Kissing Drake, Butterfly Girls, Jenna Dales

 

Kissing Drake, Butterfly Girls, Jenna Dales
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
New to me author = I’m never quite sure how I’m going to gel with the writing style. This was fun though, easy to read, well set out and with real feeling people in it. Its mainly focussed around Drake and Paige, though there are nods to other island inhabitants in the story. Paige sees Drake, knows he’s here for just a short while, and decides that as he’s looking at her like he wants her, a one night fling will be perfect. Give BOB a rest… She doesn’t get opportunity often with there being so few people living on the island so its Carpe Diem!
They have some shuffling about before they both take the plunge, Drake is surprised by her forwardness. “I’m a sure thing” she tells him at one point :) Then there’s fireworks, star-bursts and lots of hot, heavy erotic sex. That Drake may be staid on the outside but in bed he’s something else :) In between bouts of sex they talk, though he’s very closed about why he’s there, and they both start to look at the lives they lead. Is staying on the island the rest of her life what Paige really wants? She’s always thought so, lost her fiancé as she wouldn’t move, but talking to Drake she wonders if maybe its just that she’s settled, reading books about other people travelling, having adventures, finding romance, as a substitute for what she really wants to do but daren’t take the plunge. She loves the island but maybe she could spread her wings a bit too. Then there’s Drake, dragged himself up from very poor childhood to rich businessman, but on the way has he lost sight of what life means? Talking to Paige about his travels he realises that although he’s been to many paradise places, all he’s seen of them is the inside of a hotel room…They both need to do some inner searching. Things conspire to force Drake to stay longer on the island, and the purpose of his visit comes out. From then on its Islanders against Drake, and just when he and Paige were finding out how good they were together. Can they get past that when they are so diametrically opposed.
Its a shortish read at just 123 ( goodreads info) pages but its well put together and is a fun way to lose some time on a paradise island.
Stars: Four, enjoyable read but not one I’d re read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

Liam: Branded Brothers, Raen Smith

 

Liam: Branded Brothers, Raen Smith
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
An author new to me plus the first book in a new series = fun :-) This is a romantic suspense, and certainly has some sensual, steamy heat in it. I love that first sizzle of attraction, and when Liam said “ Charla, I’m going to kiss you now” I melted….He’s such a conundrum, he’s tattooed, a big, well built man, Bounty Hunter, ex Services and owns a bar – sounds like a real toughie and yet when it comes to Charla he’s so gentle, so careful and protective of her. They made a perfect match.
Poor Charla, used and abused by her ex, brought up by an alcoholic mum, with a series of weird boyfriends she’s learned that the only person she can rely on is herself. She’s slow to trust and yet something about Liam draws her in. She’s charged with giving him a letter after the patient she’s been living with dies. And it brings along some big changes, some adventure and mysteries and some very real dangers to her and Liam.
There’s so much comes out once that letter opens, and its hard to review without giving too much away. Lets stick at telling that the letter says Liam has brothers, and once he and Charla get to tracking them down more secrets get revealed, leading to more danger for them all. I’m expecting the next books will be about the other brothers? – I hope so, and I hope we get to see more of Charla and Liam.
Its a great mix of mystery and suspense, wrapped up in a couple that find romance and have some sexy and sensual encounters! It’s priced at £2.45 for 196 pages.
Stars: Four. I enjoyed this, and found the suspense/romance mix was just right for me.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

Mansfield Lark, Katie Oliver

Mansfield Lark, Katie Oliver
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I really expected to like this book, it sounded a lot like Katie Fforde’s writing, and I’ve several of those. Sadly though it just didn’t work for me :-( Writing was fine, its just the way the story played out and the characters that felt wrong to me.
Its perfectly well written and I’m sure there are loads of 4 and 5 star reviews. As ever we all like different things though thankfully, and that’s what gives us such a wide range of choices in novels. For me I just found the number of characters confusing – I had to keep going back to see who was with who, how they connected and what part of the story they belonged in. Then I need to feel a kind of empathy with the main characters, so I’m happy or sad for them, and for some reason I just didn’t really care about these two at all. There were what ought to have been some funny moments and lots of characters that could have been interesting, but it all seemed just too clichéd to me….just me maybe, perhaps as its been some time since I’ve read one like this my tastes have changed? Who knows, books that appeal at certain times in our lives can be ones that don’t work at others. I used to be a real thriller addict, Dan Brown, James Patterson Dick Francis, and yet now these leave me cold so maybe that’s my problem with this book.
So sadly a bad choice on my part, the novel is fine, just not to my taste. I think its a style you either love or don’t, its very distinct and I’m sure appeals to those who love light, comedic romance.
Stars: two, sad as it’s hard work writing and I hate to put anyone down but this just didn’t cut it for me.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

