Undeniable by Madeline Sheehan

Publication Date: October 7th, 2012
Self Published
Format: Kindle Edition
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
The story of Deuce and Eva…
An undeniable connection that stands the test of time.
Unforgettable moments.
Love and pain and everything in between.

I was five years old when I met Deuce, he was twenty-three, and it was visiting day at Riker’s Island. My father, Damon Fox or “Preacher”, the President of the infamous “Silver Demon’s” motorcycle club -mother chapter- in East Village, New York City, was doing a five-year stint for aggravated assault and battery with a deadly weapon. It was not the first time my father had been in prison and it wouldn’t be the last. The Silver Demon’s MC was a notorious group of criminals who lived by the code of the road and gave modern society and all it entailed a great big f**k you.

“Never forget the day Eva came bouncin’ into my f**ked up life, shakin’ pigtails, singin’ Janis, wearin’ chucks and sharin’ peanuts and straight up stole any decency I had left which wasn’t a whole lot but she f**kin’ took it and I’ve been hers ever since.

Centered on Eva, Undeniable is a story about the different ways love could be ugly when it falls into the hands of the obsessed, selfish, and the disturbed. This book will push you to your limits; it will find your forgiveness and it will incite empathy (or at least understanding) to a group of people that you’re normally predisposed to hate. You’ll find your stomach growing stronger with every minute you spent reading this book. Your eyes wide open, unable to blink as you devour every word, every phrase and every sentence outlining every single wrongs that Eva kept doing and forgiving her for it. Justifying it even.
Undeniable is a story about Eva and Deuce’s relationship spanning twenty five years. They met when Eva was five to Deuce’s twenty three. But hold up. There was nothing wrong about their relationship at first. In fact, the innocence of that first meeting and the consequent meetings after that was sweet; then explosive, then steamy, then disturbing. But if there’s one thing that was consistent of all is that their mutual love for each other.
Eva seems to have this uncanny ability of attracting men whose love for her, while true in their ways, were obsessive. Deuce, the older man can’t keep his hands off the sixteen-year old Eva. Throughout the years, we see their love gets stronger but not enough to keep them together. Eva keeps running; Deuce keeps screwing up and together, they’re just two wrongs who’re determined that they’re destined.
And then there’s Frankie. Golly, this man’s psychotic. Their fucked up relationship began when they were children. His past wasn’t really talked about but it must’ve been the stuff nightmares were made of. Because of that, he couldn’t sleep without waking up screaming the house down. The only peace he could ever find was when he’s sleeping with Eva. He was supposed to be Eva’s protector, her knight and the successor to Eva’s father’s Motorcycle Club. Years go by until Frankie’s obsession with Eva worsens to the point of dangerous. But even though Eva can see how wrong it was, she loved him in a way that was more brotherly (in a sick, sick, way) than anything else. She was willing to sacrifice everything just so Frankie wouldn’t have to go through the torture he endured. But like any other love stories, this type of love deserves no happy ending.
And then there’s Chase. He’s another man obsessed with Eva. He married her best friend Kami in the hopes that her connection with Eva would be the bridge that would link him with her. His marriage to Kami was a joke. And everyone was okay with that. His opportunity came when Frankie was finally paying for his dues in prison and because Eva was willing to do anything to give him the help he needed, Chase blackmailed her into having copious amount of sex whenever he wanted it. This is Chase’s definition of love. He would take what Eva could give him even though she’s clearly whoring herself for Frankie.
God. This book is so wrong and so good and I couldn’t find the right words to describe what it was that made it so. Perhaps it’s the author’s way of painting the wrong kinds of love and not apologizing for it. Perhaps it’s in the way she created characters that are perfectly flawed and damaged that she’s managed to make me love them because of it. Eva was the kind of character that was hard to explain and even more difficult to love. But as you read her story of sacrifice, undying love and strength, you’ll find yourself understanding all the reasons why she kept making the wrong decisions. You’ll find yourself wishing she gets a happy ending because her whole life was fraught with heartaches in the hands of those two men she claimed to love with all her heart.
I loved this book. Some parts made me angry; some parts made me cry. Some parts made me sick; some parts I couldn’t read. The sum of all these emotions made me love this novel in ways that’s difficult to explain.
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The Unwanted Wife by Natasha Anders

Publication Date: September 26th, 2012
Self Published
Format: Kindle Edition
RATING: 3 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
All Alessandro de Lucci wants from his wife is a son but after a year and a half of unhappiness and disillusionment, all Theresa de Lucci wants from her ice cold husband is a divorce. Unfortunate timing, since Theresa is about to discover that she’s finally pregnant and Alessandro is about to discover that he isn’t willing to lose Theresa.

Such a shame.

This book had such a good story line; something that I’m a sucker for. It might have something to do with the closeted Romance addict in me (think Harlequin Romances). There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And one of these days, I’m going to embrace that fanatic in me and shout it for the whole world to know that, DAMN IT, I love those books and I am not ashamed!

