Truth Hurts, A captivating, breathless read, Rebecca Reid

Truth Hurts, A captivating, breathless read, Rebecca Reid

Truth Hurts: A captivating, breathless read by [Reid, Rebecca]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

Moan: women’s fiction – why alienate potential readers? Men write books enjoyed by women and men alike, and they read the same.

Secrets, its a novel about secrets and of course they never stay hidden. I kept wondering: what was Poppy hiding, what was Drew’s secret? I was puzzled at first when we met Drew and Poppy, and then moved on to Agnes and Caroline….but it all comes together slowly, though the secrets don’t come out until almost the end.
Its told in past/present format for Poppy, but Drew remains an enigma, a man who adores Poppy, seems to be just too good to be true. Gina, Poppy’s friend certainly thinks so, but she’s guardedly cautious, after her first open enthusiasm about him.
I loved when Gina was staying with Poppy at Thursday house, and they do the makeover, transforming it in the few days Drew was away. Then Drew’s friends arrive for a weekend and that was fun, the old friends come to meet ( aka gossip and judge…) Drew’s surprise new, young wife….some great snark there.

It’s fun read, cleverly paced so you’re always wondering what did happen, what are they hiding. Was it so bad, was it what I suspect, why are the locals so unfriendly?
There are lots of little clues, but I was never quite sure where they were leading, or if I was down the wrong track.
Then all is revealed, very suddenly near the end, but that’s not all the surprises, there’s one last one that really caught me out, shocked me and changed how I’d begun to see everyone. I really didn’t like what happened, yet it was the perfect ending, really unexpected, and something that made me feel somewhat uncomfortable about it.

Stars: five, a cracking read, surprises all the way and an ending that caught me out. Its not one I’d reread, for a long while at least, knowing the secrets now but its still an amazing read.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Captain & the Squire, (The Captivating Captains 5) Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain & the Squire, (The Captivating Captains 5) Catherine Curzon,
Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain and the Squire (Captivating Captains Book 5) by [Curzon, Catherine, Harkstead, Eleanor]

Genre: Humour, LGBTQIA

Well, I’m late to this series and have only read the previous book. I struggled with that so was hoping this would suit better – and it did. It was timing in last book that was wrong for me. I don’t really gel with books where everything takes place over a few days, but this one is longer, still short, just a month except for the epilogue, but it worked so much better for me.

I loved the way Tarquin and Chris are at odds from the moment they meet, and yet that magical thread of attractions pulls to them both. That meeting should have clued me to what sort of story this was going to be, but it took me a few more pages to realise that it really was tongue in cheek stuff, perfect schoolgirl humour that somehow I’ve never outgrown!
Chris is new to the area, although his family and Tarquin’s have been in Bough Bottom for generations. Tarquin is a long standing resident, local farmer, with the most horrendous fiancee, Petunia. She was so perfect in the book, adding a nasty edge to the spice and nice 😉 along with her boss, the awful Bryan.
If you’re thinking Romance, sensuality and emotional story – well, the emotion you’ll be feeling is tears, but tears of laughter. At times this feels like a Brian Rix ( now I’m showing my age) farce, it’s slapstick type comedy, so overdone that it works. There’s a fine line between slapstick funny and in your face OTT jokes, and the authors have found it perfectly.
From the countryside squire Tarquin portrays, trilby, tweeds and tractors, very typical stereo-type, Chris’ wide boy city financier, Petunia’s grasping, greedy social climber to the real star, Orry, otherwise know as The Oracle, cleverest pig on the planet its all so silly that it somehow works, and had me sniggering at the unlikely events.
Of course there’s a serious side in that Tarquin is engaged – to a woman, and his other inclinations go unknown, and what will come of that. Then there’s the terms of Chris uncle’s will, Chris has only a short window to act if he’s to keep the house and money, and it not go to his elderly uncle’s latest floozy… And just what did happened between the Hardcastles and the Boughs all that while ago?

