Song of Echoes by R. E. Palmer

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of Song of Echoes by R. E. Palmer and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

Song of Echoes is a fantasy novel and there were times it reminded me of Lord of the Rings. However, R. E. Palmer included a lot of history to build the world and explain the current happenings in the world in which Song of Echoes takes place.

The story moves back and forth between the happenings in the lives of his two main characters, Elodi, the Lady Harlyn, and Toryn, a farm worker from a village. Elodi has recently taken on a leadership role in one of the five realms, following her father’s death. Toryn has reached the age where he is to go to serve the Archon in Archonholm. The Archon has been responsible for keeping the five realms safe for years. However, a complication changes the course of Toryn’s life and, instead of going with his friend to join those leaving for Archonholm, Toryn goes off in a different direction with his friend and mentor, Hamar.

Though the story has some battles and action and I found the characters interesting, the pace of the story seemed to drag at several places and it took me much longer to read this book than most books I read, but I was interested enough in the characters and what was happening to press on to the end. I enjoyed Song of Echoes solely because of the main characters, which I feel R. E. Palmer did a good job of creating, developing, and putting them in situations that made me care and want to keep reading to see what would happen to them.

I give Song of Echoes by R. E. Palmer 4 stars.

From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar

As a Book Reviewer I received a free ebook copy of From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review. From Fame to Ruin is not Jina S. Bazzar’s first novel, but it is her first New Adult and College Romance novel.

From Fame to Ruin is a novel about two people who meet and fall in love, but Carol wasn’t counting on falling in love. This was just supposed to be a weekend fling – something to take her mind off the problems she had to face and deal with when the weekend was over.

Four years later, Carol is facing another crisis and believes the only person she can turn to is the man she walked away from after a weekend she never forgot.

This novel is written in two different time frames and two different settings. It is written in the two main characters’ Points of View, but there is one chapter written in another character’s Point of View.

From Fame to Ruin is a book about love, betrayal, misunderstanding, and crime. It has romance, danger, and suspense.

The main characters, Carol and Ricardo, are easy to like and care about. Though I found the pacing of the plot a bit slow sometimes and thought the story could have been shorter, I cared enough about the characters to keep reading. When the crime was committed and the criminal became part of the story line, I was definitely hooked and turning pages as I tried to figure out who the criminal was.

Ms. Bazzar writes deep, interesting characters and a very thorough storyline.

I do want to caution my more sensitive readers. This novel contains some profanity and some sexual scenes between unmarried people, though the sexuality is not explicit or detailed.

If you like a complicated storyline that includes suspense, mystery, and romance, you will like From Fame to Ruin by Jina S. Bazzar. Ms. Bazzar is a talented writer and I give From Fame to Ruin 4 stars.

Author Interview with Brett Salter

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Brett Salter, author of The Talisman Series. I have read and reviewed the first two books in the series so far. You can read my reviews here and here. You can also read my interview with one of the main characters from this book series if you click back to the post just before this one.

Me: How long have you been writing stories?

Brett: Gosh! Since I was probably about 9 or 10. On and off, of course. Never a full-time gig. I used to read a lot of fantasy and science fiction when I was younger, so I took inspiration from those and enjoyed crafting my own stories.

Me: Did you go to college? If so, did you know, then, that you wanted to be a writer, and if so, what

courses did you take to achieve that goal?

Brett: I did attend the University of Georgia (Go Dawgs!) until I ran out of money. I studied English there and wanted to go on to be either an editor or a teacher. So, luckily, I took a lot of literature classes where I studied the classics and English classes where I studied different literary forms and structure. I never really considered writing as a career. It has always been more of an impassioned hobby. Unfortunately, until I get traditionally published, it will have to remain one.

Me: What made you decide to write books for middle grade readers?

