Saturday, June 15, 2019

First Love: "Of Love and Deception" Book 1 of the Tainted Love Series by Kayla Lowe

Sarah MacKenzie and her best friend/cousin, Addison, are settling into their freshman dorm and ready to start college life. The future seems to hold endless possibilities for these two girls from good homes with loving, supportive parents. Both girls are excellent students and as they begin classes they fall into a routine of studying and enjoying each other's company.
One thing they have at college that they didn't have at home is... faster internet! Sarah is a Phantom of the Opera Phan and she enjoys interacting online with others who share her passion. It's just harmless fun, the way Addison feels about her favorite group, Duran Duran.
But just as they are getting ready to go out to dinner with friends, a message pops up on Sarah's laptop signed YOUR PHANTOM LOVER all in caps and his opening sentence stops her in her tracks: WELL HELLO THERE, ANGEL! Who could this be? Why all caps?
Later, while enjoying ice cream in their room with Addison, Sarah opens her laptop to find more messages from this mysterious Phantom presence. Bit by bit, message by message, Sarah and her mysterious Phantom begin to communicate and then they move beyond simply messaging to sharing their innermost thoughts, dreams and ... feelings.

Can Sarah be falling for someone who seems to be luring her deeper and deeper into an online reality. Addison has been chatting with someone, too. The ability of the faster internet seems to distract these two young women from what was most important to them, getting a good college education and making their parents and grandparents proud of them.
Sarah, especially, finds herself longing for those moments when she can chat with her Phantom. Will she ever meet this Opera Ghost in real life? Will he be everything she dreamed about if she does?

Author Kayla Lowe brings these young women and their families to life in a completely believable way. The Recommender found herself yelling at the Kindle and trying to advise Sarah to wait, to be cautious! Can this online Phantom be too good to be true? Be sure to get a copy of Of Love and Deception, and by the end you, too, will find yourself anxiously awaiting the next chapter of the Tainted Love series!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

On the Road Again: "The Angel's Flight" by Louise Anne Bateman

Spoilers! Because this is a sequel, if you haven't read Ms. Bateman's first Phantom of the Opera based novel, The Angel's Shadow, then go back and start there before you read any further!
We begin at the end of the Angel's Shadow with the fire that destroys the Paris Opera House. Meg and Antoinette Giry were in the midst of being quizzed by the chief of gendarmes as to their relationship with the Phantom of the Opera, or Opera Ghost, when the explosions leading to the fire take place.
Standing outside, watching their home and belongings burn and wondering what will become of them, Meg and Antoinette hear a familiar voice instructing them to board a carriage.  Joining Erik, they leave behind the world of ballet and opera, and eventually find themselves in Erik's childhood home, the place he fled years ago.
Meg, in this series, is talented and troubled. She is intrigued by Erik and compulsively followed him and provoked him in the previous book.
He is such a man of mystery. He alternates between kindness and cruelty in his dealings with her. Although she is a young woman, Erik treats her like a child. Now the three of them are all living together. Will Meg survive? Will Erik?
Ms. Bateman takes these beloved characters on some new and surprising adventures and in the case of Meg... sometimes VERY surprising.
If you are a Phantom Phan and looking for a book that will shake up what you think about Meg, Erik and Madame Antoinette Giry, then start with the Angel's Shadow and continue the story with The Angels' Flight.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Valentine's Book Exchange: The Honor Series by Kristen Heitzmann

This past Valentine's Day several friends and I decided to do an Elfster Valentine's Day Book Exchange which was a great success! I won the book exchange jackpot! I received a whole series from my secret Valentine (maybe not so secret: Kayla???):
 The whole idea of the exchange was to gift someone with a book YOU love, so this was a whole series someone loved. This series was by an author I wasn't familiar with, Kristen Heitzmann. The titles, in order were Honor's Pledge, Honor's Price, Honor's Quest, Honor's Disguise and Honor's Reward. They are published in the category of Christian fiction but don't let that get in the way of taking a chance on this series because I have to say, I fell in love with the characters and the world this gifted author created.
The series takes place in the late 1870s and revolves around a young woman, Abbie Martin, who is so engaging, you'd want her for your best friend. She is 17 at the start and someone who is brave, outspoken, a loyal friend, and not afraid to be herself. She is a tomboy who loves the land she's grown up on in and around Rocky Springs, Colorado. Her father owns the local newspaper and her mother keeps house on the farm they own. Abbie can ride and shoot and climb trees and catch fish with a spear, things she learned alongside her best friend from childhood, Blake McConnel.
This first story begins with Blake calling out a man by the name of Montgomery Farrel, a southerner who had bought a ranch in the area. He's ready to shoot Mr. Farrel for paying a little to much attention to Abbie in town that morning.
Abbie intervenes and the Sheriff hauls Blake away to a jail cell to cool off. Later she gets Monte Farrel to drop the charges which he does due to her insistence and her charm and... though she is oblivious to the fact, her beauty.

