A Ring of Promises by Marie Gage is a romantic adventure set between 1912 and 1916. Will and Janet are to be married and Will sets off for Canada to find a place where they can be together. Before he leaves, he gives her a promise ring. Janet remains behind in Scotland, but while she waits to hear from Will with the news that she can set off to join him, she faces her own personal battle. She swears her sister, Mary-Ann, to secrecy. When Janet loses her battle, the author takes us on a journey to find out what will happen to Mary-Ann and Will.
A Ring of Promises is set principally in Canada and Scotland. I loved the Scottish setting, possibly as being Scottish, I was familiar with many of the locations. I didn’t dislike the Canadian setting, but having some familiarity with the Scottish setting meant I favored that over the Canadian setting. The use of Scottish dialect was also done very well–it gave a real sense of authenticity to the setting and to the Scottish characters, although those not familiar with the Scottish dialect might find those parts a little more difficult. The book centers principally around Will, Janet and Mary-Ann. Although she was only in the first few chapters, Janet’s presence was felt throughout the book without feeling contrived. I have to admit I wasn’t sure about Janet’s suggestion about Will and Mary-Ann, but I suspect that reflects present-day values where it’s ‘easy’ to find love thanks to the proliferation of dating apps and the ease of communication. As Mary-Ann developed her relationship, I wanted to feel for Will, but of all the characters, he was the one I felt least connected with. That wasn’t any fault of the author as she has created believable characters, but I just couldn’t connect with him.
The ending was just right and had the author chosen any other ending, I do not think it would have worked. The author’s note about the fact and fiction element of the book was interesting, and I think knowing the background to the book increased my enjoyment. This book is well researched and worth a read for those interested in historical romantic fiction. A Ring of Promises is a thrilling emotional journey that many readers will enjoy.
Pages: 449 | ASIN: B089DN4GFQ
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The Souls of Witches, by Tarrant Smith, is an alluring tale set in a fantasy world full of witches, demigods, shape shifters and other supernatural beings. The story starts with a party orchestrated for love and romance between Rowan and Lars. The author creates an enchanting world, Mills and Boons style, that provides a creative escapist fantasy. Lars is a charming and impulsive hybrid of demon and demigod, a child born as an experiment by his grandmother Morrison, who forced a demon to have sex with his demigod mother. Rowan, who enjoys her solitude is fiercely independent, doesn’t want any companion, but the intensity of desire for Lars swamps her. The two are drawn towards each other from the first encounter and enthralled with each other. Due to Lars’ dark history and his evil, destructive grandmother, the union can be catastrophic. Will they be able to reunite or have to live a life pining for each other forever?
Author Tarrant Smith has created a captivating mystical haven called the Pale. The place is full of mysterious characters fighting for love, struggling with hate, assault, cruelties, and a blooming romance between Lars and Rowan. The use of imagery was fascinating; I could visualize the beauty and scenes like a dream. The protagonist is quite likeable and well presented. She’s bold and strong-willed and admirable. I thought she’d be some regular fiery heroine and some average dark lord, but they have definite character arcs. Both as individuals and as a couple!
The setup to the story felt familiar, but I’m so glad that I continued reading because the story does evolve into something uniquely imaginative. Even if demonic, the characters are relatable, their feelings and emotions are genuine, and conflicts are incredibly human.
The book follows the footsteps of traditional young adult fantasies, with lots of action and an easy to follow plot that was entertaining, I kept waiting for a twist I didn’t see coming. This is a novel that is propelled forward by the two main characters that are deeply developed, but I wanted to see that same level of development in the interesting side characters that come up throughout the story.
The Souls of Witches is an enjoyable story of a magical world full of supernatural characters. I genuinely liked this book because of its simplicity and passionate love story. It’s just pure enjoyment, which is honestly great in this time of uncertainty. I would recommend this book to adult fantasy book lovers. I think these people will be able to enjoy reading this lite paranormal romance.
