Format: Trade Paperback

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel Nightingale

Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov , , , , , 0 Comments

#WyrdAndWonder Book Review Year 5 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Gifted Book By: This novel “Harlequin’s Riddle” was part of a gifted #bookhaul of mine from my Mum and Dad for #WyrdAndWonder, Year 4! They happily surprised me with a lovely bundle of books I featured during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 celebrating the Indie Publisher Odyssey Books! This continues my readings of those novels as I was overjoyed I can read all the lovely stories I had either showcased and/or featured but wasn’t able to read during our Year 3 Wyrd And Wonder.

Thereby, I was gifted a copy of “Harlequin’s Riddle” by my parents and I was not obligated to post a review on its behalf. I am sharing my thoughts on behalf of this novel for my own edification and a continued journey of sharing my readerly life on Jorie Loves A Story. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Note: I received the Press Materials last year from the publisher and had asked if I could re-use them if and when I was able to read and/or review the stories I was featuring during Wyrd And Wonder Year 3 (2020); and thankfully was given permission to do so which is why I am using them during my readings this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder.

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Hallo, Hallo dear hearts!

I was quite smitten with all the stories I’ve selected to feature from this Independent Publisher – each of the guest features will tuck us closer to the stories themselves, introduce us to the writers and give us a newfound appreciation for the Fantasy stories which are being independently published by publishers who champion the crafting of stories and the writers who have created these fantastical worlds for us to discover.

I wanted to begin this series of features with Ms Nightingale – as her world is a rather curious one – both from the perspective of what initially inspired her series and how she first fused curiosity to building the foundation of this world she’s given us to read and by how her characters simply step forward from that world and embrace our imaginations.

-as shared on the guest post by Ms Nightingale

As you might remember – two years ago, I had the lovely pleasure of running a series of guest features for Odyssey Books. Their authors were very welcoming to me and open to my enquiries as much as they returnt my interview and guest post topics with such hearty depth – it was a true pleasure to host all of them! I even interviewed one of them via #SatBookChat as I did a takeover chat experience that year as well.

Last year, I was able to start my readings again of Odyssey Books via “Cassandra” (see also Review) whilst previously I had featured Elizabeth Foster’s “Esme’s Wish” (from 2020: see also Review) and Felicity Banks Rahana trilogy: “The Monster Apprentice” (from 2020: see also Review) and “The Princess and the Pirate” (see also Review) in 2021.

This #WyrdAndWonder I am picking up from whence I last left off – I have the complete set of stories for the Tales of Tarya to read and I couldn’t be happier! I didn’t want to set out to read the first novel if I knew I couldn’t read the rest of the series. Thereby, I waited until our 5th Year to begin my journey into this world and it is my hope to read the rest of the Odyssey Books I have on my shelves every Monday throughout May. Part of what drew me into these stories was the premise of them — how they are a combination of reshaping what we understand about Shakespeare against what we love about Mythological Fantasy and Fantasy which is set in a world re-inspired by another writer.

Whilst I am planning to read the Odyssey Books authors on Mondays – you’ll find two more lovelies from them being featured and read this month: “Esme’s Gift” the sequel to “Esme’s Wish” and “The Shadow of the Skytree” (see also Interview). I am attempting to get a copy of “Songlines” by Carolyn Denman as well. Join me on Mondays as I take my own odyssey into a publisher’s canon of stories and series.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

A #WyrdAndWonder Book Review | soaking into Shakespearean Fantasy within the pages of “Harlequin’s Riddle (Book One: Tales of Tarya) by Rachel NightingaleHarlequin's Riddle
Subtitle: Book One of the Tales of Tarya
by Rachel Nightingale
Illustrator/Cover Designer: Nadia Turner
Source: Gifted

Ten years ago, Mina’s beloved older brother disappeared with a troupe of travelling players, and was never heard from again. On the eve of Mina’s own departure with a troupe, her father tells her she has a special gift for storytelling, a gift he silenced years before in fear of her ability to call visions into being with her stories.

Mina soon discovers that the travelling players draw their powers from a mysterious place called Tarya, where dreams are transformed into reality. While trying to solve the mystery of her brother’s disappearance, she discovers a dark secret to the players’ onstage antics. Torn between finding her brother or exposing the truth about the players, could her gifts as a storyteller offer a way to solve Harlequin’s riddle?

