Charades, by Ann Logan

17801498[1]-001Reviewed by Tina and Caroline (below)

Tina’s Review

High Octane Powered Tale of Love and Deception

Charades, by Ann Logan, is a thrilling tale of love and deception, where no one is who or what they seem. Caught in the centre is an innocent young woman, Mercedes Fuentes. Mercy not only has to face ghosts from her past she did not know existed, but she also has to cope with a man to whom she has given her heart but who betrays her trust.

In Charades, Mercy, whose parents are deceased and who has been sequestered in academia for years, is offered an opportunity she cannot refuse. Her task is to pose as girlfriend to Wulf Rheinhart who needs a fake fiancée for a week to close a business deal. In return, Mercy will receive a large sum of money to pay off much of her student debt.  Although Mercy is shy around men, she is persuaded by Hazel, who was a friend of her mother’s that Wulf will pose no threat as he is an honourable man and she decides to go ahead with the deal.

As soon as Wulf and Mercy meet there is a mutual attraction. Mercy senses that Wulf is a good man and something of a kindred spirit as he appears a little awkward and devoted to his work. She quickly places her trust in him as his non-threatening demeanour disarms her. Once Wulf’s business deal is secured the couple fall in love and Wulf persuades Mercy to accompany him to Germany, to meet his parents.  However, once in Germany, Mercy learns that Wulf is not the man she thinks he is. In fact she discovers that his very mission was to lure her there for another purpose entirely. She soon finds that her very life is on the line and she does not know whom to trust. Her heart tells her one thing but her mind another. Sinister forces are at play in this suspenseful tale that is full of humour, danger, adventure and plenty of romance.

I liked how Mercy’s character grew in strength throughout the novel. When we first meet her she is nervous around men, favouring dowdy clothes that hide her femininity and being prone to panic attacks. We soon learn that this is due to an experience she had when she began her studies. However, once she falls in love with Wulf she gains a lot of confidence and is able to draw on an inner strength to enable her to cope with the many difficult revelations and events which follow. I think that she surprises herself, Wulf and others with what she is capable of. However, she still retains her overall sense of vulnerability, innocence and goodness, which makes her such a likeable heroine for whom the reader wants to see a HEA.

Wulf, the hero, stole the show for me however, as he is such a lovable character. He is uncomfortable with his mission from the onset, more so when he discovers what an innocent he has to deceive. However, he feels compelled to go through with the task, for reasons that I will not divulge as it would spoil the plot. He soon falls for Mercy and rises to the occasion when he realises that she is in very real danger and uses all of his resources to keep her safe.

I loved the growing relationship between the couple, which was beautifully orchestrated. I felt that their courtship was very realistic and the lovemaking scenes sweet, Wulf being a masterful lover who soon overcomes Mercy’s fears and inhibitions. You could really tell that they were destined to be together, despite the difficulties the plot threw at them. I could understand Mercy’s misgivings when she discovers Wulf’s initial deception and other times when he did not put her fully in the picture.  I also felt Wulf’s angst at having to deceive the woman he loves.

There were many other characters in the plot, which transports the reader from the US, to Germany and to Mexico. Of special note is Hazel, who was instrumental in bringing Mercy and Wulf together and Anton, Wulf’s boss and mentor. These characters, in addition to the others, have an interesting back story and are not whom they first appear to be.

I liked the author’s writing style, which I feel gave a good balance of romance, suspense and plot twists which kept me entertained throughout. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy romantic suspense or contemporary romance, where there are strong elements of intrigue, danger and adventure. I would read another book by the author.

 Reviewed by Tina Williams

 Caroline’s Review

‘Charades’ is an absolutely enthralling ride of love and deceipt. The apt title of this novel explains the story very well, as for poor Mercedes Fuentes one charade snowballs into many more, causing an avalanche of confusion and leaving her uncertain of where to turn. Does she remain on this path with her new-found acting fiancé, Wulf Rheinhart, or does she run? This story, characters and plot, become bigger and better as the story moves on. From the beginning when the reader believes that they are reading a contemporary romance the novel unfolds to suspense romance, thriller, crime, action, adventure and espionage.

Mercedes, more familiarly known as Mercy, has hidden herself into a life of academia, building up student loans, in order to avoid the male population. However, when a family friend offers her a chance to pay off most of the loans, Mercy cannot help but take on the offer. Mercy meets with her friend, Hazel, who has a job lined up for her to act as Wulf Rheinhart’s fiancée in order for him to make a huge business deal with his oil company. Wulf feels like he needs to portray himself as a family man and so needs Mercy to act as his fiancée for a week to secure the deal. Over the course of the week, as well as being attracted when they first met, they begin to develop a love interest for each other and, once the deal is done, Wulf takes Mercy to meet with his family in Germany.

