Saturday, December 14, 2013

I'll Be Home for Christmas: A Coming Home Novella by Jessica Scott

I’ll Be Home For Christmas: A Coming Home Novella.  Jessica Scott. Grand Central Publishing. November 2013. 100 pp. e-book ISBN #: 9781455554249.

Sergeant Vic Carponti and his wife Nicole are one very HOT couple.  He covers every stressful situation with jokes and a positive attitude, and Nicole supports him in every minutes because she realizes the horrendous stress of his work when he is in Iraq fighting a war that leaves far too many wounded or dead.  Their romantic life is not only sizzling but creative when they are both together and apart, with the addition of “dirty” letters and videos fueling their insatiable desire for each other. Each has very significant fears, however, that never get displayed, or at least rarely.  How close are they to losing each other?

Off to Iraq Vic Carponti goes, arriving at a scene where IED attacks alternate between constant frequency and dropping off that provokes even more tension as one knows the absence of attacks presages something awful.  Into this mix there are some crude and irritating soldiers of different ranks who seem to delight in demanding conformity, not realizing the need for the Sergeant’s levity in the middle of indescribable tension.  But nothing holds Carponti back, that is until one of his best buddies is seriously injured and has to be flown to Germany for the extensive treatment necessary to save his life. 

When the attacks and Glenn’s injuries loom large, Vic finds himself unable to call Nicole because he fears “losing it.”  Yet he relies on her constant presence by Skype to keep him strong.  They both have friends whose relationships collapse from the inability to handle the constant strain.  They lack the passion Vic and Nicole so clearly have for each other; but Jessica Scott doesn’t make this into a fairy tale.  The dangers and realities of war-time military life are clearly and potently depicted but without becoming maudlin beyond credibility.

Vic will be coming home to Nicole, alive but different from his latest service.  The reader anxiously awaits how each will adjust to their new poignant stressor but will not be disappointed.

Jessica Scott knows how to present the hottest sexy moments and succinctly present the brave moments too often ignored by an American public who have idealistic images of war that are blown apart herein.  Fine, fine balance, Jessica Scott, that is both exhilarating and powerful!!! Very, very nicely crafted!

Perfect Timing: A Novel by Laura Spinella

Perfect Timing: A Novel.  Laura Spinella. Penguin Group (USA). November 2013. 384 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 9780425267301.

Isabel Lang’s best friend is Aidan Roycroft, a musically talented heart-throb whose reputation is definitely pegged as “love ‘em and leave ‘em.”  As a matter of fact in the beginning of this tale, Aidan has just dumped a girl in the most public fashion possible and received an rsvp of a huge smack in the face.  The reader then follows the story to the background of Isabel and Aidan’s friendship occurring at a time when they really trusted, needed and always hung out with each other. The story of their families is far from endearing, actually making it easier for them to depend on each other and only on each other. It was a safe world, as long as Isabel reminded herself that she was never going to be like “them,” meaning those Aidan had left like so much debris being thrown away.

Now, just when Isabel and Aidan are beginning to see each other with new eyes, a violent event happens, an act is totally twisted by the perpetrator, and the couple are forced to flee to Las Vegas.  No, the story doesn’t end happily ever after at this point.  Instead Isabel becomes one of “them,” but not because of Aidan’s choice at all.  So, as a strong woman Isabel sets her sights on a new future, one without Aidan.

Isabel, seven years later, is running a radio station that’s about to undergo a revolutionary change, given the fierce competition for listeners with Internet and satellite radio being top or prime musical sites.  Isabel is forced to come up with a pivotal change, a command performance that will move her station’s prime status to the top. Everything has a cost and Isabel is about to pay big time!

To say more would spoil a neat story that is credible, sincere, stunning and passionate.  Justice is served in some cases, although late in the offering for several people in Isabel and Aidan's lives! Yessss!  Laura Spinella has created a tale that is replete with a good plot, some unusual twists and turns, and a sexy, flawed but totally attractive male character whose heart has always been fiercely held in the heart of one solid but unsure gal.  Nicely done, Laura Spinella!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Celebration House by Annette Drake

Celebration House.  Annette Drake. Tirgearr Publishing.  November 2013. 156 pp., 1469 KB. ASIN No.: B00E9DXK3I.

Carrie Hanson is dying, but you’d never know it as she moves to Lexington, Missouri from Seattle, Washington after having received a heart transplant.  The new heart isn’t working so well but she’s determined to stay in Missouri where she is planning to purchase an old 19th Century mansion in desperate need of repairs, in fact it needs to be totally remodeled.  When Carrie arrives at Stratton House, not only does she find it in such need of repair that she wonders if she can afford it but she also discovers that it’s haunted.  For Carrie has a most unusual skill of being able to see, hear and talk with ghosts.  If you’re looking for the usual “ghost scares the dickens out of residents” story, forget it!!!  Carrie meets Colonel Stratton who is a curmudgeon owner who thinks he can frighten Carrie out of living at “his” home. No spoilers here!

