Outlander by Diana Gabaldon (My All-Time Favourite Series of Books)

Outlander by Diana GabaldonBook Review
Title: Outlander
Author:  Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Seal Books
Released: October 9, 2001
Pages: 896
ISBN-10: 0770428797
ISBN13: 978-0770428792
Stars:  5.0

Like millions of other Outlander fans, I’ve been watching the new Starz television series of the same name and LOVE it! I think the producers have done an excellent job of staying true to the book and I’m sure that’s because author Diana Gabaldon is a consultant for the series. The casting of Caitriona Balfe and Sam Heughan as Claire & Jamie Fraser and Tobias Menzies as Frank/Black Jack Randall is perfect, and even though the casting of Dougal MacKenzie seems wrong because Graham McTavish doesn’t look like Dougal and seems too old for the part, he is doing a great job with it. I can’t wait to see what comes next…although having to wait for April 2015 to see the second part of Season 1 is PAINFUL!!

Needless to say the Outlander series of books are those which fans read over and over again. While I’m not a super-duper obsessed fan, I have always named Diana Gabaldon as my favourite author since I read the first four novels in the late 90’s. Then, like everyone else, I waited and waited and waited for the next books to be written and in the meantime, I had theChristine Bode meets Diana Gabaldon for the second time great pleasure of meeting Diana Gabaldon twice at book signings…once after the release of A Breath of Snow and Ashes (2005) and once after the release of Lord John and The Brotherhood of The Blade (2007).

I own all of her novels but I haven’t read the last two books in the Outlander series yet and that’s because I decided that I would have to make the time to re-read the series in order, back to back, so that everything would be fresh in my mind. I read A Breath of Snow and Ashes when it came out and haven’t read another of her books since. So, now is the time! The television series has inspired me and the next year will be the year of Diana Gabaldon for me. And what a sensational year of reading it will be!!

I finished reading Outlander for the second time at 3:00 am this morning. It took me two weeks and two days, and that’s with reading at least a couple of chapters a day. These mammoth tomes are hard for an engaged reader to put down so that they can sleep, work or just get on with their day. I know they’re very long novels, but I swear that every chapter is captivating.

Although there have been an army of authors who have tried to replicate the success of these novels for themselves, no one else has come close to the popularity of Diana Gabaldon’s novels. This very intelligent woman, who happens to hold three science degrees including a PhD in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology, has sold over 25 million copies (the books have been published in 26 countries and in 23 languages) and continues to live happily with her husband in Scottsdale, Arizona. Diana Gabaldon is an extremely smart, charming, witty and beautiful woman and that’s why her books have stolen the hearts of so many people.

I’m going to reiterate what Outlander is about using Diana’s own words:

“In 1946, after WWII, a young Englishwoman named Claire Beauchamp Randall goes to the Scottish Highlands with her husband, Frank. She’s an ex-combat nurse, he’s been in the army as well, they’ve been separated for the last six years, and this is a second honeymoon; they’re getting re-acquainted with each other, thinking of starting a family. But one day Claire goes out walking by herself, and comes across a circle of standing stones—such circles are in fact common all over northern Britain.  She walks through a cleft stone in the circle…and disappears. Back into 1743, where the first person she meets is a gentleman in an 18th-century army officer’s uniform. This gentleman, Jack Randall, looks just like her husband Frank—and proves to be Frank’s six-times-great-grandfather. Unfortunately, he also proves to be a sadistic bisexual pervert, and while trying to escape from him, Claire falls into the hands of a gang of Highland Scots, who are also trying to get away from Black Jack Randall—though for other reasons.

In order to avoid being handed over to Captain Randall, Claire is obliged to marry one of the young clansmen. So she finds herself trying to escape from Castle Leoch and her Scottish captors, trying to get back to her husband Frank, trying to avoid being recaptured by Captain Randall—and falling in love with Jamie Fraser, the young man she’s been forced to marry. The story rolls on from there…”

And what an amazing, fantastic, romantic, adventurous, historical story it is!!

There’s not much more that I can add about Outlander except to say that if you haven’t read this series yet, do it! Now!! Before you die, you have to read at least the 8 novels that are currently in print (if you skip the Lord John Grey novels, you’ll be forgiven, but you should read them too) because I guarantee you, that if you love romantic, historical, adventurous, fantastical stories, no finer have ever been written. And no ladies, Jamie Fraser does not actually exist. A man like that is purely a fictional creation! Amen.

NOTE: Chapters Kingston is now selling the Outlander series (except for Written In My Own Heart’s Blood) for 2 for $15!

 

An Eternity of Roses (The Valthreans: Book 1) by Natalie G. Owens

An Eternity of Roses by Natalie G. OwensBook Review
Title: An Eternity of Roses (The Valthreans: Book 1)
Author:  Natalie G. Owens
Publisher: Rose of Atlantis Press/Natalie G. Owens
Released: January 5, 2013
Pages: 468
ISBN-10: 0988577216
ISBN-13: 978-0-9885772-1-3
Stars:  4.0

”She crashed headlong into an incandescent whirlpool of emotion from which she never wanted to escape.” Emma Deramore, in the throes of ecstasy after being separated from her true love for over 200 years…yes, I’ll have what she’s having!

It’s always such a joy when I read a book by a Facebook friend that I enjoyed enough to review. An Eternity of Roses (The Valthreans: Book 1) by Natalie G. Owens is an intelligently written, passionate, historical paranormal romance that will leave you wanting to read Book 2 of The Valthreans series, A Lifetime for Revenge, right away.

