Publisher: Penguin

Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson

Posted October 18, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 0 Comments

Throwback Thursday Review: Summer Breeze by Catherine AndersonReviewer: Holly
Summer Breeze (Keegan-Paxton #3) by Catherine Anderson
Series: Keegan-Paxton #3
Publisher: Signet
Publication Date: January 3, 2006
Format: Print
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Historical Romance, Westerns
Pages: 421
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Goodreads
five-stars

The year is 1889, and Rachel Hollister hasn't set foot outside her house in five years. Ever since a savage attack left her family dead, she's cordoned herself off from the outside world, afraid to let anyone into her home—or into her heart. But now trouble has appeared on her doorstep—and suddenly she has no choice but to let a handsome rancher invade her well-guarded existence ...

Confirmed bachelor Joseph Paxton grudgingly offers to take up temporary residence at the Hollister ranch—even though it's obvious Rachel doesn't want his protection. But once he catches a glimpse of his beautiful young ward and her remarkable spirit, he'll do anything to break through the dark spell that's walled off her heart. It may take a miracle, but he's determined to make her see the refuge he's offering in his embrace—and the splendor that exists beyond her front door. Otherwise he'll just have to build a safe haven big enough for the both of them ...

Every Thursday, we’ll be posting throwback reviews of our favorite and not-so-favorite books. Enjoy!

While looking through old posts I came across this one for Summer Breeze by Catherine Anderson. I remember the warm, sweet feeling I was left with after I finished this book. I’m not sure it would work as well for me if I read it now, but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

This review was originally published August 7, 2006

What an amazing love story.

We all fear something. Whether we have a true phobia – such as my fear of ‘S’ words (don’t ask) – or just something that makes us break out in goosebumps, we all know what it’s like to be afraid of something.

Rachel Hollister’s fear is that of being in an open space. Her family was brutally murdered right in front of her while they were out for a picnic. As a result, she hasn’t stepped outside her home in five years.

Her faithful friend, the elderly Darby, has done everything in his power to make her a sanctuary inside her home. He barricaded all the windows and doors and converted her kitchen into as comfortable a place as possible for her.

Though Rachel knows her fears are irrational, they’re there all the same, and she can’t overcome them. She refuses to leave her small kitchen for any reason, and can’t even open a door or window to allow sunlight in. For five long years she lived in absolute silence, with no natural light.

To keep herself occupied, she read books and crocheted. She spoke with Darby through the door of her home and that was the only company she had.

Until Darby is shot in the back and manages to ride to the neighboring Paxton ranch in search of help. Joseph Paxton finds him and promises to look after Rachel. Darby is convinced his being shot has something to do with the murder of Rachel’s family and fears for her safety.

As Joseph breaks into Rachel’s home, he expects to find a crazy young woman, and instead encounters a lovely creature he’s immediately taken with. He comes to realize that Rachel isn’t crazy at all, only frightened.

Watching this story unfold has been a wonderful experience for me. Seeing Joseph do everything in his power to make Rachel’s world one filled with sunlight and birdsong really touched me.

Since Rachel’s fear is based on open spaces, Joseph hits upon the idea of installing metal doors with bars on them so she can enjoy the sunlight and still feel enclosed. Then one of the town’s populace hits upon the idea of building her a stone-walled courtyard with an iron-work ceiling so it’s completely enclosed, therefore allowing Rachel to be outside. They called it:

“Sunshine for Rachel.”

Watching Rachel emerge from her self-imposed prison and into the sunshine for the first time in five years made my heart swell and my eyes sting with tears. Joseph’s reaction to Rachel in the sunshine touched me more deeply than any other tender moment in a romance novel. I could feel their emotions as she turned her face to the sun for the first time in so many years.

She was halfway across the courtyard before it struck her that she was outside. Oh, God, outside. She staggered to a stop, frozen in her tracks. Her heart pounded violently. But nothing else happened. She could still breathe. She just felt a little dizzy and disoriented. “Joseph?”
“You’re fine, sweetheart. You’ve got walls all around you. Look at them. Name me anything that can go through that rock.”
She let her head fall back to put her face up to the sun. The gentle warmth on her skin was beyond wonderful. She held her arms wide and turned again, filling her lungs with fresh, cool morning air.

Joseph asks Rachel to marry him and the following scene is so touching. Rachel refuses him, saying she can’t have a family living the way she does.

