A Quick Review; No Chaser

Kulti

Kulti by Mariana Zapata wouldn’t have been a book I’d automatically pick up. Though it’s a contemporary romance, it’s also set in the world of women’s soccer which is something I don’t follow or have ever played as a kid. It’s a doorstop of a book. My copy was 560 pages long. I like long books, but in the romance genre it’s at least a hundred pages too long. The main character’s love interest is a retired legend of the sport, and he’s German. I’m sure there are plenty of friendly Germans in the world but I rode dressage for years. I’ve had several German coaches. They’re typically difficult as hell and demanding beyond words.

Mariana Zapata is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller. This book has 1, 193 reviews on Amazon. The majority of readers like this book. So despite my very personal issues, I dug in and tackled my book club’s choice.

It wasn’t awful. As a matter of fact, mostly…it was quite nice. The writing was good; the internal dialogue funny.

The pacing of the romance was slow to the point of painful, which is a problem that I can’t ignore since this is supposed to be a romance first and a sports novel second. Two hundred pages in I couldn’t help but think, what the hell? Why didn’t her editor bother to rein in this author? I sighed, rolled my eyes, and then reminded myself that this is a bestselling author. That should mean something. Yes? There must be a big payoff coming. Hopefully. And then, I’d start reading again.

Sal, the main soccer-playing character, is in her late twenties. Despite being a leader, focused and driven to excel in her sport, and arguably the best player on her team, her reaction to Reiner Kulti is extraordinarily adolescent. I’m sure this might be endearing to some readers but not to me. I’ve been a tomboy all my life; horses, basketball, golf, cycling. I understand being competitive, giving your all, and hating to lose. Teenage crush or no crush, being a female athlete doesn’t automatically make you socially awkward.

What was far more endearing was her panic attacks around cameras. That sort of character flaw was palatable because it doesn’t play to stereotypes. Who doesn’t get nervous when a microphone is shoved in their face?

The very German Kulti, a David Beckham styled character, is not likable at the beginning of the book. As a matter of fact, he’s not all that likable for most of the book. That’s mainly because Zapata only sticks to Sal’s immature point of view. At the very end of this book, there’s a payoff of sorts. It’s not a huge payoff, but I can now understand why the single point of view was done.

Here are my final thoughts… If you like feel-good books or movies about sports, then Kulti is for you. If you are looking for your next steamy read-in-a-day romance, this book is a hard pass.

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I plan to leave this review on Goodreads.com. For other book reviews scroll down the Chalkboard.

A Quick Review; No Chaser

Broken Promises

Broken Promises by Quell T. Fox is a paranormal romance and the first in a trilogy. It is written in first person, which is something that I don’t usually enjoy but after reading the book I realized that this story couldn’t have been told any other way. There are flashback/memory vignettes that are more impactful with the first-person point of view. The writing flows easily and once I’d started the book, I didn’t want to put it down until I’d finished it. It took me a day to read. With that said, I did stumble across several mistakes that could have been caught with another pass by a proofreader or by having Microsoft Word read the book aloud, but the mistakes weren’t jarring or frequent enough to set the book aside.

Broken Promises deals with love and time, favorite themes of mine. Asha’s character is introduced as a serial leaver. She leaves relationships and people as easily as she abandons places. She has always felt like she’s searching for something—but she doesn’t know what, where, or who that may be. This is a classic the heroine doesn’t know who or what she is book. Andrew is Asha’s drool-worthy boyfriend at the beginning of the book. She knows she’ll eventually leave despite moving to Rhode Island with him, the hot sex, and his sweet nature. She just isn’t normal and she knows it.

After arriving at Andrew’s family home, unusual things immediately start to occur. Eventually, the reader is clued in that much of the phenomenon is Jacob trying to find her. This book would have fallen into the love triangle troupe except that both Asha and the reader are already aware that she’s going to leave Andrew regardless of the unusual future Jacob is offering.

Be prepared to dwell over Quell’s explanation of what immortalites are and how they come to be. It can get a bit confusing but if you absorb that bit of information then you’ll probably want to read the rest of the series once book two and three are released. Also keep in mind that this a trilogy. Being a romance, the reader is going to get a happy-ish ending, choices will be made but Asha’s story-arc will not be wrapped-up in a tight bow and that might leave some readers unsatisfied.

To learn more about Quell T. Fox and her other books, check out her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/632201927243401/

A Quick Review; No Chaser

Reluctant Guardian

Elisha Bugg’s Reluctant Guardian (The Otherworld Guardians) is the first book in what will be an interesting paranormal romance series. For those readers who love to find themselves immersed in a world of shifters, demons, witches, and vampires this book’s cover and blurb promises everything you would ever want. Thane Marrok, a wolf shifter, is deliciously dark and brooding. The heroine, Anya Shaw, doesn’t understand her past or why she’s drawn to Thane. And the universe the author builds for the reader is a world in which Guardians like Thane must protect themselves and others like them from a society of human hunters.

