Friday, April 29, 2016

Review of WARM WINTER KISSES: Jill Steeples

Date Published: December 8, 2015

When Beth Brown is dumped by her long-time boyfriend, she needs a brand-new start. She ends up stuck in the middle of nowhere, working as a PA for superstar chef Rocco di Castri. She has to deal with his legendary temper and annoying supermodel girlfriend, Pandora.
But Beth grows to like the lovely English countryside . . . and her gorgeous boss, Rocco. Then her ex-boyfriend Martin turns up and she assumes he wants to get back together. But he has news which will turn her world upside down.
And when she finds out that Rocco’s going to become permanently unavailable, she flees the wintry countryside back to her old life in the city.
Will Beth ever get things right with the man she really wants? Find out in this charming and funny chick-lit novel.

A Three Star Michelin Romance!!!   

Beth Brown has just been dumped. She’s dejected, but wondering why. After all, she could never even figure out if she was even in love with her live-in boyfriend. Martin was just around … like that bathrobe she should have thrown out, but didn’t. Still … five years is a long time … and men don’t just grow on trees … or in the kitchen … or do they? In the midst of nursing a broken heart, a personal assistant’s job with the notorious bad boy chef Rocco di Castro opens up and lands in Beth’s bountiful lap. Should she take it? Should she not? Little does she know that her fate is written in Michelin stars—and on a menu where the only entrĂ©e served is ‘Falling in Love with the Chef’.

I was craving a romantic comedy, and took a chance on WARM WINTER KISSES by Jill Steeples. I couldn’t resist the blurb that promised an irresistible, hunky chef. Not for nothing, but there’s nothing sexier than a handsome man cooking up something good in the kitchen. I’m glad I did because WARM WINTER KISSES delivers on both romance and humor. And if you’re one of those that insist on likable characters, I can definitely assure you that the main characters are just that. Beth’s self-deprecating humor was hilarious, and Rocco? He was the chef you’d most like to see in bed … with Beth, of course! Yes, I was rooting for these two clueless fools to realize they were a perfect match for one another, but what with Rocco’s superstar model girlfriend unwilling to vacate the premises and give the bad boy a chance to see that there are other things than physical perfection—doubtful!

I admit that I lived vicariously while reading. I wanted to move into Whitefriar, Rocco’s country estate, and sample Rocco’s cooking for myself, but the author did a good job of making me think I had—through Beth. The only negative I found was that somewhere around Chapter 5 or 6, Beth turns into more of a dishrag than humble PA, but it doesn’t last long. She’s soon doing the most insane things to counteract Rocco’s strange ability to make women fall in love with him. She quickly finds out she’s not immune to his charms, and her attempts to hide her growing passion are straight up funny. I found myself laughing out loud, and that’s always a good sign!

The ending was super satisfying, as was the culmination of the foreplay that went on for thirty chapters or so. The author even included an epilogue which is always fun, and gave us an update on how the couple is doing.

As for Jill Steeples, she’s a very talented author who knows a thing or two about flow and sparkling dialogue. There’s a whole lot of cleverness lurking under the deceptively smooth phrasing and I appreciated her skill in making writing well look effortless.

If you’re in the mood for a well-written, witty story that hits all the right spots, definitely check out WARM WINTER KISSES. It’ll get you smiling and feeling good. You’ll also be convinced that no matter how many times you screw up, Cupid is watching out for you and will pierce the heart of your intended with a shot of love even when you continually miss the mark. I’m giving this one 4.6 stars because I had a darn good time. It’s enough reason for me!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Review of AN AFFAIR WITH DANGER: Robin Storey

