Tag: Heather Wardell

Guest Review: Everybody’s Got A Story by Heather Wardell

Posted April 17, 2014 by Judith in Reviews | 0 Comments

Everybody's God A Story Judith’s review of Everybody’s Got A Story by Heather Wardell

Both personally and professionally, Alexa knows all too well the power of words. Two years after her boyfriend Christophe’s vicious attack, she’s still trying to see herself as more than simply ‘his victim’, still trying to figure out her own story.

After his trial, she moves from New York City to Toronto in an attempt to start over, but his words cling to her and even in a new country she can’t see how to move into relationships with the new people in her life while hiding the secret of Christophe’s worst offense.

She can’t hide that secret from her coworker Jake, though, because the news buff has recognized her from the coverage of the assault and trial and knows every word she can’t bring herself to say about her ordeal.  With Jake’s help, can Alexa reclaim her story and her life?

Sexual assault has finally “come out of the closet” in the past few decades and even though there has been a change in the attitude of law enforcement personnel and the courts in regard to the victims being truly victimized, there is still that societal “cloud” that hangs over the men and women who survive.  I don’t think any of us really understand or can empathize fully with those whose lives have been torn apart by rape, incest, pedophilia, and other crimes of this nature.  In this novel the author is very direct about a woman who has been attacked, raped, and brutalized by the man who she thought truly loved her, a man who she expected to marry and one whose sociopathic nature was carefully hidden from her and from his closest friends.  Now, two years after his arrest, Alexa must once again wade into the emotional and psychological mire as she faces her attacker and former lover in court.   Once again she must find a way out of the media mess and try to reclaim her “normal” life.  It would appear that that isn’t going to happen in New York City.   So she moves to Toronto with the blessing of her publisher/boss as a crime novel editor in the Toronto office.  Even in this small environment she encounters iconic figures:  the amibition and unprincipled boss’s secretary;  the “helpful” staff member who is clothing his personal ambition in sexual advances;  and the head of staff who is happily and unfortunately unhelpfully oblivious to all the machinations that are going on right under her nose.

This novel has characterized Alexa’s struggle to reclaim her life as “reclaiming her story,” a characterization that is in line with the setting of the novel within the publishing business.  Alexa’s first assignment is with an author whose book is filled with the same kinds of crimes she has personally endured and yet she refuses to allow her own inner pain to keep her from moving forward with her career.  And throughout this process of settling into her new job and her new life she is tested and must determine how she can gauge others so she can trust them as well as rebuild her trust in her own abilities to accurately perceive others.

I have read a number of Wardell works in the past couple of years and found all of them to be absolutely stellar writing accomplishments.  She writes with that realistic edge that forces readers to deal fully with the range of emotion felt by her characters, facing with these fictional people the kinds of circumstances that are the fabric of living fully in a real world.  It is not ever just sweetness and light.  Lots of her subjects are raunchy and messy and one feels like one is mucking out a horse stall at the hurts and damage people in these stories do to one another.  And yet I have never encountered one of stories that is without that thread of hope, that awareness that people do indeed have within themselves the talents and gifts, the raw intestinal fortitude for reclaiming their lives sometimes in rare and unusual ways.  In this novel the heroine simply has to slog through day after day of  questions and difficulties with her co-workers as well as with the author whose book is presenting its own set of problems.  Yet Alexa is a woman who is finding her own strengths.

All in all it is a compelling and truly fine piece of romance writing and one that is thoughtfully put together and which brings all its attendant parts together to make a splendid whole.  If you have not yet discovered this author and you love really good romance writing–sometimes erotic and sometimes not–you really need to indulge your love of reading and become acquainted with Ms Wardell.   I know I am always delighted when one of her new works is released.

 

I give this novel a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

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

This title is available from Heather Wardell.  You can buy it here or here in e-format.  This title was provided by the author is exchange for an honest review.

Guest Review: Everybody’s Got a Story by Heather Wardell

Posted February 25, 2014 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Everybody's Got A StoryTracy’s review of Everybody’s Got a Story by Heather Wardell

Both personally and professionally, Alexa knows all too well the power of words. Two years after her boyfriend Christophe’s vicious attack, she’s still trying to see herself as more than simply ‘his victim’, still trying to figure out her own story.

After his trial, she moves from New York City to Toronto in an attempt to start over, but his words cling to her and even in a new country she can’t see how to move into relationships with the new people in her life while hiding the secret of Christophe’s worst offense.

She can’t hide that secret from her coworker Jake, though, because the news buff has recognized her from the coverage of the assault and trial and knows every word she can’t bring herself to say about her ordeal.

With Jake’s help, can Alexa reclaim her story and her life?

