Archive | July 2013

Escaping Reality, (The Secret Life of Amy Bensen 1), Lisa Renee Jones,

 

ARC supplied via Netgalley.

I’ve read a few of Lisa’s book before but this seems to be a new venture for her, a foray into the rapidly growing new adult market. I’m by no means a new adult (I wish!) but have read some cracking novels from the genre, so was really pleased to get this ARC.
Lara has fled all she knows at young age of just 18, since then she’s been hiding for hr own safety aided by instructions from a mysterious handler. It’s been six years now , its a lonely life, she can’t really make friends for fear of bringing them into the danger that is her everyday life. Her current ID is as Amy Bensen. Once again on the run at very short notice with just the clothes on her back, she meets billionaire Liam. He wants her badly, their attraction is riveting and hard to resist, and he won’t accept her brush offs. Used to getting what he wants he somehow pushes his way into her life, but she’s struggling with her attraction to him and having to lie to him about her background and ID. On top of that there are some weird things surrounding her current apartment and job, arranged by her handler, which make her feel insecure. She want to be with Liam, but is he what he says he is, and what about the oddities in her current circumstances. Living on the edge for so long now she isn’t sure if she’s being paranoid or reasonable in her fears, and can’t recall what happened without getting sort of panic attacks and blackouts. She’s not sure whether she ought to take control herself for a change and flee but hs little money to arrange ID etc, so in the meantime she decided to try to find out what’s the current position regarding what happened to her, and how it relates to her life and the danger surrounding her now.
I liked Amy/Lara, felt so much for her in her lonely situation. She doesn’t even know if her handler is someone she can trust, but lacking any other options she goes along with what he says. She can’t have friends, that’s what forced the last move and she hopes she’s not placed her friend at risk, she can’t use her hard earned business degree, she has no access to funds other than what she’s given. I desperately want to know who the handler is, and why he’s doing it, what happened to Amy, why she’s in danger….the questions I have never seem to end, but the answers in this book are incomplete and just lead to more queries….
Well, on to other characters then; Liam, wow what a man, and I can see why he wants to take care of Amy and yet she can’t let him in until she knows he’s safe, and even then he could be pulled into her danger. She worries – is telling him about herself the right thing to do, and if she doesn’t how long before her lies trip her up? Its one of the reasons she’s avoided close relationships up to now. Is he really what he says? Then there’s Jared, recently moved into apartment opposite Amy, he seems to pop up everywhere she goes, and Liam and he do not get along together..then of course her mysterious employer who is always out of contact, won’t leave a phone number or any contact info and who Amy can only relay messages via office secretary Meg. Its one mystery on top of another and I’m desperate to find out how it all resolves. My one big moan is dammit – it ends on a frigging cliffhanger – a real biggie. Readers of my reviews will know I HATE cliffhangers with a passion. I feel I’m there in the story, wound along with the characters then suddenly, whomp, dropped and have to wait ages before picking up the plot again. I usually re read the ending before starting the new book in an attempt to pick up the mood, and often don’t even buy books til all parts are out now, having far too many part trilogies etc on my kindle. One series I’m waiting for next book (Diana Gabaldons outlander series) and several main characters are in precarious positions at the end of the last book – and that was Dec 2010 and I’m still waiting for next book….Luckily Lisa redeems this situation by being a quick writer and has committed to having the final part out in October this year – thanks Lisa, waiting is sooo hard when the story is this good. I’m desperately racking my brains to see how the situation can be different to what is seems, I don’t want it to be as it looks 😦 Lisa, I hope you’ve got this in hand…
The novel is a mix of thriller, mystery and romance all wrapped up in some cracking erotic and sensual sex scenes. Fabulous book if you love romance that’s sexy and spicy with an edgy and gripping plot. It’s a fantastic bargain at just 77p for 252 pages on kindle.
Stars: well I’d go five if it wasn’t for that damn cliffhanger so four and a half from me.

————————————————————————
Book 2 — The final book
Infinite Possibilities
October
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18166194-infinite-possibilities
Liam left her world spinning, pulled her into passion and gave her a sense of belonging and hope she desperately needed. But did he have alternative motives? Did he want more than passion?

