The Bracelet by C.A. Deslauriers

The_Bracelet_Print (1) Paperback Cover PhotoThe Bracelet by C.A. Deslauriers is a romance novel with an emphasis on the life and emotional journey of the woman in the pair, Christine. Christine has recently written a memoir of her life with her true love, Jay, and spends the bulk of the novel recalling the path her life has taken to the present moment. The arrival of a mysterious, yet all-too-familiar box sends Christine into a tailspin of memories as she revisits the pain of her childhood, the joy and sting of first love, passionate encounters, loss, and self-discovery.

The cover of the novel sets up the tone of the piece rather well. It is a simple, black background with a focus on the bracelet and its single charm. The word “lukewarm” becomes almost a mantra to Christine throughout her life, something she has achieved and yet wishes to exceed. The cover is as elegant as the prose by Deslauriers. The story is told in a simple manner that is easy to follow and allows the emotion to shine through.

The formatting and editing were acceptable; however, there were a few places with missed periods and grammar mistakes. At the beginning of every chapter is a quote from another piece of writing titled The Prophet. These quotes were interesting, but pull the reader out of the story somewhat, as they are bolded and italicized, making it easy to lose the flow of the narration. Especially since, sometimes, the first paragraph of the chapter was also bolded and italicized. In addition, the entire book is written in third person, except for one chapter, which switches to first person.

The Bracelet is a fast, simple, enjoyable read. Traveling back through Christine’s memories is like a whirlwind of emotion and discovery. It is a very poignant look at what passion is and how it can affect a person’s life, as well as the absence of passion and the harm that can do to relationships and a person’s state of mind.

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True Feel by Ted Bernal Guevara

True Feel Cover 

True Feel by Ted Bernal Guevara is a crime novel staring a reporter, Marion Rafino, who is confined to a wheelchair. While he is investigating a string of murders across several states, he comes across a young stripper, Credence, who seems to be the prime suspect. There is a picture of her at the most recent crime scene, and Marion must balance his love/lust for the girl with his suspicion of her involvement.

Guevara spins an intricate mystery for the reader. Every person involved in this investigation has a rich backstory and connections that are unforeseen. Credence has numerous stripper friends, who all have a story to tell. Moreover, Marion interviews several witnesses, relatives, acquaintances, etc. Guevara definitely does not skimp on the details. In addition to the murder case, the romance between Marion and Credence is an interesting one, with the age-difference, social gap, and physical limitations.

However, the format of the novel makes it hard to appreciate the depth of the storyline. There are so many narrators that the reader may find herself confused and frustrated at times. Every friend of Cadence has a real name and a stage name, and they are sometimes used interchangeably with no explanation. Some chapters, it is obvious who is talking, and in others, it does not become clear until halfway through, and the reader must return to the beginning to understand what is being said.

True Feel is a novel with an interesting concept and an intricate plot idea, but it could have been executed better. The reader may find it difficult to become immersed in the story, as she will be trying to decipher whether it is past or present and who is narrating. This confusion makes it hard to appreciate the “aha!” moment when the perpetrator is finally revealed.

The House of Tomorrow by Adair Arlen

The House of Tomorrow coverThe House of Tomorrow by Adair Arlen is a tale of intrigue and romance that keeps the reader guessing until the very end. First, we meet Paul Gregory as he is closing his bar for the night. There is an elegance to this scene as Arlen describes Paul’s interactions with two different women and the ambiance surrounding them. Paul is painted as a suave heartbreaker type.  That night, he dreams of a third woman, who he saw in passing the evening before.

That woman is Lillian Greening. Arlen describes Lily as genuine and pure; she strives to see the good in people and is uncomfortable with deception. She does not know the allure she possesses for men nor the extent of her beauty. That is why she cannot believe it when Sam Meredith, one of the richest and most influential men in town, asks her to meet his family and, later on, become his wife.

Sam Meredith seems to be every woman’s dream—attractive, charming, attentive, and wealthy. And he seems genuinely to love Lily, even though his family disapproves of the match. However, things take an unexpected turn when Paul begins to insert himself into Lily’s life and Sam starts acting sketchy. Paul begins to show an interest in all things to do with Lily (and Sam), but he will not tell her why. And Sam, after proposing, becomes twitchy and distant. What is it about the Meredith family that has everyone speaking in riddles? And why is Lily suddenly of interest to two of the most attractive and mysterious men she’s ever met?

Arlen spins an interesting tale about secrets and how our past effects our present and future. Concentrating less of the details of the mystery, he focuses on the characters involved, giving them elaborate backstories and delving into their emotions. The beginning of the novel is beautifully written as the reader is introduced to the cast and the situation. Some readers may find the middle a tad on the slow side, as the action slows down and it’s mostly internal thought and introspection. But the end is fast-paced and action-packed. The reader will enjoy this story of relationships, both romantic and familial.

Tickle Me by Monica Bouvier

ImageTickle Me by Monica Bouvier is billed as a romance novel, but the reader may find it to be more of a coming-of-age tale than anything else. The focus of the story is Alice and her transformation from an insecure, gawky loner to a confident, engaged woman. The catalysis behind this transformation is an online affair, but Alice ultimately decides to change her own attitude.

Ever since her childhood, Alice felt ugly and unimportant. Coming from a dysfunctional family, she spent her time buried in tomes of Greek Mythology rather than dating or making friends. As a young adult, she had to care for her ailing parents, taking a job she did not want. At work, she seems to be the brunt of the joke, never getting credit for anything. She has a single friend in Patty, who is an outgoing, party animal.

