The Cage King, A Novella of the Entwined Realms, Danielle Monsch


The Cage King, A Novella of the Entwined Realms, Danielle Monsch
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

So, second ( or perhaps 1.5) book in the series. I’ve not read book one though from sample and reviews I’m not sure how they connect, and I don’t think that affected how I felt about this novel.
Its a strange book, full of magic and mysterious characters, people who are not what or who they seem, the usual rich, murderous bullies and a search to retrieve a missing magical ring that could prove disastrous for the world. Lots to pack in to 142 pages, and perhaps that’s part of my problem. I felt there was lots going on, but there wasn’t really enough info or time spent with the leading characters for me to take to them. Nalah seemed to still be blaming Esh for the tragedy of five years past…and yet he was her lover and her brothers best friend. They’d all been friends since they were very young, and helped each other survive a very harsh existence on the streets. So to have just left him as she did – well, I could see why he wasn’t happy about it. The story of the cage fights, and the man running them, didn’t seem to marry up properly for me with the magical side of events. I wasn’t sure why he’d raided the Guild and stolen such precious items – or how he managed to do it being un-magical himself, and ( you’d think) the Guild would have them well protected.
Given the Tour with the fights was kept very secret and Esh had refused to join up til now, it seemed to me Nalah was naive not to consider the danger to Esh life. For all that she professed she was going to hold out against him and his attraction that didn’t last long ( but did give some searingly sensual moments). To be honest I wasn’t sure where the focus was here – the fights and the lust for blood and power, or the Magic and the power that comes from obtaining certain artefacts. I’m not keen either on danger being overcome by unknown and last minute interactions…but that’s me Winking smile
Stars: 2.5. there were parts I liked but overall it just felt too muddled for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Takeover, Anna Zabo



Takeover, Anna Zabo
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

So, Michael is on holiday and meets Sam, who’s on a night’s stop-over at the resort. They have a torrid, one night fling and go their separate ways. It was intense and earth shattering for them both, but they knew it was unlikely they’d ever meet again. Then the nightmare begins, and Michael finds the new CEO of the company he works for is none other than Sam…that’s everyone’s worst dream. Not only are workplace relationships frowned on, especially when there is disparity in positions, but being gay is tough and Sam is deep in the closet. Michael is out and makes no secret of it, but its been tough for him. He’s has one failed relationship where he gave his all to  a man who was not out, and he won’t be anyone’s dirty secret again. Seems though that they can’t stay away from each other.
Bigotry is awful, and sadly it abounds still and being Gay in a world full of business Suits is one where promotions for gay people rarely take place. Nothing outward is said when its one of the senior men who is gay, but there are insidious ways of ensuring they don’t reach full potential, and Sam has worked hard to get where he is now. Will he risk that for love or not. will Michael accept a closet gay once again? I’ve found similar issues re discrimination being disabled, and I’m sure all who are in any kind of minority group could tell a similar story. Alongside that issue are the business ones of double dealing, blackmail, and the problems where Michael, as one of the original three founders, was caught out by friends he trusted and lost his partnership status…there are lots of barriers before they can find happiness, and sometimes life is risky and people not willing to take it.
I enjoyed this, the heat between Sam and Michael was obvious. I really liked both characters and felt for them. I understood why Michael didn’t want a secret relationship – why should love be hidden? Then again, when its holding back a career that you love there’s a lot to lose.  I had a bit of difficulty over the business side of the story where someone major seemed to be double dealing… a bit of that just flew over my head, but it didn’t detract from the overall romance and story. As I’ve said before I need a good story too, not just sex scenes and got it here.  I did feel the “break up/drama/separation” part usually found in this sort of novel wasn’t really strong enough for me, there was plenty of potential with all the problems they faced, but somehow they seemed to get over them a bit too easily. I need my characters to suffer!!
Stars: Four – a good read, well balanced.
ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers.

No In Between, Lisa Renee Jones

No In Between (Inside Out Series)


No In Between, Lisa Renee Jones
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

