This is the first in the Ghost Walker Series.
I love Christine Feehan books, just let me say this up front. But, I can only take them in small doses under normal circumstances and usually rate them around a four stars. Partly because of the romances that tend to boarder a little too closely on damsel in distress is rescued by handsome prince patterns. Don’t get me wrong, her females are stubborn, to the point you sometimes want to reach in and shake their heads to see if there’s anything up there. Strong, however, would be going too far. Willful maybe. The men tend to be more typical of chauvinists than truly romantic or protective, save for in the bed, which there is a lot of. Even then some of them could stand to sit back and let her teach him a thing or two instead of fainting to his touch.
This series is lining up to change that particular problem. The main female lead in this book is strong, educated, but not stupid or stubborn. She uses her considerable brains and doesn’t let him change her thinking and not to her undoing either. Yes, there’s some rescue, but as much on her part (and maybe a little more so) as on his, which is refreshing. The character is well balanced, as is the plot, the romance, the seduction and the emotions.
Lilly is her own person in every regard with realistic human reactions and emotions. She is rich, but that fits into the story line. She couldn’t do what she does without the power and privilege, but she wasn’t bred to it, which grounds her in reality. She’s physically scared and has typical female views of herself as too lacking for a man like him.
Ryland, her male counterpart, is a soldier. A Special Forces leader and this, too, is very well done. As a former military spouse I can say from experience she was dead on with this character. Men in his position, who do the job he does, are very much like what she portrays. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, gentlemen! He’s strong and tough and tries to keep himself all he can be and cares about his men and what is happening to them. He tries to step up and take control and it goes pretty good, but for Lilly, who is having none of it. Again, the emotions, reactions and everything about his loyalty and behaviors drilled into him are very realistic and well done.
The sex is pretty graphic, but that is the way Feehan writes and she’s good at it. Be prepared for plenty of it, but it didn’t feel like nearly as much as in some of her books. This one I got in an audiobook, the performance was great and the narrator had a very sexy voice (male). I wouldn’t listen to the sex scenes in public though, even with the headphones on!
***I think a man would like this book just as much as the ladies. There was a very nice balance between story, character and animal attraction (and of course the results of that - it is Feehan after all). But a man would enjoy the storyline, action and bravado as well as the tasteful, manly romance. I'd certainly recommend the book or audiobook, for appropriate ages of course.
The Doll in the Garden, A Ghost Story
by Mary Downing Hahn
I am, of course, way over the target age for Mary's books. However, I really enjoy them and share them with the target audience. I never share a book with a kid without reading it first, just in case. I read Mary's because I enjoy the stories, too - that's just my excuse! Her reputation in infallible in appropriate content.
She has a talent for seamlessly enduring characters and story lines that also have valuable lessons. Her material teaches morals, sympathy, empathy and so much more. They are also stories that can be very important for kids going through something similar to what the characters are enduring in the story line. In this case moving to a new location after the loss of a parent and all the things that go with that. It's a neat little mystery and ghost story all rolled into one about struggle, friendship and doing what's right.
This story does not disappoint and will keep a kid reading to find out what happens next. It is a five star read from a five star author.
The creek is such a different place in the winter. Only the sound of water gurgling over rocks is the same. Gusts of wind moaning through the boughs of the trees and the caw of crows in the distance break the stillness. The smooth waters are still tempting, but oh so deathly cold. Numbness would set in quickly; hypothermia fast on it’s heals.
I’ve often wondered at a death so sure and swift. I’m morbid that way. The winter creek is not terribly familiar to me. I cannot remember knowing it as a child. I would see it last as the fall leaves drifted to float away in the current and see it next when the leaves were just opening to the warmth of spring.
The snow covered mountains tower around like expectant ancestors, pines swaying in the breeze. It’s calming even now, even in the cold, the wind tugging at my jacket and turning skin to tingling ice. I see myself there, in the waters depths, at the bottom of the deepest pool. That is where my soul finds peace, security, safety, where no one can touch it or break it.
A murder of crows flies over in the deep grey sky, high lighting the dimness of the place. The shadow of its summer existence that is winter. The old Craft place, it’s failing structure out lined in snow, the lonely deserted graveyard staring down from the knoll over looking the creek.
This is a different experience, but I can’t help but see the parallel. Our own souls are much like this, our personalities too. We have mirror images within ourselves that differ in only the details, but the details are what make that startling difference. Light and dark, day and night, the good and bad that lies within us all.
I believe I have mentioned before that I once had a journal in which I put things I had learned along my path. When I was a child and we’d take the ride to what we called “the farm,” which was the place where the creek that this blog is named after is located, my father would offer up nuggets of his own. Little bits of information he wanted to impart. As most children are apt to I’m sure at the time we quietly rolled our eyes and could not fathom how the information might apply to us someday. Of course, every bit and parcel did, eventually, apply.