Brett: So, I am a huge anime and comic book fan. It goes without saying that I love the action and characters in those mediums, so when I sat down to write something I would enjoy reading, it just fit right in with the YA/MG category. I pull from everything from kung fu epics and action-packed comic books to Shakespeare and Dr. Seuss. I get my ideas from pretty much every source you can think of; and just mix them together in my old noggin. Also, I am TERRIBLE at writing romance. Like, I just can’t do it at all, so there you go…Most middle grade doesn’t have much romance. Bullet dodged!

Me: Is either Rome or Julian anything like you when you were a boy? If so, in what ways?

Brett: Oh man! Rome and Julian, huh? Yeah. Those two are crazy! So, this can all be learned on the wiki I created (link below). In the beginning, I based my characters off me. Just me. I’ve known myself for a long time, and it was a small cast, so it was easy. I made Rome and Julian to represent the two different sides of my personality. Rome represents the levelheaded and introspective portion of me that wants to do the right thing, but rarely jumps at the chance to be a leader. Despite his uneasiness about assuming a leadership role, he always has the best interests of his friends and family in mind. Rome’s internal dialogue and hesitant decision making reflect how I feel about myself specifically during my teenage years. Julian, on the other hand, is brash and braggadocios. Not to mention loud, and most times, his mouth operates without properly consulting his brain first. These characteristics are also like me. Even the idea of him rebelling against his family ideals is indicative of my own brazen and defiant nature during my teenage years. He also uses informal language with everyone other than his father to emphasize the fact that he tries to be “cool” with a “devil-may-care” attitude. Whereas Rome is more the internal example of how I felt as a teen, Julian more closely resembles my physical appearance during those years. Finally, the spatial linking that the two share as Synergist Knight and Master Dragon is a metaphor for how my two personalities differ and interact inside my head. LOL. Seems funny to really say it out loud, but the idea of splitting the sides of my personality into two characters was an idea I wanted to explore since the earliest days of my writing.

Me: How long did it take you to write each book in the series?

Brett: I wrote the first three books within a year. Then, slowly released them about one per year. I worked on books 4-6 for a couple years before taking a small break. Then, in 2019-2021, I hit it hard and wrote the barebones drafts of 7-11. Recently, I’ve been focused on promoting rather than writing, so 7-11 are taking much longer. It’s the editing that takes forever. I need an editor, man!

Me: How many hours a day do you spend writing and is writing your only job? If you have another job, what is it?

Brett: I get about an hour a day to work on writing. After everyone is asleep and it’s just me and the dog watching TV. My current career does not allow for a ton of downtime like my previous job where I wrote the first 3 books and most of 4 and 5. I work a classic 9-5 like most everyone else. It’s nothing spectacular, like saving the world from Darkbrands, but it allows for me to spend ample amount of time with my kids and to pursue my passionate love of writing. For those things I am ever thankful.

Me: Were you a reader as a boy?

Brett: Oh yes! I read all the fantasy and science fiction novels I could get ahold of. Back then, it wasn’t really pigeonholed into genres like today, but I would say most of what I read would be considered YA nowadays. You know, C.S. Lewis, Piers Anthony, Madeline L’Engle, Tolkien, Robin McKinley, Douglas Adams, and ALL the comic books you could imagine.

Me: What inspired you to write about dragons?

Brett: Honestly, a couple things. I am intrigued by the lore of dragons and other mythological creatures. Like, did they exist or not? What if they are out there somewhere? There’s something cool about them too. Especially for kids (and me). Dragons embody what I dreamt about as a kid. I mean how rad would it be to spit fire or fly with huge leathery wings? I dig ‘em, man!

Me: The latest book in “The Talisman Series”, Desperate Tides, Desperate Measures — Book 5 just released in February, 2022. Do you have plans for a new book or new series after The Talisman Series?

