A Lie for a Lie, All In Book 1, Helena Hunting

A Lie for a Lie, All In Book 1, Helena Hunting

A Lie for a Lie (All In Book 1) by [Hunting, Helena]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Romance

I first found Helena’s book from the fabulous Clipped wings, still my favourite and just downloaded again for a reread. I’ve enjoyed others from her but also read some that didn’t hit the spot. This one kind of falls in the middle.

I loved RJ, and understood exactly why he was so cagey about revealing who he was. Having had a stalker issue, he’s bound to be cautious and with fame bringing out all sorts of crazy its sensible to take care. Of course that led to lots of issues further down the line, but he never outright lied, just didn’t tell all and I thought once she knew the truth Lainey was a bit harsh to him over that.
I understood her issues, she’d been through a huge trauma. As a parent myself understood where her parents were coming from too, but of course at 25 no-one wants to still be having to run decisions by parents, and it was well past time for them to accept that.
When something happens in the novel I had a feeling it would lead to….and I was right. TBH I’m getting a little tired of that trope, its becoming too predictable. Maybe I’m just choosing wrong books though 😉 It then takes up a large part of the novel naturally, and becomes the focus of whether they can make it as a couple or not. I understood the characters, why they acted as they did, I enjoyed the story but wasn’t glued to it, and it won’t be a re-reader for me.

Stars: Three, an easy, relaxing read, but a little short on plot and drama for me.

Arc via Netgalley

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Lies Lies Lies, Adele Parks

Lies Lies Lies, Adele Parks

Lies Lies Lies: The Number One Sunday Times bestselling new domestic thriller from Adele Parks by [Parks, Adele]

Genre: ,Women’s Fiction, Romance

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Well, that’s out of the way so on to the book…I loved it, though at the start I thought it was going to be just meh!

Daisy and Simon seem top have the perfect marriage, adore each other and their talented daughter Millie, both have good jobs, a nice home and long time friends that lead to a good social life. Then we see a few cracks appear, the friends have a few issues, Daisy carries a grudge against one of her college friends, kept it up for the last 15 years even though the parties have all moved on. Lucy had an affair with Daisy’s sisters husband, she’s now married to him and they have a child, and Daisy’s sister is also happily married but for Daisy its an unforgivable breach. They all still meet, having friends in common but Daisy avoids Lucy as much as she can. For me this characterises Lucy’s nature, she has strict codes of right and wrong, and is incredibly loyal. This loyalty spreads to Simon when he drinks too much, he’s a functioning alcoholic and for the most part is more or less in control, always the life of the party, always a fun guy and he adores Daisy and Millie. So much so that he thinks they should have another child. It took a while for them to have Millie though, and they’re older and seek medical help. After that his alcoholism really takes over his life and Daisy just doesn’t know what to do. I really began to dislike Simon here even though I felt sorry for him. I sympathised with Daisy, been there, done that and its tough. You love someone but don’t necessarily like what they do.
Gradually the issues get worse, until things go horribly wrong. Their lives all change irrevocably, and the secrets that have been stacking up increase, there are outright lies and untold ones, lies of omission. I so felt for everyone, and the people I least expected to help stepped up, showing the power of true friends.
You need to suspend believe a little to really get into the story, when the secrets and lies get revealed and the consequences come out, but then as they saying goes, Truth can be stranger than fiction, so who knows?

A gripping read, full of unexpected events and turns, and a fabulous story. The characters felt very real though in my head, their actions very true to form. I guess I thought of them very much as “Boden Catalogue” families. UK readers will understand that, the Middle classes, university, property owning families. I’m making that point as a fact not a criticism, its just a type of family, as real as the landed gentry type and the families that never get beyond renting homes, where a stable job is an aspiration. Adele herself makes the point that Simon isn’t the typical prisoner, and sadly she’s right in that some people seem almost destined for a life or crime. The prison section, prison life, how easy it is to become accepting, institutionalised, how the hierarchy of people like the Dales who run the prisoners and some of the guards, even though they are prisoners themselves was very realistic. She’s celalry researched the prison rules for visitors etc, I learned a lot I didn’t know about visiting rules. I find when authors do that research it leads to a much better reading experience for me, that I can enjoy the realism of the events more, feeling that this is the way life, and in this case prison life, works.

Stars: Five, a brilliant read, very emotional, very well put together, turning my feelings about characters completely upside down. The ending – a little hard to believe but for me it was what I wanted so I’m happy even if its a little stretching credulity.

