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Review: A Torch in His Heart by Anna Belfrage – Time Travel Romance/Suspense

Hi all, I have been way backed up on reviews and interviews due to work and life with kids and my own writing, but here is the first of many more upcoming reviews and posts I have promised to squeeze in voluntarily for authors. I can’t wait to share.

A Torch in His Heart, Review –
*could be minor spoilers*

A Torch In His Heart Cover

A Torch in His Heart (book one of her new Wanderers series) by Anna Belfrage is somewhat out of my usual reading comfort zone and carrousel of reading. However, I got on the ride because there was some sort of time slip or movement element, there was an ancient element, and of course, it’s Anna. I believe I’ve read about twelve of Anna’s past books – she has a superb historical time traveling series that rivals Outlander and another great historical fiction series. You’ll find all of them reviewed on Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I love Anna’s writing, even if I am not generally a romance reader. I will read various genres that feature some romance, though. Those things said, I was ready to give it a whirl. I hoped it would be a summer read, but with kids and work and my own writing, time got a bit away from me so here we are in September – and no worries, it’s a great book for any season.

Why is A Torch in His Heart such a great book? To put it succinctly, in usual Anna prose, there are memorable characters, clear hero and villain tracks, a strong female main character, rousing prose, and witty dialogue. The additive this time that readers should know (of Anna and my own followers here) is the steamy sections. I hadn’t read the Amazon or other site warnings myself, so they caught me by surprise. Anna amped up her romance game by including many explicit sex scenes between the main characters. So fair warning, but also, the good thing is that they appear in proper spots and aren’t corny, but are naturally occurring. I’m blushing to tell you that Anna’s scenes lit the page on fire this series! Some of you will like it, some won’t mind it, and some won’t like it, but as I always say, you can skip those paragraphs if it bothers you and still enjoy the story! They are definitely a small part of the story and there for entertainment, not the meat or foundation of it.

Now that we have that part out of the way, the things I liked the most about the book was quickly learning that Sam, Jason, and Helle all had many lives in the past. A conflicted past with conflicted relationships. The flashbacks were shown in italics, and it’s a preference of my own, but I much preferred the story in the flashback portions more than the modern story because I love ancient history. However, I liked how Anna intertwined the two together and how she pitted good vs. evil and the love triangle.

When Helle gets a new job for Mr. Woolf (Sam) she is almost immediately scared of him and his piercing black eyes and controlling demeanor. He reminded me A LOT of Loki from the Thor/Asgard mythology!! Later, when Jason sees Helle on the street, he is instantly excited, until he realizes Sam must also be around. For the rest of the book, we are flipping pages as Sam tries to put Helle in precarious work scenarios to control her, while she, instantly feeling she knows Jason, but doesn’t know how, throws caution to the wind because she feels an instant connection with him (maybe too instant, but we’ll go with it). He becomes her hero and she calls on him time and again in dealing with Sam. I’m obviously not supposed to like the controlling character of Sam, and I don’t, nor am I intimidated by him or enamored by his aggressive nature, but he was well-written in his role and quite complex and calculating.

Mostly I didn’t like Alison. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. As Helle’s roommate, I feel she should have supported her and not been a vessel for Sam’s whips and chains lifestyle, but I see within the narrative why it was used and how it showed how men can have mind control over some women. I hope this was to show Sam’s evil character and not just for erotic content. I didn’t really like the dynamic between Alison and Helle though. It was uncomfortable to me. Maybe it was supposed to be. It made for good reading drama. I might have liked for another strong female ally or friend to be included, but I also know in the set-up of many of these stories, there often isn’t. I might be thinking outside the box here.

The last half or last twenty-five percent of the book was outstanding. I loved the drama, the action, the love, and most of all, more of the flashbacks. I came to understand more of their ancient past and struggles. I’m an ancient historical fiction type of reader and writer so these parts caught me best. I’d have probably liked the whole book to have been written from this perspective, if it was my birthday and I was given a choice, but of course then there wouldn’t have been the time movement element, which I did like of course. Anna did an excellent job capturing the modern time period though. She had the business world and descriptions down well. The ending of the ancient parts just killed me inside – so sad – though it’s a love story told before, as many take a nod from Shakespeare, it was touching and still hit the heart strings. I enjoyed the ending in the modern era too and I’m looking forward to reading book two and seeing where this cliffhanger goes…

It’s the long-time editor in me and the fact the romance genre is a bit out of my element as a reader that’s made me pick at some areas, but I write to be helpful and with honest thoughts.

For romance readers and fans of time travel or reincarnation-type romances, I have a feeling you’ll love this book. It’s got all the steamy scenes, drama, action, conflict, and enduring connections that will make you both groan at the bad and swoon with the good. Anna has the making of another great series under her established belt and carries a flaming torch herself as she forays into romance.

Note: I was supplied a complimentary copy of this book for review.

ATIHH-1801

A Torch in His Heart, Synopsis –

In the long lost ancient past, two men fought over the girl with eyes like the Bosporus under a summer sky. It ended badly. She died. They died.
Since then, they have all tumbled through time, reborn over and over again. Now they are all here, in the same place, the same time and what began so long ago must finally come to an end.

