"Change Of Heart" Is A Story Too Big To Be Minimized Into A Novella's Size

23001824Title:  Change Of Heart
Author:  Liliana Rose 
Format:  eARC
Length:  60 pages
Publisher:  Rogue Phoenix Press
Rating:  2 Stars

Vickie wants spice in her life, but her husband George is more interested in his work as a doctor. As a Victorian lady she is struggling to find her place in the world. An outbreak of a mysterious illness threatens the ordered world of Vickie and George. George becomes ill, and Vickie is left to care for him, keep him safe, as well as trying to work out the cause of the mysterious illness. Vickie must take charge in her world in order to survive.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
All opinions found in this review are predicated upon the following.
First, this work is being marketed as a novella per the publisher.
Secondly, this work is also being marketed as erotica per the publisher.
Lastly, this work is being marketed as the introduction to a mystery series per the book cover.

Change Of Heart starts out really well with Vickie Wenderlen playing the very pampered, but equally lonely work widow of one Dr. George Wenderlen.

George, much to his credit, is very aware that things in his marriage are headed south in a big way.  In a rather grand gesture of reconciliatory promise; he has an old airship (The Queen) restored, and presents it to Vickie as a gift.

Though George's gift is well received, and the couple's once tattered relationship seems to be on the mend. (Insert make-up sex scene here.)  A new and deadly illness soon calls the good doctor away from his lovely wife once more.  Leaving her open to the charms of Matt Moore.  The ruggedly appealing airship technician hired to restore The Queen.
While George risks life, limb, and even his marriage to solve the mystery of the killer illness before it's too late.

The stage on which this drama takes place is very well set.
The descriptions of all things Victorian and their steam powered conveniences, help to make the story's Steampunk world very real to the reader.
The feelings of love, as well as those of loneliness and guilt between George and Vickie, are also very well conveyed.

What the story lacks however is the attention to detail needed to make it complete.

Cases In Point

1.  Readers are never given a full description of any of the players in this saga.  With the exception of Vickie's being white and Matt's bulging. (Wink!)

2.  The "erotic scenes" are far tamer than those found in any mainstream historical romance.  Unless one is intended to become excessively hot and bothered by the referencing of Vickie's vagina as a "pussy".

3.  The mystery illness that becomes increasingly important to the story as things progress, is never given a name or definitive symptoms.

4.  The conclusion is very rushed and unfinished.

This novella has all the makings of a great story.  In much the same way that crushed tomatoes, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper, and assorted meats have the makings of a great sauce.  If...that is, all of these wonderful ingredients are allowed time to simmer, develop, and mature.

As it is.  This novella is still a work in progress.  Which, much like the raw ingredients in the afore mentioned sauce, is full of unrealized depth and flavor that needs to be reworked and expanded upon.  In order to allow the brilliant drama to fully unfold as intended.

Get The Whole Picture of Addiction In "Other Broken Things"

23257336 Title:  Other Broken Things
Author:   C. Desir
Format:  ERC
Length:  256 pages
Expected Date of Publication:  January 12, 2016
Publisher:  Simon Pulse
Rating:  4.5 Stars

Nat's not an alcoholic. She doesn't have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like get in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.

Unfortunately her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.

But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life and things start looking up. Joe is funny, smart, and calls her out in a way no one ever has.

He’s also older. A lot older.

Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she's been desperate to forget.

Now in order to make a different kind of life, Natalie must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.  -Goodreads

My Thoughts
Addiction has been said to be "the great equalizer".  The chase for the next high or the taste for the next drink sees no color, class, creed, or even age limit. 
So when a night of partying that results in an accident and DUI charges, lands 17-year old Natalie with a rehab stay, probation, and six months of court ordered AA meetings.
The fact that she is a "nice girl"  with "everything going for her" and "from "the right side if the tracks" means far less than the glaring fact that she is , in fact, "an alcoholic". 

Authoress, C. Desir walks unafraid into the world of addiction, family dysfunction, and the search for "one's sober self" in Other Broken Things.
While the fact that the story's protagonist just happens to be a white, upper class, well educated, 17-year old girl does have the power to nettle the nerves.  The even harsher truths, that she has been both drinking since age 11, and has made a daily habit of it for years prior to her DUI, are truly incensing.

