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Read the latest reviews for BEYOND THE LIES!




"Beyond the Lies tells a poignant story of a woman in terms that we can all understand, and many can identify with today.  Tracking Gloria through her life, viewing things through her eyes, and counting the consequences is done with care and skill.  The reader is drawn in to the story, experiences the frustration, and learns to care what happens to her.  The trick is trying to get Beyond the Lies to the truth, and then be able to live within its parameters.  That is Gloria’s challenge, and you are invited along for the ride."  Reviewed by Rosemarie Brungard, Heartstrings & Romance @ Heart
HOLE IN HER HEART has taken first place in this reviewer’s top reads of 2004. This novel grabbed her heart and attention from page one, and never stopped flowing in her mind. Once the book was put down, she could not stop wondering "what next" and waiting for time to grab just a few minutes to read "one more chapter."

 Reviewed by Angie, Love Romances


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Unravelings This is an anthology of mystery and horror stories in the tradition of those wonderful old Alfred Hitchcock books where dark crime and supernatural stories sit comfortably side by side...~Cemetery Dance Review

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Beyond the Mundane: Unravelings  Reviews

This is an anthology of mystery and horror stories in the tradition of those wonderful old Alfred Hitchcock books where dark crime and supernatural stories sit comfortably side by side. Most of the contributing authors, with a few notable exceptions, won't be familiar to horror fans, and are better known for their work in other genres. This does not mean they don't know how to tell chilling tales, however. [Among] the twenty-eight stories collected, Carolyn Russell provides a pair of tales featuring horrible husbands and fathers getting their due.  ~Cemetery Dance Review

Hole in Her Heart Reviews:

Sensual Rating:  Sparks, smolders

Rating: 4 1/2 Flames

Like many young women of her time (1955) Julie Mitchell still lives with her parents and is only working while she waits for the current version of Prince Charming to appear. She is convinced love will find her in the person of a wonderful man. When she meets Rick Danbury at a USO Dance at Fort Harrison near her Indiana home, she is instantly smitten. That fateful meeting sets the tone for the rest of her life.


Rick, scion of wealth and privilege, is not a happy young man. He is burdened by guilt for the Oedipus complex that has him pursuing older women and drinks too much. However, he almost worships Julie and puts her on a pedestal, separate from his normal womanizing habits. They never do consummate their relationship. When he gets transferred to New Mexico, distance taxes their bond until it eventually unravels when Rick feels he has to marry one of his conquests who turns up pregnant. Julie is heart broken and quickly weds the youngest executive in the insurance company where she works. Although the marriage is not based on love, it is sound and endures, giving her two children.


Many years later, after her husband is killed by a drunken driver, Julie’s dying mother admits Rick came back once and wanted to see her. Julie decides then to try to find out whatever happened to him. This quest leads her to New Mexico and a circle of friends, who were with him to the end, to revelations that both trouble and elate her, and to the possibility of a new relationship, perhaps built on sounder factors than fairy tale romance mixed with lust.


Hole in Her Heart is a powerful portrayal of human faults and frailty and the amazing power of love to change people’s lives, both for good and for ill. The characters are not always admirable but they are human, believable and sympathetic. Julie grows from a somewhat shallow and frivolous girl to a woman with deep emotions and unexpected strengths. I found myself hoping for the best for her since she had surely paid her dues. This one is well worth the time to read and will stick in your mind for much longer. I expect it will end up on many a reader’s keeper shelf.


Alegria, Reviewer for Word Museum


Julie Mitchell was both a product of her generation, and yet she wasn’t. Both beautifully feminine, and determinedly independent, she took pride in the fact that she didn’t need a man to make her complete. Yet she never could quite stop looking for Mr. Right. So when her best friend talked -- ok, whiningly cajoled -- her into dancing in the current USO show, Julie reluctantly agreed. When the most handsome man she’d ever laid eyes on brought her a Coke, Julie had enough common sense, and romantic nonsense, in her head to flirt outrageously with him. When he responded in kind, she was elated. Maybe, just maybe, she’d found The One. The one to spend her life with.