Alexa was happy in her relationship with Christophe. Sure he was a bit more controlling than she liked but she planned to spend the rest of her life with him. Unfortunately he planned to destroy her. He did this by taking her to an abandoned building, drugging, assaulting and raping her for two days. That was two years ago and the trial has just ended in a guilty verdict for Christophe.

Alexa is so happy it’s over and now she can once again get back to the life that she’s built for herself in NYC over the past two years – that is after the hype had died down and people stopped staring at her. Unfortunately Alexa realizes two things after the trial – A) the trial has dug up the public’s interest and it doesn’t seem to be dying down and B) she really never built a life for herself after the attack. She decides that a change is definitely in order and her boss (who is absolutely wonderful) suggests she move to the Toronto office. Alexa agrees and soon is off to Toronto.

When she arrives and starts work she’s happy she made the change. The office she works in as a book editor is small and the people are all very nice. Her boss, who is her old boss’s daughter, is kind and is the only one in the office who knows what happened to Alexa, or so she thought. Soon after she begins work one of her co-workers, Jake, tells her that he knows who she is from the papers. Not only that but he comes clean about the fact that he was accused of rape once but never charged or convicted. He was drunk at the time and doesn’t remember if the woman said no or not. He honestly believes she didn’t but he wants Alexa to know because of her background. Alexa is happy Jake told her the truth but asks him to stay away from her.

Alexa begins dating Howard who also works in her office. She’s happy she feels she’s moving on but can’t go to fast. She believes Howard when he says it’s ok for him to go slow but one event proves that not to be true and they break up. As the story goes on Jake and Alexa, surprisingly are the ones who create a deep and binding friendship. They can talk to each other and be truthful about their inner emotions without fear of judgment from others. That friendship turns to love as the couple struggle to deal with their individual pasts and help each other move on.

This was a highly emotional book from word one. I’m not normally a fan of books like that but I liked this one because it didn’t give me extraordinary events just to get a rise out of me. This was just the story of one woman who is trying to get back on her feet after a horrific assault and trying to trust anyone, including her own judgment, is incredibly difficult.

Alexa is a truly amazing woman. The horrors that she went through and the constant reminder of that assault that Christophe left with her (he tattooed her thighs and they’re horrible) make it hard to go on with life. I can’t imagine the emotional turmoil of wondering why it happened and what she did wrong to deserve it all but the truth she has to come see is that she did nothing wrong. Christophe was the sick bastard who was so screwed up because of his controlling nature and jealousy that snapped. Alexa does finally get to that point but it’s hard for her. She trusted a man and this is what she got for it – how can she trust again. Luckily she finds a man, Jake, that is always honest with her and despite his past she knows he’s a good guy.

Jake is awesome. I just love that guy. He was in Wardell’s book, Blank Slate Kate, and I loved him then, too. Getting to read more about him in this book and getting more of his story showed me a man who was kind and gentle, honest and caring. His uncertainty about his actions the night he was accused of rape ate at him and he sought to make amends with Alexa’s help. I couldn’t help but like the guy and thought he was perfect for Alexa.

The book is really great and I can’t say enough good things about it. I recommend this one, definitely, but be remember that it is highly emotional. Though it ends well the getting to the “ends well” is a hard road.

Rating: 4 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place

This title is available from Heather Wardell. You can buy it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

What I Read Last Week

Posted December 30, 2013 by Tracy in Features | 1 Comment

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I’ve had the last 5 days off and let me tell you I loved every minute of it. I love my job but it’s always wonderful to have time off. 

Today is a big day in Tracyland. My oldest daughter is 16 today! I can’t believe it! The time flies, doesn’t it? Well she’s a beautiful girl and I love her to pieces and I wish her a very happy birthday! Her boyfriend is taking her to get her nails done and then we’ll be going shopping later (as she requested) for clothes and a new purse. I think it will be a great day! Here she is over the past few years – what a change!

July 2008
August 2009
April 2012

Aug. 2013
Nov. 2013 acting crazy. 🙂

Yeah, she’s changed a bit over the years! 🙂

Ok, on to what I read last week:

I started off the week with Let It Be Me by Bella Andre. This was Ryan’s book and told us about him and his high school best friend who he’s always had a thing for. He doesn’t want to ruin their friendship so doesn’t make a move. She feels the same way but makes no move either. It’s a good story and I loved reading it. I’ll post my review this week of this one. 4 out of 5

Next up was The Wedding Favor by Cara Connelly. This is a new author and this is her first full length novel, if I’m not mistaken. The story is about two people who really don’t like each other. They end up at the same wedding and as he doesn’t want to ruin his friends wedding by brawling with the woman he asks her to act like they’d never met. It was another great story! I’ll post my review of this one this week as well. 4 out of 5

