Dead Secret, by Richard Milton

Dead Secret, by Richard Milton
Genre: Paranormal, thriller/mystery
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I love paranormal/fantasy reads so started this one eagerly. I never read horror though, or anything approaching it – I’m far too much of a wimp, have nightmares from the tiniest of scary stuff, so when this began to take a darker turn I was a lot more cautious. Those made of stronger stuff will rate this a five, not my four, but for me it was a scare too far. Its done so realistically that for people like me, it’s too easy to believe this scenario could happen…and that’s terrifying. If I’d taken more note of the horror part I’d not have started this.
Anyway there’s Tony,an investigative journalist, trundling along in his job as we all do, when his mum dies. She’s an ordinary suburban housewife so he’s staggered at what he’s been left in her will, a human skull, some strange and very old research papers, and he’s now a trustee of a very wealthy and secret organisation. The more he seeks out, the deeper the secrets go, and for a sceptic like himself, who needs science to back claims, he’s introduced into a world where there are are some pretty astonishing things he learns. I enjoyed the way the reader was taken back to the past, to read it as if it was current time, rather than a telling of history. That kind of action works far better for me, the Show the reader what’s happening and not Tell device. I was holding my breath at times, anxious for what came next.
I liked Tony, liked his approach in seeking the truth but Eve…no – I disliked her from the start. She’s a scary lady, and a very dangerous one. Its hard at first to see how all the different lines tie up – but slowly they knit together and the result is for someone like me – terrifying! Parts of the story are somewhat familiar to me in the way I’m interested in the oddities of history and science, in the study of the human body and how we use it. Its a like palm reading, reflexology, cranial therapy, where practitioners believe in manipulating the skull to cure illness. There are always alternative remedies and thoughts separate from the conventional ones, and sometimes I feel maybe its not that they don’t have scientific backing, but that we just haven’t discovered it yet. Think how electricity was regarded as magic, how back in the days of horse transport a car was unthinkable, how penicillin and painkillers were made from plants purely from observed effects, and not because science showed they work. The downside to being so open minded is the scary part where I feel so much is possible….and thus the nightmares, and why I shy away from anything like this usually….I enjoyed reading it, its a well played out and balanced thriller, with some graphic and dangerous sex scenes, but it’s not one I’d re read. Being scared once is enough for me.
Stars: Four, read with caution if like me you scare easily!
ARC provided by author

The Dating Quiz, L. J. Young

The Dating Quiz, L. J. Young
Genre:  Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Book themes seem to go in circles sometimes, and I read another “not dating” one recently – can’t recall the title but the principle was the same and made for a fun read, as this one was too.
Dani – poor Dani, dumped at the cinema. She seemed a fun girl, and has a great set of friends. Work – well, that’s something else….they’re an odd bunch and made me glad I didn’t go into that field. Everyone seems to do everything except their job – apart from Josh, and at least work gets Dani and him to meet, though their first meeting really sets the tone of most of their interactions. Made me smile too – its the kind of thing that would happen to me and I’d babble nonsense much as she did in reaction! He sees the good side of Dani though, the funny and caring person she is, and can’t help but be attracted. He doesn’t date either though – so won’t coin in Dani’s dating quiz where she’s searching for the perfect partner for her friend Susi.
So – as neither are dating and yet get on so well they start…Not Dating. I love the “ I haven’t showered” “ I haven’t brushed my teeth” as they both grab the garlic bread. Not Dating lets them be free to be themselves, and TBH it’s a great premise!! Of course in time they both want a bit more that just Not Dating, and that’s where things trip up. Poor Dani – she was heartbroken – but then Poor Josh, he was too and its catastrophe grown from a simple misunderstanding.
Its a fun read, lots of gentle humour and wry looks at life and I really enjoyed it. It’s not just Dani and Josh though but the great mix of friends that make it such fun, and the way romance crops up where you least expect it.  It’s great for a one off for me, though I doubt it’ll be re read, so if you want a simple feel good romance with some real feeling humour this is your book.
Stars: Stars: Four and a half, a straightforward, fun and enjoyable romance

ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

Doubling Back To Love, Rebecca Warner

Doubling Back To Love, Rebecca Warner
Genre: Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I’ve mixed feelings about this novel, its well written, its a fun and sexy read but…Lexi – I found it really hard to like her, though at times I understood what she was doing and why. I like a HEA at the end too, and this is a kind of HFN – possibly, maybe, depending on which way Lexi goes next. More than a romance its a kind of journey of Lexi’s mid life, with her returning to some teen flames and meeting them as adults.
Lexi has been brought up by parents that clearly adored and indulged her, and it seems to have made her a little selfish, in that she wants her own happiness, but doesn’t really look at the effect her decisions have on others. When she’s describing how she laughed at the first man who proposed it made me feel she was callous, and yet I felt she didn’t intend to be, it just didn’t occur to her that she had the power to hurt others by her words or actions. She’s just not been brought up to think of how others feel. Then Nick Cross drops back into her life, teen flame and prom date – though that ended badly. She discusses her fantasies with her lovely husband Brad. They’ve been married eight years and adore each other, and still when Nick beckons she comes. Its not spur of the moment either – she’s been thinking of what she’d do and decided if the opportunity arose she’d take it. I find that hard – that she didn’t give a thought to Brad, except to think as they’d discussed it in abstract he’d be ok with it. The timing too was terrible – she left her adored baby ballerinas, the group she spent so much time with, the one thing in her life that she was selfless about and that shocked me. Poor Brad was in the worst place too, at a very elite evening, waiting for Lexi to return only to find out from gossip she’d gone…
She’s not happy with Nick though – even though he adores her she’s jealous of his co-stars…and takes it out on him. The guy’s done nothing, reassures her constantly that he loves her, wants to marry her, and yet she takes her fears and spoils what they could have. Still, more of her ex’s crop up and she seems to be on a merry go round of love by now. None of it makes her happy though – she says she’s in love each time, and still loves the others. From an early age she seems to see each relationship as being “in love” when it seems to me she’s more in love with the idea of love than the reality. It feels like she’s on a train wreck, she’s a muddled person, looking for something and just hasn’t found it, maybe if she stopped looking at what she wants and valued what she has she’d find it? On the surface she’s bright and self confident, and yet somehow through all these men I get the feeling she just hasn’t found – or maybe won’t let herself find – what she needs. She’s not a horrible person, just someone who seems to have been brought up to think of herself first and last, and really not think about how others will feel about her actions. Even after she leaves Brad for Nick she still harbours thoughts that coming back to Brad is an escape route, that when her time with Nick is up he’ll be waiting, and she’s shocked that he isn’t. She won’t give Nick a proper chance either – seeing their time as having a set shelf life, as if she’s not willing to take a chance, but wants to leave before it ends. That way she’s still in charge and can’t be let down. She’s left a trail of devastated lives behind, and yet though you’d think she’s a horrible person, she’s not, she doesn’t intend harm but doesn’t seem ever to have been taught to think of others, to look before she leaps, explore all angles etc. Really even though I don’t like her, I feel so very sad for her, she’s not (IMO) going to ever find happiness her way, she’ll just self sabotage it as she has done in the past.
Stars: Four, its a thought provoking read for me. I do need the HEA and this just doesn’t have it Sad smile but it did make me think very hard about what she was doing and the effects on her and the others.

