Soulmates Lost in Time by Ellen Knightly is a historical romance story set in the old west. Josephine’s family is struggling to make ends meet and bring in money for a doctor for her sick mother. Josephine and her father are exhausted. Then Josephine’s mother mentions something that she lost many years ago. This sparks an idea in Josephine, so she leaves home and ends up in a town she lived in as a young girl. She secures a job as a maid for a wealthy ranch family without realizing how much trouble this will bring.
Johnnie is being pressured by his parents to marry, not a woman of his choosing, but the one they think is best. His father is also pressuring him to focus on running the ranch, insisting that what Johnnie dreams of doing is a useless endeavor. Then his parents hire a new maid and he is immediately intrigued by her.
Ellen Knightly does a great job of writing a story with lots of surprises and twists that keep the reader turning pages. She is also talented at creating characters who face struggles that cause them great internal conflict. She even included a bit of a mystery in this story.
Soulmates Lost in Time does have lots of tension and suspense as well as a couple scary scenes, but the scary scenes are not too scary and there is no violence.
There is no clear religion mentioned or represented in Soulmates Lost in Time, but there is a pastor in the story and there is a clear representation that marriage is a lifetime commitment and there is no such thing as acceptable divorce.
The only issue I had with this novel is that the ending, though fairly satisfying, is left a bit open and Ms. Knightly mentions that there is an Extended Epilogue to the story, but she doesn’t include it at the end of the story or on the ebook at all. Instead, she includes the first chapter of one of her other novels, but here is the link where you can get the Extended Epilogue to Soulmates Lost in Time: http://ellenknightley.com/soulmates-lost-time-extended-epilogue/
The epilogue gives a glimpse into a few years after the end of Soulmates Lost in Time and wraps things up very nicely, so it is well worth going to the link to read it.
Also, I feel the need to issue a warning here. I have reason to believe this book may have been written by a bot writer and not an actual person.
Historical romance readers who enjoy stories set in the Old West will enjoy this story just as I did.
I give Soulmates Lost in Time by Ellen Knightley 4 stars.
As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of You Make Me Sick … Literally by Shamika Lindsay, and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.
You Make Me Sick … Literally is listed as a Contemporary Romance; Medical Fiction; Small Town and Rural Fiction; and Science Fiction Romance, which may explain why the story is so strange. As someone who has been studying the writing craft, especially the romance genre, for the past 10 years, I found this story quite annoying because, though the male and female lead characters meet in the first chapter, in chapters 2-9 it’s all about the female, Nyla. Not only is it all about Nyla, but it’s all about Nyla being sick. By chapter 7, I was considering dropping the book, but I looked it up on Amazon to see if it had any ratings or reviews.
As a reviewer, I have never before read reviews of books I have been asked to read and review before finishing my reading and reviewing of the book. But I wanted to know if anyone kept reading past chapter 6. I was quite surprised to see there were 17 ratings with an average of 4.5 stars, but only 7 actual reviews. However, the reviews were in favor of the book. Seven people, and probably at least some of the 17 who rated it, had actually read the entire book and had some good things to say about it, so that made me curious enough to keep reading.
Finally, in chapter 10, the male lead, Noah, finally makes a grand entrance. However, his appearance is short and, quite honestly, the scene is frustrating. But, I continued reading, and things started to get a little more interesting and a little less about the characters being sick.
So, what kept me reading? I liked Noah. I wanted to see if Noah and Nyla would ever figure out their illness and if they could be cured, and I wanted to see how the story would end. Ms. Lindsay had included enough interesting supporting characters to keep me reading, and I still really liked Noah.
I still think the story could’ve been better and fit the Romance genre better. I think Noah should have been in the story much sooner between chapters 2 and 9, and I think it would’ve been better if it would’ve been told from both Nyla and Noah’s points of view, instead of solely through Nyla’s, especially since they were both experiencing the same illness.
I also didn’t see any actual science fiction element in the story at all, and the book could really have used a good edit. And, though I really didn’t care for Nyla all that much because I found her whiny, stubborn, and self-pitying, eventually I liked the relationship that developed between Noah and Nyla. I will also say that the ending of the story almost made it worth the frustration of reading through the drawn out beginning. In all honesty, I did like the ending.
So, if you are a reader who really enjoys reading strange stories or are looking for something totally unusual, you will like this book, as long as you don’t give up before chapter 10 or 11.
I give You Make Me Sick … Literally by Shamika Lindsay 3 stars.
When Hearts Collide is the debut novel and first book of the Second Chance series by Sara Beth Williams. Jay is beginning a new life and things seem to be going great when he gets the leading male role in the college play by default and sparks happen between him and the girl who gets the female lead.
