnapping? Will they be able to reunite afterwards and =ind each other?

From a shivering coward to a =ierce heroine, Sarah moves through a tale with an imaginative Stockholm syndrome vibe. And who wouldn’t fall in love with Keir! Sarah’s transformation is incredible in such a short time, much like a caterpillar to a butter=ly. Grandma Eddie is the ultimate schemer and matchmaker and delights in keeping everyone on their toes while keeping all the cards to herself. The characters are well written, especially Loki the humanlike cat who even saves Sarah from Lord Blackmore. Keir has the patience of a saint while building up Sarah’s con=idence and trust in him as well as leading her back to her love of horses. Sadly, the ending comes too soon and without =inal closure given the cliff hanger, but there will be more stories to devour and see where the couple goes.

Emily E. K. Murdoch

Lawrence, Duke of Penshaw is on a mission from the crown to catch a man who committed treason and murdered his brother. Assuming the identity of Lawrence Madgwick to go undercover as a boxer, he sheds all of society including his title and wealth, to =lush out and capture John Mortimer. Julia Dryden is tired of being told what she can’t do and convinces her brother to take her to an illegal boxing ring. Will Lawrence catch the killer or is he too distracted by the beautiful Julia? Will their social status keep them apart, or will they be able to bridge the gap and be together against the odds?

An enthralling, page-turning tale that’s hard for a reader to put down. Though the characters are enjoyable and relatable, the impetuous nature of Julia seems hard to believe for the period. It’s a bit unreal how she frequently wanders London without a chaperone. The way Julia reconciles boxing in the ring versus in real life is a nice touch. She realizes =ighting outside the ring is plain brutal while she enjoys watching the =ights in the ring. A bit more time could have

been spent on hunting for Mortimer, as it would make the tale even more interesting. Rank and class have so much power in the era it is nice to see both characters get past their differences, which seem insurmountable at =irst, and get to know one another without social pretenses getting in the way. They each realize under different circumstances they might never have met, let alone fallen in love.

The Miracle of Love (The Book of Love 15)

Grace Monfort is stunningly beautiful and idealistically innocent. Just before her debut into society, her father and brother disgrace the family by stealing. Agents of the Crown tear apart the Monfort holdings, hunting for the stolen property to prevent war. Several items remain missing, including the bejeweled crown of a foreign country. Grace’s con=idence disappears when she gets shunned by society. Luckily, she is given refuge by Lady Miranda for the Christmas holidays. Declan Quinton, top agent for the Crown, gets assigned to protect Grace from multiple foreign enemies bent on

Don’t Judge A Duke By His Cover

kidnapping Grace to force the return of the missing crown. A self-suf=icient loner, Declan heads to his room in Aunt Miranda’s London home as a base of operations to complete his assignment. After an exhausting journey, he slips into the house late and falls into his bed, only to discover Grace asleep. Can he protect her without impacting their hearts?

Ms. Platt opens with an awkward encounter between the two protagonists, adding appearances by Declan’s aunt and mother. Declan maintains his assignment to protect this sweet virgin day and night. A book left in the room focuses on how the =ive senses of humans play vital roles in lasting love. Discussions over the book’s contents reveal Declan and Grace’s innermost feelings and opposing perspectives, yet seem unnecessarily repetitive in places. Grace views him as a leopard, and he =inds her an exquisite treasure to be cherished. When foreign agents forcefully attack the couple, Declan devises a plan to evade the threats by taking Grace on a risky one-way journey. Historical romance readers will love turning the pages to discover the surprises along their trip.

A Matter of Convenience (The Mayfair Literary League Book 1)

the feelings he has when kissing Phoebe and wants more. The more Anthony steals kisses, the more he realizes marriage to Phoebe isn’t something he should dread. In fact, marrying for convenience might bring both of them the love they’ve been missing.

Lady Phoebe Fitzroy is a member of The Mayfair League, with a strong love of books, but she has gone =ive London seasons without =inding a husband. Nearly desperate, she decides to act boldly and propose to the Earl of Bolton, Lord Anthony Stanhope. The proposed marriage would be a business proposition and a matter of convenience. Though Phoebe has prepared a compelling list of why they both would suit, Anthony still refuses to marry her. Anthony doesn’t want to hurt Phoebe and ends up kissing her instead. Anthony is shocked by

What a delightful historical romance that is a humorous, exhilarating read! The story reads easily and fairly quickly too. The visual settings and the characters are easy to picture, and the verbal banter of all the characters moves the book along beautifully. Unfortunately, Anthony, the marriage-shy hero, spends a lot of time kissing Phoebe and never explains himself, even when, by kissing, he falls for her and ends up having to correct his mistakes in marriage anyhow, so readers never really feel sorry for him as opposed to Phoebe, the quiet, courageous heroine who manages to propose marriage even at the risk of being rejected and humiliated. The story shimmers with miscommunications and misplaced affections, making for a light, easygoing tale that readers will absolutely relish in!


Shortbread Cookie Princess (Highland Falls)

Sophia Porter is happy to have inherited her aunt’s cookie shop. However, Aunt Mary stipulated that the shop must be pro=itable in a year or Sophia will lose it. Though Sophia and her father adore Aunt Mary, Sophia’s nasty stepmother makes it dif=icult for them to visit. Referred to by Sophia as Mother Malevolent, the unhappy woman made the younger woman’s life miserable. When she receives a surprise visitor full of questions about her family and ancestry, Sophia resents his intrusiveness. Memories of her family were meant to be kept private – there’s just too much sadness with the death of her mother and father. Her stepmother constantly tells her the MacLennan’s history is evil. Ian Campbell, a forensic scientist and genealogist is hired by Aunt Mary to do the family genealogy, but he =inds Sophia more interesting than her family.

This book is a double pleasure for fans of romance and history. The sparks between Sophia the baker and Ian the genealogist happen early and will pique readers’ interest quickly. Though there are hints of magic in their search for facts on Sophia’s lineage, the author never really comes through with what’s foreshadowed. Still, learning the history of the Scottish people and their immigration to the Adirondack Mountains does add another interesting layer to the story. Sophia has been welcomed by the locals, but when she begins looking for answers about her family, she and Ian =ind them to be less than completely honest. When unexpected trouble pops up, however, loyalties are tested to the limit. An entertaining tale from the very beginning!

72 Contemporary

Once Upon A Legend (Once Upon A Legend Book 1)


Idrisa, a seventeen-year-old girl who has never known her purpose in life, is swept into a new world after her orphanage receives a birthday gala invite for Prince Merrick of Dumonia. Idrisa not only learns of her true fate and discovers her claim of a powerful eternal sword, but she also =inds herself digging up truths about Dumonia that the emperor hoped to keep hidden. Prince Merrick, on the other hand, is still dealing with his mother’s death and worries of her warnings of his future. When he meets Idrisa, the suspense only seems to worsen as the empire he grew up in slowly falls to shambles, and everything he thought he knew is revealed as a lie. Can Idrisa and Merrick trust each other enough to keep their world from destruction?