I really love Lisa’s writing but….once again what started as a trilogy has morphed into a series. In this case several full length novels, plus more bite size novellas. As a reader that makes me a bit cross, I like to know at the outset what reading the whole story is likely to cost me, and when this happens it means its many more ££ or $$ than expected. In this case I’d have thought around £15 when it was a trilogy, but now its going to be more than double that with all the novellas and extra books. Sometimes there just isn’t the money to afford that. In a conventional series – of which my fantasy/paranormal love has plenty – there’s usually an overarching storyline, and each novel has a smaller but connected complete section or story.  It sometimes slides over into the next book, but more usually it’s only the overall story that carries through. That leaves reader with an ending and not feeling they’ve to wait ages for the next instalment. Here though we’ve still not got to the bottom of Rebecca’s disappearance, even though this is book four. The story itself has expanded so much from the romantic/erotic/suspense novel it seemed to start as, into one with multiple characters and storylines. There are more characters that have disappeared, links to mafia types, possible murders and murder attempts, BDSM clubs and characters associated with them and the lifestyle, art fraud, emotional dramas going from major illness to romantic complications, and of course Mark and his…peculiarities – I still can’t work him out, then Chris and Sara and their relationship and background problems, the mysterious Ryan and artist Ricco, who both seem to be taking a stronger storylines. If you haven’t read at least some, preferably all the previous novels you’ve no hope of keeping up.
Then again I’m torn as Lisa’s writing is so gripping, she’s so good at wringing the maximum drama and emotion out of every situation that its a fantastic story. I just hate not knowing how long it’s going to be, and that from a trilogy its turned into many, many more books. This instalment is focussed mainly on Chris and Sara and the murder attempts. Ava is trying for bail, the police seem to be treating Sara as a suspect, Mark is being his usual enigmatic self, and stressed out by his mothers illness…throw in a few other side stories and its another packed read. I did get a little tired of listening to Sara’s endless inner musings about past events, and the “this beautiful man” thoughts…somehow that just gets tiresome. It’s been equally annoying in other books in this genre, when its keeps on popping up constantly.
Overall its a great read, and solidly written. There’s been so much going on that when Michael was first mentioned I couldn’t recall who he was, but it was made clear shortly after thankfully,  and then I remembered that storyline. Its what I mean about so many different threads it’s easy to lose track. It would be interesting to go back and re read to see what nuances I’ve missed such as Ava, and how she was so friendly to Sara to begin, now I know more about her I’d view that differently!
Its been a great journey but I really hope its going to wrap up soon, as its getting frustrating waiting to find out about the missing people and how the story ends.
Stars: Four and a half. Sara’s thoughts just took up too much space for me, and back tracking to recall who did what lost the half star from a five.
ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers.

Out Sept 8th. Taking Control Author: Jen Frederick

I’ve read book one LosingCcontrol and this is the sequel. Its a great read and my review will come once it’s published.

Thre’s a fabulous Tiffany & Co. gemstone ring available top one lucky person too….

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Book Information

Title: Taking Control
Author: Jen Frederick
Release Date: September 8, 2014
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Book Cover: Attached
Teaser Graphics: Attached


The hotly anticipated sequel to Losing Control.

I thought I needed only one thing in my life–the money and power to crush one man. But the moment I laid eyes on Victoria Corielli, my thirst for revenge was replaced by my craving for her.

No rule would keep me away; no obstacle too large to overcome. Not her will, not our differing social positions, not my infamous past. When she lost everything, I helped her pick up the pieces. When she trusted me with everything, she sealed her fate.

I’ve convinced Victoria she can put her heart in my hands. Now I have to protect it–from her shady stepfather and my business rivals, from enemies known and hidden. I’ll do anything to keep her. And I might have to prove it, because now Victoria’s risking more than her heart to be with me; she’s risking her life.


I want us to get married. Soon. Do you want a big wedding?”

“Married? I mean, I guess I thought you were serious but I figured…I don’t know.” Her voice trails off.

“That my proposal of marriage was somehow insincere? I’ve never wanted anything more. I just didn’t want to pressure you because of all the emotional upheaval you’re experiencing now.” Rolling over so she can see me and judge the sincerity for herself, I declare, “I want you to be my wife. The mother of any children we have. My partner in life. I want that to happen now so that I can introduce you as Mrs. Ian Kerr.”

Her eyes close for a moment and beneath the lids, silent tears leak out. Her words, though, are classic. “Maybe you should take my name. You can be Ian Corielli and I’ll introduce you as Mr. Victoria Corielli.”

“As long as it means you’re mine in the eyes of the world, I’ll be Mr. John Smith.”

She wraps her arms around my neck and clings to me. This time the shudders I’m soothing are from maybe, possibly, hopefully joy for our future. “I’m okay with Victoria Kerr,” she chokes out. “You better give me a big rock and lots of flowers since you’re proposing to me while we’re naked.”

“I proposed to you when I first took you to the house on the Long Island Sound.”

“You didn’t propose. You said that you wanted me to be your wife and fill your big house with lots of little people.”

“That’s a proposal.”

“It was a demand.”

“It was a request couched as a demand.”

Her body is shaking with laughter. “You’ve been in charge for too long. That was no request.”