Once in Germany, the naïve and shy Mercy discovers that she has a grandfather in Germany that once was an SS Nazi soldier and had stolen a great deal of money from the Jewish population at the time of the Second World War. It is then that she realises that Wulf’s intentions to bring her to Germany were not for the reasons she thought. Wulf has lied to her and deceived her. Now she is in paramount danger with people that seek this enormous amount of money, knowing that she is the granddaughter, with a man  that betrayed her and in a country away from anyone she trusts. On the one hand she could try and run, but where would she end up if she was alone? Her only other option is to stay with Wulf, as even though he has betrayed her, he seems to be the only one that wants her to be kept alive and safe!

I really like the name and the character ‘Wulf’ in Charades. His name sounds heroic, strong, domineering, decisive and exciting. Along with his physical appearance of being tall, rugged and muscular, this makes for a fabulous hero, one of which the readers will adore and he is perfect for the role in which he plays with Mercy. I’m sure any reader would be at his mercy given the chance! The tension between these two characters is brilliant. One can really sympathise with both characters as the reader is given both points of view as the story moves on. On the one hand Wulf has deceived Mercy on many levels by lying to her, mostly for her own safety. However, it is clear that he hates this situation. He longs to be honest with Mercy but can only do so when it is safe, therefore, Mercy only hears the truth in fractions at a time. This also leaves the reader screaming in parts for Wulf to open up more.

The story itself keeps the characters on their toes with espionage, car chases, kidnapping, threats and plenty more action from America, across to Europe, then Mexico and back! Charades is one hell of a ride. The further into the story you read the reader faces more puzzles and confusion. Ann Logan has written in such an exciting manner that the story becomes bigger and bigger. I think it reflects in the novel that Ann has a wide knowledge of visiting different countries and throughout the book there is always a deep sense of family. It definitely rings true to life in some areas as it made me wonder about my extended family and past generations. What did they get up to?

One of the interesting sides this novel has is the growing of Mercy’s character. At the beginning of this novel she was a naïve student, wary of all men and shy. She blossoms as does her relationship with Wulf and towards the end of the Charades Mercy is no longer as naïve as what she was. In the short time she has known Wulf, he has given her an insight into so much, helped her overcome a fear and she finds out how deep some people will go for love. She is now a worldy wiser woman, well aware of her sexiness and attraction and could possibly deal with any scenario she was faced with. As a reader, I found myself feeling proud of her. She is a great heroine.

Charades is definitely a fascinating read. What began as a contemporary romance for me, with love at it’s core and some really passionate sensual scenes, became a fast-paced thriller with a great plot, plenty of action and crime too. This story has it all!!

Charades was received by A Reader’s Review Blog gratefully from the publisher, Book Hub Inc. for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Charades cover art by Bri Bruce

Published by Blue Star Books 

Author Spotlight – Shannon A Thompson, Author of Minutes Before Sunset

Headshot of Shannon ThompsonAuthor Shannon A Thompson has kindly agreed to stop by ARR Blog today to share with us the experiences that inspired her to become an author and her hopes for the future.  Shannon’s novel, Minutes Before Sunset, a young adult paranormal romance, has recently been published by AEC Stellar Publishing.  If , after reading Shannon’s post, you would like to read a review of Minutes Before Sunset, please scroll down. I can ensure you that the novel is an intriguing read and we wish Shannon every success.  Over to Shannon! Tina :)

Like many writers, I began at a very young age. I specifically remember writing short stories during “Read Allowed Time” when my fourth grade teacher would read novels to us. We were allowed to color, but I wrote, and fellow students asked me to write stories with their names in it, so I did, and I gave them as gifts of friendship.

I began fiddling with novels shortly after that, but I didn’t take it seriously until my inspiration—my mother who encouraged my craft immensely—suddenly passed away on March 16, 2003. I was only 11, but I faced my own mortality, and I became very mature. I realized life wasn’t guaranteed, so I chased my highest hopes immediately.

At sixteen, I published my first novel, November Snow, with Golden Eagle Publishing. It was a young-adult science-fiction novel, dedicated to my mother’s loving memory, and it was entirely based on a nightmare I had suffered from since my mother had died. As a much younger child, I often suffered from nightmares and night terrors (I honestly couldn’t differentiate between reality and dreams) so my mother had me turn them into stories in order to cope.

My latest young-adult paranormal romance, Minutes Before Sunset, is actually a result of the same thing, but it was a different series of dreams. I was in a very dark time in my life, and I had dreams of a boy visiting me at night—just to talk. He’d ask me about how I was feeling, what I was going to do next, and what my hopes were for the future. When I got through that dark time, the dreams were quite literally ripped away from my conscious, and I was distraught. Despite my happiness, I still wanted him as if he was a real person, so I created a story explaining his visits. And Minutes Before Sunset was born.

