Archive | September 22, 2013

Forget Me Not and Lily of the Valley, Sarah Daltry

Forget Me Not (Flowering, #1)

Forget Me Not (Flowering, #1) Sarah Daltry
Arc supplied by author.
I’ve read some of Sarah’s work before and knew I enjoyed her writing style so was pleased to get this for review.
It goes into the sex – hot, erotic, graphic sex, quite quickly, and after several of these scenes I feared it was going to be one of those “all sex and little substance “ books, but thankfully I was wrong, and there’s a truly emotional love story here.
Lily has been with her brother’s best friend Derek now for ten months, and they have a very sexual relationship. Now she’s off to college though ( US college seems to equal UK university I think. She’s 18 and that’s the age out teens go to uni, college here is 16+) and she’s at a different one to Derek and her brother. She wanted the independence and that’s why she chose to attend somewhere else. Like many teens find though, life away from home and friends is a huge shock, and she struggles at first. She’s spending so much time with or phoning/Skypeing/thinking about Derek she’s letting herself not mix well with new people, and even letting her studies slip, and she needs to keep grades up for her scholarship to stay. I understood Lily’s confusion, it’s a huge change form the safe at home environment she knew but I felt she was quite shallow in the way she dealt with it. I didn’t really like her at first, but she grew on my and by the end I loved her..
She keeps bumping in to bad boy Jack – I love the bad boys :), he calls her Princess and keeps flirting. She reiterates she has a boyfriend, but she can’t help but find him attractive, he’s everything opposite to what she knows and is familiar with.
Then she and Derek agree to take some time out so she can concentrate on college for a few weeks. Given her struggles with settling it’s a sensible decision and not a breakup, just a time out. It comes to her birthday though, and the plans she had made with Derek fall through, he’s assumed they’re not meeting as planned and made other arrangements. Lily assumes its with another girl, she’s had some (unfounded) jealousies already about the people he’s mixing with. Heartbroken she turns to Jack, who’s quick to help her in his own way – sex and drink! Sex with Jack is nothing like its been with Derek. He was her first, sweet and gentle but with Jack its hot, raw, erotic sex. He’s got his own problems though, and the way he helps Lily is the way he deals with his own darkness. Then Derek reappears….and Lily’s shaky house of cards falls apart. Derek is heartbroken, Jack has just realised how much Lily means to him, and given he doesn’t “do” relationships that’s a huge step so although he’s not told her how he feels he’s heartbroken too.
Derek, we didn’t really see much of him, and he seemed to me to be a good boyfriend til I looked at him the way Lilys room-mate described him and I saw his flaws. He was a year ahead of Lily so he could – and should – have been more helpful to her with her problems. Jack, well I loved him, he was so full of angst, and regular review readers will know how I love that!! He’d got a horrific past that he just couldn’t let go of, and his only true friend was Alana, a friend with benefits. Alana was in love with him, had been for years but they’d tried a relationship and it didn’t work. She’s a real friend, always there when he needs her and knowing how he feels about Lily she puts her own feelings aside and tries to help Jack get back with her. I hope Sarah has plans for a story for her, she deserves some romance and true love! (honest – I do know these aren’t real people but they feel real).
Its a great mix, smokingly sensual sex, hot and messy and very very real, with characters with genuine problems and emotions and it makes for a great story. I look forward to reading Jacks view next. Sarah has written this as a standalone – that’s great – I’m tired of waiting for follow ups that are sometimes years off, and in some cases never seem to get written. I applaud these stand alone novels – please lets have more of them, or if the story needs two or three books at least have them written/ready to write so readers aren’t left in limbo.
I’ve only one problem with tis and the next book – with all that sex, with so many different characters its clear from the graphic descriptions that they are not using condoms, and in this day that’s not a message to be passing out. Its essential – even in story land- for people to use condoms for protection from STD’s – its not romantic but it can save lives and heartbreak. Priced at just 77p for 309 pages/363kb its great value too.
Stars: four and a half.

Lily of the Valley

Lily of the Valley. Sarah Daltry

Arc supplied by author.