Watching this young woman make her way through the fear and denial of her past, while coming to terms with the roles that the people, places, and things that made up the components of her unsober life, is an eye opening experience .
When you add in her relationship with the much older Joe, from AA, the heartbreaking secret that she carries from the night of the accident, and the almost tyrannical way that her father runs things at home.  The money and affluence that she seems to enjoy is shown to hurt a lot more than it helps.

Truthfully, I am loathed to include Nat's relationship with Joe into the negative column of the checks and balances of her life, but due to the fact that they meet in AA, and neither of them proves very stable, I can't.
Here also lies the reason behind this read not receiving the 5 stars that it should have.  After being so careful in crafting all of the other aspects of Natalie's life. The main reason for things not working out for Joe and her boils down to the difference in their ages!
Really?????? .
There is also the ending rush to tie all loose ends into a nice, but unnecessary 'happily...' bow

Christa Desir 
About C. Desir
I'm a YA author who loves dark contemporary books. Novels include: FAULT LINE (Oct 2013), BLEED LIKE ME (Oct 2014), TWELVE (Jan 2016), and LOVE BLIND (May 2016).

I am also a feminist, rape victim activist, and romance novel editor. I live outside of Chicago with my awesome husband and our three small children. 

Tasty Book Tours Presents: The Spinster's Guide To Scandalous Behavior + Giveaway

Enter to Win a
$25.00 eGift Card to Choice Book Seller

The Seduction Diaries #2
Jennifer McQuiston
Releasing Nov 24th, 2015
Avon Books

When her eccentric aunt suddenly dies and bequeaths her the key to a falling-down cottage in Cornwall, Lucy Westmore is surprised. After all, she scarcely knows her aunt, and her memories of Heathmore are murky, at best. But even more surprising is the part of Lucy’s inheritance that doesn’t come with a key: an old leather journal that provides the details of her mysterious aunt’s life and-for better or worse-gives Lucy all the instructions she needs to live the life of a scandalous spinster.

Lord Thomas Branston has spent the last five years in Cornwall, hiding from his painful past. Nothing has been tempting enough to lure him back to London…until now. He alone knows the real value of the property, and he’s determined to buy Heathmore before Miss Westmore ruins everything and sells it off to the highest bidder.

Emboldened by the guidance in her aunt’s diary, Lucy refuses to sell the property, not even when Lord Branston’s offers escalate, or when the house turns out to be truly uninhabitable. Lucy has no intention of giving up her one chance for independence. And Thomas has no intention of abandoning his suit.

But is it the property or the spitfire of a spinster that’s got his heart all tied up? And what is he willing to offer for both?

Excerpt #2
Take her aunt for example. According to the first volume of her aunt’s diary, she’d taken herself to Cornwall without her parents’ permission and lived for more than four decades as a scandalous spinster. To Lucy, that sounded like the right kind of ruin, one that was earned outright, rather than merely presumed. But judging by the tears welling in Lydia’s eyes, her sister’s definition of ruin was rather different.
“You mustn’t tell anyone,” Lucy warned, suddenly realizing that between her hair and Lydia’s knowledge of her plans, a good deal of havoc could be wrought. “I still need to find a bit more money if I am to do this properly, and that means I need to hide this from Mother, at least for the near future.” She looked pleadingly at her sister. “Do you promise not to say anything?”
“You are really going to Cornwall, then?” Lydia choked out.
“Not yet. Soon, though. When I can earn a bit more money. And I won’t be gone forever.” Lucy sat down beside her sister and placed a hand over hers. “I only want to have a look at my property, to make the decision for myself. In fact, I predict I will be back before the Season has even properly started.”
 But Lydia pulled her hand away. “And what good would coming back do, with your hair shorn and your reputation in tatters?” she asked bitterly. “Did you even think this through before you charged into it?”
Lucy bit her lip, the question hitting a little too close for comfort. No, she hadn’t thought it through. She’d simply read her aunt’s diary entry last night, and woken up this morning determined to find something to sell. As per usual, she’d set her sights on a grand goal and ignored the smaller difficulties, such as how to explain—or hide—the evidence of what she had done. She might be impulsive, but she at least had enough self-awareness to look back now and recognize her usual pattern of impetuousness.
“I probably should have done a bit of research into how much I might earn first,” she admitted. “And I should have waited to visit the wig makers until I had enough money to leave immediately after I had done it.”
Lydia’s face turned red. “That is what you see as the lesson learned here? For heaven’s sake, Lucy, how can you be so … so … blind? I would give anything to be in your position, you know. To have a chance to find a proper husband, and to find real happiness.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “And yet you are throwing it all away for a rat-infested cottage?”
Lucy felt a spark of irritation. Why couldn’t Lydia see her side of it? For as long as she could remember, this threatened Season had hovered above her head like a guillotine. And now, with the encounter with the visiting coach, it was clear her fears were well-founded. She had only ever consented to suffer through the drama of this Season to silence her parents’ expectations. It wasn’t as though she had any intention of procuring a husband anyway—especially not one who only wanted to give her a ring in exchange for ten thousand pounds.
My Thoughts
The Spinster's Guide To Scandalous Behavior could be seen as a feminist manifesto... Regency style.

