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M. Rondeau (West Springfield, MA United States)

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Lost in Shadow (Signet Eclipse)
Lost in Shadow (Signet Eclipse)
by Jocelyn Kelley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.83

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Regency Set Drama with Ghostly Prescence, 30 July 2007
For all those paranormal readers who believe in ghosts - get set for a wild ride with the start of a fabulous new series by author Jocelyn Kelley! Starring in the series are three sisters, China, Jade and Sian Nethercott, with this first book featuring the middle sister Jade.

The three Nethercott sisters were living quietly in the country, still mourning the loss of their beloved father when Jade heard a voice ("Murder most foul...") coming from a very bright light. Soon what materialized from the light was Sir Mitchell Renshaw who had been murdered recently and could not rest until his murderer had been convicted. Now he didn't actually see the murderer but knew that it was Lord Gideon Bannatyne, the brother of his beloved fiancé, Lady Persis. Sir Mitchell persuaded Jade into helping him prove Bannatyne his murderer by infiltrating the demimonde. In so doing Sir Mitchell promised her he would see about bringing her father's spirit back so Jade could speak with him and prove once and for all her father's theory on the existence of ghosts was true.

Gideon is all that is devilishly handsome and Jade is confused over the rumors of his dastardly reputation especially when accused of another murder, he risked arrest rather than jeopardize Jade's reputation for being alone with him. Wishing she could tell Gideon the truth of why she needed to infiltrate the demimonde, Gideon introduced Jade to Sharla MaGuire, who would instruct her in the behavior of a courtesan. In return, Jade would bed him in seven night's time, and then stay with him for 30 days after that. But the way Jade was succumbing to his charm, she would be ready sooner than the seven days!

*** What remarkable characters the author created in a new series that I personally will certainly be looking forward to. Hey, I am one of those who only WISH I could see a ghost! Regardless of what my wishes are this tome gave me everything I look for in a story. Gideon and Jade were truly likeable lead characters and were well-defined. I loved Gideon who was so sure of himself when it came to Jade, recognizing at once that she was special and more than brave, when she confidently approached him at the Duchesses ball, when so many others shunned him. His double entendres, which seemed to flow right over Jade's head, leant a very sensual theme to most of their dialogs which were both witty, spirited, and fresh.

Sharla MaGuire was a superb secondary character, as she attempted to teach the tricks of the trade to Jade, who was not always the most apt pupil. Some of the scenarios were real show stealers. As far as the ghostly Sir Mitchell went, he was as arrogant and obnoxious dead as he was in life providing a few chuckles here and there when Jade grew more than exasperated with him!

The mystery of the true murderer, along with the scrapes Jade and Gideon continued to land in throughout the story made this a very fast-paced and sensually laden read. Like me ,especially if you love stories with ghosts, you should be held fast and genuinely satisfied with author Jocelyn Kelley's first entry in this new series and be looking forward to more from the talented pen of this author.

Marilyn Rondeau, RIO - Reviewers International Organization, for [...]

Lady Beware: A Novel of the Company of Rogues (Signet Historical Romance)
Lady Beware: A Novel of the Company of Rogues (Signet Historical Romance)
by Jo Beverley
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.47

24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid Story - Great In Depth Characterizations, 27 Jun. 2007
For years, the Cave (pronounced cah-vey) family has been persona non grata with the elite of the ton society. Scandals surrounded the previous family members of violence, insanity, and even murder. With the Napoleonic war at end, the new Viscount Darien, Horatio Cave - war hero - has come home, but Viscount or not, the doors are firmly shut against any Cave. He needs entrance and acceptance into the ton and is not above using intimidation to get what he wants.

Lady Thea Debenham is loyal to her brother Dare, miraculously returned to the family after having been missing and purposely addicted to drugs by an enemy during his year-long imprisonment. Fighting his addiction a new threat is being held over his head of being a `coward' at the battle of Waterloo. Thea would do anything to help clear him. Approached by a stranger (whom she finds compellingly attractive), he convinces her he can clear her brother of the ugly rumors. His price, her betrothal to him - for six weeks - and then she could jilt him. He sealed the deal with a mind-blowing kiss and only, after Thea asked his name did she discover he was a Cave - the "Vile" Viscount.