Everything about this novel screams successful fantasy, from the enchanting world-building, the subtle teenage angst, the solidity of friendship, and the destruction of betrayal, which will make the reader never want this story to end! The character development and likable qualities each of the characters in this novel is so well-done, it’s hard not

Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

to fall into the reading hole this story creates. It’s just cheesy enough to stick to the young adult genre, but not enough to make readers cringe. There’s a perfect balance between fantasy and reality, and it’s a delightful mix for this adventure. Also, the worldbuilding is phenomenal enough that one can imagine themselves living there thanks to the masterful writing. This book will keep readers on their toes the whole way through, and is a mustread for young adult fantasy!

priestesses of the land… Secrets that will devastate the world.

Ms. Troy creates a wild ride in this sizzling fantasy romance! The world in which her characters reside is one full of magic and rich lore. Lysandro is the de=inition of a hero, perhaps a bit too much so. He’s got an ego to match his adventures, and some readers might need some time to warm up to him. Seraphine is the recipe for a strong heroine, and she meets that expectation most of the time. Their attraction is instant and steamy. A lot of time is taken on the side characters as well, and they are just as interesting as the main characters which helps round out the story. A fun play on classic action hero tales mixed with fantasy, “The Shadow of Theron” is a great read for lovers of either genre who like their books spicy!

The Shadow of Theron (Age of Shadows Book One)

Theron is a great legend. The only proofs of his existence are the holy relics left behind. One by one those relics are disappearing, and Lysandro is determined to keep this from happening. He vows to =ind proof that will convict the town magistrate, Marek, of the crime, and he does so as the masked vigilante – The Shadow of Theron. In his quest, he meets Seraphine, a woman who captivates his attention and brings about far more mysteries. One thing is certain, a lot of secrets are being held by the

Blood Witch Dragon (Dragon Fae Book 1)

K. Panikian

Willa Overholt is a single parent of seven-year-old twins, and her life gets turned upside down when her house burns down, and her twins go missing. At =irst Willa thinks she is losing her


Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

mind when she =inds out they have been captured by the fae, but she quickly follows her neighbor, Shane, to the land of the fae where she begins to discover strength and magic of her own. When Shane and Willa are attacked, Shane learns he seems to have developed new magic too. In a moment of desperation, Willa calls in a favor from a goblin. As she spends time learning from the goblins, she begins to learn more about herself. Willa’s priority is to save her children, and she only hopes that doesn’t mean sacri=icing everyone she has come to love along the way.

A unique fantasy, Ms. Panikian takes the magical and makes it seem plausible and real. As the fantasy world comes to life, there are so many wonderful details. With only days to reach her kids, it seems impossible for someone who didn’t even know the fae existed the day before to face the fae queen. But soon a way is found where time moves slower, and in this story within the story, a relationship between Willa and her goblin friend, Kalo, begins to evolve. Each piece of this vital story clicks into place with another piece of the intricate puzzle in a fabulous way. The development of Willa as she becomes strong enough to face the queen draws the reader in as if they are experiencing this fantasy realm and growing stronger along with her. With a jaw dropping twist at the end, the second book in this series can’t come soon enough! A fantastic read!

The Whisperer’s Wish

Laurelin Moore has a secret. She is a whisperer, and she has kept her abilities hidden for sixteen years. Revealing her ability is incredibly dangerous, but now that Ausland’s queen has died, she has the opportunity to become a Rook in a competition that will not only decide who Ausland’s next leader will be, but the

winner will also be granted one wish. She is determined to win because her brother, Pippin, has been sick for four years. Cancer is killing him, and the elixir that she brings to him won’t last much longer. This is her only chance to save his life, but what will it cost her?

“The Whisperer’s Wish” is an enthralling urban fantasy with a remarkable magic system. While the magical creatures known as pygmys are a very important part of this fantasy world, there aren’t a lot of descriptors to indicate what they look like. Readers may have a dif=icult time developing a mental image of pygmys because of this. Nonetheless, this competition inspired novel has characters that are very relatable, and readers are sure to grow attached to them. The story is packed with action, fast paced, and intense. There are also some very sentimental and real moments between characters. The emotions of the characters and their feelings when it comes to dealing with terminal illness are very well written. With the perfect mix of mythology, fantasy elements, adventure and a little bit of romance leading them on, readers will not want to put this one down!


Cocktails & Cauldrons

giving a focal point that will entice the reader to follow the series from beginning to end. Each character is distinct and rounded, and the author is able to articulate this well with humor and snappy dialogue. The romance is PG rated, and that too works well, allowing the focus to be on the magical elements and plot lines. The reader will willingly get sucked into this world of humor, magic, and love.

dancing and axe throwing. Zane can only hope it’s due to her becoming more outgoing and ambitious, but he has a feeling there is a lot more to it than that.

Reclusive artist Eoin O’Malley has made a name for himself in the art world and comes from a long line of powerful witches that have only recently had their magic returned to them. Wall=lower Brenna Sullivan is the niece of one of Eoin’s patrons. The quiet, mousey girl has intrigued Eoin over the last four years, all while rebuf=ing her voracious Aunt Odessa. When Brenna loses her job and is cast out of her home by Odessa, Eoin employs her to be his manager, but Odessa’s jealousy knows no bounds, and Brenna is oblivious to the world of magic, let alone her own magical background and latent powers. An age-old family rivalry rears its ugly head just as Brenna unravels her powers as a Siren, which could be detrimental to Eoin and everyone in her path. A sweet and endearing story of love and discovery, this is the fourth book in the Unlucky Charms series that follows the lives and loves of the O’Malley clan as they each =ind their soul mate and break the curse to discover their magical abilities. It is interesting, humorous, and sweet, with the feud between the O’Malleys and the O’Connors

Dream Rider (Dream Weavers #3)

Kimberly Dean

“Dream Rider” is a super fun slow-burn paranormal story that is enthralling from beginning to end. The dialogue between the characters is fantastic and while it can be very amusing and entertaining, there are also some tender moments and super steamy scenes. Ms. Dean does an excellent job of building up a world full of paranormal components that make this book incredibly unique, fast paced and very engaging. Readers will be on the edge of their seats toward the end of story with a plot twist that they won’t see coming. With preternatural elements, steamy romance scenes, and dangerously thrilling moments, “Dream Rider” is one readers won’t want to miss!

