Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Ain’t Misbehavin’ 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. I received a complimentary copy of this book for an honest review.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Jennifer Lamont Leo

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

While looking for a way to get her singing career up and humming, Dot Rodgers is right in the thick of the sparkling Jazz Age in late 1920s Chicago. But she may be in a little thicker than she wants to be. Meanwhile, the small-town, Great War veteran who loves her, Charlie, is hoping his family’s business–as well as his investments in the stock market–will make him the man of means a woman like Dot would go for in Ain’t Misbehavin’, a novel by author Jennifer Lamont Leo.

This novel has a nice take-off point, following the novel before it, You’re the Cream in My Coffee. Given all that’s evident or revealed about that previous story in this book, I’d highly recommend reading that novel before this one.

The covers and Roaring Twenties settings of both these novels just get me. Jazzy tunes, women’s bobbed hair, “the cat’s meow,” and newfangled gizmos like heaters and radios built into automobiles, no less. Yowza! Besides that, some of my favorite moments in the story are away from the city’s “roar,” in a cozy farmhouse setting. Call me sentimental.

I came to like Dot more than I thought I would. She’s flawed and makes mistakes, and she doubts herself, but she’s also competent and capable when she puts her mind to things, and she’s a real sweetheart without being too syrupy.

I did, however, find it hard to follow the course of her thoughts and feelings sometimes, as well as Charlie’s. The two of them can go up and down pretty fast, or they jump to conclusions. While Charlie expresses some early concern for Dot’s spiritual state, his actions don’t really show that he considers it to be a priority. And his behavior toward the end of the book left me feeling iffy about him for other reasons, which is an unfortunate feeling at the end of a romance novel.

There’s also a thread of suspense that seems to be left open-ended…

Anyhow, I could say more about what I liked in the novel, so if the Roaring Twenties series continues, or if a spin-off carries into the thirties or something, I plan to be there.


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


Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Berlin Encounter by T. Davis Bunn

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.

Berlin Encounter by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

American Colonel Jake Burnes has a new postwar assignment: to rescue two rocket scientists in occupied Germany. But an infiltration of Russian spies could foil Jake’s mission in Berlin Encounter, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

On I’ve rolled with this fourth book in the Rendezvous with Destiny series. Indeed, I not only rolled but basically flew through it.

It’s both interesting and pretty heartbreaking, still, to see the dire and precarious aftermath of a world war. Refugees. Hyperinflation. Poverty. The threat of the Nazis now past but Stalin and the Soviets looming like an ominous cloud.

It’s good to see that Jake still has room for inner growth as a protagonist, but he’s not just facing the same problem time and again, as if he “gets over” something in one book, and then he’s totally back to square one in the next. The (continuing) thread of romance is relatively minor but strong here, and though I missed Jake’s sidekick, Pierre, for much of the book, it was satisfying to see him eventually appear–and to know he will appear again.

I found the climax of this story to be fairly tame, but that’s better than a contrived heightening or overstretching of drama would’ve been. And, goodness, Churchill’s historic declaration about “an iron curtain,” along with the last disclosure of this novel, is quite an intriguing setup for the fifth and final book in the series.


Here’s my review of Book One in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Rhineland Inheritance.



Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Sahara Crosswind by T. Davis Bunn

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.

Sahara Crosswind by T. Davis Bunn

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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

French Resistance leader Patrique Servais might have died during torturous imprisonment if his brother, Major Pierre Servais, and Colonel Jake Burnes hadn’t rescued him in Morocco. Patrique has important intelligence to save the French government from a treasonous post-war scheme, but assassins are determined to kill him, Pierre, and Jake in the desert in Sahara Crosswind, a novel by author T. Davis Bunn.

It took me a while to settle into the rhythm of this story. Much of the opening is rather solitary (with Jake) and dialogue-less, and the first third or so of the book is mostly about Jake adapting to “the desert way.” Traveling through the desert; coming to appreciate a tribal people as he learns desert living; discovering and appreciating the beauty of the desert; experiencing God and the wonder of what can’t be put into words during his desert time.