(Samples. Pictures are not mine though I own two containers full of these books.)
Anyway, the story goes that Theresa had become a part of a bargain between Alessandro de Lucci and her father. He’s to marry her so he could acquire a vineyard once owned by the de Lucci’s. Alessandro was sure that Theresa was a scheming witch who had no sense of self worth that she would sell herself to the highest bidder. They got married and two years later, Alessandro hasn’t kissed her even while they’re in bed together. His out for the contract he signed with her father comes in the form of an heir. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Actually, I should say easier to do, since they have copious sex –  clinical, though as it may seem. They already lost one. But when Theresa gets pregnant again, Alessandro’s determined to make their marriage work. 
Seriously. If you have read any of those books shown above, I think you pretty much have a clue where I’m going with this. 
I did like the story, no matter how predictable it was. There were a lot of editing mishaps and one inconsistency with timing (Alessandro goes away for a month but later, their friend mentions that he was away for a couple of weeks). I’m not one to nitpick Indie books and I usually don’t even notice but I thought I should mention it just because. Regardless of those issues, I still enjoyed the story. 
Alessandro was a cold husband to begin with but one phone call gave his personality the needed makeover. Theresa was…well, she’s actually a bit inconsistent to me as well. I can’t pin point whether she’s innocent or weak. Sometimes, it’s hard to tell the distinction. Or maybe I’m just not using the right words to properly describe her. 
I got a bit confused with the seasons as well. My guess is this was set somewhere in the Southern Hemisphere as she talked about Spring in September. 
This was yet another fast read but that may have something to do with the hook of the story itself. 
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Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta

Publication Date: September 26th, 2012
Viking Australia
Format: Paperback, 516 pages
RATING: Seriously? Of course it’s 5 FREAKING STARS.
SUMMARY
Separated from the girl he loves and has sworn to protect, Froi must travel through Charyn to search for Quintana, the mother of Charyn’s unborn king, and protect her against those who will do anything to gain power. But what happens when loyalty to family and country conflict? When the forces marshalled in Charyn’s war gather and threaten to involve the whole of the land, including Lumatere, only Froi can set things right, with the help of those he loves.
Quintana of Charyn is the third and last book from The Lumatere Chronicles. Questions will be answered, curses will be broken, romances will be rekindled (one will be reborn) and a kingdom will be rebuilt. As usual, Melina gave us everything we wanted and left us screaming at the injustice of having to wait for another one of her books. BUT. This trilogy ended the way it was meant to end, regardless of how much I want this to go on.  
The story begins with Froi recovering from his injuries while he waits for word on Quintana’s whereabouts. In the meantime, his people from Lumatere are hearing unpleasant news about his possible betrayal. The remaining Charynites in the valley have learned to live under the reluctant generosity of Queen Isaboe while Lucian of the Monts grieved for the wife he lost. 
It’s never easy to write a short synopsis for her books; because as always, Melina’s stories are never about just her characters and a tidy plot. It’s a weaving of complicated tales and twists leading to amazing stories of uninhibited love and unending sacrifices. I am always at a loss when I endeavor to describe her novels because it’s nearly impossible and I can’t give them justice that they deserve. Her characters tell stories from their hearts, their souls. I feel a profound loss with each book I finish because her characters are like those temporary people you meet and learn to care about in the short time you’ve known them. I rest easy in the knowledge that I’ll always have her books. I can always go back; reread and get to know them over again. 
The trilogy is simply flawless, faultless and breathtaking. This is not your cookie-cutter fantasy. Nope. There are no dragons to slay just so the prince could rescue the princess. There are no woodland creatures, fae, and wizards. Nope. What it lacked in mythical creatures is compensated with stories of courage from people whose incomparable love for their own knows no bounds. Hope. Hope. Hope. You’ve never known stories about hope lest you read Marchetta’s books. Her stories are always borne out of heartbreak and impossible challenges; difficult relationships, unforgiveable sins. But see? It’s that foundation that makes her stories so amazing. It’s not so much as the happy ending but the difficult journey it took to get there.
Ms. Marchetta is a trailblazer; you’ll never find her keeping up with the norm or writing about the ordinary. You just…just need to read her books to experience the love, the sorrows and the unbelievable strength each of her characters possess. Her words are like love poems; her phrases like uncomplicated sonnets that are easy to decipher. Reviewing her books is always a daunting task. I feel so much but words don’t come easy. How could it? She hoarded them all. 
So to you, Ms. Marchetta, I hope you will have a nice break from writing. But please know that it’s a sad literary world without you. Hiatus. I don’t. I can’t. [Goes fetal…proceeds to suck thumb] I am left in the void of emptiness, folks. I don’t know how to deal.