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Historical-Fantasy, Magical Realism, Upper YA Fantasy



Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-1922200990

Also by this author: Harlequin's Riddle

Published by Odyssey Books

on 12th June, 2017

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 312

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The Tales of Tarya series:

The Tales of Tarya collage created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: jorielovesastory.com

Harlequin’s Riddle (book one)

Columbine’s Tale (book two)

Pierrot’s Song (book three)

Be sure to read Ms Nightingale’s Guest Post after this review!

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Published by: Odyssey Books (@OdysseyBooks)

Converse via: #HistoricalFantasy, #YAFantasy, #TalesOfTarya
as well as #OdysseyBooks & #WyrdAndWonder

About Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale

Rachel Nightingale has been writing since the age of eight (early works are safely hidden away). Harlequin’s Riddle is her first novel.

Rachel holds a Masters degree and PhD in Creative Writing. Her short stories have been selected several times for exhibition as part of the Cancer Council Arts awards, and winning the Mercury Short Story competition (junior section) at the age of 16 only fuelled her desire to share her stories with the world. One of her plays, No Sequel, won the People’s Choice Award and First Prize at the Eltham Little Theatre’s 10 Minute Play competition in 2014, while another, Crime Fiction, was performed at Short and Sweet Manila in 2016. Her second passion after writing is the theatre, and she has been performing in shows and working backstage for a rather long time. She co-wrote and performed in the 2013-2015 version of the hugely popular Murder on the Puffing Billy Express, a 1920s murder mystery set on the iconic Dandenong Ranges train.

The inspiration for the Tarya trilogy, which begins with Harlequin’s Riddle, began when she read a quote by Broadway actor Alan Cumming about that in-between moment just before you step on stage and enter a different world, and began to wonder what you might find in that place between worlds.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Read More

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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Posted Monday, 2 May, 2022 by jorielov in #WyrdAndWonder, After the Canon, Classical Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Content Note, Death, Sorrow, and Loss, Disabilities & Medical Afflictions, Dreams & Dreamscapes, Equality In Literature, Fantasy Fiction, Flashbacks & Recollective Memories, Grief & Anguish of Guilt, Historical Fantasy, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Introspective Literary Fiction, Life Shift, Magical Realism, Parapsychological Gifts, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Realistic Fiction, Speculative Fiction, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Upper YA Fantasy, William Shakespeare, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage

#CrimeFicFridays | featuring the Harlequin Romantic Suspense novel “Guarding His Midnight Witness” (Honour Bond series, Book 4) by Anna J. Stewart

Posted Friday, 8 April, 2022 by jorielov , , , 0 Comments

Reading the stories of Anna J. Stewart banner created by Jorie in Canva.

This Spring, I have the pleasure of joy to be reading a select sequencing of stories writ by the lovely Ms Anna J. Stewart – of whom, I first became introduced to whilst reading the #BlackwellBrothers series via Harlequin Heartwarming! Whilst continuing to get to know her further through her guest appearances on @SatBookChat (the Saturday chat I’ve hosted since 2014 celebrating Romance, Women’s Fiction & Feminist Lit). You’ll find me reading selections from her Romantic Suspense stories for Harlequin as well as her wicked lovely series ‘Butterfly Harbour’ which is a celebration of family, community and new beginnings!

Full disclaimer: Spring usually arrives so fast & furious our Winter barely has time to make a proper arrival and departure – thereby, despite the fact, we’re being blessed this year with an extended Winter, my reviews for Ms Stewart will be peppered throughout the coming months – thereby arriving on Jorie Loves A Story throughout ‘Spring’ even as Winter starts to disappear.

Hence why I’m calling this special featured showcase of reviews:

Celebrating Spring whilst reading the stories of Anna J. Stewart!

