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Sandra Sookoo

REVIEW: Midsummer Night’s Steve by Sandra Sookoo

REVIEW: Midsummer Night’s Steve by Sandra Sookoo

“Three months have passed since Steve Compton’s last visit to Crystal Falls. Now he’s back, but far from pleased about it. Convinced there is more in the air than clean living, he’s a journalist on the hunt for a story that’ll launch his career into the stratosphere.

Zoe Nickles loves the small-town atmosphere, the people, and most especially the great hiding places in Crystal Falls. She’s heard rumors about the magical aura in the tiny town, and when her powers come to fruition one June night, she knows the whispers are true. She’s the Tooth Fairy–with a sexy new look!

But there’s a problem: a nosy reporter is on Zoe’s trail, with just enough street smarts and cynicism to thwart her ability to practice her newfound skills. Can she convince him Cristal Falls is harmless before he tells the world about the town’s “unique” quality, or will Steve blab the news, putting Zoe and all the paranormal residents at risk?”

Dear Ms. Sookoo,

Midsummer Night's Steve by Sandra SookooOkay I’ll start this out with something that is directed more at the publisher than you. This is the second book I’ve reviewed from Lyical Press that the blurb has mistakes in it (note how the name of the town is spelled two different ways). Readers notice these things and from the comments posted to “Green’s Fees,” they don’t like it.

On to my thoughts on “Midsummer’s Night Steve.” This is a novella in which the idea and blurb of it entertained me more than the book. Novellas are tricky things – sometimes they work beautifully for me as did the first work of yours I read, “The Eighth Night,” and sometimes they don’t. In this case, it didn’t. This is a part of a series and I felt like I got dropped right in the middle of it. You include some information about what went on in a previous novella that has Steve in it but I still felt somewhat lost.

Crystal Falls is a strange little town. Steve’s earlier public pronouncement that he’d seen a leprechaun there didn’t bring all the fruits and nuts rushing to this town. Really? With all the kooks people willing to believe in the strange and unusual in the US not even the National Enquirer arrived? I also wasn’t sure just how much all the townspeople know about the Institute of Magic. Some seem in the know and others clueless but then perhaps they were being coy around Steve.

Zoe is a happy soul who Believes! and has since she was a child. She’s also always been attracted to all things dental so her being the Tooth Fairy makes sense. But is she just local in a chain of Inter/National branch offices or is she The Only One? It’s not made clear in story but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for her to go solo if she’s keeping her day job. And while the outfit she’s given to wear would be an adult’s wet dream, I have my doubts if it’s appropriate garb for any young child, who just happens to wake up while Zoe is collecting their tooth, to see. Okay, I know I’m throwing cold water on the hawt of the story but she is supposed to be the Tooth Fairy and the Tooth Fairy’s main job description revolves around the kinder set.

More about my problems with the paranormal stuff. Zoe unexpectedly gets her magic and a paltry set of instructions – kind of like Japanese stereo instructions with some info missing or abbreviated. It’s “Oh So Secret” but come on, the Institute should have at least given her a phone call to help a sistah out. She then immediately screws up and breaks two of the rules which should have gotten her wings revoked but no, she traipses around at dusk Revealing All with none of the consequences that were threatened.

So Steve – our intrepid reporter – sees Zoe flying in her sexy get up and realizes he’s got his big story. Then with contradictory statements, Zoe tries to obfuscate things. Well, she confuses me. She’s supposed to keep everything hush hush but ends up literally chasing after Steve trying to convince him she’s the Tooth Fairy. So much for keeping things under wraps or facing the loss of her magic

Zoe knows Steve is after a story but does she take precautions on her next nightly run? Nope. She flies straight out her bedroom window giving Steve a great photo op. Zoe how smart are you? Then when she discovers him trailing her she first gets mad and wants to know why he’s there. What? Then she agrees to go live on camera and tell the world her story. Huh? For love? For all the misunderstood people in the world – I’m not quite sure only she changes her mind. And then backs off.

Steve’s pissed off because he’s lost his job – why he doesn’t apply at the National Enquirer (who ought to have sent a reporter there anyway) I’m not sure. But I’m not truly convinced he’s anything but upset about his job until suddenly! he’s in love. ?? So, to lose the residual baby tooth he’s got, does he go to Zoe in the dental office? Why no! He gets a biker to punch his face. Then, bleeding profusely, he goes to the office where Zoe realizes he loves her, gets him in the dental chair and proceeds to do the hootchie scoot on his lap before finally kissing the pain away after which they rattle the dental equipment.