Zane Oneiros is a dream weaver, and with this, he has the ability to enter someone’s dreams and in=luence what happens in them. Out of curiosity, Zane decides to enter Emily Hutchin’s dream. Their relationship has only ever been platonic. They do work together after all. But his curiosity gets the better of him, and his desire to know if they could ever be more than friends causes Zane to become a bit reckless in her dream. After this, things begin to unravel rather quickly. Emily is suddenly having a hard time sleeping, and she begins acting out of character, doing things she never usually does such as belly

HORROR: Elle Barclay thought that appraising a =igurine collection would be a simple task. As a spiritual medium, it takes an interesting turn when a spirit tells

T. M. Cromer Jennifer Shepherd Horned Owl Hollow Karla Brandenburg

her that she must protect the property for Martin. Even more strange circumstances arise when a man appears at the door claiming to be Martin Foster; even more curious is that he states he’s been lost in the Bermuda Triangle for the last one hundred years. The spirits of the house are determined to succeed in their mission, and this makes things dif=icult for Elle – even more so when Martin seems to be ill due to his journey, and his health is deteriorating quickly. Will Elle be able to achieve what the spirits want? Or is she doomed with the other residents of Horned Owl Hollow?

This is an interesting premise, and Karla Brandenburg has done well to tell a ghost story that mixes with a little fantasy and science =iction with the time travelling aspect. There are an array of interesting characters –both human and ghost – that bring this book together. There are some aspects where more description could have been used, but ultimately the lack doesn’t take away from the overall feel of the book. Those who are fans of ghost stories with a twist will really enjoy this, and “Horned Owl Hollow” is one to download to your e-reader this spring. It might be even better reading this in the dark with the =ire going – or hiding under the blankets! Whatever the circumstances, it’s a fascinating read.

Fallen Angel (Coven Daughters Book 4)

back and caring man who tries to win Cynthia over, and readers can’t help but like him. It is recommended that readers should read the series in order, so as to have a better understanding and enjoyment of the world building, events, and characters. Nevertheless, this fast paced tale will be entertaining for all who love action-packed romance!

Cynthia Fields is a witch trying to =igure out the Coven Daughters’ prophecy. She comes from a troubled past where no one stays around for her. Cynthia needs to connect with her =ive coven sisters and unlock the secrets of Fire and Chaos. In her quest for answers, she goes on a crosscountry hitchhiking trip where she meets a truck driver who has the ability to jump into different bodies. She also meets Raven, who she has a one-night stand with. It turns out he is a shifter with an agenda of his own: revenge. Raven knows a lot about the prophecy and can be very valuable to Cynthia, so they form an alliance.

“Fallen Angel” is a enthralling paranormal romance =illed with witches and spells. Kat Turner, has created an interesting and fascinating storyline which is somewhat hard to follow if one has not read the books in order. Characters are complex and strong, some appealing, and some that de=initely aren’t. The reader may not be a fan of Cynthia in the beginning as she seems to always be on a downward spiral and doesn’t trust anyone. On the other hand, Raven who is such a laid

Security Force of Two (Mountain Town Mysteries Book 1)

Tena Stetler

Candle Bearclaw is a gifted computer analyst/programmer recruited right out of college by the CIA. Her latest assignment is going down a very dark and dangerous path. After 15 years she resigns and returns to her hometown of Aspen Ridge, Colorado, where her father was Chief of Police. Miacoh Zane, a Special Forces Veteran returns to Aspen Ridge to settle his grandmother’s estate. Neither counted on the horrible crime of murder committed against the new chief who replaced Candle’s father. Neither counted on having to help Homeland Security, the


FBI, and the local police to solve the murder.

“Security Force of Two” is a wonderful start to a new series! The author has created a storyline that pulls the reader in from the =irst page until the very end. The characters are well written and complex, and one is going to love the small town setting. The story has some fun moments with a dog thrown into the mix. The reader will love Candle, who is tough as nails, knows what she wants, and doesn’t need rescuing. Tena Stetler has successfully included many different genres in this tale. such as a touch of paranormal, sparks of romance, suspense, and action, all within a small town setting! The relationship between Candle and Miacoh slowly develops naturally while their chemistry and attraction between them steams up the pages. One may feel the story seems long in places, and wish for a little more of the paranormal element, but overall, “Security Force of Two” is a brilliantly told tale!


A Flock of Vampires

Everlyn C. Thompson

Stood up by an online date, lonely witch Keltti heads home and walks into the cross=ire of a battle between vampire warriors and rebels. During night patrol, hunting vicious soul eaters of the local rebel vampire army, Stu, a Vampire King's Warrior, =inds himself guarding a petite witch who had the misfortune to get caught in the cross=ire. When the battle ends, Keltti feels compelled to use her magic to heal one of the wounded warriors. Her skills bring about an offer from the leader of the King's Guard to become their of=icial healer. Accepting the job puts her in close contact with the brooding Stu, who =inds himself irresistibly drawn to the little witch. Will they accept their magical bond before the forces of evil win the night?

A slow-burning love story guaranteed to cast a page turning spell on its readers, "A Flock of Vampires" is an action-=illed urban fantasy of good versus evil. Romantic tension gathers to a semi-satisfying state, leaving readers wanting more. The battles are thrilling confrontations promising to hold the reader's attention. Readers will fall under the spell of this paranormal world where the cast,

major, secondary, and bit, are intriguing, well-de=ined individuals. The alluring world they inhabit is as vividly dark as it is vibrantly real, however, readers are sadly denied the reasons for the main hero's keenly felt sense of unworthiness. The happy ever after promises to be an ongoing tale readers will anticipate with glee. Hopefully Ms. Thompson won't disappoint her welldeserved fans, and continue to provide more gripping stories from this world of Vampire Warriors battling evil and hoping for the bonds of love to come their way.

My Song’s Gift (Duet of the Gods Book 2)

Alex is a god and has fallen in love with Lula, a siren, but now Zeus wants Lula to rule Olympus so that she can become as evil as he is. However, Zeus isn’t the only one who is trying to tear Alex and Lula apart. When Alex confesses his secret to Lula about when they =irst met, Lula grows angry and runs away from him. As Lula runs, she runs right into the arms of the enemy: Moros. So not only do Alex and Lula have to deal with the chaos from Zeus, now they

Tonya Mathenia Poppy Minnix

must deal with the evilness from Moros. What will Lula choose? Will she choose chaos, or will she choose to stay with Alex whom she loves?

“My Song’s Gift” is an adventure of the new age. With a mixture of paranormal and fantasy, Poppy Minnix takes another turn on theology. Zeus is a bad god instead of a good god as he is explained in other folklore adventures. The book is told by two points of views which shows the readers the attraction between the main characters. The author uses the connection with theology and fantasy to keep her readers on the edge of their seats with continuous action throughout the book as the characters’ chemistry emanates from the pages. Readers looking for a book that contains theology with spicy romance, this novel will not leave them disappointed.

his fated mate until he rescues an unknown paranormal from the clutches of The Order, a human organization that targets all species of non-humans for torture, experimentation, and extermination. When the lovely young Joelle rushes forth to heal her injured captors, Alexei realizes two things: that he has found his soulmate, and that this angel is too good for him. Believing that only demons could sense their mates, Alexei thinks he is protecting Joelle by not drawing her into his dark and dangerous world but he is wrong, and he is only hurting her by denying the bond that she feels as well!