Although Lacey changed her college major from theater to a business major, she still decided to try out for the college play. She lands the leading female role and feels a definite attraction to new guy in town, Jay, who plays the male lead.
But both Jay and Lacey have sorrow in their past that they don’t openly share and eventually their secret keeping becomes a big problem not just in their lives, but in the lives of people they care about.
Sara Beth Williams seems to have a great understanding of human struggles and the human need for forgiveness and second chances. She also shows that those things are very difficult to come by without knowing God. In When Hearts Collide, Ms. Williams shows how forgiveness can give someone hope, strength, and the ability to move forward even in the face of a very tragic and difficult situation. She also shows how hard it is to move forward when a person cannot forgive and cannot let go of the past.
She appropriately shows the emotions involved in such circumstances and how choices made because of those emotions can either make things worse or bring healing.
When Hearts Collide is definitely told from a Christian perspective. The novel includes quite a bit of prayer, talk about God, and church attendance and activities.
This book is written for young adults through adults, as it deals with some more mature issues that face people in these age groups in real life. These issues are all dealt with in a very sensitive way and are not intense nor explicit in any way.
I give When Hearts Collide by Sara Beth Williams 5 stars.
Lonewild Winter is the third book in the Wentworth Cove Series by Rebecca Stevens. Though it is part of a series, it can be read as a stand alone. I have not read any of the other books in the series but had no problem following the story line.
Reagan Loper and her daughter Meredith relocate from New York City to the little village town of Wentworth Cove, Maine. Reagan was able to rent a house owned by a senior lady, who has moved to an assisted living facility.
Reagan, a watercolor artist has been raising Meredith for seven years on her own and has devoted her life to giving Meredith a good upbringing and keeping her safe. Her decision to move to Wentworth Cove comes with the decision to also change their last name when Reagan finds out that her ex-husband will soon be released from prison.
Reagan and Meredith love their new home and new community, and for the first time in seven years, Reagan begins to wonder if she might fall in love again when she meets Brett, the son of the woman whose house Reagan is renting. Since his mother is now in an assisted living facility, he takes care of his mother’s estate, which includes the home Reagan is renting. Therefore, whenever Reagan needs something in regard to the house, she deals with Brett.
Brett has trust issues of his own, and he isn’t looking for love. He’s perfectly happy in his busy career as a political journalist.
Lonewild Winter is an enjoyable read. It is well written and it is easy for the reader to get caught up in the lives of the characters. The story has some light conflict, light suspense, and some excitement.
There is no clear religion referred to in this book.
I give Lonewild Winter by Rebecca Stevenson 5 stars.
As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of Diary of an Angry Young Man by Rishi Vohra. This is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor any review.
In the “Author’s Note” at the beginning of Diary of an Angry Young Man, Mr. Vohra includes this information: Rishi Vohra grew up in Bombay, now known as Mumbai, in India. He grew up in a building complex that overlooked a slum colony. His novel, Diary of an Angry Young Man includes parts that are based on true events, and the rest is fiction. The names and professions of the characters in the book have been changed to protect the real people referenced for this story. Diary of an Angry Young Man attempts to showcase the spirit of India’s youth and the humanity of society that we may or may not be oblivious to. It is a mirror of the times we live in, of the city that has brought me up.
Diary of an Angry Young Man grabs the reader’s attention from the first page and holds it until the very last page. It is the story of Raghav, a young man who lives in Colaba in Bombay, and it begins in 1992 and continues through June 2013. Raghav lives with his parents and sister, and life is fairly normal for life in India during that time, except that Raghav’s compassion for others is shown when he helps a young boy get home safely one night. Then one day when Raghav’s mother is taken to the hospital in a neighbor’s car, and everyone goes along, except Raghav. Raghav is told there is no room for him and he is left home alone. What happens to Raghav while he’s home alone changes his life forever, and it is what causes him to become “an angry young man”.
As the story continues, Raghav witnesses many of the evils of humanity and he gets into trouble because he fails to control his anger. Though his anger is often justified, it is wrong of him to act on it in the some of the ways that he does. However, Raghav’s anger motivates him to try to make a difference in his society, to try to take a stand against at least one evil man in his neighborhood.
Diary of an Angry Young Man is a difficult book to read if you are a sensitive person, but it clearly shows the evils of humanity and the struggles of many of the unfortunate people in society. There is violence, rape, and child molestation throughout the story. As I neared the end of this novel, I began to dread the ending, fearing it would be an ending without hope—an unhappy ending. I know not all stories have or need to have happy endings, but I cared about Raghav, and after seeing him suffer many terrible things, I wanted to see at least one good thing happen for him. I continued reading, despite my dread and was glad that I did.