The boat race and Orry’s actions – wonderful writing, had me sniggering at the though of super intelligent pig racing with a priceless antique dildo to help…..
Then there’s the semi serious side of the looting of precious historical artifacts in other countries, that’s a reality that sadly happens too much, and was good to see mentioned in the context of dealers and collectors. Some people have no morals, fortunately Chris and Tarquin do, and all ends well. Wish real life was like that.

Stars: Five, Its a wonderful, sniggering farce, with a spicy and sensual romance wrapped up in it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A fun read to drive away winter blues.

Arc via authors

The Lady of the Ravens, Joanna Hickson

The Lady of the Ravens, Joanna Hickson

Genre: historical

I loved this, it was a book I savoured over several sittings, not devoured in one go. I find for me that works better with historical reads, gives me time to mull over events, to think about the characters and actions, with them being so far from how we live now.

I really enjoyed the day to day bits, what they wore, what they ate, Joan chatting to her friend in the sewing trade, what each person did in the duty of the royal household. I loved it when we finally got the Raven connection, that seemed to take time and I found the story a little slow at first.

Henry 7th isn’t someone I’ve read a great deal about, I know him from the periphery of stories about his son, and of course the whole York/Lancaster issues. Turbulent times to live in when one could be royal one day, deposed and in the tower the next. Of course that stood for followers too, one day landed gentry, the next everything goes to the crown and they were out, let live if lucky, tower or death if not.
Hard decisions, yet as Joan sees, however one sympathised if a potential heir was living the followers would always be a danger, even if there was no intention on the potential heir’s part to rule.

I enjoyed reading about his royal household, the children, though was sad at how fragile life was even for royal families. Disease and death was very prevalent then, and even royals succumbed far too often.

Reading too about how children were sent away from families at such a young age, for politics, for family power, for alliances and of course for their personal futures was hard. Seemed really sad to me, that close family contact was rare in wealthy households, that parents had children they rarely saw, and who could be sent hundreds of miles away, to other countries even when still only very young. They grew up quickly then, as we see from their speech and education while still little more than toddlers.

I loved reading about Sim and the Ravens, about Joan’s championing of them and the issues she faced. Its a fictional snippet of history with roots in reality, and certainly the Raven/Tower legend is still strong. I believe the Ravens actually have their own guardians officially now.

Joanna is an author new to me, I’d be happy to read more from her when in the mood to get lost back in history for a few hours. She writes in a way that had me totally immersed in what was happening, feeling it was real, and that’s always the best stories for me.

Stars: Five. I thought at first it was a little slow, but that’s really scene setting as I discovered when I read further, and its a book I thoroughly enjoyed.

Arc via publishers and Netgalley

A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr

A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr

A Throne of Swans by [Corr, Katharine, Corr, Elizabeth]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA

Well…Wow, what an amazing read. It’s classed as teen and YA, but one of those rare few that really appeal to all ages, not just the younger generation. Like Vic James Dark Gifts, or Sarah J Maas a court of ….reads, they are reads to treasure, to reread no matter what age you are.
I’ve never actually read/seen Swan Lake but I guess everyone knows the basics, and I was hoping this wasn’t just going to be a retelling of the story. That doesn’t work so well for me, but I was happy that its Swan Lake inspired but has a story of its own. There were magical scenes, interspersed with some pretty horrific stuff. The Corr sisters don’t shy away from some solid hard facts in the world they’ve created, where those With get to do pretty much whatever they want to those Without ( flighted and flightless in the main). There’s some harsh rules in this world, some that feel almost arbitrary and yet for decades, centuries they’ve been uncontested.
I loved the world created, with its mix of characters, with its people that can transform into birds, with the sheer political intrigues, when grew almost faster than I could read them. Just as I was thinking one thing something happened that threw that chain of thought into disarray.
There were some fantastic characters. Aderyn’s clerk Lucien, tells her “trust no-one” but its hard for her. Lucien has been used to the cut and thrust of royal politics, of the machinations and intriguing that take place constantly, but Aderyn hasn’t spent time at court, hasn’t actually been anywhere since her mother was killed years ago and the injuries and shock left her unable to transform into her Swan shape. In this world that’s something that would get her removed as protector and could even threaten her life if it gets out.
When they first go to the Royal Castle Aderyn is just determined to find out who killed her mother, who was behind it, but the first day isn’t over before she discovers she’s treading on very thin ice, that she needs her wits constantly. Lucien had warned her but she doesn’t like him, and hadn’t realised just what danger she was in. She’s good hearted but at first had been so sheltered she’d never realised just what else was going on in her world, how the flightless were treated in other dominions. She assumed all were like her father, that they were treated fairly, but soon sees unhappiness and cruelty surround her. She grows up very fast, from that naive 17 year old we first meet, to the girl at the end of the story who’s had a sharp shock about the world she inhabits, who now realises just what it means to be a Protector.
And speaking of the end, what an incredible bounce of surprises those last chapters brought. They kept coming, one after another, after another! I hope book two is around soon, I am desperate to know just whats going to happen, how things are going to come through, and suspect its going to get worse before it gets better.