Lady Lucy Westmore is a woman determined to live life as she sees fit.
Unimpressed by the "sell one's self to the highest bidder" meat market. 
Otherwise known as The Season.
Young Lucy has chosen, much to the chagrin of her parents, to dedicate herself wholeheartedly to a life of cause laden spinsterhood.
The seeming green light in Lucy's plan for singlehood, comes in the form of the gift of a cottage; on the heels of the death of her aunt.
Knowing ownership of said property is her ticket to the life of her dreams.  Lucy is enraged when she learns that her aunt's fortuitous bequest has been sold; without her consent, by her father.

The farthest thing from Lord Thomas Branston's mind when he makes an offer for ramshackle Heathmore Cottage, is the feisty blonde dynamo who is it's true owner.  Or the untamable tsunami of emotional upheaval that said dynamo is about to bring into his world, his mind, and his heart.

The Spinster's Guide To Scandalous Behavior while a romance, goes about the act of romancing in a decidedly atypical fashion. 
With both its leading man and leading lady wanting nothing to do with the trappings of love and or matrimony, and the diary of Lucy's confirmed spinster aunt, Miss E, providing anecdotal advice and musings to her 'single lady in training' via her diary.
This is a story that finds its feet through the author's masterful usage of situational drama, setting, a vibrant supporting cast, and engagingly witty exchanges between Lucy and her Lord.

The cottage and the neighboring town of Lizard Bay, play such a major hand in providing the two stalwart singletons with reasons to come together that they (meaning the places) soon become characters of a sort in their own right.

The happily...that readers experience here is less one born of passion in the carnal sense, and more of a connection on a soul deep level.  Both Lucy and Thomas soon come to find that they each are the missing piece to the other;  when they first come to the realization that they are working toward the shared goal of saving both the cottage and the town that they both hold so dear.

This is a wonderful, light, and refreshing read that is unafraid to tackle the very weighty subjects of:  woman's rights, personal liberty, and alcoholism.

This is the second installment of a series which may be read both individually and/or as part of its respective collection.

I received the above referenced work in conjunction with Tasty Book Tours,
Edelweiss, and Avon publishing.  The review given and all opinions expressed herein are mine, and have in no way been influenced by outside parties.T



A veterinarian and infectious disease researcher by training, Jennifer McQuiston has always preferred reading romance to scientific textbooks. She resides in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, their two girls, and an odd assortment of pets, including the pony she promised her children if mommy ever got a book deal. Jennifer can be reached via her website at www.jenmcquiston.com or followed on Twitter @jenmcqwrites.

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 Image result for pocket star books

Whether it be stars in the sky, stars atop trees, or stars who offer great reads, all are holiday stars to savor. The holiday stars of Pocket Star EBooks offer perfect escapes for winding down this holiday season:

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Romance / Contemporary / Holidays
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Romance / Contemporary / Holidays

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Romance / Contemporary / Holidays
KINDLE (ebook)
NOOK (ebook)

The final installment in the Chesapeake Diaries, Driftwood Point, will publish June 21, 2016. If you can’t wait until then, indulge in the recent New York Times bestselling Chesapeake Diaries #9, That Chesapeake Summer

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Romance / Contemporary / Holidays

Tune in to UP Friday, December 18th, 7:00 pm ET to watch the movie Angels in the Snow!
Also indulge in Rexanne Becnel’s The Christmas Train Pocket Star EBook!
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The Man Curse (Nov. 16; Pocket Star / Karen Hunter EBook)
Fiction / African American / Contemporary Women
27152102Buy Links on this page: Simon & Schuster

