Author: Sandy James

Guest Review: Can’t Walk Away by Sandy James

Posted October 10, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 2 Comments

Guest Review: Can’t Walk Away by Sandy JamesReviewer: Tracy
Can't Walk Away by Sandy James
Series: Nashville Dreams #1
Publisher: Forever Yours
Publication Date: October 10th 2017
Format: eARC
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Pages: 368
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

In Nashville the stars shine a little brighter, songs sound a little sweeter, and love lasts a lifetime.

Young, rich, and better looking than a man has a right to be, successful songwriter Brad "Hitman" Maxwell was once Nashville's biggest celebrity. Then a heartbreaking loss and a shocking betrayal caused his light to go out. Now, instead of pouring his soul into song, he pours beers at Words & Music. His bar is the perfect escape--a place to forget his past--until the night she takes the stage...

Savannah Wolf used to dream of becoming Nashville's hottest star. Now, as a young single mom, she dreams of a steady income and being home to tuck her daughter into bed. So when Brad Maxwell offers her the gig of a lifetime--playing as the headliner at Words & Music--Savannah discovers the best of both worlds. And she refuses to ruin this opportunity by falling for her sexy boss. Except that Brad suddenly starts writing music again... music inspired by her.

Brad Maxwell owns and runs a bar/restaurant with his friends.  He used to be one of Nashville’s greatest songwriters but after the death of his wife he gave that all up.  The music stopped showing up in his head and he was fine with that.

On Indie night at his place, Words & Music, he hears the most beautiful music from a woman named Savannah Wolf.  She’s actually a waitress at Words & Music but they’d never had much interaction.  Immediately a song starts flowing in his head and he knows it’s for Savannah.  Brad knows that Savannah is a star and starts to push her toward that stardom.  Unfortunately that’s not what Savannah wants at all and it causes issues.

Brad falls for Savannah at first sight but it takes longer for Savannah to get to the “love” part of their relationship.  She’s a single mother who had been burned by her previous agent – who was also her daughter’s father.  She’s slow to trust and Brad moves a little too quickly.  When things start getting out of hand with the whole business Savannah takes matters into her own hands and that decision makes her want to walk away from everything.

This was a cute book.  I really liked James’s writing and her books always put a smile on my face.  In this book Savannah was amazing.  She was smart and level-headed and knew exactly what she wanted and what she didn’t want.  She put her family and her daughter first and wasn’t willing to budge on that.  I had to admire the woman for standing up for herself on many different occasions in the book.

Brad was a little bit of a different story.  He fell in love with Savannah at first sight and was all in.  He moved way too fast for my liking and I actually found it a bit creepy.  Sure there was an age difference between them, but that wasn’t it.  I think it was just because he moved so fast without knowing this girl from Adam – just because she was beautiful and had a gorgeous voice.  I found that weird. Because of my feelings toward Brad and his over abundance of immediate feelings for Savannah I had a hard time with the romance portion of the book.  It was nice, but I couldn’t get fully invested.  The musical part of the book and the portion of the story where Savannah’s past came back to haunt her were very good and that’s what raised the rating on this book.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Sandy James

Posted August 6, 2014 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Sandy JamesReviewer: Holly
Signed, Sealed, Delivered by Sandy James
Series: The Ladies Who Lunch #2
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication Date: July 1st 2014
Genres: Fiction
Pages: 320
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
three-half-stars

For the fans of Jennifer Probst, Ruth Cardello and Jill Shalvis, comes a series about love, friendship, and lunch!
When life gets tough and love is hard to find, four friends take their troubles to lunch. High school teacher Juliana Kelley tells the Ladies Who Lunch that her life needs an overhaul . . . and gets a whole lot more than she wished for.
Juliana has spent thirteen years in the same teaching job. She's ready to dive into a new career with both feet . . . when a run-in with the hottest man she's ever seen knocks her head over heels. But with her failed marriage to a fellow teacher fresh on her mind, Jules can't afford to lose herself in a relationship-no matter how perfect it may seem.
Connor Wilson has hit rock bottom when he loses his career as a top-notch Realtor because of a large gambling debt. Now, in a small town he finds a fresh start-and a gorgeous redhead who sparks new life into him. Together they start a successful real estate company, but when pleasure sneaks into the business, they'll have to decide what they can let go . . . and what they can't live without.
Word count: 75,000-85,000