Ask Helle Madsen what she thinks about reincarnation and she’ll laugh in your face. Besides, Helle has other stuff to handle, what with her new, exciting job in London and her drop-dead but seriously sinister boss, Sam Woolf. And then one day Jason Morris walks into her life and despite never having clapped eyes on him before, she recognises him immediately. Very weird. Even more weird is the fact that Sam and Jason clearly hate each other’s guts. Helle’s life is about to become extremely complicated and far too exciting.

ADULT CONTENT: This book contains explicit sex scenes

Purchase/Add A Torch in His Heart

Available Kindle/Print (395 p); Aug 2018

Amazon 

GoodReads

Anna Belfrage, Biography

Anna BelfrageHad Anna been allowed to choose, she’d have become a professional time-traveller. As such a profession does not exist, she settled for second best and became a financial professional with two absorbing interests, namely history and writing. These days, Anna combines an exciting day-job with a large family and her writing endeavours. Plus she always finds the time to try out new recipes, chase down obscure rose bushes and initiate a home renovation scheme or two.

Her most recent releases, A Torch in His Heart (Wanderers 1) and Smoke in her Eyes (Wanderers 2), are a step out of her comfort zone. Having previously published historical fiction & historical romance, with this first book about Jason and Helle Anna offers a dark and titillating contemporary romance, complete with a time-slip angle and hot & steamy scenes.

Her first series, The Graham Saga, is set in 17th century Scotland and Virginia/Maryland. It tells the story of Matthew and Alex, two people who should never have met – not when she was born three hundred years after him. With this heady blend of time-travel, romance, adventure, high drama and historical accuracy, Anna hopes to entertain and captivate, and is more than thrilled when readers tell her just how much they love her books and her characters. There are nine books in the series so far, but Anna is considering adding one or two more…

Her second series is set in the 1320s and features Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit, and their adventures and misfortunes in connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The King’s Greatest Enemy is a series where passion and drama play out against a complex political situation, where today’s traitor may be tomorrow’s hero, and the Wheel of Fortune never stops rolling.

If you want to know more about Anna, visit her website!

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Mandy Baggot Offers Romance Fit for Summer Reading with Novel Taking Charge!

If you’re a fan of contemporary romance of the light variety, then Mandy Baggot’s books might make a great summer read for you while you’re relaxing with the kids by the pool. Her current book, Taking Charge, was just published by Sapphire Star Publishing, but she has at least four other books under her pen (instead of belt. Ha!).

Mandy Baggot’s writing is fun, simple, and clear. The characters in Taking Charge, especially the main romantic couple of Robyn and Cole, struggle with everyday crazy life issues, regrets, and emotions that make us laugh, shake our head, cry, and relate.

Robyn may seem a little over the top to some readers, but really…many of us know the type. High-strung, talk a lot, controlling, managerial, stubborn, and ironically, quite hilarious when you roll it into one young woman trying to understand her life and where she fits. She’s dealing with past hurts that harden you to people and make you not able to bond, especially to men. However, through all her toughness, she becomes quite endearing as well.

When she meets Cole for the first time at the airport, she is immediately drawn to him like she’s never been drawn to anyone. The immediate romance (woah, her timing on the first kiss made me say “what?”) that ignites as they end up in the same town, and in three days in the same house, may seem quick to some. However, for those that truly understand love at first sight, or wish to have it, it will seem amazing and you’ll be pulling for them to overcome their past emotional baggage.

The book is light romance and by that I mean it’s not over sexual or erotic in nature as many romances can be. It is sweet and endearing with focus on the romance of the heart, instead of in the pants. Myself, I prefer that. Maybe some won’t, but I like reading their story without feeling as if I’m spying on them in the bedroom. I don’t need the heat.

It was a quick read for me and one I’d recommend to anyone who likes contemporary romance full of emotional romance and drama. Also, since a lot of the book focuses on Robyn’s rebuilding her dad’s ice hockey team and roadhouse, it’s a plus if you like sports like me. Robyn is a bit of a tomboy. Cole is just the sweetest man on the face of the Earth and a wish for any woman.  I really felt the characters emotions through the writing. A few annoyed me, but most connected to me.

A few mishaps with British versus American English, but most of them they pre-edited into Robyn’s character as her own struggle with coming back to her hometown in Michigan from England.

If you are looking for a light, simple romance for the beach or poolside, then this one is for you! It deals with some heavy life issues, but Mandy Baggot does a great job of keeping the book’s tone airy and focuses on her characters overcoming anything that life throws their way. You’ll never feel heavy reading this book, you’ll just root for the characters (and the hockey team)!

Taking Charge Synopsis:

Is going back Robyn’s only way forward?

American-born Robyn Matthers is going home. With her dad in hospital, his roadhouse in ruins and the ice hockey team slipping down the league, she needs to take charge. But does she have the strength to do it?

Cole Ryan is a hockey player on a personal mission. He’s tall, dark, hot and Robyn’s noticed! But can she trust her feelings – or his? And what will Cole do when he finds out the truth about her?

Robyn returns to Michigan and things aren’t quite the same. Her best friend has grown up and is thinking about marriage and babies, the ice hockey team is no longer the life blood of the community and her father is engaged!

