Friday, June 24, 2011

Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny by Pepper O'Neal

My Rating: 5 Stars

Title: Blood Fest: Chasing Destiny

Author: Pepper O'Neal

Publisher: Black Opal Books
      Cover Art: Dawné Dominique

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance

Length: 237 Pages


She didn’t know what she was—or that what she was could get her killed...
A struggling private detective in Los Angeles, Chase Alcott has no idea about her unique genetic makeup. So when she takes on a new client—an old man with ulterior motives—she’s unaware of the danger she’ll soon face. Traveling to England to solve a mysterious murder at the request of her new client, Chase encounters terrifying creatures she thought only existed in her nightmares—only to find out she’s one of them. Caught in a web of evil and deception after learning some terrifying truths about her long dead parents, Chase doesn’t know who to believe. Does she dare trust the enigmatic Roman, a man with dark secrets of his own?

He knew what she was—he just had no idea what to do about her…
English nobleman, Roman Fernwood, half-werewolf/half-vampire, doesn’t want a mate, especially not a half human/half-weretiger with no knowledge of what she is. But there’s something about Chase, Roman can’t resist in spite of his determination not to fall in love. Is it her fascinating American spunk and courage or her stunning cinnamon eyes? Or could it be the passion he senses just beneath her calm, unruffled demeanor? Whatever it is, Roman must keep her safe from those who want to kill her—and find a way to show her what she is without driving her into the arms of the other Weres who also want her for a mate.


The paranormal genre is, without a doubt, my favorite genre to read so I was really looking forward to reviewing this book and it did not disappoint. Take a sexy man, make him into not only a vampire but also a werewolf, throw him in England with that killer accent and make him a nobleman? Drool. Then put him together with a woman that can handle him and sit back and watch the fireworks fly.

Chase is just the kind of female character that I love to read about. She is strong, smart and sassy. She knows what she wants and goes after it. She doesn't need a man in her life, but who is she to resist when the opportunity presents itself in the form of tall, dark and yummy?

Roman is an aloof English aristocrat that has no interest in finding a mate, much to his adoptive father's dismay. His father sets out to find him one anyway, sending Chase his way. Once he meets Chase, and realizes that she doesn't know what she is, he can't turn her away.

Chase's best friend and business partner, David (who is drooling over Roman as well), goes to England with her. David is a fun secondary character that is well developed and adds to the book. Then there is Grayson and Drake. They are part of the local were-tiger pack and both sexy in their own right. If I had to pick a secondary character that I wanted to see more of in a future book it would probably be one of these three.

Chasing Destiny is a well written book with well developed characters and a fun new world of vampires and shape-shifters, with plenty of page turning action, fun characters and humor. The way Roman and Chase go at each other is funny and realistic. David is the friend you'll wish you could have that is loyal, caring and amusing. His reactions to situations are totally believable and amusing. The added characters from other were-packs are mysterious and sexy and will leave you wanting to see more of them.

The background that the author gave Chase adds a sort of an “Anastasia” mysteriousness to her, with the potential for a prequel sometime in the future, if Ms. O'Neal is so inclined. It would be a history that would add depth to not only Chase, but the entire were-tiger culture in the book.

It looks like Ms. O'Neal may plan to make this a series, based on the title but that is pure speculation (and hope) on my part. I look forward to being able to revisit some of these characters in the future if that is the case and I'll keep my fingers cross that Grayson and/or Drake are in future installments.

If you enjoy paranormal romance, vampires and shape-shifters – you will definitely want to check out this book. It is one that may end up on your keeper shelf. Wouldn't want to miss out on that would you? This book is also available in paperback, as well as ebook format.

(From the publisher)


Making Waves by Nell Dixon

My Rating: 4 Stars

Title: Making Waves

Author: Nell Dixon

Publisher: Astraea Press
      Cover Art: Elaina Lee

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 46 Pages


Cassidy Jones needs a holiday and her friend's cottage in New Bay sounds perfect. The beach could heal the bruises from losing her job and her fiancé. Perfect for some time alone to gather her thoughts and heal her broken heart.

Josh Parker is also looking forward to a much needed break after eighteen months of non-stop work. His out-of-town friend offers her cottage, and Josh thinks it would be just right for some time to let his hair down and revive his social life with his old surf buddies.

One cottage, two unsuspecting occupants; a recipe for romance or disaster? 


When a mix-up accidentally has a mutual friend loaning her beach front cottage to two friends at the same time, Cassidy and Josh have to figure out how to tolerate each other for the duration of their vacation. The problem is, Cassidy is there to recover from her broken engagement and wants nothing more than to be alone so she can wallow in the shambles that she thinks her life has become. Josh, on the other hand, is on his first vacation in a year and a half after working his tail off to get a new business up and running. He wants nothing more than to party it up and have a good time with his old friends.

