BOOK REVEIWS18 & 19: ‘One Hot Night & Caught in the Lies’. Author – Kacey Shea. Genre – Contemporary Romantica (if you don’t like your reading hot & steamy then you best not proceed…. but if you DO….then read on!)


New author for me. Read the free prequel to the book – which practically scorched my fingers as I flipped the arrow forward….to each new page on my iPad! Short easy one session read…

And, of course I got the book; it didn’t disappoint. In fact, the author’s voice took on a more serious tone as she dealt with several topical issues beautifully. Sexual consent. Loss of family. Bonding with, and learning to love people who aren’t blood family; but they become just as important. The hero, Cameron McClain is 16 years older than the feisty foul-mouthed heroine, Jill; who uses words and attitude like armour. She’s also smart and wise beyond her 23 years. With good reason. And the sex? You may well ask! It’s just as hot; even more so as their emotional connection deepens and bonds become more entwined. You won’t regret the read. It’s a book you won’t be able to put down!




BOOK REVIEW17: The Seduction of Lord Stone – (Book 1 of 7 in the ‘Dashing Widows’ series). Author is Anna Campbell. Genre – Regency Romantica.


*****Five Stars from me!


Another totally captivating romantica from Ms Campbell. SwoonWorthy rakes….tempting widows…..Lord Stone’s days of ‘raking’ are over from the first meeting of his sister’s friend, Lady Caroline Beaumont. A completely satisfying read. The tug of love-war, ahhhhh……the seduction & ahhhhhh…….finally the sex. Lord Stone leaves nothing to the imagination! And his lady? Caro’s been widowed and only known a year of freedom from the constraints of a physically and emotionally unsatisfactory marriage. Coming out of mourning she’s now free to choose. Perusing ‘the rakes’ on offer as been her secret pleasure; surely Lord West’s reputation with the ladies is well founded? He has the looks and the charm. She’s made her choice to seduce him, so why on earth would she accept his best friend, Lord Stone, instead? She’s dreamt of a new life; to no longer be under the governance of another man’s whims and wishes…but rather the other way around; becoming a mistress to more than one, and at a time and place of her choosing.



BOOK REVIEW16: The Beaumont Betrothal – (Book 2 in the Northbridge Bride series). Author is Leigh D’Ansey. Genre – Regency Romance.

*****Five Stars from me!

I loved this book. Another winner from Leigh D’Ansey. If you like Regency romance then this story will not disappoint. The writer describes each scene so well; you’ll be the one sitting in the parlour having tea and being told ‘wishes are for fishes’ by an overbearing  mother who wants to see you ‘married off’ as soon as possible.

Add in the historical guilt Sophia Cranston feels for her ’emotionally manipulative’ sister Annabelle’s ‘poor state of health’ and you’ll understand why Sophia feels she has few options. Although they’re friends, marriage to Freddy Beaumont, the only son of the Earl of Enderby ‘does’ seem her only way forward, and out of the financial mess her father has left their family in. However much Sophia knows Freddy has more interest in the hunt and his hounds rather than in ‘hounding’ her into bed or anywhere else, she’s gone along with the idea of accepting a passionless uninteresting marriage, as long as she can continue with her artistic aspirations; she’s extremely talented, and this gives her life real deep-down meaning.

Until she meets a stranger on a bridge. Bruno Cavanagh is indeed a broody swoon worthy hero from the first meeting; he’s also the legitimate first-born son of the Earl and his first wife (who’d gone missing while out walking the cliff edges prior to Bruno’s birth). The old Earl mourned their loss for 7 years and then re-married.

Therefore the title must now go to Bruno. Freddy’s overwhelmed, because he’d always wanted a brother and loves Bruno from the outset, and he’s relieved as he’d had little interest in the running of the estates or maintaining the title for future generations.

But Bruno refuses to claim the woman he’s fallen in love with, his much loved brother’s fiancée.

Where does that leave Sophia? With the initial ‘secret sales’ of her art works, and eventual commissioned work providing a means of financial support, she begins to see marriage to anyone, is not her only option.

