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Roundtable Reviews receives many galley and ARC copies for review. Please understand that the finished copy may differ from the copies we have reviewed.

I have not received any compensation for writing this post other than a free digital or galley copy of the book. I have no material connection to the publisher, agent, or author whose book/s I am reviewing. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Free Kindle Books from Oceanview Publishing

Free Today Through
Sunday April 1!

Four Kindle eBooks are available from
some of our top authors!
  
Death Angel
Click Cover for Free Kindle eBook!

Death Angel
by
Martha Powers

The search for truth can be deadly.  Kate and Richard Warner have a quiet life - a routine life - until the one afternoon that changes them forever.  Within a few short hours they are thrust into the balck hole of every parent's worst nightmare.  The chief of police has singled out Richard as the primary suspect in a heinous crime that took more than an innocent life.  With Richard as a suspect, Kate's life unravels into unbearable chaos, grief, and a whole new world of deception.

After a second murder, and Richard's disappearance, Kate sets out to find the killer in their midst, and clear her husband's name.  She begins to piece together an eerie puzzle, finding clues in the heart of her own community.  In Death Angel, anguish, suspicion, and death combine in the horrifying aftermath of s crime that pits a mother's love against a ruthless killer.  Kate risks her own life to track down and kill the Death Angel.
  
~~~~~~~~ 
Conspiracy of Silence
Click Cover for Free Kindle eBook!

 Conspiracy of Silence
by
Martha Powers

Imagine learning your entire life is a lie.  That's exactly what happened to Clare Prentice.  When she learns that she was adopted, Clare clings to the only clue she has: a class ring from Grand Rapids Senior High School.

Clare heads to Grand Rapids, Minnesota, to piece together the truth.  But she's in for the biggest shock of all: Clare's birth mother, Lily Gunderson, was murdered in Grand Rapids.

Lily's murder was one of the most talked-about events in the town's history, but no one is talking now.

For Clare, finding the truth could be deadly.

~~~~~~~~ 
Spirit Horses
Click Cover for Free Kindle eBook

 Spirit Horses
by
Alan S. Evans

Shane Carson, a gifted horseman, is living the good life.  When a mysterious mustang shows up on his Tennessee farm, Shane doesn't know how the horse appeared, but the horse's distinct brand identifies her.  She is one of the Spirit Horses, a rare, wild herd that runs free on the Shoshone reservation in Wyoming.