Brett: I plan to release the twelve books I have planned in The Talisman Series about one per year or so. If I get picked up traditionally, that would be great, and I could start focusing on other projects. As an indie author, I have to spend my time doing the writing, the editing, the promoting, etc. Traditional publishing would alleviate most of that from my plate. That being said, I currently DO have another series that I have the plot and all the characters for the first book ready to go. I think I want to do like 3 books on that one. I want to make it a little edgier and more mature than my current series. You know, more of an R rating than the PG-13 of the Talisman Series. I think after I release book #6, I will start working that into a complete rough draft.

Me: What advice would you give to young people who think they would like to be authors someday?

Brett: I know it’s cliché, but I would say I am a strong proponent of using your influences. That way what you love will come out in your writing.  If you like stories about ghosts, write stories about ghosts.  If you watch TV shows about unsolved crimes, make your series about unsolved mysteries.  If the coolest thing you can imagine is a boy that can secretly transform into a dragon and go on quests with a knight-in-training…  Read my books!!!  And THEN go write about them. The point is that writing can be daunting. And if you want to make the challenge more enjoyable, then you should dabble into what you like. It makes the climb much more agreeable and all the more rewarding once you get to the top.

Follow Brett Salter on Social Media:



Authorsden: (other works like poetry)

Fandom Wiki Page:

Instagram Interview with BookishWeebOlivia (come check me out):

Character Interview: Rome of Brett Salter’s The Talisman Series

I would like to welcome Rome to my blog today. He is one of the main character’s in Brett Salter’s The Talisman Series, and I recently had the honor of interviewing him to post here for my readers.

Me: What did you notice that made you different from other boys your age?

Rome: I have never really thought I was special by any means. But I DID always have this yearning to break free. Like I knew I had this yearning in my heart to escape my humdrum life. Almost like I was a prisoner in my own skin. It is weird, I know.

Me: Are you an only child?

Rome: Yes. And after seeing how Camela and Julian fight all the time, I am very glad for it.

Me: What’s your favorite thing about being a dragon?

Rome: The best part of being a dragon is everything! It is the freedom. And the strength. And the unbridled emotion! And the love that comes with a full heart.

Me: Why do you consider your dragon self to be your natural self?

Rome: Well, the way Mr. Jones explained it to me is that the concealment spell was actually hiding my true form. But even that did not feel like the real version of me. It was not until Jules and I performed The Great Synergy that I really felt like my natural self was unleashed.

Me: How old are you?

Rome: I am 13 in human years. Also, I am 13 in dragon years. Luckily, dragon years are the same as human years. We just age slower, so we stay alive longer. Not sure how old I am in dog years! Math was never my strong point.

Me: Ha ha! Mine neither, that’s why I am a writer. What’s your favorite thing about Julian?

Rome: Who? Jules? Jules is my best friend, and I cannot imagine my life without him. I understand now why he was shy around people. Knowing the truth about this world must have been quite a pressure on him. And feeling the ever-growing need to find a dragon so he could start saving the world must have been tough. I like him BECAUSE I understand him. And every adventure, every step forward, just makes us stronger as friends.

Me: What’s your least favorite thing about Julian?

Rome: Ha! Where do I start? How much time do you have? Just kidding! The only thing that really bothers me about him is that sometimes he can be a little invasive of my privacy. You know, since we share The Great Synergy, we can see into each other’s minds and stuff. Sometimes, I just want to be left alone, and Julian is like trying to be there for me mentally. It’s a sweet sentiment, but sometimes it is just a little too much. I know he is just trying to help, but I have a lot on my shoulders. I am a dragon trying to adapt into a human world. And sometimes I just need a little space. That is probably the only thing. Oh, and his singing voice is awful.

Me: How did you meet Mr. Jones?

Rome: Jules introduced me to him at the local library one night. It was right after Jules caught me losing control of my eye fire in my yard. Mr. Jones sure did freak me out a little when he started talking about knights and dragons. I thought for sure those two had gone bonkers or something.

Me: Why do you think middle grade readers should read about your adventures with Julian?

