My thoughts….4.5 stars

Mellie (Melinda Smithson) is a blue stocking with a penchant for science and has a muslin bleaching formula and cosmetic cream under her belt. But Mellie wants more. She wants the money from her cream sales in her name only (so not done and seriously, what a scandalous thought), freedom and independence (such dangerous desires, is it her mother’s madness coming out?) to marry for love (and that vehemently excludes her cousin Ronnie). Mellie wants the picket fence, 2.5 kids, and pet. When she looks at Trevor’s scheme it’s logically sound and on the surface seems to be the answer to both their dilemmas. Problem is once emotions are brought into play logic tends to fly out the window.
Trevor comes to Mr. Smithson and Mellie’s home to escape, creditors mainly, after being cut off by his grandfather. Mellie’s desperation to escape marriage to Ronnie and be the mistress of her own fortune and future sets his mental wheels aturnin’ and everything becomes crystal clear….He and Mellie can help each other attain their goals, easy peasy. Since they really don’t even like each other, parting and breaking the engagement once each has obtained their objective will be simple and allow Mellie to save face. As a gentleman he can do nothing less, after all, it is part of his code.

What was it Burns said? “The best laid schemes of mice and men…..”

50 WAYS TO RUIN A RAKE is my first Jade Lee. If I had to try and encapsulate Mellie and Trevor’s pothole filled path in one word it would have to be effervescent. Reading is the perfect entertainment. It also educates, elucidates, illuminates, and my personal favorite, provides an escape from life’s stresses.
50 WAYS TO RUIN A RAKE was the perfect read at the perfect time for me. Snappy and clever applies not only to the dialog but the plot and characters too. The madcap misadventures of Mellie and Trevor sparkled and brought me much needed levity. Intelligent humor, or at least my definition of it, isn’t always thick on the ground so it’s always gratifying to discover it, especially by happenstance. If this is an unusual departure for Ms. Lee my fingers and toes are crossed that she plans to make it habitual…….I’m still grinning.

FAKING IT by Leah Marie Brown


Vivia Grant couldn’t be happier. She has her dream job and is about to marry her dream man. Does it really matter that she’s led him to believe she’s a virgin? After all, being in love makes every experience feel like the first time anyway! But an unexpected encounter with an ex-lover is about to expose her embarrassing lie…

When Vivia’s fiancé discovers the truth, he ends their engagement—via text—and uses his connections to get her fired. Unemployed and heartbroken, Vivia begins planning her new future—as a homeless spinster. But her best friend has a better idea. They’ll skip the Ben & Jerry’s binge and go on Vivia’s honeymoon instead. Two weeks cycling through Provence and Tuscany, with Luc de Caumont, a sexy French bike guide. Too bad Vivia’s not a big fan of biking. And she’s abysmal at languages. Will she fib her way through the adventure, or finally learn to love herself—and Luc—flaws and all?

“What do you mean you think the wedding is off?”
I barely open the door before Fanny rushes in, an impeccable vision in knee high black leather boots and a fuchsia Burberry trench. She takes one look at my puffy, tear-streaked face, shrugs out of her trench, and engulfs me in a hug. I must look a wreck because Fanny is not a hugger.
“Tell me what happened, ma chérie.”
We stop hugging and snake our way through a labyrinth of packing boxes until we locate my couch. Fanny sits with her legs crossed, hands folded in her lap, while I assume a fetal position, knees tucked under my chin, a wad of soggy Kleenex clutched in my hand.
Fanny waits patiently until I begin my story.
“I met Nathan at Snob tonight.”
Snob is this super swank wine bar/art gallery in the Mission District. Each month they feature the work of a different local artist. One month, marionettes hung from the ceiling, and the next month, mixed media collages depicting the conflicting patterns found in nature, chaos versus order, covered the walls. I don’t really like wine all that much, but Snob has this hip, laid back vibe that stimulates my creativity. And they serve the best tapas. Nathan thinks the artwork is “weird” and the tapas overrated, but he waxes poetic about Snob’s impressive selection of wines. As I see it, Snob is the perfect place for us.

