Tag: Diana Fraser

Guest Review: The Marriage Trap by Diana Fraser

Posted March 25, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of The Marriage Trap (The Mackenzies, Book 2) by Diana Fraser

“A shepherd’s hut, twenty-four hours, a stranger…” It’s not the perfect start to Gemma Winters’ new life—another man is the last thing she needs after the suffocating control of her ex. But, when she finds herself isolated with a ruggedly handsome stranger, the demands of her body take over.

Since his wife died, Callum Mackenzie’s relationships have been strictly practical, with his only real love affair being with his land. But his family wants him to re-marry and he wants heirs. When Gemma turns up, he begins to think marriage might be a possibility after all.

Their twenty-four hours of passion has shattering consequences—marriage and two people who are forced to face their worst fears.
This second novel in The Mackenzies series features the second Mackenzie brother, Callum–a man with a deep well of fear of being hurt based on the betrayal and death of his wife and infant son many years before meeting a woman whose life is endangered by a flash flood, the kind for which New Zealand is famous.  And it is in the context of that emergency situation, stranded in a temporary shelter with a man who doesn’t appear to be too welcoming other than the fact that he saved her life, that Gemma Winters begins her new life.  Running from an oppressive and ultra-controlling ex, Gemma is masquerading as the heiress of a piece of property and an falling down house, property that Callum’s family have been wanting for years.  But that is all still in the background when the fires of sexual attraction ignite between Callum and Gemma.  The core of the story is how these two people respond to challenges that grow out of that short span of time, of how their fears and past hurts seem to stunt their ability to respond in healthy ways, preventing them from tapping those inner wells of authentic caring and love they both possess.

I really enjoyed book one in this series about Callum’s brother  — The PA’s Revenge — and I was delighted when the author sent me this book to read and review.  Ms Fraser writes with the sure touch of someone who knows this context being a New Zealand resident herself.  She writes as one who also seems to have her finger on the pulse of human experience, writing about feelings and relationship with a sure hand and crafting a story that hangs together well and moves forward without those annoying “stalls” that plague some stories.  I think the author also accurately portrayed that sense of hopelessness that surrounded both Gemma and Callum to such an extent that they just couldn’t get past each other’s walls.  The resolution will be surprising to readers as it was to me.  I’m hoping that there will be more about this fascinating family in the future.

This is a fine piece of writing and has resulted in a novel that deserves to be read and appreciated.  It is a very nice look at life in a country many of us find unfamiliar and thus fascinating.  It is also an intense romance read that will drag the reader into the lives of the characters in a way that absorbs the attention, the kind of read I really like.  Don’t miss this one.  I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.

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

This book is self published. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

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Guest Review: The PA’s Revenge by Diana Fraser

Posted July 1, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of The PA’s Revenge by Diana Fraser.

Cassandra Lee doesn’t do emotion. Why would you want to feel anything when your son and father have died in horrific circumstances? Why would you want to do anything other than exact revenge on the man you hold responsible for the tragedy? Revenge is her only focus so she studies his business and revamps her image with the aim of becoming his PA and sabotaging his fortune.

And Dallas Mackenzie’s wealth is important to him. He’s restored his family’s fortunes after his father nearly lost everything through drink, violence and deceit. He believes he’s inherited his father’s violent temper and alcoholism and is determined not to succumb to them. He values honesty above all else and focuses on working hard and avoiding emotional attachment at any cost, even an empty life.

But empty lives can be filled—at least for a short while—and Dallas sets out to seduce Cassandra. Unfortunately seduction—and her body’s responses to this arrogant, powerful and sexy man—wasn’t something Cassandra could prepare for. She just hopes that his interest—and her resistance—will hold out long enough to ruin him.

He’s known as the Get-Things-Done kind of guy, one people don’t antagonize and certainly a man whose serious nature and all-consuming focus is about business. Personal relationships are really not a part of his life except for that occasional woman who piques his interest and who is willing to conform to his way of life. And he’s wealthy, the kind of wealth that is powerful and whose influence is felt all around the world. And he needs a Personal Assistant and Cassie Lee is there to fill the job. She’s free, no family obligations, and as smart as they come–plus, she is a good looker. What Dallas doesn’t know is that Cassie is there for a reason — to revenge the suicide of her father, the ruination of his company, and most of all, the useless death of her son. Dallas turns out to be far more enticing than Cassandra every expected and her attraction is an unwelcome complication in her plan. What is even more difficult is dealing with feelings that go waaaaaaaaay beyond just fun and bedroom games. It never dawns on Cassandra that she might not have the whole story, that there might be more behind her father’s suicide or that there might be some difficulties with his company that aren’t known by either family or friends.
I have read several of Ms Fraser’s books and they are all terrific and this one is no exception. It is set in the land “down under” and is written in that edgy and matter-of-fact style that characterizes all Ms Fraser’s novels. Yet there is deep emotion here that is coupled with deep and unrelenting distress–a kind of grieving that never seems to let go, especially over the fact that her father’s suicide caused the death of her son in such a way that his body was never recovered. So much pain and so much loss! It is overwhelming and the reader will encounter the same information that will call all of Cassie’s plans into question–almost at the last minute, and what she fears is too late to build any kind of future that might be filled with joy.
This story pulls at the emotions and challenges the mind with the tension built around Cassie’s hidden agenda and the conflict caused by her growing emotional involvement with Dallas. “What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” And honesty was the deal-breaker for Dallas. What kind of future does one look forward to when trust has been broken? These are the issues that form the core of this story and are the substance of the conflict that drives the novel. There is great strength in both Cassie and Dallas, the kind of strength that most certainly proves that ” . . . like attracts like.” However, there is always that hope, often only vaguely perceived, that there are answers that might resolve the questions in her heart, that might relieve the terrible ache in her heart that never seems to go away, or make possible some kind of hopeful future. The book is intense and its intensity begins right from the first and never gives way until the very end. Such a good, good book and one that I enjoyed immensely.
This is the first in a trilogy of novels and I am definitely looking forward to the upcoming stories of Dallas’ brothers. I think this book is a true “keeper.”

