To Have and to Hold, A Returning Home Novel, Serena Bell

To Have and to Hold, A Returning Home Novel,  Serena Bell

To Have and to Hold: A Returning Home Novel by [Bell, Serena]

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Genre: Romance,

 

I’d read and loved the first two Returning Home novels, so looked forward to getting stuck into this. Once more I got a story and characters I could fully engage with – Trina, poor Trina. What an terrible position to be in, my heart broke for her, but she handled it incredibly well. Hunter too – it must be awful to have gaps in your memory, to have that weight of expectation put on you when you can remember nothing of what relates to it.

The two daughters were wonderful characters, as was the gran. Her actions – well, if I’d been Trina or Hunter I too would have been angry,and yet she did things from the right motives.

Its a heart breaking read, where you can see Hunter wants to do right but just doesn’t remember the feelings he had, where Trina can see the man she loves and yet he’s not that same man anymore, looks like him, talks like him but inside there’s a huge gap, and you wonder if they can get past this hurdle, if his memory will return, and what will happen if it doesn’t. Hard times and I felt for all of them.

Another cracking read that’s full of emotion and drama, and fits perfectly with the two earlier books,

but which can also be read as a stand alone if you haven’t read those.

Stars:Five, a great addition to the series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

True North, (The Compass 4), Tamsen Parker

True North,  (The Compass 4),  Tamsen Parker

True North (Compass series Book 4) by [Parker, Tamsen]

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http://amzn.to/29Y9pHx

Genre: Romance,

I’m really getting into this series now from a somewhat tentative start, and love Tamsen’s writing style. It’s a story that draws you in, real characters, believable plots and of course lots and lots of hot, erotic sex. The well written kind, not the squirky, twee, mealy mouthed sort . I’ve been compiling a list of stomach churning sex terms – none here thankfully, but at the weekend I read one novel where, I kid you not, the terms “curls of her divide, her pleasure point, sliding his enormity into her…” were used…. I’ve also found fluttering, quivering openings, and man meat/man muscles, mushroom caps in other reads. I just can’t take a romance seriously when things like that crop up, and thank goodness Tamsen doesn’t do that. Sniggering when you should be rapt with sensuality just isn’t right!

Anyway – enough of that – this book. Well, I recall Slade from ( I think ) book 2. I love the way authors can create a whole story from a character, who’s almost a fleeting thought in an earlier book, and it was great to see more of him, see why he was so obnoxious to people. Boy was he that, and as for poor Pressley, well the wonderful Reyes soon put him right.
India, I’ve had issues with her but she was generous enough, even after how she’d been treated, to tell him he needed professional advice…well, in her own way, she was hurting in more ways than one at the time.
That intrigued Slade. Could there really be more people with his needs, was he really not so weird, different, someone who needed to be avoided?When I realised how he felt about himself it all made sense, and though I hated the way he’d been treating people, once I understood him I had more sympathy. I’m glad he wasn’t my boss though.
Then he meets Reyes, and Rey doesn’t stand for any nonsense from him, lays his conditions on the line while reassuring him he isn’t weird, a pervert, but someone with specific needs, which he has to learn to control. He makes it clear one step out of line and he’s alone again. Then Rey takes him to a club where he gets a huge surprise…massive!
It gives him a second chance, and I loved the way he tried so hard, struggled, loved the way Pressley had changed, had grown more sure of herself, and the struggles when politics got caught in the play. I love the way all this takes place over months, so many books cram huge changes in the characters lives into a few weeks, even just a few days sometimes and for me that just isn’t believable, that you can change habits and inclinations of years in such a short time.

A great read, made richer by the tantalising glimpses of the wonderful Reyes – I am so, so eager to read his story. From the first book I’ve found him so intriguing and I’m so keen to know more about him. And Matthew too of course, that’s one relationship that’s kind of hung out before the reader, dangled but kept very elusive, nothing is really given away. Are they lovers, emotionally or physically, or is it a D/s relationship only. I need to read more of Rey ASAP Tamsen!

