“Bonne Femme” by A.R. Simmons

Get Bonne Femme by A.R. Simmons on Amazon . . . click!
Get Bonne Femme by A.R. Simmons on Amazon . . . click!

“Bonne Femme” by AR Simmons

458 pages

Publisher: Acorn Moon Press

Publication Date: June 19, 2013

Avg. Amazon Rating: 5 *

The Blurb (truncated):

Trust Betrayed and Dark Obsession

“Three people. Two former soldiers, each with a mission, each waging a campaign. At the center of their conflict is a vulnerable young woman, alone and far from home.

“Richard Carter has come back to Cartier trying to pull his life together, while Jill Belbenoit has come to finish her degree. He has seen her on campus, but doesn’t know her. When a former squadmate from Somalia, Mic Boyd, turns up unexpectedly and assumes a friendship that never was, Richard allows himself to fall into what he hopes will be only a brief association. The last thing he wants is a reminder of his tour in the famine-racked squalor of Africa…”

*   *   *   *   *

Just a note:  As I have stated in several other reviews, there are genrés which I don’t normally read because of certain life experiences I have endured during my time on this earth – crime novels are amongst those genrés. However, this story revolves around two former Marines – one of whom was ‘released’ from service under a General Discharge. Those of us who have have been married to (as I was) – or have experience with – a member of the Armed Forces who suffers from severe PTSD have unique insight and understanding to the mindset of either the protagonist, Richard, or the antagonist, Mic, in this book. Fortunately, my husband was a “Richard”, rather than a “Mic”.

My take on the story:

Richard Carter is basically a good and honourable man who became as entrenched in the mindset that “War is Hell” as any other combat veteran has. The horrors that he witnessed are not uncommon, and nor is his revulsion to those memories and diminished feelings of self-worth as a returning ‘warrior’. As part of his solution to trying to re-integrate as a civilian, he is pursuing an education in criminology at the local college.

While there, another student – a captivating young lady from France (Jill Belbenoit) – catches his eye. Convinced that she would not be interested in him, Richard pines for her at a distance. It is during one of his moments of distraction that a former squadmate from his deployment to Somalia shows up: Mic Boyd, whom Richard has always disliked on an instinctual level. Nonetheless, when he is approached, Richard accepts Mic’s invitation to join him for a beer at the local pub, just to ‘catch up on things’.

At about this point, the author inserts some of Richard’s more troubling memories of Somalia…and here, dear reader, is the first indication that something is very wrong, and extremely dark, about Mic.

Mic shows up on campus again, and this time notices Richard’s infatuation with Jill. Mic’s ensuing comments about women in general are another clue into his disturbing psyche. He adopts an almost competitive attitude about how easy it would be to have his way with Jill; he introduces himself (and Richard, as a sort of side-kick) and proceeds to seduce her. Despite his apparently low opinion of women in general, he has a certain ‘bad boy’ vibe which seems to attract them. Richard, of course, is chagrined when, very quickly, Mic and Jill become a couple.

It is only a matter of time that Jill breaks things off with Mic. We are not apprised of the reasons why until later in the story (although the reader is given a good idea of what those reasons likely were), only that Mic is not about to accept her decision; she finally turns to Richard to intervene. This does not go over well with Mic…and things only get worse from here. When Richard confronts him, Mic details the violence he will perpetrate on Jill…before he kills her.

Richard goes to Jill and tries to convince her just how seriously she should take the threat, but for some reason she simply will not believe Mic is that dangerous. She refuses Richard’s help in keeping her safe even though he pleads with her to accept him in a protector’s role. She insists that such extreme steps are unnecessary and nearly rebuffs him completely, even as the friend she has begun to regard him. Even so, the friendship continues, albeit tenuously.

Mic continues to taunt Richard with verbal images of what he has in store for Jill, until finally he (Richard) decides to take protective measures, whether Jill agrees or not. He would kidnap her and take her somewhere remote, isolated and uninhabited and keep her there until either she understood the danger, or the danger was past. He abducts her and carries her to the island of Bonne Femme.

