Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Twin Flames by Debbie Christiana

Rating: 5 Stars

Title: Twin Flames

Author: Debbie Christiana

Publisher: Black Opal Books
      Cover Art: Cindy Hammock

Genre:  Paranormal/Women's Fiction

Length: 278 Pages


She’d never met him before…or had she?

The last thing forty-year old Natalia Santagario expected was to be sitting on a Manhattan barstool ogling a man she’s never met, but swears she knows.

 He didn’t know her at all…or did her?

The mysterious dark-haired woman at the end of the bar stops twenty-eight year old Marc Tremonti in his tracks. His head assures him she’s a stranger, but his heart tells him otherwise.

 Together they embark on an adventure that will change their lives forever.

Their attraction instant and enigmatic, they undergo past life regression and discover that, not only have they spent hundreds of lives together as lovers, Natalia holds the secret to Marc’s puzzling birthmark.

But what should have been a joyful reunion is complicated by a kind, albeit confused, almost ex-wife, an unfortunate accident in a taxicab, and a bout of temporary amnesia that threatens to ruin everything. On top of all that, they must contend with a mischievous ghost from their past.

What else could possibly go wrong?

Anybody that reads romances regularly (or even those that don't) knows that a common theme, whether it is subtle or not so subtle, is the idea of soul mates. But one that isn't so common (at least to me) is that of "Twin Flame" soul mates. The idea of twin flame soul mates is that each person is one half of the same soul instead of just souls that are destined to be together.

I just loved this book. I'm not quite sure why it doesn't have a romance tag attached to it though, because the main storyline is the love story between two people. The elements used in this book are, quite obviously, extremely well researched and woven throughout the story in a seamless manner. It left me fascinated and wanting to learn more about twin flame soul mates. 

Natalia is a very successful, independent woman. She runs a small vineyard, with the help of a close family friend and manager of the whole operation, and makes her own wine to sell locally. She has a few close friends to lean on but, with her family primarily out of the picture, she is on her own for the most part. She has also been hurt by a past boyfriend, so her friends talk her into a weekend in New York City where she meets Marc. 

Marc, on the other hand, is surrounded by family - including an estranged wife. He is also twelve years younger than Natalia. When the two meet at his family's restaurant where he is bartending for the evening, there is an instant connection and chemistry between the two that confuses and frightens them a little. 

Even though the chemistry is immediate, rather than something that is built up through the course of the book, the author did an excellent job by showing the reactions of the characters as being wary of the whole thing. They both resist the attraction they feel for each other, feeling like it's an infatuation that will pass. Throw in a meddling aunt and mischievous ghost though, and they don't stand a chance. 

While they both have the same Italian background and love of food and wine, that's where the similarities seem to end. There seem to be so many things against this couple getting together that just about everything but the kitchen sink seems to stand in their way. Between the fact that they are from two entirely different types of areas (country vs. city), an age difference, a wife, a car accident and amnesia, it seems like they will never overcome the obstacles.

I loved how Ms. Christiana built the tension through this book. As I mentioned above, it wasn't a matter of building chemistry, that was there from the beginning, but rather a matter of building acceptance. The reactions and thoughts associated with them seemed completely believable and realistic to me. With so many things standing in their way, including themselves, by the end of the book you are left feeling like love can conquer anything and that there really is such a thing as two souls that are absolutely meant for nobody else but each other. 

I would highly recommend this book to anyone and it is one that will go on my keeper shelf for sure. I will want to read this one again.



Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Killer, My Love by Mona Karel

Rating: 4 Stars

Title: My Killer, My Love

Author: Mona Karel

Publisher: Black Opal Books
      Cover Art: Pepper O'Neal and Mona Karel

Genre:  Paranormal/Fantasy/Romantic Suspense

Length: 233 Pages


She came to the woods to heal and found evil lurking among the trees....

Upon her grandmother’s death, Kendra inherits a cottage deep within the sequoia forest, along with the powers given only to certain women in her family—powers she doesn’t know she has. Recovering from a vicious attack in Phoenix, Kendra returns home to the remote cabin determined to heal both her body and her spirit. But the forest is ailing, too. Evil lurks in its dark places, turning its quiet glades into a battlefield. When a strangely beautiful man appears at her cabin intent on punishing her for a crime she didn’t commit, Kendra needs all her strength to protect her forest, her life... and her heart. Can she learn to use her powers and to trust Mykhael in time to save the ancient forest? 

He came to the woods to redeem himself and found innocence that would be his undoing....

Throughout his long life, Mykhael has struggled, often in vain, to please the Atrahasis, immortal overlords of the sacred places in the universe. Now they have given him one last chance to redeem himself. He must punish the person they think desecrated an ancient forest in Northern California. But when he meets Kendra, he realizes he’s doomed to disappoint them yet again. Not only is she innocent of the crime the Atrahasis have accused her of, Kendra is the missing part of the soul he didn’t know he still possessed. Can he defy the Atrahasis yet again and live long enough to save the only thing in his life that matters?