An Eternity of Roses is the story of the dashing blonde & blue-eyed Adrian Segrave, Viscount Bournemouth and his raven-haired, doe-eyed, adventurous betrothed, Lady Emmaline Deramore who in December 1807 are about to be married, thus creating a union that their British society are excited about. What they don’t know is that fate has its cruel twists mapped out for them as the jealous, red-haired, green-eyed, inherently evil immortal witch, Lady Madeleine de Brandeville is going to use a powerful curse to separate them for over 200 years.

Disclaimer: Do not read this novel if you dislike drop dead sexy heroes, strong heroines, intriguing immortals, magic, spells, mystery, amazing adventures, exotic settings, secret cults, and sensual love scenes.

Well, I do love all those things so I read the book and am not sorry that I did. I was only sorry when the story came to an end.

In the Prologue we discern the history of the Valthreans, an immortal race originating in Kashmir, India.  Their namesake Valther was murdered within sight of his brothers Nila & Candaka by the Naga King Aravala for not immediately revealing that he had found a magic Chalice that was part of a group of mystical objects that would allow him to enter a state of immortality. Valther, who had a keen interest in the science of healing and a thirst for knowledge, had found one of the legendary Cups of Life from the lost seven Chalices of the River Demon. King Aravala possessed supernatural powers that allowed him to control the seasons and the weather, and he decided who lived and died. He also used the venom of cobras to kill immortals.

Valther was deemed a traitor to his people and sentenced to death by the sting of the cobra. The Naga people’s (The Cult of the Snake) sworn enemy, King Asoka, conspired to destroy the Naga beliefs.  Knowledge of magic was coveted by both peoples and Asoka could not allow Aravala to possess more knowledge of the Black Arts than he. Aravala, the Snake King, cared only for power and wealth and his people were either terrified of him or believed in the same things while the Valthreans sought to live peacefully. But what Asoka and Aravala didn’t know was that Nila & Candaka possessed the remaining Cups of Life and they were prepared to spend eternity protecting their own by keeping them from falling into the wrong hands.

An Eternity of Roses is a highly imaginative tale of the lengths one woman will go to, to be reunited with her true love and what another will do to keep that from happening. Emma’s adventures take her from England to Scotland to Italy to Holland and back to England over the course of 200 years. Her love scenes with Adrian are steamily and sensuously written but they’re far and few between as this is a story about separation, stolen identity, revenge and redemption. Lady Madeleine de Brandeville is a deliciously vile antagonist. She kidnaps Adrian, casts a spell on him that makes him forget his past, gives him a new name (Adam Alvar), makes him an immortal and cohabitates with him in a loveless marriage, because no matter how hard she tries, Adrian does not feel any love for her. Madeleine fortuitously gets her hands on the Demon’s Chalice and positions herself as an ally of a very influential member of the Cult of the Snake’s hierarchy. She has to remain in his good graces or suffer the ultimate consequence of betrayal. However, when members of the Valthrean Council catch up with her she has to flee her home in Scotland which provides Adam with the opportunity to leave her and embark on a new life of travel and adventure.

Emma in the meantime befriends another immortal, the mysterious Massimiliano “Max” Damiani (the main character in Book 2 of this series) in 1944 in London, who is instrumental in helping her find her lost love. Max is a friend of Nila and Candaka, now known as Neil and Cam, the oldest Valthreans in existence, and head of the Council, an organization that can find just about anything and who will go to any lengths to ensure that Valthreans remain able to live in peace among humans. What will happen when they do find Adrian, who doesn’t remember a thing about his past? Although the war is coming to an end, the battle for true love has yet to begin.

This is an epic adventure that readers of both historical and paranormal romance will undoubtedly enjoy. Owens’ (a former lawyer who lives on the island of Malta) poetic prose is far better than the average self-published work and even though she indulges in a few moments of extreme cheesiness and (“Mayhap one day is all I can say. But never forget, brother, home is in here.”) the book’s cover could be more enticing, it deserves a large audience. I will definitely read more of Natalie G. Owens’ work.

Finding Colin Firth by Mia March

Finding Colin Firth by Mia MarchBook Review
Title: Finding Colin Firth
Author:  Mia March
Publisher: Gallery Books
Released: July 9, 2013
Pages: 336
ISBN-10: 1476710201
ISBN-13: 978-1476710204
Stars:  4.0

Okay, I admit it. I’m not original. I’m like over a million other women who think that Colin Firth is absolutely talented, dreamy, amazing and someone to gush about. When I stumbled onto a copy of Mia March’s Finding Colin Firth in Chapters recently, I couldn’t help but buy it. The title captivated me instantly. I’d heard about Mia March through Jane Porter’s blog and knew that her debut novel was called The Meryl Streep Movie Club and being a huge movie fan, I’d thought that I’d love to read that as well. I just happened to find Finding Colin Firth first. I trust Jane Porter’s taste in women’s fiction implicitly as she has yet to steer me wrong.

Finding Colin Firth is not only a story that has some of the main characters literally searching for Colin Firth when it’s rumoured that he’s going to be shooting scenes for a new movie in the small coastal town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, but it’s also a deeply moving account of three women’s issues of identity and their sense of belonging that stresses the importance of female relationships.

We first meet 22-year-old Bea Crane, a cook at Boston’s Crazy Burger who longs to become a teacher, on the day that she discovers from the deathbed letter of her mother that she was adopted. This shocking news turns Bea’s world upside down and after her bitchy boss complains about her work ethic one time too many when she’s just heard this life-changing news, she decides to quit Crazy Burger. She then travels to Maine to meet her birth mother who left her contact information with the local adoption agency.