And here I stop the summary, else I give it all away.

The way that Mr. Simmons paints images with his words is skillful to the point of being able to physically impact the reader. I cannot remember any book that I’ve read that instills such graphic images, without the verbiage to go with it. And even though there is the occasional point-of-view switch between the characters, it all flows smoothly. He has a way of easing those transitions not only by his talent with syntax and structure, but also by delineating between memories and internalized thoughts through the use of in-text formatting.

There are very few issues – non-issues, really – that I have with “Bonne Femme”. For one, the blurb introduces the three main characters as “Two former soldiers, each waging a campaign.” and “…a vulnerable young woman, alone and far from home.” In this, we are given a brief description of the protagonist, Richard, as a returned ‘soldier’ and Jill, as the potential victim, but there isn’t any hint of the darkness in the antagonist, Mic. If I were to rely strictly on the blurb, I’m not so sure that I would have chosen to read “Bonne Femme” unless Crime/Thriller was my usual reading genré. However, with the author’s talent for weaving suspense, I’m sure that he might be able to prickle our senses by adding even a single, ominous line to the blurb, should there ever be a 2nd Edition!

The other issue is the character of Jill, who just seemed a bit – confusing. She has a strong spirit, dogged determination, a highly developed moral sense and great intelligence…but seemed to have a significant lack of common sense, something like a cross between Erin Brockovich and Snow White. I LIKED her character, but sometimes I just wanted to slap her silly! Maybe a little bit more of that internalized thought process for why she refused to believe her life was seriously in danger?? (sorry, AR!)

I have followed the author, A.R. Simmons, for some time now; in my humble opinion, the fact that I was able to read this entire book (even though the criminal element of the story is very discomfiting to me) without skipping any pages at all is proof that here is one more author who knows what he’s doing.

I look forward to reading Book 2: “Cold Tears” and following up on Richard and Jill.

 

“Dot Matrix” – a short story by Jack Binding: Free Book Promo on Amazon!

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Get it while it’s FREE on Amazon! (click!)

23 pgs

October 5, 2016

ASIN: B01LWSTJZL

Average Rating:  4.5 *

 

The Blurb:

London’s Square Mile. A cesspit of contempt and adultery into which Larry Hawthorne is sinking to the very bottom. But, one late night, underneath the artificial glow of his office space’s strip lights, a solution stutters to life . . .

Have you ever been stuck in a dead-end job, where not only are you consistently passed over for promotions, but it seems to be your lot to be the whipping boy for everybody who is over you?

Daydream about revenge much?

Typical office politics, atypical solution-from a Dot Matrix printer! Karma’s a b**** – “Kill them! Kill them all!!” Freaky little book – and somehow, hilarious! Recommend👍!

And I thought my book was short! Well, I can only say that what this teeny tiny tome lacks in length, it more than makes up for in  writing, storyline and character development. Really. And in only 23 pages!

A little bit of horror, a little science fiction and a lotta murder. Sorta. 🙂

This is Jack Bindings first short story. Get it. Got it? Good!

(A similar version of this review can also be found on Goodreads and Amazon)

Not to forget: Folded Dreams – the Beginning, by Pearl Kirkby!!

Giveaway Ends on October 20, 2016. Enter now!
Giveaway Ends on October 20, 2016. Enter now!

“I will not forget.”

Like a cool, soothing mist, the veil of forgetfulness descended…

Something seemed to be missing from those dark brown eyes now, and only brand new innocence remained on her face.

Innocence, and a smile.

When we reminisce, we think we’re remembering our past. But if time is relative, rather than fixed, what exactly are we thinking back on…The past, or the future? Maybe some time in between?

Memories from birth, to a death by flaming inferno and the uncomfortable gifts of seeing, which plague her throughout life – all of these things are seen through the eyes of Relativity, when Time and Space seem confused.

Folded Dreams – the Beginning is a short story that is destined to become Folded Dreams – The Novel.