Dating Cary Grant, Emelle Gamble

Dating Cary Grant

 

Dating Cary Grant, Emelle Gamble
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I loved Emelle’s Secret Sister, and was keen to read this book Once again she delivered more than just the simplistic novel the description suggests. You’d think this book was a simple, easy to read romantic comedy, and it is but its also much much more, making the reader think about what’s truly important in a marriage and how best to achieve it.
I loved both Tracy and Mike, they’re like many people, so in love and yet also devoted to their careers and jobs and in this case the two just won’t merge. They married thinking time would sort it, Tracy tried commuting at weekends and that didn’t work, so she moved to living full time with Mike, and staying with friends etc when work commitments were too strong. That hasn’t worked either, with her being overtired and still seeing little of Mike as he’s been so tied up with Mayoral problems. Feeling she comes last in his priorities she signs a six month lease on a place in the city….hoping they can work things out. Mike isn’t happy, he cant see why she can’t live at home and commute, and maybe do less hours. He says he’ll cut back too but she doesn’t think he will follow through, she knows how he cant bear to leave a problem. She can’t see why he lets everything, people, town problems, even stray animals, take priority over her, or even why they can’t move to the city and he commute….I couldn’t see how on earth they could solve this, and yet it was clear despite the weeks spent away from each other, the missed dates, the angry phone calls that they were deeply in love. As her mum says at one point – Mike is still the person she married. It was his selflessness, determination to do the best for people, lack of selfishness that drew her to him….and then too it was probably her independence and strength that drew him to her…they’re like magnets which won’t connect when aligned wrongly. There’s attraction and yet a strong force keeping them apart.
Along the search for answers Tracy meets the delightful Philip; Cary Grant lookalike. She’s banged her head recently in a collision with a Katherine Hepburn lookalike too and wonders if that’s why she’s seeing him…but he eats and drinks so how on earth can she be imagining him….They were a great duo, and like Tracy I’ve a love for the old movie stars…Cary Grant, David Niven, Gregory Peck. They were such gentlemen. Him Indoors is a great old-film addict so though I don’t watch them very often I know bits of them well…they sneak into my concentration when I’m reading :-) Tracy tells Philip about her marriage, but is still attracted to him..add in some work problems for her, and the awful reality TV show that’s making a programme about Mike, he thinks its about Mayoral duties and they’ll show that side of his work. Poor boy, he really is a good man, an innocent, naïve, because of course what they want is dirt and Mike and Tracy’s problems are gold to them. They follow Tracy around recording all her despair and conversations with friends..I hate reality TV in the same way as Tracy does…its a nightmare for her and at first Mike thinks she’s exaggerating.
Its a fun read, full of humour and yet it has these moments when its really bitter-sweet, when her conversations with Philip make her miss Mike, when she talks to her friend Posey and everything seems so impossible. You just want there to be an answer, and yet feel there isn’t one. Right to the end I was still wondering how on earth they could make it work without one of them giving up everything, and of course that would bring resentment in time. It takes collective help and advice from the ghosts, from the friends and family, and from some unexpected sources before it all works out.
Its a fun read, and one I enjoyed. Its a lot more than just the light surface read it appears, and makes the reader think about what life priorities really are.
Stars: Four and a half.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

Grow a Sustainable Diet. Cindy Conner.

Grow a Sustainable Diet: Planning and Growing to Feed Ourselves and the Earth

 