Pages: 266 | ASIN: B08MWXG5BC
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A lone wolf waits outside the house the night Fawna Belle Darling is born. He knows what her mother, Isleen already understands–Fawna is the granny witch. In her home in Purgatory Bend, Wyoming, young Fawna is blessed with a mother who teaches her the ways of their world. As Fawna grows and matures, it becomes increasingly obvious that Isleen was correct–her daughter is special. When Patsy wanders into her life, she is faced with the realization that he may not be who he thinks he is, but Fawna knows. She, true to her nature, must be the one to tell him and to help him understand.
Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch, by Grendolyn Peach Soleil, is the first book in a series. The story centers around Fawna, who is a granny witch. Her life in the Midwest in the mid 1800’s in nothing short of fascinating. From her birth in the 1830’s to her experiences as everyone’s go-to for potions, advice, and healing, Fawna is an integral part of her community.
One of the most striking aspects of her life as a granny witch is her responsibility to ghosts, or vespers. Throughout her life, Fawna is able to see them for what they are when no one around her is able or aware. Her gentleness when addressing Patsy and her ability to help him grasp the reality of his situation is enthralling. Soleil’s writing is riveting and the entire storyline surrounding the two characters is gripping.
One of the parallel storylines caught my attention and stuck with me long after finishing the book. Pearl, desperate not just for love but also for a family approaches Fawna for help. I was truly touched by the way Fawna went about making a potion for her and giving her hope for her future. Soleil’s writing is much more than a fantasy–it’s a story of love and faith.
Snowdust and Boneshine: The Chronicles of Granny Witch is a short read, but it is packed cover to cover with an engaging storyline, well-developed characters, and touching events steeped in fantasy with a bit of romance thrown in. I look forward to many more installments and new adventures involving the granny witch and those in her small, tucked away Wyoming town. Fawna Belle Darling is a unique character and one to follow.
Pages: 125 | ASIN: B08RGG5JQ3
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Carried Away follows the life, love, and friendships of a young woman reliving a vivid memory of her last high school year. What was the inspiration for the setup to this riveting novel?
Leila’s journey was inspired by events and people in my own past. Although made fictional, it really was a story written straight from my memory and heart. I wanted to write a story that was relatable and realistic, and I felt that I accomplished that with Carried Away. Many of the experiences in the book are reflective of actual happenings in my life, like the prom draw that my high school has held for over 100 years.
Leila is an intriguing and well developed character. What were some sources that informed her character development?
Like I said before, Leila and her journey were inspired by my own past. Leila, like myself, grew up right before the social media explosion, and I feel like it was such an incredible time to grow up. I think most 90s and early 2000s kids will be able to find something of themselves in Leila. I felt that Leila displayed emotions, insecurities, and desires that were very reflective of the times.
What are some themes that you wanted to explore in this book?
I wanted to write a story that was real. I’m a teacher, and I have many former students who are now in high school who love to read. I really wanted to write something realistic for them. I felt that Carried Away showed the fragility, and resiliency, of friendships in high school, the incredible natural high feeling that is only felt when you have your first real love, and the realization that life moves on, and can be amazing, after a breakup.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m currently finishing up the sequel to Carried Away, called Love Always. It picks up Leila and Leo’s story a few months after Carried Away ends (before the epilogue). It should be available in the spring of 2021. Once I’m done, I will be moving on from Leila’s story to something completely new.
Posted in Interviews
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The Power of Us follows the emotional journey of two people that find strength together. What was the inspiration for the setup to this provocative novel?
I wanted to create two very different characters who each struggle with their own demons. Cassidy’s demon is her self-doubt while Harly struggles with guilt. While both characters are goal-driven and hard-working, there was always something holding them back from being truly happy. I think many people can relate to this and I wanted to create a story where the characters were far from perfect but still they found love in one another. Often in life we’re our own worst enemy and we’re fearful of taking the leap to follow our dreams. Cassidy and Harly found strength and acceptance in one another. My hope with the Us Duology is that readers will be inspired to take a leap of faith, especially if they’re being held back by self-doubt, because too often we don’t allow ourselves to see how special we are.