The scene setting and dialogue and HEA is well worth the reading in my view.











Some of them might be…. but not all, that’s for sure!

Lots of creatives are blogging, photographing, baking, designing, journaling, writing in short form, or long, music or stories; it might be about work, or the lack thereof (productivity for many of us is not up where we’d like it to be, others are doing brilliant – especially if they have a ‘bubble family’ that can do some of the chores required to run the home; cook, clean, garden, shop for essentials, cut hair, & keep the kids entertained) – whatever it is ‘you do’ just keep doing it, even if it’s just a little bit; it’ll be enough to get you through for today. Rinse and repeat.

Hearing & seeing how folks are managing to get through ‘their day’, in a myriad of inventive ways, is shown nightly on the local TV channels. It’s fun and entertaining. Tonight one Dad from Invercargill won $5000.00 which was sponsored by a local bed manufacturer, his winning ‘Dancing Dad’ routine was on a national current affairs news show and will likely be up one of the many Social Media platforms before I finish writing this blog. And then there’s the ‘over the phone catch-ups’ with people we thought had disappeared from our lives, or the reinstatement of dinner-table chatter amongst the family. This shows everyone ‘we’re all in this together’ doing the best we can on a daily basis. So whatever form your creativity is taking, just keep at it! Be inventive. Be unique. But most of all – have some fun!

Yeah, there has to be some fun, but there’s a serious side to what LOCKDOWN means, too. It means ‘stay at home’ unless we need food or medicine, or a limited amount of exercise – and by not going too far from home-base to undertake your chosen exercise.

OR, ‘the long arm of the law’ is going reach around and haul us back into line if we don’t follow the rules. And rightly so.

No café culture. No dining out. No surfing. No swimming at beaches. No fishing. No hunting. No skateboarding. Or e-bike riding. Or doing anything that may cause me to pass on the virus or pick it up, or have an accident and injure myself making other people come to my aid.

It’s basic stuff. Common sense really. But it seems some of us weren’t born with a lick of it. Or if we were, we’re deliberately choosing not to use it.

I believe ‘we’ are in a very good place in New Zealand. And we have much to be grateful for.  Yes, we might be at the bottom of the world – a fact which I reckon is working in our favour, another fact is we’re a small nation (just under 5 mil at last census count) and we’re an assorted & talented bunch made up of; ‘survivors’, ‘immigrants’ & ‘intrepid explorers’ of all nationalities and customs, melded together; and that accounts for our resilience in the face of adversity. It’s built into our DNA. We inherited it from our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and further back to wherever our ancestors travelled from, to get here.

My mother was born in November 1939, World War II had started on the 1st of September. It finished on the 2nd of September 1945. But rationing of supplies never ended until 2 or 3 years later; petrol rationing finished in 1947 and meat rationing ended in September 1948. Fortunately growing vegetables and fruit was something a lot of people did back then. So at least they could feed themselves. And, as far as Mum goes, she’s the most resilient person I know. Thankfully ‘I get’ where I’ve come from. And I’m very grateful for it.

So, today, me going down to queue in a supermarket car park for an hour and a half, standing a couple of metres away from the next person in the single file line, on the designated marked spot, while I wait for my turn to get a trolley and enter the building, sanitizing my gloved hands on the way in, and moving through the aisles of a modern day Pandora’s box of delectable choices in food supplies, taking another hour to fill my trolley, was no hardship at all.

So, ‘this’ virus making us all stay at home; with the ability to shop for food for our families, or get the medical treatment or medicines they might require, it’s not ‘hardship’, not by any stretch of anyone’s imaginations.

We’ve been fortunate that our PM ‘went out hard and early’. Many may feel it was an over zealous move (not me) and sadly we have had one reported loss of life attributed to Covid-19. But many kiwi-folk have recovered. And most of us are observing the rules and sticking to them.