Very close to the end of the book, Rishi Vohra includes a couple unexpected twists that made the entire book worth reading. In addition, Mr. Vohra does an excellent job wrapping up the story and showing the changes in Raghav’s life and the lessons he learned. Mr. Vohra also does something else, which I will not share so as not to give any spoilers, that makes the story very poignant, and though parts of Diary of an Angry Young Man were difficult to read, it is a book that affected me deeply, educated me on life in a country I am unfamiliar with, and will remain in my mind for years to come.
The Enterprising Bride by Claire Sanders is the fourth and final book of Ms. Sanders’ “The Masons of Brightfield” series. It is a clean, sweet romance story and as a Book Reviewer, this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive nor any review.
Each of the books in “The Masons of Brightfield” series has a different main character from the Mason family. However, all of the family members are included in each story to some degree. The Enterprising Bride focuses mainly on the oldest of the Mason siblings, John, and the woman he is in love with, Rosalind. But, John is dragging his feet in regard to getting married. Will Rosalind get tired of waiting and accept the affections of a childhood friend who returns and expresses interest in spending time with her?
Claire Sanders is a talented writer. She engages her readers from the beginning of the story and holds their attention until the end through her well developed, captivating characters who feel like friends. The relationship between the Mason siblings is realistic and includes a bit of sibling teasing and conflict, as well as a bond that holds them together and gives them a love for one another that enables them to encourage and help one another. Her words paint pictures in the reader’s mind and the interactions of the characters bring smiles and occasional chuckles to the reader’s lips.
Ms. Sanders also does a good job of showing both John and Rosalind’s points of view. She clearly shows their character, their thoughts and feelings, and their concerns, frustrations, hopes, and dreams throughout The Enterprising Bride.
She resolves the conflict to the great satisfaction of the reader by the end of the story.
I have read all of the books in Claire Sanders’ “The Masons of Brightfield” series and enjoyed every one of them. Each one presented unique problems for the characters to overcome, whether external or internal, or some of both. Each story presented a very realistic family with realistic relationships and problems that the reader could easily relate to. I will miss the delightful characters of the Mason family, but I greatly look forward to what Ms. Sanders publishes next.
I give The Enterprising Bride by Claire Sanders 5 stars.
As a Book Reviewer, I received a free ebook copy of this book and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review or any review of this book.
Druid’s Moon by Deniz Bevan is a Beauty and the Beast retelling. It is unique and includes a monster and a whole network of people involved in the curse of the Beast. Lyne is working on an archaeological dig when she stumbles upon a find in regard to the Beast, and strange things begin to happen.
I really liked the Beast in this story, as well as the interaction between Lyne and the Beast.
Druid’s Moon by Deniz Bevan is a paranormal fantasy/romance story that is a unique retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale. The unique story line and additional monster make for a very interesting tale. I especially enjoyed Ms. Bevan’s way of creating the curse of the Beast, and one scene was reminiscent of a scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. This book includes danger, suspense, and excitement.
I do prefer my romantic fiction clean and Druid’s Moon includes a scene involving sexual activity between characters outside of wedlock. I was disappointed that this scene was included in this book, but was thankful that it did not include detailed descriptions of male or female anatomy or the sexual act.
However, I do encourage Beauty and the Beast fans to read this unique retelling by Deniz Bevan.
If you’ve been wondering why I haven’t posted many Book Reviews here on my blog for a while, it’s because I’ve been writing 11 of them for the Autumn Edition of Clean Fiction Magazine. So, if you read Clean Romance and like my reviews, I wrote 7 of them for this Edition and I wrote 4 reviews of books in the Mystery genre.
The Autumn Edition of Clean Fiction Magazine is AVAILABLE NOW in paperback on Amazon for $15.99. On September 20th, the price for the paperback will be $16.99, so save a dollar while you can. Also, the ebook version is available for preorder for $2.99 and will be available on September 20th. This issue is chock full of some great book reviews, winners of contests, including the winning Fantasy Allegory story of the Windows Into the Multiverse Contest and the Science Fiction winning story of the Windows Into the Multiverse Contest. The new Windows Into the Multiverse Contest is featured on a page. There are some poems featured, and the 2nd and 3rd place winning Clean Fiction Magazine covers are also pictured, and so much more!