*** Wow, Ms. Beverley has come back with the perfect wrap-up to her previously published TO RESCUE A ROGUE, highlighting the rogue Dare's return from the dead and his struggle to overcome addiction. With LADY BEWARE, she not only wraps up Dare's addiction battle from that splendid story, but gives the reader another dynamic and sensual piece featuring Dare's sister Lady Thea and Dare's one time school-boy nemesis, Canem Cave (dog Cave)!

Thea is a very strong loving sister, who would have done anything to save her brother and the author shows this as Thea, is coerced into giving her word to a complete stranger who could offer proof of Dare's innocence -- if Thea would agree to a `sham' 6-week betrothal - before she even knew the strangers name. Her obvious attraction to him, especially after `his kiss' left her breathless, and when he finally told her his name, Viscount Darien, her first reaction was `nobility' but a second later, horror when she realized he was a Cave! Before she could run him down to refuse his proposition, Cave had gone ahead into the packed ballroom and loudly announced how he had witnessed Dare's horse shot out from under him during the battle of Waterloo. With that one announcement, Cave had effectively put the rumors of Dare's cowardness to rest and Thea was trapped and honor-bound to keep to her end of the bargain. Though honor bound, Thea was not convinced that Darien wouldn't turn the tables and ruin the family name and the author did an amazing job of Thea doing all she could to discover the truth.

In a tremendous character study for both Darien and Thea, the author shows how Thea though attracted to the man felt like the rest of the ton when it came to the Cave dynasty. The horrid reputation of the Cave family, as vicious and vile reprobates, was certainly not something she could just ignore. It didn't happen easily but after a time Thea did come to see him as honorable and worthy. Underneath it all, Darien did have an agenda of his own only he never thought that Thea would arouse such passion or caring but by then, Darien was in love and the thought of Thea being brought down by association with him was agonizing. To create more angst the author uses an opponent from Darien's past who is just aching to tear down all the respectability Darien had so carefully started to build up. The author inserts the right amount of danger and suspense that keeps the action flowing and gives credence to the two lovers who are now ready to save each other regardless of what society thought.

As usual, the author doesn't pull punches in any of her romantic historicals writing a believable and dynamic story showing both sides of humanity, from the noble to the scum who prey on the innocent. Her characters, from the leads to secondary, are all meticulously fleshed out and integrally involved in the storyline. Bottom line is that Jo Beverley continues to enthrall and engross the reader with well-thought out, vibrant, and sensually romantic adventures that thrill and captivate her readers from start to finish! Bravo - this is another worthy and thrilling addition to her captivating series of `The Company of Rogues' and one I highly recommend!

Marilyn Rondeau, for [...]

Bright Day Dawning
Bright Day Dawning
by Anna Jacobs
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Historical - Emotional and Poignant, 5 Jun. 2007
This review is from: Bright Day Dawning (Paperback)
In reading this novel I was struck by the similarities in style of the late great Catherine Cookson. It thrilled me to find a novelist who could write so well the sagas of common folk who rise above the repression of the wealthy and find a better independent life on their own. Reading BRIGHT DAY DAWNING will give the reader a sample of the poignancy and struggles one overcomes to awake to a newer and brighter day dawning!

In BRIGHT DAY DAWNING you are introduced to Gwynna Jones, a lovely caring young woman who having borne a stillborn child out of wedlock would be forever marked as a loose woman. Gwynna managed to find a position as a nursemaid at the home of the wealthy Hungertons through the efforts of her friend Essie. When her past was revealed to the old master, she was promptly turned out. Returning to Hedderby she was attacked but then saved by a wonderful young man by the name of Lucas Kemp.