Now, years later, it was published on May 1,, 2013 by AEC Stellar Publishing, and it’s dedicated to my late roommate, Kristine Andersen, who passed away October 7, 2012. It is also dedicated to our other roommate, Megan Paustian, and the time we had together. Memories are timeless, and I love words because they hold an immortality that people cannot have alone.

Honoring my loved ones through my writing has been my biggest inspiration to achieve my dreams at a young age, but my followers are also. Every supporter encourages me on a daily basis, and I couldn’t be here without them.

I have two other novels in the process of publishing (both novels in the Timely Death series) but my ultimate goal is to give back. I dream of being able to support the arts in a way that I can help others achieve their dreams successfully but, mainly, passionately. If I could do anything, I’d love to open up a school where children can meet people within their art industry in an affordable and effective manor.

I want the world to embrace the arts as a beauty that has been discovered but has yet to achieve its fullest potential.

Shannon A. Thompson

Minutes Before Sunset, by Shannon A Thompson

shan-003Epic Battle between Light and Dark – Young Adult Paranormal Romance

Minutes Before Sunset is the first book in Shannon A Thompson’s Timely Death Trilogy which tells of the elemental power struggle between Dark and Light. It is an amazingly well crafted and multifaceted novel with a fantastic hero and heroine and memorable supporting characters.

In Minutes Before Sunset, seventeen year old Eric Welborn lives in the Midwest town of Hayworth. Eric is a shade, not just any shade, but a descendant, destined by prophecy to battle with the descendant of Light, ancient enemies of the Dark, when he is eighteen, in a battle that will decide the fate of many. Eric has been rocked by tragedy in his life and his obligations weigh heavily on his shoulders, making him a loner, who fears to care for anyone, lest they be taken away from him. However, two encounters are about to change his life – one with Jessica Taylor, a new student at his high school and another, with a powerful, nameless shade, ignorant of her birthright and as such vulnerable to not only his shade community who do not trust outsiders, but also to the Light. He breaks the rules by not reporting her to his Elders and trains her to develop and control her powers, but cannot reveal all his secrets to her.

Jessica Taylor has moved to Hayworth with her adoptive parents, committed to finding out about her deceased biological family who were local to the town. To garner help from her adoptive parents in this quest they  require her to obtain perfect grades. This task appears impossible as she is paired with the taciturn Eric Welborn on a key science project. Eric is distant and preoccupied, often skipping class and is disinterested in completing the project with her. However,  not only will Jessica not fail her science project, but she also wants to find out more about his secrets and at the same time feels drawn to him.

As the battle between Light and Dark approaches Eric must devote more time to his training and remain focused. However, his thoughts often stray to the nameless shade, who grows more and more powerful and he is also distracted by Jessica, who piques his human side. Key players in the Light close in on Eric and he must protect those he cares about and keep himself alive until the battle commences, a battle he fears that he is destined to lose. Yet when he discovers that the Dark Elders have lied by omission about key elements of the prophecy, he feels deceived and the events which ensue threaten dire consequence for all he holds dear.

The cast of supporting characters is strong, from the adults to Eric and Jessica’s fellow pupils. The fact that neither the shades nor the Light  recognise each other easily in their human form adds an element of mystery to the plot and we as reader are therefore not party to the secret identity of  many characters. We can only guess at their true nature and I am sure that the author will reveal more in subsequent books in the trilogy.

Minutes Before Sunset is an original and compulsive read. The tale is told in the first person, with chapters told from the perspective of Eric and Jessica. This is effective in terms of both advancing the plot and giving depth to the characters. I particularly enjoyed the maturity and selflessness of the hero and heroine, Eric and Jessica, and found their growing attraction and love for one another both believable and sweet. The novel ends in such a way that I am chomping at the bit to read the next instalment.

Minutes Before Sunset is a magical, if slightly dark tale, containing romance and adventure, which explores fate and free will and self-sacrifice. I recommend it to readers of both adult and young adult paranormal romance.

To read author Shannon A Thompson’s author post, in which she talks about her inspiration behind the series, lease click here. Tina 🙂

Author Shannon A Thompson website

AEC Stellar Publishing

Cover artist Grace Griffin, Autumn Fog Photography

Nomination for the Liebster Award

lieber-awardAs mentioned in our update, A Reader’s Review Blog has been nominated by Sabrina at The Urban Book Thief for the Liebster Award! Thank you, Sabrina! Bloggers pass on this award to new bloggers if they feel that their blog is worth viewing, but have fewer than 200 followers! This allows bloggers to promote each other in a fun way, which I think is quite cool! To accept the award we must list 11 facts about ourselves, answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated us and also nominate 11 other new blogs for this amazing award! Hehe! As a little bit of fun, Tina and myself have decided we would both post 11 facts about ourselves and answer the questions from Sabrina! So, without further ado, below you will find the 11 facts about ourselves, answers to The Urban Book Thief’s questions and a list of the 11 blogs that Tina and myself have nominated for the award.