You can also join the Patreon and get additional things like 2 “Sneak Peek” pages per months, Book Swag, access to the Patreon section of the Clean Fiction Community Discord, and more. Choose the level you want to join based on the extras you want to receive. Join the Patreon Section at this link: https://www.patreon.com/cleanfiction
First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts is an anthology of love stories put together by The Insecure Writer’s Support Group and published by Dancing Lemur Press, LLC. As a Book Reviewer, I received a free copy of First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts, and this is my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor any review.
There are ten love stories by ten different writers in this anthology. The writers from this anthology range from this being their first published story to those who have one book published to some who have multiple books published. The contributing authors are: Linda Budzinski, Melissa Maygrove, Katie Klein, Templeton Moss, Sammi Spizziri, Sylvia Ney, Michael Di Gesu, Kim Elliott, Denise Covey, and S. E. White.
The stories range from a variety of genres. They also range from characters in their twenties to their fifties to post-retirement. Each of these stories is unique and each is extremely well written. Each drew me into the story from the start and held my attention throughout. Each story and several characters made a strong impression upon me, from the man with the inability to clearly recall his first love to the young orphan who married a man an entire town hated.
I highly recommend First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts to anyone who truly enjoys and craves good romance stories with a unique plot, endearing characters, or both. I don’t reread novels, no matter how much I love them, because I don’t have time, as I’m always reading new books because there are so many great new books to explore and, of course, in my case, to review. However, because these are short stories—I can read one in half an hour—I look forward to reading the stories in First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts again and again. And don’t ask me which of the ten stories I liked best, because I honestly couldn’t pick just one favorite from the bunch. I truly enjoyed them all because of their high writing quality and unique story lines.
Welcome back, if you read yesterday’s post. If not, you might want to, as this is the second part of yesterday’s post — my interview with the second half of the ten authors who wrote short stories for the anthology First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts.
Today we start with Author Sylvia Ney:
Q: Your website lists “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” as a YA/NA book. What is the difference between YA and NA?
A: YA means young adult, and NA means new adult. YA is usually aimed at ages 12-18, and NA at ages 18-25. However, there is a lot of cross readerships between the two, and older adults are known to enjoy some of each as well… such as with the Harry Potter and Twilight series.
Q: You write stories of many different genres. Does that make it more difficult to gain a readership following?
A: Yes, and no. Some people are only interested in a specific genre and will only follow authors who write in that single genre. However, there is an increasingly eclectic audience that enjoys a variety. I’ve noticed those fans are more concerned with voice than genre. Once they find an author they like, they will watch for any release by them.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?
A: My website at: https://www.sylviacney.com/about-sylvia and social media is a great place to learn more. All of my fiction pieces are available through Amazon, and a lot of my nonfiction can be found for free online via my website.
Michael Di Gesu:
Q: It’s unusual for men to write romance stories, although Nicholas Sparks definitely proved that men are quite capable of doing so, as does your story, “Oliver’s Girl,” which is a very touching, sweet romance story. How was “Oliver’s Girl” chosen to be included in the “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology?
A: I believe “Oliver’s Girl” was chosen because it had the requirements necessary for this particular anthology. The judges were looking for a “sweet” romance about first love, and I believe my story hit on both these requirements. The story is also unusual because it spans six decades and has an unlikely character, Olivia, who brings an unexpected reunion between her great-grandfather, Oliver, and his first love, Francesca.
Q: On your blog you mention that this short story that is part of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology is your first “baby” going out into the world. Do you have plans for future stories or novels?
A: Actually, I have written three novels and several short stories in the past decade which I hope will be published. “Oliver’s Girl” was written specifically for this anthology. Most of my writing has been Middle Grade Fantasy, Contemporary Young Adult, and a Narrative Non-Fiction. I am currently working on a Chicago Noir novella. I have varied writing styles, and I am pushing myself to write in other genres. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone, my story was accepted and published. I also plan to write more romance since readers seem to enjoy it.
Q: I mentioned your blog. Will you provide the link here for readers? And, is this the only place readers can go to learn more about you and watch for more of your writing or can you share other links as well?
Q: You have a novel, first of a planned series, about a superhero, so what inspired you to write about a rock and roll band for this anthology?
A: My kids have a huge impact on my writing because I’m inundated by whatever they happen to be taken with. I’ve always loved superheroes, but the main inspiration for my novel was my daughter’s obsession with Marvel cartoons. I wrote about rock music because my kids fell in love with ’80s hair bands. They listened to songs like Eye of the Tiger and Don’t Stop Believin’ on repeat. I found myself getting into the music along with them. Another factor that informed my story was winning a radio contest. Years ago I called in and received advance screening tickets to Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Though time has passed, I still feel attached to that station. Those are the DJs I listen to most often, even though I prefer the music on another station. In “Clyde and Coalesce,” I wanted to explore what it’s like to have a deep connection with a local radio station.
