**** FOUR STARS! I have never seen an episode of the old television show The Man From UNCLE, but after reading this book I plan to search various streaming internet sites in hopes of viewing a few. You do not have to be a fan of the old show in order to fully enjoy this tale. (I guess it does not hurt that I used to watch other spy series, such as Get Smart.) I found this story to be extremely fun to read! Those who have read this author’s previous novel, Red Wine for Breakfast, may even notice the subtle nod to the Sock Test. (I could not help but chuckle when a pair of socks was mentioned in a single, short line.) If you are looking for a story to enjoy during vacation or to make a rainy afternoon fly by, this is it. I have no doubt that I will not soon forget this fun spy thriller. - HUNTRESS REVIEWS - Reviewed by Detra Fitch
*** It's great fun to find a book that seems to be written specially for ME! I was a devoted fan of The Man From Uncle and would dearly loved to have been one of their agents (I even had a membership card but an overzealous teacher confiscated it and lost it.) Raven West has tapped into the same desire that a million women of 'a certain age' must have had and has made it come true, and at a boring old school reunion, too! There are strong characters and plenty of action, so it held my interest all the way through. An easy read that ticks a lot of boxes for an entertaining crime novel. - Bev Robitai on Amazon.com
*** If you were a fan of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., or even if you're not, you'll get a kick out of this. Two women who went to school together get recruited as U.N.C.L.E. agents at their 30th reunion to battle the latest incarnation of T.H.R.U.S.H. It's great fun, and even though Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin don't make an appearance, there are plenty of reference that will delight! Go along and enjoy the ride "Open Channel D"! - Penton on Amazon.com
*** I enjoyed the fact that the main characters were all average, middle-aged people who were suddenly pulled into a dastardly scheme-it was a refreshing change from the usual thriller protagonists.
*** Many U.N.C.L.E. fans of the sixties imagined themselves helping U.N.C.L.E. if this was you, you will enjoy this new novel. Raven West has caught the spirit of "the things of dreams" that U.N.C.L.E. fans all over the world consist of'. Take yourselves into the world of U.N.C.L.E. fantasies and dream along with Kate and Mel as they help the real U.N.C.L.E. guys thwart a much-too-real evil adversary who was a former classmate. - Bridget Calvert (Honorary Editor of ' The Network')
*** I just finished Undercover Reunion. I instantly fell in love with all the characters. Enough information was given to let me know what was going on and it kept me interested. The back story about their childhood playing UNCLE spies was fun. The jokes fit the personalities of the people and had me laughing as I read it.
This is a novel for adults and mystery/romance lovers. It is a very engaging read and moves quickly. I was caught up in the story right away and enjoyed diving into the inner life of an LA radio station.
The plot evolved quickly and there were many surprises along the way. We quickly take sides with our main character as she moves through the office intrigues of the music and talk radio station. She loves the music and does not want her station to go to an all talk format. She finds unexpected alliances and some tragedy. The book expresses the drama and intense professional and social life of a young single radio career woman DJ in the tough LA radio market.
Review by David M Stewart
Believable YOU ARE THERE atmosphere!
Reviewer: Andromeda from Inverness, FL United States
Terrific! You don't just read it, you LIVE it! Indeed, Raven West's RED WINE FOR BREAKFAST is redolent with that very essential, YOU ARE THERE atmosphere. Its synopsis "...In a business drowning in testosterone, Red Wine for Breakfast is the story of a strong, determined New Yorker who has to shake off the laid-back attitude of LA to overcome the challenges of an industry that threatens to turn her off and a man who only wants to turn her on..." is right on target.
As a veteran of the newspaper business in particular and media in general, I enjoyed very much entering her heroine Jenny Reed's world, who is very much an emancipated, no nonsense woman who boldly fights for what she wants, and gives no quarter. Yes, Jenny is no falsely blushing flower of innocence. She grasps the bull of mediocrity by the horns, and turns it into what she wants. Red Wine for Breakfast is NOT a traditional Harlequin novel, but a tale very much in tune with the realities the NEW WOMAN has to deal with, and triumph over. Thumbs up, Ms. West! Kristina O'Donnelly, Author and Publisher.