When tragedy strikes, Shane loses his will to live - but for one promise he made: to return the mustang to her home.  To make good on his vow, Shane must face the danger that threatens these horses, the tribe's legacy, and his destiny.

~~~~~~~~
The Purple Culture
Click Cover for Free Kindle eBook

  The Purple Culture
by
Stephen Boehrer

What happens when those we trust most commit the most egregious acts of betrayal?  It's a scandal that has sent shockwaves throughout the world.  Abuse committed in the place where we - and our children - should be safe: the church.
As three bishops stand trial in federal court, charged with conspiracy for protecting abusive priests, prosecutor William Goulding and defense attorney James Kobs prepare for the trial of a lifetime.

Part legal thriller, part psychological drama, The Purple Culture demystifies the majestic and intriguing traditions of the Roman Catholic faith.

The Evelyn Project - Kfir Luzzatto

Kfir Luzzatto's Books

Released April 2012

Kfir Luzzatto
Pine Ten LLC

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Professor Franco Lorenzi gets dragged into a century-old mystery that leaves him unsure of who he can trust and who he cannot. Everything starts when a mysterious man, Sir James Easby, visits him asking for a favor. A distant relative of Franco's is sick and only a blood relative can save her. Just as suddenly as Easby appears, he announces he has another appointment and that his organization, The European Historical Communication Society, will be in touch.

Soon, Franco receives another visit, this time from a woman claiming to be part of The European Cult Watch Committee. She states the committee works with agencies such as the FBI and Interpol. She needs Franco to become close to Easby because they're convinced Easby is part of a dangerous cult.

Caught up in a dangerous cat and mouse game, Franco soon learns that he's a pawn in a situation that dates back to the 1800s. If he's to stay alive, he'll have to figure out who he can trust and who is out to get him.

While I admit it took me a while to figure out what was going on in The Evelyn Project, once I had the basics down, the story became hard to put down. Without giving away any spoilers, I'll say this. If you have any interest in parallel universes, you'll really like Kfir Luzzatto's latest novel. The book is part mystery, part thriller, and even a touch of sci-fi.

All in all, The Evelyn Project kept me on my toes. Whenever I thought I had the evil-doers pegged, another twist was thrown in to make me question my decision. Nothing is as it seems and that makes this a stand-out book for 2012.

The Evelyn Project is slated to be released in April 2012. At the time of writing, Amazon still did not have a listing for it. You can check Amazon or the author's website to learn when you can purchase your own copy.

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Whipping Club - Deborah Henry



Released February 2012


T. S. Poetry Press

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

I think I read about 80 percent of Deborah Henry's The Whipping Club with clenched fists. As a mother, the story outraged me. Worse is that I know that some nuns in that era did treat children in this manner. I've heard the horror stories from my Mom (she's English) about the nuns in all-girl Catholic schools cracking students across the back of the hand with bamboo canes or metal-edged rulers. Despite this, my Mom has also said there are sisters and priests who were incredibly fair, caring individuals who she'll always remember. It's not hard to imagine that children in orphanages or schools for "troubled" children were treated even more deplorably. It ticks me off though.

Pregnant and unmarried, Marian McKeever agrees with her uncle, a priest, to enter a home for unmarried girls to have their child. She's hesitant on giving up her child, however, because the baby's father, Ben Ellis, does love her and they plan to marry. The only obstacle is that Marian is Catholic and Ben comes from a proud Jewish family who believe Jews should only marry other Jews. Eventually, Marian agrees that her unborn child would be better off with a wealthy American family.

When Marian and Ben marry despite his family's objections, Marian and her uncle agree it's best that Ben never knows about their son. They go on to have a daughter and feel that life couldn't be better, until Marian learns that her son was never put up for adoption and has been locked away in an orphanage for 11 years. Marian confesses to Ben and the couple do everything in their power to gain custody of their son.

That battle to regain custody of the boy, Adrian, forms the main component of this gripping novel. The abuse that Adrian deals with on a daily basis is, at times, very hard to read. There were many occasions when I wanted to climb into the book and dole out a few of the punishments that the religious leaders were doling out on the children. I admit it does take talent to really draw the reader that heavily into the book.

In the end, The Whipping Club is an exceptional read, even if it is not the easiest story to digest. The 50s and 60s were different times, and today's reader will have to remember that discrimination against interfaith marriages was extremely common, as was the prejudice shown against the so-called "bastard" children and their unwed mother.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Replacement Wife - Eileen Goudge



Released March 27, 2012