The Mistress Tiffany Reisz

 

 
ARC supplied by Netgalley.
I’d read the prequel (little red riding hood?) and the first book The Siren. Love, love, loved them both, but with so many unfinished trilogies/quartets on my kindle I’d made a new years resolution not to read any more of those until all parts are out – then I can indulge in a mammoth back to back reading session. Then this popped up on Netgalley…and I couldn’t resist. I did wonder how it would read with my not having yet read the two middle books but I needn’t have been concerned, it was all very easy to follow – in as much as anything about Nora’s life makes sense anyway! The best bit for me was that all the characters from earlier books are brought together. The magic in Tiffanys’ writing is that she has the talent to take what seems an unshakable belief in the readers thoughts about the rightness of an action or person and transform it. I really didn’t like Soren, a priest having a long time affair that started when Nora was just fifteen? And a man that’s a self admitted hard core Sadist? And has a sexual relationship with a long time male friend Kingsley? (not that I’m against m/m relationships but he’s a Catholic priest and all this seems so hypocritical) – but I ended the novel under his seductive spell like the rest of the cast. Soren has a way of weaving his love for God and the way its part of his life, together neatly with his actions and explains it all in such a believable way. Wesley – so very protective of Nora and a fellow Soren hater found the same happened to him. I love Wesley, one of life’s wonders, a sensitive and moral man who’s a deep thinker and loves with his whole being. He’s a fab man – but so very much younger than Nora, a real “vanilla” lover with none of her penchant for the BDSM lifestyle – and it is an essential part of Nora’s life so can they make it work? Kingsley, I can’t help liking what I know of him and yet – he’s not called The King for nothing, he too has a very dark side that’s the greater part of his life and a love/hate relationship with Nora. Then there’s Nora’s friend Grace, wife to Zachary who we met in The Siren, and Sorens teenage niece. They also play a strong part in this book.
It’s erotica – but as with the rest of the series its a very, very dark erotica. Its BDSM at its extreme with some very graphic moments though reading reviews for other books not as graphic as they seem to have been. Its not a gentle spanking novel but one with strong whippings that leave marks, and other actions that leave bruises and welts.
I love novels that have a proper story to carry the sex scenes, and Tiffany has done that here and so much, much more. I simply have to buy the two middle novels now even knowing how the series ends, as I want to read the rest and how the characters ended up as they did. I’ll probably start from beginning again and have a Norafest day…All these people seem so real I feel like I know them. This book turns what I thought about many of them upside down, and made me really think about why they were as they were – and made me realise that though much of the BDSM elements are very dark, in fact so long as the participants are all happy and consenting what’s the harm? I don’t understand how giving or receiving a beating can be sexually stimulating, but clearly to some it is. I do understand how self inflicted pain can be used as a control of oneself so I suppose its just one step (or a few more ) further on. Like Wesley I found the interaction between Soren and Nora shocking at times, and yet by the end I felt much more understanding of their relationship crept in.
Noras’ tales she tells to her captor to keep her alive were the perfect vehicle for showing some of what happened in earlier books in a different light – after all each person sees actions and motivations differently, and I loved the way this gave us her insight into what happened, and answered many questions the earlier books will have raised. Nora herself is an amazing person with a huge heart full of love. That’s not to say she doesn’t make mistakes, we’re all human, but she embraces everything Soren does and asks for more. The dead stick being watered for six months will stay with me – its a perfect example of Sorens’ control – he needs it and Nora needs him to exert it.
I can’t say more – well I could go on for ages 🙂 but don’t want to give anything away. What I will say is this is the perfect ending to the series, brings everything up to speed and ties up all ends. I’ll miss Nora and friends but am very much looking forward to my Norafest day when I have a free one. Its a fantastic book, one that will stay with you for ages. I love the psychology of the story, why each person was as they were and had the need to do what they did. Very satisfying and thought provoking. A book to engage the brain and not just a switch off brain fluff type but one you need to really concentrate on, never the less it’s also a real escape from the tribulations of everyday life. My favourite sort of book.
Its £5.03 for a massive 560 pages on kindle, and with the re reading factored in its great value on my VFM scale. With so many novels now being only 120-150 pages its a real treat to get one so long and that length allows the reader to get fully immersed into the story. Huge thanks to Tiffany from a reader who loves these long books 🙂
Stars: Five – five all the way, in fact I wish I could give it five plus 🙂 its that good.