Rick Danbury was the consummate ladies' man. Translate that to mean he had more sexual experience than Julie could ever dream about! Yet when Rick was with Julie, even though he was attracted to her -- he wasn’t dead! -- he wanted more than just sex. And so they waited. Well, they waited to have sex with each other. Rick, however, kept practicing his bedroom skills on other women. He figured that it was keeping him from pushing Julie for more than she wanted to give. Besides, he liked the idea of a virgin bride! What he didn’t count on was an unplanned pregnancy with one of his current bed partners. His somewhat skewed moral code  -- the same one that allowed him to sleep with any number of willing women -- forced Rick to marry her.

Julie’s heart was broken when Rick got married. She decided then that any other man she might ever be with had to adore her more than she cared about him. And when she finally did marry, that’s exactly how it was. Although fond of her husband, she never came to love him. Only Rick would ever have that from her.

After her husband died many years later, with her children grown with families of their own, Julie once again found her thoughts consumed by Rick. Although she had thought of him frequently throughout the years, she had never allowed herself to dwell on “what might have been." When she found out from her mother that Rick had attempted see her again, right before the birth of her first child, Julie knew that she had to find him again. She set out on a quest that took her to New Mexico, where he had last lived. What she found there broke her heart all over again. But it also allowed her to heal the hurt from decades past. Rick would always have her heart.

Hole in Her Heart was wonderful and tragic at the same time. Not your typical romance, this tale did not end in a “happily ever after” for our hero and heroine. Carolyn Russell took a great chance with devoted romance readers in writing this beautiful story. And in my opinion, it paid off handsomely! The feeling of “rightness” in bringing Julie and Rick together, against all odds, stays with you right until the end. Without giving away the ending, which I feel needs to be experienced by the readers themselves, that “rightness” is there despite the plot twist.

Although sometimes seeming a bit naïve, Hole in Her Heart brings a poignancy to romance novels that is sometimes missing from today’s world where everything is about sex, and things happen unrealistically fast. The fact that this novel takes place over several decades is refreshingly old-fashioned. Carolyn Russell is a magnificent storyteller! I can’t wait to read more from her!

Reviewed by Tracy Atencio Heart Strings Reviews

Love Never Ends."  1 Corinthians 13:8

Carolyn Russell has created a tale filled with honor and true love, yet packed with sadness. 

Julie Mitchell is a small town Indiana girl who falls in love with a soldier in 1955. When she finds out her soldier, Aaron Fredrick "Rick" Wythe Danbury, married an older woman, Julie is devastated but determined to pick up the pieces of her heart and move on with her life. When she marries Harry Stone to escape Rick's memory, she is not in love, but cares for him. They have a happy marriage, and make their life together work, but Julie feels love never ends and that Rick still has her heart.

When her mother was on her death bed, Julie learns that Rick had returned to her after she married, and her mother hid the news for years, trying to save Julie the heart break of knowing he still loved her. Twenty-five years after they last had contact Julie begins a nine year search for the Rick Danbury she loved. After many twists and turns, a surprise ending will tug at readers’ heart strings.

HOLE IN HER HEART has taken first place in this reviewer’s top reads of 2004. This novel grabbed her heart and attention from page one, and never stopped flowing in her mind. Once the book was put down, she could not stop wondering "what next" and waiting for time to grab just a few minutes to read "one more chapter." 

Part One, set in 1955, is a tale filled with humor and love. Julie and Rick draw the reader into their love and uncertain future, leaving the reader wanting more for both of them. While Rick is a womanizer, his true love for Julie shines through making him a man of honor. Julie is the innocent girl who places her heart in Rick's hands, and trusts that true love will lead them to happiness. When Julie finds Rick has betrayed her trust and married another woman, she is devastated but picks up the pieces. Her ability to sustain a marriage that did not fulfill her need to love makes her a perfect heroine who grew from a girl to a strong woman.

Reviewed by Angie  Love Romances


The year is 1955, and twenty-year-old Julie Mitchell's life is about to change when she meets the man of her dreams while dancing at the local servicemen's club. Julie has agreed to be a dancing girl in the Christmas show at the urging of her friend -- an event that will alter the future.