Grow a Sustainable Diet. Cindy Conner.
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I was brought up with the idea that if we didn’t grow it we didn’t eat it, with a few exceptions of course. We had a fairly large council house garden, and dad had two allotments nearby, so as well as fruit and veg, we had chickens, rabbits, turkeys ( that was the xmas spending money!) and goats – I still hate the smell of goats milk! So home grown to me seems a natural way of life, and even though we’ve had some tiny gardens I’ve always tried to grow what I can. I know quite a lot about it by now but there’s always room for more info so this book caught my eye.
Its a useful, practical book. Packed with simple ideas to maximise the use of space, how to plan ahead to avoid feast or famine gluts, how to preserve what you can in the most efficient way. My mum always used to make jams, chutneys, preserve fruits and tomatoes in kilner jars ( we had a Rayburn always on the go for heating and hot water), salted runner beans in huge crocks, and preserved eggs in Isinglass solution. In US – this book is written in US terms – although you seem to go for canning rather than kilner jars we use in UK, it seems a similar premise. Then there’s a section on animal husbandry – useful for those with larger gardens or allotments as we had. Its not just a how to gardening book though, but one where Cindy looks at nutritional needs and advises how to get the calories and vitamins etc we need in our diet. There are some things simply not practical to grow – one thing that caught my eye was oils, and Cindy calculated just how much land would be taken up to produce enough oil. As she says if land is short that space is better taken with something more efficient.
I really like the approach she takes about balance…too often the gardening approach is grow it, and spray to kill weeds and insects. Of course that kills beneficial ones too and there are better approaches such as companion planting, and simply looking over crops and picking off bugs as much as is practical. Cindy shows how gradually if you work to attract birds, frogs etc and grow flowing plants to attract insects an ecosystem comes into play, where by and large problems take care of themselves. Composting too is another thing I’m very keen on and which is covered – Cindy looks at the garden in a holistic way, thinking about the circular approach where every effect has another side to it, and makes best use of this.
Overall a great book, packed with practical info and balances with an in-depth, scientific look at what’s needed for a healthy diet. Though its most practical if you have a large space its so interesting and informative that I’d recommend it to anyone interested in growing even small amounts of their own food.
Stars: five – fabulous, informative read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley.

Hard Time, Cara McKenna.

Hard Time

 

Hard Time, Cara McKenna.
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
So, what to expect from this book? Well, I had no idea. How could someone write a romance when one party is in prison? How could/would that work? Would it just be conducted by letters? All questions I had, but didn’t know the answer to – so I was intrigued to see what Cara would do, and if I would like it.
Well, a great surprise, I didn’t really feel convinced this would work and yet – I Loved it – a beautiful and inspiring read. From the moment Annie and Eric set eyes on each other there’s a searing, visceral attraction that bounces out from the story. Tension the reader can feel. Cara sets that up so well, they felt real and I was excited and nervous along with them. Annie – she’s lovely, been hurt terribly by her ex, and he was her only experience of boyfriends, but she’d managed to leave him and his mental and emotional abuse, however it left her scarred and scared, and unwilling to even contemplate another relationship. Now several years on she starts her new role as the prison outreach librarian, and seeing Eric has made her feel something she thought was dead, an attraction to another person. She feels safe imagining a time when its her and Eric together, after all she knows he’s in prison for years so it can’t really happen. That’s further than she’s done for a long while, so a huge step for her, and then Eric takes a chance and writes to her. Something neither are supposed to do. His letter touches her and stirs her emotions, and they embark on a surreptitious correspondence, that quickly devolves into erotic, sexual writings. Annie is both scared and excited. How can this man, this prisoner, who must have done something bad, make her feel this way just with looks and words on paper? Eric wasn’t expecting to meet someone this way either, but Annie has him hooked, he’ll take any risk just to feel close to her.
Then….parole. Something he wasn’t expecting and hadn’t told Annie might happen. Can they work in real life. Will she want to? Will they be the same or was the prison experience all they can have? Lots of questions to answer, and all I can say without spoiling it is this was beautiful. I felt so cross with Annie sometimes for not taking an risk, but also understood her fears, and why she held back. Eric, what a man, and eventually we find out why he was in prison, well part of it. Can Annie let that go or not, he’s scared she won’t and yet desperately hoping she will. There’s a lot for them to work at, and though the sex between them is sensational, hot, erotic and well written, that didn’t make up for the problems facing them. Eric said he’d do the same again in the same circumstances, and that’s what Annie is afraid might happen – and that she’d lose him for good. They need to work hard to make a go of their relationship, and the problems and possible consequences made me thing “what would I do? /How would I react?” and I love that sort of read, where I can put myself in the other persons place and feel its all real.
So, a fabulous read, one to mull over and think about how and why people act as they do, that life isn’t good/bad, black/white but a myriad of incidences in between. Its priced at £2.42 for 310 pages.
Stars: Four and a half, unusual and surprising read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

