Tag: Bell Bridge Books

Guest Review: Iain’s Plaid by Skye Taylor

Posted June 14, 2017 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Iain’s Plaid by Skye TaylorReviewer: Tracy
Iain's Plaid by Skye Taylor
Published by Bell Bridge Books
Publication Date: June 2nd 2017
Genres: Time Travel
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four-stars

Was she sent back in time to change Iain’s fate . . . or share it?

Caught between a job offer she should take and a marriage proposal she doesn’t want, Dani Amico is dying for some adventure. So she takes off to visit some of the places on her bucket list. The first - an abandoned island she read about while researching her American History thesis. While there, she tumbles into an abandoned cellar hole . . . and wakes up more than two centuries in the past.

It’s 1775 and Iain MacKail’s ship is loaded with contraband he is smuggling into Boston. This unknown Dani, the “boy” he found in his cellar, could be a spy for the British customs agents, so Iain is forced to take the boy with him to insure that he and his mission are not compromised. Only he soon finds out that this ”boy” is so much more.

As they travel through pre-revolutionary New England, Dani realizes she’s falling for the rugged Scotsman. But she can’t forget something she came across in her studies—the fate of Iain MacKail. He would be betrayed by someone close to him and suddenly disappear from history. Could this be the reason Dani fell through time—to save Iain? Could they live and love together in this war-torn time?

Then again, if she tries—and fails—to change his fate . . . will she end up sharing it?

Dani has been offered a job that her live-in boyfriend got for her.  Even though the job is a great one, she hates the fact that he got it for her.  Though she likes her boyfriend a lot she doesn’t love him and is scared about the fact that he’s been hinting about them getting married.  Instead of keeping things the same she turns down the job, breaks up with her boyfriend and heads off to do some things that are on her bucket list.  One of those things is to explore an island off the coast of Maine that she read about.

Dani heads to the deserted island by herself.  She accidentally falls into a cellar hole and wakes up in 1775.  She thinks at first that it’s all a reenactment but she soon discovers it’s very real. While in 1775 she is with Iain MacKail who she read about in one of her books.  In that book she read that at some point he just disappears and she fears he’s killed.  She decides that she was sent back in time to save his life.  While trying to do that she didn’t expect to fall in love with Iain but it happens anyway.  Can she save him though, and if she does what does that mean for his…their future.

I always love a good time travel book but I’m not normally a huge American historical romance fan.  Iain’s Plaid was a little different as it had so much to do with the Revolutionary War and that piqued my interest.  Obviously Iain MacKail was fictional but everything else was pretty close.  I like that Ms. Taylor stuck to facts as it made the romance so much more realistic.

Iain was a great character and one that was well written.  He had some serious struggles with what was happening as he was Scottish but loved the Colonies as well.  So when a war is imminent, who does he fight for?  I liked that the story took the turn so that it showed us a logical decision for Iain’s actions.

Dani was also an engaging heroine and I liked he a lot.  She did a couple of stupid things that made me roll my eyes, all under the guise of wanting to save Iain but since even she realized how dumb they were after the fact I couldn’t dislike her.

Overall I found the story worth reading and definitely recommend it.

Rating: 4 out of 5 

four-stars


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Guest Review: Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart

Posted January 30, 2014 by Jen in Reviews | 0 Comments

shadow loverJen’s review of Shadow Lover by Anne Stuart.

Victim. Lover. Both? His dark game is seducing her— just as it had when they were young.

How can he still have that power over her? Eighteen years ago, she saw him die. 

Wealthy, selfish, and greedy, the McDowell family raised Carolyn McDowell—a foster child—like a modern Cinderella. Neglected and ignored, good-hearted Carolyn adored scion Alexander despite it all, though even he tormented her.

When Alex ran away one night, Carolyn followed and witnessed his murder, though she never told anyone. Her beloved Alex died when he was seventeen. There was no doubt.

Eighteen years later, Carolyn returns to the decadent milieu of the McDowell clan to care for her dying foster mother, Sally. As greedy relatives gather to claim their inheritances, a stunning stranger arrives, claiming to be Alexander. To Carolyn’s utter shock, Sally greets her “son” without question, and no one but Carolyn believes he’s a fraud.

As she delves into the mysteries of both the past and present, Carolyn quickly realizes that the resurrected Alex is a dangerous combination of seduction and power. Is this stranger after the McDowell fortune, or is he really, somehow, the Alex of old, come back to claim her? How can he be an imposter and yet know family secrets only the real Alex would remember? Was someone helping him? 

What would you do if the boy you loved returned almost twenty years later, and you fell in love with him all over again—even if you were sure it couldn’t be him?      