Lucas Kemp was a talented young carpenter who had dreams of becoming independent and was determined to escape the bondage mechanisms the old master of Hungerton used in subjugating his workers to remain forever in his debt. Lucas was smarter than that and planned an escape from under Hungerton's thumb but in the process made a bitter enemy who didn't like losing. As vile as they come Hungerton would release his minions to force Lucas back to his estate and do anything to destroy the lives of both Gwynna and Lucas in the process.

This was a remarkable story and wish I had started with the previous books (PRIDE OF LANCASHIRE and STAR OF THE NORTH) to fully engross myself in this marvelous Preston family saga. Though this was a complete standalone novel it wasn't hard for me to appreciate and imagine how far everyone had come as the author does an incredible job of bringing back and entwining the lives of so many of the inhabitants of Hedderby together. You'll be able to see Carrie and Eli pick up the pieces of their lives as they begin once again to re-build their Pride of Lancashire and rejoice when the wife and children of the murderous Athol Stott are given a new chance at life and love when Jeremiah Channon comes to town to see to his new wards. The reader will embrace all the citizens of Hedderby and be waiting anxiously for the saga to continue to watch them all continue their individual struggles on the road to happiness. This novel will leave you sufficiently content and feeling good while whetting your appetite for more. I highly recommend this book and all the previous ones mentioned in Anna Jacobs "Preston Family Saga".

Marilyn Rondeau, RIO - Reviewers International Organization
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Mr Impossible: Number 2 in series (Carsington Quartet)
Mr Impossible: Number 2 in series (Carsington Quartet)
by Loretta Chase
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ms. Chase Never Fails to Satisfy - 4-1/2*, 14 May 2007
Setting - Egypt 1821 --- Having arrived only six weeks earlier in Egypt, Rupert Carsington, the fourth son of the Earl of Hargate, was his family's favorite son but a disaster because wherever trouble and chaos reigned, Rupert was sure to be in the middle of it. New to Egypt, he hadn't really had enough time to size up the society's structure as of yet, and being a gentleman, in spite of his hellion ways, he was not about to watch a soldier beating to death a man unable to defend himself without coming to his aid. So, English aristocracy or not, Rupert was promptly tossed into the deepest dungeon in Cairo.

At approximately the same time, news of Mrs. Daphne Pemperton's brother Miles kidnapping had reached her ears, and she soon discovered that the English consulate had no one available to lend her aid, other than the troublesome young Carsington sitting in jail. Daphne was not be deterred and if this was the only help she was going to get, she would storm the depths of the dungeon and bring the brainless but brawny and brave fool out to help her cross the desert in the hopes of rescuing her brother. To her way of thinking, they could form a partnership, she would provide the brains, and the big handsome (she couldn't help but notice) brute Rupert, would provide the brawn! What Daphne didn't expect was that the desert heat would be nothing compared to the heat Rupert instilled in her nether regions.

*** Having recently finished the first (?) novel in the Carsington family saga MISS WONDERFUL, I looked forward to hearing more of the rest of the troublesome sons of the Earl of Hargate and found this to this to be a worthy entry. While I certainly found the previous novel to contain a bit more humor, this did have its moments. Rupert was fashioned with a wry sense of humor that was a perfect complement for Daphne's reticence and scholarly personality as Rupert was able to break through the walls she'd erected around herself. Daphne was a bit more complex having suffered mental abuse by her husband, an older and condescending man, who jealous of her brain, belittled her and really did a number on her self-esteem making her think that her passionate nature was something to be ashamed of, rather than to delight in. Rupert who never really took things seriously was a perfect fit, balancing out her practical nature, and discovering that he was actually amazed and enthralled by her `huge brain' and totally delighted in her as a person. Mr. Impossible proved to be for Daphne, Mr. Perfect! Another Splendid Read by Ms. Chase!!

Blood Moon
Blood Moon
by Dawn Thompson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.99

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding New Vampire Tale, 17 April 2007
This review is from: Blood Moon (Mass Market Paperback)
Dawn Thompson has written a phenomenal and intriguing paranormal rich in historical detail which will captivate you in a thrilling ride from page one to an exciting and provocative ending leaving you clamoring for more!