Dark Wine at Dawn

Wicked Grace (Wicked Book 3)

Luna Joya

“Wicked Grace” is full of frenetic energy and romantic angst. It launches directly into Joelle’s rescue from The Order, but with the promise of retribution from the organization’s cruel leader, Noxx, the sense of dread is ever present. At the same time, the witch world is in political turmoil and although Alexei and Joelle’s story is insulated from much of the bigger picture, the frequent mentions of concurrent storylines can result in some sensory overload. It is also easy to become angry with Alexei’s =ixed belief in his unworthiness of his “Angel” and his lack of insight into the pain he in=licts on his rejected fated mate. On her part, Joelle is a con=licted blend of tortured survivor, intellectual genius, and gullible innocent. With perseverance, fans of Luna Joya’s wicked and entangled paranormal world will be rewarded with a just and “orderly” conclusion!

Demon Prince, Alexei Maronov, is kept busy as the general of his father’s criminal empire in the shadows of Los Angeles. He’d almost given up hope of =inding

Henry Bautista and his =iancé e, Cerissa, have traveled to the New York Collective in order to ful=ill Henry’s bite requirements with his maker, Anne-Louise, but of course, when Henry and AnneLouise are near each other, all hell breaks loose. On top of dealing with the maker-child drama, highranking of=icials within the Collective are being found by the human NYPD, completely drained of blood. Thankfully, AnneLouise’s boyfriend, Rick, is on the case… until he disappears too! Tig gets called in by Leopold, the leader of the Collective to help with the case – and then they learn an old enemy has resurfaced. Can Cerissa help Tig solve the case without revealing her extra powers as a Lux? Can Henry =ind a way to =inally be rid of his maker? What should have been a fun vacation in the Big Apple during the holidays turns into anything but!

Avid fans of the series will relish the chance to spend more time with Henry and Cerissa – and a few of the starring secondary characters – outside of the Hill. Having this story based in New York is a welcome change from the usual locale, and brings with



it new details and adventures. The mystery in this tale will have readers =lipping through the pages at a rapid pace to =ind out whodunit and how the good guys are going to stop anyone else from dying. The chemistry between Henry and Cerissa is, as usual, scorching the pages. The secondary storylines are entertaining and bring extra interest, and Anne-Louise will have readers’ blood boiling – like always! “Dark Wine at Dawn” highlights immortal shenanigans at their =inest. What a ride!

realizes she can see them, he soon calls upon the leaders of a group called the Shepherds. They explain to her what she is to Grace and the rules of her new role in life, whether she wants them or not, her new powers are here to stay. Also, here to stay are Ben and Gideon, enemies on opposing sides of an ancient battle who both =ind themselves drawn to Grace. When her new powers open her up to a world she had no clue existed, her old life is being touched by a darkness that only Grace can see.

Marked for Grace (The Marked Book 1) K.C. Harper

Grace Crawford has a bit of a problem; she is an exhausted nurse struggling to keep up on with life and a mortgage and mourning the loss of her mother. There is also that slight problem with being able to see souls. Grace has a supportive best friend, a caring friend group and a great job, what she doesn’t have is answers to why she started seeing souls at eighteen years old after a traumatic accident. Grace She has only shared her secret with her best friend Noah, but when a doctor at the hospital

Pick up this book, right now, you will be hooked. The reader is in for a welldeveloped and truly satisfying journey with this =irst entry into this new series. The sides in this story pull GraceEach side of this story pulls the character in very different ways and you can feel the pressure building between what she has been told and what she feels. Grace She is forced to rely on what her instincts tell her, even when the one she should be able to trust is the one who doesn’t believe what she feels and sees. You won’t be able to get enough of these characters and when the book ends, it’s a guarantee you will be searching for what comes next.


Marked as Queen of Hearts (Rolling Brook series Book 5)

Blye Donovan

Rafe Alonso is the newly appointed Police Captain, a promotion he received after convicting a serial killer in the big city. He’s settling in the small Illinois town of Rolling Brook when a familiar face shows up in his local market and he’s =looded with memories from a decade ago. Tori Graham (Rafe’s ex-girlfriend) has come to town to work on her most recent novel. Her adorable dog, Toby, is her loyal sidekick. She’s determined to interview Rafe and get some insight into the serial killer and the case (that still gives him nightmares) so she can add technical details to her latest book. Can Rafe keep Tori safe –and his heart – while she’s in the copycat killer’s crosshairs?

Ms. Donovan has a penned a poetic romance while weaving a suspenseful murder mystery in “Marked as Queen of Hearts”! Rafe and Tori are given a second chance at love, and although it’s a common trope, the past that creeps into the present in this book proves painful and relatable making it more unique. The murderer is allusive enough; however, readers may =ind slight predictability as the killings

continue. The suspense and the chase are well written which draws readers into the story and keeps the pages =lipping steadily to the very end. The rekindling of two people that =it and belong together adds a lovely secondary storyline to this tale. This book stands alone, however if given the chance… indulge in the series. Heart-pounding perfection!

*Contains some subjects that may serve as triggers for some readers*

keeping CIA assets alive. Forced together for several days, Laura and Ghost can’t avoid the attraction between them. For the =irst time, the Ghost is plagued by very human feelings.

Unseen (A Guardian Novel)

This book keeps you tense from the =irst chapter. Part of the Guardian series, it doesn’t disappoint with the action or the romance. Though this book is part of a series, it stands alone as each book focuses on an individual undercover ace who guards important assets. Manuel is dead, as that is the only way he could truly leave his past behind. Calling himself Ghost, he has no idea the challenge he faces in this assignment will be one of his toughest—leaving behind a woman he loves. As a former member of the CIA, the author’s knowledge of actions and resources is extensive. She also does a good job of creating the charged atmosphere of two people attracted to each other in a situation of forced dependence. An entertaining read, this book will keep you hooked from the beginning!

Laura is in Honduras visiting her abuela when the older woman falls ill. A nurse practitioner herself, Laura enjoys the comfort of her scrubs. However, that comfort costs her when local gang members kidnap her to help their wounded companion. Terri=ied she’s going to be killed, Laura does her best, but also prepares for the worst. Using sedatives as her weapon, she unknowingly aids a man who comes in to rescue the wounded man. Once again, Laura is taken hostage by a stranger, but this man seems intent on keeping her and her patient safe. He calls himself Ghost, and he’s charged with

82 Suspense/Thriller

Code Crisis

Joe Purpura


doctor’s mind never stops. He is relentless in his analysis of terrorist possibilities, which makes him a perfect partner to the gifted Agent Talbot. When he =irst steps into her world, Vince is in awe of Carolyn, not only for her professional assets but for her beauty and poise. He quickly =inds his footing, and with no time to lose, skillfully steers her tactical team towards the necessary clues to avert total disaster. There is room to further delve into character volatility and leaps of intuition that can leave readers stunned, but the climax is bold and provoking!