* * *
Review by Pepper Raines - Publisher: Amazing Authors Showcase and Ezine
Ten years in the film industry never gave me a clue what "the sock test" was, or how to apply it to men. But thanks to Raven West's rollicking tale, Red Wine For Breakfast, I now feel up to speed with what the really "cool" people always seem to know. Red Wine is a fast, fun, and entertaining read. The phrase, "Lights, camera, action!" comes to mind immediately when you open this delightful contemporary novel of love triumphing over pain and betrayal.
Doris Cohen is a 34-year-old New York transplant in California, whose on-air personae as Jenny Reed, the top rated morning drive-time radio show host, pits her against slick Johnny King, her program cohort. King is the brother-in-law of Brian Allen, the station manager with whom Jenny has been intimately involved, which makes for some "hot" radio clashes and ratings to match.
Despite the soaring ratings, drug allegations and a murder suddenly thrust Jenny's show even more into the limelight. Behind the scenes, the drug scandal threatens to bring the station to its knees while the main characters' bizarre romance continues on-air.
Raven West knows her way around a radio studio, that can't be denied. This story is a believable, intriguing, and enjoyable inside glimpse of the business. It also has a quirky, comedic touch which is difficult for most writers to handle. The intricate plot, a host of layered events, and the exquisite dialogue will keep you reading and often laughing into the wee hours.
The author pulls it all together at the end, giving the reader a happy and very satisfying "climax." If you want a heroine who is real, who intends to take the world by storm and who won't be dissuaded by men or machinations, then this book is for you. If you also want a hero who starts out as a heel, then makes his metamorphosis by the end of the story, then you'll love Red Wine For Breakfast
* * *
Amazon.com Customer Comment
Average Customer Review: *****
September 21, 1999 5 out of 5 stars
Reading "Red Wine for Breakfast" was like going home. As a former program director/news director at various radio stations, I could immediately relate to the characters in this book--I've worked with them. And, even without my insider's knowledge, this book is a fantastic read--intriguing, action-packed and a page turner. I can't wait to see more from this author!
Leta Nolan Childers, author of fiction for kids...and grown-ups, too.
* * *
Jenny Reed is a thirty-four year old New Yorker who hosts a morning radio show in California. Her career meant everything to her and she was angry to find out her boss, Brian, had hired his brother-in-law as her partner. Worse, her new partner, Johnny King, knew about the affair Jenny and Brian used to have. The tension shows even on radio waves and the station's rates soar!
Things get tricky when drugs and murder cause a huge scandal at the station and the morning show, which is now called Red Wine for Breakfast, (and I refuse to tell why) is as shaky as the romance between the hosts.
*** Perfect! A hilarious look at life in a radio station. Full of sneaky twists and I even learned why women should always make men take "the sock test"! I have no doubt that Raven West will make many fans with this debut novel! ***
HUNTRESS BOOK REVIEWS - (Reviewed by Detra Fitch) - Under Modern Contemporary - http://www.huntressreviews.com/ -Huntress Book Reviews
* * *
Doris Cohen is a 34-year-old pure blood New Yorker living in Los Angeles. As Jenny Reed, she has the number 1 morning drive-time radio show in the city. Jenny is the sort of person who plays by her own rules. A nice a nice, non-committal affair with Brian Allen, the station manager, certainly doesn't hurt.
The station is suddenly sold by Denise, Brian's wife, an the station owner, to Tony D'Amico, who knows nothing about radio, and bought it only for tax purposes. Jenny also gets a co-host forced on her, a man with a sexy voice named Johnny King, who happens to be Denise's bog brother. IN a profession where jobs are as stable as a house of cards, these are not good signs for Jenny. On day, while on the air, Johnny "accidentally" leaves the mike on while he asks Jenny to go to bed with him. The listeners lover the idea. Their relationship changes to one of mutual respect the day that Jenny gets him back but good, also on the air. Life gets difficult when Jenny's best friend, Gayle, turns up dead, connected to a drug scandal that could cost the station its license.
This one is quite good. It's easy to read, the author certainly knows her way around the radio biz, and the romance part isn't' too overwhelming for non-romance readers. Check this one out.