I started this concentration in 2021 with the following reviews:
Undercover Heat and Colton on the Run

whilst I began this new concentration by sharing my review of:
Gone in the Night & Recipe for Redemption

Acquired Book By: Whilst speaking with Ms Stewart about being a guest on @SatBookChat in the New Year of 2021 (in late 2020) – I realised there was a whole collection of stories by her I haven’t yet had the pleasure of reading! The first series which charmed my heart was Butterfly Harbour – which we happily discussed during #SatBookChat in January, 2021 and the series I am concurrently reading this Spring, 2022. At the time, she mentioned to me she also writes for Harlequin’s Romantic Suspense and I was quite curious about those stories as I regularly read their Love Inspired Suspense novels. The key difference between the two is Love Inspired is their faith-based imprint and the Romantic Suspense stories are Contemporary and mainstream. I tend to be a hybrid reader of both mainstream and faith-based markets which is why I agreed to reading her Romantic Suspense releases.

I returnt to reading her stories within the Romantic Suspense imprint of Harlequin with “Gone in the Night”, as I previously shared my reviews on behalf of “Undercover Heat” and “Colton on the Run”. It is part of the Honor Bound series of stories – which begins with three women interconnected through a shared tragic past (ie. Eden, Simone and Allie) whilst it will expand and pivot to feature the McTavish’s after their story is told. As of Spring 2022 – there are five novels released in this series, though the series will expand into eight installments. (which I learnt during #SatBookChat in February, 2022)

I received a complimentary copy of “Guarding His Midnight Witness” direct from the author Anna J. Stewart in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. Per the badge at the end of this review, I am also a member of the author’s Review Team.

NOTE: All the Press Materials for this series (Honour Bound) were provided by the author, Ms Stewart for use on my blog. Whether she gifted me the books herself or whether I purchased them – as I asked if I could use them as I blog about this wonderfully lovely series.

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a few notations about the series from “Gone in the night”:

Stewart writes fast paced Romantic Suspense – to where you nearly feel as if the momentum is going to swallow you whole as your reading one of her novels. In this particular installment of the Honour Bound series, Stewart shifts forward and backwards to re-anchour the reader into the drama of the series itself. You didn’t have to finish reading the first two novels in the series to gain traction in the third which was a blessing for me as I couldn’t quite reconcile reading the first two novels in this series but I was gripped by the third as if this were the first novel. Stewart gives a lot of layered re-hashing of the events which has plagued the three main characters of the series thus far afield as the Honour Bound series is a thread of stories connecting Eden, Simone and Allie.

As this is the third installment, the point-of-perspective is given to Allie whilst opening the door for Guarding His Midnight Witness when it comes to Jack McTavish. Through conversations during #SatBookChat, I learnt Stewart let her characters dictate the direction of the series which is why we are going to pivot from the girls’ to the McTavish’s in the next installments. I’m not sure where we will go from there as this is going to be an eight book series but the journey is one I am thankful to be taking after a bit of a hard go at the start of it.

Similar to the other Romantic Suspense novels I’ve read by Stewart, this one packs quite the emotional punch for her readers. A lot of this is rooted in psychological suspense undertones combined with emotional anguish and heartache; whilst inclusive of trauma and memory from the past which re-inflicts pain in the present. It is a layered story and one which is slow brewing – as Stewart sets the stage well in the beginning for the kidnapping case to serve as a catalyst for the story itself and let’s us re-hover of the past Allie, Simone and Eden have been surviving all along.

-quoted from my review of Gone in the Night

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As I came into this series a bit haphazardly, it might help other readers who are considering reading this series but are unsure where to begin it. As I disclosed on my review for Gone in the Night, it took me a bit to find traction within the series, as the first two novels just didn’t grip me as much as Allie’s story and it was through her story, I was pleasantly surprised to see the whole series open up for me as a reader as Stewart has brilliant continuity and interweaving threads of connection from one installment to the next; something she is known for throughout all her series (as I’ve read quite a few of her series from two imprints of Harlequin). She catches you up on the back-histories of these characters whilst giving you feeders of folly to consider for future. I love how she started to insert the pivoting sequencing into Gone in the Night by focusing on Jack McTavish and of course, how his story-line became a bit of a cliffhanger leading into Guarding His Midnight Witness.

It wasn’t a traditional cliffhanger, as the door was open for his character to return but there was a quasi-curiosity about how he would return and in what capacity (to avoid spoilers) due to the circumstances of the final chapters of the third installment. I was definitely curious how and where we would re-enter Jack’s life now in the fourth novel whilst seeing how within this fourth installment, how we would continue to pivot forward away from the girls (ie. Allie, Eden and Simone) even though I knew they would all be somewhat inclusive of the series even as it moves forward due to the found family aspect of the Honour Bound series overall.