As they are apt to do my own have done very much the same thing. Roll of the eyes, the sigh and proceed to do everything I warned them against. It was only recently that the elder of them laughingly admitted to repeating just the things I’d done that I had warned her against. Once all is said and done we can laugh about it, because the painful and harmful bits are over and there isn’t a thing we can do to change it. She hopes her own will listen someday, I only smile and nod. I laugh after she leaves. A mother’s revenge for everything her children have put her through is that her grandchildren will return the favor and torment those who once tormented her in much the same ways.
So, now that they are grown and on their own path, what wisdom would I give them that they might actually heed? Since they have some experience behind them, some heartbreaks and friendships that have run their course, I now offer up the one thing that I think both might benefit the most from.
To my daughters I impart the most important lesson learned. Learn it now, learn it early, while it can still benefit you most. You are just finding your paths, stay true to them, stay true to yourself and do not let false hopes, friends or loves lead you astray.
~Let no one pressure you into being what you are not. Your path is yours alone. Others may parallel it for varying distances, but you ultimately walk alone. The consequences in life, whether for your action or action suggested by others, are yours to bear. Make no mistake, you bear them alone.
This is true of spiritual matters as well. You must find your path, not just the one followed by the popularity of the masses. Look carefully at the history of that which you follow. Was it a truly honorable path, or merely disguised as such? You must find strength, peace, security and serenity on your own, for it is yours to seek, not others to give.
By: Rita Herron
This was a well put together book: storyline, plots, characters are all well developed. I enjoyed the story and this writer has some great phrases that really bring the scenes together and bring the very rfealistic characters to life. The characters are genuinely unique and not cookie cutter like too many books these days.
I picked it up off an exchange shelf and it sat on the corner of my desk for a while before I finally got to it. Wish I'd picked it up sooner and very glad I didn’t look at any of the questionable reviews for this one. Either it wasn’t their preferred genre or they weren’t reading the same version.
Definitely a good read, though the main character could have been a little less needy with her own protection and rescue. And a side note, as someone who lives in the Appalachian Mountains in just such a place, the setting is very well defined and just the way these small places we live in are, all the way down to the trashy trailer park (though not all trailer parks are trashy ones) and weed ridden junk yards.
Last Kiss Goodnight
By: Gena Showalter
Four and a half stars!
While the cover on this book was what caught my attention I never fail to be agitated by cover work that does not match the author’s descriptions, especially of characters. That having been said, the book itself and the writing have earned their place among the best books I’ve read over the past few years. The characters, the setting and the story were all vivid and seamless. Vika, the heroine’s character is not overdeveloped for someone in her position and not weak or naive like too many female characters in so many romance novels. The action and movement were strong and compelling and the cringe worthy moments really made you cringe. The only fault one might find with this book is that there are places that slow down the book that seem almost intentional, but not natural. For me as a reader, that also slowed me down in finishing the book because it created a lull – a great stopping point that left me in no hurry to get back to it. Overall a good book, a good job and time well spent.
Many thanks to Caroline for a fantastic interview about me and my books! Check it out on her blog as we talk about Chocolate
It has been unseasonably warm for January. Enjoying the peace on my back deck, watching the sun disappear behind the horizon. My views are the woods behind me, the mountains on three sides, blue sky above. The cats are bouncing around playing on the green in-ground pool cover like it is a trampoline, all but one who lays on the hot tub cover soaking up the sun, the birds are flocking to the trees and the world seems to be a better place than it has been in a very long time.
This is transitory, I know, but I have learned to enjoy it while it lasts and let it go when it leaves. It will return another day. But for today I let the things that I must deal with lie where they are, forgotten in the beauty of a sunny day that gives the illusion of spring. Winter will be back tomorrow, work with it’s frustrations and all the rest will come pouring in with crushing force and I will muddle through another day.
For now there is a warm breeze and peace.
My goal this year? More of the same, to create an environment that is not at war with itself. To let the creations that come flow into the keyboard and polish them until they shine before they go wandering into the harsh world, and let them go to do whatever they do while I turn my attentions to other things. I hear the creek in the distance. It sooths and it heals and I am glad that I am where I am. I have found a new Nexus, if only I can keep it this time. It is much easier to keep something intact that does not depend on others behavior, participation, input or anything else. I have found peace within and hope to hold on to it whatever the cost.
My father brought us to the creek above, where he’d come as a child and I brought my children when they were young. Three generations have enjoyed these silken waters, the creek bed lined with smooth stones of all sizes. We learned to swim here, we learned to skip stones here and in a strange round about way, we learned to reflect here.
Back in the summer I sat at the edge of the water alone, as I had many times before. I go there to reflect, to think, to write and to make important decisions. That day was all those things. I no longer knew where I was going or why I was where I was, or even which direction to turn. I knew, however, that change was coming. It approached like a summer storm, the air around cooling, that special scent wrapping in around everything.
If there is one thing I have learned over my forty plus years, it’s not to fight change. Welcome it, embrace it. What’s meant to be will be and change has its place and it’s reason. To fight only makes it harder and it’s coming with or without your cooperation. It may be difficult or painful, but it’s for the best.