 

Edit: I’vesince bought books two and three and love them, the whole series is one cracking read, smoking, erotic sex, fabulous characters and a real ride – (hah!) of excitement. whats even better is I’ve read there’s more books planned – about our favourite priest. Bring it on!! I reckon if there were more priests like Soren, the church would have a far greater attendance rate  🙂

Complete Me. J. Kenner.

 

Complete Me (Stark Trilogy)

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley.

I’ve loved this series so far, the first two books were full of drama and sex, but written in an intelligent way. There seems to be a faction in writing that deems words of more than two syllables are not acceptable 😦 Which is a shame as the English language is so versatile and its so much more interesting to read works that use it to the fullest extent.
Anyway- book three. This picks up where book two left off with Damien on trial for murder in Germany. Nikki knows he’s worried but he’s withdrawn back into that shell he has where he tells everyone he’s fine. She’s knows through her own experience that “I’m fine” can meant anything but fine, and feels that getting Damien to open to her and share emotions and problems is one step forward and two steps back much of the time. They’re both people damaged by their pasts and fighting current demons. With Damien’s help Nikki has managed not to cut again but its an ongoing struggle and the dramas in this book prove very testing to her. Damien’s need for control escalates to match the tension he’s going through. Nikki gets annoyed when she finds out some of the things he’s done in the name of protecting her. I can understand how she feels and yet, Damien is feeling his life is spiralling away and he needs to exert control over the parts he can, and his love for Nikki means he wants to defend her against anything he thinks might cause harm to her and he’ll use any method needed to do so. It leaves Nikki feeling deceived at times and they argue, and then…lots of make up sex. That man has a way with words and body 🙂 I said before J Kenner write sex that’s erotic and sensual, sizzling and steamy not the dire, endless , dull stuff that passes for erotica in so many books, and once again she’s pulled out all the stops to write lots of sex, but not in a repetitive manner.
We meet many of the characters from past books in this one, along with some new people. As always J Kenner’s characters almost jump off the page they feel so real, its as if you can touch them. Jamie is still the same ditzy, loving friend seeking and wanting love but in reality just constantly bed hopping. Nikki worries over her and tries to support her, but with her own problems there’s limited time to do anything for her. Ollie, I said in last book he needed a kick up the ar$e – well, finally he redeems himself in this book. He’s still the same man whore, still engaged to poor Courtney but towards the end he really pulls out the stops! There’s sex – lots and lots of hot, steamy, erotic sex but at times I felt that Damien was using sex as the answer to everything he didn’t want to discuss and ….and I got annoyed at him. I wanted more than just sex, some action other than in the bedroom – and kitchen, living room, bathroom, on the desk…you get the picture? It was as if sex was the answer to everything and I got fed up of it. 😦 I’d been so gripped by the first two books that I didn’t understand why this one seemed to be going so slowly. It was exciting, erotic and everything seemed plausible so why wasn’t I feeling the love? Dunno – but – by 60% it began to pick up to race into a finale that I had no clue was coming. I cried, the angst Nikki and Damien was feeling was palpable. I was “oh no…” but couldn’t see what else Nikki could have done. The identity of the person behind the drama was one I’d never have suspected. Fantastic wrap up to a sizzlingly sensual trilogy.

As always I’m pleased to get to end and find out what happened but sad to let go of characters that feel they’ve become friends. Still, its definitely a trio for the keepers file, and it’ll be great to re read them without having to wait for instalments.

A well done too for J Kenner for keeping price the same throughout. I’ve noticed a creeping trend for book one to be free or 77p, book two to be around £2.50-3.50 and book three to be £4.99. To me that’s deceiving. I want to know what I’m going to spend before getting sucked into a new trilogy and with variable prices it leaves we readers feeling a bit suckered. Keep first one free or low price but 2 and 3 ought to be priced the same 🙂

Stars: Slow start I felt, but a fantastic ending that made up for that so five.