Set in Cumberland, England 1811, the second son of an Earl, Jon Hyde-White had not only found his calling in the church as a vicar, but the woman of his dreams, Cassandra Thorpe. What looked to be a rosy future with fairytale ending was quickly turning into a nightmare of gigantic proportions when Jon is attacked and bitten by the mesmeric evil vampire Sebastian Valentin. To make matters worse, his beloved Cassandra is also bitten. While Jon and Cassandra have not completely `changed over' Jon races against time to discover IF there is a cure for the malady before it is too late to control and fight off the beginnings of an insatiable blood lust. Rather than the scent of meadowsweet and lilies of the valley that once attracted Jon to Cassandra it was now the sound and smell of her thick rich blood pounding in her veins that was driving him to the depths of madness. It would be imperative for Jon to get them both safely to Moldavia where vampires roamed and rumors of a mysterious Blood Moon ritual might be able to save them.

With great imaginative flair and originality Ms. Thompson has created an intriguing and different type of vampire tale that puts to rest a lot of the pre-conceived notions I had of a vampires abilities. It also opened up a new train of thought on some uniquely original aspects of both fighting and living as a vampire. Surprisingly, I was totally thrilled with the way the author was able to maintain her voice in the Regency time period and still keep the feelings of drama and danger completely at the forefront. In keeping up the haunting and relentless dangers that dogged Jon and Cassandra's every step Ms. Thompson still managed to evoke a couple of chuckles here and there while Cassandra became miffed that Jon was overlooking "her" new-found gifts and capabilities.

Milosh was created as another intriguing character as the mysterious Gypsy who rescues and comes to Jon and Cassandra's aid. He became their guide and mentor in how to deal with their condition while trying to teach them how to use the powers of the Blood Moon to live and love once again. Jon and Cassandra, are remarkably well drawn characters whom the reader will immediately come to care for as they battle to live a new way of life rather than become victims and slaves to the very evil vampire Sebastian Valentin. After finishing BLOOD MOON I personally can hardly wait for the next volume to this new paranormal series (THE BROTHERHOOD due out for a September 2007 release). I sincerely hope to see Milosh again as well as possibly catching up on Jon and Cassandra's new life. With this highly imaginative story as the start of her new series I predict Ms. Thompson will ride straight to paranormal stardom!

Marilyn Rondean, RIO - Reviewers International Organization

Gifts of Love
Gifts of Love
by Kay Hooper
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.66

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Christmas Anthology, 27 Dec. 2006
HOLIDAY SPIRIT by Kay Hooper - Lady Antonia was entirely beside herself discovering that her grandmother, the Countess of Ware had invited to their Christmas celebration Richard, the Duke of Lyonshall, the man she had jilted two years before. Antonia might have been even more incensed to discover that her manipulative grandmother had not invited any other guests, but was counting on an impending blizzard to trap them together long enough to make Antonia admit to still loving Richard.

*** This was a lovely, passionate and sensual story that captured me right from the beginning. I always love the idea of a manipulative granny who is trying to rectify the mistakes of the young and foolish and to have a trio of ghosts thrown in to liven up and expose their raw sensuality to help matters along certainly helped as well. Kay Hooper wrote this with passion and sensitivity, fully engaging my imagination and emotions. Beautiful characterizations were rendered of characters that will make you care that the truth be revealed. This was a beautiful love story of restored trust and honor of love that will make you feel all warm and tingly inside.

SURRENDER by Lisa Kleypas - When wealthy aristocratic fifteen year old Bostonian Laura Prescott first met her brother Hale's school chum Jason Moran she secretly fell in love. Five years later they wed, but her dreams of happily ever after and her marriage were not at all what she expected. With an Irish immigrant background Jason was determined to leave behind any trace of that heritage in his rise to the pinnacle of Boston society - he never expected to find love and was surprised when it found him.

*** Kleypas has the ability to capture you from the first lines and this short story is no exception. She starts with a very troubled marriage and with compassion and feeling gives the two protagonists the best Christmas gift ever in an entrancing and beautifully sensual new beginning that is bound to captivate the reader.