Gynecologist, Dr. Vince DeLuca, works at Santa Barbara Community Hospital. His life consists of saving lives then heading home to a glass or two of red wine, sleep, and repeat… Until one day, an ectopic emergency rattles his familiar jaded repertoire. A patient near death makes a pre-operative confession of in=idelity, and after surviving her surgery, utters bizarre ramblings in her post-anesthetic delirium. Her husband is an arms dealer, and her mentions of “stingers” and “grails” sends chills down Vince’s spine when he recognizes the names from the evening news. Shadows of the past prompt him to call the FBI and team up with Agent Carolyn Talbot. Tall, blonde, and businesslike, Agent Talbot lights a =lame under Vince that has been absent since he lost his =iancé e on 9/11. Together they must solve the puzzle of where missing mass casualty weapons will turn up next, and who will be their targets.

“Code Crisis” is an elevated debut thriller that is equal parts adrenaline and intellect. Vince DeLuca’s pressured inner voice sets the tone for this page-turner, but even during his downtime, the

Invisible Pursuit

Elizabeth Meyette

keep her feelings for him at bay. After all, the danger surrounding her is increasing at a rapid rate, and she is also taking care of her ailing father. Matters of the heart should wait, shouldn’t they?

“Invisible Pursuit” is an enemiesto-lovers romance that is very engaging and easy to read. The character development is done well and the familial relationship between Layla and her father will pull at readers heartstrings. While the story is written well, readers may be left wanting a little more history of Layla’s past. Her former relationship is mentioned, but it could have been explored a little bit more to gain more understanding of Layla and the reasons behind her actions. With that being said, her love interest, Jack, checked all the boxes for a great romantic partner. There are some romantic scenes in the book, but they are generally kept behind closed doors. “Invisible Pursuit” is de=initely for readers who love suspenseful thrillers with a little bit of spice thrown in.

Layla Forrester was left at the altar in a previous relationship, and now she is afraid to fall in love with anyone ever again. But when she receives a letter at her workplace with a white chemical substance in it, =irst responder, Jack Trenton, enters her life and completely upends it. When things begin to unfold, Layla learns that she may have a stalker, and Jack will stop at nothing to protect her. As Layla and Jack begin to spend more time with one another, she tries her best to


My Dear Mr. Ridley (Diamonds of London Book 1)

predictability of some main plot lines eradicates the suspense. The romance is deliciously prominent as the author =ills the pages with steam and adoration scenes, but the romantic build-up while this woman’s child is missing is somewhat of a turn off in the lightest sense, not to mention her constant damsel in distress act gets tedious, and it’s predictable that only Hudson can make her feel better. Nevertheless, the beautiful description of Rome will make readers feel like they are actually there with the characters and it enthralls one to continue so they can be a part of this still enjoyable tale.

HISTORICAL: After leaving the loneliness of London since her husband’s death three years prior, Theodosia Netherton is glad to be in Rome where she can be with her son, Jacob. However, her plans go awry when her son is kidnapped, and buried parts of her past surface. Her only hope is to =ind a former Bow Street Runner, Hudson Ridley, who is anything but interested in returning to that reputation. Hudson has lived in Rome as a relaxed retiree after haunting events. The minute Theodosia shows up at his door though, he’s immediately entrapped by her eyes, and he decides soon after he will help her. Little do they know the attraction that initially burns between them will continue to grow, making things a bit more complicated during their investigation.

This gripping, steamy whirlwind of a novel sends the readers down a rabbit hole of feelings, stirring things up by setting the Victorian lifestyle in the romantic city of Rome instead of the London ton. The new setting and the kidnapped child plot makes this book unique, but the


knowledge but =igures she can also use it to help others. As Gabby gets better, she discovers the truth about the accident: that her husband might have caused it. Unfortunately, he is also fatally wounded right before her eyes. Gabby and her roommate’s uncle, Jace Wright, attempt to solve his murder and prevent Gabby from being killed in the process too. Ms. Erfert has written an astounding and addictive suspense tale that is just unputdownable! The originality of the story is heightened with great visuals, non-stop adventure, and enshrouded with mystery that makes it an engaging read! A masterfully written stunner! Just absolute perfection! Even though the story is =iction, the believability of it still seems plausible, and maybe there is some truth to it too. There are many diverse, breath-taking plot twists going on, yet the story moves effortlessly along. Gabby, an extraordinary heroine, discovers that she has a superhuman talent yet still manages to be relatable and likable. Despite Jace’s skepticism, he is a good counterpart for her too. All the minor characters are three-dimensional and just seem so real. This is one masterpiece that readers will just love and reread again and again!

PARANORMAL: When Mrs. Gabriella “Gabby” Williams wakes up from a coma caused by a horri=ic car crash, everyone is shocked by her near death experience, including herself. A doctor teaches her to talk through melodic intonation therapy, and Gabby learns through creating brain synapses instantaneously. As Gabby is progressing with all of her therapies, she discovers she can also hear people’s thoughts. Gabby, at =irst, is scared of the

Austen Grace

Science Fiction

On Sale Now!

Christian’s Mate (Sons of Osiris 2)

surprised if this book is =inished in one sitting. Cassidy and Christian are two dynamic characters that are clearly meant to be together, and the force trying to keep them apart keeps this tale moving at a swift pace. “Christian’s Mate” is an absolute must to add to the e-reader, and it will have readers going back to read the =irst book in the Sons of Osiris series. Unputdownable!

quickly becoming the reason for him to carry on.

PARANORMAL: To say Cassidy LeBeau turned his world upside down would be an understatement for Christian Shaw. As Beta of the Snow Water Lycans, he has to make sure that all his focus is on keeping the pack in line and helping the Alpha. But that all becomes dif=icult the second he sets eyes on her. He feels that pull and knows she is his mate. Cassidy can’t believe what’s happening. She needed help and ended up discovering she is a Lycan’s mate. Everything comes to a head when Cassidy admits that she is being stalked and the individual will stop at nothing until he has her. Will Christian be able to save her from a terrible fate and convince her that she is meant to be with him?

Delores Nash has really hit the ground running with this novella! Christian is a hot blooded male who is determined to save the woman he loves, and a paranormal romances go, this is a dictionary de=inition that fans will absolutely love and eat up within a couple of hours. With a real hero and a believable villain to sink one’s teeth into, don’t be

A Willowbrook Miracle


HISTORICAL: When Lady Victoria Crawley left London to live with her grandmother, she had no idea danger would follow! While walking home one evening, she =inds a man who’s been shot and is in desperate need of help. That man turns out to be Hunter Willowbrook, heir to a Dukedom and grandson of a dear friend of Victoria’s family. With Hunter returning from war, he has no idea the most dangerous place to be might be at home! It seems someone much more dangerous is waiting and wants him dead. The challenge is to =ind out who before they have a chance to =inish the job and before anyone else gets hurt – especially the young lady who saved him and is

What a lovely way to spend an evening! This novella is a quick read, yet it holds all the feel goods that one looks for in a romantic escape. The brevity of the story doesn’t allow for any depth of character, and the suspect and mystery are very apparent almost immediately. The romance is insta-love at =irst sight with little understanding of how or why it hit, and the relationship also progresses without the courtesies of the era, such as asking for permission to court, etc. Still, these two make a wonderful couple, and the race to see how our heroes will thwart the villains is fun and entertaining. If one is searching for a love story with just a touch of suspense, this truly is a fun and quick romp through romance!