Cassidy and Harly are intriguing characters. What were some ideals that guided their character development?
Cassidy starts off as a driven young lady. She knows exactly what she wants in her professional life and she’s willing to work her backside off to succeed. In her personal life though, she’s guarded. Understandably so, considering her childhood. But then she meets Harly, and he unleashes a confidence in her that she’s never allowed herself to possess. This is especially evident in their intimate scenes. While Cassidy is young and naive in this department, most of the time she initiates the intimacy. This was especially important to me because Harly is quite a dominant character but I didn’t want him to dominate that area of their relationship. As the story progresses, so does Cassidy’s maturity. There comes a time in life when you need to fight for what you want and I hope readers will see that Cassidy grows into this role naturally. Harly is a strong character from the beginning but even he has demons. Without giving away any spoilers, he suffers from guilt which has made him guarded as well. But then he meets Cassidy and it’s almost like his attraction to her outweighs the force of guilt. It takes him a while to open up to Cassidy but it’s clear that he’s all in when it comes to their relationship. Cassidy’s love and acceptance proved to Harly that he was worthy of something he never considered – a romantic relationship. Most of us desire a partner who is willing to fight for us, protect us, and nurture us. I hope readers will find this in Harly’s character development because as the story progresses, so does his need to be everything Cassidy deserves.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
Definitely overcoming self-doubt. Harly’s love gave Cassidy the courage she needed to fight for what she wanted. Secondly, I wanted to portray Harly as a confident man who isn’t afraid to show his emotions. He doesn’t always deal with it the right way, but there’s nothing he wouldn’t do for those he loves. Finally, friendship. Both Cassidy and Harly have amazing best friends. Cassidy’s straight-talking roommate, Emy, who on more than one occasion forces Cassidy to confront the cold, hard truth, is the girl everyone wants in their corner. She’s always there for Cassidy and she’s willing to protect her friend at all costs. Whitney is Harly’s best friend. She’s a powerhouse of a woman and similar to Emy, she speaks her mind, even when Harly doesn’t want to hear it.
This is book one in the Us Duology series. What can readers expect in book two?
Cassidy and Harly have to face some tough decisions and their journey won’t be easy. Readers can expect to see a lot more emotion from Harly and Cassidy’s character will develop even further. The bond readers already have with Cassidy and Harly will intensify as the reader is taken on an emotional rollercoaster.
Skylar Shoar’s The Power of Us is utterly romantic. It follows the love story of Harly, a young billionaire and Cassidy, a college freshman. Although they come from entirely different worlds, they are drawn to each other from the first day they meet, their lives becoming deeply intertwined.
Naturally, they face many challenges, some instigated by family and others by foes. But they seem to be tenacious, at least when it comes to their love. However, something much greater than people’s opinions and reactions eventually threatens to wreak havoc on their union.
If there is one thing that makes this story so relatable, it has to be its main characters. Harly and Cassidy are so well developed, so well fleshed out that you would be forgiven for believing you know them personally. By writing the story from each of their perspectives, the author brings us into their inner domain, helping us understand why they act the way they do.
Apart from their love for each other, we also get a glimpse of how their childhoods informed the current personalities and thought processes. Moreover, we encounter powerful themes like loyalty, betrayal, revenge, and the need for belonging; all things that readers can identify with. But if I was to pick one thing that I loved most about this book, it would have to be its easy-to-read language. Its sentences are simple and clear, leaving little to the imagination.
While I enjoyed this story, I would have loved a more dramatic twist at the end, and a few more interesting facets that would make the story more unique in the romance genre and keep things from being predictable. The sex scenes, while steamy, reinstated the powerful man- innocent woman dynamic where I would have loved a unique twist.
The Power of Us is perfect for a mature audience interested in new adult romance. Readers looking for a dramatic love story with riveting scenes of love and violence will find plenty to enjoy in Skylar Shoar’s provocative novel.