Arc via Netgalley

Call Me, Maybe, Stephie Chapman

Call Me, Maybe, Stephie Chapman

Call Me, Maybe: A hilarious, uplifting romcom with a love story that will make you swoon by [Chapman, Stephie]

Genre: ,Women’s Fiction, Romance

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Well, that’s out of the way so on to the book…I liked it, a lot, but didn’t Love it. And I’d expected to, its got one of my favourite tropes.

Its got some fun characters, some humour that lifts parts and the potential for some great drama. I just didn’t feel it lived up to that potential. There were characters that were fairly major in parts who then just dropped away. There’s the mystery of Franco and its demise, which was kind of storm in a teacup when finally revealed, and the actions of some of the family over that seemed a bit OTT.

I was never really convinced of the romance between Cassie and Jesse, it seemed kind of insta-love and yet although they’re talking online they’ve only met a couple of times before they’re in deep….They were good together but I didn’t really feel I knew either of them well enough, and didn’t feel they knew each other well. Hot sex doesn’t make a relationship work, you need more.
The relationship between Cassie and her best friend for years seems rocky at times, and there’s no real explanation – like the romance issues its kind of hinted at, there are hurt feelings and then all’s OK again without any real exploration of what went wrong.

That Big problem, yes I can understand Cassie’s reaction at the way it came out, but TBH given that the real circumstances aren’t yet clear, no one has asked, or even really bothered to find out the essential question, and as it all happened well before Cassie and Jesse were in contact it seemed again an OTT reaction all round. By the time it had all happened simple maths would have given the answer too….It seemed too as if all the relationship issues were put down to that one problem but they had much wider ones, ones which if they didn’t explore would simply reoccur. Jesse cam close to seeing some of his issues but I’m not sure he was willing to look at changing them though. The same for Cassie, she recognised that maybe she’d over reacted but given similar issues I think she’d still be the same. I guess for me its back to that build a relationship – they didn’t really, but went from online chats to full fledged all in, and that middle part, the getting to know each there, is so important.
I did like Holly, I do adore a “good” nasty person, and she was a queen bitch! I wish there were more like her in books 😉

Stars: three and a half, a lot of potential, but for me it didn’t quite hit it.
Arc via Netgalley

Built to Last, Hidden Hearts Book 1, Kate McBrien

Built to Last, Hidden Hearts Book 1, Kate McBrien

Built to Last (Hidden Hearts Book 1) by [McBrien, Kate ]

Genre: Romance

I loved the Indigo Trilogy, and this is a spin off of characters from that, but you don’t need to read it to follow this story, its a stand alone read.

I remember Althea and Max from the Indigo books but only vaguely, and they felt very much like new characters for me.
I loved Max, taciturn, loving but troubled family and wanting to further his career in the direction he originally intended. That was on track til an awful betrayal by an ex led to him meeting Justin, and becoming involved with his band. That’s been good, but now he wants to move forward in his early ambitions, take his career that way. He’s got an opportunity, needs the job to help his struggling parents and pay for his sisters rehab treatment, and is determined to give this chance his best shot. And then Althea gets landed on him as an independent voice about the bands he’s seeing.
Althea. One part of me loves her, she’s so open, so friendly, so helpful. There’s a section where Max sings a song from Annie to her and TBH I hate that show, and Althea epitomises just why. At times she’s relentless. Relentlessly cheerful, optimistic, full of help and goodwill, and I just want to say “doesn’t Anything get you down?”
Of course it does, she just hides it well. She’s got her own family issues and reasons for living on the island, and there’s a lot more than this light, casual persona she shows.
I loved Kiki, Althea’s stepsister – I love nasty characters, and I wish we’d seen more of her….

Althea and Max don’t hit it off too well, and yet there’s a very clear feeling of attraction between them that neither wants to admit. Thrown together though for a week, looking at bands, talking and assessing them they each see that their first impressions weren’t everything, and of course that attraction is still lurking…..Slowly, as they get to know each other more their feelings change.
Its a fun read, much lighter than the Indigo books, no suspense and supernatural angle, just a straight forward romance, but with plenty of backstory and struggles to keep it interesting.
I wasn’t entirely convinced of Max and Althea in love, that they could get past their issues in the short time they were together, but loved that the breakup part wasn’t over quickly, but each really needed to reflect, to work towards the ending. I love where characters have to really work for the happy ending. That felt more real than the way they got together so quickly, where casual sex became more so swiftly, from just one night, just this week to…..For me that was just a little too slick. I can believe in insta-love so to speak, just didn’t really feel it here, they were such different characters in all ways.

