Friday, June 27, 2014

The Slow Burn of Silence

An artist fills the viewers mind with broad brushstrokes and tiny smidges, colors vividly springing to life on the canvas in front of them. 

When does something begin and end? The ripples from a stone cast into a pond, do they start with the smoothness of the pebble that first attracts the eye, the impulse to feel it against the palm, to make it skip over water … do they end with the last tiny lap of a wave on the distant shore …

Loreth Anne White fills the viewers mind with images painted through the written word, each phrase dripping on the pages, oils and charcoal the tools of her craft. 

It’s not often that I refer to a mystery as poetical in its prose, each word not to tell the story, but rather to put the reader into the scene, walking along with each character.  Thomas H. Cook is the only other that comes to mind, a painter of pictures of the mind.

An Indian summer. He’d forgotten the taste of it. The feel of it. The sound of it. The way the breeze whispered in his ears with the voices of dead leaves, brittle grasses, crackling twigs, the soft swishing of drought-browned conifer tips. It was a dialogue that could only come after a killing frost. This valley was tinderbox dry, ripe for fire, whispering for it. Or for rain.

Jeb Cullen returns to Snowy Creek after serving almost 10 years in prison for a crime he never committed … or did he?  With flashbacks indicating something violent in his past, can he really be trusted? A review of the case gets him released by the courts, but not technically “not guilty”. He comes home, his guilt still evident in the eyes of the townspeople, in the doubting eyes of the woman he once loved.  The woman whose testimony helped put him away. Jeb wants to reclaim, needs to reclaim, the life that was taken from him … and the woman who has never left his heart.  But could he face down a town full of hatred and suspicion. 

But it was what he wanted, a stark spotlight which under everyone would be exposed and held accountable, under which he could stand up and show he had nothing to hide. Where he could look into the faces of the men who’d lied, into the eyes of those who believed in his guilt, and let people know he would not back down. It was the only tool he had. Darkness bred shadows, secrets, easy violence without consequence.

Rachel Salonen lost her innocence and her soul mate on one fateful night almost 10 years before, a night that she pushed back into the recesses of her mind as she went on with her life; a life that included a fiancé, a life that was happy.  But then her sister and brother –in-law die in a house fire and she becomes the guardian of their little girl.  A child she barely knows, a child that ends up tying her to the one man she never dared see again.

I try to swallow against the tightness closing my throat. My skin is hot. Dark memories thread into my mind like ink tendrils into water, swirling, curling, clouding the present, blurring plans for the future with Trey. We’ve all worked so hard to bury the past, the whole town has. But sometimes all one can do is plaster over the cracks with the concrete of industry; because underneath the fissures remain, waiting for some little tremor to open them up into black maws hungry to swallow you up again. Like now.

The Slow Burn of Silence is a book full of suspense, tension, danger and romance.  From a writer with an exceptional grasp of the English language, this book can finally move Loreth Anne White in with the best romantic suspense writers today.  Go buy the book, you won’t regret it.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Instant Attraction

By Jill Shalvis

I knew I was in trouble before even opening the book – starting to read it at night after work. I should have known better, or at least set the alarm clock to stop me before 3:00 a.m. I had fully intended to only read half of it the first night, the rest the next. Yeah. I started reading it around 9:00, with a break around 10 to write the next day’s blog and close down the computer. Then off to bed for just a little while of reading. But it’s a Shalvis book, when have I been able to set one of those down before finishing it?

Carly Phillips says on the cover blurb “Shalvis writes with humor, heart, and sizzling heat!” I have to agree with that; mostly the humor – although I do love her romances - but it’s the humor that keeps bringing me back to her books. There are so many romances out on the market, so many of them are good – but for me, the humor is what keeps me reading and what separates Jill Shalvis’ books from the others.

Instant Attraction is the first of a new trilogy by Jill - the stories of the Wilder boys, Cameron, Stone and T.J., owners of Wilder Adventures and Expeditions. This one belongs to Cameron; recently home after a year wandering the globe to escape the pain of losing what he thought was the very essence of his life, his championship snowboarding career. After an accident left him unable to compete again, Cameron ran from his family and his fears.