The Marriage Merger Jennifer Probst.

The Marriage Merger

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley.
I’d read and enjoyed The Marriage Trap, one of the sister books to this one so was pleased to get the chance to review this novel. Jennifer writes romance that has a thorough back story, and that’s what I enjoy. Not just a romance, but a tale that I can get lost in for a few hours.
Mama Conte is a formidable character, and I recalled her vividly from the Marriage Trap. Typical Italian Mama where family is all important, her children have been brought up with respect for their parents, and Mama uses that to try to get their lives sorted, she thinks she knows what best for them. As it happens she does, but her interference creates some heartbreak before the happy endings, and that’s not what she intended. Julietta is a great lady, tough and striving for success she feels she’s always had to prove herself in the family business she runs. Business is still considered a Mans’ World and in Italy that’s a certainty, so she’s had to fight off those who think as a woman she can’t command respect, and her long hours and hard work have left little time for a social life. The few boyfriends she’s had haven’t been a success and she’s resigned herself to concentrating on her career. Sawyer, friend of the family, wants her bakery to be exclusive in his new luxury hotel chain. Its a great move, and she considers it carefully, wanting the deal but not wanting to relinquish any control. She’s surprised by how she feels when she sees him, not expecting any man to have the effect of making her lose concentration, and feel so drawn to him. Sawyer is stunned by how attracted to her he is, but like her he isn’t in the market for a relationship either. Never the less he can’t seem to get her off his mind, and comes up with a very unusual bargain…..
There are side characters too, the wonderfully individual protégée of Sawyer, the reformed thief Wolfe. He deserves a book of his own some time! Then there’s the rest of the extended family, we meet them later in the book, but they’re always in contact by phone and email throughout the tale.
The sex scenes, wow- sizzlingly hot, erotic and steamy without and of the cringe factor some sex scenes have. Just well written, interesting and sensual interaction between the two. That Sawyer certainly knows his stuff in the bedroom, and has Julietta melting into a pile of goo much to her surprise. The scenes fitted perfectly within the story, not those sort that have just been added to create some spice, but very well written ones that belong and fit in the novel as an essential part of the story. I do love my romances to have some heat and Jennifer has created plenty of that here.
The only odd part I wondered about is that first were told that Sawyer was helped initially by Mama Conte, when he’d just been sacked from his job and was in Italy. She offered him help when she had no idea who he was, and that’s why he considers himself in her debt then later in the novel his story runs differently in that a hotel janitor was his rescuer and left him a great deal of money. Edit: I went back and read the relevant sections again and the two seem to be connected, but its not really clear the way Sawyer talks/remembers about them. My error, but this part could have been clearer to the reader to avoid the confusion.

Its a great story and a worthy addition to the collection of books about the family and friends. Its one that’s got enough story and interest to bear re reading so its going in my keepers file. Its priced at £4.41 for 320 pages so well within my VFM range and especially when the re read factor is taken into account.
Stars: a good solid four stars, very enjoyable way of losing myself in a well written romance for a couple of hours.

Eye of the Beholder Jackie Weger .

 

Arc supplied by author.