The Playboy’s Dark Secret, Madeline Ash

The Playboy’s Dark Secret, Madeline Ash
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
An interesting romance this one. Its not a heart stopping race, but a slow burn, push and pull one. Dean and Rafi are attracted right from the start, but he’s given up on romance, and concentrating on the vineyard, and she’s decided no relationships, just quick, live for now, enjoyment as she’s her baby to care for.
They’re both escaping from troubled pasts, and I felt for them both. The title is a bit of a misnomer and Dean really isn’t in Playboy mode any more, but a hard-working and supportive brother to Rue. I loved the background story, the vineyard setting and the day to day grape harvesting. It gave a feeling of camaraderie. I’m glad too that looking after a baby wasn’t glossed over as so often happens, that we saw how tired Rafi was, how difficult her life had become.
Despite their convictions though it seems they just can’t keep apart, and one night leaves Rafi wanting more but failing to persuade Dean that his demons, whatever he’s hiding from, aren’t enough to stop them from being together. It becomes a stalemate with them both wanting more, but only Rafi willing to try. She’s got her demons too but she keeps quiet about them, and though they’ve been affecting her badly slowly she’s coming to terms with them. Dean though – he’s still running. When what he was hiding did come out I had a clue from some things that had happened, but can honestly say its the first time I’ve seen it in a story. Well done to Madeline, it’s something that actually happens too often, and yet still gets glossed over, made fun of. The reaction of the police sadly is something that seems all too real still, and so people like Dean keep it hidden. Cryptic I know :) but I just want to say how good it was too see problems take a new angle, without giving it away. .
Stars: Four, enjoyable read but not one I’d re read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

Unfiltered & Unhinged , Unfiltered Series Book 4, Payge Galvin and Jane Lukas

Unfiltered & Unhinged (The Unfiltered Series)

 

Unfiltered & Unhinged , Unfiltered Series Book 4, Payge Galvin and Jane Lukas
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
Well, I’m not usually a fan of serial novels, but this series is just that bit different. It has an overall story but each edition could be almost a standalone novel, ( at least 1, 2 and 4 that I’ve read. I missed book 3 ) and they are long enough to give a complete story, rather than the 2 or 3 chapters these serials usually have. Also, I was concerned about continuity with there being several different authors, but the three I’ve read so far dovetail together perfectly, maybe as it’s author collaboration with Payge authoring each so far. So far all my concerns, except pricing, are turning out to be groundless :) and the pricing will tell given time. Books one and two were just 74p with book three being £2.05. I don’t yet have price info for this one but its around 200 pages long so similar to earlier ones.
So what did I think of this one. Well I loved book two and this one kept up to that same standard. A complete story ( though I have Wrex reservations – somehow I don’t think he’ll go down that easily….) and it was great to “hear” from, and about, earlier characters. I like the way that links the books, and I want to know more of how they go on as time passes. Its red hot sex in this one, well written and fitted the scenes, not thrown in just to add spice. That gets boring…make the sex fit the story or leave it out. Great characters too, Cass, Dev and Wrex were each very strong personalities and made for excellent reading.
Cass was the one involved at the coffee shop. She’s racing for Wrex to pay off her twin brother Liam’s debts. Wrex won’t take money – he wants Cass, racing for him and to repeat their one night together. For Cass that was a mistake but Wrex seems unable to let go, and has an odd way of trying to persuade her – he’s too used to using force. He’s wrecked her bike, and hoping she’ll then need to use one of his for the next race, putting her further in debt. She takes the bike to Dev for repairs, and though he doesn’t want to get involved with Wrex, he’s really attracted to Cass and soon they’re in the throes of a torrid affair. Of course Wrex isn’t happy about that, and takes steps to deal with it…there’s sex, violence and angst galore in this part of the overall story, and as I said it was good too to catch up with earlier characters. While telling each persons story there’s still reference to the shooting, keeping that fresh as part of the novel too. Somehow I have the feeling that whoever the money and drugs belonged to is going to be on the heels of it – it’s a lot to let go and the people who have that kind of deal don’t care what measures they take to get their belongings back…..
A great read, I don’t know how the authors keep pulling such well written stories out in such a short space of time. One each month – that’s a tough target but if they keep up to this standard its going to make one hell of a series for rereading :) and I love to do that when a series is complete – read all the way through without a break.
Stars: Four and a half. Sexy, spicy story.
ARC received via Netgalley .

Hot Secrets, (Tall, Dark, and Deadly), Lisa Renee Jones.