Veronica Russo is a beautiful, single, 38-year-old waitress who works at the Best Little Diner in Boothbay. She has a small business on the side making the best pies in the area as well as teaching classes on pie making. Her “elixir” pies are particularly special because of the love, care and thought she instills in the making of every one. March’s delectable pie descriptions had me salivating, and I loved how she created special names for Veronica’s different kinds of pie: Amore Pie (chocolate caramel cream), Spirit Pie (shoofly), Feel Better Pie (blueberry), Confidence Pie (key lime) and Hope Pie (salted caramel cheesecake) to name a few.  Veronica loves Colin Firth and decides that she’s going to apply to be an extra in the movie that’s being filmed in Boothbay Harbor with the hope that she’ll get to see him in person.  We also discover that 22 years ago Veronica gave birth to a baby girl who she got to hold for all of two minutes before she was taken away from her as she’d decided to put her up for adoption. Her parents and high school boyfriend had both disowned her and she was sent to Hope Home for unwed mothers to live until she had her baby, after which she left Maine for Florida and didn’t come back for many years.

Gemma Hendricks is a 29-year-old, newly unemployed reporter from New York City who’s just discovered she’s pregnant but who is terrified that she doesn’t have a maternal bone in her body and that she’ll have to give up her career to become a stay-at-home mother in the suburbs, which is exactly what her lawyer husband Alexander wants her to do. She decides to take a vacation alone and go back to Boothbay Harbor where she spent her summers as a young girl, to reunite with some close girlfriends who co-own a little inn called Three Captains (who just happen to be running a Colin Firth movie month) and to try to figure out how she’s going to compromise with Alexander to find a happy medium for both of them. While in Boothbay Harbor, Gemma is given an opportunity to write a feature article about Hope Home’s 50th anniversary for the local Gazette which leads to her meeting both Bea and Veronica before they’ve even met each other. We come to care about each one of them in the meantime through discovering their histories and because they’re sweet, likeable women. I particularly enjoyed Veronica and looked forward to her appearances in the novel most of all.

This is a delightful, easy read that although predictable in its outcome, still held joy for this reader. Reading it is equivalent to watching a romantic comedy starring Colin Firth (think Bridget Jones’s Diary or Love Actually) while enjoying a bowl of popcorn with your girlfriends, which is something that the women in Finding Colin Firth, actually do. However, the issues of adoption, parenthood and what makes a good parent; reputation and judgment and how one can hurt the other; and finding a way to allow your heart to open after it’s been seriously damaged are not fluffy in any way. There are also interesting love interests for Bea and Veronica with several sub-plots to add depth to their characters and just the right amount of tension and conflict. There were, perhaps, too many questions raised by the main characters in the literal sense, as there were times when March listed the questions running through their minds about their individual predicaments, and that made me roll my eyes because they were quite simplified in my mind, but other than that, I loved the journey of watching these women not only find each other but also themselves, not to mention discovering whether they would actually find Colin Firth. You’ll have to read the book yourself to find out.  Go ahead, it’s worth it!

The Good Wife by Jane Porter

The Good Wife by Jane PorterBook Review
Title: The Good Wife (A Brennan Sisters Novel)
Author:  Jane Porter
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Released: September 3, 2013
Pages: 432
ISBN-10: 0425253678
ISBN-13: 978-0425253670
Stars:  4.5

The Good Wife which asks the question, “Is it possible to love someone too much?” is the third book (and hopefully not final!) in the Brennan Sisters series by award-winning, national bestselling author Jane Porter who has more than five million copies of her books in print.  It’s also the one that caused me to shed the most tears.  Read it with a box of Kleenex at your side! I absolutely adore this series and Library Journal calls it, “An investment worth making for fans of smart women’s fiction.”  I couldn’t agree more.

This is the youngest Brennan sister’s story, that of beautiful Sarah Walker, wife of Tampa Bay Ray’s designated hitter and all-around “Spartacus” force of nature, N’awlins native Boone Walker, and mother of rambunctious eight-year-old son Brennan and his little sister Ella.  As the story opens, Sarah and the rest of her family are mourning the loss of their beloved mother to cancer and are attending her funeral.  Emotions are high, nerves frazzled, tempers at the boiling point. Sarah doesn’t approve of her sister Kit’s biker boyfriend Jude, her brother Tommy and his wife Cass are fighting over his unwillingness to try again to have a baby, there’s tension between Meg and Jack, and their sister Brianna is obviously ill but isn’t talking. All is not well in their big Irish Catholic family and we know for sure that nothing will be the same again.

Sarah, who gave up going to law school to marry her professional baseball player husband, is seriously struggling with trying to forgive him for cheating on her three years earlier. She wants to trust him but finds that she can’t and despite Sarah’s best efforts she’s spending her days obsessing over Boone and what he’s up to when he’s not home with her, which is most of the time as he’s on the road with the team.  Her family notices that she’s drinking too much wine and she’s lonely and exhausted at having to move her children and home yet again when Boone is traded to the Oakland A’s.

In the meantime we’re introduced to stunning bakery & café owner Lauren Summers who is trying to get on with her life after losing her seventeen-year-old sun Blake ten months earlier in a car accident. She’s left the business she owned with her sister Lisa in Napa to work for a struggling café owner in Alameda because she needed to get away and grieve in private.  Lauren is a friend of Sarah’s oldest sister Meg who we hear a lot more about in this book and who endures another tragedy after spending the last year trying to save her marriage after having an affair on her husband Jack.

Boone meets Lauren in Mama’s Café in Alameda and they soon become friends as he loves the food there, not to mention her company.  Lauren is someone he can talk to when Sarah, who is pushing him away, can’t be reasoned with.  At first Lauren develops a crush on him but when she finds out that he’s married with children and that he loves his wife, she tells herself that she can’t think about him in that way. Boone introduces her to his teammate, Chris Stier (who I happen to know was inspired by actor Chris Hemsworth…talk about heavy sigh!), who Lauren is determined not to give the time of day to.  But he’s not just a dark blonde, pony-tailed, hulking, overly confident, handsome athlete, he’s also smart, thoughtful and looking for a real relationship.