Reviewed by Paul Lappen - September 1999
The Book Buffet at www.bookreview.com
* * *
eBC Rating: 3.5
Red Wine for Breakfast feels like an insider's glimpse into the radio industry. Jenny is a intriguing heroine with a great sense of style. I love the way she gives Johnny King his comeuppance! Ms. West has a delightful comedic touch, and many times I caught myself smiling as I read. You'll be glued to the computer till the very end!
Reviewed by: eBook Connections www.ebookconnections.com
* * *
RED WINE FOR BREAKFAST pits hard, driven, in-control radio host Jenny Reed against her wisecracking, good-for-nothing foil Johnny King. The fact that Johnny is the station owner's brother does not help endear him to her. Nor does his determination to pay her back, on air, for an affair she just ended with the station owner's husband - his brother-in-law!
When the station is sold, bringing in a new owner, Jenny's control over her life begins to crack. More programming freedom means that her obnoxious co-host Johnny can irritate her even more than usual. Her producer begins playing the same music constantly on their show, and her best friend is found in a crumpled heap on a sidewalk - an apparent suicide. Jenny feels her tight rein on her feelings slipping and she doesn't like it one bit.
While authorities try to uncover the shady dealings that resulted in her friend's death, Johnny makes his move on a vulnerable Jenny. But after a wildly passionate night together they both realize that they've fallen in love. Surprise! Jenny hates surprises.
It takes the two of them a while to admit to each other what's going on, even as their professional relationship takes a turn for the better. But the satisfying conclusion to Raven West's RED WINE FOR BREAKFAST makes everything right in the end.
Reviewed by Pokyd
Writers Club Romance Group.
* * *
RED WINE FOR BREAKFAST
3 1/2 Stars
Jenny Reed is the morning personality for a LA radio station. Her life is on course, until the owner decides to give her a partner - one she doesn't want. Johnny King can just go back to wherever he came from and let her life go back to normal. Unfortunately, normalcy isn't something she'll find for a while. When the station is sold, problems seem to crop up everywhere, including the death of Jenny's best friend. Surviving the problems to find the light at the end of the tunnel is all she wants to do. However, is the light she's chasing the one she truly wants?
Raven West has crafted an intricate plot, with many layers. I wanted to see how she would pull it all together, giving a happy ending and she managed it! RED WINE FOR BREAKFAST is for readers looking for a brasher heroine - one who wants the world on her terms, no one else's.
- Reviewed by Karen Larsen
* * *
Summary: A contemporary story of love blossoming from the ashes of pain and betrayal. Jenny Reed is the morning announcer at station KKTM. Firmly ensconced in her position as Queen of the station, she does her job, and does it well. The sparks fly when Johnny King shows up, brother to the station's owner. The story unfolds with an immediate animosity and competition between the two to a deep and lasting love. Along the way life throws hurdles in their way, yet they tackle them together, learning to love and trust along the way.
Plotline: Every situation and dilemma is wrapped up in a neat tidy package, with no surprises left undone. A satisfying ending, that can only come about with the characters involved, RED WINE FOR BREAKFAST will not keep the reader guessing.
Characters: Jenny Reed made herself over into a strong independent woman, one who knows her job, and has worked hard to get there. Johnny King, the hero, is at first aggravating, but slowly evolves into a modern day Romeo with surprises enough to keep Jenny guessing. He is a delight by the end of the story, and a hero one can grow to love.
Writing Technique: Raven West is a talented author with a fresh approach to RED WINE FOR BREAKFAST. Although the situations are foreseeable, the dialogue is witty and contagious. Johnny King is not your typical hero--a cook and a philosopher--he's absolutely adorable by the end of the book. I believe readers will see much more of this writer in the future
Rhapsody Magazine - August 1999
* * *
Success is all Jenny Reed needs. She is on top of the world with her number one morning radio show. She is secure, happy and on top of the world. Then one day, Johnny King, a man known as "The Voice," is assigned to her show and the sparks begin to fly immediately between them. Just when Jenny manages to beat Johnny at his own game in one of the most delicious scenes of the novel, her world comes tumbling down when the body of her best friend is found. But was it really a suicide like the police believed, or was it a murder?
