If Ever I Should Love You, Cathy Maxwell

If Ever I Should Love You: A Spinster Heiresses Novel (The Spinster Heiresses)

Publish date December 2017
Mass Market Paperback $ 7.99 (Currently on sale $5.98); E-book $6.99


The first book in The Spinster Heiresses series, If Ever I Should Love You, is a story of two people reunited after several years apart. I voraciously read this through this the first time and had mixed feelings about the lead characters. With this is mind, I re-read Roman and Leonie’s story again. This time around my feelings solidified into something worth talking about.

The reader enters the story with Roman inheriting the title of Earl of Rochdale and all the encumbrances which go with it, in this case a mountain of debt from the previous Earl. Naturally, one needs to marry money to get out of said debt. With only a few choices for a quick infusion of cash, the name of an heiress Roman used to know comes up, and he decides quickly this will be the heiress for him.

Roman is the quintessential man of honor; tall, handsome and mysterious; intriguing due to the rumors of a past indiscretion which stalled his military career. While Leonie, to the outside world, is the perfect debutant, with the exception of her ‘exotic’ looks and rumored history of leading two mean to dueling over her. Maxwell has Roman describe Leonie as “mercurial”, and “the mind of barrister”. Thankfully, in true Maxwell style, Leonie’s personality stays with this description throughout the book, forming a formidable female character despite a disastrous, life-changing event when she was 17 years old. I prefer for the reader to find this out themselves, so I won’t mention the event, but let’s say ‘the event’ was brought to the reader’s attention delicately, meaningfully, and for Leonie– poignantly.

At the tender age of 17, Leonie also learned to overcome the event by ‘taking a nip’ of brandy [or any other spirit]. During the first reading, I wasn’t sure I liked considering her an alcoholic, as Leonie isn’t a stereotypical drunk the the way we know being an alcoholic is today; she takes a sip here or there, but not full swigs of alcohol which deaden all senses, but enough to ‘take the edge off’ from her rising fears. During the second reading, I was much more sympathetic to Leonie’s plight, finding her a well rounded character whose struggles are real; a woman who must learn to fight her cravings when faced with fear, shame, or disappointments.

Roman’s character during the first reading I thought was a little too perfect [and I thought he thought so too]–which annoyed me. Yet, during the second reading, Roman’s flaws showed up in a back-handed way. While Roman means to do no harm by helping the young Leonie, in reality, he inadvertently stunts her emotional growth; meeting with the older Leonie, he’s more like a bully in the way he steamrolls over her wants/desires. In Roman’s mind, he’s the sucker for falling for Leonie all over again and can’t keep from loving her [and forgiving her], yet he holds Leonie to a standard she can’t reach (for me, this was bully behavior).

Leonie’s struggle with alcohol is real, and Maxwell does an excellent job writing Leonie’s plight, recognition, and struggle to overcome her dependence on spirits. What redeems Roman for me is his family; when Roman opens up to his stepfather, David, about Leonie’s drinking problem, I love that David gently reprimands Roman by saying “you may have unwittingly given her a burden that she has found too great to bear.” YES! From this moment on, I’m more in ‘like’ with Roman as his words and demeanor toward Leonie changes from selfish prig, to a caring, supportive husband.

If you’ve read this book and had mixed feelings about it, I’d recommend reading it again–slowly, as Maxwell’s depth of characters for If Ever I Should Love You is deep. If you’ve not read this book–I highly recommend you do as there is substance in this work.


Perfect Gravity by Vivien Jackson

Publish date Nov. 7, 2017
Paperback $7.99, e-book 3.03

In a world made up of electronically enhanced humans, cyborgs who look and act human, and a populace of people who live in fear of their government, one hopes that a group such as Vivien Jackson created will exist.

Perfect Gravity is the second novel of the triad series “Tether” with our main characters being Senator Angela Neko and Kellen Hockly whom readers first met in the prior book, Wanted and Wired.  Senator Neko plays hardball with dignataries, cool disdain against her husband Daniel, toys with the public’s emotions to win campaigns, and generally isn’t a very nice person if you were to get to know her. Yet, far from being Cruella, Jackson writes some of the best traits for this heroine whom I couldn’t end up liking by the end. Now, to be fair, some of this thinking was due to her previous introduction in book one. Yet, in Perfect Gravity it takes one man, and one cat, whom Angela had never forgotten, for me to see her redeeming side.

Kellen, also introduced in the prior book, is your all-round soft-hearted, loveable character. He’s the cute puppy who is not afraid to bite those who threaten him, yet knows which people are good and who is not to be trusted. Along with Kellen is an adorable, fluffy kitty named Yoink, who in my opinion steals the book away from Angela and Kellen. I could go on and on about Yoink, but I know there’s only so many cat lovers out there who would understand “Yoink blurred into the room, a comet of wild fur, screeching. She hooked her claws on Kellen’s jeans leg and literally climbed him.”, ““Lucky cat says sum of luck is proportional to number of belly rubs sustained,” Yoink communicated.”, and one last one ““My human. I want you to pet me. I also want to bite you.”

