Fire in the Heart, a novel by Lesley J. Mooney, traces the experiences of young Rianna as she copes with both unrequited love and a marriage that has swept her off her feet and into a new and sobering reality. When Lord Rowan McClaron introduces himself to Rianna and her friends, she has no way of knowing that her life in Scotland is about to change–and change for the worse. Her marriage to Rowan is plagued with secrets on both sides, and her seeming inability to produce an heir brings Rowan’s wrath upon her.
Fire in the Heart is a unique blend of romance and mystery. Mooney manages to keep the reader invested in Rianna’s plight by revisiting the strange and unsettling behavior of her husband, Rowan. Rianna, by all accounts, is an abused woman. What begins as a romance novel soon turns into a story of a woman trying to find ways to appease an increasingly abusive and disturbed husband. Mooney is more than effective at describing the heartbreak and the terror of her heroine.
Mooney paints a bleak picture of Rowan McClaron. He is as realistic an abuser as I have seen in novels of this genre. From beginning to end, he is that vile character the reader will want to see either make a turn for the better or be offed. The author is quite adept at giving readers a villain worthy of loathing.
Rianna’s desire to satisfy Rowan’s desire for a child is the primary focus of the storyline. I was, in fact, quite surprised that there was so little time spent describing Rianna’s pregnancy. Things move very quickly once Rianna finds out she is indeed carrying a child. I would have preferred the plot have been drawn out a little longer with regards to the long-awaited birth.
The dialect is absolutely delightful. Accents are thick and take a couple rereads at the outset, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading even the richest comments and slang-laden comments.
I admit I was thrown completely by the use of single quotes as a way of denoting dialogue. This took a bit of time to get used to and prompted me to do a quick bit of research. I wasn’t familiar with this particular style used by publishers in the UK. However, after a couple chapters, I found myself more concerned with the plot and less aware of the quotations themselves.
One thing I found a little difficult to look past was the changing of tenses mid-paragraph. The change from past to present and back with no obvious explanation was hard to navigate at times. Though it doesn’t permeate the book, these small lapses in consistency made for some awkward reading.
Mooney offers readers action, romance, and intrigue in one neat package. Rianna is a woman fighting battles with which many readers may identify. Her stubbornness and the fierce manner in which she protects her son make her a main character to remember.
Pages: 340 | ASIN: B01N7XHUZD
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In Darkness, There is Still Light rolls in hot, picking up immediately where its predecessor Wheeler abruptly ended and engrossing readers from the very first pages. The Wheeler series centers on the life of professional cyclist Loren MacKenzie, an American living in the United Kingdom, and the physical and emotional challenges that she faces. Darkness resumes where Wheeler left off, right after Loren has won a world championship title in cycling and kissed her movie star boyfriend, Graham Atherton, farewell for three weeks apart as he flies off to film his next blockbuster. As in her first novel, Zalesky is able to squeeze an incredible amount of action into just a few short months of Loren’s life, though perhaps even more impressive is her ability to fit all the thrills in a short 250 page novel that will fly by for readers.
In Darkness should be read after completing the first Wheeler, as Zalesky does not spend much time reintroducing characters or explaining past events. Readers will recognize familiar faces in Darkness, including Loren’s sassy cycling teammates and loyal friends, but Zalesky also introduces new and exciting characters to the mix. While the first Wheeler was a fairly even mix of romance, thriller, and women’s cycling novels, Darkness focuses more on the romance and emotional challenges of Loren’s life, spending more time developing her relationship with Graham and another key character (whose identify I will not reveal!), and spending far less time on the bike. While I missed the road race episodes that Zalesky created in Wheeler, Darkness takes place during the cycling off-season when competitions are infrequent.
Though In Darkness lacks the nail-biting cycling races and triumphant finish line scenes, it is just as thrilling as Wheeler for other reasons. Zalesky further develops Loren as a complex and sympathetic character as she delves into Loren’s troubled past and fractured emotional psyche. One of Zalesky’s greatest strengths is her ability to develop Loren as such a complex but also relatable star. Though hopefully readers have not personally experienced the abuses thrown at Loren, they can relate to the conflicting emotions she feels as her relationship deepens with Graham and the rollercoaster of ups and downs she experiences after traumatic events. But far from a damsel in distress, Loren remains a strong protagonist that readers will find themselves rooting for wholeheartedly. Where Loren shines, though, her knight in shining armor, Graham Atherton, appears rather dull. Even as their relationship deepens, Graham remains a bit one-dimensional as the Shakespeare-quoting, jaw-dropping handsome actor. But, trusting our protagonist Loren’s judgment, I will give Graham the benefit of the doubt and hope that Zalesky continues to develop him in Wheeler’s third installment.