I read the first book and just loved Jack, so was really pleased to read the story from his point of view. This book starts with Jack in his dorm room, unloading his stuff, then he goes to the café where he works, and we meet some of the staff who are such an important support for him, and who we see at intervals throughout the book. Jack’s a year older than Lily, and already has the basic college routine set out. When he meets her she epitomises everything about people he thinks look down on him, but there’s also an underlying appeal that he can’t work out. and he gives her his room number partly in jest and partly hoping…They seem like total opposites and yet somehow as the weeks go by they keep bumping in to each other and the attraction grows on both sides.

I loved hearing more about Jacks life, he’s a very closed person and the details seem to slip out in snippets. They show though just why he presents the face to the world that he does, he thinks he’s broken and he acts in a way to protect himself from hurt. If he doesn’t feel. then he cant be upset, but life isn’t like that and like it or not what he feels for Lily grows. When they get together its a real fireworks situation with explosive. incredible sex that leaves them both panting and shocked. Jacks still holding back though, Lily still needs to find her feet at uni, and decide about Derek and all comes to a head when Derek comes back to see her…..

Its heartbreak all round, Derek is shattered, Lily has to face what she’s been putting out of her head too long, and Jack – just as he’s decided to trust someone is once again discarded. Well that’s the way it feels to him. Learning about his background ( the snowman story, what a choker that was!) I can understand why he feels that way, and though we only see part of him in Lily’s book we find so much more to love about him here.

Once again the story goes into the sex – hot, erotic, graphic sex, but we see that’s just one way Jack has of coping, and with Lily’s help he finds there are other ways to be with people. Alana comes up trumps and we learn more about her too, how she met Jack, and about Dave, another “broken” person from their shared past. They are a trio that need to be together for support, as they really understand each others problems. Alana helps Lily to see where Jack is coming from too – she really does act as a good friend should. Hopefully she’ll get her reward with Dave.

I love the way all the characters learn to face their pasts, and move forward, to deal with problems instead of ignoring them, and the way they grew and matured. Home to uni/college is a huge step, and people change so much at a time when emotions and hormones are running high. It makes for some great stories, and Sarah has captured that change in people really well with these books.

As with the first book it’s a great mix, smokingly sensual sex, hot and messy and very, very real, with characters with genuine problems and emotions and it makes for a great story. Sarah has written these as stand-alones – that’s great – I’m tired of waiting for follow ups that are sometimes years off, and in some cases never seem to get written. I applaud these stand alone novels – please lets have more of them, or if the story needs two or three books at least have them written/ready to write so readers aren’t left in limbo.

I’ve only one problem with these books – with all that sex, with so many different characters its clear from the graphic descriptions that they are not using condoms, and in this day that’s not a message to be passing out. Its essential – even in story land- for people to use condoms for protection from STD’s – its not romantic but it can save lives and heartbreak. Priced at £1.39 for a massive 410 pages/633kb (hurrah – I love long books!!) it’s amazing value.

Stars: as with the first it’s a great read, four and a half.

Carved in Stone. Kate Douglas

 

ARC supplied via Netgalley.
This is a romance, but delivered via an exciting, suspenseful adventure, with spirits helping the two escape from where they are trapped. Nate thinks he’s hired a Pulitzer prizewinning photographer – well he has – but he’s expecting Alex’ father not her, although she actually took the photos her dad won the prize for. He didn’t credit her though, and took all the fame for himself.
There’s an instant physical attraction between the duo, simmering sexual tension. but Nate is surly and rude in his surprise at seeing Alex. He makes some pretty sexist remarks too, – though later he apologises to Alex the harm is done. Its the kind of supercilious, condescending remarks she’s had far too many of and she’s tired of it.
Still, they come to a truce, and as the first few days pass Nate comes to recognise her talent and hard work. He’s still really attracted to her but determined to stay professional, though the mountain spirits have other plans…both he and Alex can feel something in the air as they explore the carvings. Then comes the drug runners, and the two become trapped in a cave. I loved this part, the magic of the cave, and the revaluations that came from the spirits was wonderful, and the way facing their possible death there made them let go of the things holding them back from their emotions was beautiful. There were some smoking sensual sex scenes here, carnal and erotic, but not out of place, just seemed the perfect setting. Real raw emotions at work.
Sadly that was let down I felt by the rescue, and the revelations from her father. Alex had been so strong, then so deeply in love she says and yet…she takes off like a sulky child over a simple thing. That spoiled it for me. I do love a good break-up ( I know, masochist tendencies I guess) – especially one that moves me to tears, but this just left me feeling frustrated rather than emotional. Alex was behaving like a silly teen rather than the mature, respected and in-love person she claimed to be. I did understand her reactions in a way, but they were OTT and I think something better could have been utilized for the necessary breakup and then get together.
So – I loved the spiritual, paranormal aspect, loved the sensual sex and the simmering tension that preceded it, but that silly juvenile behaviour from Alex stopped this from being a four and half star read in my view. Priced at £1.91 for 226 pages/685 kb its very reasonable on the VFM scale.

