Cheri Reviews Etched in Shadows by KG MacGregor

I’ve been reading some pretty dark and dense books lately so when Etched in Shadows was selected as the Book of the Month for a group I belong to, I was very ready for something lighter. After reading it, though, this one isn’t very light, either. I mean, it’s not zombies or murder or human trafficking but it’s certainly not a romantic comedy.

Here’s the Amazon blurb:

For 39-year-old Johnelle Morrissey, the American Dream is a successful career in medical technology, a stately home in historic Charleston, South Carolina, and happy times with the people she loves most—her husband Dwight, their teenage son Ian and her oldest friend Alice Choate. That dream shatters on an airport runway when her plane goes down, leaving her with only clouded memories of her former life.

Devastated by the tragedy, Alice teams with the family to help Johnelle recover. For hours on end Alice shares memories of the moments that formed their friendship over the years, but she holds back one secret—that she’s been in love with Johnelle for as long as she can remember.

Johnelle struggles to reassemble her past—college life, her wedding day and the joys of raising her son. Once her physical injuries heal, her family expects life to go back to the way it was. But the love she must have once felt for Dwight remains deeply shadowed, eclipsed by yearning for a new life…with Alice.

Seems like the whole book is pretty much put out there in the blurb, right? Well, there’s quite a bit left for us to discover. Actually, Johnelle’s memory cleared up pretty quickly but she couldn’t seem to find the same feelings she had for her husband. She had some other issues related to the crash but her emotional connection to Dwight was completely gone.

I’ve been a fan of the author’s work for years. She’s one of my main “go-to” folks when I need a book that I can just lose myself in and know that I’ll feel good when I read the final sentence. Of course, I’ve enjoyed some of her books more than others but who can say they’ve absolutely loved every single book a prolific writer has published? With that said, Etched in Shadows will certainly be housed in my “read again” collection on the Kindle.

Not only did I love Alice, the best friend for nearly 30 years who stood by and supported Johnelle and been a part of her family, but I loved Johnelle, too. I couldn’t help feeling bad for Dwight, he didn’t do anything wrong but still had his entire life ripped apart. Well, I liked him much less as the book progressed but, honestly, his responses felt genuine and I tried to imagine myself in his place. It’s not a happy place to be. There were a few times when I wanted some of the women to express their emotions more openly but the author did a great job of ensuring the reader understood that they had been raised proper Southern women and some things were just not done.

Johnelle’s transformation from a woman who did her best to be the wife and mother she was raised to be to someone who refused to just go along to get along was wonderful to watch. While she lost the ability to do and feel some things, what she gained, to me, seemed so much more important. I liked that the author didn’t make Johnelle’s pre-crash life something that she suffered through while dreaming of something completely different. Were there things that she wanted to change or wish were different? Certainly, but whose life is exactly the way they want it?

The thing I’ve always loved about KG MacGregor’s work is that her stories and characters feel real. For the most part, they are women we could be, living lives that could have been ours. It’s easy to become immersed in the story because the women feel like they could be our friends – or maybe in some cases, us. Etched in Shadows is no different and I highly recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed MacGregor’s work.

Thank you, KG, for sharing this great story with us and I eagerly await the next one.

You can download a sample or purchase Etched in Shadows by clicking here.

Cheri Reviews West of Nowhere by KG MacGregor

After wrapping up a couple of books that dealt with darker themes, I wanted to read something more along the lines of a traditional romance. A few hours before making this decision, I had spent some time organizing my Kindle so I could see how many books I’ve gotten that I haven’t read yet. Let’s just say it’s an embarrassing number so I decided to knock one of those books off the list. Reading West of Nowhere helped me to accomplish both tasks! And the fact that I enjoyed the book quite a bit was a nice bonus.

Here’s the blurb from Amazon:

It was a great dream—while it lasted. At twenty-five, Amber Halliday thought life on the road with one of Nashville’s hottest bands was her ultimate fantasy come true. Then in the blink of an eye she finds herself abandoned at a truck stop in Kentucky. No money, no family and nowhere to go.

