World of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

World of the Innocent
A Novella
(Contemporary Love Story)

“Just WOW. This book totally blew me away. It’s in my top five of ‘the most romantic books I’ve ever read.’” ~Valerie’s Musings
“Keels perfectly captures what it looks like to find true love. A love with substance…” ~Lights in a Dark World

“Are you ready to love this young man?”

Jhoi: she’s poetic. She’s guarded. And she couldn’t imagine having much to do with a guy like Marcas. Sure, Marcas is a brilliant fellow artist, admired by plenty of fans. But he’s so remarkably…strange.

Still, Marcas touches Jhoi’s soul. And through the counsel of a shrewd old neighbor, Jhoi will discover a link between intimate friendship and becoming a steward of an era.

A tale of love, enduring belief, and the meaning of innocence—based on a true story.

~~~

Pick up a copy of World of the Innocent

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There are a few ways you can stay updated on Nadine’s books. Find them here!

 

Songbird and Other Stories by Jennifer Lamont Leo

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Songbird and Other Stories by Jennifer Lamont Leo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

A speakeasy singer is getting fed up with the seductive man she works for. A department store clerk comes up with a scheme to snag a luxurious boudoir robe for herself after Christmas—but the cost may be too high. And what’s the harm of an old lady brewing a special tonic for herself at home in the midst of Prohibition? These tales and more are found in Songbird and Other Stories by author Jennifer Lamont Leo.

Four short ‘n’ sweet stories set during the Jazz Age? Yes, please! Sometimes you just need to sit for a little while with something you’re sure is going to hit the spot. I needed something quick, uplifting, and entertaining, and that’s what I got.

It was nice to revisit a few of the characters I first met when I read this author’s Roaring Twenties novels. The first story, while fun to read, had kind of a rushed and bumpy flow to me, but the second story, The Christmas Robe, is my favorite of this collection. Humorous, clever, and touching! It got some chuckles out of me before it made me teary-eyed, and the next two stories are also quite delightful.

It’s a great collection to read before or after the Roaring Twenties novels. No, you don’t have to read the novels first to follow these tales, but you’ll want to find out the rest about these characters if you haven’t. They’re the cat’s pajamas!

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Here’s my review of the first Roaring Twenties novel, You’re the Cream in My Coffee.

 

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman by Teresa Warfield

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me.

Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman by Teresa Warfield

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

Medicine is a man’s field. Women aren’t allowed to attend medical school. Proper Bostonian ladies marry and become dutiful wives and mothers, not doctors. Michaela Quinn has heard it all, but medicine is her lifelong passion, and a physician is what she strives to become in Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman by author Teresa Warfield.

Yup. It’s a novel based on characters from one of the best historical dramas to ever grace a television screen, a superb family show from Saturday night network television in the 1990s.

Still, I didn’t step into this read expecting to relive my beloved onscreen drama through it. Television is television and books are books—very different mediums for storytelling. So I let this historical fiction novel be what it is: a historical fiction novel.

It’s the coming-of-age story of an imperfect, ambitious heroine who has much to learn and must fight numerous frustrations and rejections to walk in her purpose. The tale includes Michaela’s vital relationship with her physician father, her difficult relationship with her conventional mother, her first romantic love, and of course, her early work on the path to becoming a doctor.

Some of the medical scenes are pretty graphic, but hey. The medical field isn’t for the faint of heart.

Now, the writing style is rather trite and redundant in places, the storyline rushes at times (indeed, there are a lot of years to cover), and I’m not sure the tale really concludes so much as it just goes along and eventually stops, pretty much where the television show begins. But the novel is rich in historical background and detail, with new inventions of the time, the heated sociopolitical climate in America, the Civil War, and the shifting landscape of medicine.

In all, a worthwhile read for this fan of inspiring historical fiction.

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Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Series

 

Publishing Books As a Series: Just a Sales Gimmick?

First, the short answer to this blog post’s title: NO.

And now for an answer with a little more detail.

Sure, some authors and publishers might use cliffhangers or incomplete story arcs to essentially trick or “force” readers into buying an additional book. But a whole lot of book series aren’t about tricks. Not everything that happens in certain characters’ lives, or in certain worlds authors create, can be contained in a single book.

Of course, some book series are linked by a common theme while the books stand completely alone, sharing no characters. The Women of the West series by Janette Oke is a good example. Historical fiction about—you guessed it!—women in the west, and that overall theme is the only link the individual books share.

Then there are series that have some characters in common, but each book is a separate story featuring different main characters taking the lead. The Atlanta Justice series, legal suspense by Rachel Dylan, is the first such series that popped into my head.