The author does a great job at describing the setting of a little coastal resort town, which made me wish I could visit the beach. She also does a great job describing, most especially, Cassidy's emotions as she deals with her broken engagement as the day of her canceled wedding arrives and passes. There isn't a lot of time for character development, but you manage to get a feel for the characters personalities even within the short pages of the story. The romance develops quickly, but in a believable way, as both characters evaluate their lives and themselves, coming to certain realizations.

Making Waves is a very sweet, quick read. If you are looking for something to read that you can finish while waiting for an appointment or taking a break from something you should check this one out. It took me about an hour to read it and it was an enjoyable way to pass the time.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lifeline Echoes by Kay Springsteen

My Rating: 5 Stars 

Title: Lifeline Echoes

Author: Kay Springsteen

Publisher: Astraea Press
      Cover Art: Elaina Lee

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 287 Pages

Voices form a powerful connection. The day the earth rocked LA, Sandy Wheaton became a voice lifeline over the radio for trapped firefighter, "Mick." Less than twenty four hours later, she had fallen in love with him. Shattered when she learned that rescue came too late, she sought solace Wyoming, the home state he had loved. Now, seven years later, she's made a life there as the owner of a popular local bar. But her wounds are still fresh, and she longs to let go of the past and her lost love so she can begin living again. That opportunity presents itself when the local prodigal son returns home. The attraction between them is instant. It feels like she's known him far longer than just a few days.

Sixteen years ago, Ryan McGee left home in the midst of controversy. After living through a harrowing trauma, he finally returns home when his family needs his help through some troubling times. All he wants to do is make amends with those he hurt most and to get back to the life he'd never wanted to leave in the first place. When he meets the sexy bartender, he starts thinking in terms of forever. But there's still someone out there he wants to find, someone who once believed in him and gave him hope. 

I'm usually a sucker for a book about the prodigal son/daughter returning home after years of being away and making good on things that went wrong years before. Or at least had been perceived to be wrong. This book is no exception. The author manages to draw you in immediately with the tragic situation that Sandy finds herself in. With little snippets throughout the book of that day that changed Sandy's life forever, you stay invested in the story both past and present.

Ms. Springsteen seems to love writing about strong, dynamic woman and Sandy Wheaton fits the mold perfectly. Recovering from a tragedy that changes her life in ways big and small, she leaves her job and her old life behind, seeking peace in the beautiful state of Wyoming. Even though she is grieving, Sandy doesn't let life get the best of her. She starts over, creating a new life for herself in a new town and state, making new friends and with a new job. There are times she still thinks about the past and though she doesn't seem quite ready to move forward in certain ways, she has certainly overcome a lot of obstacles. Sandy is someone I would want to be friends with.

And let's not forget about Ryan. Ryan is the sexy cowboy that every girl dreamed about when they were younger. (At least most of the girls that grew up in the country!) He is mysterious, protective and he is definitely manly. He stands up for what he believes in and what he knows is right, despite what anybody else thinks or says about it.

One thing that was never really explained that I would have liked to see resolved, more for the sake of curiosity than anything else, was the name confusion. I won't say more than that so I don't give anything away but I would have liked to have seen it addressed at the end. And that, folks, is about the only thing I could possibly find to criticize about this book. I know that some people will think that falling in love with someone in twenty four hours isn't realistic but I knew from the first day that I saw my husband that I would someday marry him – so it is not impossible.

This book draws you in right from the first paragraph and keeps you turning the pages all the way through. With lots of action, suspense, romance and sexual tension going on along the way, I loved these characters from the beginning and wanted to know what happened to them. The author does an excellent job in keeping you guessing on who the bad guy is until the very end and the story is wrapped up very nicely. The secondary characters are also very entertaining and there are a couple that I absolutely adored, including Ryan's dad.

Ms. Springsteen has a new fan. I can't even say enough good things about this author or her books. I hope you take the time to check her out. This is another book that is available in both e-book format as well as paperback.


Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights by Jean C. Joachim

My Rating: 4 1/2 Stars

Title: Sunny Days, Moonlit Nights

Author: Jean C. Joachim

Publisher: Astraea Press 
     Cover Art: Elaina Lee

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 129 Pages


Caroline Davis White is a well-known artist and married to a wealthy, controlling man. She has everything money could buy except one thing: Love. Brad refuses to give her a divorce she so desperately wants. With no money, family, or friends, she flees to the Catskill Mountains where she spent her summers as a young adult.

Mike Foster has achieved success and made more money than he could have thought possible, but it destroyed his marriage and cost him his son. He is wary of every woman he meets, knowing his money may be more attractive than his good looks.

Caroline reconnects with the life she had and friends from long ago. Mike stepped out of her teenage dreams into her life again, looking more handsome and tempting than ever. Caroline knew Mike back then, but is he still the man she fell in love with?