Pages: 452 | ASIN: B08LQQ6CMR
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Follow My Lead by Hannah Blowers is a romance novel featuring a steamy love triangle in the small coastal town of Waterville, Massachusetts. Elisa Roberts is a professional ballet dancer returning to her hometown from New York after sustaining a life changing injury that impedes her from continuing her dancing career. Her otherwise peaceful and nostalgic return gets complicated when she runs into her childhood crush, Christian, who has only ever seen her as his cousin’s best friend; something Elisa is desperate to change. When she runs into sexy gym owner Derrick, who just so happens to be secretly in love with her best friend, they form a fake relationship to inspire jealousy in their respective crushes. What she doesn’t expect is to actually catch feelings for the arrogant yet sweet Derrick who pushes her to the limit and equals her level of humor and intellect. Both of them share a special connection that they’ll soon have to admit. Sometimes what we really want is closer than we think.
I think that Follow My Lead is a charming book. This is something that I think many people will call a comfort read. The plot is simple and easy to follow as it consists of only the love triangle between Elisa, Christian, and Derrick. Elisa is a great character, funny and witty when need be but relatable in most aspects. She is just like any other girl looking for love. Though the story is filled with fun descriptions and humorous banter between the characters, the plot itself is a bit reminiscent of other new adult romance novels, or the heartfelt loves stories found on the Hallmark channel.
Overall, Follow My Lead is light and fun to read, despite the predictability of the story. The characters are well developed and distinguishable in their personalities. While I would have appreciated one or two good twists, the light humor and fluid storyline makes this book perfect for a beach read. This is a book that will easily be enjoyed by fans of contemporary romance stories, and is perfect if your looking for a book that will leave you smiling.
Pages: 265 | ASIN: B08M7KBH34
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Parker is running again. She thought she was done, but her past has found her once again. It only took one short note in an envelope to bring the life she had worked so hard to establish to a screeching halt. Miranda has been ghosted. She can’t imagine what she’s done to deserve it, yet here she is right before the holidays with no one to bring home. When her friends suggest someone from her past, Miranda is less than enthusiastic. Claire’s close-call wedding is a year behind her, and she is struggling to balance her four-year-old, her job, and her emotions. When she meets up with Drew, she begins to connect the dots she thought were long behind her. Kelsey, dealing with the prospect of impending blindness, is beginning to give up on happiness in all respects.
Thankfully in Love, a holiday anthology compiled and edited by Lezli Robyn, follows the plights of four young women all carrying emotional weights almost too heavy to bear. All four of these main characters offer readers relatable story lines and hope for happy endings. Robyn has managed to pull together four fantastic examples of short stories centered around family dynamics, the hectic hubbub of the holiday season, and of course, the chance to find true love.
I especially enjoyed “No Place Like Home,” by Anna J. Stewart. While somewhat more of a thriller than the other three stories, it offers readers who enjoy mysteries and an element of drama a little something to sink their teeth into from the first chapter. A close second is “Dog-Gone Holiday,” by Melinda Curtis. Curtis’s main character, Claire, is fighting to get over a marriage she never achieved. Her son is her world, and she isn’t sure what her future holds romantically. Claire is a highly relatable character with whom readers will sympathize.
“Second Chances,” by Kayla Perrin features Miranda, a young woman who rediscovers a love she never knew she felt after being ghosted by her current love interest. Miranda’s story is intriguing in that she is quite reluctant to rekindle a friendship she thought she lost after high school. Her story will make readers feel nostalgic for their own former friendships and almost-relationships. “Love Guides the Way,” by Cari Lynn Webb, is perhaps the most specific of the four stories. Kelsey, facing blindness, is dealing with finding love and the prospect of how her future partner may feel about her disability.
The four very different short stories within Thankfully in Love give readers quick but substantial stories, relatable main characters, and a sense of satisfaction. A great read for the holidays. I highly recommend Robyn’s anthology to anyone looking for a sampling of fantastic love stories.
Pages: 300 | ASIN: B08D3TBSTJ
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