Vespers (Hours of the Night 1), Irene Preston , Liv Rancourt

Vespers (Hours of the Night 1), Irene Preston , Liv Rancourt

Vespers (Hours of the Night Book 1) by [Preston, Irene, Rancourt, Liv]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I’d read and loved Irene’s A Taste of You, so when I saw she’d teamed up with another author to write this m/m novel featuring vampires I was intrigued. I do love paranormal romance, especially that with vampires.

It took me quite a while to get in to the story, to really feel I knew the characters. Sara is pretty open, I could feel fairly quickly the kind of man he was, but Thaddeus Dupont was a harder read. We just don’t see enough of him early in the novel, he comes over as some kind of mysterious hermit.

By halfway through though I was well into the story. First books in a series have a such a hard job, introducing new characters, scenes and a plot that will keep readers attention is a difficult task, so I wasn’t surprised it took me so long to get to grips with this one.
Its a very different Vampire novel, one where Thaddeus works for The White Monks, some sort of religious order that has partnered up with him, getting him an assistant to feed from and another who works with him on despatching the baddies!
I’d have liked to have known a bit more about the Monks, some of them don’t really seem very compassionate, and they’re holding a sword over Thaddeus in a way “ work for us and maybe, just maybe, your sol can be redeemed.” He’s been doing that for many years now but its a pretty solitary and thankless task.

Once I was past halfway I felt I understood more, about not only the characters, but what dangers they faced – and they were very real, they were dancing with death each time they leave the house, with the Demons behaving very uncharacteristically.
It seems where the usual odd disorganised Demon pops up and needs despatching this time someone is behind them, working them in groups, something previously unheard of, and using them for a personal attack. That part was very interesting, and worked well.

The connection between Thaddeus and Sara was very sensual, a pull that had more than just attraction behind it, with Sara able to do things that seemed to bode more between them that just sexual connection. The sex scenes weren’t overdone, fitted the story, especially given that Thaddeus has up to now been celibate.

Stars: Four, a good start to a new series.

ARC supplied by authors

Destiny’s Past, Book 1 Daughters of the Crescent Moon Trilogy, Patricia C. Lee

Destiny’s Past, Book 1 Daughters of the Crescent Moon Trilogy,  Patricia C. Lee

Destiny's Past (Daughters of the Crescent Moon Book 1) by [Lee, Patricia C.]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I really liked the sound of this, but as does happen sometimes even though its a well written story, a great debut book it just didn’t really work for me.

I found it hard to be convinced of the story, and didn’t really connect to either Kelly or Jarek. That means for me the story becomes kind of mundane, I need to feel empathy with the leads and to feel “there” with them and I just didn’t. That’s just a personal issue though, I can see others are raving about this and that’s great for them, and as we all want different things from books its bound to happen. There are readers for every book, its choosing the right one that is hard, and though I thought this would work for me I was wrong.

I just felt like an onlooker, watching, rather than being in the story and even put it aside a few times as I felt myself not concentrating. Usually I get lost in a book, much to the dismay of those around me who get irritated when I fail to respond to questions – used to drive my parents mad, then friends, then husband and now its the kids. Luckily no 1 son is a reader like this so he understands😉

Anyway, I’m not really sure why this story didn’t work better for me, its a fun plot and I was expecting to be sucked in to a riveting past/present mystery. I think maybe it was that everything seemed so slick, it was question – meet the answer, when what I need is question – what could have/who could have and why? I needed more twists and puzzles.
Add in that Kelly and Jarek just didn’t feel real and I guess that’s my issue. Still, remember that’s just me, this could be just what you’re looking for, and it has many readers who are hooked into the series already. For me its a book I’m glad I tried but won’t be looking for more from the series but I’d happily try a different one from Patricia.

Stars: Three, well written but not really one for me .

ARC supplied by publisher and Netgalley

After The Curtain Call, Nancy E. Polin, Elaine Radley

After The Curtain Call,  Nancy E. Polin,  Elaine Radley

After The Curtain Call by [Polin, Nancy E.]

Genre:  Romance.

Nancy has teamed up with another author,Elaine Radley ,  for this book. I’d read a couple of Elaine’s stories so decided I’d like to review this one too.