    Julie falls in love with Rick Danbury that very night. Rick is from South Carolina, is full of charm, and has an eye for the women. He's an Army enlisted man escaping the trouble he's caused while at college. Julie sees and hears about his shortcomings, but they don't seem to matter to her. Even though Rick is a playboy, his feelings for Julie become very real. So real, in fact, that he can't bring himself to use her in a way he's used all the other women in his life. Since a woman Rick has been sleeping with claims to be pregnant, Rick elopes with her, leaving Julie with a broken heart and nothing but a good-bye letter.

    Will Julie ever be able to get over her broken heart? Can she patch it with a marriage to another man? Julie marries a man from work and goes on to have children and a long marriage. In 1981 Julie is 46 and finds herself a widow. At the urging of her mother, Julie starts to think about the possibilities of seeing Rick again. Where will she even begin to look for him? What's happened to him over the last 25 years? Did he forget her?

    Julie's slow search for Rick uncovers many roads and paths they each took that led them to where they are now. This is a must read for any woman who has had a first love that left a hole in her heart. Things aren't always as they seem to us when we are able to get a glimpse from the other side. This book feels more like a true love story rather than a fiction read or a Hollywood movie ending outcome. A truly enjoyable bittersweet story and a wonderful read.

Michelle Shealy, My Shelf Reviews

Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Mildly sensual

Reviewer: Louise Riveiro-Mitchell, The Romance Studio

It has been said that love can last forever even beyond time, but only what they say.

Julie Mitchell believes it, though she didn't always though.

When she was in her early twenty's she met a young man in the service at a USO dance. Rick Danbury was everything a girl could dream of or want and soon Rick and Julie were seen together frequently. Julie was young and impressionable and soon she fell in love with Rick. Rick on the other hand was not the type to settle down and marry, but he still had strong feelings for Julie. Romance was in the cards for these two and when Rick broke Julies's heart by marrying another she never thought she would get over it. She eventually married a local man who worked in the firm she was with. She had a full life and raised two children yet there was always the memory of Rick that haunted her.

It wasn't until her mother lay on her death bed that Julie found out that Rick had come back for her only it was too late, Julie was already married. Two souls that were destined for each other yet the time wasn't right. Is there such a thing as love lasting beyond? Read the book and make your own conclusion.

Beyond The Lies Reviews:

Life was easy growing up, but there were secrets hidden from her, tension of which she was only too aware.  Gloria Jean Hamilton grew up as spoiled and as pampered as the times and the family income would allow.  What she had or didn’t have did not phase the strong-willed child, nor did it keep her from turning into a delightful young woman.  There is only one dark spot growing up that really makes an indelible impression, and it is one that would eventually alter her life entirely.  On her thirteenth birthday, her cousin tried to rape her, claiming they weren’t related, and brought the differences that she had felt for so long into focus.  She always felt different, out of place in the family.  She was taller than her mother already, and closing in on her father as well.  Tall was not a family trait, they did the average, and it was clear that when it came to height, Gloria was doing tall.  She had her father’s dark hair, her mother’s green eyes, but there were any number of factors that could have explained those traits.
The taunt that she was adopted was a life changing thing for Gloria.  The challenge was set, and it was one that she would spend the rest of her life pursuing.  It was not that Gloria is ungrateful, but it’s a search for identity, completion, and an end to the feeling of incompleteness that has dogged her every step.  In the ensuing years, Gloria takes the pieces of the puzzle, hoarding them like jewels, and trying to ferret out the truth.  Her parents, Doris and Ralph are no help, her mother, stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the truth.  When confronted, Doris uses many delaying tactics, until the fateful day that Gloria decides to pull out the stops.  Tired of the lies and half truths, she confronts her mother.  This is only the beginning for Gloria realizes that her whole life growing up was based on a lie, and the dishonesty of  her parents hurt her deeply. Gloria decided that she didn’t care too much for lies.
Although life has been good overall in that she has not experienced the poverty that many others had, her first love affair proves to be a tragic turn of events that shapes the rest of her life.  The man with whom she has fallen so desperately in love, marries another, married for money.  This devastates Gloria, and she determines that she's never going to love another man who doesn’t love her more than she loves him.  When Frank asks, she says yes, because she is certain that Frank loves her.  Gloria doesn’t love him, but she thinks maybe in time, she will grow to love him a little bit.  Time passes, the love doesn’t seem to come.  Children come, but not love.  Gloria goes back to school, completes her degree, and then secures a job teaching at a local college. She is still searching, still involved in the secrets and lies that her mother and father kept from her.  The closer she gets to the truth of her beginnings, the farther away she pulls from Frank.
The killing blow happens shortly after she finds out that once again, someone that she has trusted let her down.  Frank’s involvement in a building project, in which he has sunk the family’s modest fortunes, goes bad.  With the failure of the development, and the loss of business in his hardware stores to the big chain competition, Frank loses the home that Gloria has spent so much time and love to create for her family.  The strain in the relationship finally brakes the ties, and Gloria seeks a divorce, a new place to live, and starts a new life.  The twists and turns continue as she finds her birth mother, and becomes involved in an affaire.
Carolyn Russell has woven a tale of a woman whose life has been full in more ways than one.  She has had love, disappointment, and tragedy in great abundance.  The many trials and tribulations have all worked to make her stronger, and she is definitely a strong woman.  Gloria’s had to become self-reliant, resourceful and independent.  The hurts that she felt as a child, the traumas of her first love, and the disaster of her marriage all take her to new levels, test her newfound strengths, and put her life into a new perspective.  That which she thought was going to be static has proven to be a swirl of ups and downs that she could never envision.  Life, love, and the world is constantly changing, and she soon realizes that a re-evaluation is needed when it comes to her own values, and her own happiness. The key question is, can she find the true happiness she seeks?
Beyond the Lies tells a poignant story of a woman in terms that we can all understand, and many can identify with today.  Tracking Gloria through her life, viewing things through her eyes, and counting the consequences is done with care and skill.  The reader is drawn in to the story, experiences the frustration, and learns to care what happens to her.  The trick is trying to get Beyond the Lies to the truth, and then be able to live within its parameters.  That is Gloria’s challenge, and you are invited along for the ride.  Beyond the Lies is available from Wings ePress, and is an enjoyable read to keep you warm on these cold winter nights. Check it out at

Reviewed by Rosemarie Brungard, Heartstrings & Romance @ Heart


Beyond the lies takes you on a journey through the life of Gloria Jean Hamilton. A woman who felt betrayed by lies and deceit by the people she loved the most and how she gets beyond them.

Gloria Jean Hamilton always felt she was different than the rest of her family. At eleven she was already taller than her mother and at thirteen she was an inch taller than her father, but whenever Gloria asked her parents if she was adopted they would always tell her that she was their little girl and no one else‘s. But Gloria could not get out of her mind, the feeling that things were not as they seemed.

Gloria’s mother Doris had loved high school and she could not understand why Gloria did not like it. Gloria was smart but very shy and had a hard time making friends. During the summer of her sophomore and Junior year Gloria got her first job, working at The Ritz Theater. Her friend and neighbor Bernie Newman ushered there and told her about the job. That is were she met Don Russell, the head usher and a senior in high school. She new Don liked her but he never asked her out on a real date. They would meet at the Sweet Shoppe every day before and after work; holding hands and kissing. One night Don let it slip out that she would be the perfect date, if she were about 4 inches shorter.

A month before Gloria’s graduation she decided she had to know the truth, so she played a hunch and told her mom she had found the adoption papers. Gloria’s mother was shocked but finally admitted the truth; she was adopted. Now that Gloria knew the truth she was determined to find her real parents.

