Archive | January 2014

Three Minutes to Happiness. The Logan Series, Book 2. Sally Clements

 

Three Minutes to Happiness (The Logan Series, Book 2)

Three Minutes to Happiness. The Logan Series, Book 2. Sally Clements

Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.

In the mood for romance I picked up this one. Its a simple story, not riveting, not gripping where you just Have to know what comes next, but a well written and plotted, standard romance. Val is a sweet lady, but with the examples of her failed marriage and her mums serial boyfriend/husband encounters, she’s convinced true love doesn’t exist, and its a waste of effort looking for it. She’s happy – ish- with her quiet life, trying to get by and build a career, and then flatmate Maggie drags her to a speed dating event where she meets Finn. He’s in a similar position, believing true love and all that to be a myth. He’s happy with his friends with benefits encounters, and keeping everything casual, and then cousin Sorcha drags him speed dating as she wants to find someone for herself. When he sees Val, bam…something hits him.

I liked both Finn and Val, they’re characters that feel very real, and the reasons for their lack of belief in love are very sincere, they honestly believe what they feel. Too often motivations and reasons given for people’s behaviours just don’t add up, here they do, we see and understand the reasons they feel as they do, and it adds to that feeling they could be people we know. I want my leads to feel realistic, to feel as if I could know them, and I need to empathise with they way they act and believe.

Initially they have that connection, but they both thinks twice and its not til they meet unexpectedly some weeks later that things heat up again. Though they’ve tried neither has been able to put the other out of their mind. Val isn’t joining the harem though – its only her on not at all. Finn’s so entranced, caught, absorbed by her he does what to him would have been unthinkable previously, and tells the other ladies its over. In doing so he learns something about how people feel, when it doesn’t go quite as he expected. He’s on a learning curve all round, and ready for change but Val is determined to keep things light and fluffy though the sexual tension between them just sizzled off the page, and they couldn’t keep their hands off each other. . The sex scenes were very well done, not overly graphic, or sleazy but very sensual and intimate. Then the family party….and its drama all round. That ought to suit me with my hankering for tears and sadness ,but though it fitted the story line, and other things were going on with Val that slotted in, it didn’t quite give me the deep flavour of sadness I needed. Sort of sad-lite 🙂 and not the “oh god, what’s he/she going to do now??” that I need.

Overall I enjoyed this book, a good solid read, I liked it but I just didn’t love it – its a good read as a one off, but not one for keeping or re reading for me. Still, if a sexy, gentle, romance is what you want this is perfect. Priced at £1.86 for 179 pages is average for the genre.

Stars: three and a half.

ARC supplied by Netgalley

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The Species Within (Battles in the Dark). Kimberley Clark.

The Species Within (Battles in the Dark)

 