Q: What did you like best about writing for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts”?
A: I enjoyed the experience of working with a publisher. My other works are self-published, so it has been a great learning opportunity!
Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?
A: My website is the place! https://kimelliottauthor.weebly.com/ Readers can find information about who I am, the genres I favor, and upcoming projects. If visitors want to explore further, there are links to Amazon, Goodreads, Wattpad, and more.
Q: With everyone growing tired of the seemingly unending pandemic, what made you decide to write it into your story for this anthology?
A: I am aware there is a negative view regarding writing the pandemic into our stories and therefore I usually avoid mentioning Covid-19. However, my story idea was inspired by many things, including Covid-19, so I used it for a springboard into my story and offered hope that one day the pandemic will end. C’est la vie.
We all have differing opinions about how we write, and I like truth in my writing. If we’re writing a story set in this time, it makes sense to me to give the pandemic a mention seeing it’s all around us. I’ve read countless novels set in the wars, including some documenting the great disaster of the Spanish flu. I don’t understand why mentioning Covid-19 is frowned upon by some. I allude to it in other pieces of my writing, but in “Marmalade Sunset” it is an underpinning element to the action.
Q: You write quite a bit of paranormal romance and a bit of contemporary romance. Your story for “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” is a romance set in Greece and includes a lot of history. What inspired you to write about Greece and some of its history?
A: I had taken a cruise to the Greek Islands just before the pandemic hit. Most of the action in my story is in places/situations where I have first-hand experience. Through my character, Cora, I tried to recreate the exhilaration I felt zipping along the gorgeous paved streets of Santorini and popping into musty little shops full of treasures. On a tour of Oia at the top of the island, I learned of the tragic wartime history of the inhabitants who hid in caves and lived on onions and grass and how hard it has been to come back after losing so many of its citizens.
I love learning something new when I read a story, so I hope someone learned something new reading Marmalade Sunset.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?
A: I’m an emerging Australian writer of both paranormal romance and contemporary romance who has self-published 5 novels or novellas on Amazon, available to buy or read for free on Kindle Unlimited.
-My paranormal romance series set in Renaissance Italy and Paris has 2 of 4 books published. -I have used my experience of living in Paris for 6 months and visiting often, to write a women’s fiction with romantic elements series called “It Happened in Paris”. Paris Dreams, first in the series, is published and features fashion and art. I’m currently working on the second in the series, a cookery school novel set in Paris. My characters come from around the globe to learn to cook traditional French dishes. If the planets align, it will be published in October on the anniversary of Paris Dreams. -I’ve also published 3 booklets of short stories, 1 in the contemporary romance genre and 2 in the paranormal genre with Halloween in mind.
Q: Your story in the “First Love” The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology, “The Castle of Ohno” is very much like a familiar fairy tale. Is it supposed to be a “retelling”, or is it your very own fairy tale?
A: “The Castle of Ohno” is not so much a retelling as it is a love letter to classic fantasy tropes and fairytale flavor. I love the almost forgotten about, less-well-known stories like East of the Sun, West of the Moon; The Robber Groom; or Allerleirauh. They could be quite successful horror stories if they were marketed a little differently. And all of them take real situations, real feelings that humans experience, and add a touch of magic. Which, to me, is what falling in love for the first time feels like. The title was a direct riff on the classic Gothic story, “The Castle of Otrano”, though. My story has less deadly helmets and sudden skeletons telling prophecies, and more happy endings. If that helps.
Q: “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology was created by The Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Are you a member and can you tell us a little bit about this group?
A: I am a member of the group, and have been for around five years now. I will happily tell you about it! The group meets online (the socially anxious rejoice!) once a month, on the first Wednesday of each month. It’s built around the idea of making connections to share Our stories, air out our insecurities, and get some support from the digital friends we make from all over the world. It’s a great group to be a part of, and the support is real. I very much recommend checking it out if you are an author or writer of any type.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you and read more of your writing?
A: Readers who are so interested can check out my website: https://sewhitebooks.com/ They could also try Instagram if they like social media (@sewhiteauthor), although I will warn them in advance that my Instagram contains many listicles rating alien romance by some highly improbable features.
There you have it. If you have read both yesterday’s post and this post, you have received a little taste of the stories and a glimpse of the authors you will find in tomorrow’s great new release: “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” anthology. The authors whose stories are included in the anthology are all part of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
If my interview with the 10 authors of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts” hasn’t convinced you that you should buy a copy tomorrow and read it for yourself, then come back here tomorrow and read my review of “First Love: The Art of Making Doughnuts”.