Stars: Five, a cracking read.

ARC supplied by Author

Nacho Figueras Presents: Wild One, Jessica Whitman

Nacho Figueras Presents: Wild One,  Jessica Whitman

Nacho Figueras Presents: Wild One (The Polo Season: 2) by [Figueras, Nacho, Whitman, Jessica]

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For some reason this is out in US but not til 24th Aug in UK, even though book three is out 27th July? Weird huh?? Its on preorder though.

 

I loved the first book, High Season, and this was another fun, flirty read featuring Polo and the Del Campo family. It reminded me a bit of the Jilly Cooper novels, especially Polo, having that same light hearted, drama fest air.

Sometimes you want a read that’s solid drama, intense and moody and at other times you need a book like this, one that’s fun to read, an escape into a world you’ve never touched, where its all glamour and glitz on the top and horses, hard work  and sweat underneath.

In horse-riding its like most sports, the easier it looks the harder you know it really is, that only intense training produces those results. I’ve ridden ( still have Muska my 26 year old Icelandic mare at home in the garden ) but never been in competitive sports, never seen anything like a Polo match, and yet from novels and my own experience with horses I’ve an idea of just how much goes into it, and how expensive and sponsor dependent it is.

I loved Sebastian in the last book, love that easy going, fun air he has about him, and in this book we see he also has a more serious side, that there’s a reason for his blend of frivolity and seeming carelessness. Kat too was a great lead, I understood her issues, how hard it must be to replicate the success of her first film, when after that flop of the second no-one wanted to take a chance. That old adage about never resting on your laurels springs to mind – she didn’t want to rest, wanted to work, to keep going but Film making is a small world, the risks are high, and those with the money to back something don’t like high risk ventures.

 

Its another fun, sensual read, with realistic people and that felt “real” to me, knowing little about how that world actually works. I had no trouble imaging the scenes, keeping up with the plots, the problems, that worries and then when things went right that “down” drama made it feel so much sweeter.

Its a read I’ll be happy to enjoy again when i want a fun, summery romance, an escape from reality.

Stars: Five, a great fun, flirty, summer read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Boundary Born, Boundary Magic Book 3, Melissa F. Olson

Boundary Born, Boundary Magic Book 3,  Melissa F. Olson

Boundary Born (Boundary Magic Book 3) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

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Genre:  General fiction,  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I read books one and two on KU, and just loved them. Melissa is a new-to-me author and I just love that, someone who’s got a host of stories I haven’t read. There’s a couple of side books too that don’t need to be read to understand this trio, but which do make certain issues clearer and as they’re on KU – well, yep, I read them too.

This is the final part of Lex’ story for now, though I understand Melissa may return to this world at a later date. In a way I’m sad, but also I think its worked well this way, and its good to have a for-now closure.
Sometimes series go on so long that the whole main story gets lost, and it becomes a muddle and the magic of earlier reads gets spoiled. Its clear here Melissa had a definite plan for Lex.
I love Lex, love the relationship with her dead sister Sam, and of course with Vampire Quinn.

There’s enough romance to keep me happy, and it never dominates the story, its very much a background issue. I like the personal relationship, the way they’ve come together and support each other, but in a story like this its great to have a romance that doesn’t interfere with the main story.
The plot in this one ties up many things raised in earlier stories, and the whole main plot surrounding Lex and the boundary witch thing comes full circle.
Its a great story, Lex goes from crisis to crisis once more, with her good friends help as always. She’s one of those characters who make strong ( and useful) friends and they are an integral part of the story. Even though its a fantasy read it feels real, the dangers feel genuine and there’s no “rabbit out of a hat” fixes, Lex and her friends have to work hard, risk much to get to the solutions.

If you love a good fantasy read, real characters, a story with drama and depth, things that “could” be real if this world was genuine, then this trilogy is a great choice. Its on KU too and for those like me who subscribe its a terrific bargain.

