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review 2017-06-06 16:44
Due to Length, Could Not Get Into All Stories Equally
An Avalon Valentine - Darien Gee

If you have read the story "Friendship Bread" you know that story takes place in the fictional town (maybe? I don't know) of Avalon. Author Darien Gee has returned to this location and characters in subsequent books: "The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society", "An Avalon Christmas" and now in "An Avalon Valentine." It is nice to revisit some of these characters we have come to known. But due to the length of this book (176 electronic pages) Gee doesn't have a lot to work with regards to the four main story-lines she decides to follow. 

 

Story-line 1 follows long time character Hannah Wang. She is happy in her relationship with her boyfriend Jamie Linde, but now her ex-husband is back trying to rekindle their former relationship. 

 

Story-line 2 follows another long time character, Connie Colls who is getting a bit bored with her samey relationship with vet Eli. That is until a new vet comes along who has Eli changing his ways.


Story-line 3 and 4 follow two characters that are new, Lucia Blake and Goldie Love (yeah that last name...sigh). Lucia is dealing with having a crush on her mail carrier and Goldie is a retired romance writer who is resistant to celebrating her 50th wedding anniversary. 


There's a little hidden story-line in this one too, Julia Evarts daughter from the first book, Gracie, gets a little part of the Valentine's Day theme, I honestly wish that it had been cut since it just didn't work well with the other 4 story-lines. 

 

I have to say for me this whole book was a wash. The POV jumped around a lot and we don't get to spend much time with any of these characters. I thought that Hannah's story-line had the most potential and could have been it's own stand alone book taking place in Avalon, but shoehorning in Connie, Lucia, and Goldie's stories just made the whole book feel cluttered. Maybe if Gee had decided to make this into a full length novel so some of these stories could have breathed it would have worked better. 

 

The writing was okay, but I was missing the magical sense of this town that I have read about for a few years now. I just thought that the background of Valentine's Day would make it more interesting, but I was honestly bored. Maybe if Gee had shaken things up a bit with regards to some of the longer term romances in this book that would have made for a more compelling read? It just seemed most of the issues were once again adults not talking to each other and everyone just ignoring having a conversation that ended up fixing all in like ten minutes. 

 

The ending fell a little flat. I am happy to get some new Amish friendship bread recipes though. 

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text 2015-02-23 23:22
Reading progress update: I've read 144 out of 144 pages.
Writing the Hawaii Memoir: Advice and Exercises to Help You Tell Your Story - Darien Gee
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text 2015-01-15 16:32
Water & Lights: Plumbers and Electricians in Romance
Driving Her Wild - Meg Maguire
The Season for Love: A Shannon Stacey Holiday Box Set: Holiday SparksMistletoe and MargaritasSnowbound with the CEO - Shannon Stacey
Too Friendly to Date (Harlequin Superromance) - Nicole Helm
Better Off Without Him - Dee Ernst
Single Wolf Female (Midnight Liaisons, #2.6) - Jessica Sims
By The Book - N.J. Walters
Small-Town Dad - Jean C. Gordon
The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society - Darien Gee
The Bad Boy of Bluebonnet - Jessica Clare
The Mane Squeeze (The Pride Series) - Shelly Laurenston

Despite the Boom, Chica, Boom music in many adult films with a plumber or electrician knocks on the door, there are really not all that many heroes or heroines with these skilled trade professions in Romance Novels. Lots of handymen (another porn favorite) and contractors.

 

Here is a list of some very good reads with Heroes and Heroines that are all about water and power.

 

My lists are never in any particular order although a long time reader of this blog with know that Lock from the first book is my favorite hero ever.  

 

1. The Mane Squeeze: Pride Series # 4 by Shelly Laurenston Heroine is a Plumber 

 

Growing up on the tough Philly streets, Gwen O'Neill knows how to fend for herself. But what is she supposed to do with a nice, suburban Jersey boy who has a tendency to turn into a massive Grizzly? Despite his menacing growl and four-inch claws, Gwen finds Lachlan "Lock" MacRyrie cute and really sweet. He actually watches out for her, and unlike the rest of her out-of-control family, manages not to morbidly embarrass her. Too bad cats don't believe in forever.

 

At nearly seven feet tall, Lock is used to people responding to him in two ways: screaming or running away. Gwen--half lioness, half tigress, all kick-ass--does neither. She's sexy beyond belief and smart as hell, but she's so busy protecting her family and friends that she's forgetting about her own safety. Lock probably shouldn't get involved, but he can't simply walk away. Not when Gwen means absolutely everything to him.