This novel really sparkles. An interesting story that takes the reader into the twisted labyrinth of the radio world of Los Angeles.
* * *
Reviewed by Pamela Wilfinger (MaidenFate@aol.com)
Rating: * * stars
The writing talent of Raven West sets the pace of the story which is frantic and certainly leaves the reader a bit breathless. Just when you think the plot has sputtered, West gets things hopping again with a surprise twist.
"Red Wine for Breakfast" is a quick read, and recommended for its twisty plot and interesting writing style.
* * *
MidWest Book Review:
Jenny Reed is a 34 year old born-again Californian from New York who plays "macho Monopoly" by her own rules -- winner take all. Jenny has the number one morning radio show on KKTM-FM in Los Angeles, a wonderful best friend, and a nice noncommittal affair with the station owner, Brian Allen. Her career was all she needed. Success was all she ever wanted -- until Johnny King became her on-air partner and challenged her to play his game. The day she beat him was the day she gained his respect. It was also the day she lost her best friend in an apparent suicide (or a possible murder). Real life radio personalities and a front page drug scandal bring realism to author Raven West's debut novel, set in a city where radio stations change formats like socks, and jobs are as secure as houses built on the San Andreas Fault Line. Red Wine For Breakfast is engaging, rewarding reading from beginning to end. Raven West's abilities to weave a story so viscerally and visually auger well for her budding career as a novelist.
* * *
Raven West has done an exceptional job in portraying radio disc jockeys in the glittery Los Angeles market. Jenny Reed and Johnny King are two very memorable and exciting characters. At times, I felt like I was there living their lives with them. For her first book, Raven has done a wonderful job, and I look forward to many more from this exciting author.
Julie A. Farrow - Author, EMERGENCY! Faith's Desire
* * *
Red Wine for Breakfast is a true winner from the title to the last page. A fun, in captivating read - this book was hard to put down. Raven West gives us a glimpse behind the scenes of the Radio Industry and to this day I find myself imagining what’s going on after the mike goes off on my drive each morning. The mix of characters in Red Wine for Breakfast matches the twists and turns this novel takes, making it exciting to the last page. I loved Red Wine for Breakfast and recommend it for a fun, exciting escape.
Reviewed by Jackie Miller 2/25/2001
Reviewed by Bev Robitai- Indie Author's Lounge
Auckland, New Zealand
The hero of this romance is indeed a first class male, which is refreshing in a genre where the heroes are often, at least at the start, domineering, truculent and aggressive. Alex Bentley is actually nice – a desirable male lead with integrity as well as good looks. He treats frustrated writer Rachel Clark with kindness and decency, never snarling or behaving badly as their relationship unfolds. Rachel is a lively and intelligent heroine, and she too behaves like a real person, not a limp flower at the mercy of her emotions.
Given that two such smart, sensible people would have no trouble in getting together, it takes a strong plot to keep them apart, and Raven West provides this very convincingly. The stakes increase with each turn of the story, leading to a fully satisfying conclusion thanks to the cleverness and persistence of the characters.
The writing style is clever too, there are repeated phrases and a symmetry in the characters’ actions which serve to lift First Class Male to well above average. You may feel that you know more about the US Postal service than you expected by the end of the book, but you’ll have enjoyed a strong and vibrant story about people who are well worth spending time with.
*****I have to warn you about this book. Once you pick it up a start reading it is almost impossible to put down and it will keep you up reading way past your bedtime. I have to use the classic phrase: it is a page turner. The plot and characters are very unique in many ways and very comfortable in others. I won’t spoil it for you so I will not talk about the story which features two very unlikely romantic lead characters. One is a retired lawyer from the NY City DA’s office want-to-be author and the other a rural postmaster living the life he totally loves.
Raven West has the amazing ability to create love stories that involve conflict, mystery and suspense. She brings her characters to life and they are very much alive. The relationships are always very romantic but remain on the excellent side of good taste. The geographic locations and scenes come to life as the action unfolds and provide a vivid stage for the story to unfold. There is suspense and drama set in New York City and up-state New York small towns. - CITIZENS JOURNAL - Reviewed by David Stewart
Leni Kaye - Contest Winner - Romancing the Book
I just finished First Class Male and Rachel and Alex are still with me.
