Zara West Romance

Zara West’s Book Reviews

As an avid reader and wise writer, I am always reading and reviewing a new book or rereading an old favorite.  This page links to my Goodreads page where you can find all my reviews. 

Here are a selection from my most recent reads:

Deception IslandDeception Island by Brynn Kelly
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Deception Island features a smart, strong heroine who’s been betrayed and beaten down, and a tough, cold man who was forced to become a soldier at the age of nine.

From the beginning, these two characters are at each other’s throats and digging into each other’s cast iron defenses as they slowly reveal their pasts and come to trust, and then love, each other. Mistaken identity, constant danger, increasingly more deadly challenges, and a vicious villain make it a page turner. If you like high level suspense and can stand some graphic violence, this is the book for you.

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Unsuitable Duchess by Latherine Buckley reviewed by Zara WestAn Unsuitable Duchess by Kathleen Buckley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This Regency period novel has the pace and historical depth that is rarely found in current Regency romance. Special attention has been paid to the language of the period and the formalities. At the same time, it has a lively plot with a charming duke and a rather forward young lady. The characters grow to love each other through a series of unfortunate events. A recommended read.

To Covet a Lady's Heart (Landon Sisters, #2)To Covet a Lady’s Heart by Ingrid Hahn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A duke needs a wife so he can get custody of his young nephew. But he’s not ready to marry (of course not, it’s a Regency romance). So instead of just marrying someone, which would defeat the enjoyment of seeing him squirm, he blackmails a young lady into pretending to be engaged to him. The young lady turns out to be a bit more than he can handle much to the enjoyment of the reader and the edification of the hero. He hasn’t got a chance. Highly recommended.

Learn more about Ingrid Hahn – one of my Awesome Romance Authors Interviewees.


A Spy Unmasked (In the Crown's Secret Service #1)A Spy Unmasked by Tina Gabrielle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lots of twists and turns as a spy tries to deal with the determined woman seeking justice. Great for fans of Regency-set romantic suspense.

Learn more about Tina Gabrielle – one of my Awesome Romance Authors Interviewees.


 Rescue Me (Last Chance Rescue, #1)Rescue Me by Christy Reece
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

He hurt her. She’s been in hiding. Can they finally reveal the truth behind their actions? This is an action-packed romantic suspense. I found the heroine a bit cold, but then she had her reasons. However, I kept feeling that if they would just be honest with each other, everyone would be happier. Still they do get their happy ending eventually.


Untitled Beauty (Somewhere-in-Between #1)Untitled Beauty by C.E. Wilson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Set in the USA in an unspecified future, Untitled Beauty depicts a society in which the artificially enhanced “Beautiful” are given all the privileges, and those judged ugly are treated as animals: collared, leashed, and forced to obey. If they are lucky, the near beautiful may be offered a chance to become beautiful, but even then they will be indebted for the treatment to their owners.

The story is told in the first person by a teenager who has just been purchased by a cruel man who is out to make money on her. The girl is extremely subservient to her owner who treats her abysmally. Yet, she is in turn, cruel to the one person who is kind and wants to help her.

At times, the story is hard to take as we see the world through the girl’s fear and confusion and anger, but it makes for an interesting read.


Shopping for an Heir (Shopping for a Billionaire #10; Inheritance #9)Shopping for an Heir by Julia Kent
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are some really funny scenes in this romantic comedy mainly to do with dirty old ladies and naked artist models. But the main plot of second chance lovers seems to bob along without building enough tension to really spark. I am not quite sure why.

Maybe it’s because the heroine just gives in so quickly to Mr. Looks-Good once they meet and kiss again eight years after he dumps her with an e-mail.

There is a subplot about a stolen artifact that had the potential to develop into something exciting, but kind of fizzles with some punches in the nose.

Still, if you want a few laughs and like off-camera love scenes, this book delivers.