Stars: five, its been a wonderful trilogy to enjoy

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Until Harry, L.A. Casey. Hiatus,  L. A. Witt

Until Harry,  L.A. Casey

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Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

I’d not read any of L.A.Casey’s work before but this had a slew of 4 anf 5 star reviews so I requested it. Sadly though its a book that didn’t work for me.

Its well written and plotted out, everything falls into place just as it should, though some parts are a little predictable ( the will…I saw that coming a mile away). It wasn’t the story I didn’t like, it was the characters😦

Its down to that old divider – personal taste. Reading is very subjective and where others found Lane a great lead I found her ( and Kale) older than years when she was young and then childish and selfish when she’s older. In fact it was really hard to belive in her and find her real when we meet her at 6, 10, 13 etc.
Kale has readers that adore him, I found him a bit – well – weird. What young lad really is best friends with a girl when he’s regarded as a brother he’s at their house so much and she has two brothers close to his age?
The whole family “Waltons” feel – I never did like that 70’s series although millions did, and this book has that same slightly idealistic, unreal family grouping to me. They way they treated Lane, “ you can’t leave!!” from them – she was 20 then and yet they really expected her to do as they said, and then acted like that when she wouldn’t?
Like I said its a book clearly thousands will love, its well written, well thought out but the characters just spoiled the story for me. I have to like them, want them to suceed in their love and here I was just too indifferent to the couple. Add in that the “romance” side never really kicks in until near the end and it was a fail for me :- (

Stars: Two, sadly not to my taste.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Hiatus,  L. A. Witt

Hiatus by [Witt, L.A.]

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Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA

I usually love LA Witt’s writing and expected to enjoy this read but…it was good – but not great. a bit Meh, and that came as a surprise. Maybe as most of the ones I’ve liked have come via a different publisher and of course each house sets its own basics. Perhaps MM via Samhain doesn’t do it for me, although Fantasy mostly does…..

I didn’t really feel connected to the characters, wasn’t upset, happy, sad for them as I needed to be. It was a kind of take it or leave it read for me. One I could happily put down and walk away from whereas usually I just Have To Finish the story. I felt really frustrated by their actions, and just didn’t understand how after so long together both Cam and Theo could have missed what the other was going through. I know they were kind of insidious problems, and maybe the fact they had their own things going on didn’t help but it just didn’t feel real to me and that’s why it was an OK read but not a great read. Still, as ever others will love it – we all have different criteria for what makes a good read thankfully😉

Stars: Three, not as good for me as others by this author.

ARC supplied by publishers and Netgalley

The Emperor’s Arrow

The Emperor’s Arrow,  Lauren D.M. Smith

The Emperor's Arrow by [Smith, Lauren D.M.]

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Genre: Romance, Fantasy & Sci-fi

I wasn’t sure about this, but it sounded intriguing.

It was a fun read and I loved Evony, such an independent, strong woman. She had this way of summing up people, speaking her mind without being rude, managing to ignore for the most part the irritating, fluttery,  squealy, girly, girls and yet was open and kind to those who were in need of help and a friendly face.
I loved the way she talked to Galen and some of the dialogue between them was excellent and yet…the romance. I just wasn’t feeling it, the sex/kissing scenes felt awkward and stilted, and I just didn’t feel a proper sense of sizzle, sexual tension, the can’t-stay-away pull that  usually goes with this kind of read – well, the ones I like.

In many ways it reminded me of Kiera Cass Selection novels, same kind of premise, same kind of issues throughout, but it didn’t quite have the contrasts of those, the plots lacked the intrigue and depth of the Cass ones.
Its still a great debut book, and I’m sure Lauren has some great stories to come out that will appeal to me in the future, but for now this book is a good read, not a great one.
Of course that’s my view, for many others it’ll be a great read as it is. The beauty of books is the way we all want different characters, divergent issues, things that appeal to some of us others loathe. It means somewhere there’s a book for every reader.

