Reunion by J.L. Penn. $2.99 from Smashwords or $2.99 from Amazon. From the cover: Reunion is a lighthearted and witty yet suspenseful story about how an innocent Facebook reunion with an old high school crush turns one woman’s life upside down. Will she remain faithful to her steadfast husband, or will she succumb to nostalgic desire for the one that got away? Approx 82K words. J.L. Penn’s Reunion is longer than a typical romance or “Chick Lit” read at 82,000 words, yet never feels so, due to the smooth pacing throughout most of the book. Only the first couple chapters seemed bumpy and unpredictable to me; after that, the scenes and the plot unfolded quickly and held my interest throughout. The book is written in first-person, present-tense, which I personally dislike, but must admit, gives the story an ultra-modern polish, entirely appropriate for this tale of virtual flirtation and temptation and where they may lead. While the content is not appropriate for young audiences, neither is it overtly sexually graphic, and handles the necessary sexuality gracefully. The one bone I would pick with this author is with her consistent failure to use commas before conjunctions that join complete phrases. While I firmly believe a fiction author can and should bend grammatical rules to suit his story, his characters, and his voice, this particular omission makes it difficult to read the longer sentences and seems like more of an oversight than an intentional stylistic choice. That one minor flaw probably only caught my eye, however, because the book is otherwise so well edited. Overall, Reunion really hit the spot for me with its delicate balance of drama and humor. It is not laugh-out-loud funny from start to finish, but I did find myself chuckling, giggling, and grinning throughout the story, while simultaneously feeling pensive, thoughtful, and at times, even a bit misty-eyed. I eagerly await the next production from J.L. Penn.
Healing Touch by Jenna Anderson. $0.99 from Smashwords or $.89 from Amazon. From the cover: Divorced mother of one, Tracy Campbell is trying her best to stay out of small town gossip. A mysterious lump on her throat is making it hard. Handsome Dr. Jeremy Nelson is making it harder. Approx. 23K words. Healing Touch is a light, quick read that should probably be classified as a novella. It is a sweet romance dealing with the heroine’s inner conflict about her own lovability and her fear of being the subject of gossip and derision in a small town. The book moves along at a nice clip, without getting bogged down in backstory before pulling the reader into the current action. Told in the first person, the tale clearly presents the heroine’s point of view, but fails to do the same for the hero. I found myself not entirely convinced that the relationship would endure, as I wondered, just as the heroine did, exactly what she and the good doctor had in common. I was also a bit frustrated with the lack of final editing, which left a number of minor typos in the text and a bout or two of rapid summarizing, which should have been expanded into full scenes. Those particular flaws notwithstanding, however, the book’s ending still left me smiling and glad to have invested the time.