I’ll just get this out of the way now–this book is not going to work for everyone! It has some flaws, yet I found myself really enjoying it. It’s very gothic, which is something I love in romances. I get to enjoy the tension of “who is a good guy/gal here” while still knowing that the romance will be happy in the end. Honestly, when I started the book I was worried I had accidentally stumbled into a non-romance gothic. I genuinely wasn’t sure there was going to be a happy ending. Rest assured readers, there will be a happy resolution, even if the path to get there isn’t quite what you expected!

Carolyn has returned to the home of her wealthy foster mother Sally McDowell to care for her while she’s dying of lung cancer. The rest of the wealthy, disgusting family also takes up residence during the vigil. While Sally shows her a certain amount of affection, the rest of the family treats Carolyn as a poor relation, and even at the start of the book Carolyn fully intends to cut them all out of her life once Sally dies. The family is thrown into turmoil, however, when Alexander McDowell, Sally’s long lost son, shows up. The problem is, Carolyn knows it can’t be Alex because she alone saw Alex die over a decade ago. So who exactly is this man claiming to be Alex? Is he a con man trying to get money, or is there something more going on?

Carolyn and Alex have some interesting chemistry. Carolyn had been infatuated with the teenage Alex, even though he was an obnoxious, spoiled juvenile delinquent who acted horrible towards her. When he ran away at age 17 (and when she saw him get killed), she was devastated. Clearly there is a part of her that desperately wants to believe this man is the real Alex, and whoever he is she is still very attracted to him. Alex too is drawn to Carolyn against his better judgment. It created some of the great tension in the book, and it made their sexytimes a little more steamy than I expected. Alex, however, is kind of a dick, at least for much of the book. He’s smug, cocky, and selfish. These qualities definitely soften up later in the book, which made me question just how smug and cocky he really is, and what is all an act. Who is the real “Alex”? Part of what I enjoyed about this book was the complexities and mysteries of the characters! Some characters turn out to be much worse than they at first appeared, and others turn out better. I love this kind of psychological creepiness, rather than the supernatural creepiness gothic novels sometimes have.

But there are some things not to like here, too. As I said, Alex can be kind of off-putting and domineering, and Carolyn can be kind of a wet blanket. The book is a bit dated, which isn’t surprising given that this is a reissue. (The original was published in the late 90’s.) The book age wasn’t totally obvious, though–for the most part, nothing in the story jumps out as being out-of-touch, just not quite modern. There are some things that don’t make tons of sense, though. One of the biggest questions is why Carolyn would bend herself over backwards for this family in the first place. She is basically the daughter of a servant that Sally took in when she was 2 years old. Everyone in the book agrees that Carolyn was never treated like a real member of the family, always like a poor relation to be tolerated. Sally never adopts her and it’s very clear that she’s never really considered “family.” Carolyn had moved out and gotten her own life, but she quits her job, gives up her apartment, and moves back in to care for Sally even though she admits Sally’s love is cool and conditional. While the other relatives seem to be most concerned with Sally’s illness because of how it will affect their inheritance, Carolyn is only getting some sort of small stipend, not a huge chunk of money. The explanation given is that Carolyn never had a real family and therefore feels loyalty to the only one she has, even if it’s a lousy one, but that’s not a great reason in my mind, especially when the family is insanely rich and could afford the best care. There really was no logical reason for Carolyn to be there, but you have to just accept it and move on!

There were other problematic points too, though it’s difficult to go into detail without spoilers. There are a lot of twists and turns in this book, and I don’t want to ruin them for anyone. I can say, though, that I still greatly enjoyed the book. The slightly unbelievable points didn’t overpower the mystery and the great atmosphere. If you enjoy gothic romances and are willing to overlook some mild unbelievability, I think this book would be a hit for you.

Grade: 3.75 out of 5

This book is available from Bell Bridge Books. You can purchase it here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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Guest Review: Sign Off by Patricia McLinn

Posted October 2, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

sign-off-200Judith’s review of Sign Off by Patricia McLinn

Until a few months ago, Elizabeth “E.M.” Danniher investigated high crimes and national cases. Now, a messy divorce from her network-TV-exec husband, combined with her no-longer-quite-perky-enough sex appeal, has banished her to Wyoming, where she has to fulfill the remainder of her contract. She handles the “Helping Out” segment at Sherman, Wyoming’s only news station. Her latest assignment:assisting an elderly woman who wants her faulty toaster replaced.

But Tamantha needs her, and so Elizabeth goes back on the crime beat, trying to unravel the mystery of the missing deputy and track down a killer who intends to make sure she doesn’t live to go Live At Five with the scoop.