A solid four-star novel, In Darkness, There is Still Light again offers a unique delight for readers with its combination of romance, thriller, and sports. As the name suggests, Darkness tackles challenging and sensitive issues, especially physical and emotional abuse, but Zalesky successfully handles these with depth, grace, and realism. There is never a dull page with Loren, and the few months of Loren’s life covered in Darkness fly by, ending abruptly once more and leaving readers ready for the next race, which is certain to be just as exciting as those in Wheeler and In Darkness, There is Still Light.
Pages: 295 | ASIN: B07BT52785
Tags: action, adventure, alibris, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, bicycle, bike, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, champion, cyclist, ebook, goodreads, ilovebooks, in darkness there is still light, indiebooks, kindle, kobo, literature, love, mystery, new york, nook, novel, professional, publishing, race, read, reader, reading, romance, sara butler salesky, shelfari, smashwords, story, suspense, thriller, wheeler, writer, writer community, writing
A brave knight is wrongfully cursed, turning him into the most beautiful woman on the planet. To reverse this curse, “she” must form a quest to seek out the Wicca Master who cast the spell, hopefully changing her mind.
Along the way, the knight falls in love with her squire, battles vampires, helps aid an Elf revolution, and even becomes pregnant. Ultimately, her squire must make the hard choice: does he complete his master’s quest, or does he try to keep his one true love?
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LoveQuest is a dramatic retelling of an ancient Greek myth about Psyche, a mortal woman, and Eros, the god of love. Why did you want to retell this story and what were some new ideas you wanted to introduce?
I’ve always loved mythology, from the time I was first exposed to it as a child. As a student of literature, I was aware of how the ancient myths continued to influence art and culture to the present day.
There were myths in particular that caught my attention, and, in my early 30s, I was particularly drawn to that of Eros and Psyche. I never imagined a Roman setting, but the romantic, wonderful, and bucolic setting of ancient Greece.
To me, the myth of Eros and Psyche comprises all that is romantic. Each of us yearns for a partner who is the ideal of everything we’ve ever dreamed of, but somehow we don’t believe we are worthy of such love.
We deceive ourselves by letting others define us. We vacillate and let fear conquer us. The world leads us astray and we fail ourselves and those who love us.
To be human is to be like Psyche. I identified with her and all her failings, as well as with her attempts to make reparations and redeem herself.
Psyche held her gifts in low esteem, and that was her first mistake. Beauty is a gift, and those who are blessed with it are meant to shine, just as a writer must write and a dancer must dance.
Being morbidly influenced by her malignant sisters was another of Psyche’s mistakes. It should be easy to tell a friend from an enemy; people should not let their enemies define them or direct their behavior.
Eros has a coming-of-age experience; he takes a path distinct from his mother’s and follows his own destiny. As for Aphrodite, she has to decide whether she should set her child free or protect him from making a grown-up’s mistake.
At one point, Psyche has an opportunity to escape her trials and slink back home. Instead of choosing the mediocrity of a safe and easy path, she decides to follow her heart and endure and suffer for a higher objective. The difficult path is the one that gives us a chance to stretch ourselves, excel ourselves, and be better than we would otherwise be.
On an elevated level, the myth is the story of the redeeming power of love, and of the soul in search of redemption and perfection.
I felt that your characters were well developed and their personalities were distinct. What are some important traits you like your characters to have?
I want people to identify with my characters, or at least see in them what they see in others. A character cannot succeed unless he or she connects with the reader. The reader doesn’t have to like the character; it’s only important that the reader perceives the character as alive and real.
I don’t want my characters to be too good or too bad. There is risk of falling into parody if they are. My villains, if they can be called villains, are not all bad; they just behave badly.
What kind of research did you undertake to ensure you got the mythology right in LoveQuest?
The main source for my story is The Age of Fable (1855) by the American writer Thomas Bulfinch (1796 – 1867). This has been a classic and standard text for the Greek myths ever since.
Bulfinch appeals because he attempts to write the myths with all “the charm of a story book,” while adhering “to the text of the ancient authorities.” He writes “for the reader of English literature” and “to popularize mythology and extend the enjoyment of elegant literature.”
I have allowed Bulfinch to provide the framework of my story, but I have attempted to expand upon it, infuse it with other elements of magic and wonder, and, I hope, provide readers with a greater depth of understanding for the lessons the story imparts.