I love that Jane Porter’s male love interests are tall, muscular, handsome men who could charm the habit off a nun.  I’m attracted to both Boone and Chris, but for me, they’re not quite Jude Knight, who has been the one I would desire the most of all the men in Jane’s books and for that reason and the fact I relate the most to sister Kit, The Good Daughter is still my favourite of the Brennan Sisters novels.

There is a lot going on in this book, which is the longest in the series, and I love that we get to reconnect with Sarah’s sisters, Meg, Kit and Brianna.  These characters are by now old friends and we care about them and want to see them happy.  And even though Lauren is a new character, I found myself caring more about her than Sarah.  Is Lauren going to allow Chris into her heart?  Can she forget about Boone?  Will Sarah believe that Boone’s relationship with Lauren is truly platonic?  These questions and many more are waiting to be answered and once you start reading The Good Wife, you won’t want to put it down until you find out how it all turns out.

The Good Wife is full of gut-wrenching emotion, expressed honestly as always through the very authentic characters that Jane Porter has created. Its theme of the impact of infidelity on not only the couple involved but also their extended family is perfectly realized.  It also possesses a lot of love, humour, hope and redemption and is a story that I’m sure every woman can relate to in some way.

There has been some interest in these books being made into a television series and I can only implore the powers that be to please make it happen!  I’m someone who had never read romance or chick lit novels (except for Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Bridget Jones’s Diary and Daisy Dooley Does Divorce) before I discovered Jane Porter’s contemporary women’s fiction novels, but I credit her with influencing me to read more of them in the future.

Weighting For Mr. Right by Patricia W. Fischer

Weighting For Mr. Right by Patricia W. FischerBook Review
Title: Weighting For Mr. Right
Author:  Patricia W. Fischer
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Released: November 13, 2012
Pages: 430
ASIN: B00A78F83E
Stars:  3.5

There are times when you read a book and it is so relatable to your own life that you can’t put it down. While you read this book all of your own major issues are pushed to the surface and you’re forced to confront them as you read the fictional version of what could be your life.  That’s how I felt as I read Weighting For Mr. Right by Patricia W. Fischer.  The author, who happens to be a Facebook friend, offered this book in Kindle version for free on Amazon over the past weekend and for some reason, I decided to take advantage of it, downloaded it to my new Kindle for PC program and then transferred it to my iPhone.  I spent the next four days glued to my iPhone reading a book on it for the first time ever. 

Weighting For Mr. Right is the story of an intelligent, pretty, overweight nurse named Megan Sayla who on the day of her wedding to one of the richest bachelors in Dallas, hears herself saying no at the alter to the question, “Do you take this man to be your lawfully wedded husband?”  Megan has an epiphany and realizes that she just can’t settle for Travis Carter (or his horribly snobby, shrew of an overbearing mother), even though he’s a nice guy, because he’s just not Mr. Right.  She runs out of the church and we catch up with her in a men’s bathroom at a local car wash where she falls apart as a handsome, young, brown haired, green eyed man named Jacob Dante listens. Jacob talks to her through the stall wall, really listens to her, and gives her the strength to move forward.  Their conversation is so compelling for both of them that they just have to meet each other and when they do, despite the fact that Megan is stuffed into a wedding dress, with hair teased two feet above her head and heavy make-up running down her face, Jacob is immediately attracted to her.  She does speak seven languages after all, one of them being Italian, which really turns Jacob on!  Of course he doesn’t reveal his true feelings for her because he believes that it’s too soon after she’s left her fiancé and it is.

As Megan has minimized her life so much to fit into Travis’ she has nowhere to live and ends up moving in with her overachieving cousin, Sam, who does not get along with Megan’s best friend, a decidedly gluttonous and underachieving Lydia who loves Megan because she has always accepted her for who she is.  Sam wants what she believes is best for her cousin and encourages Megan to join a gym that Jacob just happens to run (and co-own) and Megan finds herself with a new, enthusiastic cheerleading squad in her personal trainer, Carmen and her brother Jacob (although Megan doesn’t know Carmen is Jacob’s sister).  Megan starts a new nursing job at the children’s hospital where Sam works as well as a part-time tutoring gig and the rest of the time she spends at the gym trying to figure out how to deal with Jacob’s psycho ex-girlfriend, Angela.  In the meantime, Sam keeps secrets from Megan and her life changes drastically by the end of the story.

As Megan pushes forward with her goals to change her body and her life, finding confidence to stand up for herself in every situation for the first time, not everyone around her is happy with her transformation.  As her lifestyle change becomes more and more successful, her best friend becomes more and more alienated from her as she’s threatened by the new Megan.  Lydia is in fact, a prime example of a selfish, self-absorbed, unhappy woman who behaves as if she’s a teenager even though she’s in her mid-thirties.  Megan questions the path she’s on and we’re left wondering if she’ll believe in herself enough to finish what she’s started and stick to her new way of life.

What are the chances that most overweight girls would find a Jacob Dante to not only help them with their weight loss battle but actually be interested in them as a girlfriend too? I suspect not that many, but this is a chick lit/romance novel, and we read them to escape reality, right?  The dialogue in the book is sharp, witty and realistic, although sometimes ridiculous and the language when it comes to sex wouldn’t make it through the editing process by a professional publishing company.  However, it’s also quite funny and the characters, although some of them are almost caricatures, are entirely relevant.

The problem with this book for me, aside from the many typos in it, the constant switching back and forth between narrators, and that all the women can do when they’re nervous is “tuck a lock of hair behind her ear”, is the fact that only in a chick lit novel would a woman like Megan (or a woman like me), find a man like Jacob Dante.  A man who is totally hot, physically ripped, smart, sensitive and successful in business, whose three sisters have taught him quite a bit about women…and who likes a woman for her brains and personality, in spite of her less than perfect looks…I mean, where in the real world does a man like that exist?