Katie Kramer was an accountant. Numbers were her life, safe choices ruled her decisions. Everything changed in a heartbeat with the collapse of a bridge in which Katie was the only survivor. She decided then to go off on adventures, to take risks. Landing in Wishful, California and as a temp secretary for Wilder Adventures seemed like the thing to do.

Both were running from their demons, both confront their fears together and learn the real definition of courage.

I love how this story flows, the romance progresses not at a break-neck speed but with a sizzling humor and warmth that is signature Shalvis. The secondary characters shine as usual without taking away from Cam and Katie’s story, but instead lend it depth and beautifully sets up the next in the series.

I give this book 5 stars!
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Superb and Sexy

by Jill Shalvis

I have been waiting for this story since I read Smart and Sexy. Maddie and Brody. The tension rolled off of them in every scene, no matter how brief their appearance. Then came Strong and Sexy and my fascination and curiosity about their story grew. So I sat there, holding the book in my hands, thoughtfully stroking the cover. I was almost afraid to open it, fearful of being disappointed somehow. Now, I had no doubt whatsoever that the writing would be good, as I always enjoy Jill’s writing. I don’t know what it was, the anticipation somehow? I took a deep breath and opened to page one.

The man pulled up in a rumbling, bad boy Camaro like he owned his world, and Maddie had good reason to know he did.
Brody West owned his world all right, and completely rocked hers.

I let my breath out. It was going to be good, excellent in fact. Those two sentences summed up Maddie’s feelings for Brody perfectly. He had the unerring ability to make her mad, frustrated as hell, and inexplicitly drawn to him. She didn’t know why. He was stubborn, stingy with money, overbearing, sexy as hell, and, well the things he made her feel. Things she had no right to be feeling now that she was leaving Sky High Air, the company that she had helped build, her life and friends. But leave it she must, for her twin sister Leena needed her help. Needed her to put in force The Plan that they had decided upon years ago, to go away and start a new life far from their Uncle Rick and Stone Cay as they could. Of course Brody wasn’t going to let her escape, not since that kiss and his strong attraction to her. Maddie could make him mad, stir things up inside that he’d rather not deal with. While Maddie had come from a life of luxury, empty as it was, Brody had grown up mostly on the streets, fighting for everything he had. It wasn’t until he met Noah and Shayne that his dreams of flying began to come to fruition, and now his family consisted of his friends, their wives, and Maddie. Always Maddie. Independent, intelligent, bossy, beautiful Maddie. And he wasn’t about to let her disappear from his life any more than Maddie was going to involve Brody in her troubles, expose him to danger. So what else are two stubborn people going to do? Yes, fall in love, face the bad guys and save the day.

I’m not going to belabor the point that Jill Shalvis is a gifted writer, that she has this innate ability to create characters that come alive on the page. I’m just going to say that once again she has written a book with three dimensional characters, full thought out plot lines, and sub-plots that will keep you riveted. As is not unusual for Ms. Shalvis, her secondary characters of Leena and Ben are interesting, add to the texture of the story and are brilliantly portrayed, evident by the fact that the one thing I am disappointed with is the fact that we don’t get more of their story.
I give this 5 stars.
Barnes and Noble