I give it a rating of 4.25 out of 5

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

This book is available from Bay Books. You can buy it here in e-format.

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Guest Review: The Passionate Italian by Diana Fraser

Posted February 17, 2012 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Judith’s review of The Passionate Italian by Diana Fraser

Passion wasn’t high on Rose’s agenda growing up in poverty: survival was, independence was, but not the crazy, elemental passion that she’d found with Giovanni Visconti. But, after a year together, the passion had twisted into jealousy and control and Rose had disappeared—seemingly unable to deal with her husband’s passionate nature.

But, two years later, Giovanni tracks Rose down. He’s discovered something that makes him realize that there was more to Rose’s departure than he’d first thought, and he’s determined to control his jealous passions in order to prove to his wife that she can trust him. But Rose is keeping secrets from him—secrets with the potential to destroy more than just their relationship.

I first encountered culture shock when a kid and our family was moving to distant areas in the United States and my sister and I had to literally begin again with friendships and feeling comfortable with a place being “home.” I found out that it is even more of a severe change when moving from the United States to another country when first married to a serviceman who was stationed in Germany. Lots of folks may have spoken English and even loved everything American, but that didn’t change the fact that people raised in Germany simply experienced life differently, valued many of the same things but still there was significant differences on many levels.

Those cultural differences are very much at the heart of this novel about an English woman who has never really known love in her young life and who is completely taken over by the passionate advances of a wealthy Italian business magnate. Head of his international business as well as an ancient Italian family, Giovanni fell madly in love with the beautiful Rose and swept her into a marriage which, while it was exciting and lusty, began to take over her life with her husband’s over-protective and jealous ways and what seemed to her to be a serious lack of trust. After nearly being raped by her brother-in-law and losing their baby–events that Giovanni knew nothing about because he had been gone for six months–Rose left Italy for parts unknown. She certainly had no idea that she was taking a significant part of Giovanni’s heart with her.

Some reviewers have had a very negative response to Giovanni. Now on the surface it appears that he is an overbearing jerk and perhaps that may be still true to some degree. But I think readers have to put on a different set of glasses with which to view this man who has been shaped by a culture far different than ours, born into an ancient family with all its traditions and expectations, and a man for whom power was a way of life from the first moment of his life. It is significant that Rose never doubted Giovanni’s love for her, but she just couldn’t live with his jealousy. This story is significant for understanding the power of love to convince a man like Giovanni that he must adopt a far different view of marriage and relationship–his willingness to change in order to woo his wife back to his side says a great deal about the quality of human being he was.

This story is also about the destruction that can be caused when partners refuse to give up their fears of the future because of the conditioning of the past. No one will deny that Rose had legitimate reasons for developing the survivor skills she possessed in order to rise above the emotional black hole in which she lived her early years. What is so sad for many was true for Rose: she couldn’t seem to move beyond the need to be independent, the need to withhold her trust, her unwillingness to allow Giovanni’s love to keep her safe. No wonder he came to the conclusion that she just didn’t love him enough.

This is a very insightful novel that gives readers an opportunity to look at relationship through the eyes of another culture. It has times of great joy and peace, but throughout there is that strand of tension that there is a sinister something that can and will disrupt any hope these two people have for a future together. It is this dark presence that keeps on rearing its head and which keeps on upending Giovanni’s efforts to regain a relationship with the woman he loves. But it is also Rose’s insistence at keeping her secrets, Alberto’s attempted rape and the loss of their baby, and refusing to trust Giovanni and his love for her. It is a clear lesson that we as human beings often make serious mistakes when we attempt to make decisions for others.

I found this a very good book–entertaining and stimulating and ultimately a very satisfying reading experience. It is not a really long book, but it is long enough to allow for good story and plot development and to develop characters that are realistic and basically very human.

I give it a rating of 4 out of 5

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

This book is available from Diana Fraser Publishing. You can buy it here in e-format.

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