Only If You Dare

Long and Short Reviews

Given that Ms. Hoornstra sets Only If You Dare smack in the middle of the difficult emotional background of a PTSD victim and counselor, you may be forgiven for thinking this will be a depressing and difficult read. It is neither.

The author’s heroine, Cynthia Buckingham, is a well intention-ed, and well-qualified PSTD counselor. She’s read the books, passed the exams and helped victims face their future with all the tools they need.

Or has she?

War veteran, Jonah Colt, has seen it all, and survived to return home, but the memories, experiences, guilt and regrets are his constant companions. Never-the-less he’s managed to glue over the cracks and make a presentable life for himself – until he bumps into Cynthia Buckingham in the hallway of the local courthouse – and then his life changes.

The author’s characters take the reader through the trials when practice meets theory and the effects it has on her hero and heroine in a realist and sympathetic manner, and with a light touch that took this reader right into the situation. I felt Cynthia’s frustration, and Jonah’s anger. I watched as they struggled to overcome major differences and sympathized with both while wanting to knock their heads together on a couple of occasions.

Ms. Hoornstra’s writing style offers an easy read, provides clear settings and a smooth transition from scene to scene. Her character’s have depth, both in their strengths and their flaws. Her minor characters balance the struggles her hero and heroine have with learning to trust, that while they ‘listen’ they truly ‘hear’ what the other is saying.

In a short story this author has used a difficult subject to create believable characters, and a charming, easy-to-read, sweet romance.

4 Star Review from The Romance Review – Night Stars and Mourning Doves

Three-In-One Virtual Book Tour

December 5, 2011 – Rogue’s Angels
December 5, 2011 – Review by Molly
December 6, 2011 – Good Family Reads
December 7, 2011 – I Just Wanna Sit Here and Read
December 8, 2011 – Among the Muses
December 9, 2011 – Live To Read

Next Tuesday at Two

The Long and the Short of It Reviews – Moonflower Review:

Next Tuesday at Two is a wonderfully sweet but spicy story. Ms. Hoornstra has constructed a believable plot and interesting characters. The pacing of the story was steady and didn’t lag; it is a real page turner. My only regret is that the story had to end. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything because of the length of the book. Ms. Hoornstra did an excellent job of development and storytelling. While I wanted more I don’t feel unfulfilled. I am very satisfied, sated and pleased.

Great job Ms. Hoornstra! You have made a first time reader a major fan. I highly recommend Next Tuesday at Two for a curl up in your comfy chair with a warm blanket and a glass of wine type of read.

To Be or Not

The Romance Studio:

The Class of 1985 is planning its twenty-five year reunion, but neither Barry nor Amanda is in the mood to celebrate. Both have returned to their small hometown under less than ideal circumstances. Amanda is still reeling from the end of her abusive marriage and successful advertising career. Barry was a very successful catcher on the Baltimore Orioles until he suffered a career ending injury. The two were an item in high school but their romance ended badly. They are now both working for the local minor league baseball team and Barry is determined to win back the only woman that he has ever loved.

This is a very well written story of love lost and found again. The author does a great job of describing life in a small town with the added appeal of the atmosphere surrounding the workings of a minor league baseball team. A high school reunion is usually a source of interesting romantic plots and this story is no exception. I always enjoy reading about how people have changed and remained the same over the years. Barry and Amanda’s romance will pull you in immediately, but the subplots of the high school reunion and one of the ball player’s troubles with the law will also catch the reader’s interest. The members of the Class of 1985 are a diverse group that I hope to read more about.

Overall rating: 
Sensuality rating: Explicit
Reviewer: Maura Frankman
March 7, 2012

Glad Tidings

The Long and the Short of It Reviews – Larkspur Review:

Starting over is never fun but Bethany Thomas believes shes going to get it right this time. Jake Holbrook has loved Bethany for all of his life and now that she’s back in his life he never wants to let her go. But sometimes life gets in the way of love, and love alone is rarely enough even when the two people involved are so right for each other.