Stars: Five, an amazing read, full of a magical world, intrigue, politics, interesting characters, and one to reread when part two is out.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You: Deliciously romantic and utterly hilarious - the funniest romcom of 2020! by [McFarlane, Mhairi]

Genre: Romance

I loved this book, romance, humour, pathos and drama, loads of drama, the stuff of tears, long lasting not the two pages on all is well type. All the ingredients for a five star read from me.

Laurie, poor Laurie, she’s reached that age where the baby decision is looming, and thinks Dan, her partner since uni, is there with her. And then he drops the bombshell, its not just a baby he doesn’t want, but the whole life he and Laurie have created.
She’s heartbroken, gutted, and although he does the “its not you its me, of course there’s no-one else, I wouldn’t do that to you”, she’s nitpicking her way through their past interactions, trying to see where she went wrong. Because of course it must be something she did, or didn’t do in her eyes. Her friends tell her no, things happen, and she fast discovers that the mutual friends they have soon divide off into his and hers….
Its made worse by the fact they work together, Dan asks her to keep their breakup quiet and she does, sobbing silently in the loos when it gets too much. Only her best friend Emily knows the truth.

And then – Dan comes to see her, the man who wasn’t ready for a baby yada, yada, yada, to tell her his new GF is pregnant and of course Laurie starts counting just how long they’d been together, was it all lies he told her. She’s gutted, stricken, heartbroken just when she was getting on with life without him.
She gets stuck in the lift one evening with Jamie, a man from the office she only knows by rep, and that has him as a classic jack-the-lad Lothario, and sees he’s not quite as he’s portrayed. He’s a little younger than her and devastatingly good looking. He’s ambitious too, and wants to make partner despite his age, but has been given the hint that if he had a steady partner it would help. He proposes a fauxmance, he’ll impress the bosses, Laurie gets to keep her head high in the office, and stick it to Dan. Win win.
Of course it never works out that easy and along the way to happiness lies some real angst, tears, embarrassment and soul searching. Both Laurie and Jamie learn a lot about themselves.

The office politics was played perfectly, offices always seem to be hotbeds of gossip, taking every little hint and embellishing it “in confidence” of course, and there’s always an office gatekeeper who takes his/her role very seriously and has favourites. I loved that Bharat wasn’t put in that overworked, tired, bitch queen role, but was instead a loyal, funny and sharply intellectual man. He had wit but not the cruel type gays so often get tarred with. Laurie being mixed race is dealt with well, those questions “ where are you from”, “ Yorkshire”, “ no I mean where are you from…”.
Emily, her best friend, had her share of woes in the story, and we see just how friends support each other, and that’s one of the things that made this such a special read for me. It was about people, real folk we meet day in day out, not some book trope caricatures. The humour fell naturally, there were subtle little quips that had me sniggering, then the next line would be something that had me on the edge of tears. There one section towards the end, that being me had me really happy, a feeling of reap what you sow schadenfreude! Loved it.
We learned so much about what made the main characters the way they were, about why they were seen a certain way, and of course what their hopes for the future was. Its a wonderful read, I love Mhairi’s stories, had a little hiccup with Don’t you forget about me, but this one is anther solid five star keeper.

