Posted in books

Review: The Goats of Santo Domingo–no kidding, it’s great!

VBT_TheGoatsOfSantoDomingo_CoverBannerI signed up for the blog tour of Robert McEvilla’s new romance, THE GOATS OF SANTO DOMINGO, because of the title.  If you have goats in your title, the book either has to be extraordinary, or extraordinarily funny–intentionally, or not.  McEvilla’s story of love and political intrigue is extraordinary.

From the beginning, I was hooked in by McEvilla’s evocative scene setting.  You know exactly where you are as you begin to read.  You know exactly how the humidity would be curling your hair, how the air would smell, how the streets would sound.  It is very easy to step into the world of John Romero’s Santo Domingo–goats and all.

The world is so familiar because it is the first novel McEvilla has based on his experiences in the Dominican Republic.  The world is so enjoyable because McEvilla is such a great writer.

Romero and his love interest, Ramona De Fiesta, are fully fleshed characters who share the point of view in the story telling, with equal weight.  It did take over a hundred pages to find out Ramona’s last name, and I was despairing of her ever getting one, but McEvilla came through with a great, strong female voice.

I’m very glad I chose to read this.  I do enjoy soldier stories, and this is definitely among the top of those I’ve read.  I have no compunctions about recommending this one.

4.5 out of 5 stars for me.


Cover_The Goats of Santo DomingoAbout THE GOATS OF SANTO DOMINGO

Whenever John Romero was asked if he was wounded in Vietnam, he always got a confused look when he replied that his eye was lost in Santo Domingo.

A former baseball player with just six weeks left to serve in the army, John’s plans for making a comeback are interrupted when his unit is deployed to the Dominican Republic, and he finds himself in a combat situation. While dodging bullets, he meets a beautiful Dominican woman, the aloof, Ramona. She inflames the private passions of the paratroopers that view her from their command post. Romero plots a course to win her affections, but the political intrigue and the carnage in the streets of Santo Domingo conspire to thwart his every move, forcing him to make a drastic decision.

An Excerpt

A coil of concertina wire stretched down the middle of the street between the sandbags Romero stood behind and her turquoise house. Behind him was a schoolhouse that his unit had occupied since their arrival. The old structure reminded Romero of the Alamo.

“Keep your eye on that house,” Rosen had said to him. “You’ll see her if you get posted at the sandbags; she comes out every morning around nine and reads a book for half an hour—a real beauty queen.”  Romero had heard the other men in his squad talking about her.  They referred to her as Miss Santo Domingo, the Princess, or the Dominican Damsel.

The door opened on the brightly painted stucco house.  She wore a short white skirt, the hem well above the knee.  The lawn chair she held was unfolded with a nobility of motion, the way a virtuoso opens his violin case.  She sat down, crossed her shapely legs, and opened a book before setting it daintily on her lap.  For a confused moment, Romero was convinced she was Carla.  He stepped out from behind the sandbags and was a few strides off the curb before the coiled barbs stopped him.  The closer view made him see that it wasn’t Carla after all.  She was somebody else—a stranger—both mysterious and recognizable.  She was perhaps Miss Swanson, his fourth grade teacher to whom he had written his first love letter and hid it in his school bag.  There was a bit of Anna about her, too, the little girl who’d lived across the street from him when he was twelve.  She was someone who had once held him tight, but not close enough—someone who had left and gone away.

A real Spanish Contessa, he thought.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Robert McEvilla Robert McEvilla is a retired stationary engineer who lives in a log cabin in the backwoods of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. His short stories have been published in various literary magazines. This is his first novel which is based on his experiences in the Dominican Republic.



Posted in books, Lane is Reading, Reviews

Romance in Review: THE RELUCTANT BRIDE, by Beverly Eikli

Growing up, I spent many, many happy hours going through the novels on my grandmother’s bookshelf.  Her two literary passions were True Crime and Romance, and I read them all–covertly.  My mother preferred that I not read romance.

To this day, my favorite of the stories was a book called THE CHADWICK RING, by Julia Jeffries.   It was absolutely a guilty pleasure with an innocent, intelligent heroine struggling to find her place in a man’s world. When I signed up to read THE RELUCTANT BRIDE for Beverly Eikli’s book tour, I was just hoping to enjoy her latest romance novel.  I was not expecting to be swept up into the giggly, giddy delight I used to feel when I would sneak another historical romance out of Grandma’s bookshelf–but I did!