The story quietly lays down rich layers that almost feel removed from the overall mission and latent danger that’s driving it all. So when the danger leaps back into the forefront, it hits you.

Here in the middle of the Rendezvous with Destiny series, this book is like an interlude or bridge, continuing and tying up one crucial adventure and making way for the next to begin. I’m looking forward to seeing what’s on the other side of this bridge.


Here’s my review of the next book in the Rendezvous with Destiny series, Berlin Encounter.



Arts and Entertainment, Books, Fiction

Some Genre Details, If You Please

When an author writes in multiple genres, or writes cross-genre books, some clarification can be in order now and then. So I’ll explain a bit about a few of the genres I write.

Historical Fantasy

Historical fiction is one of my all-time favorite genres, so it makes sense that I’d want to write books with a historical feel. Because the historical stories I write are fictional history in completely fictional worlds, they aren’t solely historical fiction. They’re historical fantasy fiction.

Yes, “fantasy” does have certain connotations. There’s usually an expectation of magic, mythical creatures, and the like, but my stories don’t have those fantastical elements. Their “fantasy” label simply signifies that the history, geography, characters, languages, etc. in the books are all imagined, not factual. (Of course, in my role as the English-speaking translator for my characters, I do translate most of their dialogue into English. 😉 )

These stories will likely appeal to you if you’re a historical fiction fan who can enjoy a story with history that’s purely from an author’s imagination. If you’re a fantasy fiction fan who enjoys fictional worlds and some world building, my historical fantasy fiction may appeal to you as well.

Coming of Age

A character’s age alone does not determine the genre or age-appropriateness of a book.* For instance, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is told from the perspective of a little girl, but that doesn’t mean it’s a children’s book.

Although, thus far, the main characters in my books have tended to be, say, in their thirties or younger, I didn’t write the books specifically or only for readers of corresponding ages. On a related note, where the whole kit and caboodle of my books are concerned, you’ll find a range of ages in the stories, from characters in their childhood years to characters in their twilight years.

When I label one of my books as “coming of age,” it signifies that the main characters are young but that they’ll reach a major turning or maturing point in life, or that the stories follow the characters from childhood or their teenage years to adulthood. This includes my coming of age romances. After all, adulthood isn’t where life begins, and for a lot of people, adulthood isn’t where love begins, either.

You don’t have to be a young adult or a twenty- or thirty-something reader to enjoy my coming of age stories—or any of my stories, for that matter. You just have to be interested in human beings and what humans experience, no matter their ages.

Romances vs. Love Stories

Even though a book may have a romantic storyline, or a romance within the storyline, it doesn’t necessarily make the book a romance, genre wise. In a romance book, romance must be the central aspect of the plot. Also, the plot in a romance book follows a specified progression (formula), and that includes a “Happily Ever After” ending where the romantic couple ends up together.

A love story, on the other hand, may be just as romantic, but it doesn’t necessarily follow the romance genre formula. For instance, if the romantic aspect of a plot doesn’t show up until fairly late in a book because the hero and heroine don’t meet each other until then, it’s not a romance. It’s a love story. If at the end of a book, the romantic hero and heroine are going their separate ways for a time, and the status of their relationship is left open-ended, it’s not a romance. It’s a love story.

When I label one of my books as a “love story,” it signifies that romantic love is a significant theme in the book, but the book isn’t of the romance genre. If you’re like me and believe that romantic love is a vital and universal part of life, and you enjoy seeing that kind of love portrayed in fiction, then my romances and love stories may appeal to you.

I hope that all makes sense!


*Note: as for the content, I’d say my books fall within the “PG” to “PG-13ish” range. No profanity or explicit sex. When there’s violence, it isn’t gratuitous, and any substance use is mild or brief. I don’t set out to write squeaky-clean or unrealistically sanitized fiction, since real life can get messy, but I don’t include “mess” for the sake of it, either.