Review of Chasing the Dead by Keta Diablo: Five Stars

In 1884 New Mexico, Madrid (Maddie) Arrende, the independent daughter of a wealthy rancher, insists on going with the men to drive the cattle across the river. Although her father warns her to stay home, she refuses to shelter at the hacienda while her ranch hands take the risk. Apache warriors capture her, not because she is a woman, but because they have learned she can talk to a chidn, or spirit. There’s just one problem. Maddie’s mother had the ability to speak to ghosts, but Maddie can’t.

Deacon Bannister has one mission, to rescue his sisters from the Apaches who kidnapped them seven years ago when they attacked his parents. He and his brother Gideon have searched for their sisters everywhere but haven’t found them. Deacon and Maddie fell in love. They planned to marry but he abandoned her at the altar a year ago because he couldn’t allow himself to find happiness while his sisters were in captivity.

Despite Maddie’s engagement to Emmet, a prominent businessman, when Deacon hears of Maddie’s abduction, he goes after her. While her fiancé stays behind to run his business, Deacon tracks the group and finds Maddie, but they seize him in the process.

When Maddie meets Sacheen, a beautiful young woman ostracized from the tribe because the chidn follows her, they team up. First, they free Deacon, then head back to the hacienda.

After Sacheen fights with Gideon, who has followed his brother, and shows up in the middle of the night while Sacheen is on guard, they call an uneasy truce. The four work together to save themselves from the evil ghost intent on making Sacheen his own.

Maddie is my favorite kind of heroine, strong, feisty and smart rather than overly stubborn. She is not a pushover for Deacon, who has hurt her deeply, but she realizes she needs all the help she can get in order to survive.

Deacon is a principled man who sometimes does the wrong thing for noble reasons. I can forgive him his flaws because his heart is in the right place. His lack of perfection makes him realistic and relatable.

Sacheen is fascinating because not only is she the one in the most danger, but she must cope with a totally unfamiliar environment while having to depend on strangers who have been traditional enemies. Her survival depends on figuring out who she can trust and adapting to an alien world with no time to adjust. She does all this with courage and grace and is another capable woman I admired.

Gideon is a minor character in this book, but will no doubt have his own story. I can’t wait to read it.

This novel is intended to be the first in a new series about the Bannister brothers. I hope Ms. Diablo releases the second one soon. I loved the characters, setting and blend of western and paranormal romance. Historical details, a glimpse into Apache and Mexican cultures of the time, and a diverse group of men and women working together as equals makes Chasing the Dead a must read.   Buy from Amazon

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Review of Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert: 5 Stars

Siren’s Call by Debbie Herbert is the superb conclusion to the Dark Seas trilogy about the Bosarges of Bayou La Siryna, Alabama.

Lily Bosarge is the quintessential mermaid. She has the long blonde hair, large blue eyes, luminous skin, and the siren voice which compels men to do her bidding. Although she has dated almost every man around and longs for love, she has never experienced it. As soon as she realizes she can’t return a man’s feelings, she breaks things off, but her long list of conquests has turned the women against her. They are all afraid she will steal their men, sometimes with good reason. Though she doesn’t quite realize or understand the pain she has provoked in others, Lily has caused a lot of damage to couples in the area.

When Lily’s childhood friend, Nashoba Bowman returns, Lily is drawn to him from the moment she sees him. However, he treats her with barely a fraction of the warmth they once felt for one another and seems immune to her siren voice. Lily can’t understand it because he’s the first man ever to be unimpressed by her charms. The more he avoids her, the more she’s hooked.

Nash isn’t unaffected by Lilly, but he’s come back to the bayou for a reason. He has a job to do, and once he’s finished it, he’ll leave. He doesn’t have time for a fling. Women fall too hard and fast for him and get hurt when he moves on. All he wants is to spend time with his elderly grandfather and photograph the local wildlife, but someone has other plans for him, plans that could lead to danger for any woman close to him.

I loved this book, which brought the last of the Bosarge women to her destiny. Siren’s Call had romance, suspense, satisfying growth by Lily and Nash, and the opportunity to enjoy the characters from the first two books, Siren’s Secret and Siren’s Treasure, which feature Shelly Bosarge and Jet Bosarge.