Stars: four from me. The ending spoiled it 😦

Her Fake Romance. Donna Fasano.

Her Fake Romance

 

Her Fake Romance. Donna Fasano.

ARC supplied via Netgalley.
I knew I’d enjoy this book if it was typical of Donna’s work, – she’s one of the authors that write romance that feature people older than teens and early 20’s. Sometimes it seems to me that anyone over twenty five is dead as far as romance writers are concerned, – and its just not so. While I enjoy the uni/college age romances I also want some with older characters, people I can identify with and Donna does that.
Anyway, here we have Julia, who needs a boyfriend so she can show her teenage daughter she does have interests outside work, and Ryan who needs a girlfriend like yesterday – to keep man-eater Cherry from making him husband number four!! He can’t be rude to her as she’s the daughter of one of his oldest friends, and he doesn’t want to upset or offend him. They have a shared interest, neither Ryan nor Julia want anything permanent or real, so they hatch a plan to fake a relationship that will benefit them both.
Seems a good idea doesn’t it – but then as ever the best laid plans etc etc, and slowly they get closer and emotions begin to get involved. I liked Julia, and when her past was revealed I understood why she was so strict with her daughter. She was trying hard to protect her from making the mistakes she herself had made. But of course we can’t live our childrens lives, and everyone has to learn from their own mistakes. At fourteen her daughter was growing up, but Julia just can’t seem to let go of control and its causing tension. Julia had worked hard to get where she was, independent and strong, and was determined not to let a man shake that but Ryan, and That Kiss, the one she quickly instigated when here daughter was watching, changed the game plan, and shook both of them.
Ryan, he seemed a bit of a wimp at first in the way he was terrified of Cherry, but as we got to see more of her I saw he was trapped between the proverbial stick and hard place, and why he needed Julia’s help so badly. He was such a gentleman too – I loved him after a while, when he was truly trying to help Julia with her teen problems. Sometimes that outside view is what parents need even if they don’t recognise it.
There’s a HEA, but some hiccups along the way thankfully, romance without them is just dull IMO. I’d have liked a bit more drama and angst – but that’s just me, I like to be on the edge of tears, * shrug, that’s how I like my romances, high emotions 🙂 * and though the downsides were sad here, it didn’t get me that deep. Priced at £3.08 for 176 pages/289kb its around average for the genre, and is a well written and edited novel. As a voracious reader I prefer ones a bit longer but I know many people like this length, as it fits well into their free time. It’s a standalone one too (hurrah!) so it can be read and enjoyed without that awful cliffhanger ending and wait for the next book. Stand-alones like this are very satisfying, its great to read a well planned and executed romance, and feel at the end “ that was a good read” instead of the emptiness and unease at not knowing when (or if…) the next book will be written. I’ve too many unfinished duo/trilogies where authors seem to have given up on the story, and that’s wasting readers time as well as our money on an unfinished story, so a huge Thank You to authors like Donna who still write completed romances.
Stars: well, I would like a bit more sadness and emotion, then it would have been five, that’s just me though I like extremes, so this is a four star read for me.

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