The Muse Unleashed

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Voice Week 2014 – Day 2 {I like you}

It’s day 2 of Voice Week. Be sure to check out Voice Week Headquarters to see all the great writing produced for this challenge! If you missed my first day, you can click here.


“You like me, admit it.”

Lex glanced around, checking if anyone was listening. He hid his face in his locker. “I can’t do this now.”

“Well, you have to. I’m not waiting for you any longer. I’m not going to keep pretending this isn’t happening.”

A hand gripped Lex on the shoulder and pulled him back from the safety of his metal box. Shaking it off, Lex met his tormentor’s gaze. Those blue eyes, so clear he thought he might drown in them, were clouded with sadness. His gut clenched in fear.

“Tell me, Lex.”

Lex sucked in a deep breath. Gripping David’s shoulders he smiled. “I like you too.”



Voice Week 2014 – Day 1 {I like you}

Welcome to Voice Week :) This is an event I’ve participated in for a few years because it’s a great way to focus on the little things that strengthen your writing. This year I’m working with the overall theme of “I like you” and how that phrase plays out.

I hope you’ll come back each day this week and see what voice I’m playing with. Comment and suggestions are always appreciated! And if you want to read more participants, check out the Voice Week Headquarters


“I like yer spunk, lil’ lady.”

Sandra spun on her heel, fingers closing into a fist. She’d taken on one drunken hand, she could take another. The man tipped his weather beaten Stetson and gestured to the seat beside him. She hesitated a moment then slid onto the stool. He signaled to the bartender and a shot of whiskey slid down the counter. Sandra tossed it back without thinking.

A low whistle escaped the man’s lips. “I been lookin’ for a woman who can hold her own.”

“You found her. How ‘bout another drink?”



The Forsaken Heart by Brenda Gayle {Book Review}

forsaken heartWhen Anna Graham marries Callum Hart she’ll get both the man she loves and her uncles’ agreement to take over the family ranch. Will the return of Jackson, her long-lost first love–and Cal’s brother–throw it all in jeopardy?

Cal has been in love with Anna for as long as he can remember. It was he who picked up the pieces of her broken heart when Jackson disappeared 10 years ago. His brother’s sudden reappearance, just when it seems Anna is ready to love again, is mysterious–as is his father’s casual acceptance of the prodigal son’s return.

But is something more sinister going on? Someone seems determined to prove Anna incompetent to her uncles and insincere to Cal. With an arsonist on the loose and cattle dying, old secrets are exposed, and Anna and Cal face a challenge that will test their love far more than Jackson’s unexpected homecoming



I quite enjoy Brenda Gayle’s writing. She has a knack for creating interesting characters that don’t come off as flat. You might not like them but at least they have some depth.

This is the third book of hers I’ve read and like the previous two there is a romance between two main characters and some mysterious intrigue thrown in. Anna and Cal have know each other for years and when Cal’s brother disappeared without a word he broke Anna’s heart. It took her a long time to trust again. Cal has loved Anna forever and when they were continually thrown together in various functions he made his move. After a slow build up they finally got engaged. And just as they announced it to the world, Jackson, Cal’s brother and Anna’s old flame, returned to the scene.

Both Cal and Anna are sensual people and the attraction is obvious. But Anna resists having sex with Cal, maybe thinking if she gives in the fairy tale will collapse and Cal will leave, just like Jackson did. Their relationship was so strained it was a relief when Anna finally gave in and seduced Cal. And of course, that’s when all the miscommunication and suspicion began.

Anna has been working very hard to win her uncle’s approval so she can run the family ranch when they retire. Sadly, the men are stuck in the Stone age when it comes to women being in charge. They stubbornly refuse, trying whatever they can to get once of Anna’s cousin’s to step up. But none of the boys want anything to do with the ranch, each has forged their own path.

All of Anna’s efforts are destroyed when a mysterious fire destroys her lab, documents go missing, and illness strikes the cattle. On top of this is the arrival of Jackson and his determination to win Anna back.

I wasn’t as keen with the mystery as in previous books. It felt off and how Anna reacted didn’t strike me the way I thought a strong heroine should act. She was definitely to weakest of all Gayle’s heroines. I did enjoy seeing other characters from earlier books pop in and have some part of the story. And I loved seeing their relationships progress a little.

Overall a good read with well crafted characters and strong writing.

3.5 out of 5 stars


About the Author

brendanew2I’ve been a writer all my life but returned to my love of fiction after more than 20 years in the world of corporate communications–although some might argue there is plenty of opportunity for fiction-writing there, too. I have a Master’s degree in journalism and an undergraduate degree in psychology. A fan of many genres, I am drawn to contemporary romance and enjoy creating deeply emotional stories with elements of mystery and suspense.

I live in eastern Ontario with my wonderful husband, two fabulous children, a rescued cat, two Siberian Huskies, and assorted aquatic wildlife.



An August Bride {Book Review}

August brideKelsey vowed never to love a cowboy again. But then she meets Brent.