 

2. The Bad Boy of Bluebonnet by Jessica Clare

 

Emily Allard-Smith enjoys running her tiny bed and breakfast in quiet Bluebonnet, Texas. The only problem? It’s haunted, and she’s got no one to call when things go bump in the night.

Enter Jericho Lozada. He’s tall, sexy, mohawked, and good with his hands. He’s also not scared of Em’s ghost. And just when Em decides that she needs a man in her life with lots and lots of tattoos…her ex shows up again.

Now Emily has to figure out if she wants to keep a hold on the ghosts of her past…or look into a future with Jericho. But does Jericho even want a future with her?

 

3. The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society: A Novel by Darien Gee

 

At Madeline’s Tea Salon, the cozy hub of the Avalon community, local residents scrapbook their memories and make new ones. But across town, other Avalonians are struggling to free themselves of the past: Isabel Kidd is fixing up her ramshackle house while sorting through the complications of her late husband’s affair. Ava Catalina is mourning the love of her life and helping her young son grow up without his father. Local plumber Yvonne Tate is smart, beautiful, and new to Avalon, but finds that despite a decade of living life on her own terms, the past has a way of catching up—no matter where she goes. And Frances Latham, mother to a boisterous brood of boys, eagerly anticipates the arrival of a little girl from China—unprepared for the emotional roller coaster of foreign adoption.
 
Enter Bettie Shelton, the irascible founder of the Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Under Bettie’s guidance, even the most reluctant of Avalon’s residents come to terms with their past and make bold decisions about their future. But when the group receives unexpected news about their steadfast leader, they must pull together to create something truly memorable.
 
By turns humorous, wise, and deeply moving, The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society is a luminous reminder that the things we hold most dear will last a lifetime.

 

4. Small-Town Dad (Love Inspired) by Jean C. Gordon Hero is an electrician. 

 

Small-town electrician Neal Hazard gave up his dreams years ago to raise his daughter. Now it's his turn to make those dreams a reality. But when his community college advisor turns out to be his high school prom date, he can't believe his eyes. Widowed Anne is more beautiful than he remembers, and completely wrapped up in her career. But when she suddenly becomes guardian to an orphaned toddler, it's Neal's turn to teach Anne a few things. Maybe together, they'll learn how priorities, parenthood and love truly fit together to create a family.

 

5. By the Book (Jamesville) by N.J. Walters

 

Amanda Barrington hopes Jamesville is the right place for her rare-book business—and her new life. The moving truck barely pulls away before both are off to a rousing start. It’s not her new customer that’s caught her attention, though. It’s the customer’s brother, Jonah Sutter.

From the moment cynical, ex-military Jonah sets eyes on Amanda, he burns for her like a house afire—which is what she’s going to have if she doesn’t get her house’s electrical system overhauled. He knows he’s not a forever kind of guy, but he’s more than willing to be her fix-it man. In more ways than one.

When unexpected danger threatens, Jonah finds himself dealing with more than just the desire to get Amanda into bed.

Protecting her means moving in, which exposes them both to a new danger—losing their hearts.

 

6. Single Wolf Female (Midnight Liaisons Book 4)  by Jessica Sims

 

Alice Savage needs an alpha – any alpha – to prevent her pack from being usurped by the lecherous Roscoe. As a last resort, she signs up for the Midnight Liaisons dating service, never expecting that she’d find the alpha she seeks. She certainly didn’t expect Jackson Wilder, a laid back, sexy-as-sin outsider who claims to be an alpha.

But Alice has a problem that most female wolf alphas don’t — she’s a virgin. And the female alpha of a wolf pack always belongs to a male alpha. Luckily for her, Jackson’s utterly gorgeous and willing to take things slow. But is he alpha enough to help her save her pack…or is he too easy-going to be the man she needs?

 

7. Better Off Without Him  by Dee Ernst

 

ona Berman has it all—a twenty-year marriage, a successful career as a romance novelist, and three teenage daughters. But when her husband, Brian, leaves her for someone younger, thinner, blonde, and French, she has to step back and take a good, long look at her life.

First, her career. She can’t continue to write about “Happily Ever After,” so she changes the heroine of her new book from a hot young thing to a forty-something woman who manages to find happiness without a man. Her agent isn’t too happy—the heroine is how old? She doesn’t get the guy in the end? How is that even possible?