11 Facts about Caroline319607_2093943793106_1277644539_n[1]

  1. I never wanted to read a paranormal novel, thinking they were unbelievable. How wrong was I?!
  2. My favourite subject at school was history.
  3. I have never had a filling.
  4. I got my partner into running when we first met, deciding to start jogging. I stopped after a few runs and yet my partner runs 2-3 times a week, runs fun runs and has taken part in marathons, including the London Marathon! Twice!!! He has been doing this for 12 years!
  5. My favourite colour is blue.
  6. I enjoy watching the Snooker World Championships and love watching Ronnie O’Sullivan play. He has won the title 4 times now, 3 of which were the years my children were born!
  7. I used to be an avid music fan of most rock/pop acts and my knowledge was fairly good. I was called a ‘walking encyclopaedia’ at school! These days I am heavily into tv programmes, such as The Shield, Sons of Anarchy, Justified, Hell on Wheels, Breaking Bad, Lie To Me, Scrubs, True Blood, The Walking Dead, Boomtown, Southland and more recently Elementary and Chicago Fire! (To name but a few – there are many, many more!!!)
  8. For the last 3 years, until very recently, I was attending my friends Zumba classes 2-3 times a week. During some of these classes when I was needed I would take to the stage myself and help guide the class with some of the moves through the tracks! Very embarrassing and nerve-racking but great fun!!!
  9. At my first high school Sports Day I won the 400m race for my team, competing against some really great cross country runners! I am not a sporty person and so I am quite proud of that one! Couldn’t do it again though! Hehe!!
  10. After being the second from last out of my class to learn how to swim, I am determined to encourage my kids to learn, or to take part in other sports of their choice, to help with their confidence, self-esteem and socialising just as much as the physical exercise and well-being! I am very proud to say my 8 yr old daughter has achieved her 1km in swimming and practising for her lifesaver badge!
  11. My favourite actor has got to be Clint Eastwood. As well as his westerns, such as A Fistful of Dollars, and his action cop thrillers, such as Dirty Harry, I was brought up watching him in Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can! From High Plains Drifter to Gran Torino, from Play Misty For Me to The Rookie he’s just fantastic!

Easter 2013 017-00211 Facts about Tina

  1. I like watching historical re-enactments, knights in shining (or tarnished) armour being my favourite.
  2. In researching my family history I have found many surprising facts, such as some Irish ancestry, criminal ancestors and an MP.
  3. I proposed to my husband in a leap year, after making sure that he had drunk enough El Presidente cocktail to sink a ship. I am normally quite shy and retiring, but I wanted to be sure of success!
  4. I am a liberal minded parent – my two girls rule the roost. I am banking on the fact that they will keep me in luxury in my retirement, as some research has found that this is the best way to foster genius. My excuse for lack of discipline!
  5. My fave holiday destination ever was my visit the US touring the San Francisco and then going inland to take in the many national parks.
  6. My star sign is Sagittarius. I was once heavily into astrology and cast my own natal chart.
  7. I nearly always prefer the book to the film.
  8. I believe in a superior being, but I think that it is more likely to be female than male.
  9. I believe that there are other sentient beings out there in space watching us and I have a secret wish to be abducted by a handsome alien and whisked off to the stars.
  10. I will often annoy my family by singing very loudly to the original soundtrack of War of the Worlds.
  11. I am not a feminist and prefer to celebrate the differences between the sexes.

Below are mine and Tina’s answers to The Urban Book Thief’s questions:-

Qu 1. Chicken or the egg – choose!

Tina: The egg – if only because it has got to hatch out of something!

Caroline: The egg definitely, as the chicken could possibly be a cross-breed.

Qu 2. How did you come up with the name of your blog?

Tina: I can’t claim any credit for this one – it was Caroline’s excellent idea!

Caroline: I thought it was simple, to the point and I always like onomatopoeia!!

Qu 3. Which one of your posts/book reviews was the most fun to write?

Tina: Evi Rabi’s Gringa: In the Clutches of a Ruthless Drug Lord.

Caroline: Vampire Seeker by Tim O’Rourke. I wrote it with a great deal of passion as I loved the book. It is one of my favourites!

Qu 4. What did you eat for breakfast today?

Tina: Chopped apple and natural yoghurt.

Caroline: Coco Pops

Qu 5. Where are all the baby pigeons?

Tina: I think they must hatch fully grown as I’ve never seen a baby one, although we get lots of adult pigeons in our garden. Perhaps they have been abducted by aliens and returned to Earth fully grown to spy on us?

Caroline: Maybe the baby pigeons age quickly so we never get to see them as babies. Or maybe they are invisible and can only appear when fully grown. This needs to be investigated!!!

Qu 6. What are you reading right now?

Tina: Borderland Beauty, a medieval romance, by Samantha Holt.

Caroline: Charades by Ann Logan.

Qu 7. Which book character do you simply love the most?