I love romance but there are now so many duo’s and trilogies, many ending on horrible cliffhangers that I’m feeling a bit fed up of it all, so was really thankful to receive three standalone novels from Jackie for review. At one time this was the norm, but since fifty shades it seems that writing romance in sections has become popular. That may be fine for some – but I know from comments on my reviews that there are many, many readers fed up with that, especially when we aren’t warned ahead of purchase, and who want stand alones, where we get the whole story, not one in parts where we wait months for next bit at unspecified price.
Anyway – this is my first read of Jackie’s books, and I really enjoyed it. It was fresh and unusual, something a bit different from the norm of contemporary romances around. Its set in a time past – I’m not sure how US works but if it was set in UK I’d guess at 1930’s or thereabouts, a time when you could work for cash daily, and renting a home or room was far simpler.
The description tells a good synopsis so I won’t repeat it. Phoebe; what a great lead. Strong and wiry, she loves her family, works hard and has a fierce pride. I loved her. She’s one of those tough on the outside people who have a hidden soft, self concious centre. I felt for her so much when she worked so hard, and Gage gave one of his cryptic put downs, and when her hard work and plans went awry. I even cried towards the end when all began to fall apart on her through no fault of her own, it was a very emotional section.
Gage; tough, quiet man, devoted to his daughter but unsure of how to raise a child, widowed when his wife drowned with her lover, he’s very cynical about Phoebe and her motives at first, but her personality and hard work slowly wear him down, but not without some major hiccups.
The kids, May-dean; 12 going on 22, obsessed with looks and trying to evade Phoebes fierce discipline, sharp of tongue and quick to try to get out of anything she didn’t want to do and yet underneath is an insecure child, Willie-boy; five years old but sharp and bright, and yet longs to just be a boy and explore, he suffers from asthma though and Phoebe watches him like a hawk. Then there’s Gage’s daughter, who misses her mum, and feels a bit lost. She stands up to Phoebe at first but soon comes to love and appreciate her.
The crab dressing – I’ve done that, smelly, tough and hard to earn good money, I felt for Phoebe trying to learn that. There was so much humour too in this book, a real mix of emotions, from sympathy and tears, to laughter and love. It really gives a flavour of how tough life could be in days past with no welfare, no free healthcare, and no helps for people with Mental health problems.
It’s a gentle romance, but with some steamy and funny moments..tally-whacker 🙂 and the way Phoebe is insatiable once she’s found sex, and poor Gage is worn out! He has a dry wit at times, and was a perfect foil to the intense, quick witted Phoebe.

I loved this story, its a change to read something so different to the endless college or billionaire romances – I like those, but its good to find something so different. Its definitely a book I’d re read, a real treasure and at 224 pages for £2.03 its good value.

Stars: five, a fabulous unusual romance.

Dancing With the Devil Nikki and Michael Book 1 Keri Arthur

 

Dancing with the Devil (A Nikki and Michael Vampire Novel)

I received this from the publishers in return for an honest review.

Ohh – Paranormal romance, vampires, adventure – what more could I ask for. This is book one of a series and I quickly became enmeshed in the story. Its urban fantasy at its best, and I look forward to reading more of the series. Nikki is a private investigator and in this book we begin with her using her psychic powers to find a missing teenager. Sound easy doesn’t it – but of course things are not what they seem. Nikki seems to have more powers than she realises, and a very dangerous vampire Jasper is out to get her to use them for himself. She’s unknowingly under the protection of another supernatural organisation and a 300 year old vampire called Michael is tracking her for them – he discovers Jasper is involved and knows just how dangerous he is.

Michael and Nikki find an attraction developing between them and both fight it, Nikki has been independent for many years after living on the streets and Michael shys away from any relationships. Despite that they are drawn to each other and the dangers they face bring them together time and time again. They need to find a way to trust each other and work past their issues if they are to survive.

They make a great pair, Nikki isn’t some sweet devoted heroine but a strong, bolshy, independent lady and Michael can’t help admiring her. They both have secrets though and that doesn’t help, along with Michaels natural instinct to control which jars with Nikki’s need for independence.

Its a riveting read, taking us along an adventure that is face paced and full of danger. The romantic elements are there but they add to the story not detract from it and as a reader I can’t help but wish for a good resolution for the pair. Though its a series its not one of those awful cliffhanger types – this story has a proper ending thought we see a bit of what is going on with Nikki and Michael in book two.

Its well written and edited and will join my keepers file for re reading.

Stars: four and a half star – just the sort of book I love.

The Next Best Thing. Kristan Higgins.

The Next Best Thing (Mills & Boon Special Releases)

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley.