To be honest, it took a while to get entranced in this book due to all the back story back flashes. I have it on the DL Author Jackson was a bit concerned about this aspect, but ‘The Powers That Be’ asked her to keep it in. For me, this slowed down the first portion of the book, but then some people love to know all. I personally felt it would have been better to cut some of it out and spread it out a bit more. Once the background was fully fleshed out, the story took off at warp speed on a wild ride of espionage, intrigue, and war– which I was hooked on with super-glue and wouldn’t let go until the wee hours of the morning.

Overall, I loved this book! The symbiosis of the triad-characters along with the updates of formerly introduced characters made for a well-balanced, entertaining, movie-for-the-mind type novel.  Get your copy today and enjoy the ride Jackson is know for.

Best-Laid Plants, by Mary Wingate

Publish Date October 17,2017
Price: $4.99 e-book

What better to read in October but a cozy mystery! This series, A Potting Shed Mystery, is one of my fav’s due to it takes place in the UK, the heroine is in her 50’s [like me], and the books are rich with places, facts and an actual storyline to wrap yourself up in.

For those of you who have not read this series, Pru Parke is a historical gardener from the states who now lives in England with her law enforcement husband, DCI Christopher Pearce. In this newest edition we start out in the same pub where in the first book, The Garden Plot, they didn’t quite hit it off, yet now reminisce on their happy marriage. This is something I enjoy about these cozy mysteries– getting wrapped up with the characters as if they are my friends and I get to hear all about the adventures they have. In this case, the reader gets to re-live some of this couples’ ‘firsts’ as if one is looking back on their own courting with their spouse. Wingate does a wonderful job hooking the readers in to Pru and Christopher’s relationship and the rich British history. If you’re a plant person, you’ll find yourself wishing you could visit some of the lush gardens in the series; and as I’m in Texas, some of the cooler weather!

This time around Best-Laid Plants revolves around a small village with a historical manse with an immense garden. While the owner and villagers are quirky, they’re likable and intricate to the story. Also, I’m happy to say that DCI Pearse is more like the self-confident police officer I like, as there were a few books I wondered what happened to his personality. Pru has grown in her sleuthing prowess; while she started out a bit over the top, she’s now grown to a proper copper’s wife who thinks things through vs rushing in without thought while still keeping with her original likable persona.

Overall, I recommend getting a pint, some crisps or chips, your favorite plush chair or recliner, and settle in for friendly evening with two of my favorite characters.

A Conspiracy In Belgravia, Sherry Thomas

Publish date September 5, 2017
Book $15, Paperback $9.97, e-book 9.99 [Pricing via Amazon]

In book two, A Conspiracy In Belgravia, we find Charlotte, Mrs. Watson, and Inspector Treadles living a normal daily life in their respective fields–which of course is not what Charlotte Homes needs. And as boredom set in, so opens up a can of worms, or in this case mysteries, bafflement, and murder.

I have to say I was looking forward to this installment in the Lady Sherlock Series based on the previous, and first, book. To say this latest installment did not disappoint is an understatement; the more I read, the more I couldn’t put this book down as the web of intrigue underlying in this book is vast. Just when I thought I’d figured a train of thought out, Ms. Thomas throws another red herring into the mix, taxing my poor little brain and forcing into overdrive wanting to figure out what is really going on, which of course made it very difficult to put this book down.

The reader is introduced to Lord Bancroft who wishes to pursue Charlotte with matrimony in mind, Lord Ingram assists behind the scenes with Charlotte’s investigation, and Mrs. Watson becomes more intriguing in her study of Charlotte and her desire to continue to assist Charlotte with her detective cases. There’s even a nice surprise waiting at the end for readers, while at the same time drawing out that edge of desire wanting the next book now. This book is nicely tied up at the end, no a cliff-hanger, just a wanting desire maker to see what the next chapter in Charlotte’s life will be.

For those who did not read the first book and want to just start with this one, is no issue, as it’s great as a stand alone if you for some reason want to skip the first book; in saying this, if you have not read the first book, you may find yourself seeking it out anyway. So while you’re waiting a few short weeks for the publish date, go pick yourself up a copy and see how this all started.

Say Yes to the Scot A Highland Wedding Box Set

Publish Date June 20,2017
Price $3.99 e-book only

With this summer’s heat index rising, I was looking for a way to cool off via a mental trip to Scotland. What I got with this compilation of bridal stories was in stead a heatwave of sweet romance.

Typically I forego compilations due to past experience where the author tries to place a 100K word novel in a 50K space, thereby missing the story– what I consider the main reason for picking up a book. Instead I found four authors to whom can write a romance in the allotted space, keeping the story and romance going from start to finish in a cohesive plot.