Tina: Barrons from Karen Marie Moning’s Fever Series. If you have read it you will know why!

Caroline: I quite like Harry from Vampire Seeker right now!

Qu 8. Which is your favourite book series?

Tina: JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood. The series just gets better and better and her vamps are HOT.

Caroline: Black Dagger Brotherhood by J.R. Ward. This dark series focuses on all characters, each with their own characteristics, and the whole plot is packed with everything you could wish for.

Qu 9. Ninjas or Pirates – Choose!

Tina: Ninjas – I have always wanted the ability to dodge the raindrops as I hate the rain.

Caroline: Pirates for me as they seem to be naughty, crafty, cheeky and great characters. When I think of the word ‘pirate’ it reminds me of Johnny Depp as Capt. Jack Sparrow. Ninja reminds me of the ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ with theit great big rubber outfits! Hehe!

Qu 10. If you could have a supernatural power what would it be?

Tina: To shapeshift so that I could take on the appearance of someone else – just think of the fun getting access to places usually verboten and seeing or hearing what goes on! Either that or an invisibility cloak!

Caroline: I was going to say to read minds but I’m not sure. I would love to be a vampire for a while though!!

Qu 11. What’s black and white and red all over?

Tina: A newspaper with the measles.

Caroline: A zebra with a suntan.

Now for our 11 nominees for the Leibster Award:-

Helena Fairfax

Eve Rabi

Portal to the Pages

Dear Babies

M.C. Lavocat

The Book Trail


T. R.’s Musings

Raspo Review

Books in Transit Blog

Candy Coated Book Blog

If the nominees above would like to take part, they too would need to list 11 facts about themselves, answer our 11 questions from below and nominate 11 other new blogs (with fewer than 200 followers) as well as ask them 11 questions. Our 11 questions for the nominees above are as follows:-

  1. What inspired you to begin a blog?
  2. What is your favourite book genre?
  3. Where is your favourite place in the world?
  4. If you could be an animal, which animal would you be?
  5. Which animal scares you the most?
  6. Which musical instrument would you love to play?
  7. Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
  8. Who is your most favourite author?
  9. What is  your favourite meal?
  10. If you could be a tv/film comedy character of your choice, who would you be?
  11. If you were to write a book, which genre would best describe it?

Update from Caroline

Hello, readers! I hope you are enjoying the bank holiday, the sunshine and your novels! 🙂

Mere EnchantmentLast week I reviewed Alicia Rivioli‘s modern-day fairytale adventures, ‘Mere Enchantment (Book 1)’ and the sequel, ‘Rings of Enchantment (Book 2)’. In this Enchantment series, at the same time as being in a strange, magical  land with dragons and wizards and trying to learn their own abilities, Preston, Chloe, Jason, Megan and Zach fight to be reunited again and to free the Kingdom of Mere from the traitor, Jacan and his army! Along with my review, Alicia also took some time to write an author post. Thank you, Alicia!

The Silk Romance 333x500-001Meanwhile, Tina has reviewed a contemporary romance with Helena Fairfax‘s debut novel ‘The Silk Romance’. We would also like to thank Helena for also taking the time to write an author post to accompany Tina’s review.

In regards to our werewolf theme we have put together a list of recommended paranormal romance books featuring werewolves and we are also hosting a Werewolf Wishlist competition, asking for readers to provide us with a title/titles of any werewolf-themed books that you have read or been recommended,  in return to have a chance at winning a £5 Amazon Voucher (or the equivalent currency). To enter please visit our competitions page to leave your comment/suggestion. All suggestions need to be posted by Wednesday 29th May 2013. Thank you and good luck, guys!!

Our True Crime page was also added to our site. The book reviews that I add here will be saved only to the True Crime page and will not be posted on our main page due to the fact that they do not tie in with the majority of fictional books we read and review and because of their sensitive nature. However, as and when I review a book for this category we will mention it in our updates and possibly write a short post with the link.

lieber-awardOn a more fun note, A Reader’s Review Blog has been nominated by Sabrina at The Urban Book Thief for the Liebster Award! Bloggers pass on this award to new bloggers if they feel that their blog is worth viewing, but with fewer than 200 followers! To accept the award we must list 11 facts about ourselves, answer 11 questions from the blogger that nominated us and also nominate 11 other new blogs for this amazing award! Hehe! As a little bit of fun, Tina and myself have decided we would both post 11 facts about ourselves and answer the questions from Sabrina! More to come on this later this week!!!

Which leaves us with books that we are reading and reviewing this week! Well, Tina will be reading the recent releases ‘Minutes Before Sunset’, a Young Adult paranormal by Shannon A. Thompson, with which there will be an author post, and ‘Borderland Beauty’ by Samantha Holt. In the meantime, I have some catching up to do as I have just begun Ann Logan’s ‘Charades’. Tina and myself are hoping to post a joint review of this novel this week. My next book will be either ‘The Mating’ by Nicky Charles or ‘Ravaged (otherwise known as ‘Overwinter’)’ by David Wellington (which is the second book in David Wellington’s Werewolf series). Overtime, I will review both books. You can find my review of David Wellington’s first book in his werewolf series ‘Cursed’ (otherwise known as ‘Frostbite’) here.