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Strong and Sexy

by Jill Shalvis

Strong and Sexy once again demonstrates the wit, charm, romance and adventure that has become a Jill Shalvis trademark. There were many times when I broke out in laughter as Ms. Shalvis’ characters traded barbs, stumbled over their own feet and klutzily attempted to maneuver down the road to love; bit my lip as they dodged bullets; and sighed with pleasure with each kiss, touch, look. With consummate skill she weaves a tale that will surely please even her harshest critics. As always, her characters are extraordinarily crafted, their personalities fairly leaping off the page. This goes for the supporting, or background, characters as well. Each one has their own voice, characteristic and unique contribution to the story.
As in the previous book, Smart and Sexy, we return to Sky High Air and it’s owners, Noah, Brody and Shayne, three men who grew up together, bucking the system with each step of the way. Also back is their resourceful concierge Maddie, still hiding her attraction to Brody – but that’s for a third book. This one belongs to Shayne Mahoney, the bad-boy with a trust fund who would never conform to his parents’ expectations. The black sheep of the family, Shayne has used his connections to bring clients to the fledgling business, and after a year they are finally out of the red. But the same cannot be said for his love-life. Lately he has been the dumpee instead of the dumper and he’s beginning to think he’s lost his touch. Enter Dani Peterson, the complete opposite of everything Shayne looks for in a woman, but this awkward concoction of womanly curves and wide-eyed wonder pulls at him nevertheless. When he finds out that she’s the “crazy” daughter of an important client, he vows to back off only to be pulled reluctantly back in, time after time.
Dani has always strived for independence from her mother and her money. For that, Sandra Peterson has always referred to Dani as her crazy daughter. But Dani doesn’t care, as long as she is left alone to live her own life and devote her time to her zoo animals. Well, maybe not left alone entirely, as her lack of a love life stinks. Attending her mother’s party, thrown by Sky High Air, is the last thing she wants to do, but she pulls herself together and gathers her courage. Not that it helps much, as it clearly becomes evident that she’s a fish out of water, drowning in a sea of snobbery. And as if breaking a heel, having a drink dumped on her, and making out with a gorgeous guy in a closet weren’t enough, there’s the thing about the murder she witnesses, the murder with no dead body that has Mr. Gorgeous, Shayne, looking at her as if she’s the loony her mother has made her out to be.
When Dani becomes the target, Shayne finds himself in the role of protector, a position that becomes increasingly difficult as the danger escalates and his attraction to Dani becomes stronger. It was a delight to watch these two fall in love, the sexy banter and even sexier love scenes fulfilling everything that a romance is about. Five stars for this one.
Barnes and Noble

Friday, November 23, 2007

I'm Your Santa

By Lori Foster, Karen Kelley and Dianne Castell

A wonderful trio of Christmas stories that will give you a giggle and warm your heart.

The first story is The Christmas Present by Lori Foster. I picked this book up entirely on the fact that there was a story by Ms. Foster. I knew I would be guaranteed a good read and I wasn’t disappointed. Beth Monroe wanted revenge against her cheating fiancé so she decided a night with his best friend Levi would do the trick. Only it wasn’t one night, more like three days and Levi wasn’t backing away. Levi Masterson had been in love with Beth since the first day he saw her, only she was his best friend’s girl. Not anymore, and Levi wasn’t going to let her go even if it means following her home for Christmas. Surrounded by her protective family, he has this one chance to convince Beth that what they had was forever. Full of laughter and love, this was a delightful read.

It’s a Wonderful Life by Karen Kelley comes next. I’m less familiar with Ms. Kelley, but I have enjoyed what I’ve read, and this was no exception. Jeremy Hunter is a jaded actor whose star is a bit tarnished and in trouble of tumbling unless he gets this part as a preacher in an upcoming movie. Nobody believed this playboy could play a prayboy so Jeremy went undercover as a minister, hopping from town to town on his Harley. That is until he lands in Two Creeks, Texas with a sprained ankle which forces him to stay and play the preacher a lot longer than intended. Not too bad, except for fourth grade school teacher Bailey Tanner, who brought totally un-clerical thoughts to his mind. Bailey was sure she was going to hell for lusting after a man of the cloth, but minister Trey Jones had her libido on the go. What happens when cynicism meets small-town life? You’ll find out when you read this enchanting story.

Last, but not least, is Home for Christmas by Dianne Castell. I had never read any of Ms. Castell’s books, but this story will have me searching for them. Lulu Cahill’s boyfriend maxed out her cards and then took off, so she went home to O’Fallon’s Landing, poor and pregnant. Sebastian Moore’s bride left before the “I do’s” but he decided to turn his wedding plans into a holiday bash. With an uproarious tangle of who’s matchmaking whom, Lulu and Sebastian end up right where they’d never thought they would be. I enjoyed every quirky turn in this tale, and I’m sure you will too.

This anthology gets five stars.
Barnes and Noble

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Seducing the Mercenary

by Loreth Anne White

The book was done, the last page read and yet I sat there holding it in my hands, unwilling to let it go. The sounds of the neighborhood slowly emerged from the jungle in my mind; I had been so engrossed that they had been shoved back into the shadows of Ubasi. Usually when I like a book, I jump up immediately and write the review; but not this time. I want to savor the feelings that still pour through me; its story holds me in its grip. What to say, how to articulate the sensations brought on by Emily/Emma and Jean’s story; the emotions that still hold me tight.