THE RELUCTANT BRIDE has everything a romance novel should.  You have your damsel in distress, your strapping-but-scarred hero, a rogue, a marriage of convenience, misunderstandings and drama, with the additional interest and intrigue of espionage and family secrets that threaten to ruin everything–seriously, if you like romance, this one will have you squirming happily.  Eikli has a wonderful command of the narrative, and she builds a fully fleshed reality for her characters.  I think she’s written a novel that will stand against the best of them, and it is as memorable as the one that has stuck with me since I was about 10 years old.

Scroll to read an excerpt below Beverly’s bio, a find out how to win a gift card giveaway from Beverly.

I’m giving this one 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Homer.
Beverley Eikli and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Homer.

About Beverly:

Beverley Eikli is the author of eight historical romances published by Pan Macmillan Momentum, Robert Hale, Ellora’s Cave and Total-e-Bound. Recently she won UK Women’s Fiction publisher Choc-Lit’s Search for an Australian Star competition with her suspenseful, spy-based Regency Romance The Reluctant Bride.

She’s been shortlisted twice for a Romance Readers of Australia Award in the Favourite Historical category — in 2011 for  A Little Deception, and in 2012 for her racy Regency Romp, Rake’s Honour, written under her Beverley Oakley pseudonym.

Beverley wrote her first romance when she was seventeen. However, drowning the heroine on the last page was, she discovered, not in the spirit of the genre so her romance-writing career ground to a halt and she became a journalist.

After throwing in her job on South Australia’s metropolitan daily The Advertiser to manage a luxury safari lodge in the Okavango Delta, in Botswana, Beverley discovered a new world of romance and adventure in a thatched cottage in the middle of a mopane forest with the handsome Norwegian bush pilot she met around a camp fire.

Eighteen years later, after exploring the world in the back of Cessna 404s and CASA 212s as an airborne geophysical survey operator during low-level sorties over the French Guyanese jungle and Greenland’s ice cap, Beverley is back in Australia teaching in the Department of Professional Writing & Editing at Victoria University, as well as teaching Short Courses for the Centre of Adult Education and Macedon Ranges Further Education.

She writes Regency Historical Intrigue as Beverley Eikli and erotic historicals as Beverley Oakley.

Beverley won the Choc Lit Search for an Australian Star competition with The Reluctant Bride.

Shortlisted for the 2012 Australian Romance Readers Award for her novel Rake’s Honour

Finalist in the 2011 Australian Romance Readers Awards for her novel A Little Deception.


Angus and Emily, newly married, have just been visited unexpectedly by Angus’s brother and his unsuitable consort. Emily, embarrassed by her highly pregnant state and knowing it will cause gossip amongst Angus’s family, reacts in this scene to her husband’s apologies for the situation Emily has just confronted.

With deliberate care Emily set down the plates once more and turned to look at her husband through narrowed eyes.

‘For contaminating me with a lady of dubious repute? But Angus, how much worse a contaminant would I have been had you not married me?’ She patted her swollen belly. ‘You’d be apologising to your brother. A fallen woman—’

‘Don’t speak like that.’ His wide-set eyes burned with undeserved defence of her. ‘Men’s impulses can be ungovernable, but ladies do not suffer such … urges … You were … taken advantage of.’

Emily stared at him. She sucked in a long, quavering breath as her simmering anger came finally to the boil. Is that what he believed? That she was insensible to passion? And that was a good thing?

‘What would you say if I told you that my impulses were every bit as ungovernable as Jack’s?’ She could barely control her anger sufficiently to speak. For days she had forced her feelings into the background, using the same emotional device against her unwanted husband as she had when her father insulted her, shutting out the hurt by erecting a barrier as impenetrable as steel.

Now, feeling surged through her, blackening her vision and causing her to sway. She put her hand on the back of the sofa to steady herself.

Angus stood awkwardly by the door, as if unsure whether to move closer to support her, or beat a tactful retreat.

Emily glared at him. ‘What if I told you that I was so consumed by passion in Jack’s arms I would not have heeded the Blessed Virgin Mary cautioning me against the temptations of the flesh?’ She tried to regulate her breathing, but the rage was clawing its way further up her body, threatening to make her its puppet. She, who never lost her temper. ‘I loved Jack. I was his slave in passion, every bit as culpable as he. If you are so concerned for virtue, spare your condemnation of innocent Miss Galway. You need only cast your eyes upon your wife to be singed by my sin. There! I have confessed my true nature. Whatever you thought of me before, you cannot but think worse of me now.’ She registered the horror in his eyes and was glad for it. Much better that she banish any pretence between them.