But, you guessed it, we do have a very small percentage of our population who feel they’re above the rules! I know right-how can that be? How can people be so narcissistic to think the rules don’t apply or mean ‘them’? ‘Rules’ sometimes mean diddly-squat to some people; that’s just human nature, we all accept that. And this ‘rule-breaking’ does include 2 very prominent government officials. Shock. Horror. One went on a long drive to get to where he wanted to be so he could ride his bike, he drove there in his ‘government officialdom insignia covered’ vehicular transportation paid for by the NZ taxpayer; and is the current Minister of Health. And the other was driving a similarly subsidised tax-payer vehicle 6 hours approximately (one way) to make appearances at Parliament for the sake of media interviews; that was the leader of the opposition.

And then we have all those folks that thought they’d go to their summer houses or holiday beach Bach for the Easter break or for the entire period of the lockdown; as I write this the NZ police are setting up roadblocks en-route to targeted popular holiday destinations to stop folks from getting to where they think they’re going.

While those that think the rules don’t apply to them, I wish they’d think again, cos in this instance the rules definitely do apply. Go home and stay home. Don’t be a plonker; and that includes the government officials. Not judging here. They made their choices.

Let’s just do what’s required and we’ll keep this insidious virus from spreading further, before it damages us beyond repair; then we’ll ALL be able to get back on with our routines and daily lives without anymore dire consequences.

Yes, life will never be the same for many. Hundreds of people have been made redundant from their jobs. Other people are finding new ways to do their jobs from home. And shock-horror (again) we’re finding there are occupations that we may not need the services of, in the near future or ever again? And perhaps we’re not looking at any overseas travel any time soon; but one indisputable fact remains, these small inconveniences we’ve become used to as part of ‘lockdown’ are nothing when you compare it to the Wall Street crash of 1929 which lead on to the Great Depression, and then World War II which happened fairly soon after.

In conclusion, if going to our ‘summer house or Bach’ is off the agenda, then so be it. It’s not a hardship. If queuing for food is what we need to do, then so be it. If we can only run around the exterior of our house for exercise (one Kiwi bloke did this and clocked up a marathon), or maybe we can only walk up and down our driveway, then so be it. We don’t know the meaning of ‘going without’ or ‘doing it hard’.

We live in the land of ‘milk & honey’ and we’re a resilient lot; with a few plonkers thrown in to keep us honest and laughing…and most of us know we’ll get through this, ‘together’.











CONTROVERSIAL BOOK? Or is it just a ‘damn-good-page-turning’ read? ‘AMERICAN DIRT’ by Jeanine Cummins. ‘MAINSTREAM FICTION with political themes’. Book release date – 21st January 2020.


I’m currently reading this and I’m COMPLETELY immersed in the storyline and characters. There’s already been a lot of speculation from what I’ve seen (on social media, by television broadcasters, political journalists, book reviewers & readers, including some well-known authors) – there are supporters and detractors regards the validity of this author’s ‘knowledge base’ &/or ‘her right’ to write about the subject matter within the pages of American Dirt; PLEASE REMEMBER – IT’S A WORK OF FICTION.

And the fact that there’s been so much controversy, already, shows how well Ms Cummins has done her job; as an author of fiction.

NB: Fiction authors make up stories; sometimes about drug cartels and their mesmerising ‘likable’ leaders, sometimes about the loss of much loved family members at a happy social event, sometimes about the soul-deep driving need (perhaps only a mother of a young child would relate to, or have) to find safety for that child and herself and sometimes if it means doing something seemingly impossible; like illegally migrating from Mexico to the USA, she’s going to give it her best shot… because her child’s life and their future depend on her succeeding. And when ‘stuff matters’ there’s always going to be ‘politics’ of some kind; in fiction and in reality!

Jeanine Cummins Author







BOOK REVIEW15: ‘BEG FOR YOU – (ROCKTOWN INK MONTANA SERIES, BOOK #1)’ – Author is Sherilee Gray. Genre is contemporary romance (sexy, strong alpha hero and heroine to match – heat level is hot).