Margo Hoornstra is an amazing storyteller which is apparent when she crams a full novel into 146 pages and does it so skilfully that her readers won’t feel one bit cheated by the small number of pages involved. She gives us great narrative that fits each and every character from her snobbish doctors and socialites to the smallest child in her cast.

Her plot is one that always speaks to my heart that of second chances and she gives her characters the maturity that matches their ages. Yes, her characters have a few miles under their belts, they’re not twenty or even thirty-somethings trying to stumble their way into adulthood they are adults and act accordingly. Her hero Jake and heroine Bethany are so well developed that by the second or third chapter she’s intimated them to her readers so well we feel we know them. They literally shine the whole way through the novel as they try, fail and try again for their so deserved Happy Ever After. Will they get it? Well you’ll have to read it for yourself, no spoilers allowed.

The romance is touching, melancholy and sweet and her readers will feel each emotion that her characters live through. Her love scenes are sensual and sexy, but full of sweet romance. All in all its one heck of a tale and even the staunchest of readers will feel their heart swell by the end of the read.

If you are a lover of second chance romances, of characters who are of a certain age, of casts that have meaningful and important careers and yet speak to the common person, or if you, like me, are just a born romantic and need a feel-good tale then look no farther than this wonderfully scripted tale.

Kudos to you Ms. Hoornstra for one incredible romantic ride.

Honorable Intentions

The Long and the Short of It Reviews – Fennel Review:

Instant attraction, denials, and misunderstanding laced with a liberal helping of a bitchy ex-wife and her scheming husband ensure there’s plenty of emotion on every page of this story. Add to the mix a beguiling daughter whose growth throughout the story endears her to Ms Hoornstra’s readers and characters alike.

Samantha Wells lends new meaning to stubborn. Her return to work starts with an obnoxious phone call from the work-colleague from hell, gloating over her new assignment — information he shouldn’t be privy to. His challenge to her to get a life hits a raw note, and lights a fuse to an emotional rocket that threatens to go berserk, so when she runs into Chase Canfield in her favorite coffee shop and sparks fly, she decides to go for it.

When Chase Canfield discovers his daughter’s new bodyguard is the same woman who’d come on to him earlier, disillusionment and anger set in. How can he trust the woman, with morals that equal an alley-cat’s, to look after his most precious treasure, his daughter?

The list of characters are mixed and varied and each propels their scene forward lending pace and energy to her main characters. With two such strong main characters, you may be forgiven for thinking their immediate supporting cast could not do them justice. Chase’s daughter Lisa blossoms beneath the new environment that Samantha brings to their lives, and just when you think everything is working out splendidly up pops the bitchy ex again with one more challenge.

Grandma’s Friends

The Long and Short Of It – Dandelion Review:

Anyone who’s ever been set up on a blind date will take pity on poor Laura who, at thirty-five, has resorted to letting her grandmother do just that. But just when she agrees to another date, she meets Ted, who seems too good to be true. While I enjoyed this sweet story, I did feel that some of the details weren’t filled in, and some plot problems were conveniently skipped over, so that the end result is a somewhat uneven romantic tale.

There is a bit of a secret/mistaken identity in the first half of the story, which is pretty predictable. Still, it doesn’t really take away from the progression of Laura and Ted’s romance. But when Laura sees Ted kissing another woman in the restaurant after their first date, rather than just ask him, “What the heck was that?” she mopes around and ignores his phone calls and his advances for another ten days.

Both Ted and Laura are likable characters, though I wish the author had been a little more descriptive about what Laura does for a living. Ted installs computer systems, but all I know about Laura is that she works in an office that needs them. I liked her grandmother though, a relative who meddles in affairs of the heart but in a good way. We can tell she wants the best for her granddaughter.

Because of the obvious way in which Laura could have resolved her issue with Ted, the plot of this story lacks real tension, but in the end, these two find happiness together, which is all that really matters, right? Grandma’s Friends is a nice reminder that love, for anyone at any age, can wait right around the corner so don’t give up on those blind dates just yet!

More Than A Memory 

Five Angels!