I love that Fischer wrote about a beautiful, intelligent woman who battles her weight as well as her self worth while realizing that she shouldn’t settle for a relationship with anyone who isn’t Mr. Right (story of my life).  When Megan stands up to Sam and tells her that she could never really understand how much pain she was in after completing a 22 mile bike ride as well as resistance training because Sam has always been in shape and she doesn’t have a clue what Megan is really going through was very poignant and real. Sam had no idea that what she was doing to Megan was really hurting her.

As one of the broken ones, I could also relate to Carmen, Jacob’s younger sister whose fiancé left her just before their wedding for another, thinner woman, and whose rebound guy had ruined her financially.

I also thought that the relationship struggle between Megan and Lydia was quite realistic.  What it’s really about, for Megan, is learning to love herself enough to make the effort every single day to do the right thing when it comes to food and to when it comes to standing up for what she believes in.  Megan’s struggle to stick to her lifestyle change and to accept how it will affect her relationships for better or for worse is one that every overweight woman who has tried to do the same will empathize with.

Unfortunately, the last quarter of the book wasn’t as good as the rest of it and I caught myself rolling my eyes at the love scene between Megan and Jacob while being disappointed that less care was taken with the writing which felt hasty and over simplified.  The Epilogue which is written from Megan’s perspective was not entirely satisfying either, as Sam’s situation is not resolved and Angela is written off in a pithy manner.  These are things that prevented me from giving Weighting For Mr. Right a four star review, but I would definitely be willing to read more of Patricia W. Fischer’s work as she has a promising future as a romance novelist.

Single In The City by Michele Gorman

Single in the City by Michele Gorman

BOOK PREVIEW

Hey ladies,

Lookin’ for a fun in the sun summer read? Look no further!

Take one twenty six year old American, add to a two thousand year old city, add a big dose of culture clash and stir

To think Hannah ever believed that Americans differed from Brits mainly in pronunciation, sophistication and dentistry. That’s been the understatement of a lifetime. She lands upon England’s gentle shores with no job, no friends and no idea how she’s supposed to build the life she’s dreaming of. Armed with little more than her enthusiasm, she charges headlong into London, baffling the locals in her pursuit of a new life, new love and sense of herself.

REVIEWS

“If you like your novels fun and sassy with a twist of the unexpected, you’ll devour Single in the City. 4 stars.” The Sun 

“I expected the book to be funny based on Michele’s awesome tweets, but I was in no way prepared for the hilarity that ensued – the book literally had me in stitches!” Bookalicious Ramblings

“Single in the City is an easy read that keeps you enthralled…” Female First 

“This is hilarious book, full of romance and laugh-out-loud situations that no woman would want to be in.” Chick Lit Club 

“Gorman has written a great story about making friends and fitting in, and it should be an inspiration to anyone with a hankering to dramatically change their life and/or move here to sunny England. The characters were realistic, the setting familiar and the plot fascinating. Whether you like adult chick lit or YA, Single in the City is definitely a book worth devoting some of your time to.” Wondrous Reads

“If you love chick-lit then you need to read this book. Actually, scratch that… if you enjoy a well written book with a fun and uplifting plot that takes place in England, then you will love Single in the City.” Paperback Dolls

“Single in the City is like Sex and the City told through the eyes of an American Bridget Jones and it was so funny that I laughed out loud throughout this delightful chick lit novel.” Novel Escapes 

“The main character Hannah is the perfect heroine for the book, and I loved seeing London through her eyes. It was a really fun journey and I really did care about her by the end. Recommended!” Chick Lit Reviews

* * * * * 

Single in the City
352 pages
Women’s fiction/Chick Lit
ISBN 9780141048260 (paperback) price £6.99
(ebook) price $3.99/£3.99/€4.49

Michele Gorman is the best-selling author of the Single in the City series and Bella Summer Takes a Chance. She also writes upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 15 years.

Michele Gorman is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency (www.hardmanswainson.com). For further information please visit her website: www.michelegorman.co.uk.

An Eternity of Roses (The Valthreans, Book 1) by Natalie G. Owens

An Eternity of Roses (The Valthreans, Book 1)  by Natalie G. OwensBOOK PREVIEW

An Eternity of Roses (The Valthreans, Book 1)

Two lovers separated by an evil curse.
A desperate quest through time.
A love that wants to beat all odds.
And all the while, deadly danger brews around a two-thousand-year-old secret society and the enemy that lives to decimate it.

“…’Til the end of my life, I shall belong to you as your husband.”

That was the promise Adrian made to Emmaline. And then, he was gone forever…It is 1807. Adrian Segrave, Viscount Bournemouthe, and Lady Emmaline Deramore are about to wed and British Society teems with excitement at this imminent love match. But Madeleine de Brandeville, a mysterious Frenchwoman, has her lustful and ambitious sights on the groom. When she sets her cruel plan in motion, she leaves devastation in her path.

Heartbroken, Emmaline embarks on an adventure she’d never imagined having. As the world changes and chaos brews, her fate becomes linked with the Valthreans, a group of immortals who must learn to face a deadly enemy that threatens their place in the human world. But all the while, there is one thing she wants more than any other–to get back her man.

When she finally finds her prize and the intense blue flame of desire burns once more, her worst nightmares are far from over and the toughest battle is yet to begin. Will love win the war in the end?

Disclaimer: Do not read this novel if you dislike drop dead sexy heroes, strong heroines, intriguing immortals, magic, spells, mystery, amazing adventures, exotic settings, secret cults, and sensual love scenes.