Gloria met the first love of her life right before her twenty-first birthday at a dance. His name was Michael Gardner and he was the most handsome man she had ever met. After a few months, Gloria new she was in love with Michael and ready to spend the rest of her life with him. Then Michael broke her heart and walked out of her life with his secret. Gloria made a vow that she would never be that vulnerable again, the next man would love her more than she loved him. On the rebound Gloria married Frank Miles, who had been pursuing her for years. Frank was thirty-two years old, tall, her family loved him, and he loved Gloria more than she loved him, he was the perfect husband. Frank and Gloria had five children together and were happy most of the time. Gloria never gave up her search for her birth parents and finally did locate her birth mother. After all the kids were grown up and gone Gloria realized she could not live with a man she didn’t love anymore, so she told Frank ! she wanted a divorce and moved into her own house. That is when Gloria met the man that would steal her heart, the only problem was he already belonged to someone else.

BEYOND THE LIES is an emotional journey about learning to forgive and moving on past the lies and deceit. I was drawn into the story and could not put it down until it was finished. Caroline Russell has done an exceptional job in creating a character that any reader would come to care about.

~Dina Smith, reviewer/contest coordinator

Reviewed by Nancy Higgens-Rume - 10/03

This is a story about identity, betrayal, and a search for truth. Gloria has always wondered why she is so different from her parents and brothers. Her mother, Ruth, points out that Gloria and she both have green eyes when Gloria asks. Gloria learns the truth when a cousin attempts to molest her and tells her it’s okay because they aren’t related. She confronts her parents and they deny that she is adopted. After several years she is able to learn the truth and begins a slow search for her biological family. Ruth gives her the name of her biological mother after Gloria coerces her to do so. For a time, just having the name is enough for her.

Gloria meets Michael and falls madly in love. She expects to marry him, but he betrays her. She decides that she will only marry someone who loves her more than she loves him. She meets and marries Frank. Frank is several years older than Gloria, and works with her father. After many years of marriage, they have five children, and Frank quits his job and purchases a hardware store in a rural area. He fails to consult Gloria, and this causes marital problems. She agrees to the move after Frank promises her she will love the town. His mantra is “Trust Me”. Although Frank adapts well to the town, Gloria remains an outsider and is unhappy. She determines to do something about her situation and enrolls in school at the nearby college.

As she begins to get to know Lorraine, her biological mother, through letters, her marriage falls apart. Frank has not been truthful with Gloria about their financial problems, and she realizes she has never loved him. The marriage limps along for several more years, but Frank has fallen into lethargy after he loses the hardware stores, their home and his factory job.

Finally, they divorce amicably, though Frank continues to believe she will come back to him. Gloria moves to a cabin and gets a job at the college, recreating her life in order to learn who she is. This includes going to Florida to meet Lorraine and her husband George. As she spends time with Lorraine, she develops an appreciation for her adoptive parents. Her greatest fear becomes that she is too much like Lorraine.

Reviewed by Denise's Pieces

Gloria becomes involved with a married man, and the pain of knowing he belongs to someone else grows overwhelming. Once again, she is a part of something without belonging. Her lover’s situation is such that divorce is out of the question.

The resolution of the conflicts are unexpected and appropriate. Ms. Russell has written a complex story and handled it well. Though self-centered, Gloria is likeable, and the reader roots for her. She is told lies by every important person in her life, yet still manages not to close herself off entirely to others. The pace of the story is uneven in places, but retained my interest.

Imagine finding out that your quarreling father and mother aren't your real parents, and even more devastating, finding out from your Bill Clinton-wannabe cousin, who tries to rape you in your grandparents' barn on Mother's Day only days before you turn thirteen. This highly explosive inciting incident, certain to send shockwaves in anyone's life, especially a girl growing up in 1948, kicks the story of Gloria Hamilton Miles into a Lifetime TV Movie-style emotional roller coaster filled with the uncertainty of living and loving when you don't know who you are.

     Carolyn Russell pens a moving story of human frailty, of an indomitable woman who, disappointed by her parents and in love, marries a man who loves her more than she loves him and has the combined deceptions as well as the poor business decisions of her parents. Gloria's world is defined from the first by her mother's obsession with movies, which as we learn later has roots in Gloria's birth mother's reputed affair with a screen legend. You guessed it: Gloria may be the child born of that affair. However, there is no fairy-tale cop-out reunion between father and daughter in this story of people attempting to reconcile, to love, to hold together fractured dreams, and to make meaningful lives.

