Things are going great for Victoria. She has an awesome new boyfriend named Rob, The newspaper just ran a story about her singing career and thanks to Rob she is about to have her first recording session. In a short period of time her life has turned into a beautiful dream, but the past has a way of coming back to haunt us. Victoria is having nightmares of Rob sleeping with another woman. Rob hasn’t given her any reason for her to believe he’s cheating but Victoria had been raped in the past by her old boyfriend Steve and now finds it hard to trust another man. She is doing her best to deal with it, but she can never forget.
Victoria’s best friend Cynthia also has a new love interest named Derek and he happens to be a singer in one of the biggest boy bands in the country. Cynthia is not sure if she believes Derek is over his old girlfriend but Derek is falling for Cynthia and plans on winning her over during a romantic weekend in Los Angeles. Victoria and Rob also have a fun weekend planned, one that they will never forget. While Derek and Cynthia get to know each other better, Victoria is meeting a couple of Rob’s friends. Victoria gets the shock of her life when she realizes that one of Rob’s friends is Steve and all the pain from her past is back to ruin her new relationship. Steve starts making veiled threats towards Victoria not to tell Rob and Victoria wonders if Rob will believe her story of rape at the hands of Steve. What will Steve do to Rob ? Can their relationship survive? True Love? by Emmy Z. Madrigal is the third book in her Sweet Dreams Musical Romance series and is the best of the series so far.
True Love? reads like a teenage girl’s fantasy but with much more depth. I love how each character has something painful in their past but they don’t let it stop them from finding love and following their dreams. Cynthia doesn’t get along with her mother, Derek has had a bad relationship and trouble dealing with success and Victoria was raped and is left to deal with the scars. All of them have issues but Victoria is still working on her singing, Derek still tries to find happiness and Cynthia is an athlete and good at school. None of them give up on life or love because they had a rough past. Even the supporting characters have good storylines and interesting problems to deal with, such as Raul not being able to express his feelings and having a bad temper and Greg trying to get his band more attention despite the odds being against him. The theme of this book seems to be to never give up hope and love will find a way.
What makes this book a little better than the previous two Sweet Dreams books is that there is more conflict in this one. Steve made a great villain and the scariest thing about him was that most people probably know someone just like him. I also liked watching Victoria deal with her past demons and seeing Rob in a situation where he was powerless to help Victoria. True Love? is a beautifully written romance with unforgettable characters and steamy love scenes.
The Gate Theory by Kaaron Warren contains five stories having to do with gates opening in our lives. We try to hide the pain with various things but what happens when we can’t hide the pain anymore and the gates to our true selves open? This book also contains an introduction by Amanda J. Spedding who talks about learning how to write from Kaaron. Since I wasn’t familiar with Kaaron’s work I enjoyed the intro and it got me excited to read the stories that followed.
The first story in this collection is Purity which is about a girl named Therese who lives with her mother and brother and leads a depressing life. Her mother has a food addiction and the house is always a mess but Therese works hard at a grocery store and dreams of a better life. One day a preacher and his grandson come to the store to by fruit for purification and invite Therese to join the ceremony. She does and gets drawn into a religious cult that thinks laughter is the best medicine. This was an interesting story that gets into how people get brainwashed by cults and how sometimes anything can be better than what you have.
The next story is a supernatural tale called That Girl, it gets into a woman’s quest to improve conditions in a psychiatric institution and she stumbles across an urban legend. I liked how this story describes the island of Fiji and gets into its superstitions. The third story is called Dead Sea Fruit and also touches on the supernatural with the legend of the ash mouth man. The story here follows a female dentist as she visits girls hospitalized in an anorexic’s ward. This was an odd story that was entertaining and different.
The fourth story was the longest in the collection and my favorite called The History Thief. It follows a man named Alvin who has died and now lives as a ghost. He finds that if he touches someone he can become solid and people can see him but he causes the people that he touches to lose their minds and Alvin gets their memories in return. I loved how this story is told, you see that Alvin never had much of a life but now in death he has one but at the sacrifice of everyone he touches. I was wondering if the author was making a social commentary that most people live shallow lives and prefer to live vicariously through other people such as celebrities. This story also has a mystery to it that I enjoyed.
The last story is called The Gaze Dogs of Nine Waterfalls about a woman who finds rare dogs. The woman is given the task of heading to Fiji to find a rare vampire dog. Once again the author makes Fiji come to life and I loved how the main character is looked down at because she is doing a job that most of her clients think a man should be doing. She doesn’t let this stop her and shows a woman can do as well as a man. Several of the stories here get into the bizarre and at the same time have a good social commentary on such things as women’s roles in society. The Gate Theory is a good taste of Kaaron Warren’s work and shows that she is an excellent writer that can take an odd subject and make it interesting.
Life changed quickly for Arn Singer, he was on a field trip at the fermilab in Illinois and while holding a crystal was accidentally transported through time. He is still on Earth but in the future and everything has changed. He was taken in by a group of wolf like creatures called the Valkeryn. They were at war with the other creatures on earth called the Lygon and Panterran. Arn was just a bored teenager with a crush on a girl who thought he was a geek. Now he is seen by the Valkeryn as the one that can save them. This is the story behind Return Of The Ancients: The Valkeryn Chronicles 1.
In Valkeryn 2: The Dark Lands by Greig Beck the wolfen empire has fallen and Arn is on the run in a harsh jungle with the young Valkeryn prince in his care. There are other wolfen survivors including the princess and some scattered warriors, but things look bleak. Back in present day earth the marines are planning on entering future earth to retrieve Arn and the Crystal that sent him there. Without the crystal present day earth is lost and so is the future. To make things more complicated the girl who Arn is in love with is on her way to save Arn. Arn needs all the help he can get to survive against the blood thirsty creatures in the future.
The Dark Lands is a multi-layerd action adventure that has a lot going on. This book has a love story, battle scenes, strange creatures, time travel and several heroes and villains. This is an epic fantasy full of twists and turns. The characters are all well-developed and go through a lot of changes and come out different in the end. In the beginning there is a line about a good wolf andbad wolf fighting for control. The one that wins is the one that you feed. Unlike some fantasy novels there are no shades of grey here, its good versus evil and all of the good characters get put to the test and sometimes evil wins out.
My favorite part of this book was the love triangle between Arn, the girl he loves named Becky and the Wolfen Princess Eilif. I liked how Becky is not really interested in Arn until she looses him and then she is willing to risk her life to save him. Elif is like a normal teen girl and is more in love with a fantasy version of Arn rather than the real person. Then we have Arn himself who changes throughout the book. He isn’t interested in either girl, what he really cares about is surviving in the harsh jungle environment and keeping Prince Grimson alive. In one of my favorite scenes Elif and Becky are in a jail cell together and they kind of instinctively know they are in competition with each other, they exchange insults even though they’re not sure if Arn is really alive.
Along with the love story there are epic fight scenes in Valkeryn 2. It’s hard to pick a favorite action sequence in this book but I think my favorite was when three marines are forced to fight in an arena surrounded by hostile creatures. The ending of the battle shocked me and I had to reread it again because I couldn’t believe it. Lets just say things get gruesome. I think the main point of this book was that you always have to have hope. All the main characters suffer and battle impossible odds for survival, they don’t loose hope and come out stronger literally and figuratively, if you read the book you’ll understand. The Dark Lands Valkeryn 2 creates its own mythology and is one exciting adventure that you don’t want to miss.