Finally got round to listening to the Grateful Dead too… I enjoyed it a bit but its not really music for me, sorry Althea 😉

Stars: four, a fun read, a good story but Althea’s relentless cheer was a little too much occasionally, and I wasn’t totally convinced at first by her and Max. I was by the end though, the breakup reactions sealed it for me.

Arc via Author and Netgalley

Lost and Found, Liv Rancourt

Lost and Found, Liv Rancourt

Lost and Found by [Rancourt, Liv]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

One of the reasons I love LGBTQIA reads is that the romance that always seems to have that extra edge of passion. Maybe it’s because of the barriers, historically it was illegal, punishable by prison, and even now in our supposed enlightened terms its still frowned on. People still carry that bigotry and make life difficult for those who want to love outside what they feel is *right*. Sad isn’t it that we can’t all just live and let live in real life. Still, it makes for some fabulous fiction.

When we meet Ben its clear to see the War ( WW1) has affected him mentally, but of course its an age when such things were not only largely unknown but unspoken too, and he’s kind of floundering along, single mindedly searching for his childhood friend Elias. He can’t explain why he needs to do this for a friend but he just has to.
Its clear to the reader than they had more than just friendship, but in times like those Ben seems to have shut off his mind to the possibility that they were more, that he is attracted to men. Who can blame him when any hint of liking your own sex carried the taint of Unnatural, the threat of prison, the ostracising in society and employment prospects. Awful isn’t it that we could send people off to war, to die for their country but not let them live as they chose.
Louis is also a tenant in the building where Ben has rented a room, and at first he seems so surly, dislikable, rude. Yet their landlady is one of those who gently interferes in folks lives, caring about them as friends, really looks after her tenants, and somehow she engages Louis to help Ben. Together more they start to understand each other, learn about the things that plague them both, and Ben discovers some surprises about himself that he’d locked in his mind.

Its a wonderful story, a beautiful romance, with all the period details that allowed me to feel there with them. Books like that work best for me, where I almost feel part of the story, and am happy or sad along with the characters. Its not just Ben and Elias but a host of others here that made the story so real, they became people I felt I knew as friends.
At the end Liv talks about the story and says a certain part was at the suggestion of her agent. I’m so glad she took that advice, without that section it would be a good read, with that addition it becomes a great read. That part really moved me, let me understand Ben more, made the feelings between Louis and Ben more concrete, made the problems they faced more real.
I love it when a book delivers a love story but makes the characters have real issues, face seemingly immovable barriers to their love, and lets those problems take over a complete section of the story, not just a couple of pages. Ben needed that, I needed it 😉 and it really made the ending more satisfying.

Stars: Five, a perfect historical read, full of tenderness and emotion.

Arc via author

Guilty Not Guilty, Felix Francis

Guilty Not Guilty, Felix Francis

Guilty Not Guilty by [Francis, Felix]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Mystery and Thrillers.

I used to ( still do ) love Felix’ dad, Dick’s, novels. Being a horse mad child that grew into a horse mad adult, with a love of reading his books have kept me entertained for many happy hours.
Felix writes in a similar style, believable characters, a story that feels genuine, where you could place yourself in that setting and see it happening in real life. And of course there’s always the mystery of who the culprit really is. Its not a copycat of his dads style though, Felix has his own spin, his own way of writing and I find it very easy to follow, perfect for me.

I like to be puzzled as I read the story, but not so confused that I switch off. Felix lays out clues for the reader to pick up – some I got and some I missed. His books are set with a racing background but less intensely horse orientated, so this book we meet Bill as he is acting as a Steward at the races, having been a former jockey, but apart from a couple of race meets and his background in stewarding that’s the entirety of the horse content.
I felt so sorry for Bill, his wife has died and yet he can’t grieve properly because the police are convinced he killed her. With his family background its quickly become quite a high profile murder, and I guess there’s pressure on the police to find the killer. Bill has been neatly served up as culprit by his brother in law, once a friend but for the past few years he’s been viciously cruel to Bill and Amanda, his wife, causing her intense distress with his vile innuendo and threats. He’s now playing the part of devoted distraught brother, which makes Bill suspicious of him.
Bill is vilified in the press, made out to be guilty by them, and his former friends and neighbours almost all believe it. Only a handful of friends and family stand by him, one of them advising that the best way to clear his name is to set about proving an unquestionable alibi. Bill is rightly worried the police aren’t going to look further, as the way his brother in law has placed it he does look guilty, although of course there’s no real evidence, only suspicion and possibilities.

