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[Review] The Last Breath by Kimberly Belle

The Last Breath Book Cover The Last Breath

Adult Fiction, Mystery, Suspense
Harlequin MIRA
September 30th 2014

Humanitarian aid worker Gia Andrews chases disasters around the globe for a living. It's the perfect lifestyle to keep her far away from her own personal ground zero. Sixteen years ago, Gia's father was imprisoned for brutally killing her stepmother. Now he's come home to die of cancer, and she's responsible for his care—and coming to terms with his guilt. 

Gia reluctantly resumes the role of daughter to the town's most infamous murderer, a part complete with protesters on the lawn and death threats that are turning tragedy into front-page news. Returning to life in small-town Tennessee involves rebuilding relationships that distance and turmoil have strained, though finding an emotional anchor in the attractive hometown bartender is certainly helping Gia cope. 

As the past unravels before her, Gia will find herself torn between the stories that her family, their friends and neighbors, and even her long-departed stepmother have believed to be real all these years. But in the end, the truth—and all the lies that came before—may have deadlier consequences than she could have ever anticipated.

A few nits aside (like the constant reminders of how important and highly regarded Gia Andrews’ job as an International Aid is), I really enjoyed this book. The first quarter of the book is a little slow but the pacing and the mystery picks up rather quickly. I really like reading a book where I can’t tell whodunit and in The Last Breath, you literally don’t find out until the end.

This story is told in dual time periods which works really well, with the events of the past uncovering clues in the future. I do feel like we missed one last journal entry from Gia’s stepmother. There’s a tiny thread hanging out that’s not been tied off but it doesn’t detract from the story.

The Last Breath was a great Sunday afternoon read… read it front to back in one sitting and that’s hard to come by for me these days!

Review: Wild Ride by Opal Carew (Invitation to Eden)

Wild Ride Book Cover Wild Ride
Invitation to Eden

Erotic Romance
Amazon Digital Services
September 16, 2014

Her friend told her dreams come true at Eden, but this is more like a nightmare.

Marissa is shaken when her bad-assed biker ex-boyfriend begins to stalk her. The solution? Take a trip far away to an exclusive resort called Eden with her friend.

But even in paradise, she can't escape the man from her past. As he's closing in on her, a passing stranger on a motorcycle pulls up and orders her to get on his bike. For some reason she trusts him, and does as he says.

Now the chase is on. Her knight in supple leather knows how to ride and they manage to lose her ex. For now. But soon, Marissa wonders if she's jumped from the frying pan into the fire as she clings to the tough, tattooed man who saved her. All she knows for sure is — it's going to be one Wild Ride!

I was just having a talk with myself about, at what point, an erotic romance becomes just too much for me. I think I’ve come right up against that point. I’ve dabbled a bit in the genre, and if it’s fair to say, I guess I have a type of erotic romance I like reading. This isn’t it. In fact the majority of the genre makes me grumble and squirm and roll my eyes.

In Wild Ride, we meet Marissa, who receives an invitation to exclusive, swanky Eden to run from her problems. Only she ends up facing the very problems she was running from. While trying to escape Rip, a motorcycle gang member accused of murder, she hops on the back of a bike owned by a man she later finds out is named “Killer”.

Killer isn’t a sweetheart. He looks good, but for my taste he’s much too gruff. Marissa falls into insta trust, there’s insta sex (a lot of sex, I mean A LOT OF SEX HOW ARE THEY NOT NUMB AND RUBBED RAW GEEZ!) and he basically kidnaps her.

Bada bing, she’s falling for this jerk. He makes her face some fears, she learns the truth about Rip………..and about Killer. For me, though, the truth is too much, too late. The D/s in this relationship seems built on power not a mutual need for the relationship structure. I also felt like Marissa didn’t realize that she could have been set free at ANY TIME if she would have just asked. Even Killer commented that he should be angry at how trusting she was.

I was trying to read most if not all of the Invitation to Eden novels because the premise seemed entertaining to me. If you like lots of sex, gruff sexy bike ridin’ dudes and three/foursomes, Wild Ride is your thing!

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[Review] The Sweetness by Sande Bortiz Berger

The Sweetness Book Cover The Sweetness

Historical Fiction
She Writes Press
September 23, 2014
NetGalley/SheWrites Press

Vilna 1941. An inquisitive young girl asks her grandmother why she is carrying nothing but a jug of lemons and water when they are forced by the Germans to evacuate their Vilna ghetto. "Something to remind me of the sweetness," the wise woman tells her, setting the theme for what they must remember to survive.