Have a fab weekend. Caroline 🙂

‘Mere Enchantment’ cover art by Danijel Firak

‘The Silk Romance’ cover art by Charlotte Volnek

Author post: Alicia Rivoli

Mere EnchantmentWriting seemed like a simple idea. I had the story, & the ability to type, so what could possibly make it a challenge?

This question has plagued me for the last 8 years. What started out as a dream that I decided to write down has turned into a wonderful battle. Writing is anything but simple. Having an idea is just the beginning. Getting it to come to life for others to enjoy is something else entirely. After finishing Mere Enchantment and realizing that having it published traditionally was just not in the cards, my husband came up with the plan to try self publishing. For a long time I didn’t like the idea, thinking it would destroy my chances of being published “for real”.  After a while I agreed, and it has been a fantastic journey.

Self publishing is definitely not for the faint at heart. It is extremely difficult and requires hours and hours of your personal time and funds. Between marketing, publicity, and getting the book ready for the public, it is a full time job. Even with all this work, I’ve discovered my complete love for sharing my stories with the world. Thanks to social media, and big name companies offering “self-publishing” deals, my dream has been brought to life.

As I finished the final book of The Enchantment Series, I am understanding that the last 8 years I have spent among the land of Mere with all the wonderful characters have been some of my best. As I’m getting ready to say goodbye to those characters and move on to the next adventure I’m finding it bittersweet. Chloe, Preston, Megan, Jason and Zach have been a constant thought, always in the back of my mind, always moving forward.

Rings of Enchantment  (The Enchantment Series, #2)The final pages of Rings of Enchantment were extremely challenging for me to write as I knew it was goodbye. With each click on the keyboard, my heart swelled with joy, but also with despair as I closed the chapter of my life that I’ve known for so long. I express my sincere gratitude too all the people that have enjoyed the journey with me, including all the readers and fans.

Alicia Rivoli

Cover art by Danijel Firak

Caroline’s review

‘Mere Enchantment’ & ‘Rings of Enchantment’ by Alicia Rivoli

Mere Enchantment

A modern-day magical, fun and adventurous fairytale

Recommended for readers 8 yrs and over

Mere Enchantment and Rings of Enchantment are Alicia Rivoli‘s Enchantment series books that have one epic adventure flowing through them as though they are a Part One and Part Two. Part Two continues the story beautifully. Personally, I couldn’t read one book without the other and therefore would recommend to any reader to obtain both copies. Aside from not feeling myself, this was also another reason for my belated review, as I had to read the sequel as soon as I finished Mere Enchantment!

The Enchantment series takes you into another world. The world of Mere. Under attack from the dark traitor, Jacan, and his army of Umbra, the Kingdom of Mere is struggling to survive. Jacan and his army have already taken over the city of Nebula and if nobody stops him, Jacan will strive to take over the whole Kingdom! It is therefore up to the five main characters, Preston, Chloe, Jason, Megan and Zach to prevent Jacan with the use of magic and their new-founded abilities in Mere to defeat Jacan and his army.

Mere Enchantment (Book 1) begins with Preston living in a cabin with his parents overlooking Mirror Lake. When Preston’s parents rent out their second cabin, across the other side of the lake, to two families, each with two teenagers, Chloe, Jason, Megan and Zach, Preston seems happy to have kids of a similar age visit. He quickly builds up a bond with them, in particular Chloe. Preston takes them to a cave nearby and little do they realise at the time that this cave is where the magic really begins for them!

There were a couple of instances in the very beginning that made me question why Preston’s parents treated him like a younger child, when he was an older teenager. I couldn’t quite connect to all of the characters, especially Preston’s parents, as I didn’t understand their behaviour. However, as this magical epic tale unfolds this question was answered very clearly, especially once the main characters entered the cave! One example of this is Preston’s father reading him what appears to be bedtime stories and yet, once he is in the Kingdom of Mere, Preston realises that those stories are most likely to be true and his father had been preparing him for his new journey to help the Kingdom of Mere as his new-found self, along with his magic and friends.

When they first enter the Kingdom of Mere they notice changes with one another, such as changes of appearance, age, clothes and later their powers. It is great how they all have these underlying magical abilities but it is only through entering the cave/kingdom that these skills naturally blossom. I particularly like the way in which they discover their powers in an instinctive manner as opposed to having be taught them through magic. The characters adapt to their new surroundings very quickly and, with the help of some wizards, they soon become aware of what they need to do save the Kingdom of Mere!

