Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: Once and Forever (anthology) by Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Emelle Gamble, Lavinia Kent, Evie Owens

Title: Once and Forever
Author: Mary Blayney, Elaine Fox, Emelle Gamble, Lavinia Kent, Evie Owens

Read copy: eBook
Published: November 1, 2013
Publisher: Posh Publishing
ISBN: 1940886007
ISBN-13: 9781940886008

Playing for Keeps by Mary Blayney

Actress Kendall Marshall is determined to get an autograph for her sick sister from famous TV personality Mike O’Hara, the Oprah Winfrey of sports. In the process she meets his brother, security consultant Steve Marshall, lands a job on O’Hara’s show and gets in the way of a man set on causing big trouble. As the stalkers attacks escalate, Steve and Kendall are thrown together and find it impossible to ignore the chemistry between them.

The Princess & the Pinot by Elaine Fox

When a beautiful woman shows up at the Vineyard Inn, wine manager Kim is certain she’s been sent by fate for the inn’s owner, Cooper. Self-effacing to a fault, Kim knows she can’t hold a candle to Principessa Bella, who also seems to know even more about wine than Kim herself, but her heart has belonged to Cooper since they shared one kiss as teenagers.

While Prin sweeps easily into the job of sommelier at the renowned inn, Kim is afraid Prin will sweep just as surely into Cooper’s arms if she doesn’t do something about it. Can she tell Cooper how she feels without losing even his friendship?

Kim is willing to try except for one problem: she’s almost certainly losing her mind. Or is that belching, swearing, smoking, farting fairy – who claims to be trying to help her – real?

Duets by Emelle Gamble

Duets offers alternating looks into the lives of two women who would seem to have little or nothing in common.

Screen star Molly Harper is on the verge of marrying a man who has swept her off her feet, thought perhaps hasn’t swept all her feelings for her first love away. Anne Sullivan, happily married for twenty-five years, is fighting to hold onto the man she loves, and hold off a confrontation that could shatter her family’s image of what they are.

Duets confronts a past secret that ties these two women’s lives together, just as chance events turn Molly and Anne’s worlds upside down.

Never and Forever by Lavinia Kent

Never and Forever is the beginning of the love story of two people who shouldn’t belong together. Molly, Miss Wilkes, runs an employment agency helping women of quality find positions perfected suited to their characters. Although her father held the title of Earl for just over a week before his death, Molly has never wanted to be a lady. She knows her place in this world – and it is not at the center of society.

The Duke of Radford also knows his place in this world – and it’s above everybody else’s. He cannot imagine a world without all the privilege and power that comes from being Radford. He’s had foreign princesses and heiresses dangled before him for years. Why would he ever have interest in a simple woman who doesn’t even understand that she should want to be a duchess?

Can these two overcome the obstacles of their own beliefs and realize that love can make all things possible?

Never and forever are both a very long time. Where will their love fit?

The Psychic Detective by Evie Owens

Psychic Martin Sterling doesn't trust cops--and the feeling is mutual. Detective Erin Healy needs more than a ghost story to save her job and reputation. Her partner is dead, a million dollars in drugs and money is missing, and all the evidence points to her.

Can a sexy psychic and a by the book cop, trapped between the living and the dead, unearth the truth? Or will a cold-blooded killer get away with it all...

My rating:

***copy provided by publisher through NetGalley***

Playing for Keeps was cute (in its own way) and quick, but somewhat "overcrowded" in parts. I know the author wrote another story featuring Kendall's twin sister and Steve's brother, but at the beginning, it felt like she was cramming both stories into one, so the start felt a little off. Also, the twist was rather predictable once it was revealed there was a second O'Hara around, and while the heroine's "acting quirks" were fun at the beginning, the more it went on, the more annoying it was.

Overall, despite the "suspense", the story was rather bland and generic with not chemistry, beside what we were told, between the characters, and it turned out the "suspense plot" that was the entire basis of the story was no plot at all, ending as quickly as it began.

The Princess & the Pinot was hard to get through, and we're talking about a short story, here. I didn't know what genre I was reading. Was it a paranormal one? A regular romance? Young adult, since the heroine struck me as terribly immature. And what was with the "woman sent by fate for the hero" and all those mattresses? Was that an allusion to The Princess and the Pea? And if it was...Why?

Duets it what on a webpage would be "click-bait", since the Coming Soon at the end of the story promises a full-length book, titled after the main female character, in which "three years after the end of Duets [the heroine, the man she loved and the man she married] will face the consequences of fate, family secrets, and their own personal decisions.
I'll pass on that one, since I hated this "prequel". show/hide spoiler
I loathed the heroine who selfishly wanted the man she loved to compromise while never considering doing it herself, I loathed her because she settled for second best since she didn't get what she wanted, I hated the first hero for being an idiot and putting up with her until she broke it off and still carrying a torch for her while impregnating his current girlfriend, and I hated the second hero for being idiot enough to want to marry the loathsome heroine. If they will face the consequences of fate, family secrets, and their own personal decisions it's entirely their own fault for being idiots.

Is this even a romance?!

Never and Forever was a little weird. I loved the beginning with all the banter and sparkage between Molly and Radford. You could feel the tension and the attraction, and I loved the girl for showing gumption and not bowing down to the insufferable male.

But in the second part it felt like she (actually both of them) suffered a character transplant and gone was the Molly I liked. It was like her Lady Mary persona has taken over. Why was she so friendly toward Radford when they met again? Did something happen in between we weren't privy of? She was thinking about how insufferable he was, so I'd expected her to act all aloof, but there she was, making nice with him...And more.
And let's not talk about the last scene, in the garden at night. Because Radford had also suffered from a character transplant by then. It was like reading an entirely different story than the one we started with. You know, the funny, cute, funky story from the first two chapters or so...And the open ending is just an utter nuisance, especially since I cannot find the sequel to Molly and Wills story.


The Psychic Detective was the best of this bunch. It still seemed too crowded with suspense and paranormal, but it somehow worked, although the final revelation took too long. The suspense part was good, and the final reveal came as a surprise (yay, it wasn't predictable), the romance was a bit rushed, and seemed to only make sense after reading the epilogue, the pacing was good, and I wouldn't mind reading a sequel with the two P.I.'s partnering up.

Yes, the best of the bunch, but that's not saying much.


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