Undertow (Cutter Cay #1)Undertow by Cherry Adair
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved the heroine of this romantic suspense. Teal is strong, independent and knows her own mind. Her only problem is she lacks self-confidence around other people. A ship’s mechanic, she hides out in the engine room. But it is her skills that save them all in the end and earns her her hero. It makes for an interesting read.


The Night Everything Fell Apart (The Nephilim, #1)The Night Everything Fell Apart by Joy Nash
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What do Merlin the Sorcerer, druids, angels, and demons all have in common? They are all at odds in Joy Nash’s new paranormal series The Nephilim. If you like your heroes brave and tormented, your heroines loving and self-sacrificing, and your villains nefarious, this is the book for you. Throw in a hilarious cupid, a horny angel, and a rather appealing demon of death and you have the makings of a book you can’t put down. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys paranormals with a twist or two.

Learn more about Joy Nash – one of my Awesome Romance Authors Interviewees.


Tall, Dark and DamagedTall, Dark and Damaged by Sarah Andre
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A perfectly plotted romance. When a top-notch businessman returns home after twelve years to rub his success in his arrogant father’s face, the sparks fly. When they settle, Devon finds himself knee deep in family trauma, an underhanded take over of his company, a murder, and the rekindling of his one and only true love. With every decision, his life takes a turn for the worst. Sara Andre keeps you turning the pages to find out if Devon will ever be able to escape his downfall.

Learn more about Sarah Andre – one of my Awesome Romance Authors Interviewees.


The Widow's War      The Widow’s War by Sally Cabot Gunning
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an absolutely masterful book that focuses on the small details – the taste of the wind, the feel of a piece of cloth, the touch of skin to skin – in order to make large statements. Set in pre-revolutionary Cape Cod, Sally Gunning has taken a small legal case between a widow and her son-in-law over his rights to her property and used it as the background for a very personalized delving into the complexity of women’s rights and bigotry during the period. But despite it’s serious themes, this book is at its heart an unforgettable love story.

Labyrinth of Love (Hometown Heroes, #3)Labyrinth of Love by Allie Boniface

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shannon O’Brien runs a sleepy Connecticut seaside village’s tourism center. Chase Readon arrives to direct the town’s revitalization project. Attraction is immediate. But both of them carry secrets that will tear them apart. Intertwined in the story are flashbacks to the college love affair between her grandparents whose relationship impinges on Chase and Shannon’s future happiness. Allie Boniface has taken a very difficult topic and given the reader something to think about.

Her Sister's SecretHer Sister’s Secret by Linda Style
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Her Sister’s Secret is a roller coaster ride for your emotions. A darling three year, a sister’s promise, a custody battle, and enough suspicion to go all around, and this contemporary romance will keep your reading to the end. The romance element is a bit annoying because the heroine refuses to express her emotional feelings to the man who comes to love her until he does first. Her failure to do so leads to a lot of pain for this wonderful caring hero. But all ends well at the end.

Learn more about Linda Style – one of my Awesome Romance Authors Interviewees.

TreasuredTreasured by Sherryl Woods
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Third in the Perfect Destinies series, this novel seemed to me to be the weakest. As an artist, I was interested to read about a gallery owner and the reclusive artist who have been thrown together by the artist’s aunt. Unfortunately, I did not find art playing as major role as to be expected. Instead, the heroine plies the artist with home baked goodies which doesn’t bode well for his waistline, while he works at restoring the artistic confidence of the heroine. Less time is spent on repairing the artist’s own wounds. A well-written, fairly sweet, low-tension romance.

PricelessPriceless by Sherryl Woods
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Playboy and football great Mack Carlton is having too much fun. Marriage is definitely not in his plans. But his interfering aunt has other ideas. Visiting the hospital to grant a dying boy his wish, Mack meets dedicated doctor Beth Browning who’s dedicated to saving the boy’s life. She is not the type of woman he has been attracted to in the past, but as he visits the boy and they get to know each other sparks fly. Some of the events in this story are a bit unrealistic, such as the doctor suddenly finding a cure for the boy’s cancer, but the book delivers plenty of romance and a happy ending.