Romantic Suspense
Date Published: January 8, 2016
Two minutes.
That’s all it takes for corporate lawyer Will McPherson to be held up in an armed robbery and for his life to change in ways he’d never dreamed of.
When Will goes to court to give evidence, he meets the perpetrator’s girlfriend Frankie Slater and is instantly smitten.  But feisty, straight-talking Frankie has her own problems, not least of which is her violent boyfriend Eddie.
When Eddie finds out about their liaison, it puts both their lives in danger, and their love becomes a matter of life or death.
June 2005
I CRANKED the car heater up and turned on the windscreen wipers against the steady drizzle. The suburban roads shone damp in the streetlights. At 10.15 on a Tuesday night, there wasn’t a lot of traffic. I hated working late in winter and couldn’t wait to get home to my warm, cosy apartment and collapse in front of the TV with a beer. I’d stayed back in the office to get my head around the financial reports of my newest client, a national chain of fitness centres, who’d been served with a bankruptcy notice by a creditor.
As I approached the lights of my local 7-Eleven store, I realised how hungry I was. I’d only had a sandwich at my desk for dinner. The empty parking space right in front vindicated my decision to stop. Mike was sitting behind the counter reading a newspaper.
‘Hi Mike! Busy night?
Mike grinned. ‘Flat out as usual. How about you?’
‘Same as always. Any sausage rolls left?’ I walked over to the hot food stand on the side counter. There was one sausage roll in the pie warmer. ‘Must be my lucky night.’
I tore a paper bag from the hanger, took out the sausage roll and popped it into the bag. I heard the entrance buzzer beep behind me.
‘Get your hands in the air!’
I whirled around. A man with a stocking over his face stood in front of the counter pointing a gun at Mike. Mike was standing, his hands raised, his face frozen into a sickly shade of pale. The man motioned to me with the gun. ‘Go and stand next to him.’
I forced my legs to move. Although fear had numbed my body, my mind was in overdrive, taking in as much as it could. The man was tall and solid, and dressed in jeans, pullover and joggers. He wore a beanie and although the stocking over his face blurred his features, I could make out a broad nose and square chin.
‘Is there anyone else in here?’
Mike shook his head. The man leaned forward and jabbed him in the chest with the gun. ‘Don’t fuck with me, mate.’
‘I’m telling the truth, there’s no-one else.’
The man waved his gun in the direction of the cash register. ‘Empty it! And move it!’
Mike opened the register drawer. His hands shook as he pulled out the notes. The man peered out the front door, rocking back and forth on his feet.
‘Hurry up!’ he yelled. Mike handed him a pile of notes and the man stuffed them into his jeans pocket. He jabbed his gun into Mike’s chest again. ‘Is that all?’
Mike nodded. The man backed out the front door, the pistol still trained on us, then ran into the night. It was all over in less than a minute.
Lawyer by day, musician by night, Will McPherson stops in a 7-Eleven for a bite to eat. Wrong time; wrong place. The place is robbed at gunpoint, and when it’s over, Mike steps up to be star witness for the prosecution. He shows up for the trial  of Edward Robert Gisbourne, but is saved from testifying by Gisbourne’s unexpected plea. Everything should have ended …. would have ended there … if not for Will spotting a woman in court. She’s alluring and compelling him to find out what she tastes like. The only problem? She’s Francis “Frankie” Slater a.k.a. Gisbourne’s girlfriend.
I quite enjoyed AN AFFAIR WITH DANGER by Robin Storey. It was well-written and I found the author’s style easy to sink into. Of course, the entire plot really hinged on the attraction between Mike and Frankie and I thought it worked. Two strangers … different sides of the tracks … find themselves drawn to each other. Yes, I was pulled into this relationship and was interested in how it developed. The author did a spectacular job in bringing these characters to life. They were exceedingly well-defined and had a lot of aspects to explore. It made the spelunking and delving into what made them tick pleasurable. It also ensured that the dynamic between them was ever-changing and not a given landscape. However, I am starting to sense a pattern with males in these stories. It seems the hotter the love interest, the more their frontal cortex shuts down.
As for negatives, I didn’t like the first couple of chapters. For me, it was a case of TMI … I felt a lot could have been edited out. Because of this, the novel started  out slowly instead of putting the hook in my mouth and towing me like an old carp. The other thing I didn’t like was the ending. Endings to me are really important, so the fact I wasn’t jazzed about this one will be reflected in the final rating. I should add that this isn’t a case of an author going off on a tangent and tacking on a ridiculous finish just because they could. No, this one was in keeping with previous events … and thoughtful … it just didn’t resonate with me.
The positives? AN AFFAIR WITH DANGER is an interesting, well-developed story that contains some surprises. The pacing is excellent as is the dialogue, but all roads lead to Will and Frankie. They were the standouts. The author captured the flavor of these individuals and conveyed it beautifully.
If you’re looking for intrigue that holds your interest, try AN AFFAIR WITH DANGER. It packs enough punch to keep you reading and enough emotion to make you care. I’m rating this one 3.8 stars.    
Robin Storey is an indie author who lives on the picturesque Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. Her three previous books are How Not To Commit Murder, Perfect Sex and Comedy Shorts. An Affair With Danger, a romantic suspense novella, is a departure from her usual comedy writing style, but the characters were creating a commotion in her head and refused to go away until she’d put them in a book.
Robin is a certified book nerd and also enjoys chilling out at the beach and hiking. She is preparing to undertake the Camino Frances pilgrimage in September this year – plenty of time for mulling over new plots. She is working on her next novel, a romantic comedy.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2016


Upmarket Espionage / Mystery / Thriller / Suspense
Date Published: January, 15, 2016

In 1960s London, British Intelligence agent Peter Stoller is next in line to run the Agency. But when he falls in love with cab driver Charles, his life goes off the road. Charles is accused of being an enemy spy, and Peter is guilty by association. Though they manage to escape, the seeds of doubt have been planted, leaving Peter to wonder how much he can truly trust his lover. Is ignorance bliss or merely deadly?