ARC provided by author

When Dreams Come True, The Star Series Book 1, M. Stratton

When Dreams Come True, The Star Series Book 1, M. Stratton
Genre: Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I love those romances involving famous people, film stars, rock bands, people like that. They provide opportunities for such angst and relationship problems, jealous exes, mad stalker fans, media spins that take stories about one or the others actions or background, that then get “spun” into something they’re not.
So with all that in mind I was eager to read this. It start’s well, Lissa meets Will and they fall in love. I can go with that when I feel the magic of a connection, and there was something here. Whether it was strong enough for the insta love though is debateable….? Somehow they seemed to be in a full fledged relationship very quickly, although they’d only gone out on that first lunch and the movie premier, after that it was all Skype. Could it work like that? It didn’t really feel enough for me. Will’s a huge star, wouldn’t he be expected to be out and about by his publicists? Would he really stay in and Skype each night? Surely the media would have commented on that, the fact he’s never out any more.
Lissa was a sweet lady, very loyal to her friends and they to her. I enjoyed the descriptions of her writing process, but found it hard to believe she wrote quite so much, so quickly. twelve books ahead? Really? As an avid reader I follow lots of series, and sometimes authors are a couple of books nearly finished when latest due out, due to publishing process, but twelve! Doesn’t seem feasible given its been done in about six months…
The big problem here for me though was that I was waiting for the drama, the moments when it all goes wrong, when what looks like the perfect love is flawed and they part ways, and then I wonder if they can find their way back. That’s usually between 70-80% of the novel but I got to 80, nothing, 85 nothing….90, 95 and then realised there wasn’t a low spot. The worst that happened was a short interlude where Lissa is involved in a robbery drama in a cafe. Its all sweet and light, full of nice people, fluffy stories and gentle romance. Even the sex scenes were gentle and mostly alluded to, rather than in depth, descriptive sensuality. I need more. If you want a sweet Barbara Cartland style read this is perfect, but if like me you need drama and angst this isn’t going to deliver it.
Stars: Two, sorry a miss for me, its one for lovers of sweet, gentle romance and not for those who want fire and sparks.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

How I Wonder What You Are, (Choc Lit), Jane Lovering

How I Wonder What You Are, (Choc Lit), Jane Lovering
Genre: romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Well, I loved this book, it’s one of a very few that made me laugh out loud. Very rare for me, smile, even snigger occasionally, but a full on laugh…very rare. Its the septic tank, lavender trouser suit that first did it, the mental images….made me smile even thinking of them.
So, we meet Phinn and Molly, both escaping from traumas and hiding from life in the tiny village of Riverdale. Its an inauspicious meeting though, Molly’s out riding the phlegmatic Stan ( I grew up riding ponies like that, when you’re a horse mad child you don’t care that some horses have just two gaits; Dead Slow and Stop…so they can take full advantage of the hedgerows.) when she comes across Phinn, passed out cold, naked, up on the moors. What’s a girl to do? she can’t leave him – it’s freezing out – so she hauls him up onto Stan, and takes him home. Of course by the time she’s lugged him over the concrete and inside, if he wasn’t injured before he is now…tender skin and saddles don’t go well together any more than tender skin and rough concrete, so when he wakes he’s not only disorientated but very tender. As Caro puts it – she’s ridden nude and she hasn’t got a scrotum! Ouch..
Caro, Molly’s saviour and fount of wisdom. It’d be great to see her in a book next, with the sharp outside, soft inside, Link. Both are much more than the front they show. Caro “rescued” Molly, and now Molly sees her as a close friend, but Caro doesn’t know what she’s running from, other than a man of course. Slowly that comes out along with Phinn’s history. They are so funny, every meeting seems to be a disaster, they both seem to miss every hint and opportunity, and yet we’re compelled to root for them, to want them to find a way forward, but its all two steps forward and one step back. Its a funny read, full of parts that made me snigger, laugh out loud, and then feel really emotional because it was just so, so sad. Running through the text are the Lights, the mysterious lights that no-one else seems to see.
It’s a great read, full of humour and pathos, and one to read again when you want a really feel good romance but not one that’s going to drag you into despair – there’s a place for those, but also for ones like this, where the characters find their way together through a myriad of funny everyday occurrences, where its peppered with dry humour. When they do finally get together it just feels so right, so meant to be, when finally the title makes sense. Looking for what else Jane has written I found I’d downloaded another a couple of years back but not read it…so that’s what I’m reading now, the funny Vampire State of Mind..
Stars: Five, a fun and rewarding romance.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

Untwisted (book 2.5 in the Lost in Oblivion rock-star series)Cari Quinn and Taryn Elliott

