Dual Review: Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready

Format read: eARC provided by publisher
Release Date: 18 July 2012
Number of pages: 384 pages
Publisher: Astor and Blue
Formats available: ebook, paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Astor and Blue


Two years after losing her husband, overworked librarian Panna Kennedy battles to distract herself from crushing Grief, even as she battles to deal with yet another library budget cut. During a routine search within the library’s lower levels, Panna opens an obscure, pad-locked door and finds herself transported to the magnificent, book-filled quarters of a handsome, eighteenth-century Englishman.

She soon recognizes the man as Colonel John Bridgewater, the historic English war hero whose larger-than-life statue loomed over her desk.However, the life of the dashing Bridgewater is not at all what she imagined. He’s under house arrest for betraying England, and now looks upon her a beautiful and unexpected half-dressed visitor as a possible spy.

Despite bad first impressions (on both sides), Bridgewater nonetheless warms to Panna, and pulls her into his escape while both their hearts pull the other headlong into their soul-stirring secrets.Very quickly Panna is thrown into a whirlwind of high-stakes intrigue that sweeps her from Hadrian’s Wall to a forbidding stone castle in Scotland. And somewhere in the outland, Panna must decide if her loyalties lie with her dead husband, or with the man whose life now depends on her.

Our Thoughts: 

Stella: I am a big fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and have been on the lookout of similar time travel/historical romances, so when I heard of Timeless Desire I was excited to read it. I think the biggest disservice but also what gets people’s attention is that it is marketed as “an Outlander love story”, and the comparison arises, and unfortunately it’s not in Timeless Desire’s favour.

Marlene: I am also a fan of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, so when I saw the subtitle of Timeless Desire, I jumped on it, and for the same reasons you did, Stella. I wondered if it was anything like Gabaldon’s classic. It’s not. The closest one could say is Outlander-lite, in size, scope and depth.

Stella: I agree Marlene. When I saw that Timeless Desire was “an Outlander love story” I was expecting an epic love story just like Claire’s and Jamie’s, but Panna and Jamie’s (yes, the hero is Jamie as well) romance lacked the depth and heart-squeezing intensity Outlander delivered. It was fluff. No problem with that if it is not compared with its namesake predecessor. I found both Panna and Jamie’s character lacking depth and development, they remained sketched, neither really went through any character evolution, and their love was lukewarm. Nice but nothing sizzling or memorable. And speaking of the main characters, Panna is a librarian just like you Marlene, what was your take on her, was she really an authentic one?

Marlene: First, there are two names in romance that probably authors just shouldn’t get near with a barge-pole. Any barge-pole. It’s probably going to take two or three generations before it’s safe to name a romantic hero Roarke, especially if he’s Irish. And never name a Scotsman Jamie, especially not if his wife is a time-traveler. Just don’t go there. Jamie Frasier is going to stand very tall for a very long time.

Stella: Couldn’t agree more. It’s really an author-suicide, or at the least crazy brave…

Marlene: However, Panna sounded and talked like a librarian. I read her inner dialogue about her work, and she sounded like “one of us”. The budget problems and service issues and the balancing act she had to do were very real. And I have library stories to match hers. I’ve even worked in a Carnegie library, and I worked in a town that had an old Carnegie donation story almost as strange as the one she told.

Stella: That part then must have been fun for you 😀 Regarding the plot I found that there was too much happening: the historical plotline combined with their romance and all the secondary characters and their happenings, Jamie’s parentage story, the rebellion, etc. was too much for the 380 pages (no wonder Diana Gabaldon needs 1000 or so for everything she wants to pack in one novel). I found the story fractured as the narrative jumped around, each chapter bringing a change of scenery as we witnessed different characters and their POVs.

Marlene: There was a LOT happening, but I only felt like I was following three characters; Jamie, Panna or Adderly. What was hard to follow was the shift to to the Scots side of the border. That entire storyline wasn’t resolved until the very end.

Stella: Besides Panna, Jamie and Adderly there was Clare and Undine that I can also remember. Would have preferred to stick to just the hero/heroine’s POV. As to the writing, while it flew smoothly, I had a problem with the ton of quotes. Although at first I found it an entertaining quirk, soon I found the many quotes peppered in the story were too much and made me lose interest.