“What would I do? Push them out the wood safe to see them off to school?” She gestured with her free hand the encompass the kitchen. “A family can’t live in one room.”
“I’ll make it work,” he whispered. “I swear to you, darlin’. I can make it work. No hallways to frighten you, just a big room like this with water closets all around, only they’ll be bedrooms, with you in the big room, living as you do now, never needing to go outside unless it’s to sit in your courtyard or work in your flower beds.”

The murder of her family was left unsolved all those years ago, and Joseph and his lawman brother David set out to find the missing pieces of the puzzle, hoping to keep Rachel safe and finally give her closure.

The story was sweet and amazing and one of the most touching I’ve read in a long time. It’s not very often that you read a murder-mystery that’s sweet and compelling as well.

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from the book. Something Joseph said to Rachel that touched my heart.

When I first met you, I thought I was opening up the world for you, but I was so wrong. You were the one who opened up all of my windows so I could see the beauty beyond the glass.

5 out of 5

Keegan-Paxton

five-stars


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Review: Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop

Posted October 12, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Etched in Bone by Anne BishopReviewer: Holly
Etched in Bone (The Others, #5) by Anne Bishop
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Series: The Others #5
Also in this series: Written in Red (The Others, #1), Murder of Crows (The Others, #2), Vision in Silver (The Others, #3), Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 496
Length: 16 hours and 21 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-half-stars

New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop returns to her world of the Others, as humans struggle to survive in the shadow of shape-shifters and vampires far more powerful than they are. . . .

After the Elders cleansed and reclaimed many human towns, Lakeside Courtyard has emerged relatively unscathed, though Simon Wolfgard, its wolf-shifter leader, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn must work with the human pack to maintain the fragile peace. But all their efforts are threatened when Lieutenant Montgomery's shady brother arrives, looking for a free ride and easy pickings.

With the humans on guard against one of their own, tensions rise, drawing the attention of the Elders, who are curious about the effect such an insignificant predator can have on a pack. But Meg knows the dangers, for she has seen in the cards how it will all end: with her standing beside a grave. . . .

Etched in Bone is the final installment of the Lakeside Courtyard Others series (though more novels set in the same world are in the works – begging with Lake Silence, March 2018). I do not believe it can be read as a standalone. The series really should be read in order.

Now that the human uprising against the Others has been put down – with entire civilizations wiped out – Meg and Simon Wolfgard need to keep the peace with the humans of Lakeside more than ever. The Elders, the oldest and most dangerous of The Others, are watching them to decide how much human should be kept in Thaisia. When Lt. Montgomery’s shady brother, Cyrus, arrives in Lakeside looking for a handout, the Elders decide this is an opportunity to learn the difference between Good humans and Bad humans.

In the beginning Simon may have wanted to study the humans, but now the Human Pack inside the Courtyard and Meg have changed things. He’s invested in their survival and understands he has to protect them the same as his Wolf Pack. His relationship with Meg is complicated by the fact that she’s human and he very much isn’t. Can they even become mates in truth? Does Meg want that? Between dealing with Cyrus Montgomery, settling the expanded human pack in the Courtyard and trying to help Meg figure out the best way to help the other liberated cassandra sangue live outside the Compounds, Simon has his hands full. With the Elders in Lakeside, Simon knows the smallest thing can upset the balance and damn them all.

Seeing the world break, then be rebuilt has been heart-breaking, horrifying and yet still there’s beauty in the horror. This is a world filled with multi-layered characters who constantly grow and expand. The most compelling thing about this series has been the depth of the character growth. As the world breaks we see what truly lies in the heart of humanity. Bishop has shown us the best and worst of us all.

4.25 out of 5

The Others

four-half-stars


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Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop

Posted October 10, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Marked in Flesh by Anne BishopReviewer: Holly
Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4) by Anne Bishop
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Series: The Others #4
Also in this series: Written in Red (The Others, #1), Murder of Crows (The Others, #2), Vision in Silver (The Others, #3), Etched in Bone (The Others, #5)
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 489
Length: 15 hours and 21 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

In the fourth novel in Anne Bishop's New York Times bestselling series, the Others will need to decide how much humanity they're willing to tolerate--both within themselves and their community...

Since the Others allied themselves with the cassandra sangue, the fragile yet powerful human blood prophets who were being exploited by their own kind, the dynamic between humans and Others has changed. Some, such as Simon Wolfgard, wolf shifter and leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, and blood prophet Meg Corbyn see the closer companionship as beneficial.