The group find themselves separated once they arrive in Mere, as Preston is with Megan and Zach, and Chloe is with her brother, Jason. I become a little lost when main characters are separated as I like to keep everyone together, however it adds the tension as the reader constantly pushes for them to reunite. But with Jacan and the Umbra taking over, controling the weather and using shadows for cover it becomes quite eventful. War is taking place and it doesn’t seem to be too long before Jacan will completely take over the Kingdom of Mere.

Rings of Enchantment  (The Enchantment Series, #2)In Rings of Enchantment (Book 2) I found the story to be slightly more action-packed as by now the reader is familiar with the characters, some of their abilities and the Kingdom of Mere. I also found the sequel to be a quicker read, with more dialogue and more magic being used and more involvement with the dragons. Jacan and his army are really beginning to close in on Mere, destroying the underwater kingdom of Rill and using everything he possibly can to win the Kingdom for himself. This sequel is darker and most certainly more intense.

Towards the end I found myself tensing as Alicia Rivoli leaves the reader on tenterhooks between chapters as she visits the different characters and picks up their story from a chapter or two before! This definitely teases the reader and makes you feel like you have to know more, encouraging the reader to quicken their speed, along with the action of the book!

I also found the glossary in Book 2 to be useful as the reader follows so many different characters in different cities and, as the main characters are slightly different people in Mere than they are in Oklahoma, it was nice to be able to check up on the characters and places once I finished.

I really enjoyed reading this fun series and I would recommend it for readers of the age 8 years and over. Kids would absolutely love the magic, the dragons, princes and princesses in secret kingdoms, the wizards and the whole adventure. Not forgetting the main plot to save the Kingdom from this terrible, dark traitor! There are cities in the sky/clouds and underwater. I actually had my own daughter (age 8) read a chapter as she had forgotten to bring home her school book. I was delighted when she read a whole chapter really well and was able to tell me afterwards what had happened. Even though I had her read from the middle of the sequel she was still able to tell me in her own words what had happened and what type of characters she had been reading about!

My hat goes off to Alicia Rivoli for writing a fantastic modern-day magical, fun and adventurous fairytale! It is clear to the reader that the author has spent a great deal of time creating the wonderful world of Mere, as well as beautiful characters with princes, princesses, wizards, dragons, merpeople and an army of darkness with a traitor as their leader.

At the same time as being in a strange, magical  land with dragons and wizards and trying to learn their own abilities, Preston, Chloe, Jason, Megan and Zach fight to be reunited again and to free the Kingdom of Mere!

I received both books from the author, Alicia Rivoli in return for an honest and fair review.

Please check out Alicia’s author post for A Reader’s Review Blog, along with her blog and Facebook page below. There is a fantastic trailer on Alicia’s BlogSpot that really catches the eye and adds great visuals for her Enchantment series.

Cover art by Danijel Firak, his website is

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Author Post and Bio: Helena Fairfax, Author of The Silk Romance

Today we are excited to welcome author Helena Fairfax to our small corner of cyberspace. Helena has just had  her first novel, The Silk Romance, a contemporary romance, published by MuseItUp Publishing. In Helena’s post she shares with us what inspired her to write the novel and the characters within it and also tells us about her background in an author bio. If you would like to read a review of The Silk Romance, please scroll down after reading Helena’s post. Over to you Helena ……….  Tina 🙂

Helena Farfax photo-002

 Romantic Lyon and Teenage Crushes

As a student I once spent an unforgettable few months working as an au pair in the city of Lyon.  The time I spent in this beautiful city was one of the happiest and most romantic of my life.  How different this hot and vibrant city was, to the bleak Yorkshire town I had come from.  In the bright southern sun, everything seemed to me intensely colourful: the two rivers, the Rhône and the Saône, gliding through the city; the market stalls with their ripe fruits; the cypress trees; the street cafés and the night-life.  It was an intense experience, which stayed with me long after I left France.

When I came to write my first romance novel, The Silk Romance, I knew Lyon had to be the setting.  And it was easy to picture my French hero.  As an au pair, I lived in with my family, in a centuries old stone building overlooking the city’s old town.  In the apartment above mine, on the top floor, lived the most handsome young man I’d ever seen in my life.  Tall, tanned, with the most piercing blue eyes, a devastating smile and a confident way of talking to me whenever we bumped into each other on the shadowy stone stairs. Sadly, my handsome crush was engaged to be married, and so my teenage longing remained from afar!  But now I have brought my romantic Frenchman to life, and he has his own role in the form of Jean-Luc, the hero of The Silk Romance.

As for the glamorous silk industry, which also plays a large part in my story, many years after I left France I took a job in a woollen mill in West Yorkshire.  The weaving industry once played a major role in both Yorkshire and Lyon, but is now sadly a dying trade.  I thought it would be wonderful to revive Lyon’s once thriving silk industry, and so I made my hero the owner of one of the city’s few remaining silk mills, producing wonderful textiles for opera houses, theatres and fashionable people around the world.