The reader will be fully enraptured with both stories from two major talented authors who never fail to delight in making their audiences swoon.


Her One and Only
Her One and Only
by Alice Valdal
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Super Debut - 4-1/2*, 26 Dec. 2006
Wanting to escape from the censure of the San Francisco society she'd once been the darling of, Emma Douglas had come to Prospect, B.C. to make a fresh start. Two years later after finding work as a teacher she'd gained a better perspective of her own self worth and was proud of the fact that she was making it on her own. Life was not always easy, and it did have it's distractions in the form of the very handsome, very virile hotel and enigmatic hotel owner Grey North.

Knowing Emma had turned down four different marriage proposals, Grey assumed the prickly stand-offish teacher would relish the chance to play the part of Grey's intended as it appeared she wasn't interested in marriage. While he admired her spunkiness and intelligence, he knew Emma, like him, had her own secrets to keep. For a man who intended to avoid matrimony at all costs, Emma would be the perfect foil to keep the marriage minded misses at bay. But after an unplanned night of passion the hard won camaraderie changed and Grey felt both duped and honor bound in offering for Emma Stunned by Grey's change of attitude Emma was heartbroken to have misjudged his feelings and did what any feisty American girl would do, she refused his `offer' and hightailed it back home to forget Grey and clear her father's name with Grey now hot on her heels.

*** This was a very good read from a new debut author who did a marvelous job in developing vibrant characterizations for protagonists that kept my emotions on a seesaw making them both likeable, and at times not so likeable - BUT always interesting. Emma was a well to do American heiress who because of the shame of her father's suicide after being accused of embezzlement left her comfortable life in San Francisco to start anew. Two years later she had made a new life for herself, new friends and was somewhat content though lonely. Emma also experienced a remarkable growth in gaining a new perspective of the differences of her old life versus the new that was expressed very well by her journey back to San Francisco and the realization of what was really important for the new person she'd become. The story was well written and well developed with just the right amounts of intrigue, sensualness, and witty repartee beautifully mingled together in keeping the interest high. Mrs. Royston, Emma's busybody `heart of gold' landlady, snobbish Mrs. Allen, and Grey's very surprising mother Lady North are only a few of the plethora of engaging secondary characters that were sprinkled throughout as well as noteworthy in adding a great deal of substance to this very entertaining story. This is an author who bears watching and I do recommend this book.

Marilyn Rondeau, for The Mystic Castle

Night of the Huntress (Brotherhood of Blood)
Night of the Huntress (Brotherhood of Blood)
by Kathryn Smith
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Paranormal - Sensual Fast Action, 20 Dec. 2006
In the second installment of Kathryn Smith's foray into the paranormal with her "Brotherhood of the Blood" series, she continues to delight this fan with distinctive prose along with a dazzling sensual action romp.

In Night of the Huntress, Bishop comes face to face with the Halfling vampire Marika whose sole passion is to slay all vampires in her quest to find the one whom she's been told killed her mother. Initially, Marika thought of Bishop as just another monster to be rid of. While Bishop who thought to have buried his heart 300 years before, was moved by the beauty and courage of the little dhampyr, so much so, that when Marika was threatened, it would be he who would save the vampire slayer. Later they would both discover that the bigger monsters would prove to be human with very evil intent.

Kathryn Smith has been an auto buy for me for some time now, to a certain extent because she knows how to really write some very HOT and sensual scenes. That is only part of the reason though, as she exemplifies these scenes with terrific action, fully developed characters whose emotional struggles give credence to their purpose in the story. Marika was torn wanting to have the love of her father and though she was half-vampire herself, deep down thought to gain his love by slaying the monsters that she was told had deprived him of his beloved wife. Discovering the care Bishop had given to the grave of his long dead wife, Marika began to rethink her assessment of the soullessness of the monster she had intended to slay and realized there was more to him than she realized.

