Saturday, March 23, 2013

Rogue Alliance by Michelle Bellon

Title: Rogue Alliance
Author: Michelle Bellon

Publisher: CreateSpace

Published Date: November 9, 2012

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:


Shyla Ericson escaped a horrific past to start a new life as a tough, sassy cop in the hustle and bustle of LA. She is chosen for the case of a lifetime that will throw her into a world of organized crime, deceit and betrayal. The only problem is; it will take her back to her hometown of Redding, and the bitter reminders of her childhood that haunt her. 

Shyla’s path is about to cross that of Brennan, an unwitting and troubled sidekick to the ringleader she’s intent on taking down; and she is forced to re-evaluate everything she believes about herself, her job, and what she knows about right and wrong. Can she face the demons of her upbringing and learn to trust again? Her life will depend on it.

My Thoughts:

I would like to happily announce that I have found my next reading OBSESSION.  Michelle Bellon's Rogue Alliance: Part One of the Shyla Ericson Series is a novel that caught me totally off guard.  Not knowing what to expect in this novel, I read that Rogue Alliance was described as a sexy chick lit/crime thriller.  This description definitely caught my attention as I'm a fan of romance (with sex) and chick lit.  I have to admit that crime thrillers aren't always my cup of tea, but every now and then I find one that I enjoy (especially if there is some romance mixed in.)  However, I have never read a piece of chick lit that was also a crime thriller, so this aspect intrigued me.  One afternoon when I found myself alone in the house I decided to crack open Rogue Alliance and see what awaited me.  All I can say is, "WOW!"

From the very first page Bellon grabbed my attention.  Rogue Alliance starts with the character of Brennan, an amnesiac man locked up in a secret government institute.  When a man he has never seen before shows up and offers him freedom in exchange for loyalty, Brennan sees no other choice.  Free from his cell and the awful experimentation that he was subjected to, Brennan decides that he owes his new friend all he can give, even if he is a man dealing in illegal activity.

Shyla is a detective in the Federal Agency of Narcotic Control who has a career that is quickly moving upwards.  When she is offered a promotion to go undercover to bring down one of the United States most dangerous drug lords, Shyla jumps at the opportunity.  However, when she finds out that she will have to move back to the hometown she has nightmares about Shyla begins to have doubts.  Having escaped her horrific childhood life after graduation, Shyla never wanted to step foot in Redding again.  Unfortunately, in order to take down Victor, Shyla packs her bags and flies back to the settings of her nightmares with a bottle of tequila glued to her hip.

Rogue Alliance has an extremely fast moving plot, witty dialogue, and unexpected yet much appreciated romance.  Shyla is extremely sarcastic and due to circumstances in her past is uncomfortable with any male attention that comes her way.  She definitely has to change her ways in order worm her way into Victor's good graces and bed.  What she doesn't expect is to feel a connection to Brennan, Victor's stoic and very secretive bodyguard.  As they both try to ignore the spark that is between them, they come to realize that is just might be impossible.  Shyla also finds herself struggling to remain undercover and to keep her head out out of the past in a town that knows her history.  

I really enjoyed Shyla's blossoming relationship with Carmen, a young teenager with a chip on her shoulder and bad home life.  After catching Carmen shoplifting and then rescuing her from a dangerous situation, Shyla finds it hard to ignore the young girl that reminds her so much of herself.  Carmen views Shyla as a true friend and the one person she can count on in a gray world.  Their relationship grows into something beautiful and comical at times.    

I highly recommend Rogue Alliance to all fans of fiction.  This was such a great novel, with many surprising twists and turns.  I can't wait to see what is next for Shyla, Brennan, and Carmen in Michelle Bellon's next novel.  I, for one, will be waiting until the next book in this series comes out!


Michelle Bellon

The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book, Rogue Alliance, for the purpose of review.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Devoted by Jonathan Hull

Title: The Devoted
Author: Jonathan Hull

Publisher: Dancing Muse Press

Published Date: July 26, 2012 

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:


From wartime Italy to the American West, Jonathan Hull takes readers on a heartrending passage through the lives of three families torn by history and bound by an unshakeable -- and at times forbidden -- devotion.

Ryan Brooks never forgot the powerful hands that pulled him from the wreckage of his parents' station wagon that summer in 1960 when he was ten and his childhood came to a fiery end during a family vacation. Thirty years later, Ryan returns to Wyoming to thank the dying rancher for saving the life he is still trying to be worthy of. The chilling sight of Mike O'Donnell's deeply scarred hands is just the beginning of Ryan's journey as he soon finds himself caught between the rancher's captivating -- and married -- daughter, Shannon, and his mysterious Italian wife, Alessandra.

When Mike's deathbed confession sets Ryan on a search for the truth of what really happened the day his parents died, he unearths a long-buried secret that leads to a mountain cave in Northern Italy and Alessandra's dangerous love affair with a haunted young German soldier. As past and present collide in an intricately woven story of love and redemption across generations and continents, Ryan discovers that the answers he seeks are inscribed deep in the hearts of those whose lives -- and courage -- he must measure against his own.