The Species Within (Battles in the Dark). Kimberley Clark.
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
So, vampire type paranormals and romance – that’s me hooked 🙂 or so I though..in fact I struggled quite a lot to begin in getting to grips with this book. That’s partly because Kimberley has taken the traditional vampires and werewolves, and extended them into something more. Throw in Kira a human whose not human, or at least has supernatural powers, and I was a bit lost. There were so many types of creature, and each of them against the other and with typically paranormal names, that I got quite confused and needed to keep flipping back to see who was what, and who was their enemy. About 30% in it began to gel and I found I enjoyed the book much more.
I liked the way Kira began so gradually to trust Kuron and Emmerich, despite hating what they were at the start. She slowly starts regarding them as people, disregarding the species part, and focussing on them as individuals. Behind that though is her lifelong distrust, so its naturally a slow process. That worked for me, I find it hard when stories have someone like Kira falling instantly in love with a type of person they’ve always hated. Kira cautions herself all the while, and tells herself its natural surface attraction to a handsome creature – that its not real, and constantly reminding herself what they are.
The way she and Kuron were brought into the expedition too worked well, almost against their will as a lesser of two evil options. I don’t like easy success or quick fix answers, so when there were problems along the way I enjoyed how they lost people – it made it more real ( its a book, I don’t like people really dying !!) It was clear early on that she, Emmerich and Kuron has qualities that would e useful in the battles including the ability to cast spells. The journey feels very real, with snippets of the mundane, like blood-bags for the Vanatre, and the differing needs between her and the others for food, toilets and sleep bringing the story to life. Its the minutiae details like that which make a difference for me very often. They make characters seem more real that just flat, fictional creations.
So – apart from the slow start I enjoyed it until I got to the end and ….argghhh, my real hate, a cliffhanger ending, one of those where you expect to continue when turning the page and…there’s nothing, except a to be continued message. Readers of my reviews will know how much I HATE endings like that. I love series, am happy for the story to continue but need a conclusion to the current storyline. Others don’t bother about this but I feel – especially when there’s a long time between novels – that I lose the thread, the impetus of the story along with the wait. This is a very complex book and I can’t see Kimberley cranking out another in just a few months – maybe – hopefully – the story is already written and just needs polishing before release. I can hope 🙂
Stars: three and a half. Would have been a good four if not for that cliffhanger 😦
ARC supplied by Author

Static. LA Witt

 

Static

Static. LA Witt

Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.

So – I saw this one, fascinating concept I thought, and added to the fact the author is one of my favourites and I had to request it. Shifters – we think of them in terms of human/animal usually, but this time it’s gender shifters, people born with the ability to be either sex at will. Or at least will it as their natures’ desire. Its not a choice issue but a biological one, but as with anything different from the norm others regard it with varying degrees of tolerance. That pretty much sums up modern day humanity doesn’t it – there’s those who take a live and let live approach ( I try to be that), and others who are rigidly convinced everyone must fit some arbitrary idea of Normal. Those extremists are not only fervent and vocal about their ideas, but will stop at nothing to make them fit everyone. No sacrifice is too great – especially when its the other person doing the sacrificing! There’s no such thing as personal choice, only this idea that conformity to their idea is required. So this idea of gender shifting isn’t as off the wall as it seems, and certainly the reactions L.A. writes about are sadly too realistic 😦 Being disabled I’ve experience of how anything other than “norm” gets seen by some sections of the population. “Are you sure you’re OK to be here? I don’t know the policy on allowing wheelchairs in. Please don’t let my granddaughter see you, it might upset her.”….Yep – all those comments are genuine, and have been said to me 😦

Anyway, Alex, home for a visit to her bigoted, anti shifter, church going parents. She is drugged and given an unlicensed implant to force him to stay as male, the son they want. Back home he’s feeling very ill from after effects, and confused. Not only from the drugs, but how on earth is he going to explain this to his boyfriend who’s expecting the female Alex as he’s never been told Alex is a shifter. The reactions they both go through are really well written, made me very tearful in parts. Alex wants Damon to stay but fears he won’t, and doesn’t think it fair to pressure him, and Damon wants to stay and be the “good” guy he feels he should be, but doesn’t think he can face life with a male partner. Incredibly L.A. introduces other characters and events that slowly make Damon look at things again, and show us how to be more open minded ourselves.

As the side effects of the implant are revealed. it becomes clear that removing it is both costly and dangerous. and may not give Alex back his female side. They are both forced into looking at what’s realistic, what can be done v what they’d like to happen, if the risks are worth the benefits, what they need from a relationship and what they are prepared to give up. The reactions of others too, Alex’ sexist boss, his colleagues who treat him like a side show, and then the open and much needed support from colleagues and customers at his bar job, show just how a situation like this gets viewed by different people. I could imagine everything happening in real life, its so well written.