After a cowboy broke her heart, Kelsey Wilcox traded in her boots for flip-flops and a bistro on the beautiful sandy beach of Corpus Christi. Two years later, still not believing in happy endings, she is about to endure a weekend of torture at her cousin’s beach wedding. Not only will she be forced to watch yet another wedding, but her great-aunt and her two best friends-aptly nicknamed “the matchmaking posse of Mule Hollow”-are coming to the wedding, and Kelsey is sure to be on their radar.

Brent Corbin has had his share of bad luck with women and isn’t looking for love or looking forward to the weekend of wedding festivities as a groomsman for his friend. When he sees a commotion on the beach and what appears to be a mermaid in distress, he doesn’t hesitate to dive to the rescue. His attention is instantly captured by the woman he’s saved and it turns out they’re part of the same wedding party. But the instant Kelsey spots his soaking wet boots she wants no part of him.

Thrown together through the weekend and with the meddlesome encouragement from the matchmakers, Brent is determined to pursue Kelsey and change her mind about cowboys. Sparks fly at this August wedding as Kelsey and Brent dance a rocky Texas two-step toward a beach wedding of their own.



Kelsey hates weddings after her fiance left her at the alter. And because he was a cowboy she’s decided all cowboys are rotten to the core. No way she’ll ever fall for that type of man again. Until she finds herself drowning in the ocean trying to save her aunt’s little dog and a cowboy dives in and saves her.

The attraction to Brent is instantaneous. He is everything Kelsey could want in a man. Except…he’s wearing cowboy boots. Once she realizes he owns a ranch just outside of town Kelsey decides she wants nothing to do with him. Brent is smitten with Kelsey and determines to win her over. With the help of their friends and the matchmaking trio from Mule Hollow he moves in for the kill. Until his pursuit backfires and he may lose Kelsey forever.

I really liked Kelsey and Brent. Their attraction was intense and I wanted to reach in and smack Kelsey for being so stubborn. Just because a cowboy broke her heart, doesn’t mean they ALL will. At first Brent is relentless until he recognizes that the only way to win Kelsey’s heart is to be aloof. Once he steps back and lets Kelsey muddle through her feelings then the sparks really fly.

Kelsey has been burned badly. First by her fiance and then by personal tragedy as her father loses his ranch due to a poor economy. She will not let herself be hurt again and refuses to let herself fall for a man who epitomizes everything she lost. But it’s only by letting herself become involved in that world again does Kelsey realize she doesn’t have to give up her past to secure her future.

This was one of the more enjoyable wedding novellas I’ve read, perhaps one of my favorites. I’ll definitely look into reading other works by this author.

4 out of 5 stars

I review for BookLook BloggersDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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A July Bride by Beth Wiseman {Book Review}

july brideCan she forgive the man who left her at the altar?

Alyssa Pennington dated Brendan Myers for three years before she accepted his proposal. For almost a year, Alyssa’s friends and family helped her plan a lovely wedding to take place in the church she’d grown up in. It was the happiest day of her life when she walked down the aisle to be united with the man of her dreams. But when Brendan left her at the altar, Alyssa was consumed by humiliation, embarrassment, and a broken heart that wouldn’t allow her to trust anyone. Especially Brendan.

Brendan Myers knows he will spend the rest of his life regretting what he did to Alyssa, the only woman he’s ever loved. Without her, his life is empty. In one fateful moment, he’d panicked, destroyed their future, and ruined everything. Now he plans to win her back.

But winning back his bride might prove much more difficult than he can imagine. And even if he does get her to the altar again, will she think turnabout is fair play?



Alyssa Pennington is the saddest bride I have ever read about. Her dream wedding comes to a crashing halt when her groom bolts, leaving her at the altar. And if that isn’t enough, he then starts pestering her to take him back. It bothered me that we never had a full picture as to why he left Alyssa. He gave a vague reason and then he proceeds to beg Alyssa to take him back, which she doesn’t. So he sends flowers and kittens and gifts and letters all begging her to give him another chance. It felt wrong from the very beginning.

In order to get over the pain of Brendan leaving her, Alyssa begins a new relationship with an old friend of the family, someone she had a crush on for years. Dalton is a great guy but Alyssa doesn’t know the whole truth about him and how he’s dealt with relationships in the past. Her brother is aware of how he is and doesn’t want his sister involved with someone who has cheated on a past girlfriend. As Alyssa and Dalton’s relationship grows stronger I was wondering if he was sticking it out with Alyssa just to have sex with her or if there was something more. When Dalton asks Alyssa to marry him I really wondered if it was just to get into bed with her (since Alyssa has declared she will remain a virgin until marriage).

The real reason eventually comes out and personally I thought Brendan was a coward to use that as his excuse. Step up and talk to the woman you love, if she means so much to you. Yes, the truth could have caused some backlash but isn’t love worth it? Plus how some of the people involved dealt with this secret bothered me. I had very little respect for any of the characters except Alyssa.

3 out of 5 stars.

I review for BookLook BloggersDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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