My Thoughts:

To me, Jonathan Hull's, The Devoted, is a literary masterpiece that deserves to be discovered by the general public.  Centered around a pieced together family that has more than its share of secrets, The Devoted pulls you in until you are fully submerged into the novel.  I can not give this charming piece of fiction enough praise, it really has it all: romance, heartache, mystery, suspense, and many historical elements.  Once I picked up The Devoted I was not able to put it down until I finished it.

The Devoted centers around the characters of Ryan, Mike, Alessandra, and Shannon and spans many decades.  As a young boy, Ryan was traveling with his loving, and in his eyes perfect, parents.  After falling asleep in the back seat of the car, Ryan was awakened to flames engulfing his car and two huge hands reaching in to pull him out.  His life was never the same.  Mike was the quick acting man who saw the accident occur; he ran to the scene to try and save the young boy and his family.  Sadly, he was only able to pull Ryan out of the car while his parents perished.  Mike's life was also changed forever.  

Ryan and Mike were admitted to the same hospital to recover.  Both Ryan and Mike had many complication to overcome: Ryan with his broken body and Mike with his severely burnt hands.  Alessandra and Shannon, Mike's wife and daughter, visited everyday and Shannon would watch over Ryan as he was unconscious. Years go by and Ryan stays in touch with Mike's family through Christmas cards, birthday cards, and graduation announcements.  As he reaches adulthood, Ryan finds himself living an unhappy and unfulfilled life that is overrun by memories of the past.  Many times Ryan thinks about visiting Mike and thanking him for saving his life in person, but he always becomes to afraid.  However, when he discovers Mike is on his deathbed, Ryan decides to return and see him once more for the closure that he never had.  However, instead of closure Mike reveals a huge secret that will turn Ryan, Alessandra, and Shannon's lives upside down.  

I loved the historical aspects of The Devoted.  Throughout the book, Hull places love letters that Ryan's parents wrote to each other while his father was away at war.  These letters show the true love that this couple felt for each other.  A fear of Ryan's is that he will never find this kind of passionate, all consuming love.  While Ryan's story is one main plot line in The Devoted, Alessandra's childhood in wartime Italy is the other main focus of Hull's novel.  Alessandra begins telling Ryan about her childhood in Italy while they are out touring her and Mike's farm.  However, she leaves many important details out which Ryan later discovers when Alessandra gives him a letter type book she writes containing her memories.  Here readers learn how Alessandra met American solider Mike and what really happened in Italy during the war.  One would think that Ryan has nothing to do with any of this, but Hull powerfully weaves a story together that demonstrates that Alessandra's life during the war directly impacts the horrible accident which claimed the lives of Ryan's parents.  I have to say that Alessandra's part of The Devoted was my favorite.

I wholeheartedly recommend Jonathan Hull's, The Devoted, to all fiction lovers.  This is a wonderful story that spans decades and takes readers on a fascinating journey.  I was very shocked at the ending of The Devoted; Hull definitely threw a twist into his story.  Many novels wrap up with a 'happily ever after' ending that you can see coming a mile away.  However, The Devoted ends in a way that leaves readers contemplating everything that happened from the beginning of the story until the end.  I feel that any novel that leaves you thinking about it a day or two after you finished reading it has done something right.  Congratulations to Hull for writing a terrific novel that left me very satisfied!   

Jonathan Hull
The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book, The Devoted, for the purpose of review.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A State of Jane by Meredith Schorr

Title: A State of Jane
Author: Meredith Schorr

Publisher: Booktrope

Published Date: September 5, 2012 

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:


Jane Frank is ready to fall in love. It's been a year since her long term relationship ended and far too long since the last time she was kissed. With the LSAT coming up she needs to find a long term boyfriend (or husband) before acing law school and becoming a partner at her father's law firm. There's just one problem: all the guys in New York are flakes. They seemingly drop off the face of the earth with no warning and no explanation. Should she join her best friend Marissa in singlehood, making cupcakes and watching True Blood? Or should she follow her co-worker Andrew's advice and turn the game back on those who've scorned her? As Jane attempts to juggle her own responsibilities and put up with the problems of everyone around her, she starts to realize that the dating life isn't as easy as she originally thought.

My Thoughts:

Meredith Schorr's, A State of Jane, is a hilariously funny Chick Lit novel that I loved from beginning to end.  I must confess that I have been on a Chick Lit bender lately, I can't seem to get enough of the lighthearted reads.  I have found that when my life gets crazy insane, I tend to gravitate towards various Chick Lit novels to destress.  And let me tell you, the novels I have been reading the last few months are doing the trick!  Meredith Schorr's, A State of Jane, was no different- I picked it up to read and immediately was transported to present day New York City as Jane looked for love.    