The whole gender shifter trope was new to me, I can’t ever recall seeing books about it before but when one considers how close some males are in a chromosome level to female and vice versa, and its not so far a shift in imagination as the human/animal shifters are that we accept as commonplace in fiction. Its something I found really interesting, the reactions of not only Alex and Damon but others, and comparing them to how I thought people would react in real life. I think L.A. got that response spot on. The way the romance slowly changed too was perfect, where Damon thought about what was really important and what was worth losing or not.

Stars: a fabulous read, well deserved five stars.

ARC supplied by Netgalley

Layers Peeled. Layers Trilogy 2. Lacey Silks

Layers Peeled (Layers Trilogy)

 

Layers Peeled. Layers Trilogy 2. Lacey Silks
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I bought the first book Layers Deep as it was only £1 – its now £1.99, but still worth the price…so knew the story so far when I came to this book. Book one ends in a cliffhanger type scenario, but there’s a sneak at book two so the poor reader isn’t left in limbo. Regular readers of my reviews will know how I HATE the cliffhanger ending so a big thanks to Lacey for at least trying to avoid that horrible negative emotion that comes with them 🙂
Anyway book two – Allie and Tristan are pretty close now, he’s arranged a fabulous surprise for her, so that managed to take away all the horrible feelings she had that moment when he fired her. A surprise that backfired for him, but his greater one is the setting up a new dept for her and her friend Laura to run, rescuing girls abducted as Kendra was. Allie is still feeling a bit jealous of Kendra though. Now she’s recovered she’s stunning and though something seems to be developing with Julian, Tristan’s brother, Allie can’t help wondering if, despite their bad ending, Tristan may still have feelings for her.
There’s lots of surprises in the book, and it bounces from surprise to drama and danger and back again. Allie, she’s a danger magnet it seems and once again she gets caught up in a rescue. The past is coming back to haunt her too with David Wright, the man who raped her mum, back in the picture. Tristan thought he’d kept him away from the family but he’s back – and out to hurt someone.
I really enjoyed both these books, there’s some hot and steamy, sensual love scenes. That Tristan seems like right from the start when he was flirting with Allie before they’d really met, he just can’t keep his hands ( and other parts!) off her. The story flows well, is easy to follow and the action from both the sex scenes and the danger is pretty hot. My only reservation is that it was all a little “light” – the jealousy Allie feels is unplaced, but I’d expected a scene or two which may have planted some suggestions of more – you know, the sort where something is misunderstood, and leads to some angst and grief for a while – I need that sort of thing to balance all the happy. Then there’s the danger – it was real and felt real, but it was over so quickly that it didn’t create quite the “oh no! What’s going to happen now/how will she get out of this/can Tristan rescue her in time?”….. that sort of thing. Instead we got scene set up, Allie in danger and attacked, then Allie in hospital or something, and all within a few pages. I need my sad parts and dangerous plots dragged out a bit more.
Still, overall it was a good read, a nice long length – I love books like that where we can really get to know the people and plots, and together with book one this makes a hot and steamy action packed love story. There’s no cliffhanger either in this one, just a perfect, happy ending. Book three will go on to tell more of the family, fill in the blanks where there was a four month gap in this book, and reveal more of Kendra and the Cross brothers history. That sounds a good read too.
Stars: four.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

Knowing Jack. Rachel Curtis.

Knowing Jack

 

Knowing Jack. Rachel Curtis.

Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
Hmnn….I was hoping this was going to be one of those New Adult romances full of angst and drama. Maybe for some it is but not for me. Jack seemed a nice guy, but as a bodyguard – well, he’s waay out of line with his flirting and further and Chloe, so in love just a couple of months ago with the college professor that led to this situation, and yet – despite her resolve and man-ban she just can’t help reacting to Jack. Its just felt wrong to me, give it time maybe and they’d both have got there, but this was like a sort of insta-luuurve and just felt forced and wrong. Chloe’s ten rules to me were irritating and didn’t add anything – still I see others love them, so as I’m always saying this is just MY view and others will feel differently 🙂
The death threats that led to Jack being with her seemed very tame, there was little happening apart from a couple of texts and some cyber bullying – I expected more. More action, more drama, anything really but it seemed the story just bumbled along. I didn’t dislike it, just didn’t find much I could really engage with. I didn’t dislike Chloe, she seemed quite typical of a late teens character, but she didn’t really have anything I particularly liked about her either. There’s Jack, who chafed against his father but given this was his chance to redeem himself I’d have expected him to be far more professional. There were a few side characters but the strory is mostly told via Jack and Chloe POV.
Then there’s the ending – or for me lack of it. Just when it finally seems to be working That happens, That info comes out, and I’m tapping at my page turn expecting more but… it’s the end. I hate endings like that – I feel cheated. I’m assuming this means more book(s) but don’t know as I can’t find any info. Sadly the whole thing just didn’t work for me.
Stars: two.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

Better Than the Real Thing. Sue Haasler

 

Better Than the Real Thing

Better Than the Real Thing. Sue Haasler

Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.

I was after something different to read, something light but romantic, so chose this. I didn’t notice that humour was one of the descriptions, but soon was laughing from the clever quips and snarky comments in the novel. Its not in your face, spoon feed humour, but the more clever sort, that creeps in almost unnoticed and then has the reader sniggering – and there was lots of it. “I still remember the time you set me up with that clerk from Kent”…“Lewis Lane? He was a super man”. Its stuff like that – the little bridesmaids excitedly shouting at their uncle they were having a slash… “Sash! They’re having a Sash”…. the sister describing her wedding dress choice as “blushing-bride-slash-nude” and Adrian the flatmate’s comment that it sounds like a specialist porn mag…( not that he reads those you understand!!) There’s just so much like that – him indoors kept saying “another funny bit?” as I sniggered my way through the novel.

So, as well as those lovely humorous parts, what about the characters? Well, they were a terrific mix. Lia, slightly cranky, cynical, but trying to stand up to her overbearing sister and mother. We see most of the novel from her viewpoint, and sympathise with her outlook, until every now and then she’s given some advice that makes her look at the same incidents but from a different view. Same situation, but it changes according to how you view it – like life I guess… Jane, her sister, engaged to Paul – definitely a Bridget Jones “Smug Married” couple in the making, hh calls her “pudding” ( yuck! I’d kill him…) and she’s gone really Bridezilla to everyone’s dismay. Adrian – flat mate extrordinaire – he was a great guy, clearly hot from all the females attracted to him, but also really kind, always helping Lia and keeping her on the right track, dispensing advice and hot chocolate along with Matrix reruns. Then the mysterious artist William, the co owner of Lia’s shop Don, and his wife, and the driver Eddie. They all had very big personalities, and played strong parts in the story. I loved Eddie’s flights of fancy into his would be film career, their landlord’s comments about the comings and goings in the flat, Paul’s brother Justin, who was trying hard to get closer to Lia, she wanted to but kept stopping herself. Throw in a quick bit of suspense/who dunnit along with wedding from hell plans, money worries for Don, Lia and Adrian, ( aren’t they always there?) and a fabulous dialogue and you’ve a novel that kept me entertained right to the end. And I saw one bit coming, but not That 🙂 Fabulous, and proved to be just what I was in the mood to read. It’s excellent value at £1.53 for 253 pages.

Stars: four and a half.

ARC supplied by Netgalley

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Dark Spirit. Spirit Wild Series 2. Kate Douglas

Dark Spirit (Spirit Wild)