I eagerly jumped into this book and was hooked by the end of the first chapter. The dialogue between characters is well written and the description of each character was intriguing enough to keep me reading. However, as an indie author myself, I began to notice issues that had nothing to do with the quality of the story—the formatting of the ebook was one issue. Perhaps this isn’t a problem with the paperback, so I kept reading. (And it’s an easy fix if the author uses the kindle formatter provided by Amazon’s publishing company.)

Because this is a no-spoiler review, I can tell you that the author kept the pacing of the book brisk, giving the reader just enough world-building information to set each scene. She also treated the introduction of new characters in the same manner. As a reader, I appreciated that. But because Elisha Bugg is clearly not an American author, she thinks nothing of using British slang in her writing. And I’m usually okay with that! The only time the slang jarred me from the story was when she used the word floor for ground—when the characters were clearly outside.  

So, with the formatting issues and slang aside, Reluctant Guardian was a fair introductory book. It can be easily read in a weekend. The slowly developing romance between Anya and Thane was maddening enough to make me want to finish the book. And the plot and character’s histories were tight, so by the end of the book, everyone got a happy ending, reader included.

This review was posted on Amazon and Goodreads.com. If you would like to learn more about Elisha Bugg, check out her website.

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The Wait is Over!

The Fate of Wolves is now out on Kindle. After anticipating its release for nearly a month, I can finally breathe a sigh of relief. So many of my readers prefer ebooks because of the convenience of having their entire library on one device. Now the madness can stop! No more just hearing about book 2… you can now download Deegan and Eva’s story for yourself.

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you’ll be glad to know that The Fate of Wolves is enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program. That means you can read it for free! I get paid according to how many pages are read, so it’s a win-win for authors and readers!

Book 1 and 2

First Amazon Review:

A Page-Turning Romance with a Twist October 29, 2019

As an avid reader of many genres, I have high expectations when it comes to romance. I want my heroines strong, their partners strong enough to match them, and a love story that avoids predictability. The Fate of Wolves has all this and more. Fans of fantasy and paranormal romance will love the legend and lore bound tightly in this moving romance. It was a page-turning read, and just when I thought the author was taking me toward the usual cliched ending, the plot twisted for a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Expect elements of action, romance, and fantasy to converge all the way up until the very last page.”

As always, customer reviews are the best thank you an author can receive. They can be brief or long, but please consider leaving one behind for another reader to find. Amazon makes it so easy for kindle users, prompting them at the end of every book. If you’ve purchased a paperback of The Fate of Wolves from me at a signing then Goodreads.com is another fabulous site to leave your thoughts. (Just follow the Goodreads link above.)

The reason I keep asking, nay begging, for reviews from readers is that it takes a minimum of 20 reviews on a book for Amazon’s algorithm to suggest it to readers. I am still climbing that mountain with all my books and I need your help. If you have enjoyed any of my Darkly Series or The Love of Gods, Click Here for my Amazon Author’s page to find all the links to my catalog of books on Amazon.

As always, thank you for your support.

–Tarrant

A Quick Review; No Chaser

Elementally Yours

Elementally Yours by E.S. Smith is an indie paranormal romance that was a treat to read. I came across this book in an author thread on Facebook and so it was the first time this British author had come to my attention. As a lover of paranormal romance, I usually end up reading about werewolves or vampires. Luckily, Elementally Yours offered a refreshing change. Instead of witches and magick, the supernatural beings in this book are elementals, people who have an infinity for one of the four elements—fire, air, water, or earth.

The plot of the book was straightforward, a young woman, Vienna, who doesn’t know she’s an elemental is wanted by two different men. Of course, the men are extraordinarily sexy and tall. Hunter is the off-limits crush she’s always secretly nurtured, and Jackson is the easy-going hottie she’s been warned to avoid. “Oh, be still my fluttering heart. What a fun ride this was!”

Now as a reader, if the above was all that was going on in this book then I would have grown bored and walked away halfway through the telling, but Smith weaves an intricate tale of family deceptions and allegiances that kept me turning pages until Vienna finally chooses which man she truly loves. Smith’s writing is an excellent example of just how good so many indie published books can be. I’d happily recommend downloading a copy of Elementally Yours to your kindle. The book can be read in a weekend, or a day if you are a fast reader. Elementally Yours was published in 2017 and I hope Smith will consider making this a series.

For more information about E.S. Smith you can find her on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook. Elementally Yours is only sold in digital format. This review was published on Amazon and on Goodreads.com.

Twitter: @essmithauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/ESSmith
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/E-S-Smith-Author/1399120860367237

A Quick Review, No Chaser

Left on Main

Crystal Jackson’s novel, Left on Main, is a contemporary romance set in a small Southern town. If you are looking for a sex-filled romp, this is not the book for you. If, however, you like a character-driven story that develops slowly and has honest emotional depth, then this is a novel you need to explore.

Left on Main is a book in which the town itself plays a role. For a Southern reader who is used to a storyteller taking his/her time, I appreciate the effort that the author took to describe the town and the supporting cast. There is something very familiar in a mother’s matchmaking, a sister’s overprotectiveness, and a best friend who just doesn’t always get it. And as in any small town, there’s the, “your dating who?” office gossip and that awkward moment when you realize everyone knows your business.