Fallen Angel Reviews – Teresa Review:

Ms. Hoornstra has written an interesting short story that has the beginning of an interesting plot line. The idea of losing everything and starting over again is scary to most people, but if you look at it as an adventure then anything is possible. Leah is one such woman who has gone through a rough patch, but with a little help from a surprising direction she might just find what she was always looking for. Get this book to see what happens and how Leah picks up the pieces of her life to go on living. Thanks go to Ms. Hoornstra for an interesting read.


Long And Short Of It – Snapdragon Review:

Ms. Hoonstra’s ‘More than a Memory,’ leaps so realistically from the pages, the story might be part of your own past.

Main character Leah Collins not altogether willingly finds herself in a place she’d left long ago…among people she’d not given second thought to in a decade. Sydney, Minnesota is a long way from Miami, in a whole lot of different ways. Leah can’t help comparing the who she is, to the might-have-beens.

And, when one of those might-have-beens offers dinner: well, perhaps home will be more welcoming than ever before.

Ms. Hoonstra pulls off this gentle, slightly introspective story beautifully. The short story medium was never so poignant.

All On Her Own

The Long and the Short of It – Rose Review:

If you are in the mood for a quick read during lunch break, you could do a lot worse than check out ‘All on Her Own’, the latest short story from Margo Hoornstra. Nancy Carter, facing her fortieth birthday, also has to face her sister, a happy newly-wed and her constant matchmaking.

If you’ve ever been faced with blind dates from well-meaning friends and relatives, you will appreciate the dilemma Nancy finds herself in. And, if you’ve ever been embarrassed by someone really neat seeing you make a scene, you’ll also be able to see yourself in Nancy’s shoes as she sees her car being eaten by a car wash.

Aside from a couple of editing problems, I can wholeheartedly recommend this story if you want a short story that will warm your heart and make you fall in love all over again. Nancy’s character is one you would want to be friends with and Rob seems like the kind of man you wouldn’t mind getting to know. My only regret is since it is so short you don’t get Rob’s point of view, but Ms. Hoornstra does an excellent job letting you see him through Nancy’s eyes. I look forward to more of her stories.

Forgotten Alliance

Three and three quarters Hearts! A great read!

Night Owl Romance – Dianna Coyle Review:

Sarah and Greg Novak were married for twenty years. They have both become so preoccupied with things such as work and children, that they started drifting apart from each other.

Greg decided that it was best if he took his needs to someone else, particularly Miranda Conklin. Once Sarah found out about his affair, directly from Miranda herself, she was devastated. Miranda, of course, figured that this was paving the way for Greg to finally leave his wife and family behind and start the life she wanted with him. All Sarah kept wondering was how she didnt see this coming. Then the time finally came to confront Greg and what he had done to her and the family.

How did Sarah confront Greg when he got home that night? Did he open up to her about everything or did he try to squirm his way out of the situation? What was their next plan of action?

This was an entertaining read for me. My heart went out to Sarah for being strong enough to talk directly to Miranda. I was hoping that she would stay strong not only for her children, but also for herself. Ms. Hoornstra displayed quite a bit of emotion throughout these pages of her story. I would recommend this story definitely for other readers to pick up.


Four and a half Clovers!
CK2S Kwips and Kritiques – Sandra Review:

After two decades of marriage you would imagine you are home free with your marriage, however sometimes life throws us curve ball…

We meet Greg and Sarah at a point in their lives when they take each other and their relationship for granted. The issues that they never discuss, the jokes instead of plain speaking and the level of priority that they never give to each other and their marriage; all make up the backdrop for this short story. Something had to give and it did. Sarah not only learns of Greg’s infidelity, but from a most unexpected source.

The bottom line – Who can say how hard it is to stay strong to their conviction of what is acceptable in a marriage, when the reality is actually upon them. Can you be strong enough to realize what you have and be able to forgive?
The characters are believable and the story line is an age old one. However, I was very impressed with the level of emotional investment into these characters by Ms Hoornstra.

The story is short and at the end wished I could have stayed with Greg and Sarah a little longer. I defy even the hardest of heart to come away from this story with anything but respect for Ms. Hoornstras style of writing and praise for the strength of her characters.