In my opinion, Lily was the hardest of the three to warm up to in the first two books. She acted cold and insensitive to her effect on men and the damage it did to the women whose husbands or boyfriends dumped them to pursue Lily.

Ms. Herbert does a magnificent job of showing Lily’s growth as she develops empathy for others and regrets her past dalliances. Despite her beauty and gifts, Lily is vulnerable. She feels the pain of rejection by the women of the town but won’t let anyone see it. She longs for love but doesn’t think she will ever experience it herself. By keeping the secret of her mermaid nature, she creates distance between herself and Nash, nearly ruining their relationship and putting herself in danger.

Nash is complex and nuanced. He has the looks and magnetism to draw Lily to him, no matter how often he pushes her away. However, he has secrets of his own and shuts down if she tries to get too close.

Lily and Nash must overcome tremendous obstacles, both internal and external, if they are to have a chance at happiness. I don’t want to include any spoilers in this review, so I will only say I teared up at the end of the book. I bet you will too.

Siren’s Treasure by Debbie Herbert is Spellbinding!

In the picturesque, coastal town of Bayou La Siryna, Alabama, a family of shapeshifter mermaids lives unknown among the ordinary townspeople.

Although a full mermaid, Jet Bosarge finds less acceptance among her kind than her cousin, who is a TRAB, a half-human traitor baby. Jet can’t understand why the other merfolk keep their distance from her, but she believes it is related to her looks. Tall, athletic and muscular, with dark eyes and hair, she can outswim most of the mermen at the annual Poseidon games, but no one seems impressed. They are much more enthralled with her elegant sister, who wins the siren song contest every year with her exquisite voice. All Jet longs for is a loving family of her own, but she doubts it will ever happen. Three years ago when Chilean police raided their salvage operation, her human ex-boyfriend betrayed her. He blamed their illegal activities on her and even spilled the secret of her nature. Luckily, no one believed him. Jet jumped overboard and got away, but her ex was arrested. Since then, she hasn’t trusted humans and wouldn’t think of revealing her true self to a dirt dweller.

Landry Fields is an FBI agent, undercover as an IRS auditor, investigating Jet’s ex, who recently received an early release from prison. Landry suspects the guy is plotting criminal activity and he thinks Jet may be involved as well. He contacts Jet in the guise of looking into her finances, but really intends to find out what the ex is up to. Landry had a rough childhood after his father left and his mother had a string of husbands who left behind a number of half-siblings, causing the family to live from hand to mouth. As the oldest, Landry had to look out for all the others. The only good part of his youth was visiting his Mimi in Bayou La Siryna every summer. When she passed away several years ago, he inherited her house. He visits the town whenever work allows. Since his fiancée left him for someone else, he doesn’t believe in loving or trusting anyone. He relies on himself and likes it that way.

When Jet and Landry meet, the attraction between them is instant and electric. However, Jet can’t let Landry find out too much about her business with her ex, or he might figure out it is her mermaid abilities which help her find undersea treasure. She’s also worried about him pressing charges against her for questionable business practices her ex entangled her in. Landry has his own secrets, including his real purpose for coming to town. Both have been burned and are wary.

When Jet’s ex won’t take no for an answer to one last venture and the crime boss behind the project gets tired of waiting for her help,  Jet faces the most dangerous situation of her life. To survive, she must face her greatest fear. As danger mounts, Landry must let down his defenses and open himself to the possibility of love and magic, or he will lose the woman he has come to cherish above his own life.

I was spellbound by Siren’s Treasure. The compelling characters, suspenseful plot and tightly written story hooked me from beginning to end. I read it twice because I enjoyed it so much. This book could be read as a stand-alone, but I highly recommend readers start with Siren’s Secret, which is the story of Jet’s cousin, Shelly. After Siren’s Secret and Siren’s Treasure, you won’t be able to resist the third book in the series, Siren’s Call. I guarantee it!