She’d never expressed anger as poisonous as this. At first it frightened her, then it sent exhilaration pulsing through her. Her love for Jack had been cut off at the root. Now hatred filled her veins, making her feel alive again. ‘And so you know, I care nothing for your opinion,’ she added.

She managed to remain upright, though her vision came in waves. She could feel her strength leaving her, but she had to spit out the truth so he’d have no illusions as to the kind of woman he’d married. A woman no good man deserved.

‘You married me because you needed a wife. I married you so I could keep my child. We made a contract. My body is yours to do with as you please, but that is all you will ever have. My thoughts, my feelings, my love will be forever out of bounds to you.’

Beverley will award a $20 Amazon or Barnes & Noble Gift Card to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
the more times you comment on the tour, the better your chances of winning!
Posted in books, Reviews

Strawberry Scented Elegance

I have several more Cozy Cat Press authors to introduce to you, and I’m going to start doing that on Mondays.  Monday is a nice day to meet authors, don’t you think?  Also, when I started researching to sign up TIARA TROUBLE for blog tours, I realized that I have a blog.  This means that I can be a stop on blog tours!  This means I can read books, meet more authors, and tell you all about them.  Isn’t that exciting?  I think so.

I’ve already got two books in my reader, and you’ll see those reviews coming toward the end of September.

Between you and me, unless a book is NIGHT TRAVELS OF THE ELVEN VAMPIRE kind of bad (link to Irene’s review–NSFW, but that’s not Irene’s fault), I won’t be posting a bad review.  If I wouldn’t give a book at least 3 stars, I’m not going to acid rain all over another writer’s parade.

If you blog, and if you enjoy reading (free) books and reviewing them, I highly recommend signing up to host virtual blog tours.  Writers from smaller publishing houses, and indie writers have to get very creative about promoting their work, and will likely put in as much time trying to market a publication as they did drafting it in the first place.  It never hurts to expand your circle of influence either.  Never know who is going to be the next Big Thing.

I’m getting ready to read a book with goats in the title and a one-eyed soldier in the description.  I expect great things from it.

Posted in books, Reviews

A Review: Pink Prose, by Alison Hay–Truly Rose Colored

I’ve always loved a good person story. Since grade school, I have gravitated toward a variety of biographies, autobiographies and memoirs, and I read somewhere around 20 every year. I have favorites, of course. Those favorites have these things in common: a strong, vivid voice, well-put ideas, wit, and a healthy vocabulary.

Up on my list in the past couple of years are Your Voice in my Head, by Emma Forrest, Love in a Headscarf, by Shelina Janmohamed, and Girls Like Us, by Sheila Weller. After having finished Pink Prose, by Alison Hay, I’m adding her to the list.

I love when I am reading along in a book and find myself wanting a highlighter, or a notepad so I can jot down what the author has said and all the ideas the passage has fired up in me. This happened several times as I read Hay’s book. Her thoughts on objectification were my first happy jolt, then her frank dealings with the trappings of superstardom from the sidelines (especially her anecdote about a photo shoot with Annie Leibovitz) and managing to be a person and a personality, and again when she talked about sales, customer service, and negotiation. I finally quit using the highlight feature in my Kindle because I was just marking up too much. I’ll read the whole thing again later and think some more about all the ideas I liked.

Hay’s format flips back and forth between solid, this-is-what-happened stories from her life, and impressionistic interludes of this-is-what-it-felt-like moments in time. The latter require more attention paid, and more emotion invested from the reader–there is a sense of the Seventh Veil in each of those chapters (and if you haven’t read Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins, you must–then you will understand what I mean when I am talking about Seventh Veil reveals.) I really enjoyed the juxtaposition between water color words and solid, pop-art realism. It’s pretty rare to read a book that feels like you’re getting to move between gauzey Monet and bold Lichtenstein every few pages. Pink Prose is an art gallery of a book.