A State of Jane began a year after Jane broke up with her seemingly perfect boyfriend, Bob.  After waiting a year to jump back into the dating scene, Jane decides that it is time to get back on the horse.  How hard could finding a nice guy in NYC be, anyway?  As readers discover, next to impossible!  Jane finds herself in the midst of dating failure after failure with e-Harmony disasters, Sports Bar fiascoes, and Speed Dating craziness.  As her relationship hopes are dashed with each loser guy she has the misfortune to meet, Jane starts to realize that she has been looking at dating all wrong.  No longer did Jane want to be the sweet girl who was constantly loved and then left.  Instead she would harden her heart and become the heart breaker, the dumper instead of the dumpee.

Meredith Schorr's, A State of Jane, had many hilarious dating scenarios as well as great scenes with her friends.  I really liked Jane's roommate Lainie and the way she changed from the beginning of the novel to the end.  A Southern Belle, Lainie moved to NYC and met Jane through a Craigslist 'Roommate Wanted' ad.  Lainie is cynical about love but finds the dating world exciting.  She is not looking for a relationship and is enjoying the perks of her single status.  To Jane's shock, Lainie is constantly bringing a new man home with her.  However, as Jane gets more discouraged about the dating scene, Lainie seems to find love without looking for it.  This puts an odd stress on Jane and Lanie's relationship as they find their roles reversing.

Meredith Schorr's, A State of Jane, is a smile worthy and heartwarming read that is the perfect concoction for all Chick Lit lovers. I read A State of Jane in one evening while my husband was immersed in WWE (I definitely had the better evening!)  I really enjoyed how Schorr ended the novel, not how I expected at all!  I'm holding out hope that Schorr will be writing A State of Jane part 2 so that I can see what (and who!) Jane does next.   Do yourself a favor and make time to enjoy this spunky novel!

Meredith Schorr

Booktrope has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book, A State of Jane, for the purpose of review.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Next Year I'll Be Perfect by Laura Kilmartin

Title: Next Year I'll Be Perfect
Author: Laura Kilmartin

Publisher: Booktrope

Published Date: September 29, 2012 

Buy on Amazon: Paperback & Kindle

Author Website:


Sarah always thought her life was on track, that is until her 29th birthday party. The discovery of a list her younger self put together outlining what she wanted to achieve by the age of 30 turns Sarah’s world upside down. Suddenly, her seemingly happy life and career look lackluster and Sarah sets off on a journey to transform her life. On her quest to achieve perfection one month at a time – a happy marriage, partnership in a law firm and being able to fit in a size six purple suede miniskirt – Sarah learns to challenge society’s ideals of achievement. 
Filled with harsh reality, humor, and romance, Next Year I’ll Be Perfect explores what true happiness and success is all about.

My Thoughts:

Laura Kilmartin's, Next Year I'll Be Perfect, is a hilarious, fast-paced novel that fits nicely into the Chick Lit genre.  At the age of 29 Sarah is a lawyer with a small, tight-knit group of friends.  Livvie is her partner in crime while Sarah's 'brothers' David and Eddie are her go-to boys whom she leans on for advice, venting, and encouragement.  Sarah lives in an apartment above the diner she is partner in and while she does not have a significant other, life is good.  

This all changes on the night of Sarah's fun and carefree 29th birthday party.  Sarah's happiness is drastically altered when Livvie presents to her a list Sarah made when she turned 25.  Included in the list were goals that she hoped to have accomplished by the age of 30.  Reading the list, Sarah realizes that not much had changed in the 5 years that had passed (except for getting rid of her cheating boyfriend.)  Looking over the list, Sarah decides she has 1 year to accomplish the goals she made for herself.  What happens next is a funny story following the sarcastic and sometimes bad-tempered Sarah as she tries to accomplish her goals.  To make her list more easily attainable, Sarah decides that she will probably not be able to reach her goal of sleeping with George Clooney, so she reluctantly marks it off her list.

I absolutely loved the back story that Kilmartin created for Sarah.  Sarah's father is best friends with his partner on the police force, Jeremy.  Unfortunately, one evening Sarah's mother and Jeremy's wife are killed in a car accident.  The two men, not knowing what else to do, decide to raise their children in a  pieced together family.  Jeremy's sons, David and Eddie, are like the brother's Sarah never had. 

From my own personal experience I can say that 30 definitely sneaks up on you.  Yesterday it seemed like I was 21, today 30.  When I turned 29 I immediately began to grieve for my twenties, even with a year left.  I didn't think about the 365 awesome days I had left being twenty-something.  Instead, I felt the clock and calendar ticking towards the horrible June day when I would officially be OLD.  I feel that Sarah felt this way as well and handled her last year in her twenties much the same.  Instead of focusing on making 29 a GREAT year, she was intent on having the perfect life by the age of 30.  As long as she was checking off items on her list, she was on track.  However, by the time Sarah reached age 30, she realized the goals on her list didn't make her successful or happy. 

Laura KilMartin's novel, Next Year I'll Be Perfect, is a funny and warm read that I recommend to all Chick Lit lovers. Easily read in an evening or two, you will find a constant smile on your face as you take in KilMartin's witty dialogue, heartwarming characters, and the hilarious situations Sarah finds herself in.  Enjoy!

Laura Kilmartin
Booktrope has provided me with a complimentary copy of the book, Next Year I'll Be Perfect, for the purpose of review.