Having read several vampire stories before, I am always amazed at the creativity of the spin Smith put out of how these six soldiers were originally turned into vampires. Additionally, setting the story in the period of 1899 with references to Bram Stoker's Dracula certainly made for entertaining reading. While this second book has been my introduction to her paranormal series, I definitely see myself going back to pick up the first volume Be Mine Tonight, and look forward to enjoying the entire series as it is released. Always entertaining Smith has hooked me again with this new series. Very much recommended.

Marilyn Rondeau, RIO - Reviewers International Organization Courtesy of Ck2S Kwips and Kritiques

Insufficient Mating Material
Insufficient Mating Material
by Rowena Cherry
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Sequel, 14 Dec. 2006
Anyone reading the debut novel FORCED MATE by Rowena Cherry was introduced to a brand new world of a highly interesting mating practices of Djinn royalty complete with court intrigues, kidnappings, assassination plots and sexual escapades. Now celebrate because she's back with a second volume that adds to the excitement and oftentimes side-splitting humor.

Princess Martia-Djulia (the D's are always silent) is really ticked off at her high-handed, egotistical and haughty brother Prince Arragon's maneuvering and dictating of her life! The last straw was when he planned her Mating ceremony with a bald-headed, skinny, and in her opinion `insufficient' and the highly inadequate Prince Djetthro-Jason. She did what any spoiled, snotty royal would do - she turned and ran!

What her brother failed to tell her was that the `recovering' Prince Djetthro-Jason's face had been surgically changed after receiving a well-deserved pummeling at his hands. Prince Djetthro- Jason was none other than Commander Jason, the fabulous lover with whom she'd had mind-blowing sex with and couldn't seem to forget! When the mating ceremony failed her all-knowing arrogant brother thought to conveniently strand them together on a desert island to let nature, and their own highly sensual libidos' run their course.

*** This second installment was pure perfection with some terrifically funny dialogs between the pampered princess and one sexually frustrated Prince Jetthro who was honor bound not to reveal his identity. Clearly Martia-Djulia was not cut out for `roughing it' without her creature comforts and Djetthro-Jason was not about to let her off easy as he makes just about every statement and action of survival into a deliciously satisfying double-entendre that were clearly rocking Martia-Djulia's up-tight world. Kudo's to Ms. Cherry in creating this highly entertaining and unique futuristic world of complex and thrilling life of the very sensual Djinn royalty.

Marilyn Rondeau, RIO - Reviewers International Organization

Gossamer Wings
Gossamer Wings
by Anne Whitfield
Edition: Paperback

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Victorian Historical, 3 Dec. 2006
This review is from: Gossamer Wings (Paperback)
After finishing GOSSAMER WINGS by newer author Anne Whitefield I applaud this author for this immensely satisfying and fine example of a riveting Victorian historical. I can promise that once started you will not put it down until the final page is turned.

In Leeds, England 1870, Grace Woodruff, eldest of seven daughters is mired in responsibility. Grace runs the household and serves as a buttress between her sisters and the father who sees all his daughters as nothing but worthless commodities to be wed in order to forge business ties, gain wealth and ingratiate himself with the nobility. But fate is about to deal the entire Woodruff family some devastating blows and losses that will send this dysfunctional family spiraling out of control leaving Grace to stand alone in forging a new way of life in trying to manage both household and her heart.

*** What an amazing story from this newer author that chronicles a strong and resilient young woman's journey as she put aside her own broken heart in order to battle and stem the tide of the downward disintegration of her family from the result of their father's perfidious ways. Grace was a terrifically strong and resilient heroine whose loving heart and loyalty to her siblings was unwavering and constant in a life turned upside down. Coming on the heels of the authors fabulous debut of KITTY MCKENZIE this sticks to a common theme of featuring a well to do family that must learn how to live in reduced circumstances while surmounting real problems that people face even today. Whitehead excels with a deft hand in creating superb depictions of her characters with amazing depth. Frankly, if you've ever been a fan of Catherine Cookson, you are going to love Anne Whitfield. This was a remarkable, deeply moving and powerful read I hated to see end and one in which I highly recommend.


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