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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Between Heaven and Hell by Stephanie Adkins

Between Heaven and Hell by Stephanie Adkins
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Other: M/F, Violence, Fetish, Erotic asphyxiation
Rating: 3.5 cherries
Reviewed by Gillyflower

Somewhere between Heaven and Hell ... there are nightmares. After being forced to confront an abusive ex-lover in court, Elaina Richmond wanted nothing more than to get away from the trial and the nightmares that came with it. Escaping to her aunt and uncle's vineyard in the rolling hills of Sonoma, California, she is reunited with her first love, Caden Russell. An old flame is rekindled. Though Heaven is found in his arms once again, Elaina soon discovers that the Devil has a way of finding you ... especially when there's hope to destroy.

Stephanie Adkins takes her heroine and her readers from hell to heaven in this contemporary short.

Between Heaven and Hell is the terrifying story of Elaina Richmond, whom we meet after she survived a violent relationship with a jealous psychopath who tortured her rather than let anyone else appreciate her beauty. We learn all this as Elaina is forced to testify about it in her ex’s custody battle. Elaina escaped, but she did not escape unscathed. Nor would anyone, as is painfully clear to the reader, who relives Elaina’s nightmares with her.

Sent to her aunt and uncle’s Sonoma winery to recover, Elaina meets up with her recently widowed adolescent lover. Caden accepts Elaina, with all her burn and knife scars, as his beautiful angel. But Elaina’s ex isn’t ready to let go. I don’t want to spoil the rest of this short story, though you can probably guess where it goes from there.

While this story deals with a terrifying bit of realism in such subjects as rape and torture, there is very little character or plot development, such that both come off as a bit cliché. This also makes it difficult to really feel for either main character’s devastating losses or truly identify with Elaina’s fears. This may be just a side effect of the brevity of the book. I would have liked to have seen Ms. Adkins delve and develop more.

However, Between Heaven and Hell gives a glimpse of both, and would be enjoyable for anyone seeking a pithy book with likeable characters and a fair bit of adrenaline and suspense to keep things moving along quickly.

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