Amy is a lovely lady, but with a troubled past she’s escaped from. She adores her son and is determined to keep him safe. She’s a stage actress, found her niche in a little rundown theatre, and made some great friends.
She’s settled – for now- but is always guarded, doesn’t date and doesn’t seem to actually put roots down where she lives, its as if its a holding place til she needs to run again. For now though she’s happy, ish….

Then the theatre owner brings in an investor, the place needs some serious money and he can provide it. Turns out the man investing is a film star, though Amy doesn’t do TV, films etc ( she sounds like me!) so when she meets him she’s no idea who he is. She’s scared though, she can feel the pull between them, and he has the potential to make her want to let her guard down and she won’t do that, determined to keep her son safe and her heart free.
Thomas isn’t put off easily though and wears her down in a nice way. Just when things are going well for them a danger from her past appears, and she’s torn, its why she hasn’t ever let herself get attached to people or places, before Thomas she’d just have moved, run again, start afresh, but life can’t be lived to the full that way.
She’s agonising over what’s best to do, her usual run and lose everything here she’s got, or stay and face up to the danger. Its a great read seeing what she ought to do – her head v what she wants to do – her heart. Its not a decision she can just sit on, either way she needs to be proactive.
Things get more intense, both her romance with Thomas and the dangers, and I enjoyed wondering whether she’d be scared away, and what Thomas would do if that happened, or whether she’d stay and how she would deal with the danger and her attraction to/relationship with Thomas.

It was an enjoyable read, easy to follow and quite light on the drama front, not a cant-stop-reading book, but one that’s a perfect escape for a fun holiday or relaxing read. I love drama, felt this was a bit lacking in it for me, but sometimes a more relaxing read is what you’re in the mood for and this is perfect for those times.

Stars: Four, a fun escapist read.

ARC supplied by author

Arctic Dawn, The Norse Chronicles: Book 2, Karissa Laurel

Arctic Dawn, The Norse Chronicles: Book 2,  Karissa Laurel

Arctic Dawn (The Norse Chronicles Book 2) by [Laurel, Karissa]

Genre:  Romance,Sci-fi and fantasy

For those who don’t like those fantasy reads that are all romance all the way – this isn’t. Its now book two and only by the end do we actually get a hint of romance that’s maybe developing…maybe😉 So don’t let the romance genre put you off. I like both sorts but know others don’t.

So, Solina finished the last book with a bang – literally – and has spent the last month as a shooting star. What??! Yep, read book one first, this isn’t one you can start with, you have to read all the story.
Its a fabulous take on Norse mythology and its fun to work out who is or isn’t some kind of God, or at least has special powers. You need to be really “in” to the story and to have read the first book, otherwise nothing will make sense, and that’s a shame as its a fabulous, real Fantasy read.
I love the way the Norse legends have been woven in, and the way Karissa manages to give an overview of the relevant ones for readers who might not know or remember the stories.

I loved the way Solina and the Apple Orchard stuff was woven into her dreams and slipped into reality. I’m a sucker for that sort of crossover, though I do wonder – I know they’re in a very uninhabited place in the world but surely news reports, monitors, all the eyes on the world, cyber spying stuff must have picked up some of their battles. Its not like its a small event when Gods battle after all. Huge fires, cracks that are massive craters in the earth, the noise and firework effects – they must attract some kind of attention.

What I didn’t like was that it seemed a bit like running, always running, from someone to somewhere but not actually getting anywhere.
Baldur, the Allfather frankly seemed a bit of a lovelorn wimp, but maybe his time with Helen had affected him and I’m just unsympathetic. I didn’t really see why they were trailing with him after Nina, well Thorin anyway, given the magnitude of what they faced, even though there is an explanation. I guess it just didn’t sit right with me.
Then again – Immortals – they’ve a different take to time and importance, but this danger affects them too.
I’d guessed someone who wasn’t what they seemed from book one, it was nice to be proved right, * huffs proudly * so often I’m, waaay off track.
I have the feeling Nina is going to be more important in the next book, there must be some point to all that time rescuing her in this one.
I want to read how the Valkyries rally, and I’m glad to see them stand up for themselves, might have been fine in history toadying and waiting around for the males to need them, its different times now and Feminism has found them!