Allie roots you into the series because of how emotionally connective she is to the crux of the story which evolves through the first three novels. She is the axis point in so many ways and because of that, I felt a closer connection to both her as a character and to the series overall. Her cover art is also a bit telling as she’s the only book so far which only features the female lead rather than showcasing both the heroine and the hero of the story. I’d say more but that might be considered a spoiler as well – so let’s just leave it here as a curiosity of noting the differences in covers.

And, this is of course how I came to appreciate the Honour Bound series. It isn’t necessarily because of the case files their investigating because this series does continue to push me past my own comfort zones and boundaries when it comes to Crime Fiction and Cosy Crime drama but at the heart of the series is a wonderful group of individuals who found each other and who have bonded to each other to create their own family. Their not just bound by fate or mutual respect/appreciation but they all have a sense of duty and honour within them as well.

Only the series by Harlequin Heartwarming and Romantic Suspense have I found I can dip in and out of series – not always, as sometimes the sequencing is required to understand the flow of a series – as I wouldn’t say I could move in/out of all the series I’m reading and find the same continuity or traction as I had within Honour Bound but there are more chances I could do this within these two imprints than I could with series published elsewhere. Therefore, if you’ve not yet discovered this series, be sure to know you can pick up the threads of it and move forward with the rest of us who were also late-comers to the Honour Bound series! I do advise starting with Allie’s story in Gone in the Night as it is a pivotal story within the series in regards to anchouring you to the beginning and to the next chapters of where the series now pivots forward.

NOTE: I personally spelt honor as *honour* however, if you follow the feeds on Twitter or other socially engaged platforms be sure to use the American spelling #HonorBound to find other readers who are sharing their bookish reactions to the series. I am only spelling it differently as I review it on my blog but note the official title all the same. For me, honor is honour but that’s just a personal quirk.

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The Honour Bound series:

More than a Lawman by Anna J. StewartReunited with the P.I. by Anna J. StewartGone in the Night by Anna J. Stewart

Guarding His Midnight Witness by Anna J. StewartPrison Break Hostage by Anna J. Stewart

More than a Lawman (book one)

Reunited with the PI (book two)

Gone in the Night (book three) | (see also Review)

Guarding His Midnight Witness (book four)

Prison Break Hostage (book five)

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View the list and keep tabs on this series via Fantastic Fiction!

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Published by: Harlequin Romantic Suspense (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin

Converse via: #ContemporaryRomance, #RomanticSuspense and #HonorBound

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Posted Friday, 8 April, 2022 by jorielov in 21st Century, Book Review (non-blog tour), Contemporary Romance, Crime Fiction, Modern Day, Post-911 (11th September 2001), Romance Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Suspense

A #25PagePreview Book Spotlight | “Light the Way” (Book One: Lighthouse Sisters series) by Lin Stepp

Posted Wednesday, 30 March, 2022 by jorielov , , , 3 Comments

Stories in the Spotlight banner created by Jorie in Canva.

Acquired Book By: I started hosting with Prism Book Tours at the end of [2017], having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) whilst I was visiting as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. I had to put the memes on hold for several months (until I started to resume them (with Top Ten Tuesday) in January 2018). When I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. This is how I came to love discovering the Harlequin Heartwarming authors & series as much as it has been an honour to regularly request INSPY stories and authors. Whenever I host for Prism, I know I am in for an uplifting read and a journey into the stories which give me a lot of joy to find in my readerly queue of #nextreads. It is an honour to be a part of their team of book bloggers.

I received a complimentary copy of “Light the Way” direct from author Lin Stepp in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

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On what draws me into Southern Romances & Lowcountry stories:

For many years now, I’ve appreciated reading Southern Contemporary stories and Southern Romances whilst my fascination with the sea-centric Lowcountry of South Carolina’s region has always held a strong interest since I used to follow the lives and blogs of the ladies behind Southern Belle View which was a blog for INSPY writers writing about the South – from Texas and Mississippi straight over into the Carolinas. There is a whole new appreciation for these kinds of stories when you place characters by the ocean and let their lives set to the rhythm of the sea as it is altogether a different kind of lifestyle.