Stars:Three, a good debut.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Copping It Sweet, Anna Clifton

Copping It Sweet,  Anna Clifton

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Genre:  Romance,

 

I loved Anna’s New Year’s Promise and her Making Ends Meet,  so was hoping I’d love this one too. I enjoyed it but it didn’t have the same pull for me as the other two reads, and I’m not really sure why that is.

I think maybe its that the main leads, Sara and Cooper just didn’t have the same appeal to me, I didn’t feel I really knew or understood them, and couldn’t really get too worked up about their romance of the issues they were facing.

I guess the plot that centred around Sara’s husband felt a bit unreal to me too. The explanations were all there, the ends all tied up and yet for me it just felt a bit unfulfilling. Sometimes books are like that – you “should” like them, all indications point that way, and yet for some reason that just don’t quite meet the mark…Its a  good read but one of those I’d not reread.

Looking at what else Anna has written though I’m drawn to one of the early reads, Adam’s Boys, and have just bought that. Yep, I get loads of review books, read lots through KU and still find ones I want to buy!

Stars: Three, a good read but not a keeper for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

I Found You, Lisa Jewell

I Found You,  Lisa Jewell

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Genre:  General Fiction (Adult)

My first book by Lisa Jewell, so I wasn’t sure what to expect. And I got hooked into the story very quickly – had to keep reading til the early hours ( yawn…) just to see what would happen and how it would all pull together.

I loved Alice, a bit scatty, probably ones of those mums labelled “irresponsible” by others, yet she loves her family and has such a big heart. That’s what led her into the predicament she finds herself, she just can’t leave the poor guy sitting on the beach all night so invites him home, lets him stay in her studio room that she rents out, but which is currently vacant. Her youngest daughter names him Frank as she feels its a good name for him.
Frank has lost his memeory, he’s cinfused, diesn;t jknow where he is, who he is, how he got there…I so felt for him and wanted to know what had happened to get him into this state.
The we meet Lily, 21, Ukrainian new bride of Carl.He’s older – 40 – they’ve had a very whirlwind relationship, and been in UK only 10 days after marrying quickly in Kiev.  She’s deeply in love and very self contained,and when Carl doesn’t come home from work she’s determined to find him even if the police seem to think he’s off with someone else. She’s such a motivated lady and she needs to be strong. I found her difficult to like, she’s such a hidden person and at first when i read it I expected her to be one of those simpering child bride types. She’s not though, she’s independent, and comes across as abrupt at times. That may be the language divide, she’s fluent in English but doesn’t always understand mannerisms and phrases and her response makes her seem aloof.

Those are the main characters in the “now” part of the story, but it also slips back twenty years to when a family where holidaying in the area, where we meet Gray, Kirsty and Mark. Teenagers, and yet from very different backgrounds with a story that develops from their first meeting on the beach.

I enjoyed the switch from past and all that’s happening there, to the current seeing the story from Lily, Alice and Franks viewpoint. I was racing to get to the next chapter of whatever was current – so when I’m with Gray, Kirsty and Mark I wanted to see what was happening next as Lisa stops each section right on a high, at the moment when things are happening. But I’d then get sucked in to what was happening to Alice, Frank and Lily and wondering how all these characters connected. Its a novel that begins with what feels like three very different stories that slower begin to make their way to each other.
I’d guessed a bit but not for a very long while, and though there were a few implausible parts ( I’ve broken bones, even allowing for adrenalin I don’t think all that was possible) I was hooked into reading – as I said – far too late which is why I’m so tired this morning….

Stars: Five,a great read though now I know the story its not a re-reader for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Softpaw, (Smilodon Pride 1), Beryll Brackhau, Osiris Brackhaus

Softpaw, (Smilodon Pride 1),  Beryll Brackhau, Osiris Brackhaus

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Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA, Fantasy and paranormal

 

New to me authors so I had no idea what to expect, but its shifters and romance so I wanted to try.