Set during World War II, the novel is the parallel tale of two Jewish girls, cousins, living on separate continents, whose strikingly different lives promise to converge. Brooklyn-born Mira Kane is the talented eighteen-year-old daughter of a well-to-do manufacturer of women's knitwear in New York. Her cousin, eight-year-old Rosha Kaninsky, is the lone survivor of a family abroad exterminated by the invading Nazis. Yet, unbeknownst to her American relatives, the orphaned Rosha did not perish. Desperate to save his child during a round-up, her father thrust Rosha into the arms of a Polish Catholic candle maker, who hides her─ putting her own family at risk.

The headstrong Mira, who dreams of escaping Brooklyn for a career as a fashion designer, finds her ambitions abruptly thwarted when, traumatized at the fate of his European relatives, her father becomes intent on safeguarding his loved ones from all threats of a brutal world. Everyone must challenge his injurious and spiraling survivor guilt.

Though the Kanes endure the experience of the Jews who got out, they reveal how even in the safety of our lives, we are profoundly affected by the dire circumstances of others. Like The Book Thief and Those Who Save Us, The Sweetness is a poignant portrait of life during a most tragic time in history.

I was just saying the other day, how I liked historical fiction but that I preferred it be set in the US and not during War Time. So to say that I was intrigued by the blurb to this book speaks to the allure of this story. I was invited to read this book by the Publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Sweetness is a poignant look into the lives of two girls, cousins who live worlds apart, both in distance and lifestyle. Mira is the daughter of a well-t0-do Jewish businessman in Brooklyn, New York. Rosha is orphaned and secreted away in a root cellar with the prayer that the Nazi soldiers in her native Vilna will not find her.

The story is told from multiple points of view but the lion’s share falls to Mira and Rosha. The differences between the cousins could not be more polar opposite. Mira worries about finishing her fashion design degree and Rosha worries about the people who have risked their lives to hide her and if Poppa and Bubbe will come back for her. With only photos and  a few mementos to keep her company, Rosha suffers through seasons and sad times while Mira meets and marries the man of her dreams.

The Kane (formerly Kaninskly) family is large and loud and loving. The closeness  between Mira and her Aunts, who left Poland many years before the Nazi invasion, is palpable through the pages, most especially when dealing with Jeanette and her illness.

There were a few things I thought were convenient, like Mira naming a child Rosh, after the cousin who, they supposed, had died many years ago, however at few points in the book did I feel that Mira felt any particular closeness or heartfelt sadness about the loss of her cousin. Certainly, she commiserated with her father and her aunts, but then it was not mentioned again until she decided to name her third child. It seemed a convenient vehicle, to me.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and traveling back to Brooklyn/Poland in the 1940’s. The imagery was vivid, the descriptions rich, most especially of Mira’s designs. A deeply poignant, stirring novel. If you enjoy historical fiction and Jewish history and fiction, I think you will enjoy The Sweetness.

So many book reviews, so few writing updates!


photo credit: LoKan Sardari via photopin cc

It’s been awhile since I posted a writing update. It’s been awhile since I WROTE. Anything. Besides a book review or a Facebook/twitter/Tumblr status update. I go through these long dry spells where I just need to do something else. I’ve always heard that if you can quit writing, you should do it. But also that if you can quit writing, you’re not a real writer. Welp, by that standard I wouldn’t be considered a real writer cause I can quit with the best of them.

That doesn’t mean that writing isn’t on my mind. My book, Ruby’s, is always forefront. I just have so much work that needs to be done to improve it. And I can’t decide if I really want to query this novel, or self publish it the way I want it published, on my terms, with me in control…. it sounds appealing to the control freak in me. Aside from not knowing what the heck I am doing, anyway. I have feedback and grammar checks that I need to incorporate, plus another few review sessions… I’m just not feeling up to it right now. I did tell myself that by October I need to get on the grind because I wanted to start writing the next book for NaNoWriMo, Nov 1-31.

I’m also still very slowly updating the serial that I started because I missed updating a serial. :/ Yeah, I don’t know how that works. I’m kind of out of story and conflict and I really want to just leave it as is but I should probably find a way to finish it. It started off with two people who HATE each other (but really LOVE each other) and now it’s at a point where I’ve lost the fire between them that used to compel each chapter. They’re too sweet and loving and the story line is predictable ; we all know what’s going to happen, do I really need to write it out? Meh. SO that one is just kind of sitting. I might finish it, I might not, which disappoints some people, I am sure but you know that thing where you just don’t care?


I was also supposed to have helped to start up a writing challenge at the archive but it fizzled before it even hit the floor. Which is fine, because I swore I’d never run another challenge there.

This is quite the grumpy writer update! But you know…….. it’s reality.

