Thursday, 9 February 2017

Indiana Belle (American Journey Book 3) by John A. Heldt

It is not possible to review a John A. Heldt book without also discussing the author’s craftsmanship generally.

If someone said to me, you should read Indiana Belle “it is a great science fiction story” or “it is a really good romance” my response would be no thanks, I don’t read those genres. Yet I cannot get enough of John A. Heldt’s time travel stories. 

John Heldt’s books have been classified as time travel, history, fantasy, romance, mystery – or any combination of these genres. This is natural in the book world because it is necessary to indicate to the potential reader what they are getting for their money. I think we need another category for authors like john A Heldt just simply: A Damn Good Read.

There is no denying John’s stories are certainly time travel based but he uses it to weave in stories of mystery, romance and history.  It is the whole package he delivers that makes the difference for me; an escape into another world, another time. This is certainly the case in Indiana Belle.


Providence, Rhode Island, 2017. When doctoral student Cameron Coelho, 28, opens a package from Indiana, he finds more than private papers that will help him with his dissertation. He finds a photograph of a beautiful society editor murdered in 1925 and clues to a century-old mystery. Within days, he meets Geoffrey Bell, the "time-travel professor," and begins an unlikely journey through the Roaring Twenties. Filled with history, romance, and intrigue, INDIANA BELLE follows a lonely soul on the adventure of a lifetime as he searches for love and answers in the age of Prohibition, flappers, and jazz.

Indiana Belle is the third book in his American Journey series and although Professor Bell, the time travel expert, is a constant character each stands alone and it is not necessary to read the previous stories. However, I recommend that you do simply because they are so good. 

Features of Indiana Belle in common with his other stories are believable characters (good and evil) and a writing style that doesn’t detract from the story yet still delivers clear images of time and place. He achieves his aim without explicit sex and violence although implication is there.

One of the differences in Indiana Belle is that this time the main character, Cameron, approaches the professor seeking to travel back to 1925. Bell is reluctant at first but yields to Cameron’s request when the young man agrees to undertake exploration and research on his behalf. 

Don’t take the storyline for granted at any time because Heldt puts in just enough twists and turns to keep you reading as we journey back to the days of prohibition, the KKK, jazz, speakeasies and crime – the Roaring Twenties - and all the associated changes going on in society.

I was concerned in the early stages of the story that the main character, Cameron Coelho, would be a disappointing addition to Heldt’s cast. When we first meet him he is a lonely young man with little drive in modern life. Once again Heldt surprises and as we get to know the young gentleman we find him charming and sensitive yet not afraid of tackling challenging tasks. His wit matches that of Candice throughout and their exchanges are often amusing.

I loved the character of Candice. As a modern, young, career woman of the 1920s her personality was strong and she is not afraid to test the boundaries of womanhood of the era. She is also a distant relative of the professor. 

Together Cameron and Candice are an interesting couple determined to fulfil the professors request for information from the past relating to the secrets of time travel. They need to come to grips with the dangers of changing the past and allowing their love to blossom.

In previous American Journey stories Professor Bell, although a charming and interesting character, has mostly been simply the conduit for travel. In Indiana Belle, the time and place Cameron wants to travel to links his journey with Bell’s ancestors. Any wrong deed by Cameron could change the future and impact on Bell himself.

I don’t usually comment on a book’s cover but the photo of a beautiful young woman from the 1920s is compelling.

As always’ Heldt’s historical research is exacting. I have long ago stopped checking his facts but his stories do lead me to learn about various historical events included.

His details are not limited to the historical facts. He conveys his time periods through perfect detailing of clothing, mannerisms and life style.

There was one part that did disturb me and that was picture painted of our world through a short time travel journey into the future. Has John Heldt travelled into the future himself or does he have fears that recent political events may have this impact on our lives?

This is not my first John A. Heldt book but it is my favourite but that is how I have felt about each of his books and no doubt how I will feel about his future stories as he continues to develop as a master storyteller.

I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. 

My rating 5* 

This review is also available on my website

Friday, 3 February 2017

Among Animals 2: The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction by Sascha Morrell, JoeAnn Hart and John Yunker

I am afraid this book didn’t do anything for me. 

Among Animals 2 is a collection of stories about the varied relationships between humans and animals. 

Although the stories are basically well written many were left up in the air or didn’t resolve an issue. 

The potential reader should also be warned that some stories are quite upsetting which, as an animal lover, I found hard to read. Others are more light-hearted but overall these do not balance the more distressing ones.

Because of the quality of the writing craftsmanship I give Among Animals 2 three *