I have taken some liberty with Bulfinch’s story of Eros and Psyche. Gaia, the Earth Mother, is an immortal apart from the gods of Olympus. The talking animals are a tribute to C. S. Lewis and Disney, and the intervention of the South and North Winds is my own device, providing a natural way to give Eros allies outside his mother’s influence.
The mysterious Dream Lover is a mystical being born of imagination.
What is the next novel that you are working on and when will it be available?
I have been spending much of my time since the publication of LoveQuest in promoting my books (my historical novel Brief Candles was published in 1983) and sharing my short stories on my website. However, I do have many projects planned and already in development.
I am building a narrative around the diary I kept when I was fourteen, filled with the anxieties, vanities, and pain of adolescence.
Another project is a dystopia of a class-based society where the tidal wave for change is already churning under the surface of a closed and exclusive world.
An overreaching work is a history of late 15th century England during the period popularly known as the Wars of the Roses. I have been studying that period on and off for over 50 years, and friends have encouraged me to collect my research in a nonfiction book.
None of these projects is close to completion, and I know by experience that a sudden inspiration could cause me to push something totally unexpected forward.
One way or another, I will never stop writing.
LoveQuest, a romantic fantasy, is a light-hearted retelling of one of the most enduring love stories from ancient Greek mythology: the forbidden passion of Eros, the god of Love, for the mortal woman Psyche.
A god’s love for a mortal woman…
It is ancient Greece, a world of gods, superstition, and magic. The villagers dwelling under the eyes of the jealous and capricious gods on Mount Olympus seek to gain their favor and to uncover the mysteries that only the immortals can know by turning to priests, soothsayers, seers, and fortune-tellers.
The oracle of the divine Apollo is one of the most famous of these seers. Although physically nothing more than a pool of water in a cavern, its wisdom is so renown across Greece that many journey far and wide to seek its counsel.
Among the pilgrims are the wealthy cloth merchant Pericles, his wife Leena, and their daughters Medea, Tanna, and Psyche. Although Psyche is blessed by Aphrodite, the goddess of Beauty, and is cherished by the people of her village for her loveliness, she cares little for their attention, seeking only the approval of her envious and malicious sisters.
Medea and Tanna ridicule the oracle’s prophecy that Psyche will make a “marvelous” marriage to someone “not human,” and use it as another means to torment their sister, driving her to tears.
Offended by Psyche’s behavior and not accustomed to being taken for granted, Aphrodite retaliates by asking her son Eros, the god of Love, to punish Psyche with a life of lovelessness.
Coming to Psyche and her sisters under a cloak of invisibility, Eros is filled with pity for Psyche but determined to carry out his mother’s wishes. Aphrodite’s plan goes amok when Eros wounds himself with his own arrow carrying out the punishment. He falls in love with the woman his mother hates.
Eros must make a decision: Will he do his mother’s bidding and resist the power of love, or will he defy her by setting his own course in pursuit of Psyche’s heart?
And, if he develops an elaborate plan to win Psyche, whose help can he enlist? Is love with Psyche possible, and how long can he keep up his deception before his mother discovers him?
Compared with Eros, Psyche is a novice at love. Eros can’t approach her as a human suitor would approach a human woman. She too has a decision to make: Should she believe the loving words of a mysterious stranger, or should she believe her sisters?
The consequences for Eros and Psyche are dear. Aphrodite’s temper is not something to toy with. She is angry enough with Psyche, but if Psyche should do wrong to her son Eros, there might be no end to the punishment Psyche faces at the hands of the jealous goddess.
Psyche must choose between betrayal and fidelity, just as Eros must connive to win her love and the approval of his mother. Both of them must be put to the test in order to find their heart’s desire.
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After a serious car crash, Stefan comes round from a coma with a case of amnesia. Eva, his younger sister, is the only one who can see that Stefan is not really Stefan at all…When a strange letter arrives, written in gothic handwriting and addressed to Stefan, saying there has been a terrible mistake and signed by a mysterious ‘Hyacinthe’, the puzzle starts to unravel. Along with Eva, Stefan’s friends, Kim, Thomas, Harry, and Andrew must try to solve the mystery but to do that they will have to take part in a dangerous race, called The Game of Life.
Anna Musewald’s A Game of Life is a YA fantasy and mystery novel which draws you in from the first page. The prose is so easy to read; it is witty and enchanting and feels perfect for a YA audience. In spite of the simplicity of the language, it doesn’t feel at all patronising or one-dimensional. The ‘game’ from the title is quite complex, with lots of imaginative systems and challenging tasks set for the players which really immerses the reader in the experience. I loved the inclusion of Greek myth, such as Apollo and the Sirens, woven through the narrative. The plot is in the vein of The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire which could make it seem derivative, but with an original and inventive spin, it manages to feel fresh and exciting. Meaningful themes of friendship, loyalty and bravery flesh out the fun storyline.