Like I said, I think this is a cute idea but the execution of it didn’t work for me. There were too many loose ends and niggles for me to just ease into the slipstream of the fantasy and once that happened, the magic of it was gone for me. Zoe is confused about what she wants and Steve spends most of the time acting like a self involved twit. In the end, I’m not totally convinced of their feelings beyond some hot sex and lusting. D


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REVIEW: The Eighth Night by Sandra Sookoo

REVIEW: The Eighth Night by Sandra Sookoo

Dear Ms. Sookoo,

Off the top of my head, I can’t recall reading any Hanukkah stories so when DA was offered your book for possible review, my ears perked up and I took notice. Though I’m not Jewish, I thought it would be fun to read something different from the mass of Christmas themed books already loaded on my Sony. I can say I’m not disappointed in it or the love story.

The Eighth Night - Sandra SookooEli Goodman knows when his cell phone rings that early in the morning, it’s bound to be his mother. Diane Goodman is a force of nature and as one of her daughters puts it, you either ignore her or go along with her. With a sinking heart he gets the order to Be There that evening for the first night – and to bring a bag of potatoes and ice. As he’s standing in line at Megamart, he notices the cashier who he’s seen a few times before and devises a plan to throw his matchmaking mother off the scent. He’ll invite this pretty shiksa and shamelessly use her to run interference with his interfering family. With luck, his mother will be so pissed with him that she’ll leave him alone for a few weeks of peace.

Brooke Langley has only a cold car ride home to her hamster to look forward to at the end of her mind numbing shift of work so when a handsome customer invites her home for his holiday, she mentally shrugs and decides “why not.” While I’m thinking, good thing this is not a romantic suspense and Brooke might want to be wary, she arrives at the Goodman home to be enveloped by the clan. Initially Brooke feels like a hooker in church which isn’t helped by the fact that Eli drags her off to the kitchen where they spend most of the time. A sharp encounter with his mother later and they’re on the way out the door.

Since Brooke didn’t exactly feel the love the evening before, she’s surprised when Eli shows up at Megamart the next evening and invites her to the second night. He’s bluntly honest – too blunt from Brooke’s POV – about why he’s inviting her but that second night, something clicks for her and she finds herself settling in and feeling a bit more at home. As an orphan with almost no one, she feels envious of this huge, boisterous group and of the easy acceptance they offer to family. She’s also learning to verbally push back when pushed and discovering that underneath his sometimes grumpy exterior, Eli is a charmer.

As the evenings speed by, Brooke and Eli start to accept the growing feelings between them, despite a few rocky patches. And with his mother’s seal of approval of her, Brooke dares hope that perhaps there might be a future with this handsome guy. But are the two of them ready to take a chance on something that’s only eight nights old?

Okay, so I’ve said I’m not Jewish and at the risk of offending those who are, there are a lot of Jewish stereotypes in this story. The bossy Jewish mother, the nosey relatives, the clique-ish stance against outsiders, the preference on having a profession rather than a job, the man who is henpecked by his female relations – I guess that in order to become a stereotype there must be a grain of truth about it somewhere but my eyebrows were still raised at times. That being said, most of this is portrayed with love and laughter and something to be embraced rather than run from.

Eli is a jerk at times but Brooke, backed by the women in his family, is woman enough to take him down a peg – or three – and straighten him out. You show that even though the Goodmans are initially skeptical of Brooke and grill her with questions later on, it’s all done because they love Eli and want the best for him. And that after they accept Brooke into the fold, she’s one of them for life.

I’m not usually keen on quick romances and this one is very fast – over eight nights as the title shows. But here I totally buy into it. And the sex is not only hot but fun too. I’m not so sure about Brooke’s decision to convert though. Changing one’s religion is, to me, something that needs a lot more thought and consideration than can be shown in a story this short.

With nothing to back me on picking this novella to read, I finished it satisfied with my gamble. It packs an emotional romance wallop along with joy for the holiday season without being cloying or sugary sweet. It also ensures that I’ll be watching to see what else you offer the romance reader. B


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