Juliana is a special needs teacher who is burned out after almost 15 years on the job. Her uncle mentions real estate to her and she decides to attend a seminar to see if it’s something she is really interested in. The seminar is a bust – the man putting it on is a chauvinist jerk – but she does meet Connor, who is also attending the seminar. They have an instant attraction and Juliana decides to break her own rules and go upstairs with him. They end up having the best sex of her life, but the emotional connection she felt scares her and she sneaks out first thing in the morning.

Connor is working on rebuilding his life. He’s starting over in a new town, in a new house, with a new business. He’s only at the seminar to check out the competition, until Juliana walks in. She captivates him right away and he knows what they’re sharing is more than a one-night-stand. Even after she disappears he’s determined to find her.

When they end up trying to get the same listing from a seller Juliana rashly announces they’re forming a partnership. It isn’t what Connor had in mind, but he’s willing to give it a shot, since he knows they’ll work well together. Even though he knows he should be focusing on overcoming his past and building his future, he can’t stay away from her. It isn’t long before he realizes he wants his future to include Juliana. He just isn’t sure she can get over his past. If he ever gets the courage to tell her about it…

Juliana is a redhead with the requisite temper. She’s quick to anger and slow to cool down. As a result, there were quite a few misunderstandings that came up. Since she often would get angry instead of listening, she jumped to conclusions. Connor did the same. Add into it his refusal to share his past with Juliana and her need to keep things close to her chest, and this made for some frustrating reading.

What saved the story for me was how quick her friends were to point out her behavior, and then how quick she was to fix it.

She was an idiot. Instead of opening up and sharing her news with him and making plans, she’d done what she thought she’d grown out of—she’d had a temper tantrum. Everything inside her hurt, from not only his accusation but from her broken trust. But those weren’t fatal wounds. She could heal, and she thought she could help him heal as well.
Way to go, Jules. Fucked that one up, didn’t ya?

Her unabashed desire and acceptance of her behavior helped, too.

Why should she feel any shame for accepting the invitation of a man she desired more than any she’d met before? Especially when she’d be much more likely to regret letting him slip right through her fingers. Life had taught her a hard lesson—that regrets over what could’ve been were stronger and more damaging than regrets over what happened.

Connor was a pretty solid character, despite his unwillingness to open up about his past. I felt that was understandable, considering the nature of his secret. The way he jumped to conclusions about Juliana was kind of immature, but they both recognized this as a flaw they shared and worked on it. Once their tempers had cooled that is.

The shortness of their courtship would have been unbelievable if not for their solid connection. That and spending pretty much 24/7 together for months on end, since they worked together and lived together (Connor’s house was being renovated and Juliana offered him a place to stay during construction).

The friendship between The Ladies Who Lunch is something that really stands out. The women are close and turn to one another for comfort and support, but also to laugh and have fun.

Juliana and Connor both frustrated me at times, but their connection was solid and emotionally charged. The friendship between the ladies is strong and real, which is what really sealed the story for me.

3.5 out of 5

This book is available from Forever. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

three-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , ,

Guest Review: The Brazen Amazon by Sandy James

Posted August 19, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: The Brazen Amazon by Sandy JamesReviewer: Judith
The Brazen Amazon (Alliance of the Amazons, #3) by Sandy James
Series: Alliance of the Amazons #3
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: May 6th 2013
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

Zach Hanson is a tech wizard, capable of creating and improving gadgets—including remote nuclear warhead launchers. But he's always known that he's destined for something more, something greater, something...supernatural.

