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Uncaged Review – Birds in the Black Water by Kodie Van Dusen

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Birds in the Black Water
Kodie Van Dusen
Psychic Thriller

“That was the second time in my life death lied to me. I wanted it to lie to me just once more.”

Neviah has seen the Other Side since she was a child, a dark world trapped somewhere between past and present where shadowy creatures ominously keep watch. Though she uses her connection with the supernatural to build a thriving counseling practice, she is racked with guilt over a professional decision that landed a former client, Martha, into protective custody almost ten years ago. When a little boy arrives alone at her clinic with a letter identifying himself as Martha’s son, Neviah has a chance to redeem herself. Having suffered enough loss for one lifetime, Neviah must locate the boy’s mother before time runs out and she loses the chance to right her wrongs once and for all—and before the shadowy creatures that have plagued her since childhood do more damage to her loved ones than they already have.

Birds in the Black Water is dark, paranormal drama at its best. Van Dusen isn’t afraid to cross genre lines as she explores the intersection of mental health, maternal instinct, and grief.


4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Second Chances in Hollywood

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Second Chances in Hollywood
Sarah Hendess
20th Century Historical Romance

Josie Donovan left her home in Kansas under a cloud. Now settled into her work as a nurse in Hollywood, California, in 1959, she finds the producer of her favorite television program is in her hospital ward and offering her an audition.
Actor Robert Coolidge hates his role on Gunslingers but needs the job to support his son. When Josie joins the cast, the loneliness plaguing him lifts, until a goodnight kiss somehow goes wrong.
Yet Josie is there with her nursing skills when Robert falls ill on set, and the pair are at a crossroads. Robert, who never talks about himself, will have to open up, and Josie must have courage, if either of them is to have a second chance at love.


4 Stars

Uncaged Feature Author – Beth Carter

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Thank you for interviewing me. I’m honored.

BRIDE SWAP is the first book I’ve written since completing my six-book Coconuts series, so I was both excited and nervous about delving into a new world with entirely different characters. I enjoy writing about the unbreakable bonds of friendship with a side of romance and humor, so I always incorporate all three in my writing. In my newest release, there are two unlikely best friends, Paige and Emma, who set out to plan Paige’s secret wedding to a rival TV anchor. Paige is a popular television anchor who is assigned to cover sports, a daunting task that she knows nothing about. She’s far too busy learning about all-things sports (gag, according to her!) and planning a wedding would push her right over the edge. She enlists her best friend, Emma, to help but Emma is an overworked single mom who has a thriving Etsy business and an adorable five-year-old daughter, Lucy. However, Lucy’s hot kindergarten teacher makes Emma forget all about planning Paige’s wedding (Paige who?) A British bridal store owner comes to her rescue, but after chaos ensues, the two best friends aren’t sure if the right bride is getting married. One is falling out of love while the other is likely falling in love.
I’d love to release the sequel by July or August 2024. I have notes all over the kitchen table (sorry to my husband!) and have many ideas for mayhem in my not-yet-named novel.

Wow. Thank you. That’s a tough question to answer! I’ve never been asked this before. At first, I thought, I’m not funny. But I thought about it and realized my husband tells me nearly every morning that I am, as do many friends. I’m not stand-up comedienne funny, but I do love telling party jokes. I actually think I’m funnier on paper. I really didn’t realize I was that funny until readers kept saying my books were hilarious, which was a delightful surprise.

I enjoy putting my characters in almost-impossible, prickly situations—sort of akin to painting yourself in a corner. Therefore, they have to either laugh or cry to prevail. Of course, sometimes tears are an important part of the process, but I much prefer writing humor. Life is challenging and stressful enough. I fully believe we need to laugh more often.

As far as writing strong female friendships, I realized in my mid-twenties that relationships often come and go, but true friendship(s) last forever. I value the friends I’ve had throughout school and still have close friends from elementary school through college. I think it’s important to maintain friendships to be a well-rounded person. I plan to include best friends in my writing often, especially if they’re opposites.