*****Very definitely a FIVE STAR READ FOR ME! Scorching. Intense.

Well done to the author. Ms Gray nailed it! This story has it all; excellent characterisation (I loved Cal & Cassy) – these two people leap off the page and grip you – tight, and right by the throat! Secondary characters are also well-written; paving the way for their stories in this series. ‘Beg for You’ is raw and believable. There’s also a level of emotional intensity, as well as some very hot & very satisfying sex scenes, which make you desperate for the HEA for these two. Which the author delivered. Other reviewers have outlined the story details – so I don’t need to – but let me tell you – I got blisters on my fingers turning the pages…. this was one book I couldn’t put down and if I did…. I was thinking about them! Totally recommend – it’s one hellova scorching hot read! You won’t be disappointed. And I’ve used the pre-order function which is up for the second book in this series (Bull’s story – ‘Sin for You’) on Ms Gray’s website – and I can’t hardly wait for September 5th.


Twitter: Sherilee Gray @sherilee_gray






My last post was almost 3 months ago?! What can I say – life’s been SO busy! I’ve worked thru the remainder of my registration requirements including a comprehensive first aid course as well as completing the required re-sits for my physiology and anatomy exam and very gratefully I received my Diploma in Bowen Therapy in mid June. With that came a sense of accomplishment and a good dose of relief, too. And now, not having study on my daily/weekly agenda has given me so much more freedom. Which I’m loving.

I’ve been making the most of it, too; catching up on neglected visits to family and friends, reading for pleasure ‘voraciously’, working with my clients both ‘in-person’ and via ‘distance healing’ and catching up on some of those tasks ‘on the back-burner’. I’ve also been getting back in touch with my first love and longtime passion of writing.

I have ideas of marrying some aspects of my therapy work and writing in the form of a non-fiction book. More on this at a later date.

And yesterday was my monthly writers meeting; a large gathering of 25 writers of varying romantic genre styles attended the workshop on POV, held in the home of one of our members. Always so good to catch up with the other writers and see how their month has been; and share insights both positive and negative.

So, now that I’m suitably inspired, I’ll flex my writer’s muscles even more… over the past month I’ve been re-reading and editing, and re-writing a book pulled up from down in the dark recesses of my hard-drive. Making it better? Well that’s definitely my hope!

Are you wondering why I don’t just write something new and fresh? While I agree that would be the easiest way forward, this particular story has been calling to me for years. It’s a completed m/s. And at this moment in time I still believe the story has some merit. Plus I can use it to begin a series. So it’s my anchor – my solid foundation to build on; and of course it’ll be a challenge.

There’s no fun in taking the easy way out or forward is there? It seems that taking the challenging route will eventually bring me more satisfaction; I’m ever the optimist!

Life is beyond good and I’m extremely grateful for it every day.

kindest thoughts to you all too, Gaylene

Gaylene Atkins




Disappointment: Ego vs Higher-Self? Or do we need both? You decide for you. Author – Gaylene Atkins.

Collins Dictionary meaning:

Disappoint (verb) 1. to fail to meet expectations or hopes of; let down. 2. to prevent the fulfilment of (a plan, etc.); frustrate.

Disappointment (noun) 1. the feeling of being disappointed. 2. a person or thing that disappoints.

As some of you may be aware I’ve been studying to gain the registration certificate necessary to complete my Bowen therapy training. And last week I thought I was as ready as I’d ever be, to sit for the physiology and anatomy exam. This was a 3 hour exam for me. At the end of the time I knew I couldn’t do anymore; felt there were a couple of areas where I could’ve done with more knowledge retention. However, I’d done my best. Apart from that my left eye was twitching something shocking… enough was enough. If I had to do re-sits then so be it; all the while I was really hoping that wouldn’t be necessary.

And you guessed it, yesterday’s preliminary results came back and were ‘not good enough’. ‘FAIL’. I didn’t ‘pass with 80% or more’ in every section, a stipulated requirement of the rules for a full pass. Rules are rules. And I’ve always been one to stick to and follow the rules. My pride and ego wouldn’t have it any other way. Never the less, the results had me feeling extremely ‘disappointed’ with myself. And with what I perceived as a serious lack of effort to get this last major study hurdle over the line and ticked-off, I let myself get dragged under and rolled…not exactly a death roll…cos on the scale of 1 to 10 this was low-grade and for an additional cost I can re-sit…

I told some of ‘my people’ via email (and my mother via a phone call) and got their kind words back. Very grateful to each one of them for that – no question.