Marlene: Panna’s self-talk did come out as a bunch of quotations, but it didn’t really bother me. There were times when I felt like she was talking to herself as a way of keeping herself sane, or because there wasn’t anyone else who could understand her frame of reference. (Or maybe I talk to myself in my head a lot, too. Mmm, that’s an odd thought. I’ll have to think about that one some more…)

Stella: I didn’t mind her inner monologues or even out loud pep talks, those were just a part of her characterization, what I meant was that her monologues were often full of quotations from poems or famous plays: Pope, Shakespeare, etc. Maybe I noticed that because I tend to note down quotes from books I like and it really popped out to me how many she referenced. And if I already mentioned the quotes I found too much, let me tell you about my other complaints about the plot. I felt that the attempted rape scene felt forced and even improbable, as I wouldn’t imagine guards in a castle attempting to rape the wife of their employer’s grandson.

Marlene: If you mean the scene I’m thinking of, by that time his grandfather was out of power, and the English and Scots didn’t think of each other as the same people. The family ties don’t seem to have been too strong. I think the real problem, as you point out Stella, is that the scene was just plain unnecessary. It doesn’t seem to serve any particular purpose in the story.

Stella: Exactly Marlene. The guards are working for the grandfather, who as their employer gave them an order to bring him his grandson and wife and besides this family tie, there was also the time restraint: the guards only had a couple of minutes to take them upstairs. I just felt that this scene was forced into the story to draw another parallel to the attempted rape scene in Outlander. And I wasn’t too happy with the resolution of most of the plotlines, I especially found the way Jamie’s parentage was neatly tied up way too convenient and rose-y…

Marlene: I had an entirely different issue with this resolution–I’ve read it before. There’s another very long saga of historical fiction about the Scots border country, The Lymond Chronicles, written by Dorothy Dunnett. One of the major plot points concerns the hero’s parentage, and is resolved (after 6 very long books) in extremely similar fashion to Jamie’s. In the Lymond Chronicles, that resolution has a LOT more emotional weight than it did in Timeless Desire, but it takes an enormous amount of reading to get there. But if you love historical fiction, Lymond is definitely worth the investment (sorry, no time-travel). Start with The Game of Kings.

Stella: Thanks Marlene, I’ll take note. There were plenty of similarities/references to the original Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: both heroes are called Jamie, a secondary character is named “Clare” as clear reference to Gabaldon’s heroine who is “Claire”, the forced marriage for political reasons, the attempted rape scene, the strained relationship between Jamie and his family/kinsmen, his forced oath, etc. and though these could have been like a tongue in cheek humour for the Gabaldon fans, I find it rather disappointing that Gwyn Cready didn’t go on a completely untravelled road but instead chose to follow exactly in Outlander’s footsteps. Any others that jumped out at you Marlene? And how did you feel about them?

Marlene: I also saw the similarities to Gabaldon’s Outlander, and whenever they came up, I could generally predict that Cready would take the opposite tack from Gabaldon. There was a sense that she wanted to explore some of “the road not taken”, but not go too far down the path. Undine the witch is good instead of evil like Geillis Duncan. No virgins on the wedding night (hallelujah!). Panna is a widow, and is not leaving a husband behind. Jamie comes forward in time instead of Panna going back. At least Cready did not use the standing stones as her time-travel device (Double hallelujah on this one)

Stella: Hm.. I still found too many similarities to the “original” one.


Stella: I expected an epic love story and instead got fluff. The characters remained flat and two dimensional, and though the story was nice it remained rather lukewarm and forgettable. Timeless Desire though marketed as “an Outlander romance” is a very different kind of story: even though the premise sounds similar, Timeless Desire is a lighter and less layered story. If I hadn’t read Outlander first I might have enjoyed Timeless Desire more, but as it is I found it a light and average romance.

I give Timeless Desire 3 stars.

Marlene: I expected fluff, so I wasn’t surprised when I got it. Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is 688 pages, and you need the first three books to complete the initial saga, so Outlander plus Dragonfly in Amber plus Voyager equals 2320 pages, I just checked. Timeless Desire is very, very lite, and very, very fluffy. But I found it a lot of fun for what it was.