It was one of the Southern Belle View authors who first tipped my hat towards knowing about Edisto Island but within the opening pages of “Light the Way” Stepp outlines the location and the outlying areas of this watery region very well as it is all interconnected by waterways in one fashion or another. It is a place I haven’t seen on the Eastern starboard of the States but one that I tend to read about off/on as I find certain voices in Southern Contemporary to be a keen fit for me as a reader.

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A #25PagePreview Book Spotlight | “Light the Way” (Book One: Lighthouse Sisters series) by Lin SteppLight the Way
Subtitle: The Lighthouse Sisters Book One
by Lin Stepp
Source: Author via Prism Book Tours

In this new coastal series, Lin Stepp transports her readers into the rich, colorful lives of Burke and her sisters, Lila, Gwen, and Celeste, who grew up at the Deveaux Inn and Lighthouse on a windswept island, accessible only by boat. Get ready to be introduced to the ups and downs, joys and sorrows, challenges and adventures of a Lighthouse Keeper.

Life had grown hard for Burke Deveaux at the family inn and lighthouse since her father died. She missed his warmth and still expected to see him walking into a room, his big laugh booming. Burke and her mother were gradually adjusting to the change, and Lila had come home this winter to help, but the workload was heavy. With spring coming and tourism picking up in the South Carolina Lowcountry, Burke welcomed Hal Jenkins’ request for his son Waylon to work for them. Waylon, retiring early from the Navy, knew the island and the lighthouse, having grown up nearby. Burke also knew Waylon well since they’d grown up together. He’d always been older, and she wondered how he’d see her now.

Waylon had been away from Edisto Island for over twelve years now, traveling around the world in the military, but it felt good to be home. He’d hated learning Lloyd Deveaux was gone, the warm-hearted Lighthouse Keeper he’d followed around as a boy. But he liked the idea of coming to stay at the lodge at Watch Island to help the Deveaux family with the inn, lighthouse, and nearly five-hundred acres of land the Lighthouse Station occupied. He knew Burke had picked up many of her father’s old tasks and he looked forward to seeing her again. He’d kept feelings for her clamped down for years but one look at her brought them surging back. How would he handle that with them working together?

Genres: Contemporary (Modern) Fiction (post 1945), Romance Fiction, Contemporary Romance



Places to find the book:

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 979-8985368123

Published by Mountain Hill Press

on 1st April, 2022

Format: Trade Paperback

Pages: 292

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Lighthouse Sisters series:

Light the Way (Book One)

Lighten my Heart (Book Two)

Light in the Dark (Book Three)

The Light Continues (Book Four)

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Formats Available: Trade Paperback and Ebook

Converse on Twitter via: #ContemporaryRomance & #EdistoIsland or #LighthouseSisters

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About Lin Stepp

Lin Stepp

Lin Stepp is a native Tennessean, businesswoman and educator. A New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and Amazon best-selling international author, Lin has twenty published novels out now, including her twelve beloved Smoky Mountain novels, all set in different Tennessee and North Carolina locations, three Mountain Home books, a novella in one of Kensington’s Christmas anthologies, and four South Carolina coastal novels, including her three Edisto Trilogy books and her first release in the new Lighthouse Sisters series.

Lin and her husband J.L. also write regional guidebooks, including a published Smoky Mountain hiking guide and a TN and a SC state parks guidebook, all filled with hundreds of color photos. Stepp’s latest 2022 releases are Eight at the Lake, set in Dandridge near the Smoky Mountains, and Light the Way, set at the SC coast. 0Writing and adventuring are her joys and more novels set in the Smokies and at the beach are on the way, as well as more colorful regional guidebooks.

Lin’s title Claire At Edisto was the 2019 Best Book Award Winner in Fiction: Romance, sponsored by American Book Fest and her novel Welcome Back a finalist in the 2017 Selah Awards. Lin enjoys speaking for events, festivals, libraries, and book clubs. And she loves reading, hiking, exploring out of doors, and keeping up with her readers. Look for her pages on Facebook and Twitter and follow her monthly blog and newsletter, too, that you will find on her website

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Posted Wednesday, 30 March, 2022 by jorielov in Blog Tour Host, Book Spotlight, Contemporary Romance, Prism Book Tours, Romance Fiction, Small Towne Fiction