Eileen Goudge
Open Road Media

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Wow! Just wow! The Replacement Wife is a novel that will stick with me for years. If I wasn't snickering, I was sobbing. I admit I haven't always liked Eileen Goudge's novels, but she hit a home run when she wrote this book.

As a successful matchmaker, Camille Hart has an amazing instinct at matching single men and women. Her track record is impressive and she has a long list of clients to show for her successes. When she learns her cancer has returned and that it's highly unlikely she'll survive this aggressive stage-four cancer, she decides to start finding her husband a potential replacement before her death.

Camille's husband, Edward, is outraged at first, but he loves her so much that he agrees. She simply wants reassurance that when she goes, her children will be well cared for, and his career as a successful doctor often requires long hours.

When she starts realizing that some of her potential replacements seem to click with Edward a little too well, she has reservations. Jealously kicks in and she starts to wonder if she's really made the right choice.

The Replacement Wife is an amazing story. First, I found myself shocked by Camille's plan. It seems absurd, but then I thought about how much I'd hate to see my husband of almost 21 years pining away if something happened to me. I also thought about how lonely I'd be if something happened to him. I think it's instinctive to want to try to protect the one you love from pain.

There are twists in this story that you won't see coming. When they do, it really hits you. If Eileen Goudge's The Replacement Wife doesn't become one of the most popular selections among book discussions, I'll be shocked. I'll also be shocked if it doesn't catch the attention of Hollywood because it would make a powerful tearjerker of a movie.

Monday, March 26, 2012

America's Best Ribs - Ardie A. Davis & Chef Paul Kirk



Released May 2012

Ardie A. Davis
Chef Paul Kirk
Andrews McMeel Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

Ardie Davis, founder of the American Royal International BBQ championship, and Chef Paul Kirk, known as the Kansas City Baron of Barbecue, pair up to bring a selection of the country's best rib rubs, sauces, and recipes. America's Best Ribs showcases more than the recipes, however, it also offers a huge variety of tips, stories, and ever mistakes some people make when barbecuing ribs in professional contests. There are also recipes for sides and desserts to serve with your succulent ribs.

America's Best Ribs is broken down into essential sections that include:
  • Rib Basics
  • Pork Ribs
  • Beef & Bison Ribs
  • Lamb & Mutton Ribs
  • Sides
  • Desserts
  • Resources
  • Metric Conversions and Equivalents
 Before diving into the recipes, the cookbook starts with one of the things I feel is most important. Choosing your ingredients. They discuss the one thing that not every cookbook covers, bring your meat to room temperature before you start grilling. People have heard so often that meats must be properly chilled to prevent bacteria that I go into many restaurants where meats are thrown on the grill straight out of the refrigerator and that affects the end product.

There are recipes for dry rubs, mops, brines, and marinades. My family happens to prefer a dry rub, but it all comes down to preference in the end. There are so many recipes in this book that I have this long list prepared for the summer. One that really stood out has a distinct Asian flare with sake, plum sauce, hoisin, oyster sauce, and five spice seasoning forming the key components of the marinade. There are classic recipes that caught my eye too.  Another one that topped my list was a New England Maple-Brined Smoked Pork Rib Roast. I live in Vermont, so maple syrup is a must-have in my home, though for those seeking it this year, the warmer winter and hot spell in March cut the boiling season short and prices are going to be much higher than usual.

All in all, if you love to grill and love ribs America's Best Ribs is an essential component to your summer plans. We had our grill fired up last week with the burst of 80 degree weather. While we didn't make ribs, we did use some of the classic spice rubs and BBQ sauces to do a slow roasted pork butt for pulled pork sandwiches. The recipes we tested worked well and were incredibly tasty.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Good Father - Diane Chamberlain



Released April 24, 2012

Diane Chamberlain
Mira/Harlequin

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

As a teenage, Travis Brown made a tough decision. He claimed his newborn daughter and promised to do whatever it took to raise her in a happy home. For close to four years, he kept that promise. He spent years on his career in construction while his mom watched Bella. However, his world comes crashing down leaving him without a career and without a home. Facing homelessness, Travis vows to do whatever it takes to keep Bella fed and to get a roof over her head again. When he's offered a job that pays $500 cash every time he works, he thinks his luck is changing. He soon learns that the choices he makes may tear Bella from his arms forever.