Nevertheless, even when a series features the same lead characters in each book, or the different books take on different phases of an overall story arc, it doesn’t mean the series is a trick or a sales gimmick.

Especially for particular genres, rather blatant cliffhanger endings are major suspense builders that, believe it or not, some audiences actually enjoy. They love the thrill of seeing a hero or heroine jump out of an airplane thousands of feet up in the sky, the book skidding to a stop while the character is still in midair, and the audience holds their breath in anticipation of the next book.

Hey. It’s not my favorite thing as a reader, personally. But I can’t knock other readers for thinking it’s fun. It’s like the season finales of a lot of TV shows, when fans wait for the new season to find out what happens next.

A novel based on Dr. Quinn–coming up soon on my TBR list!

I mean, one of my favorite TV cliffhangers ever had a literal cliff, back in the ’90s on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. When Sully and that crooked army Sergeant What’s-His-Name got into hand-to-hand combat and tumbled off that cliff to free fall into a canyon, Dr. Quinn arrived later only to find that Sully had disappeared, and Dr. Quinn, with a mix of fear and uncanny conviction, whispered, “He’s alive. I know he’s alive.” [End of Season Five.] I’ve never enjoyed hanging off a cliff more!

But, *ahem,* back to the present.

There are other book series with returning characters that don’t have cliffhanger endings at all. Each book is a complete story with a natural conclusion, and then the characters come back in a new book with another complete story about new events or another phase in the characters’ lives.

It’s kind of like how we live in real life. Everything doesn’t happen all at once, but we live in different years and seasons. If our lives were novels, too much would happen to many of us to fit in just one book. Life takes time. We’d need additional books to show how our additional seasons unfold.

One series that immediately comes to mind for me is the Seasons of the Heart series, more historical fiction by Janette Oke. The series follows an orphaned boy, Joshua, from childhood to young adulthood to manhood, and each book is a complete story in itself.

I’ve not yet read all the books in a newer, sci-fi series by Steve Rzasa, featuring Captain Vincent Chen. Yes, there are some overarching themes that aren’t tied up in a neat and tidy, “Happily Ever After and That’s All Folks!” bow at the end of each book. Yet, the two books I’ve read so far each contain a complete story, intriguing me to read more about Vincent, even without him dangling off galactic cliffs at the end of the books.

And then, sometimes a series continues simply because an author finds out new stuff about previous characters. Take two of the series I’ve written so far, the Movement of Crowns and When It’s Time. Neither series was a series at first. The Movement of Crowns was one book, Love Unfeigned was one book, and that was that. Done!

Or so I thought.

Months (in one case, years) later, new stuff involving the characters came to my attention. So, I wrote more books.

  

The two series I’m writing now, the Crowns Legacy and Eubeltic Realm series, have returning characters, too. But it’s not a gimmick to “make” people buy more books. I love the characters, I keep writing as I learn more of what happens to them, and each individual book is a complete story with a natural conclusion.

No tricks. Not a marketing ploy. Just a continuation of characters’ lives, their seasons, and more about the world they live in, revealed in more than one book.

Similar to how my life would be if someone were to write about it.

No, I can’t speak for authors or publishers who may really be trying to bamboozle or essentially force readers into something by publishing books as a series. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that’s what all book series are about. The honest, creative, and useful purposes for series in literature are much bigger than any author’s or publisher’s supposed gimmicks.

 

The Bewildered Bride by Vanessa Riley

Book reviews are subjective. I tend to rate books not according to how “perfect” they are, seem to be, or are said to be in general but rather to how perfect they are to me. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

The Bewildered Bride by Vanessa Riley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

(Click the title to find the book description/blurb.)

After an elopement and brief marriage, Ruth and Adam are attacked by highwaymen, the bride and groom each thinking afterward that the other is dead. Four years later, Ruth is considering a possible marriage of convenience to another man, especially for the benefit of her young son. Adam returns after years of impressment to find Ruth alive, but the danger around them and secrets between them begin to mount in The Bewildered Bride by author Vanessa Riley.

I appreciate authors who can amaze me in little ways. It doesn’t necessarily have to be big, blaring plot twists, but remarkable turns of phrase and gripping imagery can go a long way. This author’s style keeps me on my toes.

Now, I’ll admit the unpredictable rhythm in parts of this novel made the emotional flow a bit difficult to follow at times, so I couldn’t always make heads or tails of the characters. But the hero and heroine are interesting people who work well together for this story. Their romantic chemistry and physical relationship are prominent and intense but nothing R-rated.

I particularly empathized with some of Ruth’s frustrations over personal injustices and relished a moment leading to the climax where she truly stands up. However, I had to suspend my disbelief to go along with one of the major plot points that doesn’t quite add up.

Although I’ve not read any of the other novels in this series yet, this book stands alone just fine, and I couldn’t resist it—not with that divinely grape, stunning book cover. And I “flew” through the entire read in a day. Quite a rare occurrence for me and novels of this length.

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