This sounded like an interesting romance, something a bit different. There’s so many romance novels around that I like to find the ones with a slightly different slant in them, one can only read so much standard man meets woman romance without stories blurring into one another, unless there’s something that sets the story apart from the thousands of others. This one I thought would be a good one, after all living up to the perfect but dead husband is a hard task for anyone. I liked Lucy, given her family history where the husbands dropped dead early – she was only 25 and Jimmy 28 (I think) when he died, and they’d only been married a few months, not long enough for the newness and gloss to wear thin, so I could see how she was afraid to step back into the dating game. Her sister ( neurotic about her husbands life – understandably) has just had a baby, and it brings home to Lucy that she’s young enough to find someone new and have her own family. Her mum and aunts have all embraced widowhood and almost made it into a sort of saintly state, but they were older when widowed and Lucy is still very young. She has a list of what she wants in a husband but Jimmys’ death left her so distraught she still counts the time since in years, months and days, she wants someone who she’ll like but not love so much she’ll fall apart when he dies. Sad isn’t it, but her family see it as inevitable that the husbands will die – They’re known collectively as The Black Widows.
She’s been friends with Ethan, Jimmys’ younger brother, since college. It was him that introduced them to each other, and he’s been a godsend to her since Jimmy’s death – and they’re friends with benefits. She decides that must stop now she’s on a search for a husband. Ethan takes the news calmly, though its clear to the reader that he doesn’t agree with her, and that he loves her. He has a young son Nicky, with Parker, from a short-lived fling. Parker is a really good friend to Lucy, and the four often spend time together. Lucy keeps suggesting that Parker and Ethan get back together as she wants Ethan to be happy, Parker says no and suggests Ethan is better suited to Lucy but she’s not receptive to that. She does miss him though once they’ve become conventional friends and not so closely linked, and finds sharp pangs of jealousy when he’s with other ladies.
Its a great book, full of love and emotion, some realism in that the characters aren’t perfect. It makes me think how hard it must be to live up to a spouse that’s died, and in Ethans case a brother that even his parents thought was perfect. He’s always felt second best and though he doesn’t show it outwardly its there in his behaviour and career direction.
The characters are fabulous, I felt like I was there with them in many scenes. The Black Widows and Friday pm cocktails, great 🙂 Grizelda (something like that ) the gypsy come fortune teller was terrific, Jimmy and Ethans parents who run the restaurant typical Italian family orientated foodies, Parker and Nicky and even Doral-Anne the “bad” girl were all so real to me and a great balance of characters. Its a well written tale, with lots of love (and a few hot sex scenes!!) laughter and tears, and plots that blend and weave through into a fabulous happy ending. The very best sort of romance where you’ve an interesting story, and that although we know the outcome the journey keeps us guessing how we reach it. I loved it.
Stars: full five, one I’d happily read again.

Do You Remember? Mandy Baggot.

Do You Remember?: HarperImpulse Contemporary Romance

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley.

I’ve read several of Mandy’s book now and enjoyed them all. She has an easy writing style which makes is simple for the reader to just relax and let the story enfold them. Her characters are always ones I can empathise with and that’s very important to me. This book I really liked Emma, she had a tough teen time with her mum dying of cancer. That’s hard for anyone, but for a teen its even more difficult, teen years are so emotional and illness and death impacts on the whole family. Her mum’s death left just Emma and her dad, and after she got into some trouble locally, a reaction against events, her dad took them to France camping for the summer. There she met Guy, just one year older at 18, but with huge responsibilities with a mum whose always drunk and a newborn baby brother. He and Emma fall deeply for each other and make plans to be together with baby Luc, and then something terrible happens to upset all their plans.
Its eight year later now, Emma is a teacher , has her own home shared with son Dominic and she has a loving boyfriend Chris. Seems perfect and yet … she feels unsettled and avoids answering Chris when he’s keen to become more than just her boyfriend. At the opening of a local leisure centre run by her best friend Ally she meets Guy again. He’s made a success of his football career and been signed locally – meeting each other brings back all those feelings they had, should they investigate them or stay with the partners they currently have. Can love be ignored for security, and what about the secrets they both hold.
The book goes back and forth from the summer in France to present day and gradually the stories unfold, there are secrets neither has admitted to anyone and if opened out now with they help or hinder? Emma still loves Guy, and meeting him brings back all those feelings, and she can’t help wondering if that’s why she held back with Chris, and was she too quick to judge what she saw the day she left France. She didn’t give Guy a chance to explain his actions, but just went back to her dad and England. Guy has always known she’s his true love but thought he’d lost her for good, and his current relationship his more one of convenience for them both than any passion. He’s keen to pick up where they finished but will his secrets split them? Just when they take steps to be together the past rears its head and secrets are revealed. And what shockers! I guessed, but got Emma’s totally wrong and as for Guy, I was totally on wrong track at first, bit once things stated to come out I got closer but still didn’t get all of it.
A great story of a romance that was so strong it stuck the test of time and trials. I loved Guy, such a hard place he was in with baby Luc and his alcoholic mother that Emma seemed like someone magical and fresh to him, and yet though teen romance often fades his love stayed strong all those years, even shadowed though it was by the dark secrets he kept. Emma was a typical teen, full of angst and emotion and yet when she found Guy she was headlong in love and the same as for him those feelings stayed with her even though she did her best to avoid them. Her dad – typical man, loves his daughter, grieving his wife and doing his best to cope. Teens are not easy for any parent (nor is being a teen easy!!) add to it the loss they’d suffered and its no wonder things went astray.
Once the secrets started coming out there followed shock after shock, and I had tears at how they could have lost that love but yet managed to find a way past their problems.
Fabulous read, one to reread and its full of story and things that once the secrets are known may appear in a different light. Priced at £3.99 for 306 pages its within my VFM range and especially good value for those who like me re read good novels.
Stars: full five- lovely book from Mandy once again.