Good Read!

Between the Lines – Lynda Coker Review:

By the time I’d finished the first three pages of Forgotten Alliance, its author, Margo Hoornstra, had managed through her emotional narrative to tighten my chest with grief and hopeless despair. Sarah Novak’s heart-rending devastation, and her husband’s certainty that his unforgivable mistake was truly unforgivable, would not loosen its grip on me. I had to read to the finish and so will you. This is a short read that will stick in your most secret thoughts for a very long time.

When the World is Right

The Long And Short Of It – Snapdragon Review:

“When the World is Right,’ gets contemporary romance just so cuddly-right!

The cover image says it all, from contemplative man to round-eyed kitten. Brian is admirably (although apparently slowly) sensitive, and Casey, the upset wife might give you a little glint of self-recognition.

The overall warmth of this story is carefully supported by the physical descriptions within. The snowy day, the warmth of the Dutch colonial architecture, and even the little calico kitten contribute to the heartwarming aura. The writing is vibrant and descriptive and places the reader right into each scene.

This is the ultimate feel-good romance; I’ll be looking for Hoornstra’s next.


Joyfully – Katharine Review

When the World is Right is a reflective story of a man very much in love with his wife, and hoping they can work through their problems. There is more introspection and flashbacks than interaction between Brian and Casey, but given the length of the story, it worked perfectly.


Dee Dailey Review

A romantic day window shopping and dreaming of the future turns into a huge argument for Brian and Casey Hawthorn. She asks him to buy a kitten. Without thought his fears kick in and come out of his mouth. Her reaction follows and he ends up walking out. After a night in a motel he’s at the door with a gift, hoping she’ll be able to forgive him and take him back.

Margo Hoornstra seems to be reminding us how easily simple things can turn into major battles between people. Most couples can probably relate to the situation of the characters. Dreaming of the future seems to be easy until that next step of actual commitment faces Brian. The kitten was a simple thing but Brian had to confront his fears and insecurities about much more than just a little four legged fur ball. A night of separation seems to be just the thing for him. This is a well told tale of a man facing his fears in a good way.

Oh So Right 

WRDF Review – Andrea Review

Love is not only for the young; it can happen to anyone. Megan and Randy have known each other all their lives and are good friends. They are also still single.

Oh, So Right is a really good, entertaining, heart-warming story with a good storyline. Well worth reading.


The Long and Short of It Reviews – Black-eyed Susan Review

This is just a wonderful short story!

Ms. Hoornstra has done a lovely job painting a verbal portrait of two people who belong together and the circumstance that helps them realize it. There is enough conflict to keep it interesting; the action, pacing, and dialogue are realistic and move the story toward a sweet climax.

This would be a wonderful read in conjunction with a relaxing cup of tea. I highly recommend it!

Happily Ever After

Four Champagne Flutes!

Cocktails Reviews – Singapore Sling

This is the kind of sweet, quick read you might find amongst the pages of a women’s magazine. But even in a short read, the author had done a fine job at making Sarah a real character that the reader can identify with. . . .The story is told from Sarah’s POV so we don’t learn much about Alex, but his actions speak louder than words. . .(and) his thoughtfulness is demonstrated. . .Alex and Sarah make a sweet couple who will make you go awww when you reach the end of this charming short story.



Simply Romance Reviews – Tonie

In many ways, shorter stories are more difficult to write than long novels. One must capture the reader, make his/her characters interesting, and tell the story all in a very few pages. Happily Ever After by Margo Hoornstra does just that with great success. She immediately puts you into the head of the main character, Sarah Walters, a divorced woman raising her daughter solo who despite having been hurt, still wishes for her knight in shining armor. Sarah’s dream is placed before you in the first couple of pages and then we meet the man who can fulfill that dream, the principal of her daughters school, Alex Carter. In the short span of this story we see the two dancing around each other in a very sweet and shy way.

The only complaint I have about Happily Ever After, is that I would like to see more of Sarah’s story, to see if Alex really is her knight in shining armor. I definitely recommend this as a short and sweet read.

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