And as a librarian, I loved the shout out to libraries as places where you really can travel in time and space. Admittedly, you normally do it through the pages of books using your imagination, and not by walking through a door into a rip in time. But what the heck. I adored the concept. I always wanted the TARDIS to stop in my library. Still do.

I got caught up in Panna’s story. I give Timeless Desire 4 stars.

 ps. Marlene has already reviewed Timeless Desire at her blog but we couldn’t resist the idea of having a duelling chat here, so if you’d like to check out more of Marlene’s thoughts click here.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.

Review: The Magician of Wall Street by Minta Hall + Giveaway

Format Read: ebook from publisher
Number of Pages: 138 p.
Release Date: April 23, 2012
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Formats Available: ebook
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website

Book Blurb:

Oliver Pendragon’s days as the Magician of Wall Street are legendary. When he finds a way to get everything he’s ever wanted—including Abby Daltry—of course he can’t refuse, even though there will be hell to pay if ever Abby found out. But when he discovers his old business partner is out for Abby’s blood, Oliver will do anything to protect her…and win her heart.

New Age bookstore owner Abby is perfectly happy with her life the way it is—the independence, the quirky clientele, and even the occasional tarot card reading—are all part of the charm. But when the cards reveal Oliver is back and bringing danger along with him, she refuses to heed the warning for another chance with the only man she’d ever loved.

As shots fly, the Magician will have to perform his best trick ever if he hopes to keep Abby safe and by his side forever.

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

The Magician of Wall Street isn’t really a magician, or at least, not a stage magician. He’s a financial wizard. Or he was.

But there’s something singularly appropriate that a story about a man called “The Magician” begins with a tarot card reading, a reading where, when you look back at it after the story ends, every single thing in it has come true. But not in the way that the heroine thinks.

I found this chilling, how Abby is totally warned about what’s going to happen, and completely ignores the warnings because of her preconceived notions about Oliver (the Magician) who admittedly hurt her terribly, and Gil, her old friend and Oliver’s former business associate.

In spite of all the evidence that Gil was running a Ponzi scheme (a la Bernie Madoff) Abby refuses to believe that Gil might want to hurt her as part of his plans. Because she doesn’t trust Oliver not to control her the way her father did. And the way she knows her daddy still wants to.

Abby has some serious “Daddy issues”. And Oliver is definitely a LOT like her father. Which does make one wonder a whole lot about why she got so deeply involved with a man just like dear old dad.

But I digress.

The Magician of Wall Street had two different stories going on. The surface story was the suspense. The financial genius, Oliver, loses his investment firm because his associate, Gil was running a Ponzi scheme under his nose. Oliver missed the whole thing because he was too busy with Abby.

And Abby thought Oliver was too busy working to pay enough attention to her, so she left him, moved to the West Coast and went into partnership with her best friend in a New Age bookstore. From Abby’s perspective, Oliver may have lived with her and slept with her, but he didn’t love her. Oliver never let himself lose that much control. Oliver was all about taking control–of her. So Abby ran away.

And Gil, he manipulated the whole thing. Well, not the love. But he pointed them at each other and watched them dance. Then messed everything up by trying to kill them. Except these two people are already very, very messed up. Gil just added bullets and explosives.

Abby’s daddy threw in money and a company. I’m not sure who was more destructive. This story has an absolutely fantastic beginning. The scene with the Tarot card reading really works.

But Abby keeps wimping out after that. Gil was right, she is easily manipulated. This was an okay story, but after that fantastic beginning, I’d hoped for better.

I give The Magician of Wall Street 3 Stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.



 Entangled Publishing has generously offered a digital copy of The Magician of Wall Street to one lucky commenter! 

All you have to do is leave a meaningful comment about the review to enter!
(You can read our full giveaway policy here)

Please leave us a way to contact you.
(Email in blogger profile or twitter name – no way to contact you – no entry).

This giveaway is open to International entries!

Giveaway ends on Saturday, June 16, 2012; and we will announce the winner on Sunday.

Good luck!