Or was it the other way around?

(Naturally, I must plug the Goodreads Giveaway for my book, Folded Dreams-the Beginning ! After all, it never hurts to read the prequel to a novel, right?)

(if you’re not a winner, it’s available on Amazon 🙂 )

Work-in-Progress: “A Midsummer Night” by Sherie Greer

You can read "A Midsummer Night", a work-in-progress, by Sherie Greer, here, on Goodreads...
You can read “A Midsummer Night”, a work-in-progress, by Sherie Greer, here, on Goodreads…

“A Midsummer Night”, by Sherie Greer, is a copyrighted, work-in-progress.

The blurb:

Elizabeth escapes into the enchanted woodland of the nymphs where she is offered protection from a world and a life she has to leave behind.

* * * * *

Fantasy is a genre that takes me back to those childhood days when my little friends and I would play make-believe. A Midsummer Night, currently a work-in-progress, would not have been a story that we would have pretended…at least not before we turned at least 12 years old…but only because the winged nymphs and magic things are entwined in a bit of murder and mayhem!

But when it comes to fantasy stories like this, I’m still the little girl who likes to play make-believe. I love this story.

* * * * *

A P’Review’

Elizabeth’s mother has died some time before, and left her with no protection from her father, who has no other use for her than use as a tool to secure the family’s ‘fortune’. She has had the misfortune to be promised to an evil man in a marriage of convenience, but Elizabeth is determined to escape her fate.

She is wedded on Midsummer Night, but late into the celebration, when her husband becomes drunk and aggressive and begins to beat her, she attacks him and, thinking she has killed him, runs away into the forest. Elizabeth is terrified when she hears someone – something – following her. In a panic, she trips and falls to the forest floor, where she looks around, trying to see through the darkness, for whoever is trailing her…

…and spies fairy lights!

Minute creatures, flitting around on the tiniest of wings, surround her and reassure her that they are there to help, at the behest of Marrok, the wolf, who had once been tended by Elizabeth’s mother when he was injured to the point of death – it was he who was tracking her, in order to keep her safe…and so the story truly begins.

Elizabeth is magically transfigured into one of the creatures…at least to the same size as they…and taken to the kingdom of the woodland nymphs, where she is told she may stay for the rest of her life, so long as she does not contact any who dwell in the human world. Safe at last, she accepts that she will undergo training in the ways of the nymphs in order to fully join their community, and tries to reconcile herself to never seeing her siblings, ever again.

But the husband from whom she escaped was not dead, though his injuries should have insured that he was. Upon his revival, he sent hunters to find her, preferring her to be brought in alive to face his wrath. In the process of the hunt, the entire enchanted kingdom of the nymphs was in danger of being discovered and destroyed.

Elizabeth knew in her heart that she must return to her husband in order to save the nymphs from discovery, but with the help of the Nymph Queen, Winter (and to her detriment), a doppelganger is created to take her place.

More magic ensues…but I will say no more.

* * * * *

This story portrays a serene world under the great trees of the forest. You can smell the earth, feel the softness of the mosses and even taste the delicious concoctions that are prepared by Elizabeth’s companion and keeper, Blossom. It is just a lovely story.

If you would like to follow A Midummer Night as it unfolds, please feel free to click on the (working) book cover above, where you will find it, and Sherie’s bio and more of her work, on Goodreads.

Time & Again, by Deborah Heal – free on Kindle!

free-on-kindle_9-12-2016

The Blurb (truncated):

An old house + A new computer program = The travel opportunity of a lifetime…to another century. [to continue reading the blurb and editorial reviews, just click the pic!]

Deborah Heal really has it going on when it comes to her history…and even the technology referenced in this book! Her approach to time travel is absolutely unique.

I enjoyed that there was such a wide step taken with regards to genre…a romantic, Christian, history mystery! And I appreciate that it was well edited and easy to read. I would have no trouble reading the entire trilogy!

Time and Again, by Deborah Heal is currently offered free, on Kindle. No Prime necessary!