Stars: Five, fantastic read, great mix of life, people, drama and humour, and a wonderful HEA.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

This is Not How it Ends, Rochelle B. Weinstein

This is Not How it Ends, Rochelle B. Weinstein

This Is Not How It Ends by [Weinstein, Rochelle B.]

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction.

And my usual moan, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Men read romance, men write romance. We call out for equality and then slap in this outdated and ludicrous category 😦

Anyway, my first read by this author so I didn’t know what to expect, but I really liked the sound of the description. It proved to be a book that was way above what I anticipated, a thoughtful and moving read.
There were times I found myself irritated with Phillip, when he was away so much even though he knew Charley was upset by it, when he never offered to take her. I didn’t feel he was the sort for an affair – he adored Charley and I couldn’t see him ever wanting anyone else, but why wouldn’t he suggest she come with him? Why did he keep going away for work when financially he didn’t need to, and it ought to have been clear his absence was causing issues between them. As I got further into the book all became clear and made me love him even more.
Then there’s Ben, and what a wonderful guy he was too, and he’d been through such heartbreak. Circumstances put him and Charley together so much, and I was torn for what might happen, and in tears when I got towards the end. Its not a conventional love triangle, though there is such a lot of love in the book, its tempered with incredible sacrifice too. Its does have a HEA among all those tears.

Stars: Five. It was incredibly moving, a story I really didn’t anticipate enjoying as much as I did. Those characters, Phillip, Charley, Ben and the secondary ones with stay with me for a while.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Love Lettering, The Charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go, Kate Clayborn

Love Lettering, The Charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go, Kate Clayborn

Love Lettering: The charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go by [Clayborn, Kate]

Genre: Women’s fiction

Gah, I hate this genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.

So, I started eagerly, as an artist I so admire those who can do wonderful lettering. I wish I could but alas, my lettering as abysmal 😦 Yet, for the first quarter maybe I was floundering, not really sure what was happening, where the thrust of the novel was going – and waiting for the romance to start. It seemed Meg and Reid were certainly not going to be together, they barely seemed able to look at each other. Then slowly it coalesced and I began to be gripped, by Meg’s ideas, by the way Reid seemed to slowly come round to understanding them and they way he pulled in to help. Yet they were still edgily polite to each other, ultra cautious, each expecting the other to say “ that’s enough now”. Neither was willing to put themselves forward in a big way, but they inched their way closer and it was wonderful to watch, with me desperate to know if they would take that magic step into couple-dom ( yep, I succumbed and took a peep at the end . For me it doesn’t spoil the story, just lets me enjoy it without that awful worry of It Might Not Happen)
I loved the way her and Reid’s walks took in parts of the city others wouldn’t notice, how she taught him to look beyond the obvious, to seek out hidden gems. I loved both of them, and yet Reid’s caginess about himself, his work, his moodiness spelled caution, for Meg and me. Then when it all comes out, well, instead of the gentle romance I’d been reading it was Drama, Drama, Drama all the way. I do so love that, so it was perfect for me even if possibly not overly true to how things would run as others seem to feel. I have no idea in real life so I just went with the story and looking back I could see, as could Meg, all the little hints where Reid was struggling.
Its a beautiful read and the way Meg’s writing and business was described was wonderful, seeing the way she got inspiration, seeing what got her down – not another Bloom where you are planted. I hate those overused, trite, twee expressions too…. Stick with it if like me you flounder a bit at the start. Its worth it.

Stars: Five, a lovely story. Slow burn romance with some beautiful moments.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Intended Victim, Alexandra Ivy

The Intended Victim (The Agency Book 4) by [Ivy, Alexandra]