The pacing is excellent; I was instantly engrossed by the opening chapter and the book never let me go! We are drawn in by the question of what has happened to Stefan and led through a number of rabbit holes and strange happenings. The revelation isn’t made until the end which kept me greedily turning the pages, and there are also plenty of action scenes to keep the reader hooked until the final page.
I had total belief in the characters, who all have distinctive personalities, and I loved the way that the friendships and rivalries are portrayed, showing the tangled and complex nature of relationships. The relationship between Stefan and Eva is particularly poignant and depicts the protective and intuitive nature of sibling relationships. The dialogue is funny and clever, and the conversation seems very authentic for a group of young people.
One of the aspects that I enjoyed the most was the setting of Parsi and the fully formed ‘underground’ city created by the author which is full of fantastical and magical detail. Musewald excels at writing surroundings and conjures up place in a beguiling and descriptive way so that the reader feels as though they are on the journey with the characters.
This is a great addition to the young fiction genre, full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense; I enjoyed the journey immensely. I gobbled it up in one go, and I can’t wait for another riveting story from Anna Musewald.
Pages: 202 | ASIN: B01M0ZBKXP
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From the Heart is a series of short stories about human passions and emotions and how they come to the fore when people face challenging circumstances. Why was this an important collection for you to write?
Mario Llosa Vargas once said that love is the most important human activity. I think it is what makes us human. In these stories the need for love is paramount – from the child’s clinging to a safe world, to the desperation of a feared loss of a life partner, or to the family love that stays strong through tough times. But I was surprised to realise how powerful the need for companionship and support is in later life; it is precious and one of the few things that can ward off the pain and terror of the losses ahead.
It strikes me that bonding and the joys of feeling loved and safe are so easy to lose, and also, so easy to build – with understanding and good will. I guess I keep trying to make the story come good in the end.
Mouse Mat was my favorite of the stories. What was your favorite story in the collection and why?
In “The Legacy You Leave” I enjoyed seeing the selfish bully losing his power as the sons stood together to highlight the real hero, their father.
Did you write these stories separately or did you write them knowing that they would be published together?
No, the stories came alive independently. Often a character or a scene of conflict take hold in my mind, and I keep returning to it until the problem is solved. At an unexpected moment I realised the stories formed a whole, and the title just fell out of the theme.
What is one thing that you hope readers take away from your stories?
Definitely: don’t let despair, loss or tyranny take away your opportunity for joy, and joy in others.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
I’m planning the sequel to Choose: Snakes or Ladders, which should be let loose in November. But it’s facing a bit of competition from other stories in the world of #MeToo, and similar instances of standover and exploitation.
o Heart Buddies
o Life After
o Mouse Mat
o A Worm Among the Flowers
o The Legacy You Leave
o Love in a Teapot
Carlo seems a perfect husband. Why can’t Nicky go with the happiness within her reach?
Paula worked really hard to live up to it all. And then she failed. How can something good come from all the pain?
A child lies in bed, scared and alone. Will Daddy and Mummy be there for her? Finding an answer takes a lot of growing up. But the lessons of the good times remain to help.
The ladies bridge club. Long time friends struggling to hang on as the Autumn leaves fall around them.
What was the secret to Greg’s ability to be loyal to his work and foster his dreams for his sons? And what toll did it take?
Sue and her mother had formed a tight bond, a wall against the conflict and pain in their life. But when does that wall become a prison?
Moving and heart-warming, these short stories about love and the emotions that get in the way, are an antidote to the fears that haunt the nights of all of us.
If you enjoy Amanda Prowse, give these stories a try.
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A mole within the SEALs and I’m the one to find him. Simple for someone with my type of ability to read through lies. Everything was laid out, we had a plan. A good plan. Go in undercover as a reporter, gather intel, identify the mole and come home. But it didn’t turn out that way. Not even close. Of course, the Sr. Officer over the platoon in question is a former one night stand who became way too clingy. And to top it off his best friend, and my escort around the base is someone whom I desperately want clinging, without clothes would be preferred. The number of obstacles in this operation is too many to count but I have to find the mole, no matter what, my reputation within the CIA depends on it.