All In: The Blackstone Affair, Book 2 Raine Miller.

All In: The Blackstone Affair, Book 2

 

All In: The Blackstone Affair, Book 2 Raine Miller.

I loved book one, so was waiting excitedly for book two. Sadly it didn’t live up to my expectation. It was good, just not as good as I wanted. Its told mostly from Ethans POV, which I liked, it gives an insight into how his mind works when we know what he’s thinking and how he’s affected. From the start he’s convinced he’ll get Brynne back, he’s not prepared to give up on them, but he’s facing a struggle after having broken her trust. He’s broken without her, lost and grieving badly but planning his next move carefully to win her back. He’s so forward and determined that of course he succeeds fairly quickly, and the novel continues on the problems that happen after they get back together. They talk about how secrets have caused problems and that they need to trust and be more open with each other.
Raine finally reveals the shocking secrets that have coloured Brynne’s actions and life and have affected her so badly. And it is a shocker! Something she had no control over and yet badly affected her life, her relationship with parents and left her feeling guilty even though it wasn’t her fault. Her dad is great, loves her and protective but her mum…what a cold fish she is. More is revealed from Ethans past too and of course we’re not entirely sure who the danger is aimed at as they are both under threat. Thankfully its Ethans business so he’s very adept at dealing and knows who to contact and get for each problem. . Brynne’s background problems are tied up with US politics and of course some people will use any measures including murder to avoid scandals getting out. Ethan is very worried for her safety. There’s some fun parts, Ivan and Gabrielle are great characters and provide some fun entertainment. I wonder if they’ll feature more in book three. There’s once again plenty of smoking sex, scenes to take your breath away and sizzle off the page. Still overall I had a feeling of something lacking, that the novel was somehow less than I expected, lots of sex but the drama of book one wasn’t there. Maybe its just that book one was so gripping, and I expected the same dramatic emphasis that had me reading without pause but I guess its hard to follow that sort of writing and I did enjoy this book overall, just a little disappointed that maybe I had too much expectation. Certainly the passion and romance side lived up to expectation, there’s so many of these since fifty shades but few live up to the hype, seems that not all authors can write sex in a sensual erotic way, but thankfully Raine can and does 🙂
Overall I did enjoy this part, and look forward to finding out the end of the story. Its a very erotic, passionate and sexy read, with some danger and adventure thrown in. Its certainly one of the few trilogies of this genre that’s worth reading. It’s priced at for …. pages.
Stars: I’d like to give it five but felt it fell a bit short so its four and a half from me.

Tampa.Alissa Nutting.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley.

