Sweet Surrender

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Book Title:  Sweet Surrender
Author: Barbara Stewart
Format Reviewed: PDF
Available as: Kindle eBook, Amazon paperback
Published On: March 8, 2012
Length: 219 pages
Price: $0.99 (Kindle), $6.95 (paperback)
Genre: Romance (novella)

Book description from Amazon.com:  Delaney Morris is a young woman afraid of commitment. Logan Stiles is a man determined to tear down the wall she has built around her heart, protecting it because of the volatile relationship her parents share. He patiently waits and chips away at the wall until a piece of her past is revealed that leads to the answers she needs to break through the wall completely.

My Thoughts:

Sweet Surrender is the heartwarming story of Logan Stiles and Delaney Morris – the perfect couple in almost every way, except that Delaney is afraid of commitment. The acrimonious relationship between Delaney’s long-divorced parents has made her especially wary of marriage.  However, thanks to Logan’s devotion and patience, not to mention the example set by his amazing family, Delaney is able to build confidence in the potential for love to endure, and for committment to be worthwhile. It is this love and support from Logan and his family that also enables Delaney to face a shattering revelation about her past.

Sweet Surrender is a ‘feel-good’ romantic story that makes you want to snuggle up in front of a cozy fire with a hot cup of tea.  I especially enjoyed the way that Barbara Stewart introduced us to the culture, customs, food and settings of the southern USA. It’s an engaging story that kept my interest throughout. 

This was Ms. Stewart’s first book and, incredibly, was written in just one month as part of last year’s National Novel Writing Month.  As such, we can actually see Ms. Stewart’s writing skills evolve as we progress through the book.  There was a bit more narration (at the expense of dialogue) than I personally enjoy, but this too improved as the book progressed. I must admit that I have not read too many romance novels in my life so this could be typical of the genre, but I did find most of the characters in the book, especially Logan, unrealistically perfect. With the exception of Delaney’s mother, and to a small extent those dealing with her, no one ever said a harsh word or got cranky. 

My favorite part of this book was the food – there was a lot of it and it always sounded interesting and delicious! I think it would be terrific if Ms. Stewart could include recipes for some of the unique southern dishes she describes in the book, perhaps as an appendix at the back.

Adopted Reality, A Memoir

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Book Title: Adopted Reality, A Memoir
Author: Laura Dennis
Publisher:  Entourage Publishing
Format Reviewed: eBook
Published On: June 2012
Length: 179 Pages
Price:  $5.99
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Women
Book description, taken from Amazon.com: In a September 11 memoir unlike any you’ve read, this thrilling, psychological adventure follows the ups and downs of bipolar, and examines relationships biological and adopted.
Laura had always been Miss Perfect—but she just couldn’t do it anymore.
They say not to make more than one big change in your life at a time, but with a break up, a job change, a move across the country, and the separation of her adoptive parents, when Laura gets the opportunity to reunite with her birth mom—she is not passing it up!
Then a beloved uncle dies in the Twin Towers and the tension that has been building explodes. While everyone proudly believes she’s fulfilling her dream to dance, Laura insanely thinks she’s a spy for the Illuminati who unwittingly perpetrated 9/11.
Will she learn to exist between the highs and lows, ultimately discovering her own Adopted Reality?

My Review: The first paragraph of Laura Dennis’ memoir, Adopted Reality, begins with the words: “ I’ve successfully infiltrated the Illuminati’s West Coast cell. I suspect they’re onto me”, which immediately drew me into her world and made me want to read the rest of her book.

Laura crafted her compelling story of being adopted, wanting to reunite with her birth mother and facing the possibility of mental illness to read as smoothly as if it was a novel’s story line she was chronicling. She is adept at guiding the reader between past and present, between reality and insanity, and between a girl/young woman striving to live up to being ‘the perfect child’ and an adult desperately searching for the real person hiding underneath all the layers of perfection she had presented to the world.

Reading ‘Adopted Reality’ made me stop and consider my life as a child in a family that, while far from perfect, still managed to give me a sense of completeness and security as I was growing up. Laura didn’t experience that; she grew up with feelings of loss and sadness that she couldn’t put a name to, and it was only as an adult that she was able to identify the many forces behind her feelings.

I wished that the book hadn’t finished as quickly as it did because I felt that I needed to know more about the progress the author made in her journey of self-awareness and adapting to the reality that she had to face, but I did enjoy reading what Laura chose to share with us at this time. In the future, perhaps there will be a sequel to this book–if there is, I definitely want to read it.

My Rating: Five Glasses of Wine! Excellent book to recommend to your friends, too.

Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings

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Book Title: Our Blissful Bayou Beginnings: The Duck and The Doe, Volume I
Author: Danielle Peterson
Publisher: Danielle Peterson
Format Reviewed: eBook
Published On: March 7, 2012
Length: 93 Pages
Price:  $1.00
Genre: paranormal murder mystery/romance/historical fiction

Book description, taken from Amazon.com:The Duck and The Doe is the tale of two immortal beings whose eternal love has soured a bit in the last two centuries. Written as a memoir by the “hero”, this novella is a musing on both what love is and how much America has changed since the early 19th century. The first volume deals with both the supernatural and the racism of the old American south. Told with humor and passion (and the occasional rant) the story of these strong characters, including a wealthy young lawyer and a clever courtesan, will change your idea of what “love forever” really means.

Note: The Indie Chicks received a free copy of this eBook from the author to enable this review.

 My Review: At only ninety-three pages My Blissful Bayou Beginnings is a quick read but is quite entertaining. The protagonist, Monsieur Toupinier, is a well-to-do young lawyer, torn between the world that exists in his time and the world he would like it to be. He is educated and articulate and quickly realizes that falling in love with and wanting to marry Mademoiselle Violet, a beautiful twenty-two year old prostitute, will be frowned upon by society, not only because of her profession but because her mother was mulatto. However, he resists demands that he follows the path expected of him, not knowing that his decision will lead to tragic consequences.

In the story, the author mixes paranormal (which isn’t normally a genre I read), with mystery and romance to create this tale of two lives, told by Monsier Toupinier—and infuses the story with dollops of asides to the reader to explain what has changed in the two hundred plus years since he’d been born, why he is telling the story, and how feelings, even strong romantic feelings, can change over a long period of time.

I would like to have seen better editing done in this story, as it contained many grammatical errors and missing words or word endings. For example, ‘plead’ on page 69 should be ‘pleaded’, and the use of ‘it’s when the writer meant ‘its’ is prevalent throughout the story. These may seem like small errors but they are enough to make some readers question whether or not they should bother finishing the book. 

I enjoyed the tongue-in-cheek and subtle humor the author used throughout this novella. For example, on page 9: “…there will be lots of these little side ramblings, so get used to it or GTFO” and on page 85: “Yes, well you did sort of eviscerate her father now, didn’t you?” In my opinion the author has a good grasp of how to use humor in a subtle, often surprising way.

This was a lovely story with a good ending that should lead nicely into the next book in the series, and I look forward to reading it when it comes out.

My Rating: Four glasses of wine!