Maybe what I liked best is the way Hay uses the English language. Her tone is conversational and conspiratorial, but she speaks to you expecting your intelligence, your sense of humor, and your ability to keep up with her vocabulary and wit. Is it sad that I got so excited over her vocabulary? I couldn’t help comparing her easy command of language with the more pedestrian memoirs I’ve read from her contemporaries. She made me feel smarter for reading stories about Boy George, which is pretty hard to pull off.

I liked the book well enough that I have subscribed to her blog, and am hoping she’ll publish again soon. This is a memoir I can recommend without reservation, whether you are a fan of Culture Club or the 80s at all–oh, did I forget to mention that Alison Hay was married to Roy Hay of Culture Club, and that a lot of the book deals with life as part of a musical sensation? Yeah. I picked up the book because of that, but I couldn’t put it down because of everything else.

4.5 out of 5 stars–go read it!

Posted in books, Lancient History, music, Reviews, Uncategorized

Book Review: Reading John and Feeling Groovy

Groovy and quite pleasurable.

I really didn’t expect much from John Taylor’s memoir.  Maybe it was because Andy Taylor had already dished all the dirt in his tell-all, a couple of years ago.  Maybe it was because having been a long time, fairly well plugged-in stan, I didn’t think there was much John could tell me that I hadn’t already heard.  Maybe it was because I’m still mad at him for not coming to sign me out of 9th grade Algebra, saving me from the fate of Mrs. Potts and all that x+y=wtf tosh she was trying to stuff into my head. 


I can tell you exactly what I expected from In The Pleasure Groove: Love, Death & Duran Duran.  I expected to read about John’s childhood, with some minor foreshadowing of what would turn him to drug use, then abuse.  I expected him to talk about the fun of the band (Duran Duran, in case you were born post-1990), the excesses of the band, and how much for granted he took their success.  I expected him to talk about hitting rock bottom, finding The Process, trusting it, and then getting a second chance at the brass ring.  I expected him to talk about deferred gratitude and his current, happy life.  


I was exactly right.  He covered all that, and no more.  But, I had expected it to be only moderately readable, full of navel gazing and platitudes. I was exactly wrong there.  It was an easy, enjoyable read and turned out to be introspective, and interesting. I did not expect the book to be so thoughtful, sweet, and kind. 


Where Andy’s book was lighting people on fire and daring them to stop, drop, and roll, John’s book was gentle with the lives that touched his.  Where Andy’s book was about how awesome he was, John’s book was about how hard he worked, and how fortunate he was to connect with wonderful, like-minded workers.  Where Andy’s book blamed the world, John’s book accepted responsibility for his own behavior. 


I told a friend, after reading the first few chapters, that it was “a lovely book.”  It really is.  It is a book that his daughter should be proud to read, that his various exes can read without worry, that his current wife can read with delight, that his coworkers and friends can read and smile, and that a longtime fan can read and enjoy as though they were finally getting that sit-down with the Bass God that they’d always wanted. 


What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in lyrical quality.  It isn’t about facts and figures, so much as it is about overall impressions.  John gives you a feeling for the times, writes you into the atmosphere of the clubs, the craziness, and the driving work.  When he has to talk about people, he finds their best. 


Like I said, it is a kind work. My favorite things about the book are the way he gives insight into the mind of a success.  No room for failure, only plans to succeed.  I enjoyed reading about how he approached relationships (if you’d like a peek into the mind of how men look at romance…) and I loved how respectfully he treated his daughter’s mother. 


I would liked to have read more about the lean years between Medazzaland and Astronaut.  I’d like to have read about his foray into film and television.  I’d like to have read more about his time as a solo artist, the process that went into writing his solo albums and how that changed him as a group-based artist. 


As a memoir for Duran Duran fans, it is a great, nostalgic read.  I couldn’t help thinking, “Oh, that was the year Jamie and I were junior counselors.”  “Hey, Karen bought me that for Christmas one year!”  “I still remember the first time I heard that on the radio.” 


As a memoir for John Taylor fans, I feel like it could have been twice as long.  I’d like to have read more about the sober artist, feeling his way around himself and the world, finding ways to create and contribute, and be relevant as an adult, than the Tiger Beat, Brummie born boy with burgundy bangs.  I am especially interested in that now, having read how sweetly he wrote this book. 


If Andy’s book was a Screamo song, shouted at the Duranies, John’s is a lullabye sung to us. 


4 out of 5 stars if you’re a Duranie


3 out of 5 if you’re not