The author would be the first to tell you that this book deals with the emotional aftermath of divorce. The inability to trust someone again after a bad divorce is the primary obstacle that Libby faces. Crystal Jackson points out the theme of trust in her interview with Literary Titan. (Follow the link to read it.) Seth, the good-looking antique store owner, also has trust issues resulting from a past relationship. So how do two individuals with trust issues and this much baggage learn to love again? This is where the supporting characters step in to lend a helping hand.

My only negative takeaway, which I lay at the feet of Sands Press, is this…there are moments where the book’s pacing lags and the prose could have been tightened. An editor should have addressed those issues, but on the whole, this book is a fine debut novel and I am looking forward to the next from the Heart of Madison Series.

I would highly recommend Left on Main as your next book club choice, or for that cozy fall read. The book can be easily read in a single weekend and give you plenty to mull over while you’re having that glass of wine with your girlfriends.

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Left on Main can be purchased on Amazon. Crystal Jackson has several local events that she will be making appearances with her book. To learn more follow the link to her website.

Some of the latest reviews from Amazon Readers

I love getting reviews from readers. I am fortunate that thus far, The Love of Gods has been received so warmly. Here are some of the latest comments from readers:

“Smith’s characters, though many in number, are well-written and leap from the page. Her depiction of gods/goddesses who operate in the human realm connects the paranormal and romantic elements of the story in a real and understandable way. Her dialog is quick and succinct, making the book’s 300 or so pages a fast read. The romance/love between Lugos and Keely is portrayed in a real, mature manner. Fans of paranormal romance will find The Love of the Gods: The Legends of the Pale Series, Book 1 a terrific read.” (5 Stars) Sept. 21st

“So much going on in this fantasy of love, hate, friends, family and the darkness of the enemy. This is a must-read for all fantasy book lovers. I give The Love of Gods by Tarrant Smith a fantastic super high 5 stars for me.” (5 Stars) Aug. 25th

“This is a beautifully written love story. I am looking forward to the second installment of The Legends of the Pale Series. I also plan to pick up her Darkly Series! Tarrant Smith has created a wonderful, believable paranormal world filled with gods, goddess, Fae, demons, and more. A must-read for any lover of Paranormal Romance.” (5 Stars) Aug. 13th

“Well written, and vivid in the creation of the Pale and its inhabitants, this story shows us that even gods, even shifters, and yes, even demons, are capable of true love and are more like us than not. For a wonderful story about love throughout lifetimes and the age-old fight to survive in any world, this is a great read. I will definitely be reading the second story in this series!(5 Stars) Aug. 8th

Thank you to all those readers who took the time out of their day to leave a comment or review for this book. I hope you will enjoy book 2, The Fate of Wolves, just as much.

Amazon Reviews:

The Love of Gods

I just wanted to highlight the customer reviews that are beginning to appear on Amazon. Each, no matter the number of starts given, is a gift to an author. It lets us know if our storytelling has touched you, entertained you, or where we need to work harder on perfecting our craft. Thank you for taking the time to tell other readers about the first book in the Legends of the Pale Series, The Love of Gods.

stephen r. huggins

5.0 out of 5 stars  A Welcome Surprise

May 27, 2019 Format: Paperback

“This was my first time reading a “paranormal romance” and I was delighted with the experience. The characters were distinct and well-rounded, the settings described with just enough detail to make the scenes snap, and the dialog both intriguing and believable. The pacing of the novel kept me moving right along wondering where the plot would take me next.
This has got to be a difficult genre to write for, yet Tarrant Smith carried it off with great flair. If you are ready to step out of the hum-drum of routine fiction, this is a great place to start. I now plan to tackle Smith’s other novels. I’m confident I won’t be disappointed.”

C. Jackson

5.0 out of 5 stars  A Page-Turning Supernatural Mystery/Romance

May 29, 2019 Format: Kindle Edition

“Smith manages to combine mystery, romance, and the paranormal in this riveting tale. I read The Love of Gods over two days, eager to learn more of the world of gods, shifters, witches, and demons. Well-developed characters and a tight plot left me turning pages until the very end. While I’m waiting for the next book in the series, I’m going to read her other work. I highly recommend this read if you love romance, mystery, or paranormal stories!”

Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars  For the Love of This Book!

May 5, 2019 Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

“The Love of Gods (The Legends of the Pale Series) by Tarrant Smith features a pantheon of gods and goddess, witches, demons, shape shifters, fae, werewolfs and demigods all trying to eek out a somewhat normal existence in the modern world…”

“…The cast of characters—gods witches, et. al—really work in this novel. Smith does an amazing job of explaining to the reader the character’s backstory. Mythology can be so confusing, but in this series it isn’t. Trying to tell a story with a murder mystery coupled with a love story and mythology seems impossible, but Tarrant Smith does it with elegance and grace!”