Genre: Romance, Mystery and thrillers

I’ve read a few of Alexandra’s fantasy reads, couldn’t recall reading a romantic suspense by her before though. I really enjoy her writing style and the way she weaves a story together.
This starts in the classic detective story way with a body. However what results from investigation is that this body has had surgery, to make her resemble an escapee of the serial killer known as The Butcher. She’s the only one to have escaped, though her father died in the attack, and Remi has lost her memory of the events leading up to it. She was engaged to Ash, but in the aftermath they grew further apart and now its been five years. I found that a bit of a weak spot, I couldn’t see Ash just letting go like that. Still, he needed to for the story. Now he’s back, his detective brother working on the current murder. Ash is scared for Remi, and determined to protect her.
Its a good read, neat build up of suspense, classic red herrings thrown in to keep the reader guessing. Although its romance, its more a pick up of past romance, and from the off its pretty clear that neither have forgotten the other, got over the love, so the bulk of the story is the suspense, the murders, the tracing of a killer.
I’m not a huge mystery/suspense reader but do like to dip into the genre on occasion and I really enjoyed this. * confession time: I sneaked a look at the end about halfway through, I just couldn’t take guessing “who dunnit” any more. For me though that doesn’t spoil a story, I catch things reading that otherwise i’d have missed. I often re-read favourite books, even knowing how they end. Some folk can’t do that, I do, I love to get stuck into a favourite series.

Stars: Five, Its a great read, genuine characters and actions, and neatly building up the suspense and alternate possible murderers.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Wounded Martyr, Courtney Maguire

Wounded Martyr, Courtney Maguire

Wounded Martyr by [Maguire, Courtney]

Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA

I really thought I’d like this book, I love romance, love m/m romance and love the rock star trope. And yet I just feel confused about this story. I got to the end and it wasn’t with the satisfaction of a good read, but with the feeling of What did I just read? Was that really how it would end?

Its very well written, the words convey really clearly the downsides of addiction, of how staying sober seems the hard choice when everyone around you is drinking. How difficult it is to like the person you are now, when all you’ve known for years is the addict, how even though you know how awful you are when high or drunk you don’t really seem to be a better person sober. All that came over so very clearly, along with the difficulties of relationships when touring, when distance separates and opportunities come unasked for.
Yet somehow the sheer grimness of Ice’s life just got me down and coloured what I was reading. He didn’t know what he wanted, and Ricky paid the price, band mate Ash was equally ambiguous, and the band after twenty years together seemed to have no kind of camaraderie or affection left. It was just grim all the way, and for me it was too much.
I kept wondering, if they’d been together twenty years and were playing to thousands why were they sharing rooms when they didn’t want to and ought to have had the money to room alone – heck, have a suite alone. Does coke really only cost $50 a vial? Why did they still continue when the band really didn’t seem close, were they ever close, did any of them actually enjoy the life anymore?
Ash and Ice, friends since childhood, and yet apart from some moments of lust and jealousy I didn’t feel anything much between them. I guess I just needed more detail about the characters, their history, and something light to enliven the atmosphere of doom that seemed to live over the band.

The ending seemed a bit of a cop out, I didn’t really feel as if anything had changed, except for the one major point, and wasn’t convinced of long term happiness for any of them. Where was Sid gong to fit in with the Ricky/Ice/Ash grouping? And wasn’t that going to cause more issues? The root causes of the problems still hadn’t really been resolved I felt, and the way it seemed to finish held more problems in store IMO.

I find it hard to actually class this as romance, it didn’t have any of the love, intensity of emotion, the feel good factor that romance holds for me, and even when it got close to a good emotion it was coloured by jealous thoughts.

I
Stars: Two and a half. Writing quality is four star for making me feel whats happening, for sheer realism, but content for me was just scraping a two, and unfortunately content is the greater sway when I’m reviewing how I feel about a story.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Kind of Famous, Mary Ann Marlowe

Kind of Famous, Mary Ann Marlowe

I was lucky enough to get an ARC of this from the author, book is out next April. I loved the first two in the series, and this was a great addition.

Genre: Romance

Well, after finishing this I have to go back and read the first two again, I really enjoyed catching up with Adam and Eden, Jo and Micah. And I have to say what a name, Theatre of the Absurd. Its wonderful, wonderful 😉 Though the abbreviation TotA somehow always reminds me more of the British T and A abbreviation…….