Mostly I’m a paranormal/fantasy/romance reader but I like to stretch my mind with something different sometimes – something thought provoking. Well Tampa certainly does that. It makes us look at our perceptions of acceptable behaviours and think how? Why? What should we do? Celeste is a high school teacher, married to Ford, a policeman though there doesn’t seem to be any passion there. I get the impression its his money that she was attracted to and her appearance that hooked him. She’s described by her father in law as a “trophy wife” and she’s very, very keen to keep her appearance youthful, spending a fortune on high end cosmetics for that purpose. She a very clever manipulator as we can see from the text, its told completely from her POV which allows us access to her thought processes. So far she just sounds like an attractive but shallow teacher doesn’t she? But she hides a huge secret – she’s sexually attracted to schoolboys, those around fourteen, before they develop any sign of maturity, and at the start of each school year she picks out carefully which one she’s going to target. She takes into account their backgrounds solely to ensure they are unlikely to report her ,or be caught out by family watching their behaviour. We see just what thoughts she has and how she goes about the process of selection. It’s like being inside her head listening to her thinking what she needs to do. She’s amazingly single minded, to the point where seduction of her chosen victim – and I use that phrase deliberately – becomes an all consuming obsession. Clearly she’s got psychological problems, and yet like so many paedophiles she’s very clever at manipulating people and circumstances to her best advantage.
Poor Jack is her target at the start of the novel and slowly she lures him in. They quickly become sexually active, and she’s has a stroke of luck when he discloses he lives with his father, and he’s at work often after school so they have the house to themselves. Of course they have a time when they’re almost caught ,and Celeste begins a very strange time where she convinces Jack father that she’s his girlfriend, and that allows her to spend even more time there. Jack is convinced they’re in love and will marry when he’s eighteen. I feel so so sorry for him. Of course things go wrong, Jack moves away and Celeste picks up a new victim. Jack is able to return periodically so she’s using both boys without the other knowing. Its a real study in how carefully child groomers work to seduce and convince kids they are wanted and loved, and that everything is done consensually when of course in reality they don’t have the full story, or the maturity to see they are just being used.
Sadly its a sharp look at life when all falls apart and Celeste is caught. Everyone is shocked at she’s such a model teacher, good looking wife etc – its as if we only think of child molesters as sleezy, grubby, easily recognized characters ,when in reality they can be anyone. Even in her teaching lessons she obsesses about sex, talking about Romeo and Juliet, lord of the flies etc and bringing the sexual side in. She uses essays to discover what attracts her chosen boy to females, so she can emulate their choice. The kids love her as they see her as one of them and that’s one of the dangers. Because she does well with them the other teachers assume all is well. Its a sharp reminder we need to look beyond the surface of people and see what they are really doing.
At her trial there a part which mad me really sad, a bad reflection of society and yet very, very true. Her solicitor pushes the jury towards the view that 14 year old boys are ruled by their hormones, and that they made advances to her, and that most kids (and adult men) would envy them being sexually active with such a good looking young woman. I can see that as an argument used in reality. 😦 We’re shocked at girls being groomed and yet a boy groomed by an attractive lady – its “whoa, good for you mate!” kind of attitude. We need to change that quickly. Alissa goes on to show us a bit about how badly affected the boys are – especially Jack who threw his emotions whole heartedly in and now has guilt feelings about what happened, including his part in what happened with his father. Its something that would be hard to recover from, and if it were real I think he’d need a great deal of help to get past it.
It left me wondering what made Celeste this way, someone doesn’t suddenly turn to kids for sex, there must have been some indications somewhere before it got this far? Something that happened to her maybe? Abusers are often abuse victims themselves. Sadly we also see how lightly she gets off at the end (IMO anyway) and how all the restrictions on keeping her from schools etc doesn’t stop her getting in contact with more kids for sex.
Its a sad story, really well written and realistic. Its not one I’d re read but was incredibly moving thinking about what went on, why she was as she was, what would happen to the boys after, and why the trial went as it did. I could relate it easily to a real event, everything was so carefully written and full of realism. It felt like reading a factual tale of something that had happened. It left me feeling sad for all of them, all those affected, the boys and their families, and even Celeste in a way, as though she was caught she didn’t get the help she clearly needed, and went on with her sad and dangerous obsession.
Stars: its rare I give full stars for a book I’ll only read once but this one deserves it., so five it is

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