Friday, June 22, 2007


Risky Pleasures
Brenda Jackson
Kimani Romance
Kimani Press
ISBN: 0373860129
Published: May 2007

Rating: 4 ½ Stars
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Vanessa Steele is the only female family member working with her male cousins in the family business. She’s also the only member of the family who seems to hold a grudge for life.

Cameron Cody is a highly successful, corporate business raider, who was unsuccessful in taking over the Steele family business. He has now set his sights on taking over Vanessa’s heart.

Vanessa has been avoiding Cameron like the plague since his failed attempt to take over the family business. When she learns that Cameron is coming to Charlotte, she decides to house sit for her cousin, Cheyenne, in Jamaica. Cameron is warned by Vanessa cousin, Morgan, that she has flown the coop. So, he decides on an impromptu trip to Jamaica to capture his hearts desire. After an encounter on the beach, Vanessa is drawn to Cameron like a moth to a flame and decides to play with fire on her own terms. She soon discovers how deeply certain fires can burn.

Mrs. Jackson has done an excellent job with this latest addition to the Steele family saga. She highlighted the romance of Jamaica while helping Vanessa and Cameron come to terms with their emotional baggage from previous relationships. The way some members the Steele family help Cameron in his quest to win Vanessa’s heart is touching. This one is a real page turner.

Shattered Souls
Dywane Birch
Strebor BooksPress
ISBN: 1-59309-110-9
May 2007

Reviewed by: Michelle Alexander
Rating: 4 Stars - EXELLENT

Zane presents this book featuring four friends, Britton and Damascus (males) and Chyna and Indera (females) which makes for an interesting combination, not often seen in romance books. But there is a secret in their pasts that links them all together.

Britton now lives in the Dominican Republic, committment free. His mother shot his abusive father and he is now plagued by his dying father's request to come see him one last time.

Damascus nicknamed Tee is a male stripper whose sexcapades with women go beyond
crazy, but inside his doggish heart, he has a secret love for one of his friends.

Chyna is the consummate suburban wife, married to a mortician and mother to a rebellious teen whose problems link to a secret in Chyna's past.

Indera "Hates Men," but has more sex than most women but always by her rules. Because of a trauma in her past she has no boundaries and exacts meticulous revenge.

This book is really interesting and will keep you on the edge of your seat. Indy is the most interesting and funny character, but her criminal propensities as well the romantic ending make her one to watch in future novels.

Golden Night
Candice Poarch
Dafina Contemporary Romance
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1977-6
Published: April 2007
Contemporary Romance

Rating: 2 ½ Stars – Good
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Upon her aunt’s death, Gabrielle inherits her B & B and an eclectic cast of characters who keep hounding her as to the whereabouts of an heirloom golden bowl. Gabrielle hires Cornell to prepare the meals at the B & B, so she can help clean rooms, do paperwork, and hire a new housekeeper (since her cousin only shows up when she’s in the mood). Her grandmother keeps warning her not to get involved with that “Price boy”, but neither Gabby nor Cornell can deny the sparks that fly when they are in the same room together. Murder and mayhem become the order of the day when the islanders are suddenly faced with a series of break-ins along with an unsolved murder.

GOLDEN NIGHT is a good book with an interesting storyline, but it seems contrived at times. There were too many characters running around; many of whom I felt were just there as “fillers”. There are a host of cousins milling about, but two of them, Alyssa and Skeeter, are introduced in the beginning of the book and not heard from again until the end. Skeeter, the cousin who disappears around the time of the first murder, and Alyssa, the police detective who is out of town for the majority of the story, seem unnecessary. I felt that Alyssa was just there for as an introduction for a future story. Her probable love interest popped up at the end of the story with a “tidy” explanation for his absence as well. I found myself wondering what the story of he and Alyssa will be like. The historical accounts of Abiola and the other women who originally settled on the island are the best part of this story for me.