This is the story of Carrie’s dream come true, despite the fierce disapproval of her sister in Seattle and the initial obstacles of her new home.  Add to the characters a sexy guy, Major Stewart, a former Civil War soldier, who falls in love with Carrie but is unable to do anything about it.  And we can add to the mix that Carrie will be joined by a friend who will help her in the tough period of this remodeling project, a friend who carries her own stilted love past but who just may meet someone who is everything she ever dreamed of, which is all for the better.

Carrie wants Stratton House to be a place where people can live the best days of their life, whether that be a wedding, birthday party, celebration of a great event, etc.  In the process, Carrie meets other ghostly creatures, who learn to love her and she them and they help her to achieve her dream, allowing Stratton House to truly become the historical mansion it was meant to be and teaching its visitors to respect and honor the place they are enjoying for one or a few days.  The reader comes to care for all of them and is glad for the encounter!

Carrie was a cardiac nurse before she received her own transplant, so she knows what’s happening.  And once again, no, you can’t possibly predict what is going to happen at the end of this lovely novel – ha!

Enjoy every page of this delightful, romantic, poignant, funny and special novel.  Annette Drake is a very talented writer who knows how to tell a charming yet intriguing story and compliment of compliments, never overdoes it and so it’s all phenomenally credible! Highly recommended!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

No Dawn For Men: A Novel of Ian Fleming, JRR Tolien and Nazi Germany by James LePore and Carlos Davis

No Dawn for Men: A Novel of Ian Fleming, J.R.R. Tolkien and Nazi Germany.  James LePore and Carlos Davis. The Story Plant. December 2013. 272 pp. pbk. ISBN #: 978161188073.

On the fields of battle during WWI, two men meet, one a wounded soldier lying under a dying horse and the other a good man stopping to help but unable to do so.  Years later in 1938 in Nazi Germany the son of the wounded soldier, Ian Fleming, meets with the notable author of The Hobbit, Professor Tolkien, to seek an artifact that Adolph Hitler intends to use for his usual nefarious purposes.  This cannot happen as it could mean the end of the world as we now know it.  And so the thriller begins; but remember, what is a thrilling read to us is a matter of life and death to Fleming, Tolkien, Professor Shroeder and his daughter Billy and MI-6 Agent Arlen Cavanagh. Can the dead be brought back to life? Who must die to prove that reality?

Tolkien is approached by his former student, Cavanagh, who asks him to interpret a Satanic invocation for raising the dead.  Within days, he has agreed to head to Berlin in the early days preceding WWII.  Hitler has placed his henchmen in place before he begins his master plan of conquering Europe with a formidable military force.  Hitler’s Aryan policies are beginning to be implemented, with a special hatred toward Jews and dwarfs during the telling of this story.  What exactly do the SS men who are following Shroeder everywhere want from him.  Shroeder knows of an amulet and parchment with a secret spell; he’s actually seen that it works but that it will kill whoever attempts to use it, so powerful is its mystical force.  The Germans want it as well and have given Shroeder three days to find it and turn it over or else!

Billie, Schroeder’s daughter, seems oblivious to the looming threat.  She is a straight-forward character, it seems, who says she hates the Nazis but is also actually dating a German soldier.  She quite simply doesn’t realize the inherent danger of her father’s invitation to Berlin to cooperate with the German leaders.  When she meets Arlen Cavanagh, it seems she is so blasé about everything that no one suspects she could be anything other than tremendous to her scholarly father, Schroeder.

A harrowing tale begins with the necessity of escaping Germany, but this journey is not going to be an easy one and there are dangers lurking in and around every corner of their meager existence. Horrific bestial moments serve as entertainment for German officers; a symbol of the terror they are to carry out in country after country across Europe!  Oh yes, the reader can predict to a certain degree on the effect of this now hidden artifact and how an escape will probably occur; but the ending is so, so, so stunning that it will leave you dazed for minutes, perhaps even hours.  No Dawn for Men again proves James LePore to be a superb crafter of thriller novels.  The action is relentless, the characters are stereotypical but move at all the right times and places, increasing the tension to a degree with no appropriate descriptive word but most assuredly there and very, very real!  Also recommended for lovers of historical fiction authors and those who perhaps could not speak of the wrongdoing behind them but certainly have decided not to let that travesty happen again! Highly, highly recommended!