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Review of Comes a Specter, Ghostland Book II, by Keta Diablo A Thrill Ride Wrapped Around a Sweet Romance 5 Stars

Anya Fleming is a woman haunted by a spirit that raps, howls, screams, gnashes, growls and moves objects. She believes the incredibly powerful entity is the ghost of her abusive husband, Lewis, who hung himself six months previously. However, she is also haunted by other things: her son hasn’t spoken a word since Lewis died, and she hasn’t recovered from the mistake she made ten years ago when she married the man at her father’s insistence.

When her son falls dreadfully ill, Anya knows only one man can help him: Sutter Sky, or Yellow Smoke, as he has called himself since she betrayed him and the white eyes massacred his family. As a half-breed, he was never fully accepted by the white community. After his tragic losses, he has retreated to an isolated cabin and earned his reputation as the best shaman in the territory.

Anya’s desperate need for Sutter’s help, coupled with the decade old secret she has kept from him, combine to make this story a page turner. It’s easy to empathize with this young woman who thought she was doing the right thing when she refused to name the father of her baby and married the man her father picked out for her. Anya is not perfect. She didn’t have the courage to defy society’s conventions when she was younger, and she is terrified of what Sutter will do when he realizes the truth. Yet she loves her son enough to do what she couldn’t for herself—reach out to the man she still loves, but knows will probably reject her.

Sutter is also a well-drawn, three dimensional character, who must deal with his own bitterness and do what is right, even if it hurts.

The ghost has plans of its own. The reality behind the haunting and the atrocities the Zeuzeu commits, are shocking and horrifying.

Comes a Specter is a thrill ride from beginning to end, wrapped around a sweet story of love and redemption that fulfills the promise of the story.

 

 

Review of Comes an Outlaw by Keta Diablo: A Captivating Paranormal, Western Romance

Comes an Outlaw by Keta Diablo is a captivating paranormal romance set in 1885 Arizona. The old west is a perfect place for this tale of a widow’s struggle to survive against great odds, with love and help from beyond.

Jesse Santos lives with her twelve-year-old son on her late husband’s ranch, which has been in the family for generations. Since Cain’s death, she has worked the land as best she can, despite drought, cattle rustlers and the fear she is losing her mind. Although she misses her husband, she wishes his spirit would stop talking to her. Cain worked for a psychic investigation company and deeply believed in ghosts. He promised her he would come back to help her after his death, if she needed him. However, she can’t quite believe it’s really him and not hallucinations from a brain addled by too much stress. When Cain tells her that help is coming on a piebald horse, she doesn’t know what to think. Then, Cain’s younger brother Coy arrives out of the blue. He could be a big help, but he doesn’t intend to stick around. Not knowing his parents and brother had died, he only planned to stop in for a short visit before continuing to Utah, but the beautiful widow and her courageous son won’t make it without him.

The hardscrabble existence of life in those days, the engaging characters, and the fascinating look at Yaqui Indian culture, carries the reader into a simpler time when it was easier to believe in spirits and their ability to communicate beyond the grave. This story was an entertaining read that kept me spellbound to the end. Coy says one thing to Jesse that truly encompasses the essence of the story: At last he turned and faced her. “A man loving you from beyond the grave, I’d take that as the highest compliment one can give a woman.” That statement just shreds my heart.

If you enjoy Romance, Paranormal stories, or Westerns, read Comes an Outlaw. You will love it.

Review of A Ghost to Die for by Keta Diablo

Halloween may be over this year, but this paranormal romance is a great read any time. A Ghost to Die for begins with a fascinating seance conducted by the famous Fontaine sisters at La Bonne Chance Casino in Victory, New York. The twist is that although her sister sees and hears ghosts, Rooney doesn’t. She feels guilty about faking it, but they desperately need the money for treatments for their younger sister. After the seance, Rooney finally sees a ghost for the first time—in her hotel room. He tells her his name is Stuart Granger and his apparent suicide was a murder set up by a fracking company over a lawsuit he filed against them. He begs her to warn his younger brother, Stephan, that he’s in danger too. For many good reasons, she doesn’t want to get involved: she isn’t sure she should trust the persistent spirit, needs to concentrate on earning money to pay for her little sister’s medical care, thinks she may be losing her mind, etc. However, eventually she realizes she’s the only one who can help, and she feels compelled to try. When Rooney and Stephan meet, the attraction between them is electric, but the hunky, Afghanistan and Iraq veteran doesn’t believe her until Stuart gives her information no one else would know.