Once more is a gripping story, so very different to most fantasy reads about today and so very refreshing to read something so totally unique. Roll on book three🙂

Stars: five, a fantasy read in the real sense!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Man on Top of the World, Vanessa Clark

The Man on Top of the World,  Vanessa Clark

The Man on Top of the World by [Clark, Vanessa]

Genre:  LGBTQIA

I was so looking forward to this book, it sounded like one I’d love. Sadly I was wrong – I just didn’t connect with it.

The two main characters seemed to me to be clearly troubled, confused, deep, and yet I just didn’t like either of them – couldn’t get a sense “of” them, of what sort of person they really were underneath all the front they put on. I need to care about characters, to want them to succeed in what makes them happy and though I felt for Jonathan and was so sad for him when it all went wrong, I couldn’t really feel that everything could be real.
Dunno – I guess the start put me off, it was page after page after page after page of sex, along with drugs, drink etc that follows the rock star world. Usually that’s a kind of colour added to the story but I felt it became all the story, that there wasn’t much else. I was pretty confused at times but the way the words flowed, wasn’t always sure just who was speaking and who was listening.

One of those stories that will be great for many readers but just didn’t work for me. It happens, its just a disconnect between reader and story, we don’t all want the same things from our reading and though this doesn’t work for me it could be perfect for you.😉 I might go back to it in the future and see if I still feel the same – I just really really wanted to like this read.

Stars: Two, just didn’t work for me sadly.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Sugar Rush, A Sugar Bowl Novel, Sawyer Bennett

Sugar Rush, A Sugar Bowl Novel,  Sawyer Bennett

Sugar Rush: A Sugar Bowl Novel by [Bennett, Sawyer]

Genre:  Romance,

I loved the first book – except that damn cliff-hanger though. That’s a personal bugbear, though one shared by many readers…Now in book two we’ve another sex laden story, full of drama and secrets that ends in – yes you’ve guessed it – another cliff-hanger😦

Things seem to be going well now for Sela and Beck, after the misunderstandings and dramas of the end of the last book are sorted. They get closer, Sela tells him exactly what happened, and he tells her some family secrets too – which all have major repercussions in this story.
Beck wants revenge on JT for Sela, he isn’t happy with him over the recent past anyway, seeing some of the things he’s been doing, and now with Sela’s revelations he sees them in a different light. He is distraught, determined to get justice for Sela one way or another, and it brings him into some murky waters…

The secrets that come out play a huge part in moving the story forward, and some of it came as a real surprise to me, though once revealed of course it made sense. Beck needs to decide just how far he’ll take his pledge for justice, how he and JT can continue as business partners when his actions are threatening the Sugar Bowl.  Beck finds it hard to even look at JT now he knows the truth about him, but he needs to play a good game though if he wants things to work out, there’s so much riding on the outcome.

Its another great instalment, not quite as riveting as the first book, and Sela’s actions just at the end had me gobsmacked. For an intelligent lady she does something that’s just plain stupid, and TBH that didn’t really fit for me. I think Sawyer could have found a more believable way of getting to that part of the story without making Sela choose such a stupid, foolhardy course of action. That brought the story down for me, lacked credibility😦

Its still a great read of course, with Sawyer’s trademark sensual and seductive sex, wrapped up in plots that twist and turn revealing things that then lead on to more questions.
I do want the last part now though – I really struggle with the whole trilogy and cliff-hanger novels issue, I want to read all of the story all at once, not months apart. Still, that’s clearly the market so….

Stars: Four, a good story but Sela’s action at the end….

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Deja Vu, St Barts, Emme Cross. Free serialisation on authors blog

Last in the St Bart’s series, and Emme has released it in serial via her blog. The full story is there, it’s a great read and free! Start here and find the rest in later posts on Emme’s blog.

Déjà vu: St. Barts Chapters 1 & 2

 

Deja Vu, St Barts, Emme Cross.

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Romance.

I’ve loved this series right from book one and have avidly devoured them, got lost in another world for hours reading them.