However, you know how it is, left to dwell on something for long enough… it eats away at our core and we’re all fragile beings; and wanting to do well and be seen to be succeeding in our chosen field of expertise, is as natural as breathing. Taking this hit to my ego has shown me how vulnerable I still am, as well. How much work I still have to do on myself, and how much I still have to learn about ‘just being’. Bearing that in mind, I believe sometimes we do need to allow ourselves to ‘wallow’ and feel sorry for ourselves too. But give yourself a time frame. Don’t let it go on infinitum! I gave myself one whole day.

AND THAT WAS YESTERDAY. For one whole day I let ‘MY EGO’ have a party of magnificent proportions; and unbeknownst to me, EGO went ahead and invited his best friends; depression, self-flagellation, narcissism, not good enough & wasted effort – they all made uninvited and lengthy appearances – putting on their party hats and having their say. They ate every damn thing in sight. Drank all the free booze and then slept it off. They buggered off this morning leaving me with the mess and a massive headache. (NB: I didn’t really eat any of the chocolate or ice-cream in the pantry and freezer (but I will admit to thinking about doing it) and never drank a single drop of the alcohol in the booze cupboard either – knew that compounding my unhealthy emotions with my propensity for physical addictiveness wouldn’t really help the situation. So perhaps I’ve learnt something afterall..?)

Fortunately, ‘HIGHER-SELF’ came to my rescue this morning. EGO had deliberately left higher-self off the party guest list; because EGO is mean & toxic most of the time and we all know EGO doesn’t ‘do’ balance either. Where as, ‘higher-self’ is all about acceptance and finding your balance.

Lucky for me ‘Higher-Self’ came with friends too; meditation, kindness, gratefulness, vulnerability and enlightenment and with their help I had the place looking sparkling in no time flat; the furniture was righted, not exactly where it was before but good enough, the artworks shifted and straightened, and the toilet cleaned; that shite from yesterday, although disappointing, has definitely been ‘flushed’!

Do we need both? Ego & Higher-Self? Definitely – in my view anyway. There must be shade or dark so you can find your way out to appreciate and enjoy ‘the light’.




BOOK REVIEW14: ‘IF YOU KNEW (RED BUD, IOWA,#1)’ – Author is Barbara Meyers. Genre – contemporary romance, (family, community, relationships, life lessons, HEA.)

***** 5 Stars from me. Life Lessons & Acceptance

This is a story about a young woman trying to find acceptance for herself. The choices she made in her past life, she still stands by; judgement and opinions of family, friends and the public have haunted her, pushed her past the point of no return.

Recently widowed, in the very early stages of pregnancy, Devonny Campbell is no stranger to pain and suffering; just like most other folks, as it turns out. Driving across the states from California and her home in LA to end up in a small town in the Midwestern state of Iowa is a complete culture shock. It’s just what she needs only she doesn’t know it at the time of arrival because she’s in dire need of bathroom facilities, exhausted physically, not to mention emotionally wrung out…

Red Bud, Iowa, turns out to be the exact opposite of all she’s left behind. On her first drive through the streets she wonders if she’s entered an alternate universe. It’s a pretty town with neatly kept lawns, gardens and homes. Wholesome and happy describes what she’s seeing; she feels herself calming. And maybe after a good night’s sleep she’ll be able to take off the rose tinted glasses? Surely, nowhere outside of a Hollywood ‘happy days’ movie set, could really be this perfect? Feel this right?

Finding the Victorian-style mansion ‘Twelve Forks Inn’, soon has her deciding she’s staying, at least for one or two nights. Once she’s rested and had some real down to earth home cooked food, exploring what she assumes is a conservative town, soon has her deciding to make the best of things-right there; a brand new life soon emerges. For a time life goes along very smoothly. She buys a pretty ‘move in ready’ cottage, gets a job as a school teacher-aide, nestles into the community, and is accepted at face value by everyone; her pregnancy state still well-hidden and not known about. For all intents and purposes she’s a single woman who has relocated, until she rejects the un-provoked overtures of a young man in the car parking area of the local school.