Author Bio:

Natalie G. Owens got her first taste of serious writing by penning award-Author Natalie G. Owenswinning poetry, short stories, and articles for college and local publications. She sold her first book to a small publisher in 2007 and is currently indie published. Her favorite stories to write are romances with a dark edge featuring brooding heroes, strong heroines, and a good dash of fantasy.

Social Media links:

Website: www.nataliegowens.com
Facebook profile page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=563297082
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Natalie-G-Owens-Author/24911987111
Twitter: https://twitter.com/natalie_g_owens
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4527498-natalie-g-owens

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115212743960662992349/posts

A Word from the Author:

I happen to be a big fan of the Highlander series since it first came out. I simply loved Adrian Paul in his role of tortured hero fighting for justice and survival. Who can resist a character like that? 🙂

So one day, I started thinking that there are some amazing series out there in the paranormal/fantasy romance genre, but I couldn’t think of a specific one featuring immortals that live under a legal and political system they formed over time. Immortals with their own style of government and their own code of ethics. Basically, a secret society of these special individuals that aims at furthering the interests of its people and the humans they live with. Of course, as with each government, there is opposition—some justified, and some not so much.

Another thought I had was: what if Man had someone—or something—powerful and magical to come to the rescue at certain crucial points in history? Some things could have happened differently—or turned out much worse. And what if Man’s fate and future is determined by warring factions of these immortal beings? The germ of this idea started in my mind, and together with my interest in myth and adventure, the Valthreans were born.

The story and practices of the Valthreans constitute the backdrop of each book in the series, the glue that holds them together. Some pretty amazing characters make up the higher ranks of this unusual organization—sexy heroes and kickass, determined heroines—and my goal is to tell you their stories and happy endings :).

***

Praise for AN ETERNITY OF ROSES:

“A fast-paced, loving, lovable romp through time and character and romance … with characters who are so fully fleshed that I felt they were standing beside me.”

“WOW! Talk about everlasting love!”

“Wahoo! Yummy and seductive read.”

“Refreshingly different.”

“More than just your everyday romance!”

“The story is tautly engrossing, the plot beautifully constructed, and the characters humanly complex. This paranormal romance is a must read!”

“I truly fell in love with An Eternity of Roses.”

“This story is definitely going into my “To be Read Again” pile.”

Download from:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/13cT8Qy

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/TFFH8E

Amazon (print): http://amzn.to/11hmLma

Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/146WxmN

Barnes and Noble (print): http://bit.ly/11hmFem

Smashwords:   http://bit.ly/V0gWVJ

Kobo: http://bit.ly/TVLOEY

iTunes: http://bit.ly/SYUSMv

All Romance eBooks: http://bit.ly/13vbYmX

Somewhere My Lass by Beth Trissel

Somewhere My Lass by Beth Trissel

BOOK PREVIEW

I asked my Facebook friend, author Beth Trissel if she would like to contribute to my blog and she has graciously obliged me. I’ll let her tell you all about her latest book (I love time travel stories!) which I think sounds like a lot of fun!

“Thanks, Christine, for having me on your super site to share about my suspenseful time travel romance novel, Somewhere My LassBook 2 of my Somewhere in Time series. Somewhere My Lass was an intriguing tale to weave and quite an adventure. It’s also one I had no intention of undertaking until the vivid dream that led to the startling intro: the hero, Neil MacKenzie, returns home from work to find his elderly housekeeper lying murdered at the bottom of the winding staircase and a young woman in full Scottish dress slumped at the top. She, however, isn’t dead.

‘What the heck,’ I said to self. And that’s all I had to go on at the start of this venture, but was so intrigued I had to learn their story and pondered all the clues given. An old Victorian house, check, I’m very familiar with those; man wearing modern suit, so the story opens in present day, got it, but the young woman came from the past. Scotland’s past. This will take some doing, I concluded. Being a member of Celtic Hearts Romance Writers, a fabulous online group, was/is a great resource. I’d taken a Scottish history class and reread that trove of material while doing my usual obsessive research. I love gleaning more about the past and used an actual feud in 1602 between the MacKenzies and MacDonalds as a jumping off place.

Both Neil and the heroine, Mora Campbell, were so clear in my mind and a lot of fun to work with—send their regards—and definitely rank among my cast of favorites. The romance between them is one of the best I’ve written. The chemistry just took off. Although the heat level of this book would be termed sensual, not super-hot.

The wonderful old homes I grew up in and visited over the years are an integral part of the inspiration behind this series. In Somewhere My Lass, I used a compilation of Victorian homes for the mysterious house in historic Staunton, Virginia (my birth place) where the story begins. How do they go back and forth in time, you may ask. Why through ‘the door to nowhere,’ of course, a portal to the past. I was acquainted with just such a door as a child.”

“Mrs. Trissel masterfully blended the past and the present in order to create a lovely romance that spans centuries.” ~ Long and Short Reviews

“A good adventure and romantic time travel story that delivers.” ~ Romance Novel Junkies

“A Wonderful Time Travel Romance.” ~ Night Owl Reviews

Story Blurb:

Will Mora and Neil be too late to save a love that began centuries before?

The MacDonald comes’ warns Mora Campbell when Neil MacKenzie finds the young Scotswoman lying unconscious at the top of his stairs after he discovers his murdered housekeeper slumped at the bottom. Mora’s claim that she’s his fiancé from 1602 and was chased to the future by clan chieftain, Red MacDonald, through ‘the door to nowhere’ seems utter nonsense. Neil thinks she’s addled from the blow to her head until his life spirals into chaos and the avenging Highlander shows up wanting blood. Mora knows the Neil of the future is truly her beloved Niall who disappeared from the past, but he must also remember. And fast.