Untwisted (book 2.5 in the Lost in Oblivion rock-star series)Cari Quinn and Taryn Elliott
Genre: N/A, Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I love this series, great mix of heat and sensuality, sex and story and fun, friendly characters. I love Gray and Jazz, right from book one I was rooting for them but its taken time for them to get past all the barriers of their pasts. Now they’re starting their own family and Gray wants to marry Jazz. Of course its not so simple as just asking and arranging a date, he wants to keep it low key, no media – just he and Jazz and their friends. Oh and Jazz doesn’t know he’s planning it either! Of course there’s the problems of his parents…and Jazz family also…what to do?
Its a short and sweet read. As always some scorching sex, some funny moments and some very emotional ones too. Its a good addition to the series, adding a snippet of Gray and Jazz’ life that’s not enough to fill a full book. There are appearances from other band members, but mostly its just Jazz and Gray getting their fairy-tale ending, though not without plenty of dramatics along the way!
Stars: Stars: Five, a fun read and good addition to the series

ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

Deep Blue Eternity, Natasha Boyd

 
Deep Blue Eternity, Natasha Boyd
Genre:  Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I adored Natasha’s Eversea duo – recently re read them both, wonderful books. So when I saw she had a new book out I had to request. What a terrific read it proved, very different to Eversea but once again a solid five star read. Its interesting how an author can write such different books around the theme of romance. Eversea was very upbeat even though it has some really sad moments, and this one is much darker and more mysterious, and yet both contain a beautiful tender romance.
It explores some dark themes, and Natasha gives some excellent links at the back of the book for those who want to know more or have been affected by them.  From the very start the mystery builds, who is Liv? Why is she one the run, who from,  and what happened six years ago with her sister? Then there’s Tom. What’s he really doing in the cottage and what’s he hiding. What’s in the box Liv’s sister gave her?Then throw in the mysterious happenings, are they really due to a boo hag, a sort of ghost, as one of Liv’s co workers thinks, or is someone out to cause trouble for Liv.
It’s peopled with a wonderful cast, each with their own backstory, we see the mystery slowly unfold, and Liv and Tom get closer and closer until something happens that blows everything apart. From then on things quickly build to a head, with Liv in serious danger . The story is perfect, revealing more in tiny increments and had me desperate to know what was coming next. I loved the characters and the small island feel, and felt as if I was there with them. The romance – how cleverly that crept up, and how tender it was and then wham – that revelation came, I was devastated. Just when I thought poor Liv, after everything she’d been through was going to get some happiness it all disappears. Though the main theme is quite dark its very sensitively handled, and it would be great to think things like this don’t happen. Sadly they do – and far too often. We need to talk about them, drag them into the open instead of covering them up, glossing over them, making excuses. I feel so much for anyone who’s been hurt like Liv, she’s fictional, but its a real problem happening to real people every day.
Stars: Five, an amazing, emotional read.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers

Becoming His Master, M.Q. Barber

Becoming His Master, M.Q. Barber
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews.

Genre: Erotica, LGBTQIA
Well, like lots of readers I’ve been curious about what on earth really happened to poor Jay before he met Henry, and was rescued. Jays such a fabulous character, he always reminds me of an eager, Labrador puppy, always wanting to please, loves praise for getting things right and so so full of boundless energy. Here though we meet a different Jay, where Henry is slowly unravelling the damage done to him, slowly learning what he needs, and teaching him the true meaning of submission and what a Dominant should be doing for his sub.
Poor Henry, I love him, he’s such a good man, and always puts his needs last. There are few true gentlemen like him in the world, and he epitomises all that’s best about them. He wants Jay fiercely, is attracted to him right from the start, but he wants the best for Jay, what’s right for him more than he wants his own satisfaction. He’s trying to teach him, without falling in love with him ( ha! no chance!), and trying to show Jay that there are other options for him to choose, that he doesn’t have to stay with Henry, and that not all Doms are like the obnoxious Cal.
What I enjoy about this series is the way the BDSM element is explained – I only know what I’ve gleaned from novels and it seems to make sense the way its shown in these novels. Safe and consensual being the main criteria, and the stress and obedience to safe words as Henry explains it, and not as poor Jay has  been told, that safe wording is a failure. For someone like Jay who just wants to please, that’s incredibly dangerous.
I have to say though, that I was really keen to read this book, really wanted to know what had gone before but…I missed Alice. Somehow the three together work in a magical way, giving me a read that’s full of emotion, sensual, fun and allows each of them to shine as individuals. Though I got my questions answered this novel just wasn’t the same for me as books with the three in them, and I just didn’t get the same sense of satisfaction from reading it.
Stars: Three and a half, it’s still a good read but I missed Alice
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher.