Pushing to my knees, I reach into the nightstand and retrieve the box I bought before Sophie died. Her eyes grow huge and her hands come up to the cover her mouth. I flip the box lid open, pluck the ring out and toss it aside.

Lifting her shaking hand in mine, I slide the ring down her finger.

“When I was fifteen I made a hundred different stupid vows. I’d avenge my mother. I’d rise to the top of Wall Street and smite everyone down. I’d crush Richard Howe beneath the sole of my boot. I’d win at everything. But I never wished for happiness because I didn’t know what it was until you came into my life. How could I want something I didn’t know was missing? Now, everything I’ve achieved pales in comparison to having you love me. When I say that you’re my heart, my everything, those aren’t just words. They are the only truth in my world. I’d give up money, revenge, success, as long as I could lie down next to you at night and wake up with your face beside mine.

There is no greater achievement in my life than having you fall in love with me and I recognize on some mysterious level that is pure luck. I need you to marry me and be my wife. I need you to be the mother of my children. I need you because without you I am nothing. I am a pile of bones and flesh filled with misery. You bring me to life. Love me, marry me, be with me in this life and into all the ones we live from this point ever after.”

“Well, since you put it like that, I guess I must.” She rises and kisses me. Our mouths sealing the promises we’ve made to another one another.

I make love to her again then, slowly. We barely move. I just slide in and we rock together and allow the strength of our emotions to carry us into the heaven.

Author Biography

Bestselling author Jen Frederick lives with her husband, child, and one rambunctious dog. She’s been reading stories all her life but never imagined writing one of her own. Jen loves to hear from readers so drop her a line at

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Prophecy of Stones, Mishka Jenkins


Prophecy of Stones, Mishka Jenkins
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
This was a fun read, a journey of adventure which I’m sure will appeal to YA readers very much. I’m way past that group! but enjoyed this novel even though its the opposite end to most of the fantasy I read. My eldest son is a fantasy reader too, and yet we love books at the very opposite end of the spectrum, only occasionally sharing ones we both enjoy. This is very much in his area, the classic fantasy style that authors such as Eddings and Pratchett write. Just shows how vast the range of books is that span this genre.
Anyway, the romance is core to the story, being the one thing that’s there but not yet acted up. The two concerned are very much in love but Milana has seen what happened to her sister when her Bond Mate died, and doesn’t want to go through that devastation herself, so even though she loves Riff she holds back. He understands her fears, its a dangerous world they live in and as prophecy participants they’re in more danger than most. He doesn’t like it of course, longs to hold her close and love her but respects her feelings. I really felt for him, denied love because of her fears but a true gentleman in not trying to force the issue.
They’re needed now though, to complete a quest along with other people. It’s a small group comprising Riff and Milana, bonded couple Otto and Cosmas, who are writing an account of the journey, Sindrin, who’s an Oracle and has visions from time to time, and young Kai. He’s the third in the prophesied trio and is just fourteen. He’s been brought up by the council with this quest in mind, and its the first time he’s left the compound where he lives so he’s bouncing with excitement. The little group face some grave dangers with Tildar and his Dwells attacking them constantly.They’re getting worn down but need to complete the quest if they are to save everyone from Tildars cruel reign.The journey they take is filled with action, and full of magical elements. I enjoyed the descriptions of the areas and the scenes. I’m not a great fan of prolonged battle scenes, I know they’re needed but I want them kept brief and Mishka does just that – letting them play out so we feel the danger, but not too long that I switch off.
Its a fun read, with interesting characters, and I was really saddened at some of the losses Sad smile but the ending – absolutely fitting. Right at the last moment, at the seat of the danger Milana needs to face her fears, and trust in the power of love. It was perfectly timed, built up to along the journey, Milana was given the chance at times to trust Riff, to return his love but didn’t act on it, and then at the very last minute….fantastic.
Stars: Four. Its a fun, magical easy to read story and I’m sure a five star for YA readers, just a little light for my five star match.
ARC supplied via author.