If you’re looking for new authors and don’t want to invest 300 pages of unknown writing style and story direction, this is a great way to do so. If you just want a little something to get you through the summer while waiting on your favorite author’s book to release, this is also a great resource for not a lot of expense of time or budget.

Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine

Publish Date July 11, 2017
Price: $17.99 Hardcover, Kindle $10.99

I’ve been a follower of The Great Library series since the first book, Ink and Bone came out in 2016; this latest installment sent my emotions, yet again, on a thrill ride of ups and downs, my heart breaking for characters and leaping with joy for them too.

Let me start with what I feel is the premise for this book, “You, of all people, understand the power of a symbol.” This one simple line not only sums up the basics of what the reader will be experiencing, but also sets the tone–dark, devious, and misleading. Take a look at the cover, its red and ash grey, stone is melting from the heat, the foundations of the building is cracked and crumbling; there’s no lightness about this cover because in this edition the characters are hard-pressed to find hope in their current situation.

The story starts out where we were last dropped, literally, in the prior book, Paper and Fire, inky blackness, flesh feeling like it’s being ripped apart, and confusion. From this point on, don’t expect a break as Caine will keep the reader from food, water, relaxation and rest, just like her characters. She’s keeps a fast pace, luring readers for ‘just one more chapter’ which will see your favorite character be either hurt, betrayed, beaten or blown-up. It’s not to say there’s not any hopeful moments, it’s just that the circumstances are so bad that if you, or the characters, miss seeing that one, faint, firefly moment of light in the dark, which comes so rarely, you’ll miss it, so don’t blink.

I started wondering while reading this book if I would have had the courage this cast of characters have: the necessity to continue to keep fighting for what’s right; the strength to overcome seemingly impossible odds; to trust where in other circumstances I wouldn’t. My parents lived through WWII, Vietnam, and many other wars. They were raised during WWI and the midst of the depression. It was their backbone that brings me the inner courage to keep going on days that I may instead say “I’ll just pass on today and see what tomorrow brings.” This latest edition brings to mind that what we [society today] think are impossible odds is in reality, just an illusion, a falsehood, brought on by media, the internet and society.  I’d like to quote more more line: “The Archivist is right, you know. We are dangerous.” “We’d damn well better be,” Jess said. “Or we’re all dead.””

Reading the last paragraph– the last line– I felt elated and betrayed simultaneously by Rachael Caine; betrayed as once again I was left with my nails clinging to the page like a free climber without a net; elated that YES! [fist bump into the air], the story is not over (I had thought this was a 3 book deal.)



Single Malt Murder, by Melinda Mullet

Pub Date 21 Mar 2017
Price $4.99 e-book

I came across this book a little while back and two things grabbed my attention- single malt whisky and Scotland, two things in my top 5 favorite things list. Yes, I love the smoky-peaty single malts the best, but most people like the smooth, sweeter varieties. With this said, I wanted to read a mystery too, so this seemed like a match made in malt.

Melinda Mullet is new to the novel writing business and according to her bio had been an practicing attorney prior to her new career.  With this said, the mystery of who done ‘it’ is a bit more intricately woven than some other mysteries in what I call the lower to mid-range mysteries (meaning this is not on a high school or college level reading level.)

If you’re not a whisky drinker, it’s okay, neither was Abigail Logan, our lead character. Mullet uses this lack on knowledge to educate her readers on the whisky process, type of whiskey and some history too; not so much so that you’re bored, but enough to make you think that that bottle of booze in your cabinet took a lot more than the bottle of beer you may have laying about.

As for the mystery itself, Mullet does a superb job of misdirection, using Abigail’s thought process to bring you to a possible murderer only to have her and you, the reader, think about your suspects again. While, if you’re a savvy reader, about half way you’ll start coming across clues as to who ultimately was behind the nefarious deed; if you’re reading to enjoy the story, no worries, the who, what and why is revealed pretty close to the end of the book so you’re not wading out the blah-blah-blah of page fillers once the reveal happens.

Which brings me to pacing of Single Malt Murder which was, in my opinion, dead on. In the beginning I was a little leary as it the pacing seemed a little slow, but I reasoned due to this is the first book, introductions needed to be made and the explanation of the whisky making process needed to be explained, that accounted for, what I call, the slow pacing. and after the first couple of chapters the pacing and background information started to weed itself out and allow the story to truly begin, creating a good, solid page turner.

Overall, this was a good malty murder novel, and at parts, I did think about breaking out my stash and sipping along as I’m sure I have some of the smoother, sweeter variety in my closet somewhere. As a side note, I’m thinking Mullet mentions, incognito, Macallan (or it could be Glenfiddich) and Laphroaig while explaining these fine Scottish treasures.  If your are a whisky connoisseur I think you’ll enjoy this series based on this first installment.