Review: Scarlet Darkwood’s “Words We Never Speak”

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Kit has it all going for her–a job she loves, her cousin’s childhood home that now houses the Historical Society, and an adoring new boyfriend. Then things start to unravel. First, it seems she is being haunted by the ghost of her high school boyfriend. Then her cousin caves in to pressure from a local developer to sell the Stothwell Mansion so he can demolish it and build new condos. Finally, a mysterious new man enters her life and disrupts the cozy relationship she has with Dwight. As she and her coworkers fight to save the historic mansion, she begins receiving threatening messages and packages. She has to figure out who is threatening her before it’s too late.

This is a fairly fast-paced story that kept me turning pages even after declaring that I needed to stop reading for the night. For the most part, I enjoyed the suspense and the mystery that weaved their way through the plot. The paranormal elements were well-written and not overdone, so they were quite believable.

My only real irritation was Kit herself. I wanted to smack her around over her involvement in the love triangle she had with Dwight and Steven. At some points she was quite physical with both of them, which really made me question her character a bit. Without revealing the ending, I was pleased that she finally ended up with the one she did. I have to admit, I kind of suspected what would happen with the other man, but that resolution was well done as well.

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Review: The Ghost of Marlow House

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Danielle Boatman inherits a house by the sea that she intends to turn into a B & B. However, when she and her friend Lily arrive to ready the house for opening, she discovers that Walt Marlow–who has been dead for ninety years–is still in residence, and doesn’t realize he is no longer among the living. Before Walt can move on, Danielle has to help him prove that he did not commit suicide, but was in fact murdered. As she investigates the mystery surrounding his death, she discovers that the house holds other mysteries as well, and she is not the only one interested in solving them.

I started this book while in the hospital waiting room when my husband was having surgery. The plot and characters pulled me in right away, and I had a hard time putting the book down. I love ghost stories, especially ones which involve a mystery that must be solved before the spirit can move on. I loved the way the author wove the plot, including details of Oregon history along the way. I thought I had the whodunit part figured out early on, but I was proven wrong. There were enough plot twists to keep the story interesting, but not so many that I became confused.

Review–Angels in Seashore Cove

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“Angels in Seashore Cove” by Maggie Van Well follows best friends Sean Donovan and Dianna Sheldon in Seashore Cove, Long Island. In college, Dianna and some friends started the Saving It Sisters, promising to remain virgins until they found The One. With her thirtieth birthday fast approaching and no prospects in sight, Dianna decides she’s going to break that pledge. Sean, though a wild child and a bit of a womanizer, stands in her way, unwilling to let her make a mistake that she will regret for the rest of her life. What neither realizes is that they are soulmates, meant for each other.

Thank God for Divine Intervention! Sean and Dianna share a guardian angel, Adriel, who cannot stand to see his charges miss out on their happily ever after. Adriel and Archangel Jude enlist a couple of rookies from Heaven who will help guide the hapless soulmates as they discover their love for each other. Maybe, just maybe, as they help Sean and Dianna, they might put to rights their own life mistakes.

*     *     *    *

Overall, this was a wonderful story. The characters of Sean and Dianna were so well developed that I got attached to them. I hurt when they hurt, rejoiced when they rejoiced, and got angry when they got angry. At the same time, there were instances where I wanted to knock the daylights out of both of them. Their stubbornness, while somewhat understandable, drove me crazy, and it helped move the plot forward.

Jack and Angie, the pair of rookie souls brought back from heaven to help Sean and Dianna find themselves, were equally engaging. The story actually began where their earthly story ended. Without giving too much away, I was so heartbroken by the end of their story that I almost didn’t continue reading, as I could see no way for things to ever be well with them again.

Another thing I found enjoyable in this story was the way it wove in spiritual things without getting preachy. It was realistic, and all the characters had their good points and bad points, their strengths and their foibles. It’s important to note that some liberties were taken with theology in describing what went on in heaven, but for me, that didn’t detract from the story at all.

So if you want a light-hearted romance with real characters and lots of emotional appeal, this is an excellent choice.

I give this novel five out of five stars.

Review of Forest of Blood

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I just finished reading Forest of Blood, the first book in the Forsaken Forest series by author Sheri Williams. To sum it up in my own warped sense, the story read like Dark Shadows meets Destination Truth.