Navy veteran Joy Shepard, passing through on a cross-country trip, simply can’t ignore a woman in distress even if common sense tells her to drive on. She has room in her truck for Amber and a temporary job caring for her wheelchair-bound father once they reach Oakland. In a moment of weakness, she offers both.

Though grateful for the opportunity, Amber finds herself on pins and needles over Joy’s obsessive tidiness and stringent rules. Little wonder, since Joy finds her slovenly and undisciplined. No way will these two opposites attract—a romance this thorny can only be headed right back where it started: nowhere.

The blurb does what it’s supposed to: gives a basic overview of what you can expect but not so much that there are no surprises for the reader. (A couple of quick corrections: Amber is 24 and she has a bit of cash in her pocket.)

I enjoyed West of Nowhere quite a bit. A lot, really. The characters felt genuine and the situations didn’t feel contrived to me. The progression of the relationships – and there are more than just Joy and Amber involved – felt natural. There’s also what happens toward the end of the book that made me stop what I was doing with my mouth hanging open. Didn’t see that coming!

I haven’t read any reviews of this one and only heard the opinion of one friend before I read it so I have no idea what anyone else is saying but I think this is a winner for Ms. MacGregor. Yeah, I know this has been out for a while and she’s got at least one book published since this one but, like I said, I’m really far behind on my To Be Read list. Better late than never, right?

If you’ve not read West of Nowhere yet and you’re a fan of KG MacGregor, don’t wait any longer! Grab a copy and get to reading. That’s an order!

Click here to download a sample or to purchase West of Nowhere

Playing with Fuego by KG MacGregor

As many of you know, I co-host the Cocktail Hour podcast with my buddy, Andy. In preparation for our next show, I’ve been on a massive KG MacGregor kick. Just so you don’t think I’m exaggerating, these are the books I’ve read in the past couple of weeks: Without Warning, Aftershock, Small Packages, Mother Load, Worth Every Step, Sea Legs, Photographs of Claudia, Mulligan, Out of Love, and Playing With Fuego. I also read the online short that was the launching point for Playing with Fuego, Community Serivce. I’m wanting to read Just This Once again but I read it a couple months ago so I’m fighting the urge.

As you can see, I’m a big MacGregor fan. I’ve even decided that I like Sea Legsand Out of Love better the second time around. Which made me want to give Sumter Point, Malicious Pursuit, Secrets So Deep, and Rhapsody another shot since they weren’t on my “faves” list.

Even though I’m a fan of the author, I have to say, I was surprised by just how much I liked Playing with Fuego. I thought the short story was cute and I liked the characters and the plot so I figured a longer, deeper story would be nice. But, wow, was I shocked by where this book went. I didn’t read the blurb on the back of the book – still haven’t – so I’ll give you a tiny taste.

Daphne Maddox works for a non-profit that rehabs houses in blighted communities. She pretty much hates Miami and resents the Latin American culture that seems to be behind all that she sees as wrong with the city. She’s been dumped by her girlfriend, whom she followed to Miami, so there’s loads of bitterness there, too. She’s not a bad person but she’s got some issues.

Maribel Tirado León ends up being sentenced to community service and assigned to work on one of Daphne’s crews for 32 hours. Mari is rich and girly and Cuban. She rubs Daphne wrong from the first minute they meet. As they work side by side, though, Daphne has to grudgingly admit that she respects Mari’s work ethic and that she may not be as bad as initially suspected.

So up to this point, pretty standard stuff, right? That’s what I thought, too! Then the twists and turns start and this book went places I never would have expected. Ever.

Playing with Fuego is definitely a book that I recommend. Like I said before, I’ve not loved all of the author’s books but this one definitely has a spot on my list of favorites.