Rooney and Stephan, with ghostly Stuart along for the ride, run for their lives from hit men hired by the company, Catskill Resources. Thrown together in mortal danger, they soon learn to trust and rely on one another.

A Ghost to Die for has a tight, fast-paced plot and I couldn’t put it down. I instantly liked Rooney and empathized with her plight. Imagine always being the practical sister who doesn’t believe in the paranormal, only to be pulled into a life or death situation where you’re the one trying to convince a tough ex-sniper that his dead brother is communicating with you. Stephan is To Die For sexy and a realistically portrayed veteran. I enjoyed the chemistry between Rooney and Stephan and the believable way it developed due to the danger they faced and their need to watch each other’s backs. Their clever, snappy banter lightened the suspense of the danger just the right amount. Stuart is also a great character, well-developed, with strong goals of his own. I really wanted things to go well for him, even though he was already dead. The end is satisfying and fully resolved. If you’re in the mood for an absorbing romance, this is it.

You’ll Be Mes-Mer-ized! Review of Siren’s Secret by Debbie Herbert: 5 Stars

In the small coastal Alabama town of Bayou La Sirena, Shelly Connors lives with her cousins, Lily and Jet Bosarge. She works as a swimming instructor at the local YMCA, where she patiently coaches the autistic Eddie and flirts with his sexy brother, Sheriff Tillman Angier.

Shelly hasn’t had a date in years. While she is beautiful and compassionate, she believes no man would want her if he found out her secret: she’s half mermaid. She watched her parents’ marriage deteriorate over the years as her mother yearned for the sea and her father became frustrated because his love wasn’t enough.

After her parents died in a car accident, Shelly moved to Bayou La Sirena to live with Lily and Jet, who were the only family she had left. Shelly adores her cousins, who treat her as a sister. However, they are full-blooded mermaids and don’t understand what it is like to be rejected by mermaid society as an abomination.

Tillman Angier returned to Bayou La Sirena after his father, the town sheriff, passed away from a heart attack. Despite his successful career in law enforcement in Mobile and a semi-serious relationship, he believed it was his responsibility to go home. He was the only one left to care for his brother and mother, whose drinking problem haunted the family from the time Tillman was a child. Tillman is afraid that his family baggage will prevent him from ever finding anyone to share his life. So, he has dedicated himself to protecting the town, as his father did before him.

The suspense begins when Shelly, in mermaid form, sees a body being dumped from a boat and the murderer catches a glimpse of her as she dives. He throws a stiletto at Shelly, lodging it in her tail, but she gets away and keeps the knife. She and her cousins develop a strategy to identify the killer and make sure the police find evidence to convict him, even if they have to plant it.

At the same time, Melkie tries to find the one who saw him dump the body. The serial rapist and killer cuts out and keeps his victim’s eyes as souvenirs before he gets rid of the body. In his twisted mind, destroying vulnerable women is the only way to vent the rage he feels toward the prostitute mother who abused and molested him. Since she is dead, he can’t torture her, so he substitutes hookers. He is repulsed by the idea that mermaids are real and worried that the creature will give him away to the authorities. Paying for his crimes isn’t part of his plan.

While she and her cousins attempt to outwit Melkie, Shelly falls hard for Tillman, who finds her irresistible. But his sharp eyes and on point instincts tell him she’s keeping secrets and he’s too principled to look the other way.

Tillman is determined to find the perpetrator and put him behind bars, although it may implicate Shelly. Her lack of transparency and the odd things he observes about her and her cousins, paired with clues from the crime scenes, set off his suspicions. He wants to believe she is innocent, but he senses something is wrong.

The dynamic conclusion to this contemporary mermaid story will keep you mes-mer-ized. I loved this book and the sequels, Siren’s Treasure and Siren’s Call, which feature Jet and Lily and tell their stories. Don’t miss this great trilogy!