The Good Father is a tender story of the love a man has for his little girl and the strength it takes to keep her safe.  The story is told from three different points of view. Travis shares his side of the story. His former girlfriend, Bella's mother, is also given a chance to reflect on her past, present, and future. And there is Erin, a thirty-something who lost her own daughter and bonds instantly with Travis and Bella making her do things she knows is wrong. By incorporating the three viewpoints, you really get a clear understanding of what makes each character tick.

At the end of the book is a list of book discussion questions and an interview with the author. I definitely think The Good Father is a story that will get readers talking, regardless of whether you agree with Travis' decisions.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Cold Creek Reunion - Raeanne Thayne



Released March 20, 2012

Raeanne Thayne
Harlequin

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Laura Pendleton is back at her mother's inn following a disastrous marriage to a man who was happier than his mistresses than seemingly with her. After her husband's death, Laura had to leave Spain where she learned her late husband was heavily in debt. With her two young kids to raise, Laura hopes to avoid Taft Bowman, the man to whom she was once engaged. Unfortunately, Taft, chief of the local fire department, enters her life rather quickly when her son finds a lighter and plays with it setting fire to a room at the inn.

Taft's personal problems got in the way of his and Laura's relationship once, but he never stopped loving her. Now that she's back, he wants to show her he's a changed man and ready to become both a husband and father to her two children.

A Cold Creek Reunion brings the reader back to Cold Creek. I admit this is the first of the Cold Creek series I've read, but I never felt like I was missing anything vital. It's a fun read with plenty of chemistry not only between Taft and Laura, but also with Taft and Laura's children. With this in mind, I do find I want to go back and read the books about Taft's siblings.

At the end of the Kindle version, possibly the print book too but I'm not 100% certain, is a short story written by Raeanne Thayne, Christine Rimmer, Susan Crosby, Christyne Butler, Gina Wilkins, and Cindy Kirk. The Anniversary Party details the events as they occur during an anniversary party where big misunderstandings threaten to ruin relationships.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Beside a Dreamswept Sea - Vicki Hinze



Released December 23, 2011

Vicki Hinze
Bell Bridge Books

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

This third entry into Vicki Hinze's (written as Victoria Barrett) Seascape novel is one of my favorites. Beside a Dreamswept Sea is a book I cherished when it was originally released in 1997. If you've never read this series, be thankful that Bell Bridge Books has reissued them.

Since his wife's death, Bryce Richards has known one thing - his children need a mother. He never expects the newly divorced wife of his last client to show up in the quaint Maine inn where he is currently staying.

Cally never expected to be divorced. She loved her husband, and always pictured them raising a number of children. His announcement that he couldn't have children and didn't want to talk about adoption was a blow. It doesn't take long before she's falling head over heels with Bryce's three children.

Cally and Bryce forge into new territory as both are hesitant to ever give their heart away again, but they also both want what is best for the children. Uncertain on how to proceed, it's up to Miss Hattie's former beau, Tony, also her inn's resident ghost, to try to bring these two together. Something's different this time, however, and Tony is uncertain he'll be allowed to stick around if he helps out.

I admit I am a sucker for single dad story lines. There's something to be said about a man who puts his children before himself. That one aspect really made Bryce was of my favorite romance novel heroes. Rereading this treasured favorite was just as enjoyable as the first time I read it. Beside a Dreamswept Sea is definitely one of my favorite romance novels, and I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Site Update

Last week wasn't a good week. Our septic tank stopped draining effectively, and the septic guys found a collapsed section of pipe. The people who were supposed to fix the issue came out, charged us $300 and said there was nothing they could do unless we paid them $600 to $700 to bring out excavators. We have another person coming out tomorrow who said he can replace the collapsed section of pipe and then run a camera down to see if there are other issues before bringing out the heavy machinery.

But life with limited use of a septic tank means we're having to do laundry elsewhere, and that's pretty time consuming on top of freelance writing jobs. I can't push my writing work off, so I'm focusing on that so that there is money coming in to take care of these bills we're facing.

Meanwhile, I'd planned to read yesterday, but our oldest cat took a major turn for the worse and needed my attention throughout the day and night. The vet still can't find out why she's having seizures after doing scans and blood panels, but yesterday's series of seizures really left her weak.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Return to Grace - Karen Harper



Released February 21, 2012

Karen Harper
Mira/Harlequin

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