 

But Mona is tough, and she’s got Anthony, her personal assistant, and a few good friends to cheer her on and keep the stiff martinis flowing. And Ben. Ben is her plumber, but not your average plumber. He’s smart enough to know that Brian was never good enough for her, and sexy enough to be cast as the romantic lead in quite a few of her books. The sound of his voice alone can send her imagination into full romantic overdrive.

 

Then she meets Mitch, who might be just the guy for her. And there’s still Ben, who’s managed to come to her rescue more than once. But—there’s a book to publish, a soon-to-be-ex-husband to deal with, and what has Aunt Lily done this time?

 

Can Mona work this all out? Can life imitate art, and can Mona write her own happy ending?

 

8. Too Friendly to Date by Nicole Helm

 

Okay, pretending her sexy boss is her boyfriend is more like a huge white lie. But electrician Leah Santino will take the risk. If her parents think she has someone, they won't go back to smothering her, and they can all be a family again. 

 

Problem is, Jacob McKnight isn't just her boss—he's her friend. And faking a relationship when the Santinos come to visit means those sparks she's always tried to ignore are hotter than ever. This thing between them is starting to feel real, but Leah has a very good reason to stay independent. Unless that's one lie that's outlived its purpose…

 

9. The Season for Love: by Shannon Stacey

 

Holiday Sparks
Chloe Burke thinks upgrading the electrical system of her childhood home while her parents are away would make the perfect Christmas gift. Fortunately, there's an electrician in town who can get the job done by the holidays. A little festive fun is just what she needs, but could their holiday fling turn out to be the real thing?

 

10. Driving Her Wild by Meg Maguire

 

Winning is good. Succumbing is even better… 

Evasion 

 

Recently retired pro MMA fighter Steph Healy is through having rough-and-tumble romps with sexy blue-collar dudes. Unfortunately, Wilinski's Fight Academy has hired an electrician with a body built to make a gal weep. And avoiding some full-body contact is taking all of Steph's self-control. 

 

Grapple 

 

Carpenter-turned-electrician Patrick Doherty is damn good with his hands. Sure, he's not what Steph is looking for—yet. But he's about to prove that she has seriously underestimated her opponent…. 

 

Submission 

 

The moment Patrick has her deliciously pinned, Steph knows she's in deep, deep trouble. Because this seemingly mild carpenter has the mastery to give her exactly what she needs…and this is one takedown she's willing to take lying down!

 

 

I would love to know your favorite plumber or electrician in Romance.

 

To vote for the best of the best, go to my Goodreads list: Water & Lights: Plumbers and Electricians in Romance.

 

 

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review 2013-12-31 00:38
An Avalon Christmas
An Avalon Christmas - Darien Gee

Title: An Avalon Christmas
Author: Darien Gee
Published: D.G.
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: 5
Review:

"An Avalon Christmas" by Darien Gee was a wonderful collection of short stories that took place in Avalon, Illinois. You will find from the read that this is a wonderful town to live in especially during the Christmas holiday season. These stories are of individuals lives and their dealings with the community during 'Christmas, a senior facility, anonymous giving and the Bah Humbug Club.' This author did a wonderful job with giving the reader a read that will lift your spirits of the Christmas holiday. Many of the stories brought tears along with some plenty of laughter. I think my favorite was the Bah Humbug story and I would truly recommend you pick up "A Avalon Christmas" to find out which one you like the best. I would recommend these stories because they are all beautifully written and these stories will be found so very heartwarming. So, with that being said I would recommend you to sit down and read about this special town in Avalon, Illinois.

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review 2013-11-20 00:00
An Avalon Christmas
An Avalon Christmas - Darien Gee Disheartened to say that though I liked Darien Gee's latest novel (Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society) taking place in Avalon I didn't really love it. If you have previously read "Friendship Bread" and "Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society" besides a mention and some actually sightings you don't get to follow up with characters from the previous novel that much.

I on the other hand ended up loving mostly all of the 12 short stories included in this novella. I generally do like most Christmas themed books. There were only two stories that I found to be sad and not uplifting (Chapter 6: Late Bloomers and Chapter 8: And We're Wassailing) but found that besides those two that I loved the other stories.

Ms. Gee does keep a narrative thread working through all of the stories about an anonymous donor and we do revisit characters that appeared in the first story and then the last. I hope in her next Avalon novel that Ms. Gee revisits some of the characters like Mary and Daryl who appeared in Chapter 1 and 12.

Ms. Gee includes recipes and also provides details on how to make friendship bread. I do have plans on making some this holiday season since the recipe looks to be very easy.

I recommend to those fans who want to catch up with the town of Avalon.
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