But not everyone is convinced. A group of radical humans is seeking to usurp land through a series of violent attacks on the Others. What they don't realize is that there are older and more dangerous forces than shifters and vampires protecting the land--and those forces are willing to do whatever is necessary to safeguard what is theirs...

This series is addicting. For centuries humans and The Others have lived together in an uneasy peace. Now the Humans First and Last movement has shattered that peace with acts of terrible violence against the Others. What they didn’t realize is the shapeshifters they see aren’t the scariest Others out there. Ancient, primordial beings know as The Elders have awoken and now have the scent of their prey…the human race. The only thing keeping the humans from total extinction is Meg Corbyn, a cassandra sangue (blood prophet) who has befriended and intrigued all the Others. The Elders have to decide how much human they’re willing to keep..and Meg and Simon Wolfgard, leader of the Lakeside Courtyard, have to figure out how to save the human race – or if they’re even worth saving.

Meg’s first few weeks outside the compound where she was kept and abused were so eventful she barely had time to think about her circumstances or settle in to some new kind of normal. Now, however, she’s overwhelmed by all the changes in her life. And the more overwhelmed she gets, the more she craves the euphoria she feels after she makes a cut. Trying to beat her addiction and help the other cassandra sangue is bad enough, but now she and Simon must figure out what her prophesies mean, and how to keep the Elders from killing them all.

Another excellent read, Marked in Flesh delves further into the issues of racism, bigotry and the consequences of those when faced with beings bigger and badder than ourselves. The intense character development and story arc make this series a must read.

4.25 out of 5

The Others

four-stars


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Review: Visions in Silver by Anne Bishop

Posted October 9, 2018 by Holly in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Visions in Silver by Anne BishopReviewer: Holly
Vision in Silver (The Others, #3) by Anne Bishop
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Series: The Others #3
Also in this series: Written in Red (The Others, #1), Murder of Crows (The Others, #2), Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4), Etched in Bone (The Others, #5)
Publisher: Roc
Publication Date: February 2, 2016
Format: Audiobook, eBook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Alternating Third
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 493
Length: 16 hours and 4 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

The Others freed the cassandra sangue to protect the blood prophets from exploitation, not realizing their actions would have dire consequences. Now the fragile seers are in greater danger than ever before; both from their own weaknesses and from those who seek to control their divinations for wicked purposes. In desperate need of answers, Simon Wolfgard, a shape-shifter leader among the Others, has no choice but to enlist blood prophet Meg Corbyn’s help, regardless of the risks she faces by aiding him.

Meg is still deep in the throes of her addiction to the euphoria she feels when she cuts and speaks prophecy. She knows each slice of her blade tempts death. But Others and humans alike need answers, and her visions may be Simon’s only hope of ending the conflict.

For the shadows of war are deepening across the Atlantik, and the prejudice of a fanatic faction is threatening to bring the battle right to Meg and Simon’s doorstep…

The war between the humans and the Others is heating up. Simon and other terra indigene from the Lakeside Courtyard helped liberate the Blood Prophets like Meg Corbyn from the compounds they were held in where they faced terrible abuse. With the Humans First and Last movement trying to stir up trouble for The Others, Simon needs Meg’s help to figure out a way to keep all the Blood Prophets safe and out of the control of those who would hurt them.

Things are getting more intense in Lakeside and throughout the continent of Thaisia as the humans try to wrest land from the Others. Meg and Simon have their hands full dealing with outside conflicts, as well as learning how to understand each other. This series works extremely well in part because the stories are so well layered. I love Meg and her journey to fight the addiction to cut, to live a life in her control. Simon’s reactions to her are at times amusing, heartwarming and frustrating. Much like his feelings toward her. As she builds a family in Lakeside, the drama and violence outside the Courtyard adds an urgency that kept me glued to the pages.

Bishop is setting a high bar with this series..and she keeps leaping over it.

4.25 out of 5

The Others

four-stars


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Blog Tour Review: Monster in the Closet by Karen Rose

Posted October 1, 2018 by Casee in Reviews | 1 Comment

Blog Tour Review: Monster in the Closet by Karen RoseReviewer: Casee
Monster in the Closet (Baltimore, #5) by Karen Rose
Narrator: Marguerite Gavin
Series: Baltimore #5
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: August 29, 2017
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Point-of-View: Third
Genres: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 498
Length: 15 hours, 25 minutes
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Ripped Bodice | Google Play Books
Goodreads
four-stars

Monster in the Closet reunites readers with characters from Karen Rose's bestselling Baltimore series.

