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.
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.
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