The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton


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My ebook “The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton” has won the silver in the contemporary romance category of the 2015 Global Ebook Awards


Below are two comments from the judges.
No.1 The Loves and Tribulations of Detective Stephen Carlton by Rene Natan - The book cover does not do justice to this well crafted saga of the Detective Stephen Carlton's life story spanning some 30 years. The characters are likeable, scenes descriptive. The story seamlessly depicts the complicated love life, family life and detective/crime solver as they unfold. The author has written essentially three books in one - each is so coherent that it could be a stand alone novel.

No.2 This book is very reflective of real life. It depicts through the characters of all ages the struggles to try and survive, grow and interact with people in their lives. While dark at times it keeps the reader engaged and pulls you forward to see what is on the next page. The details are solid while not becoming overwhelming and distracting. A very enjoyable read at one level. A very interesting view of life at a deeper level.
Stephen William Carlton has not had good luck with women—not because of his looks or personality but rather because misfortune seems to befall his lovers.

There was April, a not-so-innocent but beautiful young prostitute. Steve met her while she was still a “working girl.” He saw her as she really was, generous and sweet; so he helped her by providing emotional support and professional counseling. April responded to the counseling but ended up in the arms of another man, a rich man. After a relatively short time her husband died, leaving her in a legal battle with her in-laws. Again Steve is there for her and provides the emotional support she needs. This time she does end up in his arms, and their future looks bright. Fate, however, has another agenda; and April is murdered by a sick and distorted person—so sick that years later Steve still doesn’t hate the murderer; instead, he blames himself for not being there to protect April.

Distraught, Steve tries to keep his life together and builds a wall of emotional unavailability; he cannot risk losing his heart again. That is, until Gillian Moreland enters his life. Gillian is sweet, innocent, and attractive, and she turns out to be the love of his life and eventually the mother of his three sons. After eight years of bliss, destiny once again enters Steve’s life and steals his happiness: His beloved Gillian dies suddenly from a brain aneurysm.
Years pass before the next woman comes into Steve’s life—blonde, pretty, athletic, and twenty years his junior. Sparks are set flying and some provocative tête-à-têtes occur. Sample this great passage:
“…I’d do anything you ask.” Her voice was just a whisper. She was so close to him that her hair, lifted by the wind, grazed his face.
“…Anything I ask?…That is a pretty strong statement…What would you do if I asked for something…” He stopped and looked straight into her eyes, “for something of an intimate nature?”
Carlton kept watching her as he stored the wrench in the toolbox. Slowly he moved again behind the propeller, waiting for her reaction. There was none. No offense or anxiety shown and no withdrawal, thought Carlton. Vern was right: She’s a high-stakes player.
Indeed, this woman, Mary White, aka Livia, aka Maryli, does play with high stakes—her very life. She is being chased by the law for the hideous torture and murder of Peter Bishop in her father’s house.
The murder of Peter Bishop is quite gruesome—almost revolting. He is found with his hands tied, gun and nail wounds, and a broken neck. In front of him is a signed confession detailing how he raped and brutalized many women.

In a series of twists Rene Natan weaves a complicated but compelling mystery. The backbone of the mystery is the developing romance between Steve and Livia. Ms. Natan loves exotic locations and skillfully places her characters all over the world including the remote jungles of Venezuela and the elegance of Switzerland. Ms. Natan does not fall into the trap that so many romance novelists do fall into—inadequate character development. Indeed, Rene Natan takes the time to flesh out her characters and their lives.

Take the victim, Peter Bishop:
Raised in a rich family, his mother is inattentive and reckless. She is killed a car crash that leaves him physically and mentally scarred. Placed into a foster home despite the fact that he has rich relatives, Peter develops into a very nasty piece of work. Peter is kinky and enjoys brutalizing women. His intelligence enables him to become a successful lawyer, but his destructive and violent personality runs underneath his refined exterior—accusations of rape at 17 years of age, but with no charges filed; misappropriation of client funds; and a series of violent rapes. He is a good victim—a psychopath and a lawyer.
Rene Natan’s other characters are also fleshed out so the reader develops rapport with them—always the key to a good book.
Cross of Sapphires is a genuine mystery and superb romance story and a great page-turner. Like any good mystery writer Rene Natan leads her readers in different directions and delivers an ending that does come as a surprise.
As a mystery and as a romance this novel deserves a read.
What impressed me most about this book?
My first impression of the novel, Cross of Sapphires, was that of a tidy book with a colorful, eye-catching cover. I liked the clean look and page layout that was inviting and easy to read.
Author Natan is an accomplished writer who has the ability to draw the reader quickly into the arena of action through her varied and colorful descriptions. I was right there during the plane crash, the hunting scene, the discovery of Bishop’s body… the house in Switzerland… Natan made sparkle with life. She has a talent for visual description as well as the ability to create strong, believable characters.

Writing presents no problem for her. For me, the story structure was disappointing. It took me a while to sort out the names: Carlton/ who finally turns out to be Steve Carlton, and is only called Carlton in the first few pages— after Carl is brought into the story. A minor speed bump that unfortunately occurred as the reader tries to settle in.

My biggest problem was with the focus. I thought (hoped) that the main story line would be about Livia, the love of his life, but she lost out to April in a flashback that took over most of the book. The rule for flashbacks is that they should be used when the action in the past is stronger than the action in the present. To me, the Livia story was stronger because we already knew that April was out of the picture. When Livia reappears it feels like an afterthought, I think in part, because the transition from present to past and past to present was not strong enough.
I don’t mean to imply that most of the scenes were not well defined. They were. The scenes were well done and each of the separate story lines were interesting but I felt that the plot was fragmented.
There were some excellent romantic scenes such as in Chapter Nine. On page twenty-two I loved the line—“he felt wanted by Livia but not possessed by her” And later, the line that read: —a caldron of suppositions. I was also impressed by Natan’s ability to portray family relationships. The boys were interesting plus they added another dimension to Steve’s character.

To the authors’ credit, the plot had many twist and turns and in the end, everything is explained satisfactorily. Cheers, Phyllis Taylor Pianka.


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