Emme’s brought us some riveting romance, spiced up with sensuality and full of dangerous dramatics.
Sven, I really wasn’t keen on him at first, the way he was “Lothario Larsen”, and I didn’t think he appreciated just what a gem Sunny was.
I’ve seen criticism about her, saying she’s weak, a Mary Sue type character, but I feel actually that’s wrong, she was a very strong lady. She didn’t chase after Sven when he wasn’t pulling his weight in their relationship in the early days, didn’t run away, didn’t whine to friends about the unfairness of it, she just moved back to St Bart’s, to where it suited her best, and waited for him to realise what he risked losing. He did, and from then on he was a different man.

There’s a piece in this book where Lennon is described, “He’s so like his mother. Don’t mistake kindness for weakness”.
That’s so true, and Sunny’s kindness is what some  people see as weak. She just tried to see the best in people, was a natural glass half full person, and instead of being jealous and bitter, she deflected people and ended with them loving her. Given a glut of lemons she wouldn’t make lemonade, she’s make something like a refreshing Ginger and Lemon Sorbet. She was a person I’d love to emulate.

Anyway – she passed much of that on to Lennon, her open nature, her ability to get along with anyone, learn a language easily, along with her love of cooking. He’s made some terrific friends and learned so much from his travels its hard to believe he’s still in his early twenties.
He’s a great character, and though he’d got a bit jaded by the easy, plentiful sex he’d had on his travels he wasn’t looking for permanence. Then he meets Alex…

I loved her, such a natural person, found sudden fame after her fanfic went wild, and she’s kind of startled by it, not ready for the huge changes to her life it brings. (would anyone be?)
After she gets a dangerous stalker she needs to retreat until things are under control and she’s safe. Her publisher suggests St Bart’s, where security is good and they are used to fame.
She meets Lennon quite quickly, though they Do Not hit it off at first! That was good, showed her sharp side, and Lennon’s shortness, which wasn’t they way either were naturally, but like all of us real people sometimes we’re just not in the mood, and take it out on others, fairly or not. That made them feel so genuine.

Its something all Emme’s characters have, they are real people, with flaws, get things wrong, make mistakes and it adds that edge of authenticity I need in a story. I don’t want perfection and an easy romance, I want friction, drama, angst but also a HEA. It comes with sadness in this book too though – but it was needed.

I love that she’s older than Lennon, only a few years but its so rare to see romances this way round. No-one bats an eyelid at the older man, younger woman, even if there’s 15-20 years diff, but older woman – words like cougar get thrown around, along with the suggestion of desperation, shrivelling ovaries, man eater etc. Sad isn’t it?
Still, though she’s older in years she’s naive in so many ways, and Lennon with his background, his loss and his travelling seems older than his years, they balance each other perfectly.

I love the way the story unravels, and the addition of more drama from way back took me by surprise. That was so perfect though, really finished off the books, turned the story full circle.

Stars: Five, I thought the last book was a good end to the series, though it made me cry, this one does too but its perfect, a real joining full circle for the story.

ARC supplied by author

Wanting It All, A Naked Men Novel, Christi Barth

 

Wanting It All, A Naked Men Novel, Christi Barth

Wanting It All: A Naked Men Novel by [Barth, Christi]

Genre: Romance,

 

I hadn’t read the first book but that didn’t matter -this is a series of connected books, each a stand alone so that didn’t matter. I love those, it feels like meeting old friends and its great when you see how leads from earlier books are getting along together.

I liked the sound of the story and eagerly dived in. I was in the mood for a straightforward, uncomplicated romance and in a way that’s what I got.

I found it hard in some ways to accept the “naked men” part – yes, they’d been friends since the accident, and stayed true to each other but in to many ways they were like overgrown schoolboys still.  I found Knox views on women as a bit misogynist. He outwardly valued them but his “no second helpings” stance, and the way he was so proud of himself for getting any woman he wanted was a bit jarring. Then he meets Madison.

I wanted to like her – I did like her, but her search for a husband really got old after a while, her insistence on not deviating from her Plan was irritating. She was as bad as Knox in some ways, he didn’t want repeat dates and treated ladies as disposable, she sees every man as potential husband, rather than looking at them as individuals.