Click here to purchase Playing With Fuego

The House on Sandstone by KG MacGregor

I’ve just finished my fourth reading of this story. Why, you may ask, would I bother reviewing something that I’ve already read so many times? Why review a book that has been around for years? Because there’s something different about this reading, that’s why.

I finally broke down and bought the published version of this book. I’ve looked at it for a long time and always came up with a reason not to buy it at that moment. I knew I’d eventually pick it up but, since I knew the story so well, I figured my money would be better spent on something that had lines I hadn’t memorized.

The House on Sandstone is your typical romance in many ways. Carly Griffin and Justine Hall were in high school together, there was a spark, they went their separate ways and, 25 years later, they meet up again and discover that the spark is still there. For those of you who have read the online version and are on the fence about spending the money on the published version, I didn’t notice any differences until the final chapter. The ending is done in a completely different way.

What makes this book special to me is MacGregor’s writing style. She tells tales of regular people and The House on Sandstone is no different. The author has a true gift for bringing her characters to life; she makes them breathe and feel and they could be anyone we know. For me, that is why I’ll read everything she publishes. She has a few books that I liked less than some others but even the one I liked the least was worth the price.

If you haven’t read any KG MacGregor, let me recommend my favorites: the Shaken series (available in a handy ebook bundle), Just This Once, and The House on Sandstone.

The House on Sandstone

Getting it Right by KG MacGregor

Would you ever want to be “the bad guy”, the one to break up a relationship? Would you want a lover that you knew had cheated on her – former – girlfriend; would you be able – not – to think that she might do the same to you?

Well you might tell me to get down off my high horse and be realistic. Love isn’t something you can plan for. Some might even say that love is not easy to come by, so once you find it, you hold onto it and fight for it no matter what. Well I might as well admit that I have no experience with cheating. I have never – to my knowledge – been cheated on, and I haven’t cheated on anyone myself!

So why this stuff about cheating? Well I can’t really tell you without the risk of spoiling your fun so for once I’ll try to keep quiet … gee it’s hard!

If you haven’t looked up KG MacGregor’s “Getting it Right” yet and you want an entertaining novel length romance with well-developed characters and a storyline that goes beyond the romance then go look it up. It’s a classic lesfic story of woman meets woman, a spark is ignited and a budding friendship slips over into love… sex, only to be crudely tossed aside as an insurmountable obstacle occurs and sidetrack the women, but in the end …. no I won’t tell this time. If you want to know if “Getting it Right” has a “living happily ever after” ending you’ll have to read the story!

Let me just tell you a bit about the women that you’ll meet. The first one you bump into is Paula McKenzie at The Weller Regent Hotel in Orlando, a nice upscale business hotel where the frequent business traveller might choose to return. Paula is the blond and single Night Shift Manager with her eyes set on a career that will take her to the top in hotel management.

I guess that you could say that Paula takes the concept of “making the guests happy” to a new level when she starts a little innocent flirting with Wynne Connelly – our frequent traveller and marketing manager from Baltimore – who likes to stay at the Weller Regent when she is in Orlando.

Wynne is in town for a strategic planning project with the tour and travel company that she works for. A project that might result in her planning herself out of a job! To Wynne travelling between Baltimore and Orlando on a regular schedule is taxing and Paula proves to be a pleasant diversion – it’s nice to see a friendly face every once in a while.

The friendly face of Paula McKenzie proves itself to be good for more than just a little flirting. Paula and Wynne starts to build a friendship and soon they begin to think about each other in more than just a friendly way, but as you might have guessed there is a secret that can only be kept undisclosed for so long, and then – bang – it’s out in the open! The secret is no longer a secret and a budding love is no longer promising the beginning of something more but a dead-end.

What you’ll ask your self reading this story is if the ladies are going to “get it right” ? Can an unforgivable mistake be forgiven, can you build trust anew, can love conquer all ?