I DO have some plans for writing and maybe publishing something, just to get my feet wet. It’s finished but needs editing and some rewriting and, again…I’m just tired right now. I’ve been doing a ton of reading, which is what I do when I feel dry and non-creative and tired of writing. It’s been good for me and I’ve picked up some really great books by some deep, talented writers. I wish I could absorb such talent and drive via the pages of their books.

Alas……..it has to come from me.

[Review] Forever Starts Tonight by Roni Loren

Forever Starts Tonight Book Cover Forever Starts Tonight
Loving on the Edge, 5.5

Erotic Romance, Romance,
September 16, 2014
NetGalley/ Intermix

The wait is over. They fell in love in Melt Into You, but that was only the beginning. Now New York Times bestselling author Roni Loren dials up the passion as three lovers reinvent the meaning of togetherness and find out if love is truly enough…

Two dominant men, one beautiful woman. Jace Austin knows he doesn’t have what you’d call a conventional relationship with Evan and Andre, but it works. Boy, does it work—until Evan starts acting strangely and Andre’s ex-fiancée pops back into his life, unbalancing a perfectly happy threesome. Jace is forced to face the unthinkable: that the two people he cares most about in this world are in danger of slipping away from him.

So Jace plans a surprise getaway to a secluded mountain cabin for the three of them. And he knows exactly what he needs to do: give both his lovers a fantasy week they’ll never forget. And the possibilities for pleasure are endless. But when they get snowed in and the heat between them reaches a fever pitch, secrets come out. And Evan has one that could change all their lives forever.


FST Blog Tour Banner

I almost never watch a movie sequel. The followups are never as good as the first, because the characters have already told their story and resolved their conflicts. What usually results is a thinly veiled, flimsy excuse for the characters in the film to reunite, solve new conflicts and try to bring closure.


Book sequels are a different animal to me. Less a reason for characters to reunite, more of continuation of a story that was started. The next chapter, if you will, especially if there is great chemistry and opportunity for more story at the end of the previous novel. As is the case with Forever Starts Tonight, in which we revisit the relationship of Andre, Jace and Evan, I feel more like sitting down with good friends for coffee and catching up on what’s been going on in their lives since we last chatted.

Forever Starts Tonight is a novella length return to the M/M/F committed relationship that we first read about in Melt Into You. Evan is a successful photographer and happy in her relationship with her two main men, but she’s feeling the slightest longing for something more. Andre is feeling the same, especially when confronted by an ex girlfriend, the one he thought he could have married and had a family with, had he not chosen to explore his feelings and eventually end up in a poly-amorous relationship. Neither are interested in the vanilla family set up- husband and wife, 2.5 kids, white picket fence… but some part of each of them is looking toward the future and not finding any answers.

Sensing that his partners need a getaway– and a long serious discussion about this word FUTURE, Jace sweeps his partners away for an unforgettable ski weekend… foiled only by Evan’s little surprise, one she’s not sure if she’s happy or upset about, but one that will change the direction of their relationship forever. What happens to a couple of three when the words marriage and family and FOREVER start getting tossed around?

As always, I thoroughly enjoyed not only the steamy, heavy on the enjoyment, sexy scenes but also the storyline. The inner fight, specifically with Andre but also Evan as the memories of giving up a child for adoption was palpable. I wanted them all to win and wasn’t sure how things would work out, but the ending was, as usual, satisfying.

I’ve always enjoyed how much Roni’s characters seem real.. real people with real problems, real issues, real conflicts that I can relate to. I’ve also loved how her characters are so into each other… there is love and respect, especially within the roles of BDSM and how everyone plays their parts, but there’s also passion and pure lust, an almost uncontrollable desire between committed partners.

To me, that’s what romance is, and Roni weaves and crafts these experiences through words so well, it’s almost like these people actually exist.

Roni is one of my favorite authors and reading one of her novels is always a pleasurable experience!

Welcome to The Sweet Escape, home of writer Melinda Jones. I blog about my adventures as a Literary Fiction/Romance/ Women's Fiction reader and writer. My work has appeared at IndieInk.org, Short-Story.net and Storyfix.com.

I enjoy reading (lots and lots of reading) writing, candy, Sprite, and things flavored with raspberry... but not raspberries themselves. I blog Mondays and Fridays and random Wednesdays and Sundays as time and material allows. I hope you'll drop by often and share in the joy (uh huh) of writing! Enjoy your stay!



A Proud Stop on the Forever Starts Tonight Blog Tour!

Check back here on September 18th for my review of Roni Loren's steamy new release Forever Starts Tonight! FST Blog Tour Button

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