 

 

Hot Secrets, (Tall, Dark, and Deadly), Lisa Renee Jones.
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews.
I’m a romance lover, but it has to have a decent story behind it – and preferably a HEA too :-) I loved Lisa’s Amy Benson series so thought I’d try this. Its romantic suspense but at the level I enjoy, not too deep on the suspense, but a good dollop of romance, and some smouldering sex!
Royce is one of three brothers, all ex services, all tall, dark and deadly. They run Walker security, and Royce has been asked to discreetly protect Lauren by her father, a senator, who doesn’t want her to know about it, or that he’s received some suspicious threats. Royce has always had the hots for Lauren, but has no idea he’s the subject of her erotic fantasies too. The dangers mount at the same time as he and Lauren embark on a passionate affair, but he knows he’s threatening everything if she finds out he’s been hired by her father. She’ll feel betrayed, but he’s stuck in the middle, needs to do his job, has fallen in love with Lauren and won’t do anything that might jeopardise the danger she’s in. Until the brothers can track down the source her life could be at risk, and Royce is determined not to let his feelings and fear she’ll leave him get in the way of her safety.
Of course everything comes to a head just at the wrong moment. There’s hot sensual sex, danger and threats, blackmail and betrayals, before we reach a climatic conclusion. Its good value at just 99p for 197 pages, but even better is the fact you can buy all three books for just 77p! Each book is connected but a complete, stand-alone novel.
Stars: four, good fun sensual read. .

Silver Skin, D.L. McDermott

Silver Skin

 

Silver Skin, D.L. McDermott
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I was really excited to see this, Jeaniene Frost is one of my favourite paranormal authors, and I just love books involving Fae. I loved the first in the series, Cold Iron and was looking forward to this one. I wasn’t disappointed, its the same easy to follow style as the first book, and has characters including the supernatural ones, that feel real. That you feel you could talk to and understand. The Fae abilities too are clearly set out – I hate those where some new unheard of power taps in just at the right moment…
this book focusses on Helene and Miach who we met in the first book. The story continues with the risk to the Fae living here that the cruel and evil Fae Prince, who was captured and sent back to the other world in the last book, may escape. Some of the Fae here want things back to how they were when Fae ruled thousands of years ago, but they need Druids or a Fae sorcerer such as Miach to open the gate. In the past Fae and Druids hated each other, each used the other peoples and did unspeakable cruelties to them, but it seems some of them have formed an alliance to get those captured released. Miach knows his descendants, half Fae and beyond that have human blood, will all be killed, and not in an easy way. He’s one that wants things to remain as they are. He felt an attraction for Helene when they met in the last book but her good friend Beth put him under a geas not to do anything to her, or pursue her.
Helene had a taste of the Supernatural world when she helped Beth, who has Druid blood but didn’t know, who was in danger. They worked together in a museum, and now Helene finds strange things happening. She’s losing tracts of time, simply can’t account for hours each day when she has memory blanks. Doctors can find nothing wrong despite extensive tests. If Beth were here she’d seek her help, but she’s with Conn, her Fae lover, in Ireland, and each time Helene tries to tell her there’s a problem by phone she finds the words just won’t come out, something stops them. The only person she knows who might have answers is Miach. She’s scared to seek his help, scared of him and what he may do, but has no other option.
Miach is pleased to help :-) though somewhat hampered in his desire to seduce her by the geas. Still, he finds ways to try to protect her, and once again they become embroiled in some terrible dangers, the plans to retrieve the captured Fae become more than just ideas, and close to reality. There are some gruesome moments when we see Fae and Druids in their real light, not just simple people but self centred, and sadisticly evil types. Of course not all are like that, but the supernatural folk live long and have long memories….as before with Beth, Helene seems to encounter danger from all angles, and apart from Miach she doesn’t know who to trust.
Its another terrific readable story, romance and suspense all wrapped up together in a good package. Helene learns more about Miach, that he’s not just a cruel Fae, that he can and does respect her, and that he has reasons for many of his actions. I loved meeting his extended family, and the whole premise of Fae and others living among humans discreetly. Another riveting read – loved it :) and look forward to more. Priced at £3.99 for 252 pages I’d have liked it to be a bit longer, the storyline could have carried it as its so full of drama and detail but…that’s me and my love for looong books :)
Stars: 4.5. a bit longer to expand the story and I’d probably have gone for five.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

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