Better Together

Better Together, City Owl Press, a romance in e-book, copyright and written by Jessie Gussman.

Plot: Harper Bright, is the daughter of a woman married to the uncle of Wyatt Fernandez, a young man raised by his uncle when his father, owner of an exclusive ski resort in Chili, was too busy to raise him. As such, she had always considered him as a half-brother whom she had grown to enjoy as a wonderful and trustworthy friend. During the growing years Wyatt often was off on exciting, frequently perilous trips on various continents, financed by his father, returning to his home at the uncle’s Pennsylvania farm between trips. Dual participation in a local adventure with unexpectedly dangerous results suddenly changed Harper’s feelings with respect to Wyatt to a deep love. He had harbored similar feelings for more than ten years. Now both were hesitant to express their attitude for fear of ‘losing their best friend’. The situation exacerbated when Wyatt’s father pressured him to return to Chili to help him with the family business that was to be his eventually. He does not want to leave Harper with whom he is convinced he can not do without. Similarly, Harper definitely does not want to move to Chili for several reasons. She has gradually advanced to a PhD in nutrition, with a vote soon to be taken with respect to her promotion to tenured Research Professor at the university. Furthermore, she had an underlying fear of leaving the security offered for which she had worked so hard. And actually she did not even like to travel far from the farmland home in which she had been raised. Yet, she believed she was so emotionally attached to this man she could not do without him either. The steps taken by the two to solve their dilemma provides the substance of this tale.

Discussion: The author provides an interesting situation where two totally opposite individuals experience the growth of a sincere love interest arising from development of a friendship that gradually had grown through a number of years. It further describes the insecurity such persons might experience in attempting not to injure the remarkable relationship already developed by moving too rapidly to the next level. The settings are skillfully done and the characters believable. A caveat from probably the only reviewer who found some of the interaction between the protagonists somewhat ‘overextended’. However, this is a story that will greatly appeal to lovers of heartfelt accounts of ‘nice’ people working through problems together to attain a mutually desired goal.

4*       5* for most romance devotees; -1 apropos this reader’s caveat.



Chasing the Red Queen

Chasing the Red Queen, a multiple genre novel published, copyright and written by Karen Glista.

The book opens with a prologue from an ancient birch parchment of the Ojibwa, also known as Chippewa, Indian nation, whose main area of residence more or less centered on Sault St. Marie and contiguous portions of America and Canada. The parchment details how “seven spirits presented themselves to the people in the Land of the Dawn to teach the Mide way of life. The first six spirits were good and kind, but the seventh grew too powerful and killed those in his presence.” Supposedly, the good spirits had forced him into the ocean. This is a story of his reappearance and centers on Donja Bellinger, whose mother’s death four years previously has left her with intense psychological problems. Now her mother has decided to marry Carson Hampton and they are to move to the upper Michigan Peninsula leaving the home, school, surroundings and close friends established over her seventeen years of life. He was extremely nice, equated immediately with her younger brother and tried very hard to do the same with her. Offering still another problem was Carson’s daughter Makayla, a beautiful, poised, constantly well-dressed 17-year-old who was independently wealthy from money her mother had left her when she had passed away a few years before. They move into the new home which is on the Historic Homes Registry and reputed as having been owned by a woman who was believed to have been a Chippewa leaving the house haunted. It is a mess ad they are going to have it renovated while they’re living there. The two girls become true sisters as each has a problem with which they help each other and they go exploring into a secret room discovered. Here they find many fascinating things, not the least of which are very old paintings on birch bark along with some of the earliest photographs. These, combined with other discoveries – the fact that Donja is the only descendant left of a distinct branch of the Chippewa nation; she and Makayla becoming romantically involved with two extremely handsome men in the near-by night life centers; the men are       actually part of a vampire-like race living on earth for centuries – all lead to extended wild and weird activity evolving from re-entry of that seventh (evil Ojibwa) spirit who is attracted to Donja as the only surviving member of that extinct branch of the Chippewa Clan. The tale culminates eventually in horrendous bloody battles and a fitting end.

Discussion: The author has used the well-known strange stories that have for years emanated from, and about, the upper Michigan Peninsula and associated parts of Canada but has added a new twist – a vampire-like (alien) race of immortals. This amalgamation with one of the well-known basic themes is perhaps a little jarring to readers aware of the usual thrust of stories associated with the area. But in its unique multi – fantasy/alien (?)/vampire/mystery – genre status is acceptable and as such, no doubt of interest to many readers of one or more of these categories. Regrettably, there are a number of features that, at least from this reader’s viewpoint, make evaluation difficult to say the least. The impression first acquired is that the story appears to be slanted somewhat toward a teenage feminine group because after an initial understanding of Donja’s decision to go goth, the extensive amount of description set forth and emphasis on make-up, hair styles and stylists, boutiques, and variations in dress, as well as the approach to male/female activity descriptions somehow heightened this impression. However, as the story continues the trend became more varied and the imposition of more graphic violence moved the tale to assume a broader scope. Another distraction is the number of lengthy descriptions that requires judicial editing to aid in remaining closer to the book’s basic story. So to reiterate, a story difficult to assess.

Conclusion: A multi-genre story that no doubt should appeal mostly to certain Fantasy/Romance readers who do not mind inclusion of considerable graphic violence and lengthy rhetoric only tangentially pertinent to the main theme.

3* Multi-genre tale adding unusual twist to those associated with the region.