So begins this series that will have you reading one after the other to see what lies ahead for Abbie as she goes from this spitfire 17 year old to an equally headstrong young woman, falling passionately in love, having her heart broken more than once and racing off on sometimes heart-stopping adventures on behalf of those she loves.
 Along the way, a ranch hand, Cole Jasper, is introduced. He's just one of the many memorable characters you'll meet, and wish you could know in real life.
 Some things in this frontier life will surprise you, some things are shocking, and sometimes you'll shout "Oh No!" at the books or booohooo at other parts. If you are looking for something that will captivate you, grab your attention, and make you want to reread it from the beginning, then look no further than Ms. Heitzmann's Honor series!

Monday, April 8, 2019

Made for Each Other: "The Plus One" by Sarah Archer

Kelly Suttle is a robotics engineer and feels considerably more comfortable in that world than the one her wedding shop owner mother would prefer her to inhabit. That of the eligible potential dates for her popular sister's upcoming wedding.
Although Kelly is excellent at what she does at work, somehow, her parents can't see that as important and no matter how hard she tries to interest them at their weekly family dinners she can't seem to get their attention.
Maybe it's her parents unhappy marriage that set her on the path to independence and against romance but now she finds herself on the spot with her mother pushing her to find a plus one.  How can she meet and win over a suitable man in time for the wedding? There don't seem any men out there that will fill her very picky criteria on the dating sites.
Then she has an idea. She is currently working on the prototype for a companion robot, one that will care for and do the bidding of its human master. Why not take it one step further and build a boyfriend?
Ms. Archer's the Plus One is a brilliant debut. It is funny, touching and poignant. Kelly is an intriguing character, both sympathetic and abrasive. Ethan, her robotic boyfriend, is captivating and will win you over as much as he wins over his creator. This is one you'll think about long after you turn the last page. Highly recommended!
A Big Thank You to Edelweiss for the DRC

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Undeniable: "Prelude: Fin" by J. M. Smith

Spoiler alert! As this is the final chapter in the Prelude Trilogy... we must assume, if you are reading this review, you have read the first two volumes. If not...GO BACK! Read no further!!!
OK, then: When we last left Erik and Annie things did not look good for this duo. Annie, having lost a child that might have brought her and Erik even closer, lashes out at him, instead. Calling their love twisted and their relationship unnatural and blaming herself and Erik for Giles Giry's death, she runs from him leaving him alone and distraught.
Awakening the next morning and realizing what she has done, she races to Erik's Lair to apologize and finds no trace of him except a beautiful ring lying near the lake.
10 years pass. Erik has traveled the world, learned new skills and now found himself back in Persia, ruled over by his old friend Kevah and his sister, Yasmin, who has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. She is delighted to see him and embraces the man she kept alive through his long imprisonment under the last regime.
She is surprised and upset that Annie had not been overjoyed at Erik's return. Thoughts of his beloved Annie helped keep him going through that desperate time. Was there anything she could do?  Perhaps there was. Could he love Yasmin? Or would thoughts of Annie forever haunt him.
Should he return and see if there might be a chance to rekindle that extraordinary love they had shared? And what of his darling Little Giry? How was Meg doing after all these years?
And where are Christine and Raoul in this story? Aren't they kind of important in the world of Phantom fiction? Can they really not make an appearance in this last episode?
These questions will all be answered in this last chapter. If you enjoyed the love story of Erik and Annie in the previous volumes then don't miss seeing if they get their happy ending in Prelude: Fin!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Lost and Found: "Maiden's Blush" by Kayla Lowe

International translator, Jack Barringer, is on his way home one snowy winter evening when he happens upon what seems to be a crime scene. A man jumps into a shiny red Lexus and takes off, leaving behind something crumpled on the ground.
Upon closer inspection, Jack finds that it is a young woman, barely conscious and not dressed to survive the bitter cold night.
What to do? He carries her to his car while she comes to and struggles to escape his arms. Jack, a true gentleman, reassures her and she warily consents to his help. Who is this mystery woman and what led her to the attack in the woods that might have been her end?
So begins the story of Katrina Weems, a recent college graduate and Jack, her rescuer. Katrina finds herself a guest in Jack's house and as she slowly reveals more about herself she also learns more about her host, his staff, and a certain best friend who will be paying them a visit.
Beautifully told, romantic, and also a bit of a thriller, as well as containing a Phantom of the Opera theme, this first novel by Ms. Lowe was one I had to read straight through. Like Katrina, I found myself torn between two choices.  Will she get the happy ending she deserves? You'll have to get a copy of Maiden's Blush to find out!

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Winner of the Bracelet Giveaway!

Congratulations to Cynder the Knight (AKA Carlene Michalk) winner of the 2019 Phantom LOVE Symbolic Charm Bracelet Giveaway! Three independent judges read through the entries to choose the winner! Thank you to all who entered!

Everyone else who entered will get a Valentine consolation prize, so, if I don't have your mailing address please email it or PM it to me!