10 Things You Didn’t Know about The Fall and Rise of Peter Stoller
by M Pepper Langlinais
1.   The first part of the book, which is called “St. Peter in Chains” was originally released as a novella. Then I received emails from readers asking what happened next, so I wrote the rest of the book.
2.   Peter’s original name was Stephen, but when I settled on the title “St. Peter in Chains,” I thought it would be weird if his name wasn’t Peter, so I changed it.
3.   I adapted “St. Peter in Chains” into a short screenplay, and it won an award. It also received a professional table read at Sundance Film Festival. (Still hoping to get it made into a movie.)
4.   Peter wasn’t planned as a gay character. I was going to have him flirt with his secretary Miranda. But when I started writing, he steadfastly refused. If you read the novel, you can see how Miranda takes it. (hint: not well)
5.   The novella started with the party at Gordon’s house, but an agent told me to add another layer of espionage, so I added in the Jules Maier plot for the novel version. Jules did not exist in the original story.
6.   I adore Peter, but I think my favorite character is actually Simeon Martin.
7.   The pasta dish Ken Gamby cooks is an actual recipe my friend from the Netherlands used to make for me. Though it’s a simple dish, I have never been able to make it turn out as well as she did!
8.   I did a travelogue of Peter and Charles’ travels for the A to Z blog challenge in April 2013, but those vignettes don’t reflect the final novel. In fact, one of them mentions Jules Maier having been killed, but that was before I decided to make Jules part of the rewrites. Still, I’m very proud of entries “O” and “W.” (You can still find it all archived on my blog at
9.   I grew up with a girl from Poland, so I borrowed her last name for the character of Alexander Sepiol. And Byron—Peter’s university boyfriend—was the name of one of our cats. Like Peter’s Byron, ours was very needy.
10. It took me only three weeks to write “St. Peter in Chains” but over two years to write the rest of the book!

December 196x
“Get him out or take him out.” Peter’s heart was in his knees, but he made sure it didn’t sound in his voice.
Noise on the line as Jules Maier shifted. Peter pictured him tucked up in a dark, cramped flat with too-low ceilings and flimsy furniture. It would be perpetually damp there. Musty. And yet Jules would still somehow manage to look perfectly put together. Jules rolled out of bed perfectly put together. It was sinful.
“After all that work to get him in?” Jules asked.
Perfectly put together but, Peter was reminded, also a tad whiney. Gordon had once told Peter he couldn’t think of the men out in the field as real people, not if he wanted to be able to do the job well. “Don’t think of them as men you’ve met, had lunch with, drinks with,” Gordon said. “Think of them as characters in a book or players in a game.” Peter had wondered at the time whether Gordon thought of him that way, but he’d been too afraid of the answer to ask.
And now, with the file open in front of him and the face of Alexander Sepiol staring back from his desk, it was difficult advice to take. Peter closed the folder. “You know how this goes, Jules.”
A heavy sigh. “I’ll try to get him out, of course.”
“Don’t waste any time,” Peter instructed. “And, Jules?”
Peter imagined the arched eyebrow, the tiny smile. He was probably wearing one of those goddamned turtlenecks. “Get yourself out as soon as you can. I don’t want to have to send anyone in after you.”
* * *
He hoped the drive down to Oxshott would clear his head, but his mind continued to jump from Jules to Alexander and back again. Why wouldn’t Alexander leave Germany? How could they coerce him? Had Alexander already given them away? If so, to whom? Was Jules really doing everything he could?
Probably not. Jules was lazy. But if Alexander had leaked, Jules was also in trouble. Along with a half dozen more people in Brandenburg’s Frankfurt.
Peter was surprised to find he’d arrived, his musings having stolen the time. The grass in front of the Lessenbys’ was dead with winter and flat with cars. Peter added his TR3 to the fleet.
He didn’t bother to knock; he never did at the Lessenbys’, and with the party, no one would have heard it anyway. Gordon and Elinor held it every year at the holidays, this odd assemblage of people whose jobs were to be quiet and unseen, Gordon a gaunt anti-Fezziwig.
Peter spotted him standing near the fireplace, Trevor Tillholm planted squarely in front of him, and he started in that direction, but Elinor Lessenby caught sight of Peter and moved in, arresting his progress. Her oversized hat forced him to rock back a bit on his heels; he then took a full step backward as her oversized body followed the brim.
“Peter!” she shrilled as she held out a hand. “How did you sneak in without any of us noticing? Oh!” she laughed, not waiting for him to answer, “no, I know, it’s what you do!”

M Pepper Langlinais is best known for her Sherlock Holmes stories. She is also a produced playwright and screenwriter. She lives in Livermore, California.
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