Then Alice meets Erik through an online dating site and goes through a slow transformation. She starts being noticed at work for her efforts and begins making more friends and feeling more self-assured. The remainder of the novel follows Alice and Erik’s courtship and eventual meeting, as well as Patty’s reaction to the whole thing.

Tickle Me has a fantastic concept; the reader will enjoy watching Alice change and grow. It has the feel-good quality of shy girl meets attractive guy, who whisks her off her feet and they live happily ever after. However, some readers may find the book to be redundant in places, as emails between Alice and Erick fill up pages upon pages, most saying the same thing over and over. In order to get the meat of the story, the reader may find herself skipping Erik’s “stories” all together.

Length and redundancy aside, the reader will be surprised with the outcome of the novel. Bouvier writes an in-depth character study of individuals as well as relationships. She asks questions about love, reality, and self-image. The reader will find an interesting story, meant to explore life, with an unexpected ending and some twists and turns along the way.

The Publicist by Christina George

The Publicist front coverThe Publicist by Christina George follows the life and career of Katharine Mitchell. The reader meets Kate for the first time as she receives a call from the police—a woman is threatening to jump off a building and is asking for her. Kate is able to talk Haley off the ledge and everyone is curious as to the relationship between the two. Kate answers, “I’m the publicist.”

This scene sets the tone for the whole novel. As a publicist, Kate must deal with arrogant authors who think they have written the great American novel and bosses who care more about the bottom line than good writing. In her personal life, she deals with an unwanted attraction to a married co-worker. Mac has a Don Juan reputation, but he’s also one of the only people left in the publishing business who seems to care about quality books and genuine people.

The Publicist is full of realistic characters, poignant interactions, and tons of humorous situations. From the crises Kate has to deal with, one would think she is a psychologist or a social worker, but she is simply  a publicist who is thrown some undesirable authors and frivolous projects. The reader will thoroughly enjoy commiserating with Kate as she tries to sort out her career and her love life. When this book ends, the reader will be counting down the days until the next one.

Protect and Serve by Robin Leigh Miller

protectandserveProtect and Serve by Robin Leigh Miller is a steamy romance novel and a nail-biting mystery all at the same time. The story begins when Lieutenant Kevin Smith is called to a domestic violence dispute. When he arrives on scene, a man—who is later identified as Briggs—is beating and kicking his wife. Just as Kevin is exiting his cruiser, a woman comes out and hits Briggs with a cast-iron pan, knocking him unconscious. Kevin recognizes the woman as Tami, the waitress he’s been eyeing up at the local diner.

In the aftermath of the assault, the reader learns that Tami is a take-charge, cocky, vivacious woman who keeps polite, kind Kevin on his toes and off-balance. Their flirty, sexual banter during his attempt to get her statement is soon interrupted by a chirp from Tami’s cell phone. He is surprised when she reacts in fear.

When the next chapter turns to Tami’s point of view, the reader learns that Tami has downloaded an app on her phone that is supposed to tell her when she is going to die. At first, it was meant to be a joke, but after the texts started coming several times a week, fear sets it. The app is just the beginning of the creepy things that happen to Tami. After work the next day, she comes home to a trashed house—broken dishes, spilled food—but when she searches for signs of a break-in, all the doors and windows are locked. Then, to make matters worse, she goes for a twenty-minute walk, and when she returns, everything is back to normal. Over the next few days, she hears inexplicable noises and experiences more weird events. Finally, she decides she has a ghost living with her and realizes she must find a way to get rid of it.

Interspersed between spine-tingling episodes are steamy, vividly detailed sex scenes between Kevin and Tami as they discover their mutual desire and respect for each other. Tami is wild and uninhibited; she knows what she likes and wants, and she goes for it. Kevin has always been reserved, brought up to treat women with a certain amount of decorum. The more time they spend together, Tami shows Kevin that it’s okay to have a wild side…and his wide side sure is something!

If the promise of erotic, intimate love scenes isn’t enough, Miller also writes an intriguing and puzzling mystery. Tami is so sure that she is living with a ghost, but what do the death app and the ghost have to do with one another? Are they related or are they two separate events? When people around Tami start to die, the question of who is haunting her becomes even more important. Can it really be a ghost causing all this mischief or is there someone out there gunning for Tami? Maybe it’s both. Until the very last chapter, the reader will be questioning every piece of evidence and every detail, much like Kevin and his fellow officers.

Robin Leigh Miller does a fantastic job of blending love, lust, terror, and mystery in Protect and Serve. It is a romance novel with a little something for everyone. For the reader who enjoys romance and intimate scenes, the wait is a short one. For the reader who enjoys puzzles that are hard to solve with unexpected outcomes, the pleasure lasts until the very last page.

Protect and Serve

Robin Leigh Miller

Ellora’s Cave

Copyright 2012

Rusty Goes to Prom by Mike Ronny

rustyRusty Goes to Prom is a short story with a simple premise, but rich prose. The narrator is none other than Rusty Barker—the high school janitor. Rusty is in the autumn of his life, but his status as janitor makes him popular with the student body. For reasons unknown to Rusty, the students enjoy searching him out and telling him about their lives. This story begins with such an incident—a student confides in Rusty and Rusty decides to intervene. The intervention leads to Rusty helping the student and, ultimately, helping himself.

Although Rusty Barker is almost 60, this story almost reads as a coming-of-age novel. During this short tale, he learns something about himself and his society. When the story comes to a close, Rusty has experienced new things and changed as a result. This story is perfect if the reader is looking for a quick, enjoyable read filled with humor and interesting characters.