This story was a page-turner from the very beginning! What started off as a very Bronte-esque narrative of a young woman (Emmaline) being hired as a companion for young lady Anne Whitmore quickly turns Gothic as Emmaline joins her employer (Lord Benjamin) and two gentleman friends in an early version of a paranormal investigation for whatever ghost or creature may be lurking in the forest. When a mutilated body is found one morning on the edge of the woods, they know they are dealing with a dangerous creature and must double their efforts to find and kill the beast.
Williams’ writing style is very reminiscent of 19th century Gothic writers, without being as difficult to comprehend as such authors sometimes can be. Her prose easily sweeps the reader into the manor and then later into the forest where much of the action takes place. She is descriptive of the surroundings without taking the reader out of the story. I’m not much for a lot of blood and gore, which is an unfortunate necessity in a werewolf tale, but the author handles it well. While there is some violence and blood in the plot, because the story is told from the point of view of a fairly proper (though not overly so) young woman, the gory parts are not overdone. I also enjoyed the romantic elements, which were also written in a more Victorian and therefore understated manner.
I give Forest of Blood five stars! I’m looking forward to seeing more from this author!

Review of Jennifer Felton’s Through Life and Death

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As a rule, I’m not one for stories containing vampires, demons, or gods and goddesses, but Jennifer Felton’s Through Life and Death was a pleasant departure from what I view as the norm in those types of novels. Felton does a nice job of keeping her supernatural characters well grounded in the real world, and the reader has the sense that the events in this work of fiction could well occur in the real world.

Maya is the creator of The Council, a gathering of supernatural beings whose task it is to ensure the peaceful coexistence of humans and supernatural beings on earth. For too long, humans had blamed all manner of violence and riots on supernatural beings, resulting in the hunting of demons, witches, and others. The goal of the Council is to keep the supernatural aspect of these beings hidden from humans and to make humans believe that demons, vampires, and the like were either extinct or never existed in the first place. To do this, the Council has enlisted Enforcers who keep the supernatural beings in check and make sure they do nothing to call attention to themselves or their actions.

Maya and Sebastian, twin children of Katricne, Goddess of Time, and Tobias, King of Vampires/Hell, are more human than their supernatural parentage might suggest. Throughout the story, they struggle with the decisions they have to make and the actions they have to carry out as Goddess of the Unholy (Maya) and an Enforcer for the Council (Sebastian). These uncertainties help move the plot forward and make the characters believable and likable.

While much of the story seems to revolve around Sebastian and his duties with the Council, I was drawn to Maya’s personal struggle to belong. She especially seems to wrestle with who she is and what her place is, whether in the world of humans or in the heavens or Hell:

“Unfortunately, they [Maya and Sebastian] were half vampire and half god, so while they were too evil for the gods, the demons viewed them as too evil for hell. There had to be a happy medium, and living on earth amongst the humans was Maya’s solution.”

I really wish her struggle could have been developed further within this story, and I hope the author has a chance to do so in later sequels.

The main action of the story occurs as things in 19th Century England take a turn for the worse, and the tides of belief seem to be turning back to blaming supernatural beings for an increase in violence and rioting. This turn of events threatens the dual existence of the world of demons and the world of humans that Maya’s Council has worked so hard to achieve, and she realizes that she and Sebastian are no longer safe in England. Fearing for their safety and suspecting a traitor among them, she makes the decision that she, Sebastian, and Tobias must hastily leave England for the Americas.

One of the cleverest parts of this story for me happened when Sebastian set off to execute a woman believed to be a witch responsible for some gruesome murders. He and his manservant Watson arrive in the town where the accused witch is to be found, and he disguises himself as an officer of the law. He stops at a pub for a drink and to see if he can find out information about the accused, and he initiates conversation with doctor and would-be writer Mr. Arthur. When Sebastian introduces himself as Mr. Holmes, and regales him with toned-down stories of his experiences as an enforcer, it sets up the idea that he and Watson will come to be known in the future at the hand of the struggling writer at the pub.

An unexpected twist at the end of the story shows that Maya’s suspicion about a traitor in their midst was not unfounded, and Sebastian has to deal with the one he believes is the real enemy before he joins his father and his sister in the Americas.

This was a quick and enjoyable read, and I give it 4 out of 5 stars.