Fever, Club Inferno, Jamie K. Schmidt

Fever, Club Inferno, Jamie K. Schmidt
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews.

Genre: Erotica, Romance,

I’m really enjoying the Club Inferno series, its a great mix of hot, spicy sex with realistic storylines. I like the way the stories include characters we’ve already met, it gives a feeling of catching up with old friends, seeing how their relationships are growing. Chase has been floating round in the back ground of the other books, and this time he’s centre stage with Colleen.

Its tough being a Domme and wanting a sub. Vanilla sex won’t cut it for Colleen, she had a fabulous relationship with her late husband, but sometimes now life is isolating, and good sex always helps ward off pangs of loneliness. Trouble is though, she was content as a sub to her husband but she’s a Domme now, and doesn’t want to share a sub, she wants a one on one sexual relationship. Dante, one of the clubs Dom’s is keen for more with her, but he doesn’t do monogamy, and he’s not putting things the right way for Colleen to want to sub for him either. Then Chase comes in from the background, wanting to rekindle their failed relationship. It turns out that they’d both jumped to conclusions, and talking could have saved them the heartbreak ten years ago – can they make it work now though? Have they learned anything from it? And most important – can Chase cope with Colleen’s sexuality and needs?

Poor Chase, he thinks he’s all that and more, and what man doesn’t have the idea he can cope with anything a lady throws at him sexually. He’s a virgin in the BDSM world though, and it soon shows when Colleen sets a scene for him and he misunderstands, and once again they don’t talk but just part on bad terms. He’s so hot headed, and yet underneath he really wants Colleen – enough to try to be what she needs if only he can work it out, and she can remember that he’s not a natural sub, and will talk back, argue, before he understands exactly what this life is about.

Its a fun read, and at times I wanted to shout at Chase – its so clear he still loves Colleen and will do anything, but if there’s a wrong path to tread he seems to find it…Then there’s Colleen, she’s still underneath bearing a bit of a grudge it seems to me, and though she’s trying to make allowances with Chase she seems to be pushing him too quickly. Of course Dante is throwing his hand in, doing what he can to keep them at loggerheads, hoping to persuade Colleen he’s what she needs, not Chase. Its great too, seeing how others we’ve met are doing, how their relationships are working out.
Stars: Five, its a fun sexy read, and follows on perfectly from earlier parts, though can be read as a standalone as its a complete story.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and author

His Client Ava March

His Client Ava March
Genre: GLBT
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Well, this is a shortish book, and concentrates on a brief timespan. Nathaniel always visits Jasper at the brothel, has done for the last five years, no-one else and they’ve spent a lot of time talking about his unrequited love for his best friend. Nathaniel is now heartbroken, he’s been living in hope that somehow, sometime his love would be returned, but now Peter is getting married. He’s never treated Nathaniel as anything but a friend but a man can dream….and of course over the span of those last five years Jasper has fallen in love with Nathaniel. He’s only working there til he saved enough to live independently, and could have left two years ago, but like Nathaniel he’s been living in hope too. While he’s consoling and advising Nathaniel Jasper realises the same applies to him. He’s telling Nathaniel to move forward, stop harking for something that can’t happen, and he realises that even if Nathaniel did return his feelings their stations in life are so different that they could never be together. At least Peter could have been accepted as Nathaniel’s friend in London, they belong to the same clubs etc. and have long gone out to functions together, but there’s no way Jasper would ever be accepted.
Oh I so felt for Jasper, I could kick Nathaniel, mooning after someone who’s never given the slightest indication he wants him, and yet he can’t see what a gem he’d have in Jasper. He really doesn’t treat him as a person, doesn’t even look beyond the whore part of him, just uses him as a sounding board, and to sooth his own aches. He never questions if Jasper is happy and TBH although he’s what Jasper wants I’m not sure he’s good enough! Still, I do love a HEA and its what Jasper is looking for too.   .

Stars: Four . Its a fun read, short ands sweet. No great drama just a gentle HEA romance
ARC provided by publishers.

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