Although Niall’s kinsmen believe he’s dead, and Mora is now destined to marry his brother, she’s convinced that if she and Neil return to the past, all will be right. The balance of the present and future are in peril if she marries another, and the Neil of the present will cease to exist. The only problem is how to get back to 1602. An ancient relic, the ultimate geek friend, and a little Celtic magic help pave the way back to the enormous challenge that awaits them. If they’re in time.

A Bit About Beth: Married to my high school sweetheart, I live on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia surrounded by my children, grandbabies, and assorted animals. An avid gardener, my love of herbs and heirloom plants figures into my work. The rich history of Virginia, the Native Americans and the people who journeyed here from far beyond her borders are at the heart of my inspiration. In addition to American settings, I also write historical and time travel romances set in the British Isles.

For more on me, my blog is the happening place:  http://bethtrissel.wordpress.com/

Also catch me on, Twitter and Facebook.

***Somewhere My Lass is available in Kindle for the lofty price of .99, where it currently has 22 5 star raves.

Bella Summer Takes A Chance by Michele Gorman

Bella Summer Takes A Chance by Michele Gorman

BOOK PREVIEW

BELLA SUMMER TAKES A CHANCE PUBLISHED GLOBALLY ON 12TH FEBRUARY 2013

When is enough not enough?

Bella’s career and relationship are her life’s foundationwear: not glamorous and perhaps a bit binding, but supportive enough… until she realizes that they are not enough. Her life is sagging badly. She’s never been in love with her boyfriend, despite a decade together. And somehow she stopped being a musician-with-a-day-job and became a consultant-who-was-musical. So she takes a terrifying leap of faith, leaving her relationship and resolving to follow her musical dreams no matter what.

But the life you walk away from doesn’t always let you walk away. 

With a wonderfully warm and witty cast of friends, all navigating between their ideals and the realities they face, together they’ll find out what love and compromise really mean in this empowering tale about grasping life with both hands.

REVIEWS

“Witty, well-written and next to impossible to put down, Bella Summer Takes a Chance is a must-read in my opinion.” ~ The Book Chick

“The quirky characters, easy reading, and flowing storyline were all exactly what I was hoping for. I would recommend any of her books.” ~ A Novel Review

Bella Summer Takes a Chance is, for lack of a better comparison, a grown up version of “chick-lit.” The characters, especially Bella, are fun and enjoyable, but are based on a degree of reality and maturing that ensures the story stays believable and focused.” ~ Vine Voice

“I would refer to this book not simply as chick-lit, but grown-up chick-lit, something with substance.” ~ Amazon.com customer

“Romantic chick lit for grown-ups!” ~ Amazon.com customer

“This was a fun, quick read … the first book I’ve read by Michele Gorman, and I definitely plan on checking out what else she has written.” ~ Always With a Book

“I thought the characters were excellent, B really made an impression on me …the writing was also excellent. I can’t wait for Gorman’s next offering, I definitely recommend Bella Summer Takes A Chance. 4*” ~ Chick Lit Reviews and News

“You will be swept away with Bella and taken on an adventure in love and destiny!  4 stars.” ~ Mrs Mommy Book Nerd

“Filled with quirky characters and a lovely wrap up at the end, this is one for chick lit fans to read! 5 stars.” ~ Chick Lit Plus

BOOK EXCERPT

Prologue

‘Are you in love with me?’ I asked again as the appetising comfort of our usual Friday night takeaway turned sour in my mouth.

The question hung between us. He laughed, a short burst, as if diffusing dust that clouded his view. Diffusing the question.

‘I mean it, Mattias. Are you?’ I felt sick.

‘Of course I love you,’ he said from his end of the sofa. He could have reached me if he’d put his hand out. ‘Why would you even ask that?’

I hadn’t, not really. I’d only mimicked the on-screen heroine who filled our living room with romcom angst. A life-altering question, and I’d nicked it as I absentmindedly helped myself to more chicken korma.

‘I didn’t ask if you love me,’ I said. ‘I asked if you’re in love with me.’

Now that the genie had emerged from the bottle, the little bugger refused to be stuffed back in. I wondered if he could hear my heart thudding. On the TV the hero and heroine prattled on, rediscovering their true feelings for one another. Scene fade, musical crescendo. My films always had happy endings.

‘It’s a silly question, B., after ten years together. That feeling doesn’t last beyond the first flush of a relationship.’ He smiled. It was a beautiful smile, easy and open. ‘You know I love you.’

‘But were you?’ I pushed. ‘At the beginning? In love with me?’ My tummy was churning in the uncharted waters. I didn’t like the look of the horizon.

‘I don’t remember,’ he said, not smiling anymore.

The wind picked up and my boat rocked. Wouldn’t you remember a thing like being in love? I knew I would.

But I didn’t. Not once in all our years together did I remember having those feelings that people describe. Never as we sat on the sofa watching films, never when I looked at him over the table at a wedding, not once when anticipating his return from a weekend away. Not even when he said ‘I love you’. And not on that rainy October night, as I realised what the consequence of such an absence of feeling must be. ‘I’m not in love with you either,’ I said, tears forming. ‘I wasn’t ever, either.’

He finally reached over and gathered me to him. ‘Come here.’ He began stroking my hair. ‘I’m sorry. I do love you. I always have.’

‘I know. I love you too.’

He hesitated, started to say something, fell silent. Then, ‘It’s not the same thing, is it?’

He searched my face, seeing my answer there. I said it out loud anyway. ‘No.’

‘Isn’t it enough, though?’

‘I thought it was. But now I don’t know.’

‘You don’t know? Or you don’t think it is?’

I knew our future hinged on my words. ‘I don’t think it is.’

The comfortable, nice life I had with this perfectly lovely man wasn’t enough. Not for me. I struggled with the idea that this realisation had come out of the blue. Didn’t I know it before? A film cannot cause the end of a decade-long relationship. It just poured water into the cracks that, when the temperature plunged and the ice formed, split it apart. There was no going back. 