I understood much of the web stuff, I too have a blog ( two actually, art and books) but mine are way, way into the minor league compared to Layla’s. No forum either, though in the pre-FB days I did have an active arts forum.
What kind of went over me was the fan stuff, I guess its me, I just cannot understand people who are obsessed by who they think a person is, and like Layla, I’m shocked at how people treat the objects of their obsession. Sometimes its as if they forget they are people, and we see that here so clearly, the thin line between a fan and a stalker, how the celeb has to balance between not upsetting fans, and letting them maul him/her…
I did feel for Layla when she first meets Adam, I guess having said all this stuff, if Brandon Flowers was to be in my view I’d have dropped jaw too!
I so felt for Shane though when she continued to get star struck, but she really couldn’t help it. For some folk its almost a Pavlovian reaction, and only continued proximity lets them see their obsession is just a real person like anyone else. I do think she could have tried a little harder as time went on.

Layla has a great opportunity with her new job, and the events that followed, the way she came to meet with the band felt very natural. Its a tough thing I think, to get your characters where you want them to be but making it feel genuine, not forced, and Mary Ann does that so well.
I like the mix of folk at the office, the way her job, new friends and internet presence all linked up. I kept thinking “what would I do?” and wondering why she didn’t just give up the fan site to someone else – but of course that’s me. Layla has needed that friendship that came from her internet friends in the past, and maybe she’s just not quite ready to leave them.
I’m socially a bit awkward too, find making friends difficult so I sympathised. Its easier to spill your thoughts out online. We differ though in that I’m me online, I don’t have a pseudonym, a user name hiding who I am. It means perhaps that I’m more cautious about what I write. As Layla knows to her cost, words on the net stay, even when deleted they’ll still be around somewhere, and what you may have felt five, ten years ago can be very different to now, and yet folk will pull it up regardless.

Shane, oh what an intense guy. I could feel that attraction between him and Layla right from the start. I so felt for his “no-one sees the drummer” and how so called fans would use one member of a band to get to another. That’s awful, but sadly happens all too often. Must be a big ego suck, and Shane didn’t seem to have a huge stack of self confidence anyway, it was almost as if he was waiting for something to go wrong between him and Layla. Being in a relationship with someone who has jealousy issues is hard, and that part, the tension it caused was perfect. Real people, real problems.
It brought in some devastating drama and for me I’m all about drama and angst….loved it. I did like Gabriel in the office, I love characters like his, adds some terrific “nasty” into a read 😉 and he was perfectly positioned for maximum effect.

If I have a criticism its that everything takes place over such a short time, a few weeks and Shane and Layla move at warp speed into a relationship, when she’s just started new job, needs to find new accommodation, and yet she just threw herself into it. The short time span made it a little harder to feel the depth of the drama, and didn’t really give time for all of those issues that caused problems to get permanently resolved, though I did like the decision Layla took, and how hard she found it. Understandable.

Stars: Four and a half, I would have liked events to have run over a longer time span. That’s a tiny crit though, very minor.

Arc via author

jeannie's house renovation

buying a new home, updating, making suitable for a wheelchair user. ( Me!)

jeannie's art adventures

my adventure with acrylic pouring artworks

Danny Clark - Artist

Nothing you probably haven't already seen.

barn conversion blog

Saving a piece of local history and creating our dream home

Emme Cross

Totally Addictive Romance Novels

Kelly's Book Blog

Romance book reviews! I'm a book lover, speed reader and reviewer!

Reads and Treats

Satisfying Books and Scrumptious Eats

jeannie zelos product reviews

Jeannie's honest thoughts on products bought or received for review purpose.

By Hook Or By Book

Book Reviews, News, and Other Stuff

So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Book Junkiez

The place where book addicts go for their book fix!

Hit or Miss Books

Honest reviews for children's, middle grade, teen and adult books.

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

A Writer's Life For Me.

Blog of Author Mishka Jenkins

Book Gossips

We are four cousins hailing from Australia. Love of books runs in our family and we have decided to share our exhilirating gossip sessions with you. Here you can find book reviews from multiple genres, bringing you the best of buzz worthy popular fiction.

Brandy L Rivers

New York Times and USA Today Best selling Author