Sylvia Lett
Dafina- Contemporary Romance
ISBN: 0-7582-1979-2
Published: April 2007
Fictional Romance

Rating: 4 Stars – Excellent
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Samantha Taylor and Alex Carlisle have been leading comfortable but safe lives since the deaths of their spouses. Sam was widowed when her husband and sister where killed in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. The shock of losing them at the same time sent her into premature labor, which gives Sam her only reason to live. Sam is a stay at home mom who takes care of her two children as well as Alex’s. They eat dinner as a family several times a week and generally spend the majority of their free time together. Sam is grateful for the emotional support that Alex has given her, but Alex is looking for more. The good doctor comes up with a plan to get Sam to marry him, but he risks losing her by keeping a secret that could change their lives.

PERFECT FOR YOU is a moderately paced, well written, and interesting story; it’s a love story with a whodunit twist. I enjoyed the closeness of the two single parent families and the way the main characters supported each other in raising their children. The plot twists grab your attention, and the supporting characters make sure that you don’t forget that there is a time bomb waiting to disrupt everyone’s lives. I feel that the children were a little too good to be true, and there were times when Sam and Alex acted like children. But, this is still a story that people will be able to relate to.

Ms. Lett has done a great job exploring the lives of two people who have suffered such great losses at the hands of a stranger, only to discover years later that someone who claims to love them has done the unthinkable.

Love vs. Pain and Secrets
Tiffany Collins
RoseDog Books
Published: April 2007

Rating: 2.5 Stars -GOOD
Review By: Tamika Johnson

Love vs. Pain and Secrets is a poetry collection about personal issues author Tiffany Collins has worked through. Tiffany is to be commended on being very open and honest in this collection as many of the poems are very revealing such as "I Still Love You" where the author writes about a woman who is married but still in love with another, and "Our Baby is Not Your Child," which speaks of the inner turmoil a woman goes through
knowing that the child she has does not belong to the man she is with.

Though the poetry deals mostly with pain and secrets than it does the redemptive power of love as the title suggests, it is a collection that with deals with many life issues that anyone can relate to.

Rhonda Jackson Joseph
Tea and a Tome Publishing
Contemporary Romance
Published: March 2007

Rating: 2 stars - OK
Reviewer: Patricia Woodside

CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT is an admirable debut romance novel from Rhonda Jackson Joseph. Cishawn “Shawn” Simpson and Tonzell “TJ” Jones have dating history back to a failed blind date when they were in college. Now both budding entrepreneurs, they reunite at the wedding of mutual friends. When Shawn takes ill and collapses following the ceremony, TJ comes to her rescue. As he nurses her back to health, the two explore whether a romance is in their future.

Shawn doesn’t trust herself to seek happiness in a committed relationship, afraid she’ll have to choose between her career goals and a family. TJ likes to rescue people, especially women, even ones he knows are not in his best interest. Can Shawn concede some of her independence and TJ give up his need to be in charge so that a long-term relationship might have a chance?

Ms. Joseph’s characters are interesting. Shawn’s got fire in her belly. She wants to make something of herself beyond simply working at her job and she wants to do it on her terms. TJ is ready to stop rescuing folks, and he’s willing to put up with a lot, but he has his limits and Shawn puts them to the test. However, the story seems to rest largely on the need for these characters to get out of their own way. I believe CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT has the bones of a good contemporary romance. However, with little external conflict to help keep the plot moving, the characters seem to go over the same ground again and again, stopping only for sexual interludes. Also, the story is written in first person point of view, which can be difficult for many writers. In this case, that viewpoint contributes to the passive storytelling. Replacing some of the introspection with a bit more dialogue, in addition to more conflict, would give the story more flesh on those bones. I look forward to Ms. Joseph’s next work.