The problem then was that I wanted nothing more than to stay where I was at that moment. My memories were not there to keep me company. There was just peace there, in that place. Simple creatures doing what they do. That is all I want, to do what I do. To exist and achieve and cease to be. To someday end and blend into the peace that is that place. The dragonflies gathered around, all sizes and colors sitting on my legs, my toes, drawn by my brightness I suppose. Orange skirt, white skin, rose toenails. I envied them their simplicity.
Delicate veined wings, so perfect, big eyes that were studing me like alien creatures, stout, streamlined bodies so perfect. Such a variety of colors and markings. They will never fall apart from the ravages of old age or face the traumas of emotions and troubles. They live, they do what they do and they die. All in a neat order unless something else ends it early.
But to live here, in this place, out of reach of such horrors as the human race inflicts on one another, willing or not. In many, in fact most, cultures the dragonfly is either a messenger or a carrier. Some believe they carry souls to and from the afterlife. In others they are messengers. Since these seemed intent to visit in abundance I wondered what messages they were carrying? Word from those on the other side? Or were they simply sharing their peace and solitude? I didn't want to go back. I needed to find positive change. Maybe the answers lie in places like the creek that have carried me through lifetimes of joys and troubles.
I will be eternally greatful to my Dad for taking us there, for introducing me to that place that I will forever hang on to through the good and the bad. A place where I can find peace and reflect on pressing issues. A place where I can go to remember who I am and what I want in this insane world that brainwashes you into thinking you are not good enough to achieve your goals and tells you that you are nothing and no one. A place where I can find my balance, get my bearings and gather up every part of myself before striking off in the direction of my dreams.
Do entities, spirits, houses, places haunt us? Or are the times experienced there, the best of times, the worst of times what haunt our psyche? Is it guilt for what we did or didn’t do, that we were happy there when so many around us cannot find happiness? Or is it what we had between us and another that others did/do not possess? Or perhaps it is these energies that give entities their life, their existence. Does deep seated love of a home give the house its energy, personality, pooling like a primordial soup until the soul of the place is born?
Or is it perhaps something that is always there, in existence, looking for a place with enough sustience to settle down into, like a hermit crab and a shell. How does it choose the location, the home or house into which it settles? Is it a possession? After all, it is a free entity – a soul of sorts – settling into a body of its choice. Are they like all of us? Some predominately good, some predominately bad, all with a past, emotions, experiences of their own? Can they pick up and move from one place to another at will? Or is there something that anchors them there, that has to go away in order for the entity to be freed to move on? And is there a beyond for them? Or do they wander here once born, moving from one existence, one possession to another?
I strongly believe that a place, a house or other location/structure can have a soul, a personality all its own. I know it from personal experience several times over. The occupying party/parties must fit with its needs and who or what it is in its essence. That's why some people are not comfortable in a place when another is, that's why some have experiences that are negative and others have positive experiences. That place was already occupied. The entity living there was there first, that is its home. Whether it is the structure or location itself that has an essence, or if there was an essence that settled there, that place belongs first and foremost to them. They must accept the new occupants and live in harmony with them. If the new additions are not a proper fit, then they must be dealt with much like anything else.
It’s a lot like when something moves into a location or home where we are already there. Wildlife for instance. We accept them and live in harmony or we make it unreasonable for the other and it leaves. This is all that the occupant of these places are doing, they wish to be accepted, in harmony. Either they accept you or they don’t, either you fit into their existence or you don’t. It’s no more right to expect them to leave than if someone moved into your home and expected you to leave without resistance because they suddenly decide to be there.
Think about it. How many times have people tried to “exorcise” a ghost? What right do you have to ask them to leave? They were there first after all. Or is it all in our heads? Are the ghosts, entities, spirits that haunt us our own subconscious? Is it our guilt or our desires or a result of any number of emotions? Or perhaps our own existence haunts us, our own perceptions of ourselves and our surroundings, our past and present and dreams. Maybe it all soaks into the environment around us to manifest in an external form that is more easily seen, lurking at the edge of our vision and consciousness.
What if? What if it is the result of residuals of someone else’s subconscious? Someone else’s hopes, dreams, demons soaked into the environment before we ever arrive. They are just residual emotions that manifested and were left behind by their creators. Wouldn’t that be an interesting twist?
Whatever they are we deal with them on different levels of consciousness and belief. Some don’t believe at all and ignore what is around them. Others are sensitive to their environment and cannot ignore it. Others approach it with cautious curiosity and then still others simply acknowledge and accept it as a part of their normal existence. I’ve lived in places that were sentient in their own right. I am of the latter persuasion, that they were there first and so long as we are both sharing the same place there’s little reason we would not get along sufficiently to both our benefits. I’ve never had a problem. We’ve existed in harmony with a rhythm all our own, each accepting the other as part of our natural environment and the relationship flourished as a result. Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we treated all our environments with such mutual respect?