This is a five star book. But I’m unable to host a giveaway because this book is not out yet in North America. I’ll give a copy away come March of next year. Sorry. 
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Anna from Away by D.R. Macdonald

Publication Date: September 11th, 2012
HarperCollins Canada
Format: Hardcover, 304 pages
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars
SUMMARY
When Anna Starling flees a dissolving marriage in California to save herself and her artistic career in Cape Breton, her life intersects with that of Red Murdock, a cabinetmaker who has recently lost the great love of his life, Rosaire. Surrounded by old ghosts and echoes of those who once lived in this isolated, now depleted community, Anna and Murdock discover that the present is inextricably linked with the past, and that both can lead to moral dilemmas. How grave is sexual betrayal? Who is behind the bale of marijuana that washes up on Anna’s shore, and what should she, an outsider, and Murdock, rooted in this place and attracted to her, do about it? Can Anna and Murdock ever overcome the pain of the past?
Part erotic love story, part quest for home and heart, Anna From Away is a superbly crafted tale of love after love, a novel rich in atmosphere and infused with lyrical descriptions of land and sea. Written with an ear for the cadences of Cape Breton and a profound understanding of the many emotional shadings that exist between the sexes, this novel is another superb work from D.R. MacDonald.
In an effort to start anew after her marriage died a quiet death, Anna took off to the isolated little coastal town of Cape Seal. Surrounded by the waning winter and a timid spring, she attempted to resuscitate  her art, reinvent the old Anna, and fill in the blanks of what had happened to her marriage. She found inspiration everywhere and solitude that brought forth memories of a marriage gone sour. Some days, the little town offered her solace but it also magnified the loneliness that crept up as the winter cold refused to leave. In the midst of her soul-searching and self-doubts, she found assistance from an unlikely source to help her pick up the pieces of her shattered self-esteem. 

Fraught with grief over the loss of his beloved, Red Murdock’s days consisted of drunken stupors and regrets. But for the first time since Rosaire’s death, sparks of life started to bloom and it’s all thanks to the resident of his former childhood home. But moving on is not that easy especially if you’re plagued with guilt for a love that slowly deteriorated like that of Rosaire’s health.

This is another one of my attempts to venture out of YA. It’s odd, in a good way. The startling difference is how I’m more forgiving of the book’s characters and the book itself – which to me, was really surprising. The thing is, I don’t have a set perception of how an adult fiction novel would turn out. So that lends to my care-free attitude when I tackle books outside of what I normally like. I find no generalizations or any stereotyping in this genre; unlike in YA where a lot of books follow the same blue print. I’m still a big reader of YA; it’s just sometimes, it’s refreshing to read stories of characters right around my age.

This is told through both Anna’s and Murdock’s point of views; two lonely souls getting by through the dreary spring of East Coast Canada. There’s something equally depressing in this season – even more depressing than Winter itself. It’s the never ending battle between rising temperature (hope) and the frigid temperature that follows the thaw. It’s mother nature’s version of cock-tease, if you ask me. The weather added another layer of gloominess to the even more depressing cycles of thoughts between our characters but it wasn’t to the point that you’ll be entertaining suicidal thoughts.

Anna and Murdock are usually on their own; hence the persistent eulogies and soliloquies for things  that are inconsequential. But see? This is how the author tells you how lonely they were. If you were alone, your mind would go to places that you’d normally tell it not to. You would obsess about what happened in the past and how you would change it, even if it were wasted energy spent on a futile exercise. And I normally loathe books heavy with narrative because it drove me nuts when characters describe every little thing about anything under the sun. It’s too much information that I don’t need. In this book, however, I learned to appreciate it. I was more forgiving. Anna, especially, was subduedly poetic of all the inanimate objects that she picked up on her walks. It’s the artist in her that saw through life in every single useless items that washed up on the shores.

Murdock was pretty much the same; only it was much more painful to read him obsessed about how much he should’ve done for Rosaire while drinking his life away in the process. But even in his drunken stupor, you’ll see hope beginning to bloom. I rooted for him, wanted him to get off his drunken ass and start polishing his wood (he’s a woodworker. Get yer mind out of the gutters, sickos.). And you’ll see it too. You’ll see when he starts to get sick of his own thoughts, of himself and of his grief. You’ll see his desire to just get over it already.

The author was deadly accurate with the ambiance he was shooting for. That part of Canada remains one of those untouched frontiers for me, regardless of the reality that it faces (diminishing population due unemployment, poverty – both because of a dying fishing industry). I also loved the old-world charm he presented; so archaic and charming and sublime. With his words everything just seemed magnified, brightened, more exposed. Or maybe it’s just the way my imagination goes sometimes.

VERDICT: Anna from Away is a story of second chances and how a couple of people would strive not to squander that away. Set in the backdrop of the picturesque Cape Breton, the author took advantage of the scenery to proliferate the characters’ need for self exploration. This book was artistically beautiful and garish that can only be appreciated by a forgiving, generous but critical few.

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