Ok so maybe I’m overdoing it a bit – this is a nice story but by no means the best from KG MacGregor – that title goes to the first two instalments of “The Anna and Lilly” series (“Shaken” and “Stirred“) and “The Road From Kilimanjaro”. Go look for the reviews under the KG MacGregor tags in the author section.

You can get this story in a printed version under the title “Just this Once” from Bella Books. I actually bought the book before I happened to stumble on MacGregor’s online stories. Yep – there was actually a time when I didn’t know of the (fan) fiction verses or the archives!

Mulligan by KG MacGregor

This is a continuation of the Valentines Day KG MacGregor special that I started the other day. So if you’ve already had enough of this pen – skip this review and go look at The Uber ect. for something else to spend your reading time on.

I for one am quite pleased that I stayed with MacGregor for a visit with “Mulligan” as this fic introduce us to a couple of women that you don’t meet in your every day fan fic and to the fact that you are never to old to experience romance or to find new love! And should you be into golf you can even get a few words of advice on how to improve your game.

Mulligan is the story of Lou – a retired math teacher – and Marty the local golf pro, both women in their 60’ies, single and not really looking for love, but through golf and the meddling of friends they strike up a friendship that will *** SPOILER ALERT*** eventually lead them down the classic path towards “living happily ever after”.

This short story has a nice positive overtone and no real angst, a few funny episodes and a well constructed dialogue, but the most notable thing about it is the fact that the protagonists are women in their 60’s – so if you’re well beyond your tweeny years, you might like to visit with Lou and Marty and see how life can turn out a bit further down the road. If you feel comfortable in their company you can follow the “story of their life” in “Mulligan II: In the Rough” “Mulligan III: Teachers Pet”, “Mulligan IV: The Cart Path Not Taken”, “Mulligan V: Best Ball” – I must admit that I didn’t get any further than Mulligan III.

If you are not familiar with KG MacGregor’s novel length work, I urge you to get your act together and go look up “The Anna and Lilly stories” (Authors page at The Academy of Bards) or “The Road From Kilimanjaro” which are among my favourite online fic’s – both have been reviewed here.

Expectations by KG MacGregor

Is it Valentines yet ? If Valentines Day was just around the corner I would treat you to a guided tour of the world of Valentine themed alt romance stories, but as that’s not the case I’ll just let you join me while I reread a bunch of KG MacGregor’s contributions to The Academy of Bards Valentines Specials as it’s really to summery at my neck of the woods to start reading any lengthy stories at the moment.

I started my Valentine tour with KG MacGregor on “Community Service” sharing a bit of dirty work with Alice Boyd the volunteer coordinator for Habitat for Humanity an organisation that provides housing at affordable prices to families who needs a bit of help.

I guess that Alice would love to spend her weekends holding hands and whispering sweet words to an attentive lover, but as it is she spends her time organising the work at the current building site for Habitat as they work on finishing a new home for Ms Annie and her grandchildren. But rest assured that a possibility of new love will find its way into Alice’s life ….. just wait for the white sports car and the tall and slender woman with long blond hair to arrive.

This is just a short story that leaves you with a little smile and with the prospect of a couple of women getting themselves started on a path that will lead to a bit of hand-holding etc.


How on earth do you hold the attention of a full class of third graders while taking their portraits? If you ask Leo Simms it’s a job that qualifies you for combat pay, but I think that Leo might just take her pay check in the form of a date with the lovely new teacher Claudia Galloway, who seems to have exactly what it takes to handle a bunch of unruly students and perhaps a photographer too.

But don’t get you hopes for a romance up to high – if Leo won’t ask for a date and Claudia won’t offer her one – how do we get the girls to go out? Well leave that to Leo’s sneaky friends who love to meddle.

I think the short story “Expectations” has a bit more depth than “Community Service”. I found it to have a well constructed dialogue and a few funny episodes – you can do worse than give this story a little bit of your reading. There is a sequel titled “Remembrances” that you should read if you want to know how things turn out for Leo and Claudia – its real touching.