Interview with Ebony
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Uproariously funny urban fantasy.”
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Double Down (Jan. 11) is book 3 in The Bod Squad series
Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
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Game On is a thrilling romantic caper filled with double crosses, gadgets, and just the right amount of heat…Zackman’s debut mixes romance, pop culture, and espionage into a page-turner that plays with expectations. Readers will find a fast-paced story that is equal parts action and romance.”
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—Publishers Weekly
VERDICT: This series launch from Oliver is a gritty period mystery that features clever appearances by Dickens and several of his characters.”
Library Journal (What’s in Santa’s Book Bag?)


Forbidden Fruit Is Three Times Sweeter In "My Best Friend's Stepfather"

25663910Title:  My Best Friend's Stepfather
Author:  Opal Carew
Format:  eARC
Length:  240 pages
Publisher:  St. Martin's Griffin
Rating:  4 Stars 

She’s always craved his touch…even though it’s forbidden.

When Ash is assigned her first feature as a reporter, it should have been simple: interview a real life Dominant for an article about BDSM. But her subject is none other than Darien Gallagher, her best friend’s stepfather…and it’ll be an interview she never forgets.

What started for Dare as a lesson in sensual domination suddenly has become so much more. He can't deny the spark between them, even though he knows she’s completely off limits. With every seductive word, every lesson, Dare tests Ash's resolve and pushes her boundaries. But at the same time, her boss Adam has her craving things she shouldn’t.

While Ash finds herself dreaming of both men, a dark secret threatens to destroy everything. But how can she hold onto a relationship that isn’t even real?  -Goodreads

My Thoughts

Just when you think that Erotica maven Opal Carew's novels can't possibly get any steamier. She manages to pull the wonder that is My Best Friend's Stepfather out of her salaciously wondrous bag of literary tricks.

Honestly enough, the story starts off a tad on the vanilla side, as far as the BDSM side of things goes. Dare is a good Dom, but he does manage to keep things very much Christian Grey, during his sessions with Ashley.

While all the reasons that Ashley becomes infatuated with the enigmatic and most decidedly alpha, Dare, are glaringly obvious from the start. Those surrounding Ashley's feelings for her clearly beta friend and boss, Adam, are allowed to languish in slightly murkier waters.

The reason for the indecisiveness on the part of Adam lying not at his feet, but at those of both Ashley and Dare.
Ashley being to blame because she refuses to make things easy for her two lovers and choose.
Dare, because of some hinted past between he and Adam,
that remains unresolved for a large portion of this read.

So readers get to sit through a great deal of human ping pong, with Ashley as a very willing and ready ball.
While this constant back and forth is great from a sexual standpoint, the schoolyard nature of the emotional aspect of their struggle gets tiring after a while.
The addition of Dare's very dysfunctional ex-stepdaughter/stepdaughter, Helen, into the mix; provides a strange and very unexpected catalyst that helps to move the story along quite nicely.

It is after dearest Helen manages to spill the much lamented beans, that things really start to change for the better.
The sex and story really take off, and the romance becomes all the sweeter.

How you ask?
Well, let's just say that sometimes great things have a habit of coming in threes.
Opal Carew's exploration and treatment of the M/M/F ménage pairing is so sensual, and well represented in this book, that the whole experience elevates this story from the everyday to the extraordinary.

As such, authoress Carew also succeeds in tying up all of her story's loose ends in a very colorful and all-inclusive happily ever after bow.

Reviewer's Note: This book has been released as both a serial novella and a complete work. It is the opinion of this review that this book is best enjoyed as a complete volume. 

About Opal
Opal CarewOpal Carew is the author of Total Abandon, Pleasure Bound, Twin Fantasies and other erotic romance novels. She also writes as Elizabeth Batten-Carew. “So why do I like writing erotic romance?” she asks. “I like being able to push beyond traditional boundaries.” Opal loves crystals, dragons, feathers, cats, pink hair, the occult and all that glitters. While she writes, she listens to inspirational music, lights candles and keeps crystals near. Before devoting herself to  her passion as a writer, Opal spent 15 years as a software analyst, and she has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. She lives with her husband and two sons in Ontario, Canada.