Rome: What did you just say? What do you mean by “middle grade readers”? You…You mean… I am not real? I am just a fictional character in a book? Mind blown! Just kidding. I think middle grade readers will love the cinematic action and zany characters Jules and I meet along the way. And with 5 books currently published and the next 6 books already in AT LEAST first draft stages, there is plenty of adventure on the horizon!

Me: Five books finished and six more to come? Wow! I have only finished reading the first two. Looks like I’ve got some more reading to do. It has been a pleasure talking with you today, Rome.

I hope all of you enjoyed reading this interview with Rome of The Talisman Series by Brett Salter. Be sure to stop by tomorrow for my interview with Brett Salter, the author himself! And, if you haven’t read any of The Talisman Series by Brett Salter, be sure to pick one up and read it soon! Each one is a great adventure! They are available on Amazon.

Flash Fiction Friday: Vanilla Ice Cream

Photo by Kyle Hinkson on Unsplash

Vanilla Ice Cream

by Kelly F. Barr

Here he came again—blond hair and blue eyes. He walked with a confident gait, but his smile was always shy. Becky wondered if he had a girlfriend. He came into the creamery once a week. Always alone. Always perused the menu, then ordered vanilla—Every. Single. Time.

Becky watched as he stood back and stared up at the large board of thirty flavor choices. He cupped his chin in the thumb and index finger of his right fist. After a minute or two, he stepped forward. Becky smiled and said, “What can I get you?”

He looked into her eyes, then dropped his gaze and said, “I’d like a waffle cone with two scoops of vanilla. Do you ever have vanilla bean?”

Becky choked back a laugh and cleared her throat. Vanilla bean? Was he serious?

“No, I’m sorry. We’ve never had vanilla bean. Just vanilla. Would you like to try one of our other delicious flavors with one scoop of vanilla? Be a little daring today?”

His eyes locked on hers. She was grinning at him.

“Are you teasing me?”

She chuckled. “I’m sorry. I can’t help it. You’ve been in here every week for a month and you always get vanilla.”

“I like vanilla.”

“How do you know you don’t like any of the other flavors?”

He stared at her in a moment of silence, then said, “Well, what’s your favorite?”

“I have more than one favorite. However, if you want my opinion, for you, I’d suggest a scoop of Wilbur chocolate.”

“Wilbur chocolate.” He cupped his chin and looked up at the menu board again, then returned his gaze to hers. “Why’s that?”

“Well, since you’re a plain vanilla guy, I figure if you’re gonna step out and risk trying a new flavor, you don’t want anything too complicated.” This time she laughed out loud.

“You’re teasing me again.” He smiled his shy smile, but Becky noted a sparkle in his eyes.

“I can’t help myself. I can’t imagine not indulging in something more exciting than vanilla.”

“Are you saying vanilla is boring?”

Becky chewed her lower lip, guilt warming her cheeks, and nodded, hoping she hadn’t offended him.

“You’re very pretty when your cheeks flush and someone leaves you speechless.”

She stared at him. This time, her lower jaw hung a little low.

He smiled, a little less shyly, and said, “Okay. I’ll take one scoop of vanilla and one scoop of Wilbur chocolate … if you’ll … uh … tell me your name and what time you get off on a Friday … and promise to join me in an ice cream cone … uh … next Friday … after your shift.”

Now his face was red. Much redder than Becky was sure her face had been a moment ago. “I’m Becky Johnson and I work most Fridays till seven, and yes, I’d like to join you for an ice cream cone next Friday after my shift.” She scooped his ice cream as she talked. Then as she handed him his cone, asked, “What’s your name?”

“I’m Grant Miller.” He flashed his shy smile, took the cone, and moved to the cash register as Becky waited on the next person in line.

* * * * *

The following Friday Becky couldn’t wait for her shift to end. She kept glancing at the clock, willing the hands to move faster. She still couldn’t believe her flirtatious teasing had led to a date with Grant. She’d been attracted to him the first time she’d waited on him at the ice cream counter.