If Jelly Beans Were Kisses (Jelly Beans and Spring Things)

Virginia Barlow

CONTEMPORARY: When Jillian Andrews’ partner dies in a cartel set up, she suddenly =inds a new partner in Zachary Tillman. Zach

86 Novella
Delores Nash

is the only member of the Dallas Police Force willing to partner with Jill. He has always been attracted to her and waited through her bitter divorce, now he sees his chance to show her what a great partner he can be – on duty and off. Jill is unprepared for a man who is reliable, supportive, and kind. But soon she =inds that he is exactly what she needs as they begin to unravel what really happened to her partner, and the scale of who is involved. Jill learns to trust Zach, but will she get the chance to =ind out what being with him is like before those who betrayed and killed her partner take her out of the equation too?

Jill and Zach have a heated chemistry from the beginning, and as they share jelly beans instead of giving in to the heat between them, the tension only grows. As feelings develop between the two, they are also involved in a police case with depth, twists, and turns. This fast-paced novella keeps the pages turning and packs in romance throughout the deeper plotline of the crimes being solved. Virginia Barlow manages to merge the police drama with the romance in a wonderful blend. As Jill learns to trust Zach and work with him, her character grows and matures. A terri=ic balance of light and sunshine with the crafted dark criminal plot. Fans of mysteries and romance will =ind this to be both a quick uplifting read.

Four Aces: 1800s Deadwood Diaries

April Holthaus

story never once trails away from the main struggles, so the details involving the Old West only aim to support the storyline and intrigue the readers rather than take over. Both the main characters are likable, and watching their relationship develop over time builds this unputdownable story that is “Four Aces”.

HISTORICAL: Emily Taylor is left with two jobs and a mound of debt to clean up after her husband passed away. Despite all this, she is determined to save her farm and keep the life she’s always known. In order to keep her farm running, she hires a farmhand to help; however, he has a few secrets up his sleeve. What she has yet to discover is that he is actually U.S. Marshal Jameson Reid, who is speci=ically in Deadwood searching for one of the most notorious outlaws: Harmon Elwood. As Emily and Jameson’s lives merge together in their separate pursuits, secrets unfold, partnered with a strong connection neither saw coming. When reading “Four Aces” the imagery, dialogue, and background are enough to make anyone feel as if they are truly in 1800s Deadwood. There is a strong sense of struggle that is to be expected during this time period, speci=ically for Emily as a widow; yet the determination that Emily has throughout the entire novel is inspiring and she never backs down. Once Jameson comes to town, the idea of a lawless town full of outlaws really sets in. The

The Vampire Billionaire’s Secret Baby

Sharon Buchbinder

PARANORMAL: Meddy Stheno, a Gorgon and home organizer, is called in to help tidy the home of single dad casino owner and Vampire billionaire, Quinn Ward. Quinn is on the run and is a new resident in hiding at Cat’s Paw Cove, a supernatural town with quirky residents. His primary focus is to protect his son from evil supernaturals who are out to exploit Danny’s Dhampir powers. The attraction between Meddy and Quinn is instant, but can Quinn overcome his past and let Meddy into his heart and trust her with his son? And can he count on her and the rest of the supernatural residents to keep his son safe from the head of the Vampire house?



This is a light read, best suited for a young audience, as it resonates strongly with the quirky banter and slapstick comedy of the 1996 sitcom Sabrina the Teenage Witch. The novella is jam-packed with multiple characters that unfortunately make little sense within the overall plot. Though the tale has potential, it falls short with the characters competing for attention. It would have bene=ited from a ‘show don’t tell’ policy, as every character is introduced with a detailed description like in a pantomime. A focus on the central characters may have worked better, as their personalities are somewhat wooden, and the attraction/ romance feels non-existent. The villain and goons are stereotypical caricatures, hard to engage with. In addition, it does not address pivotal questions such as why a Vegas casino? Would a Vampire go into hiding? What’s the villain’s story? This would perhaps be more enjoyable and understood better if the series were read in order.

someone who believes in rainbows and unicorns. Luke left town after high school, needing to prove himself and get away from his father. Now he’s back and he realizes that Calliope is all he’s ever wanted. “Jack and the Beanstalk” forms the basis of this fantastical tale. More interaction between Calliope and Luke at the start would have strengthened their connection. Additionally, more explanation of the magic of Lake Unami would have oriented readers better. Even so, “Sophia’s Magic Beans” is the kind of feelgood story that brings joy to readers’ hearts!

URBAN FANTASY: Single mother, Calliope Novak owns a candy store that brings happiness and jelly beans to customers. A free spirit, she devotes her time to her business and her six-year-old daughter. Luke O’Brian has lost his job and his reputation. He returns home to Lake Unami, New Jersey, for reasons he cannot explain. But he can’t help thinking of Calliope, his childhood girlfriend. It isn’t long, though, before Luke realizes his problems are connected to Calliope’s ex-husband. Calliope has no intention of getting back with her ex-husband. But Lake Unami works its magic and suddenly Luke and Calliope have a chance at a future neither imagined. Can the two =ind a way to bridge the hurts of the past to create a family for a little girl who believes in magic?

“Sophia’s Magic Beans” is a sweet, heartwarming tale woven with a touch of heavenly magic and the belief of a young child! Calliope is honest and direct and doing the best she can to raise her daughter and keep her business a=loat. Despite her ex-husband, she has discovered the person she is—

Lyon of the Highlands: The Lyons Den Connected World

HISTORICAL: Wilhelmina Redstone might be a dowager countess, but her life was one of abuse and heartbreak. Her days are spent hiding from the world, an outsider in the current Count’s family. Then an opportunity arises to visit the infamous Lyon’s Den where women can arrange marriages in their favor. Duncan MacLeish is laird of his clan. His father was a wastrel, spending the estate’s money on his

Sophia’s Magic Beans (Jelly Beans and Spring Things)

personal pleasures. As a result, Duncan, a giant of a Scot, must search for an heiress to take to wife. At the Lyon’s Den, he discovers a woman who brings out all his protective instincts. As much as Mina wishes to start afresh, Mina doesn’t believe she deserves happiness, and fears disappointing her new husband. Duncan knows that he will have to take things slow. Yet, he is determined to show his wife that she is his most precious possession.