There’s a cast of characters beginning with Pat the motherly ‘Innkeeper’, to a man that makes her heart rate pick up in a way that has her seriously questioning herself; how could she feel this way about another man so soon after losing her much loved husband; the father of her unborn child?

Luke Bradshaw is no stranger to emotional upheaval and sadness either; acceptance after rejection by his father, through a set of circumstances saw Luke decline into an abyss. He’s rescued by his brother with an ‘intervention & treatment program’, which eventually enables him to turn his life around. Having gained the respect and trust of the local people along with a satisfying coaching job at the community high school, Red Bud’s become the place where he feels he belongs, too. He should be happy, right? But he’s still seeking forgiveness and approval from a father that doesn’t know how to show him love. And Luke’s got secrets; exposure puts his life in Red Bud under pressure.

Without wanting to give too much away, this is a story about people having secrets hidden beneath the façade of a seemingly perfect town where everyone is living in what appears to be ‘harmonious bliss’.

Gossip, jealousies, revenge, alter ego’s and the immaturity of one student starts a chain reaction. With Devonny’s past life known about, everyone else’s lives begin to spiral into truth, as well; exposure and immunity knows no bounds.

Everyone has secrets. Everyone has events in their past or present lives that they’d rather others didn’t know about. Everyone’s made decisions based on their knowledge at their time of choosing; sometimes those choices were not always clear and bad things did happen. But one thing we all know for sure, right or wrong, owning up to our choices and accepting what life or other people think matters less when we know who we really are. When we know that we mean no-one malicious harm, when we treat others with kindness and respect–always. Fortunately, Devonny and Luke come together and find their happy ever after; as do many others in the story.

‘If You Knew’ may be the way forward for a new series based around the characters and their town of Red Bud, Iowa.

I received an ARC of this author’s work, in return for an honest review. I believe I have given one.

Twitter: Barbara Meyers @barbmeyers





BOOK REVIEW13: ‘Only When I Sleep’ – Author is E.V. Lind (debut novel in this genre). Contemporary suspense with historical super-natural elements. Family/Relationships/Love. Triggers – Domestic Violence/Psychological & Physical Trauma .

*****Five Star Review from me. Graphic. Gripping. Intense.

Because I’ve read this author’s work in another genre, I expected a polished and well-written novel; and I definitely got that! What I didn’t expect was the level of gripping realism and abhorrence I would feel for one character most particularly.

When Beth has no options left but to flee from all she’s known, to escape an abusive relationship, she has no idea that she will end up finding the greatest gift of all; her sense of self.

Ryan’s physically and emotionally wrecked; a former soldier returned home to run the family farm. His disability gives him more physical pain than he likes to admit to, but it’s the deeper guilt and emotional pain he keeps well-hidden that keeps him awake at night; then Beth arrives.

This is the sort of book you start reading and don’t want to put down until the last page is read. Sincere thanks to the author for that… and the last few chapters I dragged out cos I didn’t want to finish reading about Beth & Ryan and the Riverbend community. But at the same time I wanted to see justice done; one character needed to have ‘what was coming’ and for it to be dealt with once and for all. The ending was perfect in my view.

I found this book to be one that engaged me on several emotional levels. There is safety. There is hope. There is family. There is honour. There is love. The storyline is beyond gripping. And it’s so well written and more realistic than imaginable…some scarily intense scenes.

And finally, if you like ‘a light and fluffy read’ then this isn’t the book for you.

Note to the author: All the secondary characters are so well-rounded, especially Ryan’s mother – Mary-Ann, and her café, the rural community setting and the characters that work in the café kitchen…would you ever consider a spin-off ‘Riverbend Romance’ series? Of course, I’m hoping to read more of Beth and Ryan’s family story too…