Sorceress, A fantasy romance set in an ancient land, Saskia Walker

Sorceress, A fantasy romance set in an ancient land, Saskia Walker
Review from jeannie zleos book reviews

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this novel, but it proved to be a fun, spicy paranormal read.  The paranormal aspect takes the form of magic, of the sorcery type – spells, curses,
light and dark magics, and an ancient Djinn and added a fun slant and sense of mystery that fitted well within the Eastern Dystopian feel of the book. The sex scenes are there but not over the top, and work with the story. The heat between Elishiba and Amshazar can be felt right from the start, even when she’s not sure she can trust him. That continues to grow throughout the book, with him reaching out to her, not just emotionally but to teach her that she also has powerful magic in her. She will need that in the very near future.
Elishiba thinks she’s going to negotiate a betrothal, bringing peace between the two regions, but unknown to her she’s caught in her future mother in laws lust for power. She’s the real control not her son, who is in love with someone forbidden and a peace-loving but weak ruler. She’s not giving that power up, so her future plans do not include Elishiba having a place in power, or a peaceful agreement between the regions. That brings the main players into real danger, where magic takes a high place in controlling them and killing others, and leads to some dangerous actions.
Its a fun read, I enjoyed the very Eastern feel with Gods being real and taking an interest in human lives. The characters worked well, and I was sad to see some die . There was a good selection of genuine and kind characters mixed in with some power hungry and malicious ones. The magic wasn’t a huge part of the story, only cropping up at certain times when the plots needed it.
Stars: Four. Its a decent read, one fairly simplistic storyline but that plays out well. I’d rather read one good plot than multiple badly done ones.
ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers

Red Dirt Duchess, Louise Reynolds

Red Dirt Duchess


Red Dirt Duchess, Louise Reynolds
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I thought this sounded a fun read, with the chance of some real bitchyness from Jon’s mum.
So, how did it work out for me? Well, Jon, to be honest at first I found him a bit of a burke, expecting so much from a tiny rural place…but I soon warmed to him. He’s a good guy really, and has a huge secret that’s impacted so much on his way of thinking. Charlie – she was great, not afraid to stand up for herself, even though she’d had her share of tragedy. She’s a glass half full person, and a complete contrast with her eternal enthusiasm to Jon’s wearied jadedness. When she came to UK, and met Jon’s family – wow – a culture shock. I couldn’t believe how cold Jon’s mother was, ditto the sister in law. His brother was kind of neutral about everything – the show stealer was Barker the butler – he was fantastic!! a real Gem.
The difference in cultures was very marked – that worked well for me. The paintings that linked them and proved a catalyst for everything seemed a bit too much of a coincidence, and yet, in real life, things like that DO happen…so I was fine with it, and it was worked into the story very well. I’d hoped for some more jealousy, for Jon’s mother to have lined up some potential wives or something that would provide some drama and emotion. There was drama here in the secrets that were revealed but they didn’t ( for me ) provide that much needed passion. I just felt it was very one level. The ending worked well, and I felt for Charlie when things didn’t seem to be working – and I need that empathy to enjoy a story.
Stars: Three, overall, I enjoyed this as a fun and easy to read romance but it didn’t have enough dramatics to be a four or five star read.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

Author Bio:
Louise Reynolds is an author of contemporary romantic fiction. Born in Sydney, she spent her childhood frolicking on beaches before moving to Melbourne at age 10. After one look at Melbourne beaches she got a library card and started to read. It was a logical step to take her love of romance novels to the next stage and tell her own stories. After some success in writing competitions she’s thrilled that her warm, heartfelt romances have found an audience.
By day, she works in the commercial lighting industry, lighting anything from bridges to five star hotels. By night, she’s working her way through a United Nations of fictional heroes.
After a lifetime of kissing frogs one finally turned into a prince and she lives with her partner in Melbourne’s inner north. She loves live jazz, cooking complicated meals that totally destroy the kitchen, and dining out. She has embraced Melbourne by wearing far too much black.

Blood Tells, Rachel White


Blood Tells, Rachel White
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

I was intrigued by this novel, it seemed to offer something a bit different, a blend of m/m romance, with sorcery and magic, and a mystery in which to use those abilities.

Well, poor Demetrious, he’d been through such a lot, bullied as a child by an overbearing, immoral, wealthy father and then spent all his money defending himself from the accusations that he poisoned him. That took five years ( guess fantasy trials take as long sometimes as those in the real world!) All that time he was grieving at the loss of his long time friend and lover, and holding tight to an awful secret. He’s so full of sorrow he comes across as beaten, given up in spirit and just going through the motions of living, just marking time. Thoughts of his dead lover still dominate him and he misses him terribly. Then he gets called to the investigation of the prince’ on-going poisoning…and meets Rodger. There’s an attraction between them from first glance, but things take a while to develop, going one step forward and two back. Rodgers has a past that affects him as does Demetrious, though in a different way.