Is there a sequel to this book and if so is there any mention of Bob the bartender in it?
I loved Alex and he was through and through a good guy. Normally, the good guys are shown as boring, but Alex had many dimensions that supported his beliefs (his heartbreak as a young man and his drive in his belief in his profession).
It confused me a bit in the end at the reception because his comments about marriage and babies and women staying home didn't go with the image that I got of him. I can understand his wanting to have a wife and children and bringing them up with the values that he believes in, but when he put down writing as a profession it didn't quite gel with everything that I read about him up to that point. And he writes, too. As I was reading I wondered if he was going to get published or something like that.
Also, I kept thinking that the letter that Rachel wrote to the Post Master General was somehow going to be exposed in some way. And she'd had the problem with character development and the male voice was weak. Alex's changes helped her get a deal, but he didn't want any credit. Then she needed his help again to start the next book. I just kind of had a feeling that the editor would see a difference in the writing. And it seemed as though she kind of blocked out the fact his changes improved her work.
I just kind of felt like Alex was treated harsher than her ex boyfriend and yet Rachel still felt a need to save her ex even after she found out that he kept his being married a secret when they slept together and his threats about reporting her for sleeping with her client. I don't think that Alex would've run so easily from Cynthia's threats and that Rachel would've forgiven him so easily. I'm not sure if I missed this, but when Rachel signed the deal the editor said that it was coming out in ebook first, but when she went on her first tour and when her room mate threw that party she was signing books.
I liked the way the descriptions were woven into the story like the one about ex boyfriends and old shoes. And the line about the only zipper in the room was undone. That was done well and added such flavor.
This book could also have been written as a bit of a romantic suspense. The character and the story grabbed me and I didn't want to stop reading.
I enjoyed seeing Rachael in action when she was in the courtroom and putting the case together. And it was good to see the Postal Service portrayed in a different light and getting a chance to see some of the inner workings of their world.
First Class Male delivers!
Thom Green, editor, The Summit City Mailbag
Summit City Branch No. 116, National Association of Letter Carriers
Fort Wayne, IN
Very few “outsiders” have taken up championing the good of the Postal Service over the years, let alone putting their thoughts to paper. Author Raven West is one such person, and she did just that in her latest book, First Class Male, (The Lighthouse Press, Inc.) Other books have been written in the past, chronicling the “going postal” phrase, but they concentrated on the violent side of the term. Ms. West doesn’t do that. She has taken the phrase, and through the character of a small-town postmaster expounded upon what is good with the Service.
In it’s own self praising way First Class Male appears directed towards the tight-knit family of postal employees. If that is the case, then it has hit its target. That’s not to say it’s not a book non-postal employees would not appreciate - because it is..
From the beginning, Ms. West describes PM Bentley at 32 years old as the fastest rising employee in his district to go from letter carrier to postmaster of Crystal Lake. She paints him as just an average guy, who hooked up with the post office to pass the time. In doing so she develops his character as a person who has come to love his job, and is extremely offended at every public attack. A trait so readily identifiable within the walls of all post offices. Because the author did such a complete job of researching her subject she didn’t have to take liberties with the truth, like so many other authors of fiction do.
First Class Male is not a tear jerking, good guy gets the girl in the end type of book. No, not at all. It is a book that provides all postal employees with the feeling there is someone from outside of our realm who cares about how we are constantly taking it on the chin, and that is refreshing. All clichés aside, First Class Male delivers.
Raven West: title - First Class Male
**** This story combined small town life with big city crowds. It showed surprising insight into the daily life of postal workers and readers will find the author seemed to do much research on the various duties in the job! The book has several sub-plots that will keep the readers involved and wondering what will happen next. However, the ending will leave many readers satisfied and many others frustrated! Very good reading within these pages!