ARC Review: Stainless: A Modern Romance by Todd Grimson

Format read: Uncorrected print proof provided by the publisher
Release Date: January 18, 2012
Number of Pages: 225 pages
Publisher: Schaffner Press
Formats Available: paperback
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author’s Website, Amazon, Schaffner Press, Barnes & Noble, Independent Publishers Group


Resurrecting a horrifying and romantic narrative that broke fresh ground for its genre, this soon to be re-released novel sets a vampire story in contemporary Los Angeles—the pleasure dome of late 1990s sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll culture. Unlike the vampires that came before her, Justine does not shun crosses, she watches horror movies on television, and she sets upon her prey in an almost apologetic way, never killing her victims but leaving them unconscious instead. She soon finds herself entwined in a very human sexual relationship with Keith, a down-on-his-luck rock guitarist whose hands have recently been mangled by a gang of drug dealers. Justine nurtures Keith out of his depression and drug addiction as he in turn becomes her lover and accomplice in her nocturnal predations. The relationship between the undead and the living is realistically and tragically portrayed as Keith acts both as Justine’s enabler and unwitting nemesis and, in this classic role reversal, ends up having to destroy the one he loves in order to save her.

My Thoughts:

This was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

Although this story was subtitled “a modern romance” I didn’t see it that way. I read it as a story about co-dependency and obsessions. Which definitely made the “modern” part of the subtitle truer than true, but kind of nixed the romantic aspects. Not that a whole lot of romantic relationships don’t have their co-dependent aspects.

But it’s the obsessions that drove the story for me. And I kind of got compelled to finish it. So maybe I got sucked into the obsessions a little bit, too.

Keith starts out as a washed up guitar player, and a heroin addict. The vampire Justine picks him up off the streets and gets him addicted to her, instead. They start out as two people who basically don’t care if they live or die.

But Keith’s problems are human problems. His ex-girlfriend committed suicide, and her other boyfriend (yes, it’s complicated) blamed him. Said other boyfriend sent his goon squad to break Keith’s hands and plant drugs in his hotel room. The broken hands ended Keith’s career as lead guitar player for a major rock band. Ending his music ended the only life he cared about.

But by making Keith an addict to whatever her vampire serum was instead of smack made Keith a functional addict. It gave him time to heal the emotional damage. Time really does heal all wounds. As Keith heals, he comes out of his comatose state of depression and starts to connect to the world again. But he’s alone most of the time with a very beautiful woman and a very dangerous secret.

As Keith connects to the world, he comes to life. Not just physical life, but emotional life. He’s young, handsome, and he needs her. Justine falls in love with her “Renfield”. Love gives her world the life and color and meaning it hasn’t had for centuries. Justine and Keith become obsessed with each other, as new lovers often do. It makes them vulnerable.

But Justine has been a vampire for 400 years. She’s survived by forgetting a lot of the things she has done. One of the things she has forgotten is that she made another vampire in LA. One that she shouldn’t. Not because it’s forbidden or because there are any rules or because vampires are even organized, but because this guy was a monster when he was human, back in the 1920s at the dawn of Hollywood.

Becoming a vampire didn’t make him much more of a monster, just a more powerful one. His obsession is Justine, the vampire who made him. He wants, no he needs to be the most powerful vampire in LA. And he wants to be sure that no one can contradict all the stories he tells. The only way that can happen is if he takes Justine out of the picture.

So when a young doctor discovers Justine’s secret, Justine is open to the idea of finding a cure for Keith’s damaged hands. And it sets the scene for her old enemy to use that vulnerability to rain destruction on them all.

Although I felt compelled to finish Stainless, there were a few things that didn’t quite work for me. The changes of point of view between Justine and Keith, the doctor Tamara and her fiancée Patrick, and the second vampire, David, and his minions, can be confusing. And there are a lot of points-of-view to follow. It’s easy to get lost. The melodramatic aspects of David’s evil did reach “over the top” proportions for me, although that’s a matter of personal taste. I might have liked the story better if David had been less of a stereotype, because one of things that made Justine interesting was that she wasn’t a stereotypical vampire.

The ending is the only ending possible. It’s inevitable and it’s exactly right.

I give Stainless three stars.

***FTC Disclaimer: Most books reviewed on this site have been provided free of charge by the publisher, author or publicist. Some books we have purchased with our own money and will be noted as such. Any links to places to purchase books are provided as a convenience, and do not serve as an endorsement by this blog. All reviews are the true and honest opinion of the blogger reviewing the book. The method of acquiring the book does not have a bearing on the content of the review.