Read the rest of the interview below in the issue of Uncaged Book Reviews

Enjoy an excerpt from Bride Swap

Bride Swap
Beth Carter
Contemporary Romance/Humor

Paige, a popular hard-charging television anchor, is handed a dismal new assignment to improve the station’s ratings. Her new job involves, of all things, sports. Gag. She hates sports, plus being on the road may put her career and her secret engagement to a rival news anchor in peril. Never mind that her fiancé constantly flirts with his so-called fans or the fact that her new male coworker may be after her job. What about the wedding? Hello? How can Paige possibly plan nuptials while constantly traveling to, ugh, games?

Emma, an overwhelmed single mother, is asked by her best friend to plan her wedding. Problem is, Emma has a thriving Etsy business making promotional items for authors, plus her energetic five-year-old daughter is beginning kindergarten. And little Lucy happens to have the hottest teacher on the planet. With a teenage-like crush, Emma can’t stop volunteering for every school activity imaginable. Always loyal, Emma agrees to help her BFF. Except her crazy schedule causes memory issues. Big ones.
Will Emma realize her mammoth blunder and race against time to create an unforgettable wedding for Paige, or is it too late? What if the wrong bride is getting married? Should they swap or forget the whole thing? Guilt is a powerful drug.

Excerpt

Read the rest of this excerpt in the issue below

Uncaged Book Review – Grave-Reaping Hermit by Everlyn C. Thompson

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Grave-Reaping Hermit
Everlyn C. Thompson
Urban Fantasy

When self-professed hermit Theodora Edwards is attacked by a dark fae and infected with his magic, she finds herself thrust into the supernatural spotlight as the first possible changeling in centuries. As if surviving the transition isn’t hard enough, Theo has to deal with an attempted abduction by her newly turned vampire ex-husband, unwanted courting offers from salacious fae suitors, and her growing attraction to the guardian of the gate to Fairie.
Caught in a cruel tug of war between the queen of the fae and a surly law-enforcement agent, Theo must find a way to free herself before she loses her hard-earned independence for good.


4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Knight of the Bleeding Heart by Margaux Thorne

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Knight of the Bleeding Heart
Margaux Thorne
Historical Romance

They handed him a title, but she was the offer he couldn’t refuse.

Boston businessman, Nathaniel Lawrence doesn’t have a dime he didn’t earn himself. So when he finds out that he’s the long-lost heir to a penniless dukedom in England, it’s easy for him to dismiss the undeserving fortune. Why pour money into a crumbling castle and meaningless title when his eye is set on the future in America? But when the current duke throws his lovely daughter’s hand in to sweeten the offer, Nathaniel rethinks his rash decision. He knows a good business deal when he sees one, and marriage to Lady Charlotte, the jewel of the ton, is the very best.

With a squandered dowry, Lady Charlotte only has one option that will keep her—and her father—living in the custom befitting their station. Marrying her father’s heir would make her a future duchess and allow her to retain control of her family’s ancestral home. A bargain is set. Nathaniel will accept the title and all the connections that come along with it, living the majority (or all) of his time in America, while Charlotte gets to raise their future son on their estate where he can learn to be a true English duke, cementing the family line for another generation. On paper, the agreement is brilliant and convenient, but in person, it’s something that neither of them expected.

Because the more Charlotte spends time with her new, brash husband, the more his enterprising and entrepreneurial American spirit rubs off on her. Soon, she begins to realize that maybe she didn’t need a knight in shining armor to come and rescue her family from bloodthirsty creditors and a title in abeyance.


5 Stars

Uncaged Review – Reluctant Hearts by Linda Griffin

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Reluctant Hearts
Linda Griffin
Contemporary Romance Anthology

Four couples, four stories:
Darien Francis and Richard Li meet during a bank robbery, but she’s afraid to love again.
Shane Kenniston and Beth Parker are reacquainted years after she had a crush on him, but she is a recent widow, and Shane’s life was upended by a false accusation.
David Early and Kate Howard meet in the laundromat, but her life is consumed by the needs of her disabled child, and David isn’t ready for the responsibility.
Realtor Frank Ellison meets Kayla Barnes at an open house, but a mistaken first impression derails any chance of romance.
Can they all overcome the obstacles to love?