At five minutes til seven, as Becky was waiting on her last customer of the evening, Grant walked in, caught her eye, and smiled at her. She smiled back and as soon as she finished with her customer, she walked to the back door of the ice cream kitchen area, took off her apron, tossed it on the laundry pile, and punched out at the time clock. Then she stepped into the ladies’ room to use the facility and, as she washed her hands, she checked her hair and makeup in the mirror.

She stepped out of the restroom and moved toward the dining room. Grant met her in the middle of the room just beyond the customer line at the ice cream counter. He motioned with his right hand toward the line. “Shall we?”

She smiled, nodded, and stepped into the customer line with Grant directly behind her.

“So, what flavor do you recommend I try with my scoop of vanilla this evening?” He leaned forward and spoke near her ear.

His warm breath sent a shiver down her spine. She turned and grinned up at him. “How about the chocolate covered strawberry?”

“Hm. I was considering chocolate chip cookie dough. I understand that’s in vanilla ice cream.” He flashed an unusual mischievous smile at her and her heart skipped a beat.

“Not feeling very daring this evening?” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Do you like raw chocolate chip cookie dough?”

“Raw? You mean it’s not pieces of chocolate chip cookies?”

“Of course not, silly. That’s why it’s called chocolate chip cookie dough.”

“Maybe I’ll go with the chocolate covered strawberry after all.”

Becky laughed out loud.

When they had their ice cream cones in their hands, Becky and Grant found a table for two in the small room, off from the main dining room, where it was quieter.

Grant asked, “Do you work every Saturday?”

Becky shook her head. “Every other Saturday.”

“Have you ever been to the drag races?”

Becky’s eyes widened. “You like drag races?”

“Did you think that because I prefer boring vanilla ice cream that I am boring?”

“Well … no. But I wouldn’t have pictured you attending drag races.”

“Does that mean you’ve been to a drag race?”

“No, but I saw them once on T.V.”

“Would you like to go to one with me on your next Saturday off? I have a friend who has a dragster and races.”

“That sounds like fun. I actually have tomorrow off.”

“Great. Where should I pick you up?”

Becky gave Grant her address and he said he’d pick her up at one o’clock the next afternoon. They talked about things they enjoyed doing while finishing their ice cream cones, then Grant walked her to her car and said good night.

* * * * *

The next day was warm and the sun was shining when Grant picked Becky up. They talked about music and books they both enjoyed as Grant drove them to the drag race track. As they pulled into the parking lot, Grant said, “Randy Martin is my friend who races. His car is red. He started racing here last year. He’s only won a couple times so far.” He took Becky’s hand, sending a jolt through her, as they walked to the viewing area.

When they chose a place to stand and watch, Grant pulled something out of his pocket. “You might want these.”

He handed Becky a pair of foam ear plugs. She looked at him with a wrinkled brow, and he said, “These races are quite loud.”

Becky inserted the plugs in her ears just before the first two cars took off down the race track. Even with the ear protection, Becky jumped at the noise as the cars took off.

Grant’s friend, Randy, actually took third place that day.

On the way home, Grant asked, “Do you need to get right home?”

“No. Why do you ask?”

“I’d like to take you to dinner.”

“That sounds wonderful.”

Twenty minutes later, Grant pulled into the parking lot of an upscale Italian restaurant.

As they stepped out of his car, Becky asked, “Aren’t we under dressed for this restaurant.”

“No. It’s not a pizza joint, but it’s not a super classy Italian restaurant either. It’s in between.” Grant took her hand as they walked through the parking lot and Becky smiled. She liked holding his hand.

Grant ordered lasagna and Becky ordered chicken fettuccine Alfredo. Dinner was delicious and Becky couldn’t have been happier with the company. While they waited for their cannoli to arrive, Grant reached across the table and took Becky’s hand in his, rubbing his thumb over the back of hers.