Ubasi, an African nation in the middle of turmoil, its tyrannical leader Souleyman ousted by Jean-Charles Laroque, Le Diable, son of the merciless Peter Laroque. Emily Carlin is a psychologist who works for the Force du Sable, a mercenary group that has been commissioned by the U.S. to help Souleyman regain power. She’s an expert in tyrannical pathology, alpha dogs as she calls them. Her job is to determine the best way to control Laroque, whose rise to power makes the U.S. uncomfortable because he can not be controlled as easily as Souleyman. The adage, better the devil you know than the one you don’t, comes easily to mind. Emily has to identify the dictator’s weaknesses in order to help the FDS devise their strategy; do they take him prisoner, or do they assassinate him? She has one week to find out.

Jean-Charles Laroque, a man with a mission, distrustful of everyone. Burdened with the legacy of his father’s cruelty, he must deal with enemies on all sides. Betrayal is dealt with quickly and ruthlessly. How will he handle the duplicity of the woman that he not only let into his castle, but into his heart.
Definitely 5 stars for this one.
Barnes and Noble

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Smart and Sexy

by Jill Shalvis

I’m learning many things on my writing journey and one of the things that I learned from reading this book is that even good authors evolve. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t read Smart and Sexy. Jill Shalvis has always been an excellent writer, each subsequent book published on a par with their predecessors. But this time she has outdone anything she’s ever written before. When I finished this book something happened that caught me by surprise; I was wordless. I couldn’t fit my mind around anything that could come close to describing how this book made me feel. Yes, it made me feel. Smart and Sexy is a riveting read full of humor, romance and thrills. This book is everything that I want in a romance and more; great plot, wonderful characters, and a to-die-for hero. In Noah and Bailey you get that wonderful banter that is so Jill Shalvis. That delightful Hepburn/Tracy smiles and giggles as the hero and heroine set out on their journey of discovery. You also find two people whose depth of feeling is so fully articulated that you can understand them with just a simple word, movement. You know them, you root for them, you feel everything they feel. You fall in love along with them. You hurt when they do, feel gut-wrenching pain when their heart gets broken. You not only read about their journey, you travel it with them. There were moments of out loud guffaws sprinkled with whimpering inducing sex, heart pounding chases. A plot that works. Really works. I’ve read books where the writing is good, even supreme, but the plot had holes that I’d ignored because I liked the book anyway. Not here. Not a hole anywhere. It all comes together perfectly. Noah Fisher is part owner of Sky High Air, an exclusive air charter service, along with his high school pals Brody and Shayne. Three bad boys who met in detention, found a common love of flying and forged a strong friendship. Throw in Maddie, a concierge with an attitude and you have a family just as real as those that genetics wrought. Ms. Shalvis has always paid close attention to her secondary characters, giving them the same three dimensional characteristics as her hero and heroine. You watch the tug of war between Maddie and Brody; the brotherly love of the three men; the way that Maddie corrals her little chicks, as she refers to her bosses. These are strong men with strong feelings and sense of what it means to “take care of your own.” And right now they are taking care of Noah, who six months before crashed on the way to Cabo, an accident that resulted in the death of a friend who died in Noah’s arms. He feels guilty about it, the normal survivor guilt twisted up with those natural feelings of responsibility since he was the pilot. All he wants is a few days of R & R and a couple of ski bunnies to warm up the winter night, or day – he wasn’t particular. It wasn’t his big crush, former model and trophy wife Bailey Sinclair (I like that name, btw), but it would do. He wasn’t in her league anyway. Bailey was in trouble. Alan Sinclair had dated her on a bet, married her and then pretty much ignored her. But that was okay, she went to school and got a teaching degree. She was content, and happy, or so she thought. But then her husband is killed in a hunting accident, the truth about her marriage came out, and she was broke. Not only that, but a former business colleague threatens her life, that of her brother Kenny and even those of the second graders that she teaches, all for some money that her husband swindled from him. She’s in a jam, and sky-jacking a charter plane to find the money seemed like the only thing to do. But she hadn’t counted on Noah as the pilot on the one plane that was going where she needed to go. Bailey didn’t have a lot of trust in her, but could she learn to trust this sexy bad boy?

It’s a five star read.