It was a book I enjoyed, a fun read, but I wasn’t totally invested in it.I put it aside a couple of times and picked up again later.  I’m not really sure why it was like that for me – all the elements were there, great characters, a decent plot, some suspense laced with humour and of course the paranormal aspect. Sometimes reading’s like that though, certain books ought to be perfect for you but just aren’t. Could just be the mood you’re in when reading and on another day it would work better – who knows?

Anyway, this is set in Paris, and main leads are undercover cop/former rent boy Michel and Werecat Connor, houseboat inhabitant and informal “protector” in his own mind of the working people in that area.

There’s trouble afoot though, a feral vampire has been on a killing spree of the local prostitutes, and Michel is working as one, undercover, hoping to find out more.

The main suspect is Connor who seems to have been close to so many of the victims, and he’s charged with checking him out. There’s a spark between the two when they meet,  and from being Connor’s usual one night on the couch aid to those in need Michel works his way in closer. He doesn’t want Connor to be the killer, but needs to do his job. Connor of course can’t explain how he is so involved but knows he’s the only one who can take out the killer, the cops stand no chance with a vampire, but its a secret that can’t be let out.

Connor and Michel are both hiding secrets, what happens when they come out? Can their romance get past it or is this the end?

Its a fun read, and I really enjoyed the dry, subtle humour, which lightened the novel so well. I also enjoyed the beautiful descriptions, of Paris, of the buildings and parks, and even down to Connor’s houseboat. ( I always wanted to live in one of those)

It could have been too much, overdone – this description of every little thing, it seemed like every detail found their way into the story, but it works and makes for a fun, quirky read. Its not a re-reader for me though, but was an enjoyable one off novel.

It does have some very graphic, at times very rough m/m sex scenes, so if that’s not your thing then avoid this story.

Stars: Three, a fun read, beautifully written but didn’t quite hit the spot for me.

ARC supplied by authors

Cream of the Crop, Alice Clayton

Cream of the Crop,  Alice Clayton

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Genre: Romance.

My first Alice Clayton was the wonderful Wallbanger – followed by the Redhead trilogy. Actually I’ve recently finished a reread of that, good books I love to enjoy a second time or more…so I was really looking forward to this, even though I hadn’t read the first book. Each is a standalone book, so that shouldn’t matter.

I love the way Alice’s heroines are such strong, confident women, no simpering milksops here, but Natalie grated on my to begin. She came across as almost overconfident, a bit pushy, she’s a size 18 – fine, so are lots of us- but she’s almost aggressively defensive  about it.There’s an explanation later that makes sense, but she was annoying me with her constant references to it, and the way she almost treated men as sex objects yet got annoyed when they looked at her in the same way. Dual standards much Natalie?
No one wants to be defined by a single part of them but she’s doing it to herself it seemed with her constant focus on her size and the Big is Beautiful mind-set she had.  I found it a bit hard to like her. That’s really important to me, I need to be rooting for my leads, to want them to get whatever it was they desired.
She grew on me by a third of the way in thankfully, and her interaction with Oscar to begin were brilliant. Who hasn’t been reduced to a shambling wreck, incapable of intelligent conversation by someone we like? The other characters, Oscar, Roxie – her friend – and her husband Leo were also great characters and played a solid part. I adored Leo’s daughter Polly, and then of course who couldn’t love Chad the Mayor and Logan, his husband.

There was so much to like here, great characters, hot, erotic, steamy sex and a tentative romance, a realistic plot around how Natalie spent so much time in Bailey’s Falls, that I ought to have been glued to the page. Sadly I wasn’t though, found myself putting it aside and picking up something else a couple of times.
I couldn’t have done that with Wallbanger, or the Redhead trio, yet didn’t get engaged with this read in the same way. Not sure why? I think it was the Natalie /Oscar romance, it was hot sex, and lots of it, but there was no real conflict or issues with them once they got together – I had hopes of Missy intervening but…shame as that kind of thing is right up my street.
Still, it was a good read, just for me not a great one and not one I’d reread.

Stars: Four, a good read but a one off for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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