Is it any wonder that an author who has spent decades as a newspaper editor can write so convincingly about reporters?  I would think not.  And in this first in a new series of stories, Ms McLinn has brought us into the life of a woman who thought she had it made in the shade.  A marriage to a TV network executive, a top-rated national exposure due to years and years given over to a demanding career–both fell apart and left her hung out to dry. Now she’s working off the remainder of her contract in a Podunk TV station in Wyoming as a special interest kind of reporter who investigates scams and problems that folks can’t seem to get anyone else to care about.  It was one of those helpless and hopeless persons who called her, only this person was the young daughter of a man who had been accused of murdering the local sheriff’s deputy.  Even being released because of lack of evidence didn’t solve anything.  And because there was no clear absolving of his guilt, he is now kept apart from the daughter he adores.  It is also the circumstance that brings Thomas David Burrell into Elizabeth’s life–a recalcitrant and undemonstrative man who has deep feelings and old wounds.  But most of all he loves his daughter.  And she loves her daddy.

“You’ve got to prove my Daddy didn’t kill anybody,” second grader Tamantha Burrell tells KWMT-TV’s consumer affairs reporter, New York transplant Elizabeth Danniher.

“Now wait a minute . . . ” the startled journalist begins.

“You’re the ‘Helping Out’ lady,” Tamantha insists. “You have to help me.”

And so begins a journey of re-discovery for this intrepid woman who needs to reclaim who she is apart from all the glitz and glamour of the broadcast media, heal from the wounds of a divorce gone terribly bad, and re-embrace the investigative reporter that lives within her–a woman who can think outside the box, who can puts clues together, and who has the instincts that will lead her ultimately to solving this crime.

This is a novel about reaffirmation of one’s true self.  And as Elizabeth allows her inner self to emerge she also realizes that she can be authentic in her judgments about her co-workers, about those who seem to want to be her friends, and about the two men who come into her life and begin friendships with her.  This is one of those complex mysteries that will yank the reader all over kingdom come.  It’s the kind of story that will never allow the reader to get even a small smell of where the story is going and who the bad guy really is.  It’s also the story of the wonder Elizabeth experiences as she repeatedly realizes that she really can re-connect with that investigative reporter who dug for clues and who couple put murder mystery puzzles together.  There are lots of wonderful moments in this novel and it is one of those reads that made me feel like I had done myself a favor for having taken the time to read it.  Believe me, this wasn’t a book one could skim or speed read and make any sense out of it.  It was the kind of book that grabbed your imagination and didn’t turn loose until the last word had been read.

I hope you will pick up this book and give it a good chance to entertain you, especially if you are a mystery fan with a little bit of romance mixed in.  Really fantastic read, really fantastic story, and I happily give it a 4.5 out of 5.

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

This title is available from Bell Bridge Books.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.

 


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Guest Review: Uncertain Fate by Ken Casper

Posted July 22, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

17046645Judith’s review of Uncertain Fate (Return to Caddo Lake Trilogy, book 1) by Ken Casper

Nineteen years ago, Frannie Granger disappeared . . . Since then, the land at Beaumarais near Caddo Lake, East Texas, has hidden the secret of her fate. Now that secret is out, but a mystery remains: who is responsible for what happened on her last hectic morning so long ago? 

The local sheriff is convinced Jed Louis, heir to the antebellum plantation house, breeder of Percheron horses, and the eldest of the three foster children Frannie raised as her own, is responsible for what took place. 
Gwyn Miller, who leases land from Jed, is equally committed to proving the millionaire horseman was in no way involved.   She’s also determined to show Jed that nothing can ever threaten what they have with each other, not even his Uncertain Fate.

I was pleased to discover the works of Ken Casper a number of months ago and am happy to report that I have never been disappointed with any of the novels he has written.  Now he and two other authors have embarked on an ambitious writing project that will give each author one of the three books in the trilogy, an on-going murder mystery and the journeys of three young people back to the place where they found love and the sense of family that has stayed with them throughout their adult lives.

This novel is Jed Louis’ story.  A young man who was not wanted and who ended up being cared for and cared about by a woman of deep compassion and endless love, and woman who did above and beyond for the three kids who made up her family even though none were her own biological offspring.  Now he is accused of his foster mother’s murder, an idea that is so foreign to Jed he can scarcely comprehend it.  In spite of his wealth that has benefitted so many in his community, he is a man under suspicion and this is a novel that walks the reader through the pain of that uncertainty, the harsh reality of what could happen even though he knows in his heart of hearts that he would never have done anything to hurt the one woman who made him feel special.

The most unique aspect of this novel is that while the journey the reader takes through weeks and months of Jed’s life introduces them to special people in his life, the reader is also aware that there are large questions that are not being answered.  In fact, the solving of the mystery of Frannie’s murder doesn’t happen in this book.  But don’t be reluctant to read it.  This novel is one of Ken Casper’s best, one that weaves Jed’s life in and out of Gwyn’s, brings him face to face with a lot about himself that he has struggled over for years, clarifies relationships from the past and the present, and helps him to recognize that all of life is uncertain, all of our future days are assumptions, and that one can only live one day at a time.  It is the supreme lesson that Jed and Gwyn are poised to face.  Whether they will learn it is the question that drives this novel.