Leah Marie Brown has worked as a journalist and photographer. An avid traveler, she has had adventures and mishaps from Paris to Tokyo. She doesn’t buy cheesy tee-shirts or useless bric-a-brac, but prefers friendships and memories as souvenirs from her travels. She lives a bike ride away from the white sand beaches of Florida’s Emerald Coast with her husband, children, and pampered poodles. She is hard at work on the next novel in The It Girls series, but loves to hear from readers. Please visit her website at Follow Vivia on Twitter @Chic_Traveler and Pinterest as Vivia Perpetual Grant, Perpetual Virgin.




All characters have holes (notice it rhymes with goal). You open the first chapter and find a human being who believes they are lacking something crucial in their lives. Perhaps it’s the dream job, or the right social circle, or their mother’s approval, or maybe its love.

Rarely do you enter the world of a character who finds themselves whole. A part is usually missing. For the next tens of thousands of words you will embark upon a journey with that character to fill that void.

Characters fill these holes in one of two ways; with either a want or need.

Remember when you were young and you wanted the fancy pair of jeans? Think Brenda in 90210. Fresh from the Midwest, thrown into the dangerous waters of the Beverly Hills elite, and her working class parents couldn’t afford the patchwork, ripped jeans that cost the same as a car payment. But Brenda wanted those holey jeans so that she could fit in with Kelly and Donna. In Carol’s, her mother’s eyes, there was a need for a new pair of pants for Brenda to wear to school and that’s what Brenda got. Now if we watched that 20-year old episode we know what Brenda did to those new pair of jeans and she made holes in her jeans to fill her social void.

You might want a pair of Louis Vuitton, but in the end you need a pair of functioning heels to go with that cute dress.

A want is a false goal, a red herring that throws both the reader and the character off the true course that will fill the character’s hole. It takes some time and some bumps in the road before the character realizes their want is not likely what they need. The need perfectly fills the void the character has been experiencing.


Take a look at your main character(s). What is it that they need in order to be whole again? Now consider if it would serve your story for your character to have a false goal that keeps them from seeing their true need for a good portion of the story?

Next week, you’ll learn the four types of obstacles that a character might face during their course of their quest for their ‘need.’




Trained as a Pleasure Hound and now surviving by selling his body to rich women, Jaspir’s heart has always remained loyal to Lady Merlyn. When Merlyn’s fiance, Liam, approaches Jaspir for help in ensuring her happiness in the bedroom, Jaspir agrees to train Liam in the pleasure arts. What starts as rivals in an uneasy truce, soon turns carnal when Merlyn learns of their secret lessons and iis torn between the attentions of two men who would do anything to rule her heart.

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Ines writes books for strong women who suck at love. If you rocked out to the twisted triangle of Jem, Jericha, and Rio as a girl; if you were slayed by vampires with souls alongside Buffy; if you need your scandalous fix from Olivia Pope each week, then you’ll love her books!

Aside from being a writer, professional reader, and teacher, Ines is a very bad Buddhist. She sits in sangha each week, and while others are meditating and getting their zen on, she’s contemplating how to use the teachings to strengthen her plots and character motivations.

Ines lives outside Washington, DC with her two little sidekicks who are growing up way too fast.


and Daggers
Victoria Roberts
Highland Spy, Book 2
This book
begs to be read and reread.”—
Book Reviews
4 1/2 stars on
Highland Spy

Ever since Lady Grace Walsingham discovered her uncle and sister are spies for the Crown, she has yearned for adventure. She’s counting the days until she can leave barbaric Scotland behind, even if she must endure Highland captain Fagan Murray’s company for weeks.

Fagan has a simple mission: escort the haughty Lady Grace back to England. But nothing is ever easy. The sharp-tongued woman needles him at every turn. But when a menacing threat follows them on their journey, Fagan’s grudging tolerance for Grace turns to respect…and into a perilous attraction that could seal their fate.