A Hire Love
Candice Dow
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1938-5
Publish Date: February 2007

Rating: 4 Stars – Excellent
Reviewed by: Delores Hines

Fatima Mayo a widow of three years decides to get back into the dating game. She goes on a few dates and realizes it’s really rough out there. Her husband was just about perfect and had spoiled her rotten. Fatima’s best friend is a casting director and Fatima talks her into finding her the perfect man.

Rashad Watkins is chosen for the role of perfect man to Fatima. Rashad feels an instant attraction to Fatima from pictures alone. He’s a struggling actor waiting for his big break at his Mama’s house.

The couple hit it off but the relationship was one sided. Fatima only received but never truly gave of herself. Rashad wasn’t sure if she loved him for himself or the role he played. The rubber meets the road when Rashad’s big break comes and he has to leave New York. Will Fatima follow him?

It took me a minute to take the plot seriously but once I did, the story was very enjoyable. I would love to see a sequel to this story; Fatima still has a lot of issues she needs to work through.

Ann Christopher
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1434-0
Publish Date: February 2007

Rating: 4 Stars – Excellent
Reviewed by: Delores Hines

Risk is about a couple who share an instant attraction. Angela and Justus share a dance at a wedding where his brother marries her sister. Angela is 7 years older than the 17 year old Justus. She feels the attraction but doesn’t take it seriously because of the age difference.

Fast forward 10 years, the couple come face to face with their attraction while fighting for custody of the niece their perspective siblings left behind when they were killed in a car crash. Justus is a playa who owns a gym and Angela is an uptight lawyer who works too much. Justus works hard to have Angela take him seriously, while Angela works hard not to succumb to the attraction.

This book has renewed my faith in romance novels. The book was engaging, captivating and exciting. The author took the time to have the characters work through their flaws individually as well as a couple. The story was realistic, risky and cutting edge drama. There weren’t any perfect solutions which only made the story more probable. Two thumbs up to Ms. Christopher on her sophomore book.

Dyanne Davis
Parker Publishing, LLC
ISBN: 978-1-60043-004-6
Published: February 2007
Fictional Romance

Rating: 2 ½ Stars - GOOD
Reviewed by: Marguerite Lemons

Torrie and Jake are childhood friends from different sides of the track. A misunderstanding from when they were teens has driven a wedge between them that neither is sure how to overcome. When Hurricane Katrina brings Torrie’s dreams to fruition, Jake risks his life driving to New Orleans, as the storm moves in, to save her. But Torrie and Jake’s reunion is bittersweet; Torrie can’t move forward until she knows that her family is safe, but they are still trying to keep her and Jake apart. Her family wants to protect her, but they should simply mind their own business.

FOREVER AND A DAY is a journey through the devastation and the hopelessness that so many families felt after one of the worst natural disasters of our time. However, Ms. Davis has managed to show the spirit of survival, the renewal of relationships, and the uncompromising love that no hurricane, or breeched levee, can kill.

Now, with that said, I became bored with Torrie. She has a successful business and her own home, but she is uncharacteristically immature. She allows her family to interfere and control her life and she expects more of Jake than she herself is willing to give. Her family’s overly dramatic reaction to her relationship with Jake is irritating. I realize part of their problem with Jake is New Orleans’ underlying “class” system, and the corruption between the wealthy families and the politicians. However, Jake left town over a decade before the storm to build a life without his family’s influence, but Torrie’s family continued to blame him for the sins of his father and his one mistake with Torrie. Her sister Kimmie and cousin Trey couldn’t let go of the past and allow Torrie to make her own decisions where Jake was concerned.

The pacing flows well until the main characters are reunited. Once the storms end and the family settles down everything slows to a crawl. I didn’t like Kimmie and Trey, even after the reason for their reaction is explained. I would have preferred more background on both sets of parents and their respective relationships.

Forever and a Day gives readers some incite into the lives of the Katrina survivors and what it will take for them to completely recover from this disaster. It’s a good book, but I didn’t care for the behavior exhibited by certain characters.

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