Guilty as Sin by Jami Alden was a contemporary romantic suspense novel about a woman who works as an advocate for missing children. She got into this because her brother was kidnapped and murdered when she was just 16 and was supposed to be watching him. Now she’s back in the town where it all happened and is helping a family try to find their missing 14 year old daughter. While there she runs into her old love (the guy she was with instead of watching her brother) and the sparks fly once again. There’s a lot going on in the book but it was a good one. I do wish that there had been less romance during the search for the child as it kind of took to focus off of that part of the story but still a good book. 3.5 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

Last for the week was Everybody’s Got A Story by Heather Wardell. The book follows Alexa who was assaulted by her longtime boyfriend. It’s been 2 years but after his trial she realizes that she hasn’t been living at all. She moves to Toronto to start again and tries to get a life and friends without everyone knowing what happened to her. This was a very emotional book but very well done. 4 out of 5 (read for Book Binge)

 

My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Kinked by Thea Harrison
Forgiveness: Alek & Rose by Amanda N. Richardson

Happy Reading!

Guest Review: Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell

Posted February 3, 2012 by Tracy in Reviews | 3 Comments

Tracy’s review of Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell

Waking up with a strange man is scary. Realizing you lost fifteen years of your life overnight? That’s terrifying. With her memories from seventeen to thirty-two gone, Kate has no idea who she is and where she belongs. As she begins to fall for the man who found her, she wonders if she forgot those years for a reason. Should she keep trying to retrieve her original self, or start a new life?

Kate wakes up with a man who looks really old to her. She can’t understand why she’s not in her room in her parents house. When the man finally starts talking to her she realizes that it’s 2011 and not 1996. She’s not 17 years old but 32 and she can’t remember anything about in the 15 years that she’s lost. Jake, the “old” man that she woke up with who’s really only 30, takes her to the doctor who then calls the police. Once Jake and Kate finally get everyone to believe that Kate has really lost her memories her prints and pictures are taken to try to identify who she is.

Kate and Jake fall into a semi-routine while she stays with him. She helps him with getting his sculptures sold and she also helps his friend Hannah start to get her fashion consulting business off the ground. She’s not sure how she knows how to do certain things, they just come to her – like putting together a sensible business plan for Hannah. During this time Jake and Kate start getting closer and closer and Kate finds herself almost falling in love with the man. After a few months Kate is contacted by the police and she’s told that someone finally knows who she is – and that person is her husband. Yikes. Now how to deal with Jake and Ryan, her husband.

Ryan is more than happy to try to help her with her memories but still Kate feels like the man is holding back. Ryan isn’t sure how to deal with the fact that Kate can’t remember anything about their relationship…oh, and her real name is Donna, not Kate.

Kate/Donna and Ryan start to spend time together but there’s still an odd connection to Jake that confuses her. She’s determined to try and get her memories back and find out what Ryan’s hiding but she’s not sure she’ll ever know. It appears that she ended up running from Ryan but why and if she ran, does she really want to go back? And if she’s married and had once been so happy with her husband how can she even consider being with Jake? And when she does start to get information will she be happy she forgot it or not?

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading this book but after reading an excerpt of it I had to keep reading. I’m such a sucker for amnesia stories! The story ended up being compelling and interesting and you just root for Kate the entire time you’re reading. You really want her to get her memories back – and yes, there’s a perfectly logical reason she lost them in the first place (not a bump on the head) – but as you read further into the book you realize that that just may never happen.

Jake is such a strong support for Kate when they are first together and frankly I really rooted for him for part of the book but it just wasn’t to be. He was a pretty good guy at heart but he was a bit clueless when it came to Kate and the things she needed in life.

That left Kate with Ryan. I frankly wasn’t sure what to think about Ryan. Because the story is told in the first person pov present tense we never got to see anything but Ryan from Kate’s pov. I would have loved to have seen some of the things that were going on in Ryan’s mind at some points but having the pov that we had really made us wonder what would happen next.

The story is one of love and how that love can be broken with indifference, betrayal and secrets. Most of the time those things can’t be overcome but in Ryan and Kate’s case it could. That being said, I just didn’t feel it. I loved the story and where it went and how it came to be and all the secrets and discoveries but I think I was supposed to feel more from Ryan and Kate and their predicament and I just didn’t. It was very sweet and when I got to the last page I was happy for the HEA but I wasn’t emotionally involved as I thought I should be.
In the end, as I said, I really liked the story, all of the characters and the whole premise but the romance was just a little too dry for me.

Rating: 4 out of 5

You can read more from Tracy at Tracy’s Place.

