New adult romance

Sunspots

Sunspots
Publisher:
Published: December 12, 2012
A love story of loss and redemption and the ghosts that haunt our lives and our houses. Aurora Goldberg Stein is lost in grief. Her beloved husband, Jake Stein, has just died in a tragic car accident and her sorrow is overwhelming. But is this really the end? Perhaps, perhaps not. She hears his voice. She sees his ghostly presence. She travels back in time to another life with Jake. What is going on? What is the message? Jake Stein, a dashing Texan, sweeps Aurora off her feet and changes her life. A Brooklyn born actress, she moved  to NYC and does temporary work to pay her bills. On this particular assignment, she accidentally meets Jake Stein, who is her dance with destiny. Leaving everything she knows, she marries him and moves to Austin, Texas. No longer struggling to make ends meet, Aurora wiles away her time bored and lonely, and trying to recapture the excitement she once had with this man. And then suddenly, it’s all over, her life, her future is gone. Vanished are all her hopes and dreams. But destiny comes in many forms, and when Aurora moves to a new house, she discovers that the previous owner has never left. The ghostly presence of Viola Parker looms large and becomes Aurora’s guide through time revealing to her the mistakes she’s made with Jake Stein through the centuries. This time, maybe this time, Aurora can get it right.

Reviewed

Sunspots is a moving, beautifully-written mystery about the devastating consequences of obsessive love.

5 Stars

 

Bell’s elegant prose not only describes the events and scenery of this self destructive love story in riveting detail, but also skilfully evokes the atmosphere both internal and external. The structure of the story is very clever. At the beginning of the book, our empathy is aroused for grieving widow Aurora Goldberg. It appears that she had the perfect marriage to charming Jake, but as the story progresses, we and Aurora discover Jake’s secrets, so shocking to her that she is forced to re-evaluate their love. Through eyes opened by the truth—and helped along by the visions provided by a ghost—she sees that all was not as rosy as she had believed. Not only that, but the legacy he left her could be life-threatening.

Popular fiction tends to romanticise love where one looses themselves in the other, or feels completed by the other, or feels they cannot live or be happy without the other; Sunspots takes this kind of notion to its extreme to show how disempowering an obsession with the object of our love actually is. Obsession not only blinds you, it makes you weak, needy and boring. Your partner is likely to turn elsewhere to get away from your clinging, especially if you end up harping on at him that he never gives you any attention anymore. It’s dangerous to let your whole life revolve around one person, for when they leave you—by death as it is in this case—you are devastated. As the book progresses we come to see how much Aurora has brought her crippling grief upon herself. She literally looses herself in this obsession.

Bell brings a metaphysical element to the story with the addition of Viola Parker, the ghost of the sister of Aurora’s last incarnation. With her help, Aurora sees that this pattern of obsessive love and betrayal by Jake—in his previous incantations—has been repeated in past lifetimes that ended with Aurora’s suicide. Viola urges her to take a different path in this life and cut the cycle of self-destruction.

Bell deals with interesting themes here, that we tend to repeat patterns until we make a conscious effort to change them,  that the past can be changed by actions in the present, and that when someone ‘saves’ us with love, in a healthy, balanced relationship we also to some extent ‘save’ them.

Highly recommended to anyone who likes psychological depth in their romance. I give it 5 stars and a place on the Awesome Indies list.

 

Shattered Blue

Shattered Blue
Published: March 12, 2013
Shane MacKinnon thought she could escape her dark past by running away, changing her name. She thought the monster of her childhood was dead. She was wrong… Hounded by scandal and haunted by a shameful secret, Shannon Malone fled Manhattan for the mountains of New Mexico, a new name and a new life. Five years later, her new neighbor, wealthy architect Matthew Brennan, is teaching her the meaning of sexual healing. But when her dark past rises from the shadows and threatens to shatter her new life, Shane must find the courage to face her worst fear, or face death.

Reviewed 

4 Stars

Shattered Blue is a classic romantic suspense story, and if you like that combination of genres, then you’ll probably like this because it has all the necessary elements – an attractive woman, a hot guy and a psychopathic would-be rapist killer. Just when said hot guy and attractive woman get together, the psychopath enters and threatens to rip their happiness from beneath them.

The tension builds through memories, dreams, clever foreshadowing and a series of suspicious events that culminate in a life threatening situation for both lovers. The pacing is good, it keeps you reading but still allows time for character development, and the plot, though nothing new, is solid.

The characters are well-drawn and complex. Shane is an artist with a history she is hiding from, and Matt is an architect in the process of selling his business to his hard nosed ex-wife. Despite many reasons not to, they fall in love pretty much instantaneously. It surprises them both, but they’re old enough to know not to fight it. Cynical reviewers may find this a little twee, but it’s perfect for the genre. I got to know Shane very quickly, fell in love with Matt before she did and cared about them both enough to really not want the bad guy to screw it all up, but fiction requires drama and that’s what we got. I won’t tell you what happened in the end, except to say that I thought it well done. Aspects of it were somewhat predictable, but that’s a hallmark of the romance genre, so it’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned.

The book has a couple of underlying themes worth noting: the affect of childhood abuse on adults and the healing power of love. Love as healing is a theme that always leaves you warm and fuzzy, even without the steamy sex, and in this case it balances the evil very nicely.

4 stars.