A mother is dead, and now her killer hunts the child that witnessed the brutal crime...

Private Investigator Clay Maynard locates missing children for clients, but has nearly given up hope of finding his own daughter, cruelly stolen from him by his ex-wife twenty-three years ago.

Equine therapist Taylor Dawson has chosen to intern at Daphne Montgomery-Carter's stables so that she can observe the program's security director - her father, Clay Maynard. Trying to reconcile the wonderful man she's getting to know with the monster her mother always described, Taylor never expects to become the target of a real monster, the man who murdered the mother of the little girls she works with at the stable. Neither does she expect to fall for Ford Elkhart, Daphne's handsome son, who is dealing with his own demons. As family and friends gather for a wedding, Taylor starts to imagine a permanent life in Baltimore.

But not if the real monster gets to her first...

In anticipation of the release of her new book, Death is Not Enough, I am here to remind you why we love Karen Rose! She is my all-time favorite romantic suspense author. There is no one better than she. I loved her from the moment I read Don’t Tell and she has gotten even better since then. In Monster in the Closet, Karen Rose is at the top of her game.

I listened to this book on audio. The narrator was amazing. The inflection in her voice was simply incredible. If I didn’t know that it was only one narrator, I would have thought it was multiple narrators. This one made it so easy to just listen. I’ve listened to a few that have really made my eyes roll. I’m looking forward to listening to this narrator again.

Let me preface this review by saying that we know who the killer is from the beginning. I prefer mysteries where the mystery isn’t a mystery because I am so incredibly awful at guessing who the bad guy is. I literally have to be hit upside the head with it.

The book begins with Jasmine Jarvis finding her mother’s dead body in their apartment. She soon realize that she has walked in on the killer and immediately hides. It was heartbreaking. She is hiding mere feet from her mother’s unrecognizable, beaten dead body while her killer rummages around in the hall closet. Jazzy sees his face and isn’t surprised in the least. She knows that she can never tell who killer her mother or he will come back for her and her sister. So she doesn’t say a word. To anyone.

Taylor Dawson is an equine therapist at a local stable. She is instantly drawn to Jazzy, a girl she can see so much of herself in. It’s clear that she’s terrified and Taylor knows how fear like that feels. She’s determined to help Jazzy in any way she can. When Jazzy speaks to Taylor, everyone is hopeful as they are the first words she has spoken since she was found by her mother’s body. The police have kept quiet about the fact that Jazzy was found at the scene, knowing they have a leak somewhere in their department.

Taylor has her own reason for being in Baltimore. She is there to see if her biological father, Clay Maynard, is the evil man her mother made her believe he was for her entire life. For as long as she can remember, Taylor has lived in fear that someday Clay would come and take her away, even possibly kill her if he ever found her. She’s lived off the grid, changed her name, had bodyguards, and literally had no life to speak of based on what she now knows are lies. It wasn’t until she was on her deathbed that her mother told her the truth. Even then, Taylor wasn’t sure she believed her mother. It wasn’t until she discovered a box with cards and letters from Clay to Taylor going back years that she decided it was time to seek Clay out.

Ford Elkhart is the son of the owner of the stable. He has his own demons, just as Taylor does. Taylor thinks she’s all stealthy, but Ford sees who she truly is the day that he meets her. Her eyes are unique, exactly as Clay’s are. Although he feels drawn to Taylor, Clay has been his friend for years and he would never keep the daughter he has been searching for for twenty three years from him. When Clay sees Taylor for the first time? OMFG. Talk about feels. It was just devastating. They just lost so much time. Clay lost raising his daughter all because his ex-wife was trying to save face with her parents. Taylor lost her dad because her mom was a selfish bitch. It was just so sad.

In the meantime, the killer has learned that Jazzy is talking to Taylor and has decided it is time to eliminate her. What he doesn’t know is how astonishingly hard it will be to get to her. Taylor is now surrounded by people that will protect her. Taylor herself is no shrinking violet. She was raised by a man that taught her to protect herself if she ever found herself face-to-face with her father, whom she thought was a monster. Taylor is pretty amazing. There is one scene in the book where Ford is intimidated by her, which is actually pretty amusing.

I really enjoy the many POV’s in KR’s books. Because her books are so long, it doesn’t detract from the main characters. I felt that the story was told and it was a good one. I love the sense of community there is in Baltimore. I love all the characters and how characters from other cities pop in and out. I just straight love Karen Rose.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Baltimore

four-stars


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