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

What I Read Last Week

Posted January 30, 2012 by Tracy in Features | 7 Comments

Greetings!
Well it was a quiet week at my house for most of the week. Echo the kitty is doing well. She’s just as adorable and lovable as she was when we first brought her home. I’ve never been a cat person but I just love her to pieces. Of course I’m not in charge of changing her litter box so that makes me love her even more. lol
Sunday morning we did get word that my husband’s father had suffered a stroke. He’s 73 but really a strong healthy man. He apparently had a small brain bleed that caused the stroke but they got him to the hospital quickly and he’s doing really well. Yesterday when we travelled to see him he was just as much as a smart ass as he usually is which really put our minds at ease. 🙂 From what I understand he’ll be out of ICU soon and then home some time this week. He’s excited to get home as he can’t get any sleep in the hospital and it’s making him crazy, the poor guy. My hubby’s dealing with the situation really well which puts my mind at ease. He’s a pretty easy-going guy (he’d have to be to stay married to me all this time) and doesn’t get anxious about stuff so that’s good.
So what did I read this week?
First up was a really great romantic suspense book called The Past Came Hunting by Donnell Ann Bell. This was the story of Melanie who, when she was 17, got a ride from someone she thought was a good Samaritan. He ended up being a murderer and she was caught in the middle, thought a conspirator and sent to prison. Now it’s 15 years later and she moves to a different city – right next to the office who arrested her 15 years ago – Joe. Not only do we have the romance brewing in this story but the murderer who’s getting out of prison and his vendetta against the woman. You can read my review here if you’d like. 4.5 out of 5
Next up was The Devil of Jedburgh by Claire Robyns. This medieval romance was about a man who was looking for a woman to bear him children. He contracts with a father to marry his daughter because the man has 12 strapping sons and 1 daughter – he figures she’ll be as fertile as her mother. When he sees her, however, and she’s just a little bitty thing he knows that she can’t provide him with the heirs he needs. They handfast and of course don’t PLAN on falling in love, but they do. They argue horribly and are both stubborn arses but it was a good book and well worth the read. 4.25 out of 5 (I posted my review for The Book Binge so I’ll let you know when that goes up.)
Blank Slate Kate by Heather Wardell was the story of a woman, aged 32, who wakes up one morning in a strange bed and can’t remember the previous 15 years. She thinks she’s 17 but soon learns the truth. The story told of her dealing with life, accepting that she may never get her memories back and finding her family. It was good book and very interesting. Told in the first person present tense the story won’t be for everyone but it worked for me. 4 out of 5 (This was for The Book Binge so I’ll let you know when my review posts)
Permanently Legless by JL Merrow was the only m/m book I read this week (I know!) but it was a good one. The story was very short so we don’t get to know the characters all that well but it was very sweet and touching. The story was about a soldier who goes off to war and comes back legless. He runs into a guy that he hooked up with prior to leaving and though he believes the guy won’t have anything to do with him he’s wrong, wrong, wrong. 4 out of 5
Secrets of a Lost Summer by Carla Neggers was my next read. This was the story of Olivia who quits her job in Boston and moves to her hometown to open a destination/retreat location. She meets the owner of the house next door and they not only hit it off but they discover a mystery as well. A very good book that I really enjoyed reading. You can read my review here. 4 out of 5
Next was Matched by Ally Condie – my Tracy’s TBR Challenge read. This is a YA futuristic/dystopian novel about Cassia, a girl who gets “Matched”. This means that the person that she matches with is her almost perfect match and they will have nearly perfect children together. The boy she matches with is her best friend Xander – which is highly unusual – but she’s thrilled. Except when she puts the microcard in to view his data (which she knows most of) she sees another face flash across the screen – Ky. She starts to think about Ky and spend more time with him – and they fall in love. But Ky is what is called an Aberration and he can’t be matched with anyone – even if The Society would let them choose their own matches. The book goes on with the somewhat love triangle between Ky, Cassia and Xander but there’s a ton of stuff going on and eventually the Ky and Cassia get separated. It was a really good book from about the second half til the end but I have to say that the first half almost made me stop reading. There was SO much description of the world and the kids’ thoughts that I was almost begging for dialogue! As I said though the book got really good in the second half and kept me turning pages. 3.5 out of 5
My last book of the week was the sequel to Matched and it was called Crossed by Ally Condie. The story picks up a few months after book 1 ended and each character is trying to deal with the cards they’ve been dealt. Cassia is in a work camp and is trying desperately to find where Ky was taken. Xander is still considered her Match and visits her but she’s very intent on finding Ky. She eventually finds him but when they learn more about each other and the possible rebellion going on against The Society they find that they may not want the same things out of life. It was an good book but it had a slower pace than the first one. Ky and Cassia are already in love but their trying to deal with what their future will look like and how they can possibly be together. The triangle with Xander, we think for the most part, is pretty much decided in Ky’s favor but the author throws us for a loop right at the end of the story. No real decisions were made and we’re left hanging a bit and for me it was really frustrating…probably because I can’t decide if either of the boys are workth fighting for. lol 3.5 out of 5
My Book Binge reviews that posted last week:
Happy Reading!