     Gloria unknowingly and blindly follows the logic we all indulge in as children: "I'm not going to be like my parents." She repeats her father's adulterous tendency, and attacks her birth mother Loraine Cartwright Ruhl after Loraine confesses to Gloria that Gloria's birth might have been the result of Loraine's rape at a liquor-blurred Hollywood party (those allegations against Ah-nold pale in comparison). Gloria inherits her parents' insensitivities, and disappointingly, doesn't reconcile with Loraine, either before or after Loraine's death. This reader would have liked to see Gloria grieve for Loraine and admit Gloria's mistake in rejecting Loraine's love and pain.

     More satisfying is Gloria's successful romance with university dean Kurt Weida, whose manipulative wife gets what she deserves in the end. Russell's characters are refreshingly, endearingly real in their inability to get away with being flawed and fallible.

Kristin Johnson, Reviewer @

"Carolyn Russell has written an engaging read in BEYOND THE LIES. There are too few romances with older heroines, and this one delivers. Realistic and ripe with setting, this story will have you cheering for the stubborn heroine in her quest for truth and unconditional love."   ~Cheryl Norman, EPPIE award-winning author of LAST RESORT.  

“Carolyn Russell has written an engrossing tale of a woman who has been betrayed and lied to most of her life. You’ll laugh and cry with Gloria, and cheer for her when she wins the man of her dreams. Beyond The Lies will warm your heart and make you believe in happily ever after.”--Barbara Woodward, author of The Heart Remembers and Follow Your Heart, Wings ePress, Inc.--May 11, 2003

BEYOND THE LIES is a tale of a woman in search of herself. From childhood, Gloria has suspected she was adopted. After all, she didn't look or act like anyone in her family. When she finally forces an admission from her mother, Doris,  that she was lied to she is launched on a quest to find her natural parents.

 There are other lies in Gloria's life. Her first love lied to her, not telling her he was married. Her husband lied to her, leading to the ruin of their marriage. When Gloria again falls in love with a married man, she lives the lie.

 Carolyn has created a story about lies that is filled with a lot of truth. There were times when I forgot I was reading fiction, I was so pulled into Gloria's life. I wanted to shake her, I wanted to weep for her, but I loved her and at the end of the book I was happy for her. I would recommend BEYOND THE LIES to anyone who likes watching strong women grow and mature.

 Judith Miller
RETURN TO PORT DARKLING available now from Wings ePress
SEARCHING available from Wings ePress in June 2003
Web Page:

All of her life, Gloria had questioned her heritage, but when she asked her parents if she were adopted, they lied until Gloria tricked them into admitting the truth. For most of her adult life, Gloria searched for her biological parents and her own identity. Beyond the Lies is a very well written story, which is well thought out, and will make one question their own heritage.

Reviewed by Tamia Dawn Osburn, The Guardian of Paradise, January 2004, Wings-ePress

Gloria Hamilton doesn't resemble her family in looks, or in spirit. When looking in the mirror, the question is always reflected: "Who am I, really?" Carolyn Russell takes us on a 40-year quest to answer Gloria's questions about her family, and the true meaning of love.

_Beyond the Lies_ was an intriguing story, but it left me feeling discontent. The end of the book, despite several dangling possibilities, doesn't answer our heroine's questions. It's very frustrating to say the least, but possibly this was the author's intention. Hopefully there is a sequel in the works.

The elements of the story begin very one-dimensional, and mature along with the main character. It was an ingenious technique, but in third-person, you aren't sure if Russell intends to flesh out the characters until you reach that point.

By the time Gloria reaches high school, scenes in the book get more interesting. Carolyn Russell shows us the strength that will get our heroine through the later years in her life. Other characters are now more developed, and believable.

Later events will try your patience, and your heart. Through relationships, arguments - and still on the search for her true identity - Gloria Hamilton is a very honest character for women. You may not always love her, but you root for her all the same.

Overall rating:
Sensuality rating: Mildly Sensual

Reviewer: Hilary Evans for The Romance Studio
March 25, 2003


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