“I really enjoy spending time with you. Would you be willing to be my girl?”

Becky smiled at him. “I really enjoy spending time with you too. I don’t mean to sound like I’m making fun of you, but your girl … what exactly do you mean by that? It sounds old fashioned.”

“Yeah, I guess I am kind of old fashioned.” He tugged at his shirt collar. “What I mean is … uh … going out with only me—no one else.”

“Oh, you want us to be exclusive.” Becky smiled at him. “In that case, I would love to be your girl.”

Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter

Riders of Fire and Ice is the second book in Brett Salter’s “The Talisman Series” and as a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book. This is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review of this book.

Rome and Julian return in the second book in “The Talisman Series” with a new adventure. They travel to England to visit Julian’s sister in a very upscale boarding school. Julian’s sister is quite precocious and the boys hope their adventure will keep them too busy to spend too much time with her. While there, they do some research for Mr. Jones and are excited about a couple things they discover. In Riders of Fire and Ice, Rome and Julian also get a couple surprises, as well as face a stronger, darker enemy than they faced in Book One: The Search for Synergy.

Riders of Fire and Ice begins with the same characters, Rome and Julian, preparing for a new adventure. Their banter creates fun in the story and their eagerness for their adventure adds to the excitement of traveling to a new place.

Fun, adventure, surprises, and a dangerous battle fill the pages of Riders of Fire and Ice. In this novel, the talismans are introduced and explained, giving more credence to the boys’ adventures. Again, the end of this adventure is satisfyingly resolved, while promising another book with yet another adventure and more danger and battles for Rome, Julian, Mr. Jones, and a few other characters.

Brett Salter’s talented stories take readers on adventures filled with magic, knights, dragons, and dangerous enemies. Though there are dark creatures and dangerous battles, the darkness nor the battles are ever too intense or graphic for middle grade readers, and older readers will enjoy them as well. These fun, easy reads keep readers turning the pages and eagerly anticipating the next book in the series.

I give Riders of Fire and Ice by Brett Salter 5 stars.

Lies in Bone by Natalie Symons

Though Natalie Symons is a successful playwright, Lies in Bone is her first novel and as a Book Reviewer I received a free ebook copy. This is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

Lies in Bone is told through the eyes of a teenage girl who lives in a dysfunctional family. She also has a younger sister. The story is set in a small town in Pennsylvania in the mid to late 1980s. The characters are well developed and Ms. Symons seems to have knowledge of what it’s like to be a teenager in difficult circumstances, as Frank is very well written, very realistic, and believable.

Though well written, I found the story’s pacing slow. It held my attention enough to keep me reading because Ms. Symons did a good job of gaining my sympathy for the main characters. I continued reading because I hoped to see their lives change for the better.

However, I was disappointed that not a single character in Slippery Elm seemed to have any happiness in their life. They were all struggling or causing problems for other characters. I disliked all of the profanity in the story, especially when it came from the mouths of children. There were also characters in the novel that I felt were represented in the extreme or in a stereotypical or negative way, with no characters from those particular people groups being represented in a more favorable light.

Though the ending of the story had clear resolution, if you like happy endings, I’m afraid you won’t really find it here. Probably the most disappointing thing was that the biggest conflict that happened in the story didn’t bring about the redemption I had hoped to see.

So, all in all, though the story was very well written and had well-developed characters, I found the story disturbing and depressing. Therefore, I give Lies in Bone by Natalie Symons three stars.

Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums by Tomi Tabb

58824315. sy475

Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums is a novella by Tomi Tabb. It ties in with her “Unexpected Royals” series. As a Book Reviewer I received a free ebook copy of this novella and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.

Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums gives us a little more of Jenna’s story. Jenna is mentioned in Ms. Tabb’s first book in her “Unexpected Royals” series – Dancing with a Royal. It is near Christmas and Jenna hopes to be chosen as one of the five dancers who will be chosen, from her school, to dance in The Nutcracker ballet.