4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Run Girl Run by Ellen Y. Mueller

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Run Girl Run
Ellen Y. Mueller
YA Contemporary

Sixteen-year-old Tracie lives in a house divided by fear and a family secret she has yet to discover. Her grandma provides a hint and the tools to unearth the past. Are the clues the answer to her prayers? If so, she’ll take her younger brother, Jason, and split. One night, when her dad is in one of his violent rages, opportunity pounds on Tracie’s door. Cal, a male friend, offers an escape. But there’s a catch. She can’t sneak Jason out with their parents watching, and her father demands Cal leave immediately. On a whim, she goes, too. After all, Cal just wants to keep her safe and swears to have her best interest at heart. Caught in a current of lies and deception, Tracie’s swept farther from home than she ever expects. She can’t trust anyone, not even her mother. Exposing the secret may save Tracie and her little brother, but at what cost?


4.5 Stars

Uncaged Review – Beyond Circumstances by Gloria Joynt-Lang

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Beyond Circumstances
Gloria Joynt-Lang
Small Town Romance

Zak Tifour loathes violence, and who could blame him? Two years ago, it destroyed him. It’s one thing to witness death, yet another to be responsible for the carnage. To survive, he hides in a small town, but when an attractive doctor veers off the road, his self-imposed exile is threatened. Though drawn to the woman’s generous heart, Zak’s terrified his darkness will engulf her light.

Lexie Draden knows sacrifice. She has dedicated her life to medicine. But no matter how skillful she is, it’s impossible to save everyone. As a surgeon, she accepts this brutal truth—until it becomes personal. Relocating is tough, but when she stumbles into the arms of a handsome stranger who doesn’t pry into her history, life takes a turn for the better. The only downside, the man’s past may be worse than hers.

Will their secrets and broken promises destroy their budding romance, or will love heal their damaged souls?


4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Fatal Hunt by Michelle Godard-Richer

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Fatal Hunt
Michelle Godard-Richer
Ghost Suspense/Thriller

After being widowed and surviving the wrath of a serial killer, Jessica believes her misfortunes are over. She’s reunited with her first love, Jon, and together, with her son Bryce, and a baby on the way, they’re living their happily ever after on their ranch in Montana. That is until secrets, lies, and a formidable foe from Jon’s past emerge to shake the foundation of their relationship, forcing them to flee for their lives.

A decade earlier, Jon worked undercover for the FBI. He infiltrated Hugh Jones’ Kansas City Mob, and almost destroyed his empire. Unaware of the breech in his own defenses, Hugh, obsessed with revenge, unleashes every weapon in his arsenal, targeting those Jon loves the most.


4 Stars

Uncaged Review – Rebirth of Ruby’s Ranch by Rhonda Frankhouser

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Rebirth of Ruby’s Ranch
Rhonda Frankhouser
Ghost Paranormal Romance

After centuries of mystery and torment, Emma is chosen to fulfill the family legacy. When she’s called home to Ruby’s Ranch to care for her ailing mother, she’s torn between an undeniable romantic connection and a spiritual journey that requires heartbreaking sacrifice.

Matthew is a combo of charisma, confidence and honeyed heat. No longer the shy, gawky kid who sneaked hopeful glances, he’s a full-grown, passionate man determined to win Emma’s affections. When destiny deals her an unthinkable ultimatum, Matthew stands between her and the spiritual forces threatening to whisk her away.

Shona’s otherworldly presence vibrates with comfort and light when Emma finds him chanting over her mother’s sick bed. His healing energy instantly draws her in, encouraging her to accept her fate and leave her family and friends behind.

Will Emma relinquish her destiny to stay with her dedicated cowboy or be drawn into a new world by her mystical visitor?


5 Stars