Highland Spies series:

My Highland Spy (Book 1)

Kilts and Daggers (Book 2)

Plaids and Petticoats (Book 3)

Buy the Book
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Amazon | Apple | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound

My thoughts….4 stars
Grace is in the Highlands for her sister Ravenna’s wedding to Ruairi, laird of the Sutherland clan. Ravenna met Ruairi during the course of her duties as a spy for the English crown. Now she’s retired and taking up residence in the Highlands.

Grace isn’t crazy about Scots, the Highlands, or Fagan, captain of her brother-in-laws guard. She longs for adventure and wants to take Ravenna’s place as spy for the crown. She has no doubt she’d make an excellent spy and will speak to her uncle when she returns to English soil, the manor, and her fiancé, Lord Casterbrook.

Grace soon discovers the veracity of the adage, “Be careful what you wish for.” She gets adventure in spades and learns what spying truly entails.

At eighteen Grace is fairly young and naïve, but not to hear her tell it. She’s got plenty of spunk, sass, and confidence.  Youthful heroines can often be frustrating in a horror movie, “don’t go in there” way. They always do and you find yourself distracted from the story because you’re blessing out the heroine. When did she take the stupid pill that put her in this gosh awful predicament? The wonderfully refreshing thing about Grace is that despite her lack of worldly knowledge and experience she doesn’t lapse into idiocy. She actually learns from her mistakes, pays attention, and doesn’t overestimate her abilities. She isn’t responsible for any of the quandaries she finds herself in.

Fagan Murray is your standard brawny, ruggedly handsome Highlander or kilted barbaric Scottish miscreant to use one of Grace’s opinions. Fagan has a sense of humor, falling for Grace is evidence of that. He’s alpha and honorable without being over the top, though there are times Grace would no doubt disagree.

Even if, like me, you didn’t read the first in the series you won’t have any difficulty following the events and characters. KILTS AND DAGGERS is a spirited romantic adventure with a hero and heroine who spar as well as they fit together. Absolutely delightful.


Ms. DeStefano takes us back to Chandlerville, Ga. to bring readers their second chance at love story. We first learned of Selena and Oliver in Here in My Heart. Their issues spilled over and affected the lives of many and Brad played a major role as Oliver’s best friend. I confess that once I’d learned a bit about that fateful night my curiosity was in overdrive. Ms. Destefano has made LET ME LOVE
YOU AGAIN well worth the wait.
Oliver has done well for himself in the world of advanced computer tech. He makes a small fortune cleaning up computer issues for
companies and moves almost constantly. When Joe, his foster father, has a heart attack Oliver returns to the one place he’s been avoiding like the plague, Chandlerville. Serena married Parker, a rich New York businessman, who could give her and Camille everything money could buy….but money can’t buy what they really want and need. Serena is back in Chandlerville and in the midst of a divorce that Parker’s fighting tooth and nail.
LET ME LOVE YOU AGAIN is so much more than a second chance for Oliver and Selena. There are plenty of second chances, reconnections, and home truths to go around. It’s emotionally intense without being sappy or whiney, thank goodness. While Selena and Oliver are the main characters, LET ME LOVE YOU AGAIN encompasses their families also, so the story arcs and
characters continue to evolve and grow chronologically.

Thus far the Echoes of the Heart series has dealt with serious issues such as child predators, addiction, and single parenting with respect, heart, hope, and optimism. IMHO, it’s one of the most realistic romance series available; in fact, it isn’t hard to imagine it being the basis of a television series.

4 Stars

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The second in the Chasing Fire series, about a pain too deep to forgive and a passion too hot to forget…

Alessandra Sinclair knows that Hudson Chase is the last man she should want. The boy from the wrong side of the tracks has grown into a man who would do anything to get ahead, even if it means breaking Allie’s heart. But whenever she’s near him, the attraction between them is undeniable. And now that they’re working together, keeping her distance from Hudson is almost as impossible as keeping her feelings in check…

Hudson already lost Allie once and he refuses to lose her again. He’s determined to use their new business partnership to rekindle the spark he knows is still there. Only the closer he gets to winning her over, the clearer it becomes there are still secrets that could tear them apart for good…