Is there any activity more iconic to the warm weather than picking up a book and losing yourself in another world? Probably, but I’ve had the extraordinary pleasure of actually 1) finding the time and 2) discovering books that warranted the commitment of precious hours. On a day when the sun hasn’t found any break in the clouds and the streets are slick with dust-encrusted drizzle, the opportunity to reflect on other writers’ efforts is pleasant indeed. You’ll see from this shortlist that my tastes are eclectic in the extreme.
My first up for July is a book I really did happen upon and it ended up with me on the long haul journey back to Wales from the RWA National Conference in New York. Into the Crossfire by Lisa Marie Rice, an Avon Red book, tested my commitment to Open Carry Romance. (In case you’re not familiar with OCR, this campaign grew out of years of denigration of romance writers, readers and the genre itself.) Into the Crossfire has a much less ‘red’ cover than many of the Avon imprints but the nudity on the deep blue cover is unmistakable.
So is the flaming sexuality. One of the aspects of this erotic novel I truly appreciated with the use of anatomically correct nouns for parts of the body. No slang, not many four letter words but good, Latin-based five and six letters for most parts. The story is compelling too, though somewhat far-fetched and a trifle on the ‘no guy is that angelic’ but all the same, when you’re swept away 35,000 feet in the air and of all the Hollywood First Releases and Top-Rated films on offer, there isn’t one you’d want to watch rather than read this book, I give it my 5Jets rating.
And for something completely different, Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar was given to me by a family member after I had met the author in Connecticut. This inspirational romance is enchanting and enthralling. From Moody Publishers, a house that concentrates on Christian theologically based fiction and non-fiction, Afshar’s book takes you to the walls of Jericho and the life of a zonah – a young woman by the name of Rahab who was sold into prostitution by her father to save her family from starvation. The book follows Rahab’s rehabilitation to self-worth and love with a deep understanding of the aches of the human heart. Her journey from the abject hell of her empty life to the full heart of a woman of faith is finely crafted. Afshar’s knowledge of Biblical times is impressive. So is her concept of forgiveness and the state of grace.
Rahab’s Israelite husband, Salmone, has his own tortuous journey to understanding. This makes for a heart-wrenching and unpredictable course of events, not the least of which are the scenes of battle and injury. I became so engrossed in this story that I found myself, on more than one occasion, having to walk a long way home after missing my bus stop after a long day at work. Therefore, I give this my 5Buses rating. When all you want to do is get home and you miss your stop because of a book, that’s a good story in my estimation.
My final book for this early part of the summer season is The Last Outlaw, published by my own publisher, Avalon Books, and written by Stone Wallace, a Canadian gentleman I have come to call a friend after spending many hours in email correspondence with him when I interviewed this writer of westerns who is on speaking-terms with Johnny Depp. Cash McCall is on a collision course with the law when, after his release from prison, law-abiding citizens won’t give him a break.
There’s no forgiveness in the hearts of the good folks of Wyatt City, Wyoming. Cash’s younger brother follows in his footsteps and to keep his brother out of more trouble and pay his mother’s hospital bills, Cash puts aside his resolution to go straight.
Wallace put this book in the realm of the ‘noir’ – the downward, unrelenting spiral of errors of judgment piled upon injustice stacked up on the misfortunes of birth and nurture. This book rates a 5Suns for blazing new trails in a much-loved genre. Other books by Wallace are Montana Dawn and Denim Ryder, both with high-ranking accolades to recommend them.
So, no matter what your reading preference, these three books make for good August entertainment. All are available from their publishers, bookshops*or major online retailers. I’m moving on to a cozy small town yarnfest, a steamy archaeologist and well, whatever else turns up.
*Avalon Books are available in Public Libraries or by order through bookshops, as well as a well-known, international online retailer.