Its a raging paced read, racing from one drama to another, and I so felt for poor Bill. Once more fiction shows up the worst of the press, they do behave in this revolting way, dragging out any and all possible salacious details, spinning possibilities as fact, caring nothing for someones grief and sensibilities in their quest to be first with new details. The poor guy is mired in their web, damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Advice is say nothing, but how hard when you know they are spouting total rubbish..

I loved this read, know I’ll re-read it, and there’s a twist at the end that completely caught me out. I Did Not See That Coming!

Stars: Five, a cracking paced read, full of wonderful fiction that felt incredibly real.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling

Fox Blood, (Moon Marked Book 3), Aimee Easterling

Fox Blood (Moon Marked Book 3) by [Easterling, Aimee]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

Well, adventures galore after the antics at the end of books two. Trouble in the pack for Gunner, Trouble for Mai with Kira excelling herself in brat mode here. Honestly, at times I wanted to shake her. She a kid though and gone through such a lot. And because she’s a kid then social services are always overlooking what the two do, and checking Mai is looking after Kira properly. Of course she can’t tell them whats going on “ ah well, you see, actually we’re fox shifters, Kitsunes…” – “ right, OK dear, now lets just give you a nice shot to clam you down….”
There are possible relatives for the girls who though they had none, Gunner has pack troubles, getting wolves to accept him having a fox mate. Kira’s mum is still throwing in unhelpful tips, and its really chaos all round. All Mai wanted was a quiet life for her and Kira, then she met Gunner and he convinced her they could make a life together. The pack has been through such a lot though and they are not happy.

Stars: four, its a fun finish, packed with action and suspense, but the actual ending did feel a little rushed. I’m not usually one for books following the ending of a story but I think a longer epilogue with a peek into the future would have finished this off well, just to let us know that after all the chaos and disasters things did work out, that the pair had not just a HFN but a HEA.

A bought book!

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling 

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2), Aimee Easterling 

Shadow Wolf (Moon Marked Book 2) by [Easterling, Aimee]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

So, after the last adventures Mai and Kira are hiding out with Gunner and the pack. Of course that doesn’t go down well with many of them, historically the two Do Not Mix….and Kira is fading fast. Trying to be helpful we saw in the last book things she did that are now affecting her badly. Kira is desperate to help her sister, but can see her sickening daily. Kira is still a brat though, in a nice way, she adores her sister but it seems the fox/kitsune playfulness and trickster genes came out in force in Kira. She means well, but somehow ends up doing the opposite, causing chaos. If she was a NI spirit she’s be Coyote!
Its a fun read, I loved the fact the Pack weren’t happy and the issues that brought. I did feel a bit confused at times, sort of lost the thread of where the story was going, and it took me a while to get back “into” the story. There was a patch where I lost it completely, got confused and just kind of switched off and skimmed a couple of chapters, and of course that didn’t help. “But I wanted to see what would happen” she explains plaintively…
There’s some more surprises for Mia and Kira here, mum’s voice is still throwing cryptic comments at Mia, and some of those made me smile and think “what on earth does THAT mean??”. Its good to have some lighter moments 😉 Gunner is doing his best to help but he’s Pack and his leader brother makes it clear he needs to choose where his loyalties lie. While Mia and Kira continue to help the pack in their search they’re there in sufferance but its a thin line he treads.
I enjoyed this installment even though like other reviewers there were parts where I got a bit lost, but I love to read a series back to back, and to reread good ones, and find that works well for me. I’m sure when I get to reread this one those foggy moments will be clearer, especially as I’ll know the ending and be able to resist skipping to there 😉
And, I’ve bought book three. It takes a lot to make me buy books with getting lots of lovely arcs ( thanks authors and publishers), free kindle reads and KU.

Stars: four, a fun read, some terrific characters – including Kira’s social worker! I doubt in real life that would swing but she’s a gem. I did find parts a little hard to follow but as I’ve said I’m sure re-reading will clear that up.

A bought book!