Tomi Tabb does an excellent job of explaining the life of a ballerina or a dedicated ballet student. She is obviously very knowledgeable on the subject. Ms. Tabb also includes some of the male dancers who are the partners of these ballerinas, and Jeremy is Jenna’s counterpart and has been for quite a few years.

Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums is a wonderful story that gives the reader an inside look into the ballet. It is also the story of a dancer coming of age and a blossoming romance.

I enjoyed Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums and hope that Ms. Tabb will write more about Jenna and Jeremy in an upcoming story as I feel as though, in this novella, there story has just begun.

I give Pointe Shoes and Sugar Plums by Tomi Tabb 5 stars.

Designing for a Royal by Tomi Tabb

58561826. sy475

As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book. Designing for a Royal is the third book in the “Unexpected Royals” series by Tomi Tabb. It is the story of Clarissa Lee, an up and coming fashion designer in London and Patrick Nelson, the Lord of Renbrook. Both Clarissa and Patrick have been greatly hurt by people they have loved, and both struggle to trust again, but when they meet, there’s definitely an attraction.

Tomi Tabb has done it again. Just as in the first two books in her Unexpected Royals series, she has created characters the reader will love and be happy to invest their time in their story. In addition to Clarissa and Patrick, there are other characters that add to the story—some you will like and some you may dislike. Tomi Tabb’s characters always endear themselves to readers.

In Designing for a Royal, Ms. Tabb has included an unexpected twist that adds suspense and a bit of mystery to the story. However, I did feel this particular subplot in the story could have been wrapped up better. I had my suspicions and kept waiting to find out if my suspicions were correct. It wouldn’t have mattered to me if I were correct or not, I was just looking for full closure on this subplot. Ms. Tabb did wrap it up, but it didn’t have that “finished” feeling.

Even with that one piece seemingly missing full closure, I must admit, I again greatly enjoyed the story of Designing a Royal and, once again, Ms. Tabb’s mains characters will live on in my memory. I highly recommend Designing a Royal to anyone who enjoys a good, clean romance story with some humor mixed in. I also highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys stories about modern day royalty, although all of Ms. Tabb’s characters are fictitious. As a matter of fact, I recommend all three books in the “Unexpected Royals” series. Each can be read as a stand alone. However, there are character ties that connect each book.

The Captive by Julie Coulter Bellon

The Captive (Griffin Force #1) (Team One) by [Julie Coulter Bellon]

The Captive by Julie Coulter Bellon is the first book in her Griffin Force series. It is the first book I have read by Ms. Bellon, but it won’t be the last. The Captive is the story of a hostage situation – the hostages are an American diplomat and the daughter of a notorious Algerian hostage negotiator. Former Navy SEAL Jake Williams heads a task force to rescue the hostages. Joining the task force is another daughter of the Algerian hostage negotiator, Mya Amari, who will do anything to bring her sister home.

Amid rescue plans that don’t go as planned and flying bullets, romance starts to bloom between Jake and Mya, but they must focus on the mission.

Julie Coulter Bellon is knowledgeable of military missions, top government agencies, and hostage negotiations. She is talented in creating characters her readers will care about and want to walk through the dangers with them to see if they’ll come out safely. Ms. Bellon has crafted a well-told story filled with tension and suspense and has woven a blossoming romance in the midst of a crisis.

This story does contain some violence but it is minimal and is not graphic. The romance is clean and also minimal, and there is no profane language.

As a reader who enjoys a tense suspense novel from time to time, I must say I turned the last page of The Captive, wanting to immediately pick up the next book in the Griffin Force series to keep reading.

I highly recommend The Captive by Julie Coulter Bellon to anyone who enjoys a story based on a situation that could happen in today’s world and is filled with tension, suspense, danger, and excitement, with a bit of romance.

I give The Captive by Julie Coulter Bellon 5 stars.