Rachel Clark left her career as a New York lawyer for a shot at her dream of writing books. The man who had been her partner in the courtroom and her lover at home, Mark Greystone, refused to stand by her and left. For two Summers she rented a place in the small town of Crystal Lake. During that time the Postmaster, Alex Bentley, had witnessed Rachel's manuscripts for Legal Briefs be rejected dozens of times. When Rachel mentioned giving up if the manuscript was rejected again, Alex broke several postal regulations by holding her manuscript for one full day and spending the night making a few little changes to the story. Changes that sold the book, launched Rachel's writing career, and hurt their friendship that had recently become more. While Rachel was in New York promoting her new book and writing the next, Alex was promoted to Director of Postal Operations in Albany. The two are brought back together when Alex was arrested for allegedly embezzling two hundred and seventy-three thousand dollars from the post office while he worked in Crystal Lake! Rachel stopped everything to be his attorney, especially when she found out that Mark Greystone was the one trying to lock him up!
**** HUNTRESS BOOK REVIEWS
(Reviewed by Detra Fitch)
* * *
Raven West carries a first-rate story populated with involving characters through to the reader's emotional doorstep. An delightful and excellent read. - William F. DeVault, author.
Review by Bill Riepe,
Literary critic and book reviewer for the Cheesequake Village Voice.
In this second novel Raven West introduces us to Rachel Clark, a tough, sharp, successful assistant prosecutor in New York. With a great career, a fashionable apartment, and a well-endowed stud for a lover Rachel would seem to be a girl who has it all, right? Well, not quite. The hard, flinty, go-for-the-jugular persona we see in the courtroom isn’t really Rachel at all, at least not the whole Rachel. She has become disenchanted with life in the fast lane, and the law no longer holds zest for her. Nagged by a restless urge to write, she turns away from the rat race and retreats to the mountain fastness of Crystal Lake to pursue her Muse.
There, freed from the distractions of the big city, she completes her novel, titled Legal Briefs, inspired in part by her experiences in the D.A.’s office. Although postage expenses for the ms. soon begin to rival the national debt, and she gets an occasional word of encouragement from an editor, the book doesn’t sell. Rachel finds herself at the end of a long, dismal, seemingly endless paper trail of rejection. With funds low and morale even lower she’s on the threshold of despair, filled with that dark, deep down dread of every unpublished writer: "Maybe I have no talent."
Succor comes from a most unlikely source. The local postmaster, Alex Bentley, has a keen eye for a comely lass, and Rachel is all of that. More importantly, he’s a gentleman of sensitivity and discernment, not exactly qualities one expects to find in a small rural post office. As the author of some published non-fiction pieces himself, he understands well that the return of each one of those bulky envelopes means another rejection for Rachel, and he begins to share her disappointment.
When one of her mss. accidentally falls from a mail pouch, Alex cannot resist the temptation to read it, and thereby sets in motion a remarkable series of events. With an intuitive sense for plot and drama he makes a few key revisions that transform an ordinary story line into a winner, and mails it off. Rachel, of course, is entirely unaware of his intervention.
The book is not only accepted by a prestigious publishing house, but Rachel is signed to a four book contract. She’s overjoyed until she sees the first proofs and realizes someone has tampered with her work without her knowledge and consent. The fact that it has been improved is of no consequence to her; she’s furious and determined to find the "culprit" Alex, wary of her displeasure, is reluctant to reveal his role and, besides, he is the last person Rachel would suspect of having been the agent of the unauthorized revisions.
That’s as much as can be told here without compromising the story. Suffice it to say that from this point on the author skillfully blends a mixture of romance, mystery and suspense into a marvelous concoction that explodes into a surprise ending. You may think you’ve got this one figured out, but take it from me you couldn’t be more wrong.
Raven West has also created a testimonial, a ringing endorsement of the splendid work done by the men and women of the United States Postal Service. Her research must have been prodigious, because authenticity leaps from every page. We learn, for example, that the famous Postal Service motto, Neither snow nor rain ……etc., is a phrase that had been translated by a Harvard University professor, George H. Palmer, from the text of a poem by the Greek writer, Herodotus.
Red Wine For Breakfast, Raven West’s first novel, established her as an interesting new writer on the scene, and held out the promise of exciting things to come. That pledge has been amply redeemed with this book. With First Class Male Raven West has done a First Class Job.