The Secret RiverThe Secret River by Kate Grenville
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This historical novel, set in the 1700s, brings to life the lives and circumstances of the prisoners who were transported to Australia and who were the first settlers of New South Wales. Heavy on description and a bit slow at the start, the story develops strength as the internal conflict builds between the need for the former prisoners to succeed in an unfamiliar world and make a better life clashes with the lives of the aboriginal peoples who have occupied the land for eons.

Forged by Fire (Hazelwood High, #2)Forged by Fire by Sharon M. Draper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like incredibly smart, strong, dominating heroes with extrasensory powers and can accept that an ordinary woman can have a dream of future reality, then you will enjoy this romantic suspense novel in which a young woman and a trio of Seals stop a plane hijacking and save the day.

The Other Queen (The Tudor Court, #8)The Other Queen by Philippa Gregory
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was not as enjoyable for me as Phillipa Gregory’s others in the Tudor Court series. The story was more told than shown, and the alternating viewpoints of the husband and wife awkward at times. I particularly found the wife’s viewpoint to be inconsistent especially at the end. I suspect that either I or Gregory or both of us are getting a little tired of the first person format. The one benefit was learning more about Mary, Queen of Scotts.

Wicked Edge (Realm Enforcers, #2)Wicked Edge by Rebecca Zanetti
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Better written than some of Zanetti’s other books, Wicked Edge has conflict and tension to keep you reading. With a “weak” heroine demon who keeps antagonizing a dour witch enforcer and stirring up a nest of trouble for him, the book has equal amounts of silliness, humor, and surprising twists. And of course, at the end the woman gets her man. A good read for paranormal romance fans.

Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun (Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery #1)Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun by Lois Winston
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you like a mystery that keeps your lips turned up in a smile, then try this one. While not truly a romance, there is enough hot attraction to add a bit of spice to poor Anastasia’s search for the true killer of the hated fashion editor at the women’s magazine where she works as the crafting editor. Get some great decorating tips too.

Murder Among Neighbors (Kate Austen, #1)Murder Among Neighbors by Jonnie Jacobs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Kate Austin’s high society neighbor is found murdered in bed leaving behind a young daughter and strangely distraught husband, Kate finds herself searching for clues to help hot handsome detective Mike Stone. With red herrings and foreshadowing all over the place, the uncovering of the actual murderer is not as surprising as it might have been. But the lively character of Kate and her struggles to make it on her own while her husband is “finding himself” in Europe after having a midlife crisis is plenty to keep your reading and smiling your way to the end.

That Scandalous Evening (Governess Brides, #1)That Scandalous Evening by Christina Dodd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is always a bit of stiffness in Christina Dodd’s writing style that doesn’t appeal to me. But this novel made up for it with witty dialogue and quick repartee. Mix in French spies and a too small fig leaf and all the pieces of a light-hearted Regency farce are in place.

Flight BehaviorFlight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This has to be my very favorite Kingsolver book. I love the imagery. I love how she took a small life in a small place and made it touch on the fate of the world. I love it because of the characters who have so many flaws you can’t help but empathize with them and cheer them on.

My one quibble is with certain elements of her description of sheep farming, but only because that is something I know way too much about. It certainly doesn’t detract from the power of this book.

This is a book about climate change and denial that touches the heart and the soul. A must read in this day and age.

The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character ExpressionThe Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book names an emotion and then describes the physical manifestations of that emotion. If you need to come up with a physical reaction to express and emotion in your writing, this is great place to start.

However, don’t expect to just lift the words off the page, the suggestions are only a starting point. You are going to need to come up with a unique way to show that reaction in your character or else end up sounding like a cliche.

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View all my reviews

View all my reviews


2017 Reading Challenge

2017 Reading Challenge
Zara has
read 22 books toward
her goal of
200 books.