Review: Dublin in the Rain, by Andrew Critchley

Click here to get your copy of Dublin in the Rain!
Click here to get your copy of Dublin in the Rain!

“Dublin in the Rain”

A Novel by Andrew Critchley

Hardcover

372 pg. ct.

ISBN:  1909878154

ISBN 13: 9781909878150

Published January 30th 2014 by New Generation Publishing (first published November 11th 2013)

* * *

I want to thank Andrew for sending me a copy of Dublin in the Rain. As this book was what inspired me to post the first review I’ve ever done, I thought it only fitting to feature it first on my new library page! The following is a derivation of that review.

Blurb (truncated):

On a rainy day in Dublin, during the spring of 1947, a tragic accident brought devastation to those involved. As the subsequent years pass, unable to come to terms with the accident, the survivors set the path for a deeply troubled future for each generation that followed.

Jonathan Melton had a traumatic childhood in which he ended up in foster care, but when he meets the wild, willful, sexually experienced and free spirited Sophia at university, everything changes. At first inept with women, Jonathan’s complex relationship with Sophia evolves from a one-way obsession into a genuine love and shared passion, as the relationship brings happiness, romance and joy to both their lives that neither thought was ever possible. [continued on Goodreads]

From the very beginning, Dublin in the Rain made a inescapable grab at my heart. The prologue sets the stage for immersion into an array of emotions, ranging from the blossoming of young love and the heart-rending grief of the loss of all one holds dear, to learning to survive a childhood of cold indifference after such a loss.

I was out of breath after only this first foreshadowing of things to come!

Trying to anticipate the relation between the horrific incidents of the past, as outlined in the prologue, and the characters’ lives, was completely aggravating in the most delicious way!

A glimpse here, a tidbit there or a tantalizing clue as to the “butterfly affect” of that past, so deftly woven into the fabric of the story, made sure that I wouldn’t put it down until the very end.

Our protagonist, Jonathan Melton, began his idyllic life in the perfect, love filled home, with parents who were very much in love. However, his father suffered emotional incapacitation and resultant bouts of depression and drinking. The eventual outcome was, of course, a broken marriage, with Jonathan remaining in the custody of his father.

It is during this interim that Jonathan discovers his mother has “gone on with her life” and begun a relationship with someone else. This is also the first time the reader is shown a hint of how past and present are connected, with the introduction of Annie, the housekeeper who befriended him for a time.

Young Jonathan resonates with me as, not unlike a million other people in this day and age, I recognize the piteous state of mind that befalls the child of a broken home. True to form, Jonathan is vulnerable at this age, because of his love for both of his parents. It is obvious that he wants nothing more than for them to set aside their differences, but alas, this will never be forthcoming. Under his father’s influence and his own pain for his mother’s absence, Jonathan ‘breaks’ and turns against his mother.

The rift is great. So great that, when his father dies (a suicide, though it is not admitted until later), Jonathan indicates to his mother that going to live with her is the most distasteful thing he can contemplate. The family of his closest mate, David, having offered to take him in brings him balance back into his childhood and once again he is in the bosom of a loving family.

Jonathan and David attend University together and from here the story of Jonathan’s life takes many twists, turns and backward loops. He “becomes a man” then, eventually, falls in love…many sweet whimsical moments there with his lady love, Sophia!

But Jonathan seems doomed to follow the dysfunctional footsteps of his father. His family history is bearing down on him and repeating the burden of loss and disillusionment, stubborn self-centredness and self-destruction.

There is one character who is really only a fleeting presence: Maoliosa/Melissa who, for the tiniest space of time that she is actually in Jonathan’s life, is the most key presence of all, in bringing the threads of past, present and future together.

And then our author has the utter nerve to make us really, really like her and then just “disappear” her and leave us hanging!!