Its a fun read, with chances for lots of magic and spells, and the mystery keeps going from one suspect to another. There are developments that cause problems for Rodger and Demetrious just as they finally seem to be moving forward, and that was so sad. I understood both points of view and it’s a tough call for anyone to make. Fortunately they get past it. I was surprised how often people had private talks in the midst of an investigation – Demetrious and Rodgers astonished me when they broke off in the middle of one where they and others were working on a theory, and simply moved to one side of the room while talks continued just so they could discuss their problems Surprised smile

I enjoyed this novel, but it’s not one that kept me glued to the page, or that I would re read. It was something different for me, and on that basis it filled what I wanted, but this kind of magic and story isn’t really what I want to read all the while. I didn’t guess “who dunnit” so to speak, that was a real surprise – but that’s good! There were a couple of gentle m/m scenes but not overly done, and did fit the story.

Stars: three, a fun, one off read for me.

ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers.

Tidewater, Libbie Hawker


Tidewater, Libbie Hawker
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews

Everyone knows of the Disney version, prettied up, saccharined and glossed over and without the harsh realities that was life then. This book tells it as it was. Its a fictional account but Libbie Hawker has done careful research and included many excepts of reports of the time that could have happened. John Smith was real, and he wrote many sensationalized accounts of his time there, so its difficult to assess what’s genuine and what has been “souped up” – rather like the media celebrity reports and biographies today!!
Its a wonderful story, where we meet Pocahontas and the Real People while she is still a young child. She’s curious when the first English boats land, and acts as a link between them and the others of her family. she’s got a talent for languages, and quickly becomes able to come and go as she pleases, taking back to her father reports of what is happening. Naturally they are cautious of the English plans, and how they will affect them. They know little of the English and don’t know how many more may come. There are disputes within the People on how best to deal with the problem. From a tentative start things quickly go downhill through misunderstandings, pride on both sides, an unwillingness to learn from the People and source food among the gentry that comprise most of the first people there. They see the People as uneducated savages, and won’t acknowledge they could learn from them. John Smith knows they need to learn from the Natives about surviving in this harsh land, but most of the others see manual work as demeaning to their station and are content to do the minimum to get by, waiting for supplies from England. They won’t take notice of Smith, seeing him as just a Commoner so uneducated. That’s where Pocahontas acts as a link to Smith, teaching and learning languages of both parties and telling him about their lifestyle. He’s alone though in wanting to make this work, the others seem to feel the People will just accept English rule and bow down…and of course they don’t. It amazes me how arrogant we were in taking over other countries, and sadly I feel much the same would happen now if the circumstances were to arise.
Its a great tale, showing us some of the Peoples traditions, their day to day life style and how they gathered food, worshipped their God, depended on the seasons and the land for food. Its not all one sided though with People good, English bad, there’s double dealing on both sides, treachery within ranks, and some horrific cruelties perpetuated on both sides.
Pocahontas is in a unique position, but as she has been all her life she’s slightly apart from the others, and this continues with her links with the English. She went from a precocious child to a young adult who was trying hard to do what was right for her people, even when that came at great sacrifice to herself.
Its a wonderful tale, very emotional and moving, and its a book to savour, to mull over, to think what would happen if….
Stars: Five, its a fictional but realistic account of the time.
ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers.

Henna House, Nomi Eve.


Henna House, Nomi Eve.
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews.
Well, I love books that give us a glimpse at the inner lives of other cultures. The everyday minutiae that is so important, the rules and constraints, and being a Jew and a girl Adela was subject to much of those. I love to see how different life can be and going back into history we get a glimpse of what seems like another way of life entirely. The pace is slower, the men rule, and they are broken down into religions and classes graduating in importance. The Jews are last in the line and as Adela’s family drops away she gets sucked into the seductive world of Henna. I love those Henna tattoos, they are so delicate and beautiful and the cover is enchanting, showing one at its best.
Much of the novel reads like beautiful sections of prose, lyrically written, descriptive in a way that sings to ones senses. Its a very different book from what I imagined it was going to be, and I did find it slow and difficult to get into at first, but once I’d adapted my mind set to the gentle pacing I enjoyed it. Its not one I’d re read, but was very enlightening and enriching about the lives and the problems facing the peoples of that time.
Its easy to be seduced, lulled into a position of complacency by the wonderful, descriptive passages, but underneath that surface there are dark elements of cruelty, showing just how little value some peoples lives were regarded as. I guess that’s always been the position, we like to think of ourselves as having passed that state, and yet even here in the West nearly a century on we have people working for minimum wages, on zero hours contracts, homeless and unable to get a home, sick and unable to afford treatment, while others who are wealthy know nothing of these problems…what price progress?
Stars: Four, an enticing read.
ARC supplied via Netgalley
Edit: i didn’t have price info when i wrote this – now I can see it’s almost ten quid, seriously expensive IMO!

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