The story was fun, the group of lads were great in how they supported each other, but at times Knox was too obknoxious for me😉, shallow, uncaring – then he’d do something that came from the heart, and I saw a glimpse of the man the others loved and respected. Madison’s Plan, her intransigent view of not deviating from it at all, and her trying to make Knox fit into the image she visualised of the man she wanted seemed a recipe for disaster. You can’t change a person, love them for who they are not try to mould them into someone else.

I could see with both of them how the influences from each other mellowed their ideas and ways a lot, but I still wondered…were they really right for each other? I need to feel that leads are a match made in heaven so to speak, that they simply Must be together, and I didn’t get that with Knox and Madison.

Loved meeting the other characters too, and the idea of the podcasts, but though it was a fun read it made for an entertaining story,  it wasn’t a can’t-put-down read for me. I’m hovering between a three/good read and a four/very good. All the elements were there for a four, the storyline was fun, and the lost/found brother intriguing, but somehow it all felt a little surface based, not much depth to it and thus not much real angsty drama and I do need that.

Stars: three, good storylines, but the magic wasn’t there for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Miss You, Kate Eberlen

Miss You,  Kate Eberlen

Miss You by [Eberlen, Kate]

Genre: Romance,

Well, the romance in this book is brief, very brief and only covers the last few pages. As a novel though does that matter? Yes if you want the whole book to be about Tess, Gus and their romance, because its not. For me though it was still a great read.
I’m an eclectic reader so diverting off the romance path I expected was fine. What you do get in this book is a story that almost lives up to the motto “its better to travel than to arrive” The arrival was good, albeit very brief as I said earlier.

The real treasure of the book is the meandering way these two people keep meeting or nearly meeting – the Missing You from the title is very literal. Tess and Doll muse early in the book whether there is just one person for each of us, the real The One…. Somehow in this story its like there is Gus for Tess and vice versa, but it takes them a long, meandering journey, where they both grow and undergo so much before they finally find their way to each other.

Its full of snippets, of real incidents and characters, of how life isn’t a smooth run for most of us but a bumpy ride, of how things from our pasts can affect us for so long and shape how we behave. I loved Tess and Gus, Hope was a real star, Doll a wonderful person, so vivacious and full of life. The butterfly connection too – was it just co-incident or something more?

At the end we still don’t really know if life has a plan for each of us, if there really is just one person we need, whether things are predestined or is it all just chance, and would Tess and Gus have got together, stayed together even if they’d met and taken the chance with each other earlier in their lives? Who knows?

Among the light hearted parts of this there are some pretty serious issues, Hope and her problems, the families reactions, PTSD, how families cope with grief, parenting – how what we think we do it right and yet viewed from another perspective its very different. Its a book that made me smile, made me think and at times made me really sad.
I really enjoyed it and yet its not one I’d reread, its a one and done story for me.

Stars: Five, a romantic journey rather than a Romance Book.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things,  Bryn Greenwood

Genre:  Literary Fiction.

Well, one thing puzzles me – this is described as a Debut book, and yet goodreads lists two earlier ones by Bryn?? Never-the-less its an incredible, thought provoking read, and surprisingly a beautiful romance IMO despite the circumstances.

I’ve seen comparisons to Tampa by Alissa Nutting, which I also enjoyed – as a story that made me think, made me look at the way society treats people, how a clever groomer manipulates children and even the story, to get the results they want. That definitely wasn’t romance for me, was very clearly abuse, and yet this one was a real love story for me despite the circumstances. Two very unique and individual novels but with similar themes, that play out so differently.

In Tampa the female teacher, married and in her twenties, grooms adolescent boys for her sexual benefit and once she’s done she drops them. She cares nothing for their feelings, its purely self gratification.

In contrast here Kellen is much older than Wavy but mentally young for his years, and Wavy is beyond mature from the harsh upbringing she’s had. It still doesn’t make things right, but its written in such a way that despite their ages they’re both such incredible characters that you can feel love, and actually sympathise with them. I really wanted things to work for them.

The only part I wasn’t really happy with was the ending, it just felt rushed after the rest of the book, and I felt I’d somehow missed a huge chunk of time with Wavy and Kellen, months were condensed into a couple of pages, where the events were very important to the story IMO and needed more.