This novel was written late in 2012 and I am not really sure when I acquired it.  But I am sure glad that I did.  It is the kind of book that pairs sizzling romance with a mystery so profound that it is going to take more than one or two books to solve the crime.  It is also the kind of book that doesn’t hesitate to craft characters that aren’t always “nice,” not always comfortable, and which allows the tension between various people in Jed’s life to live and squirm and assume a life of its own throughout the story.  The sheriff is one of those characters I hope gets a dose of real life before this is all over, but he is a mystery in and of himself.  What drives him?  Why is he so angry at Jed, so determined that Jed is the killer?  These are questions that aren’t really answered here and are guaranteed to push us all on to the next novel in the series:  Uncertain Past.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough.  Bell Bridge Books has done well to give us this fine novel and I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  I know that I am off and running to the next episode in this trilogy.

I give it a rating of  4.5 out of 5.

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

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


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Guest Review: Wildest Heart by Virginia Brown

Posted June 22, 2013 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

17386979Judith’s review of Wildest Heart (To Love an Outlaw #2) by Virginia Brown

He’s the most dangerous gunman in the West. She’s a “lady doctor” he can’t resist. Will his secret torments keep them apart? How can she handle a wounded outlaw no respectable woman should go near? Romance and intrigue are about to collide in a steamy Texas town where sin, scandal and violence rule the night.
A strange sort of current flowed between them, charged with as much intensity as a bolt of lightning. Devon felt it tighten around him, binding him to her in some inexplicable way that he couldn’t explain and didn’t want to acknowledge.

Lovers of historical romance fiction set in the 19th century American West will be delighted that Bell Bridge books have seen fit to re-release this Virginia Brown novel, first released in 1994. Devon’s story really begins in book one of this series where he and his sister known then as Colorado Kate formed the Lost Canyon Gang with their other riders, robbing trains in order to gain revenge on the man who had murdered their parents and stolen their father’s mine. Now Devon wanders the Western reaches of the American territories, known as one of the fastest guns for hire, rumored to be a man without conscience, no roots, and little interest in anyone but himself. Few realize that he carries with him an old but as-yet unhealed wound, deeply grieving the death of his young wife of only a few weeks at the hand of the very man who killed his parents. It is in pursuit of another lawless and greedy man that Devon is gravely injured and thus comes into the small and new medical practice of Dr. Maggie Malone.

This novel tells the story of a woman who is not interested in being a society grande dame, carefully sitting in her spotless parlor, drinking tea out of fragile bone china cups. She is a woman who wants to amount to something and one who makes a difference in a world where women are little more than brood mares and who exist to do the super duper pooper scooping of the world. (Not a lot has changes in some ways, eh?) She is doing so in spite of her brother’s continuous objections, a man with a temper, a rather exaggerated sense of his own importance and one who has yet to appreciate the grace and intelligence of his sister. He is especially upset when he finds out that Maggie has been treating Devon, that her patient has been staying in her little house as he is being cared for. And throughout this novel it becomes patently obvious that John Malone is not a deep thinker, that he is driven by his own ideas and prejudices, and cares little for the opinions of others, least of all a woman even though she may be his sister.

Thus, these two people, both of whom are living on the edges of polite society, find each other. Their relationship is flawed and troubled, by Maggie’s insistence on honesty and openness, by Devon’s persistent routine of just showing up, spending time with her, and then disappearing. She knows he has some painful secrets and that no matter how generous her love, Devon won’t allow himself to believe that there is ever the possibility that love and joy can be a part of his future. When Maggie’s brother forces them into a true shotgun wedding, an event that he has manipulated with lies and deceit, it appears that any chance for Devon and Maggie’s future together is over and done. Throw in some really evil plotters, rustlers, an angry fiance, and you have a colorful, rip-snorter of a novel that will be a sure fire winner all around.

I know there are many who think reading romance novels is the stuff empty headed women indulge in for lack of anything worthwhile to do. Yet here there is a lot to learn and lessons that are taught in the lives of these fictional characters, wisdom shared through the voice of an Apache renegade, “ah-ha” moments that are critical to the story, and visits with characters from the previous novel. Most of all, I think one of the important lessons here is that “no man is an island” and that there is no pain too deep, no wound too profound, that the redeeming power of love and authentic caring cannot heal.

I am so glad this novel and the one before it have been released. I think you will be glad you experienced it. I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

The Series:
Book Cover Book Cover

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

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


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