Powerful Air Amazon Gina Himmel is one of four sisters called to protect the world from those who would do it harm. Demigods in league with an Ancient have been taking over the bodies of leaders in the military and technological sectors, and Gina is sent to San Francisco to watch over Zach.

Under Gina's protection, Zach is introduced to a world of ancient deities, rogue gods and the bold, brazen Amazons who keep humanity safe. Amidst the whirlwind of battle, Zach and Gina discover a love that could give them the power to save the world—or destroy it.

The Reluctant Amazon and The Impetuous Amazon.

103,000 words

If you have read the first two novels in this series, you will know that each of the present Amazons–Earth, Fire, Air, and Water–are young women who have been raised by the priestess of their respective patroness goddess in preparation for each one assuming the mantle of responsibility as an Amazon warrior. There are two Sentinels who are immortals given to these women to teach them the skills they will need to go up against evil that is well beyond what most people consider the “real” world. Earth and Fire Amazons, Rebecca and Megan, have married one of the Sentinels. Yet here is Gina, the “air” Amazon, attracted to a human, knowing full well that there is no immortal aspect of his life and there is no future for them.

This novel is filled with personalities right out of the mythology tales of Egypt, Greece, and So. America. The goddesses themselves are in an eternal feud along with one goddess’s twin brother, a self-serving and narcissistic deity who lives for the adoration of others. His shenanigans are never ending and some of his self-centered actions are at the root of the evil in this novel.

Gina herself is one of those women who has never “fit.” She is taller than others her age, she was always outspoken and opinionated, she seldom knew a stable environment other than the love of her “aunt” who raised her, and came to see that kind of transient life as “normal.” She finds relationships difficult–everyone she has ever loved has left her. She’s OK with tumbling Zach but love? No way, no how. So one can easily see that Gina is not a “comfortable” person and while she believes she is comfortable with who she is, there are signs that deep in her heart is the longing for the kind of authentic and lasting love her sister Amazons have found with their spouses and children. Through out the novel there is that tension between what Gina is prepared to accept in her life over against what she deeply desires. Accepting love from anyone is a risky business–no one who has ever loved her has every stuck around.

I have liked this series from the start and that is saying something, as I am not usually drawn to fantasy. I always enjoyed mythology but thought Amazons were a little over the top. Yet because I really like this author’s work, I was OK with reading the first book and have been delighted with each subsequent novel in the series. Yet his one is not as comfortable for me. Now that’s not a bad thing. No one says one must feel warm fuzzies over every novel one experiences. It is a testimony to Ms James’ writing skill that the reader is jarred out of comfort zones with the anger, the overt evil, the questions posed by the actions and attitudes of the characters, the mystery of why Ra, to father of all gods (according to Egyptian mythology) should even create a god known as “the Destructor.” Yet it is all here and it is all flashing around and exploding in one place or another until one wonders how the author brings it all into sync and makes it all come out. That she does, and again I was left to wonder how a writer actually concocts all this stuff. Such creativity often boggles the mind.

This is a gritty and edgy novel, one that will drag the reader into fictional places some of us seldom experience. That being said, it is entertaining and on many levels the kind of mind exercising read that many of us really crave. I love the warm fuzzies. Don’t get me wrong. But I like stories about characters who have to work for every single speck of romance or who, like Gina, struggle so hard against letting the power of love into her life. Perhaps that is the greatest lesson here: learning to love makes anyone stronger rather than weaker. One can easily see that such would be a sticking point for an Amazon.

Don’t miss this story. It’s a fantastic read and one that fantasy romance fans will appreciate. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

The Series

Book Cover Book Cover Book Cover

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.