Return to Grace, the second book in the Home Valley Amish series, focuses on Hannah Esh. Hannah left her Amish life after her intended got another woman pregnant and called off their engagement. Giving up everything, she entered the world hoping to start a music career. Despite her dreams, she's always felt herself pulled back to her Amish life. She happens to be in the Amish cemetery with her friends when someone shoots at them. One person is dead and Hannah suffers serious damage after a bullet hits her wrist.

Needing to recuperate, Hannah returns to her family home. It isn't long before someone tries to break into Hannah's bedroom via the window and FBI agent Linc Armstrong (Fall from Pride) is on the case trying to discover if this is a hate crime against the Amish or if Hannah's former beau, Seth, isn't happy that she's back in town. Hannah can't believe that Seth Lantz, now a widower and single father, has anything to do with it, so she and Seth do what they can to unravel what's happening in their community.

I loved Fall from Pride. It was one of the romances that stuck with me last year. I didn't find, however, that Return to Grace grabbed me the same way. It was a good story, but I didn't feel drawn to the story and characters like I did in Linc and Sarah's story.

The story is packed with a detailed look into Amish culture and continues the stories of a few minor characters from the first novel. Despite my not liking it as much as the first, I'm still glad I read it. The final entry in this series is coming out shortly, so fans will want to pick up a copy. If you didn't read the first novel, I don't think you really need to worry. Return to Grace stands alone. I do recommend Fall from Pride though.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Past Came Hunting - Donnell Ann Bell



Released September 2011

Donnell Ann Bell
Bell Bridge Books

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The Past Came Hunting is part romance, part suspense and definitely holds your interest.

As a teen, Melanie made some bad choices. While hitchhiking, she manages to escape from the clutches of a perverted older man and ends up accepting a ride from a rich teen. Unfortunately, she learns a little too late that this teen is no good. She's arrested as an accomplice in a robbery at gunpoint and agrees to testify against him. This leads to his vow that he'll find and kill her.

Fifteen years later, Melanie is a single mom trying to put her past behind her. She moves into a new home only to find out that her new neighbor is the cop, Joe, who arrested her. The guy she testified against is out of jail and disappears. Everyone suspects that he's going to try to hunt Melanie down to make good on this threat. Melanie must trust in Joe's skills as a life-long policeman, a feat not as easily accomplished when she's trying to forget her past and start a new life amidst people who know nothing of her past.

The Past Came Hunting is really a romantic suspense. It's apparent from the start that Joe and Melanie have major issues to overcome if they're going to last as a couple. Watching them work through their inner demons makes for great reading.

The reader is kept up to date with the convict's plans, but there's still a high level of excitement as you read the cat and mouse-style chase to keep Melanie safe. Donnell Ann Bell's book is certain to please readers who enjoy a romance that's packed with suspenseful moments. There's a reason why this author wins awards. She's definitely an author to watch.

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Baby Dilemma - Jacqueline Diamond



Released April 2012

Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin

Book review by Tracy Farnsworth

I have a few guilty pleasures, very dark chocolate and Jacqueline Diamond's Safe Harbor Medical romance series generally top the list. Because I've read this series from the beginning, I feel like I've really gotten to know each character over a span of years rather than just a couple hours. The Baby Dilemma is the next book in this long-running series.

Doctor Paige Brennan has delivered so many babies and helped so many women become pregnant that she can't ignore her own longing for a child. The problem is she has never found Mr. Right. Taking advantage of the fertility clinic, Paige undergoes artificial insemination and winds up pregnant just as Mike Aaron enters her life. Knowing his stance on children has Paige worried about what happens when she has to reveal her news.

Private detective Mike Aaron has seen his foster brothers and sisters end up in happy marriages raising their children, but he doesn't want children. When he falls for Paige, he knows immediately that the relationship won't last. She makes it clear that she wants kids and he's adamantly against becoming a parent, it's what ended his first marriage. There's something Paige doesn't know, however, and this news could well be a game changer for both of them.

I lounged in bed reading The Baby Dilemma this morning thinking that there is nothing better in the world than a lazy morning with a good book. Jackie Diamond does a great job creating likable characters, though Mike does have a bit of arrogance that I wasn't sure I'd appreciate. He turns out to be the perfect counterpart to Paige, however, and soon I was rooting them on.

The setting and characters really help build this contemporary romance into a short, sweet tale. That's one thing I love about Harlequin romances, they don't take forever to read, so it's easy to start and finish the story in one sitting. If you're looking for a cozy way to escape a winter storm, pick up The Baby Dilemma.