This is a sweet and sensual story of a childhood crush rediscovered years later that blossoms into love. It was fun watching the relationship grow between Mike and Caroline (Sunny) so many years after not seeing each other. Naturally they both have memories from when they were younger. Mike had been a few years older than Sunny and had sort of adopted the older brother/protector attitude towards her at that time, never knowing that Sunny had a crush on him. It's interesting watching them both come to terms with who they were in the past, and their feelings for each other back then, and who they are now and their feelings for each other now. It is very realistically portrayed, giving the reader a chance to wonder, perhaps, what it would be like if they were to meet up with an old crush.

Initially, Sunny surprised me. She didn't strike me as the type to run from a situation, no matter how hopeless or intimidating. Once we get to know the character, though, you can see that it wasn't so much running away as it was coming to terms with where she has let her life lead her and the circumstances she has found herself in, as well as giving herself some breathing room to determine her course of action. In a manner of speaking, she needed time to lick her wounds and heal. The secondary character of the butler that first appears in the very beginning had an amusing attitude that had me chuckling. He had a job that he must keep, and duties that he must fulfill, but he didn't necessarily have to like it or his boss.

The author did an excellent job in describing the setting of a small resort town, as well as the feelings associated with the characters situations. The pacing was well done – nothing happening too quickly so as to not be believable, even with a shorter length novel. And you get invested in the characters relatively quickly. This was a well written story that I really enjoyed, about a woman finding herself again after being in a lousy relationship that should have jaded her on men and then finding the one that she should have been with all along. This book is available in e-book format as well as in paperback.

The author has some excerpts on her blog from a prequel to this novel as well as an excerpt from a sequel to this novel. She's been busy! If you'd like to check it out, go here.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Review: Sucker for a Hot Rod by Joselyn Vaughn

My Rating: 4 Stars

Title: Sucker for a Hot Rod

Author: Joselyn Vaughn

Publisher: Astraea Press

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Length: 243 Pages


Bryce Halloway only dates a woman once. No exceptions.

It gives him the reputation of a heart-breaker, but he can handle that as long as it keeps his mother, Dinah, from trying to marry him off. Judi Montgomery and her tempting ponytail finagle their way around official dates with car problems and driving lessons. She worms her way into his heart and entices him to want more from his life.

When health issues causes his father to retire, Bryce inherits the family-owned tractor repair shop. Can Judi’s love and encouragement give him the courage to break tradition and pursue his dreams of owning a custom hot rod shop? 


This was a sweet and unique romance. You definitely don't see many romances written by women that have cars as a main focal point. Usually, I'm assuming, because women just don't have enough knowledge to make it believable. This author either did a lot of research or she knows her cars. This book is filled with realistic characters, funny scenarios, and believable character quirks with just enough humor to have you laughing in spots and emotion to have you empathizing with the characters in others.

I wasn't too sure about Bryce at first. Initially, he didn't seem to have a lot of depth to him, he doesn't necessarily come across as very intelligent (except for when it comes to cars) and seems rather adolescent in some respects. As the book progresses though, we get a deeper look at Bryce and how he thinks. We also see his interaction with his family and the reasons behind his behavior. He actually turns into a nice guy that you end up liking.

Judi is a sweet girl with just enough fire in her to not take crap from anybody. She is independent, determined and motivated. I loved seeing her waver between asking for help in a couple of situations and being determined to handle things on her own.

In the beginning, Bryce's dad seems to be this gruff, old, "my way or the highway" kind of man. Once again, Ms. Vaughn surprises us by making him totally likable by the end of the book. By showing us his background and what made him the way he seemed to be, you end up feeling bad for him. We get to watch the relationship between Bryce and his dad evolve throughout the book and it turns out perfectly.

The "Girls Night Out" club of older ladies in the town, and their antics and personalities, are hilarious and add enough colorful humor to the town to make you wish you could visit and meet them.

A fun, enjoyable read that will go quickly. Be sure and check it out.

Revised: to add the paragraph about Bryce and his dad.


Some of you may have been following my book reviews on - I hope that you will continue to follow them here.

I have made the decision to move my reviews to a private blog for various reasons. One of them being that Examiner wants everything to have a local spin on it, which is a little hard to do with book reviews and/or author interviews. This will also allow me to cross-post reviews to other sites, such as Amazon, Goodreads, etc., which I was unable to do before due to rules at There are other reasons, but overall, in weighing all the pros and cons, I think this decision will more benefit my readers as well as the authors that I am reviewing.

I'm still new to figuring out all of the technicalities of blogs, so bear with me.

If you are an author/editor/publisher/etc. and would like to have me review your book(s), you can contact me at writingwhat (at) gmail (dot) com. I promise to give a fair and honest review.