When I first sat down to read this book, I wasn't really sure what to expect. The blurb seemed a little vague to me and I wasn't entirely sure what I was dealing with. Then, the first few pages confused me a little. I persisted though, and things cleared up nicely. It's not that the beginning doesn't hook you. Not at all. I just wasn't sure what was going on. The beginning is actually intriguing, and you'll get the gist of the plot with in a few pages. 

Kendra has had a rough life, at least in some respects. Her parents had other priorities and very rarely made appearances. She grew up with her grandmother, who taught her the ways of the women of the family. Later, she is severely injured in an attack and returns to the house she grew up in to recover. It's here that she meets Mykhael. 

Mykhael shows up out of nowhere. His job, ultimately, is to kill Kendra, per orders. After spending sometime with her, he realizes that she is not who his superiors thinks he is. He is also falling in love with her. A lot hinges on him following the orders he's been given, but he can't bring himself to do it. Together, Kendra and Mykhael try to figure a way out of their dilemma. 

Kendra is a strange mixture of a quiet, introspective and sassy woman that, once committed to something, stuck by it. And Mykhael is just one of those guys that is sexy and sensitive but still able to take care of things in most situations.

An interesting twist on the paranormal genre, once I got into the book I really enjoyed it. The resolution was a little unexpected and threw a little monkey-wrench into things initially, but worked out in the end. I was a little confused on what Mykhael's race actually is. I narrowed it down to two possibilities, but I'm still not sure which one is correct. Despite the confusion (for me) about that, it is a good read and I really enjoyed it.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Rescued From The River by Stephy Smith

My Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

Title: Rescued From The River

Author: Stephy Smith

Genre: Historical Romance

Length: 78 Pages


Darkness engulfs Emma Donley as she sits on the banks of the Cache La Poudre River near Fort Collins, Colorado. Harvey Morgan, a trapper, kidnaps her with plans to keep her on the mountain as his woman for the winter. Morgan’s embittered rage turns deadly when her strong-minded escape thwarted his plans.

Kale Tucker hears the gunshot. He fears the worst for the next victim of Morgan. His anger grows persistent when he pulls the blood-soaked body of a beautiful woman from the river.

Doubts of her survival weighs heavy on his shoulders. However, he has to try to save the woman he rescued from the river. 


This review is long past due. I should have this one done months ago and I apologize to the author. Several months ago, when I was reviewing books on the website, I reviewed Ms. Smith's other book titled "Lizzie and the Rebel". With that book, while I loved the characters, I felt the pacing was off. Things happened too fast to be realistic and there wasn't really much sense of time passing to make it seem believable. So, to be honest, I was little reluctant to read this one. And when I first sat down to read it, the first few pages, once again, didn't seem realistic to me. Feeling like perhaps I wasn't in the right frame of mind to read it, I decided to put it aside to come back to later. I'm glad I did, though I wish I hadn't waited quite so long.

While Emma may not react in the same way that I would in the very beginning, she redeems herself later. She is a very strong character that will fight when pushed far enough. She may want to be a school teacher, but she is not some timid little mouse that will be pushed around. She fights to escape from the creepy mountain man, Morgan, and she fights to live. 

With the first book, pacing was an issue for me. This book handles it much better. You get the sense of time passing and as the two main characters begin to develop feelings for each other it's not necessarily an instant thing the way it seemed in the other one. This is much more realistic to me, and thus more believable. This may be a personal bias on my part but I tend to have issues with pacing in most of the short length novelettes that I read and Ms. Smith did an admirable job with it. There was a couple parts that felt rushed and one part in particular that it would have been nice to know more about what happened, but over all it was nicely handled.

I loved the character of Sally, Kale's mother. She was kind and caring, with a backbone of steel. She made me laugh aloud a couple of times and by the end I just adored her. I also liked Kale's father but he doesn't make many appearances. When he is in there, though, he is memorable. The story of these two, with the background that we got a peak at, would make a fabulous book.

The plot itself is believable and interesting. Without giving too much away, the part with the plague was ingenious, I thought. Again, as I say with most short length books, I would have enjoyed seeing it as a full length novel. There is enough of a plot here to handle it and the details that could have been included with a full length would have been great. I found a couple of mis-spellings/punctuation issues but it was minimal and, honestly, I was enjoying the book enough that I really didn't care. 

One thing that I, personally, love about this author is the way she blends in the Native American aspects in her books. It's not in your face. It's not stereotypical. It's not even the main focus of the story. But it's there and it's blended and weaved into the story in a way that is very well done. 

I look forward to checking out the next book by this author.