There are a few intimate scenes in this book, but while I’m not one who enjoys reading graphic descriptions of intimacy, even in the relatively benign instance of the sweetest consummation of marriage, there was forewarning enough that I was able to slip past them with never a gasp! Even though these instances themselves were integral to the story, their description was not so lengthy that sliding over those few paragraphs caused one to miss the truly important parts of the story.

Andrew Critchley did a splendid job of developing the characters in this book. Any one of their stories could apply to people any of us have known throughout life. None are without distinction; even the least characters who breezed blithely through the story, elicited some sort of opinion.

I would like to thank the author for giving me this wonderful opportunity to read his debut novel. I also read it aloud to my husband, outside and, well, our neighbours were sitting on their porch as well and they, too, were “all up in the story” as I read!!

I highly recommend Dublin in the Rain, for all the reasons others have stated in other reviews, as well as my own.

Only, man or woman, be sure to have a handkerchief on hand!

The Little French Guesthouse – by Helen Pollard

Get your copy of The Little French Guesthouse here from Amazon!
Get your copy of The Little French Guesthouse here from Amazon!

Series: La Cour des Roses

342 pages

Bookouture (April 27, 2016)

ISBN-10: 191075188X

ISBN-13: 978-1910751886

 

The Blurb:

Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?

When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife. [Read more on Amazon…]

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

(WARNING: this review has a bit of spoiler!)

I picked up this book, taking the blurb at its word as “the perfect, feel-good summer read”, and it absolutely did not disappoint!

Many of us know what it’s like to be betrayed by spouse or lover. Some can even relate to catching the jerkwad (or “heifer”, as the case may be) in the act! Those who have ‘been there’ likely also have painful memories of the devastation such an act has caused in their lives – and the fortunate few have had an unconditional support system to see them through the difficult aftermath.

Emmeline, or ‘Emmy’ as she prefers, has arranged a two week holiday at – you guessed it – a little French guesthouse for herself and her more-than-a-boyfriend, Nathan. She is hoping that the getaway will inject a little excitement(?) back into their relationship, which had been lagging. Welllll….Nathan got excited, alright. Only he got excited with their host’s wife, Gloria, and on the first night of their stay, no less!

When their host, Rupert, had an apparent heart attack, Emmy rendered as much aid as she could, and then frantically went looking for Gloria, who had disappeared at roughly the same time as Nathan. She found both of them…with Gloria’s legs wrapped around Nathan like a belt, as it were.

Emmy did not apprise Rupert of her discovery that they had both been cuckolded, for fear of exacerbating the heart condition that was revealed once he was taken to hospital. But she did confront both Nathan and Gloria the following morning, and neither felt the least bit of shame at having been caught; in fact, both seemed a bit put upon and indignant at Emmy’s attitude about the whole thing.

Although Emmy keeps Rupert in the dark about what happened between her boyfriend and Rupert’s wife, Nathan ends his part in the holiday a few days later by breaking up with her and leaving…with Gloria. Rupert, of course, was upset, but more for Emmy than himself. In fact, he didn’t seem at all surprised by his wife’s desertion.

Emmy decides to extend her stay in France to assist Rupert at the guesthouse until he has recovered from his attack and an injury he sustained when he fell on that fateful night. And it is here that Emmy’s own recovery begins, from miserable and lonely, to finding selfless support amongst veritable strangers. She also makes the surprising discovery that, in spite of her determination to return her mundane existence after her holiday, she doesn’t have to hold on to the misery brought on by the disappointing turn of events.

It is with much humour and wit that Ms. Pollard invites us to share in Emmy’s experience with Rupert and her new, sometimes irascible friends, at the little French guesthouse. Her description of the beauty of La Cour des Roses and the surrounding area is so visual that the reader will not find it difficult to experience the place almost first hand.

Just a note, here: while there are intimate innuendos and situations aplenty, there is zero graphic sex…which an old fossil like myself can appreciate.

I can’t say when I have enjoyed a simple read like this more. The only issue I had was that I wanted to go back with Emmy if she ever returned to The Little French Guesthouse…

…oh wait!

The Return to the Little French Guesthouse is out!!