“Lyon of the Highlands” delivers an emotionally charged tale that tugs at the heartstrings and offers a promise of hope! Mina is a wounded soul who has little

reason to trust. Yet, she desperately yearns to =ind a place of her own where she can heal. Duncan represents safety and the possibility of a future. As Laird, Duncan has a duty to his people, but he places his duty to Mina above all. Even when he makes mistakes, he strives to do better, always seeking to gain Mina’s trust. Secondary characters =ill out the story. There’s a sense that the story would have bene=itted from being longer given the serious topics that are dealt with. Nonetheless, “Lyon of the Highlands” is a page turner that will captivate hearts!



Always a Groomsman (Love on the Run Book 1)

Michel Prince

stops Connor’s heart, Serena learns her cousin Bethany is getting married in the Dominican Republic, and Serena’s presence is essential to the wedding. The party-=illed days are interrupted by the bride’s meltdowns as she struggles to create a beautiful, multicultural wedding that highlights the couple’s love for each other. When one of the groomsmen is found dead on the beach, the wedding plans become even more complicated. Believing the young man accused of the murder is innocent, Serena and Connor must =ind the real murderer before the bride’s special day.

Serena and Connor Love travel the world sharing their adventures on Serena’s vlog. Shortly after Serena’s cliff dive which almost

This book presents a delightful mix of romance and wedding fever while certainly setting the stage for future books. Readers will

identify with the family trials that accompany wedding planning when one is trying to mix the traditions and customs of two different cultures. Further complicating the story is the competition going on at the law =irm where most of the wedding party works. A murdered groomsman heightens the tension because he was disliked so much by coworkers. The complexities of love are presented with a backdrop of corrupt politics in a resort rimmed by the poor people who are at the mercy of a government fueled by greed. Serena and Connor are the calm in the midst of the storm, and the voice of reality in the chaos. Readers will be watching for book two with anticipation!

Leah Neale

SUSPENSE/THRILLER: Zoe is a hardened agent working for a special ops division of the CIA. Trained from a young age to be an assassin, Zoe is now at crossroads, wanting to step back from her highoctane life and build a life with her girlfriend, Isabel, yet still gain approval from her boss and uncle, Easton. When she involuntarily orphans a young girl, Leah, during her last op, Zoe is further con=licted. Leah’s father has been negotiating a sale of the =irst ever ‘invisibility’ nano weapon to the highest bidder, and has hidden the codes within riddles that he’s taught Leah making her a prime target. Zoe’s determined for this to be her =inal mission, to keep Leah safe, and start her new life with her =iancé e. This story has a fast-paced and intriguing plot line of espionage and counter-espionage, where the writer focuses on strong female characters that are engaging and inclusive, yet also have human =laws. The plot develops steadily with subplots and twists that engage the reader until the middle of the book. From this point on, the storyline devolves into a Bgrade action movie, with dialogue that is too simplistic to be from experienced operatives, and plot complexities that are initiated and conclude too fast. The story has the scope to be split into two books to build on the villain’s mindset, and also add more depth to the bond growing between Zoe and Leah, which seems too forced. Nevertheless, “The Child Riddler” is an entertaining read which could have played out better with more background to Zoe’s early life and its similarities to the Nine-yearold Leah.

The Child Riddler Angela Greenman

Science Fiction

on within it. This is de=initely one of those books that sci-=i lovers will adore and enjoy with a cup of tea on a lovely spring night or even by the =ire under a blanket. Beware, it is a page turner and hard to put down.

Coup de Grâce

The world is an extremely dif=icult place to live in. Kaimo de Morté is an optometrist but cannot afford to start his own business so he makes do with what he can. Little does he know that an encounter will change everything he knows and pull him into a battle that could see all life around the world eradicated. While he has absolutely no idea what he is doing, Kaimo will discover more about himself than he ever thought possible and he will not only have to =ight for his life, but for the future of mankind. Will Kaimo be able to help save mankind? Or will he perish along with everyone else in the world?

“Coup de Grâ ce” is a fascinating book which fans of steampunk will devour and adore. The descriptions are great and really help to build an image of the world in the readers mind. Kaimo is an interesting character who =inds himself throughout the book after a little bit of a rough start. The book has a real regular guy to hero feel and Paul Centeno has done an awesome job of building a world and characters that create a great story and has a lot of themes and aspects going

The Golden Cage Kate L.

For centuries, the island of Sansara has been cut off from the rest of the world, choosing to keep its distance from the rest of society. There, they have gotten the role of women down to a science – quite literally. At the tender age of six, girls are classi=ied and separated to perform their chosen duties. For some, that might mean taking care of a house and husband; for others, it is to be beautiful and adored, while still others are forced into hard labor behind the scenes. Elora, Rose, and Odette are three different women with three very different dreams who live polar-opposite lives. As they rise above, desperate to gain their version of happiness, each must choose to succumb to the system that made them – or break free from its grasp.

“The Golden Cage” is rich in detail and drama, making it a book to savor! The dystopian setting isn’t bogged down with extra information, giving the readers just enough to make the world real without it being boring. These women are featured as leads, and each has her own unique journey as she tries to survive the devastating world they live in. Ms. Mary has a poetic way with words which creates a beautiful =low on the page. There is a lot going on, so much so it’s almost impossible to =it it all into one book! Readers will become absorbed in the stories of Odette, Elora, and Rose, and root for their happiness. It should be noted that there are triggers for sexual assault present in the novel. Overall, this is a gem that will resonate with readers long after they turn the last page!


The Earl’s Timely WallLlower (Taken by Destiny Book 1)

Aurrora St. James

Lily Bennett is trying to =ind a place to =it in after both her siblings =ind lives of their own. When she comes across an intricate timepiece at work and sets it to midnight, she suddenly =inds herself in Regency England! She is rescued by Violet, who brings her home to her brother, Gabriel Hawthorn, Earl of Rothden. He =inds her tale of being an American from the future fantastical, but has her stay since she has nowhere to go. He is having a house party for some relaxation before the London Season. The sizzle starts immediately between Gabriel and Lily. She befriends Gabriel’s friends, including the eccentric inventor, Christian Albury, Earl of Huntington. Lily’s =irst priority is to =ind the clockmaker who made the time device so she can get home.

“The Earl’s Timely Wall=lower” is a vividly created “=ish out of water” tale. Great dilemma for Lily – should she stay or go, if given the chance. Lily, Gabriel, and Violet are extremely colorful characters who carry the story. Most of Gabriel’s friends, with the exception of Christian have a

tendency to remain one dimensional. It is not quite believable when Christian assembles a delicate invention while riding horseback as part of the hunt. Gabriel is too lenient on his ex-mistress when she shows up, making him seem weak. It is too obvious too soon what Christian is working on, which takes some of the surprise away from the story. The pacing is excellent, and the tale is dif=icult to put down once started. An unusual story combining time travel and historical facets, fans of both genres will absolutely love this novel!

a home. Instantly sucked in, both Ellie and Harry suddenly =ind themselves in the 14th century. With no way to get back, Ellie learns she must see life through a different lens before she will be allowed back to her children and the 21st century.