When Robyn’s twin cousins drag up past events that hold painful memories for her, she and Cole are forced together. But are either of them ready to start something new?

 With an ill father, a trailer trash almost step-mom and ex-boyfriend Brad desperate for another chance, does Robyn have time to contemplate a relationship? Does she really want one? And is it physically possible for two people to fall in love in just three days?

 Interview with Author Mandy Baggot

Hi Mandy, it’s so nice to meet you! Thank you for stopping by Oh, for the Hook of a Book! I hope we can chat a little bit about you and your books.

Thank you so much for having me on your website, Erin!

Erin:  You’ve written several novels in the romance genre. How would you describe your books to prospective readers? What type of romance do you write?

Mandy: Well, I always tell people I write strong contemporary romance and characters you’ll fall in love with and I think my readers will agree with that. I write romance set in the present day with characters usually in their twenties or thirties who live quite ordinary lives until something happens to shake that up a bit. It might be an urgent situation they’re thrown into or it might just be the two lead characters meeting that makes them question the way their life is heading.

Erin:  What is the best thing you like about writing romantic literature?

Mandy: I love creating that chemistry between the lead male and the lead female. I love writing their dialogue, showing the readers who they are by what they say and hopefully creating a bit of magic.

Erin:  Do you think you’ll always write romance or do you hope to try out other genres?

Mandy: I will always write romance, it is what I’m passionate about. I like to write about things that could happen to any one of us. We all know what it feels like to fall in love and be in love and I adore writing about that. Having said that, the latest project I am working on could probably be classed as a romantic thriller. There are guns, secrets and lies and kidnappings.

Erin:  How did you start writing?

Mandy: I’ve written since I was at school – all romance! Then in 2008 I took part in a scheme supported by the Arts Council of England to produce books and get new writers into the marketplace.  Excess All Areas was my first novel and I self-produced three other books after this, Breaking the Ice, Knowing Me Knowing You and Strings Attached.

Erin: What are some positive experiences you’ve had during your writing career?

Mandy: I try and treat every experience as a positive one – having great reviews from readers is one of the things I like best about being a writer. But two great things that have happened to me this year are signing my contract with Sapphire Star Publishing and being named one of the Rising Stars of UK Romantic Fiction for 2012.

Erin: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while writing and marketing your books? What about with publishing?

Mandy: Writing, editing and marketing all take time and you have to make time to ensure the success of your books. I’ve had lots of rejections from agents and publishers but I’m passionate about what I do and I know it isn’t just luck that makes you succeed, it’s hard work, determination and persistence!

Erin: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Mandy: Just keep writing! I have lots of aspiring writers talking to me in bookstores and emailing me telling me how much they admire what I’ve done and asking my advice. Just keep your love of writing going, realize that the road to publication can be a long and hard one, but never give up.

Erin:  I know you are from theUK. Have you always lived in theUK? What do you like best about it?

Mandy: Yes, I’ve always lived in theUK. I’m lucky to live in the countryside too and that’s where I’m most at home. I like the quiet and the space. It’s nice to be able to come home to a haven but know you’re not too far away from the town. I mean I would miss those karaoke bars!

Erin: In your newest book, Taking Charge, your main character comes back the U.S. after living abroad. How difficult was it to infuse American culture and language into your novel?

Mandy: Well of course I thought this was easy and I had it all down – until I met the lovely people at Sapphire Star Publishing! My dad lives in theUS, in fact he lives in Portage, MI, where the novel is set. When I went out to visit him I stayed a month and really embraced everything about it. There are many language and cultural differences and I have to say I had so much fun learning US English and teaching UK English to Sapphire Star.

Erin:  How do you formulate your characters for your novels? What gives you inspiration?

Mandy: My novels always start with the lead male and lead female and they just evolve as the story takes shape. I get to know them while I am writing and often they write traits into their characters that I hadn’t even considered. Of course the lead male always has to be hot – that’s a given!

Erin: What’s next on the writing horizon for you, Mandy?

Mandy: Well I am about 35,000 words into my latest manuscript and it’s called ‘Security’. It’s about a pop star called Autumn Raine and her bodyguard and ex-Special Forces soldier Nathan Regan. Autumn is due to perform at the International Music Awards but she’s received kidnap threats. Who’s behind it? Who do you trust?

Erin: How can fans get in touch with you? Please list as many outlets as you’d like.

Mandy: You can follow me on Twitter @mandybaggot or friend me on Facebook or join as a member on my website www.mandybaggot.webs.com. I also have a profile on Goodreads.

Erin: Where can interested readers find your books?

Mandy: All my books are available on Amazon!

Thank you, Mandy, for stopping by my blog to chat today! I hope you have amazing success in the future.

Thank you for having me, Erin – they were great questions!

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Mandy Baggot, Author Bio

Mandy Baggot is a self-confessed Twitter addict who likes to sing on YouTube. She regularly guests on book blogs and is a featured author on the innovative website loveahappyending.com. Taking Charge is her fifth novel. Mandy lives near Salisbury,Wiltshire,UK, with her husband and two daughters.

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