 

So Wavy, she’s very young when we first meet her, drug addict, cuckoo mother, meth cooking, addicted, dealer father. Mum is obsessed with germs in food for Wavy and throws her meals in the bin, telling her about putting dirty things in her mouth, veers from “nice mama” to “nasty mama” in the blink of an eye, spends most of her time spaced out, and its left to Wavy to bring up her little brother. Her dad Liam doesn’t even live with them, but at the meth factory ranch down the road with various girlfriends, though is still married to her mum Val and visits for sex and to throw his weight around. Its a harsh upbringing, one where food is scarce, laundry is never done, and mostly there are strung out, addicted people round the home. One where seeing syringes and sex is all just everyday life for Wavy.

She reacts by not eating when people can see, scavenging rubbish bins later when no-one is around, or stealing food from neighbours in the early hours. She learns that one of the ways its best to be with Val is to say nothing so she doesn’t speak, hates being touched as she doesn’t know whether to expect a hug or a hit. You just feel so much for her.

In the early part of the book she’s living temporarily with Val’s sister and her family, but her issues cause so many problems there, and then when she returns she has a younger brother Donal, who she tries to look after. At eight she’s doing the housework, cooking and cleaning for Donal, and getting herself off to school. That doesn’t go well either – she’s odd and kids are cruel.

Then she meets Kellen, one of her dad’s go-to guys, a biker, gruff, scruffy and though he’s ( I think) around 22 he’s so much younger in many ways. He was brought up on the Indian reservation, and his family were always in trouble. He’s had a few scrapes but as he’s grown he’s tried hard to bring himself out of that place, to work, to get something better. He’s a mechanic and has a half share in a garage with the elderly owner, who seems something in him and helps him to make the most of it. He has his own house too, but the life as Liam’s hit man isn’t easy.

When he sees Wavy at first he doesn’t want anything to do with her, but seeing how awful her life is he slowly starts to help her. She’s entranced by the first person to treat her well, to listen to her despite the lack of words, to try to understand her and she does begin to talk to him when they’re along. Not much though, the bare minimum of words.

These two forge a really close friendship but from early on Wavy decides they’re going to marry, and she’s very set on getting her own way. She watches her mum, her dad and his girlfriends, and the other addicts always around – its not like she has a choice much of the time, they don’t care who sees them, and whatever they are doing when Liam feels horny. She’s like a little girl trying to emulate those girlfriends, trying to be grown up for Kellen, trying to make him love her.

Her parents don’t take her to school, ensure she has food, clothes, that school fees are paid etc, that’s all Kellen. And then That Happens…and things really take off!! Its harrowing in so many ways, you know its not right and yet Wavy isn’t like most teens, she’s had to grow up fast emotionally to cope and survive. Her aunt, Val’s sister steps in and boy – I so disliked her! She ostensibly wanted to “protect” Wavy, but I felt much of her actions and emotions came more from a place of guilt, from not doing more for her and Donal when she knew what kind of life they had, but wouldn’t push to take them in herself as Wavy caused such problems in her family when she had visited. She took the easy route and now feels guilty, pushing all the blame on to Kellen, ignoring all the good he did and how her sister and husband treated their children.

Its a story told from different points of view, Wavy, Kellen, Wavy’s cousin Amy, Amy’s sister Lesley and later Wavy’s room mate, and that gives us more of an insight into what they were thinking, and let us see other people’s reactions from different perspectives.

That’s really important in a story like this, that we look at issues from all angles and not just go with preconceived notions of what is right.

I loved the way it ended, but did feel that it was a bit rushed after the way the rest of the novel was so carefully drawn out, presented so we knew as much as possible. Its a great read, for me a romance even, despite their ages, and I would never have thought I could feel that way. Kellen didn’t intend to go so far, knew he needed to wait, but was so entranced by Wavy, and when she was set on a course she hated to be turned down and reacted in extreme ways, and he tried to prevent that when he could. It meant that so often he let her lead when he should have been turning her in a different direction, but I understood why he did, that it came from his heart, from a place of good intentions.

Stars: Five, an amazing, thought provoking story that just blew me away, kept me gripped wanted to see how things panned out, hoping, hoping and yet fearing the worst, it totally surprised me in my reactions

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Emme Cross

Totally Addictive Romance Novels

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