And my heroine?  Sophie is exactly the type of female character I like to write, and to read about.  A young woman who is self-reliant, who has seen her share of tragedy in this life, who is compassionate, but not afraid of letting the hero know exactly what she thinks.

I hope you enjoy reading about my characters as much as I enjoyed creating them.  I was sorry to say goodbye to them when I put down my pen – so perhaps instead of goodbye, I should merely say au revoir, Sophie et Jean-Luc – et bonne chance!

Author Bio

Helena Fairfax was born in Uganda and came to England as a child.  She’s grown used to the cold now and that’s just as well, because nowadays she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, right next door to windswept Brontë country.  She has an affectionate, if half-crazed, rescue dog and together they tramp the moors every day—one of them wishing she were Emily Brontë, the other vainly chasing pheasants.   When she’s not out on the moors you’ll find Helena either creating romantic heroes and heroines of her own or else with her nose firmly buried in a book, enjoying someone else’s stories.  Her patient husband and her brilliant children support her in her daydreams and are the loves of her life.

Thank you Helena for providing this author post and bio for us today. Please scroll down or click here to read my review of The Silk Romance. Tina :)

Author Helena Fairfax’s Website

Publisher MuseItUp Publishing

The Silk Romance, by Helena Fairfax

The Silk Romance 333x500-001Gallic Charm in the City of Silk – Sweet Contemporary Romance

The Silk Romance, author Helena Fairfax’s first novel, is a sweet and emotional contemporary romance and such a romantic read. At its heart is a complex relationship between a rich, sophisticated Frenchman and an impoverished Englishwoman. Yet this is no simple Cinderella tale as their HEA is fraught with family tragedy, deception, misunderstandings and the difficulties which can arise when two very different worlds collide.

Sophie Challoner and racing driver Jean-Luc Olivier spent a passionate night together in Paris four years ago, after which Sophie fled to the safety and responsibilities of her family awaiting her in London.  Sophie is committed to the promise that she made to her dying mother – to look after her father and brother. Four years later Sophie is shocked when Jean-Luc appears once more and uses his power and influence to arrange for her to spend two months on a student work placement at his silk mill in Lyon, France.  Jean-Luc is hell bent on solving the mystery of Sophie and why she ran away from him. Sophie, for her part, resolves to keep her distance, knowing that they can never share a future. The couple cannot deny their growing attraction, yet how can they have a relationship when their worlds are so far apart and when a family emergency compels Sophie to return home to honour her promise to her mother?

The story shows that money cannot buy love. There are many obstacles to their romance: both characters have strong misconceptions of the other, which must first be overcome; there is also the gulf that exists between them in terms of Sophie’s family responsibilities and their different worlds, one of fancy restaurants and haute couture the other of fast food and rundown housing estates.

On the surface Sophie is a strong and determined young woman, working hard to support her family financially and emotionally. However, her carefully constructed façade crumbles as soon as Jean-Luc appears, and she begins to unravel, revealing her vulnerabilities and exposure to Jean-Luc’s world opens old wounds. She has not had a relationship since the night she spent with Jean-Luc in Paris, a night she often dreams of. Her resolve to keep her distance from Jean-Luc is put to the test by events which show him to be far from the shallow celebrity she believed him to be and Jean-Luc’s strong determination to breach her fragile defences and find out the truth.

Jean-Luc is an alpha hero with a strong sense of honour and is full of Gallic charm, making me go weak at the knees just thinking about him!  He is a man who likes to exert control in his life and has his own secrets. However, with Sophie he is flummoxed as he cannot understand her motivations, let alone control her. He does know that he wants to protect Sophie and knows that he must be patient if he is to prevent her running away again. He is wonderful hero, who has learned a lot in the years since he first encountered Sophie in Paris.

I also enjoyed the main setting for the novel, the romantic city of Lyon and lost myself in the evocative descriptions of the architecture, the silk mill and ‘la vie en France.’ There are also scenes which take place in Paris and London. I was pulled into the story immediately with the opening scene, where Sophie meets Jean-Luc for the first time since that fateful night four years ago. The tension and the emotional link between the main couple jump off the pages and was maintained throughout the novel. The publisher, MuseItUp Publishing (click on the link) has a lovely excerpt of this scene on their website if you want to find out more.

I found The Silk Romance to be an extremely romantic and engaging novel, in which I was aching for the couple to overcome the  obstacles to their happiness and embrace their future together. It is a very impressive first novel, exploring both romantic love and family ties and I am looking forward to the next novel by the author, The Antique Love, which is in the pipeline.

A copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

To read about what inspired Helena to write this novel and the characters within it and to read her author bio please scroll up or click here.

Author Helena Fairfax’s Website

Publisher MuseItUp Publishing – click for details of the book and for excerpt

Cover art for The Silk Romance by Charlotte Volnek