* * * * *

Bella Summer Takes a Chance
325 pages
Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
ISBN 9781481277693 (paperback) price $12.99/£7.99/€9.99
(ebook) price $3.99/£2.49/€2.99

Michele is available for interviews and guest posts during the promotion period. Please email Press@nottinghillpress.co.uk

Michele Gorman is the best-selling author of Single in the City, Misfortune Cookie and The Twelve Days to Christmas. She also writes upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 15 years.

Michele Gorman is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency. For further information please visit her website at www.michelegorman.co.uk.

Fifty Shades Trilogy by E L James: An Expected Disappointment

Fifty Shades Trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, Fifty Shades FreedBook Review
Title: Fifty Shades of Grey
Author:  E L James
Publisher: Vintage
Released: April 3, 2012
Pages: 528
ISBN-10: 0345803485
ISBN-13: 978-0345803481

Title: Fifty Shades Darker
Author: E L James
Publisher: Vintage
Released: April 17, 2012
Pages: 544
ISBN-10: 0345803493
ISBN-13: 978-0345803498

Title: Fifty Shades Freed
Author: E L James
Publisher: Vintage
Released: April 17, 2012
Pages: 592
ISBN-10: 0345803507
ISBN-13: 978-0345803498

Stars:  3.0

When you read 1,664 pages of a trilogy that only covers a period of a few months in the characters’ lives and end up giving it 3 stars, there’s a part of you that cries out, “I can’t get that time back!”  I have 200+ other books on my shelves that are waiting to be read that are probably better than these erotica novels by E L James.  In fact, I don’t usually read erotica (if you like this genre, I recommend A Love That Makes Life Drunk by Karen Roderick) but I read the Fifty Shades trilogy because I wanted to know what all the fuss was about.  No less than four of my girlfriends and my sister (who lent me her books) demanded that I had to read it.  Now that I have, I don’t understand what the fuss was about because it’s not a great piece of work, neither as literature, chick lit, erotica, or fiction.  It was the result of a brilliant marketing strategy as this story could have easily been told to great effect in one book of 800 pages or less and wouldn’t have lost any of its meaning or impact.  That being said, the main characters were interesting enough that I wanted to continue reading the series until the end, although when I got there, I was disappointed.  But I expected to be.  Talk about being wrapped up with a big, shiny bow!

Fifty Shades of Grey should have been called Fifty Shades of Fucked Up.  While the first installment of the tale of 21-year-old literature student turned graduate Anastasia Steele and her handsome, sadomasochistic, control freak, Dominant billionaire lover, Christian Grey was interesting in a psychological way and made me to want to read Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed (the bestselling trilogy of all time in the UK) to find out how things would unfold, the sex scenes in these books did not have me reaching for my vibrator or eHarmony.ca, but instead left me cold.  I’m a diehard romantic who is turned on by getting emotionally involved and attached to the heroes and heroines in a romantic novel, and when I am, and the author (Diana Gabaldon or Jane Porter for instance) writes a sensual and sexy love scene, then I am often capable of being aroused by it.  However, there is something too clinical and matter of fact in the sex scenes in Fifty Shades and they’re so frequent that they became boring.  I just wanted to read about the other parts of the characters’ lives.  I’m not attracted to Type A alpha males, but like Ana, I wanted Christian to talk more about his past so that I could understand why he was so emotionally and psychologically stunted.  And over the course of these three books, talk he did.  James didn’t leave one single thing about the lives of Ana & Christian to readers’ imaginations.  You could see absolutely everything coming for miles, there were no real surprises in the plot line, and she even went so far as to write excerpts at the end of Fifty Shades Freed from Christian’s childhood and his point of view on the day he met Ana.  That was too much for me.

There has been a lot said about the quality of E L James’ writing and while I didn’t think it was awful, it wasn’t great either.  Ana’s constant references to her inner goddess and subconscious drove me crazy and James’ use of them, to me, seemed like lazy writing.  The only way Ana responds to Christian’s words or actions most of the time is to exclaim in italics, “Holy fuck!”, “Holy cow!”, “Oh my!” and that’s just really lame.  She’s supposed to be an intelligent literature student so I think that she could have thought of some other way to express herself.  Mind you, she was a virgin when she met the most disturbed (yet loveable) man she could have possibly got involved with, and had absolutely no reference when it came to sex.  To Ana’s credit, she does get to say some clever things throughout this tale and I did care about her enough to finish reading it.  She’s a strong female character and not submissive at all.

The secondary characters, including Christian’s & Ana’s parents, his siblings Mia and Elliot and staff, Ana’s ex-boss Jack Hyde and closest friends Kate and Jose are almost superfluous and don’t really add much to the story, except to set up reasons for ensuing drama, including Christian’s rage and Ana’s concern for his safety (not her own), followed by more sex.  They are not written with remarkable personalities and Jack Hyde is a caricature of every revenge-seeking antagonist I’ve ever come across.

As a social experiment of a read, Fifty Shades is like watching a train wreck.  I was fascinated by it to the extent that I wouldn’t give up on the story or throw the book away, but it was so ridiculous at times, in the way that Ana & Christian (who I envisioned as Henry Cavill, the actor who seems to be the most excellent choice to play him in the inevitable films) kept enduring one drama after the next, with no time in between except to fornicate and experiment with new sex toys, that you’re just left shaking your head in exasperation.

Would I watch the film version of this trilogy?  Yes, if a reputable director and screenwriter took on the project, Henry Cavill played Christian and someone like Krysten Ritter played Ana…I’d watch it.  I think that Hollywood might be able to make it into something worthy to watch because there’s no way they could put as many of the sex scenes into the film as there are in the books and get away with a publicly acceptable rating.  And sometimes, less is just more.