This book is available from Carina Press. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

four-half-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,

Guest Review: Saving Grace by Sandy James

Posted June 21, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Saving Grace by Sandy JamesReviewer: Judith
Saving Grace (Safe Havens, #1) by Sandy James
Series: Safe Havens #1
Publisher: James Gang Publishing
Publication Date: May 30th 2013
Genres: Historical Romance, Westerns
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
five-stars

Grace Riley is on the run—from her past and from her fears. The victim of a violent rape at the hands of a rich politician’s son, she must “disappear” to escape his constant attempts to recapture her. Moving from cattle drive to cattle drive as a cook, she avoids her tormentor for nearly twenty years. When she discovers that the brother she gave up for adoption after their mother died in childbirth was orphaned at an early age, she is frantic to verify that he’s safe. She tracks him to a cattle ranch in Montana.

Widower Adam Morgan owns the Twin Springs ranch, but finds himself falling into a life of loneliness. Although he enjoys spending time with his grown daughter and the two men he rescued when they were living on the streets, he longs to meet a woman he can love. Living in the Montana territory where men greatly outnumber women makes finding a new wife difficult. Weary of working cattle, he is ready to make some changes in his life.

Grace falls ill on her journey, but she manages to make it to the Twin Springs ranch where her brother is supposed to be living. Adam takes her in, concerned for her health and the reason she’s searching for one of his adopted sons. Their chemistry is immediate and intense, but can Grace heal from her past of pain and fear? When her secrets are finally revealed, can Adam forgive her deceptions and learn to love again?

If a consistent quality to this author’s work is to be found, and there are many–by the way–, I would have to say that she packs so many aspects of a situation into one story. I think that is especially true in this novel that is set in the 19th century American “Old West” and which features a woman who has been raped, birthed a child when she was only a child herself, experienced the grief of giving her child away, finding out later that her son has been thrust into a terrible situation because of the death of his adoptive parents, and so and so on. Grace Riley is one of those women that built the American West with grit and persistence, determination to win over innumerable odds, carried always a heart full of love and loyalty for family but who never lost sight of the goal of surviving intact. She is smart and wiley, keeping a few steps ahead of her obsessed rapist and still protecting her carefully guarded secrets, accepting that the “normal” expectations of marriage and family will probably never be hers.

Adam Morgan is the kind of Western hero we all dream about knowing. He’s a man of deep sensibilities, honest and steady in his dealings with his friends, a fitting role model for the two boys he “adopted” after finding them eating out of garbage cans in Denver in their early years. Jake, Grace’s son, has now married a gentle and sweet-natured girl and they are expecting their first child. And it is in that setting that Grace makes herself known to Jake as his “sister” who couldn’t care for them after losing their parents.

This novel is filled with grit and gumption, anxiety and anger, fear and faithfulness, loss and loving. It is the consummate story of what real life was like for a young girl who was “sold” by her father to pay gambling debts and the seeming wreck of her life in the years to follow. It is also a wide-screen kind of view of the harsh nature of life in the American West especially for women without support or the “protection” of a husband. Grace’s brother was her savior more times than she could count as she continually flees for her life and sanity from the man who ruined her life.

Those of us who have come to appreciate Sandy James’ writing style, her creativity in shaping story lines and her craft in putting it all together to make a full-fledged novel are going to recognize that this is one of those novels that just sort of leaves you dazed when the last word has been read. It certainly was that way for me. There is no fudging on the emotion, the deep wounds that life has dealt this extraordinary woman, the kindness and loyalty of a man like Adam, the good that this woman still insists on leaving in her wake regardless of where she may be. Everyone is blessed by her, yet her own pain never seems to be addressed and that is Grace’s lesson to learn . . . how to share her pain with others, learning to trust, opening her heart to love and the full range of feeling and experience that an authentic love can bring into her life.  Life  has not taught her well, or perhaps has taught her too well that there is no grace for Grace.  Yet, somehow it is waiting for her if she will but take the risk.  For someone like Grace that is asking a lot.  But from time to time, the risk is truly a blessing in disguise.

Don’t miss this one. It is well worth reading. In fact, I think it is one of Sandy’s Best and that’s really saying something. I give it a rating of 5 out of 5.

You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place

This book is available from James Gang Publishing. You can buy it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher for an honest review.

five-stars


Tagged: , , , , , , ,