Who would have thought a quick-witted, hotshot CIA agent would be my kryptonite. But is she ever. From the moment, she walked into CO’s office I was hooked. She a drug and I’m the willing addict doing anything and everything just to get one more hit of her. She says we are a bad idea, that it would complicate things, what does she know. We could be great together. We will be great together. All I have to do is convince her we can play and get the job done too. I want the mole caught but I might want her just as bad.
A Covert Affair is a contemporary romantic suspense, standalone novel.
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Lilly Donovan is ready to escape the misery of her abusive marriage to billionaire playboy Shane. His drinking and cheating convinced her that she has no choice but to leave. Before Lilly can get a divorce, Shane suddenly dies of a heart attack, leaving her a wealthy widow, with a tract of very expensive real estate as her nest egg. Owning the land means she’ll be financially well off…and most of all…free of all things Donovan. Until older brother Grant steps into the picture, threatening to awaken her damaged heart.
Grant Donovan fell in love with Lilly the moment he set eyes on her. Unfortunately, she was already his brother’s wife, so he had no choice but to keep his distance. Now that she’s a widow, he won’t lose her a second time. He pulls out all the stops to win Lilly’s love, but she has her own ideas about her future. She fears Grant only wants to marry her so he can get his hands on the property. Now, Grant must convince Lilly that she is the only treasure he wants. Can Lilly find love and healing in the arms of another Donovan brother, or will she turn her back on a chance at happiness?
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Cradle Gift follows Maité as she discovers the origins of her gift and the meaning behind her ability to move in and out of dreams. What were some new ideas you wanted to expand on in the second book in the series that you didn’t, or couldn’t, get to in the first book?
Here are a few of the things I wanted to explore with Cradle Gift:
- I’ve always been fascinated with Lucid Dreaming, so to continue expanding my knowledge on that subject was very satisfying. Although I put it to my readers as acradle-giftedability, Lucid Dreaming is something you can develop and perfect through practice… maybe not to the astral projection level Maité achieves, but it’s as close to having wings or gills as we can get.
- I wanted to establish the 200-year gap between Celeste and Maité, and plant the seed of curiosity over what happened with the family during those 2 centuries.
- I wanted to highlight “adaptability” without denying the suffering and struggle it takes a person to achieve it. I agree with Charles Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Maité is strong, intelligent, adaptable and therefore, a survivor.
You were able to craft a world that was equally as beautiful as in book one. What were some lessons learned in book one that helped you write book two?
Book 1 was my first full-length novel and through its production I learned a great deal about the technical aspects of publishing, but more than anything, that is where I began to develop “my voice.” Faery Sight became my go-to document for Cradle Gift because locales had been established there along with coordinates for the Faerie Realm—I was so glad that I kept my drafts, maps, and notes! I took with me a briefcase stuffed with all my papers when I traveled to San Sebastián, Spain. I stayed there for one whole blustery week in March to round up my research.
Maité continues to be a dynamic and intriguing character. I find that authors are sometimes exploring their characters when writing just as much as readers are when reading. Do you find this to be true? What kind of exploration did you do with Maité’s character in this book?
The women and girls in my family are the inspiration behind my stories—the series really is a family affair.
The girl on the cover of Cradle Gift is my niece (my older sister’s first born), some of her character traits and astrological attributes account for a big part of Maité’s personality.
FYI: My younger sister’s first born is on the cover of Faery Sight, and my daughter is on the cover of Nahia.
Nahia is the third book in your Faerie Legacy series. Where can readers expect the story to go in the next installment?
Nahia is a common denominator whose story covers the 200-year gap between books 1 and 2.
I consider this novel is a philosophical-fiction of sorts because it is about Nahia’s journey to know herself, to find her place in the world. She’s willful and stubborn, she’d rather ask for forgiveness (grudgingly) than permission, but when the weight of the realm is thrust upon her, Nahia, accepts the challenge, realizing that the time for her to grow up is at hand.
Her strengths and weaknesses lead her to change the genetic footprint of humanity, and to a bitter sweet victory.
At seventeen, Maité’s mortal world is torn apart with the tragic loss of her parents. Uprooted from the only home she’s ever known and isolated in a foreign country, the young woman struggles to make sense of her new life. But the conflict in the realm of Faerie is about to bleed over into Maité’s reality. She finds herself in the middle of an ancient struggle between Nahia and the Beautiful One as they furiously clash for control over the realm.
Through her Cradle Gift, Maité uncovers the extent of the Faerie Realm’s involvement in her life, and in her quest to come to terms with it, Maité has the help of best friend Emily, and David; a young man whose interest in genetics illuminates possibilities that will change her identity forever.
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