The Veil Between Worlds

Hope Carol

This engaging time-travel story is a mix of fabulous 14th century tidbits woven in to enlighten a 21st century mind. The set-up is well constructed. Ellie, as a specialist in all things of that era, including the odd early English language, helps the reader see things through a creative and believable prism. Oddly, there are some jarring inconsistencies in other areas, however, from the songs they sing to the switching of characters names, to the characters actions. Ellie is a terribly pessimistic character as well, making it dif=icult to like and enjoy reading about her. Overall, the story stayed =irmly on the surface with little depth, especially in the romance department. Still, the setting and story are truly lovely to experience overall. One can truly emerge themselves easily and experience a bit of an era long gone but rich with history!


Hartford, a divorced American Middle English professor, and her two daughters traveled to England to visit old friends, she had no idea of the adventure that awaited her! First is meeting Harry, a very handsome neighbor, then having her ex-boyfriend, John, show up at the house in manacles, bruised and bleeding! To explain what happened, John takes Ellie and Harry to an odd labyrinth behind his old castle of

Time -Travel

Savoring Christmas (Rodeo Romance Book 10)

Shanna Hat=ield

Troy Lucas has committed his future to being a rancher and farrier, with a little team roping on the side with his cousin. A former rodeo star, he gave up the constant travel to help his grandmother run the family ranch. Chef Lark Gibson is determined to make her food truck a success and then open a restaurant in Portland. When a runaway steer brings the pair together, they =ind something sparking between them that neither of them thought they’d ever =ind. But Troy’s dreams keep him at the family ranch, and Lark’s dreams take her away from both. As Christmas approaches and old fears begin to resurface, both Troy and Lark will have to determine just what they really want in life.

A charming romance between a rodeo rancher and a potato princess, Troy and Lark are delightful together as they reconcile their dreams with their budding relationship. Both main characters have had trouble with relationships in the past and must overcome doubts and fears concerning their new promising relationship. At the same time, Troy and Lark stand out in that Troy is reserved but not brooding. He is supportive and helpful to Lark, but he’s not infallible. Lark is hardworking and caring to Troy, but wary of giving up her dreams as well. Avoiding many tropes, their pairing is both realistic and natural to the point that the reader could easily envision meeting the couple in real life. Lovers of rural contemporary romance will =ind that this book is a fabulous choice!

96 Inspirational

Hot Magic (Cat’s Paw Cove #4)

Catherine Kean

the layers of romance that includes a darker and more sinister plot spinning from the ancient King Arthur legends. Altogether, this is a wonderful blend of humor and drama. While it follows many of the familiar tropes for the genre, it’s still a fun novel to plow through! There is a happily for now conclusion with an implied sequel, all set in a continued universe that readers can pick up wherever they want.

Lucian Lord is the reincarnation of an ancient knight of the round table. He has died and come back again several times, and is faithfully served by his squire trapped as a cat—Galahad. In this current lifetime, he runs an antique shop for his grandfather in Cat’s Paw Cove. Molly Hendrickson has recently moved in, fresh off of a devastating break-up to her =iancé . To occupy herself, she has taken to cleaning out her mother’s old home. When she =inds an old necklace, she brings it to Lucian’s shop for an appraisal. The chemistry between her and Lucian is instant… or is it just an ancient curse pulling them together?

Ms. Kean takes a classic legend and turns it upside down! Full of adventure, romance, and magic it grips readers from start to =inish! Lucian is the de=inition of a smoldering hero, totally swoon worthy. It makes sense why Molly feels an instant attraction to him. She is a female lead that readers can get behind easily. On top of the main leads, there is a colorful collection of feline characters that provide sass and laughs amongst

Rebecca Winder gives an energetic performance, keeping the =low of the story going even in some of the slower moments. Her personi=ication of the characters gives them all a unique and distinct sound, even the cats! This combines together to make for a wonderful listen that makes it easy to press play and let it go until the end.

This is a great listen for lovers of urban fantasy and cozy towns!

Harper learns that her father plans to sell her to become the wife of a brothel owner. She is horri=ied, and discovers that she can become a mail order bride instead, and perhaps =ind a better fate by traveling to Colorado. Neil Thompson is a widower in Miner’s Gulch, Colorado. His wife passed away during a =lu epidemic four years prior, leaving him as a single father to a now 6year-old girl. When Lacey arrives in Colorado, she discovers that Neil has no idea that his family has gone behind his back to =ind him a bride, but Lacey is stuck, and has nowhere else to go. While the motivations are delineated for each of the main characters, the world-building is con=ined to the ranch in Miner’s Gulch, to a small part of Denver, and to a select few locations in Boston. The town of Miner’s Gulch has such an interesting name; it might have been nice to learn more about it as well. Additionally, it’s somewhat incongruous that Neil falls so quickly after declaring multiple times that he will never marry again; however, his mind is changed by a particular event. Nevertheless, this is a sweet story of creating second chances by =inding the strength to let go of the past and to forge a new path.

Learning to Trust Again (Mail Order Brides of Miner’s Gulch, Book 1)

NOVELLA/HISTORICAL: The story takes place in the late 1800’s, and opens as Lacey

The narrator tries to give each character a distinct voice, but there aren’t signi=icant differences between the various voices within the recording. Additionally, many of the characters have southern accents, although the story occurs in Massachusetts and Colorado. Regardless, the production quality of the recording is strong, and there aren’t any unexpected noises on this recording. This is a heartwarming story about taking chances.

97 Audiobooks

US Flying Boats & Spies: A Nick Grant Adventure (Nick Grant Adventures Book 1)

MYSTERY/YOUNG ADULT: Nick Grant is 16 but looks older; he longs for adventure and hopes to be a pilot and an engineer someday. This story is set in the spring and summer of 1935. The Depression is ongoing, and Nick’s father is in Oregon for work. Without additional income, the Grants may lose their home. After school, Nick works for a man named Mac at the Alameda Air=ield in California, maintaining and repairing planes. As the story opens, Nick meets Charles and Anne Lindbergh, and overhears a conversation about PanAm hiring in San Francisco. Meanwhile, Anne gives Nick a leather map case and instructs him to deliver it to a Mr. Grooch at Pier 22 in San Francisco--to tell no one of this errand, to keep the case closed, and to only give it to Grooch! Nick accepts the ‘mission’ and leaves school the next day to ensure the case is delivered, and to try to get hired to help his parents =inancially.

There are outside forces nearby that Nick is unaware of; thus, several challenges occur within the story, forcing Nick to make some tough choices. His growth arc is evident, yet the story begins with him already as a strong protagonist. This =ictional story is grounded in historical fact, which makes the story extra compelling! Nick’s motives are established at the start, and his character is extremely likable. The story builds steadily, with minimal slower sections. The dialogue sounds authentic and believable.

Andy Valvur does a =ine job giving each character a distinct voice and keeping them consistent throughout. For most of the story, the audiobook recording quality is excellent; however, Chapter 21 has multiple skips in it between the 1:20 - 5:00minute mark, which is somewhat disappointing.

98 Audiobooks