Let It Snow, Sue Moorcroft

Let It Snow, Sue Moorcroft

Let It Snow by [Moorcroft, Sue]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction.

Quick usual moan about the genre Women’s Fiction – why? Why assume men won’t read this? Men write romance, men read romance….

Well, I was late to the Sue Moorcroft appreciation group 😉 but she’s the kind of author whose books are worth reading multiple times. They’re so packed with mini plots, secondary characters, fascinating dialogue that I know on subsequent readings I’ll pick up things I missed this time round.

As usual its not just one plot, one strand of story but lots. I love that in a story, keeps things exciting. Some books are single plot and I find that can mean the story becomes a bit dull, fixated on one event but here we flip between plots, many of which prove ultimately to be connected.
Fabulous charters too, that make the story feel so real. They’re the kind of folk you find in any village, with all life’s dramas, the everyday issues we all face at times. There’s Lily, Zinnia and the two mums, and the issues that’s brought for all of them, and then Lily discovering her two half brothers, and what she should do about that. They have no idea about her, the mums and Zinnia are feeling a bit rejected, even though Lily still adores them. I guess that’s natural, how most parents would feel when their child wants to search out other family members. Til now they’ve been a tight knit unit of four, what will happen when Lily finds them.
Of course its not straight forward, Lily finds Harrison Tubb ( known to all as Tubb), he’s a well liked genial landlord of a village local, and she gets a job with him, intending to tell him who she is when time is right. Its never that straightforward though, and that simple quest gets more complicated as she falls in love with Isaac, who’s minding the pub while Tubb recovers from a heart issue in Switzerland with his brother. By now Lily has been at the pub two years, part time, while building her own business. That brings in an opportunity to work at an event in Switzerland, via Tubb and his brother Garrick, who still don’t know who Lily is to them.
Then there’s the singing group, who are also on the Swiss trip, singing Christmas songs, the other villagers, Isaac and his ex Hayley, and of course their dog, Doggo. He’s a real star of the book, so typically Dalmatian, full of exuberance.
Everything comes to a head just before, and on, the Swiss trip, its multiple dramas pulling Lily from all sides. Perfect read for me, I adore that kind of drama that makes you think, how can they get through this, will they even, or are the odds so stacked against them they won’t?

Its a perfect read for me, full of people and issues that feel so real and one in particular is handled very well, an illness that touches many of us. I’ve read similar plots in other books where it feels like its been brought in to add drama but just isn’t handled well, with parts being very unrealistic. Having had an illness similar myself I appreciated that this was written sensitively but realistically.

Stars: Five, a fun read, full of drama and subtle romance

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Saturday Supper Club, Amy Miller

The Saturday Supper Club, Amy Miller

The Saturday Supper Club: An absolutely heartwarming romantic read by [Miller, Amy]

Romance, Women’s Fiction

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Anyway, the book. Well, I love a second chance romance, and when characters stories are unfinished like this I want to know how they will end when they meet, will that second chance take, will things work out or has too much changed.

Sadly it wasn’t a great read for me. I love the cafe and how that was being set up, liked the idea of the supper club. I somehow felt the execution was lacking though, given the title, it didn’t really take a major setting.
I found most of the characters strange, except for Eve’s dad and his girlfriend. Though even Dad’s actions were not right either over one event, he meant well but it was wrong. Eve was shilly-shallying between the two men, not really being fair to either. I don’t like that behaviour, even though I understood her need to know, her shock at meeting Ethan again.
Some odd events are disclosed when Ethan finally reveals why he left and his excuse – well, it gobsmacked me. Really? She was upset so you …?? and thought it wise to cuddle someone in those circumstances? What a berk, what a stupid man. I’d have never been able to trust him again.
There are times when things happen between couples that make me feel there is some exoneration, even though its wrong but this? Nope. Out Of Order Ethan. Then he took cowards way out.

I thought Joe was great at first but as we came to know him I found him a bit creepy, manipulative…and then of course things come out that confirm that for me.
Daisy – well, with friends like her who needs enemies is all I can say. Even when the story comes out she’s still “poor me” “ I loved him first” even though he never had anything other than friendship with her.

Overall there were some interesting parts but the characters let it down for me, I didn’t really like any of them, and that spoiled the story.

Stars: Three, I just felt with a bit of tweaking it could have been a great read for me but then I’m sure others will love it as it is. Horses for courses etc.

Arc via Netgalley

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