Dark Spirit. Spirit Wild Series 2. Kate Douglas
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I really enjoyed the first in this series, Dark Wolf, so was excited to see this up for review. Its a continuation of the series,this time focussing on Chanku pack members and lovers Jace and Gabe. They find Romy in the woods escaping from the horrific life she’s had in the religious cult into which she was born. She’s near to death, but they manage to save her, and need to help her keep free from the cult members who are out to find and kill her. She knows nothing about Chanku, and has only just realised she can shift to wolf. The men explain to her how she’s also Chanku, and offer for her to come back to their pack with them, but to accompany them while they finish their annual wild wolf survey first.
Romy learns so much about herself, not least that the Chanku are a very sexual group, and both healing and shifting create a strong sexual urge that’s perfectly natural. They form a close connection with Romy, both sexual and friendly, and Jace feels sure she’s his Mate, though he’s treading slowly as she’s been through so much, and had such a lot of new information thrust at her.
Meeting the two isn’t the end of the danger for Romy, the cult members hate shifters and are determined to kill her, and are tracking her, Jace and Gabe with a view to capturing or killing them all. Even though hunting wolves is forbidden on the land they’re on, that hasn’t stopped them from shooting a wild wolf, and they seem to feel that they are above any law, quoting God as their excuse.
As with book one I really enjoyed this, but with one big, hige, massive stumbling block though. Once again there was some hot and steamy sex scenes both m/f, m/m, and m/f/m so only read if these won’t offend you. Its a good story surrounding the sex scenes too, and I like the way it joins on to the first book, shedding further light on the Chanku and their origins and what they plan to do now humans know about them.
Now for that stumbling block 😦 I get that there are religious cults that abuse women and children, and I’ve no problem with fiction including that – what I did find hard to take was the fact that Romy was so very, very young when her abuse took place. I’m not saying we should ignore things like this, that’s wrong and its up to everyone to stand out against it where they can but – I don’t like extremes of it cropping up in my fiction. I don’t want sanitised, restricted fiction, but there has to be some stop lines and this is one for me. Romy’s age when it started was mentioned again, and again, and again and each time it made me feel very uncomfortable even though its fiction. I’m sure this won’t bother many people, but for me it was a real factor in bringing down the overall enjoyment of an excellent story. If she’d been 12 or so I could have coped – that’s still wrong of course, but I’d have been able to accept it as part of the story more easily. Younger than that just made me feel very uneasy about it’s inclusion in the story. It’s excellent value at £1.86 for 234 pages.
Stars: three and a half. Without that stumbling block I’d have given this four and a half so bear that in mind if you feel differently to me about issues like that.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

Love Songs for the Road. Farrah Taylor

Love Songs for the Road (Entangled Bliss)

 

Love Songs for the Road. Farrah Taylor
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I do like contemporary romance, and especially ones with some kind of added extra – in this case the rock star background. Ryan needs a job, Marcus needs a nanny. I liked Ryan right from the start, when she walks out on Marcus as she feels he’s not taking the interview seriously. (but to me Ryan is a boys name and every now and then I’d think “who’s he?” ) She’s a strong personality, sexy body and loving nature. The kids love her very quickly and Marcus has to keep telling himself “hands off” as he’s embroiled in a custody battle with his ex.
Marcus is a really nice guy for the Rock Star sort – they’re usually played as hard drinking, hard living, uncaring and promiscuous men, but he’s very sweet, loves his kids and doesn’t live up to the image we usually have. It was clear he had a good relationship with his kids, and a couple of good close friends, and apart from the jerkish start, he came across as a really large-hearted man, loving father, responsible to his fans and talented musician. Perfect package 🙂
Love though… sneaks in as it has its way….and the press and media are all eyes on Ryan. That’s not what she wants, and she’s worried that her upcoming university place will be affected adversely by the publicity. As the media do she’s been labelled with some unsavoury names, and lots of things have been taken out of context and turned around to show her in a bad light.
I enjoyed the book, its a sweet easy to read romance. I’d have liked a bit more depth though, more drama etc. All the potential factors were there, the ex, the jealous co star, the whole rock star world, but what we got was a kind of rock star romance lite…fine if that’s what you love, and perfectly well written and an easy way to lose yourself for a few hours. For me though it made the book good, but not great. Its 208 pages for £2.44 so reasonably priced.
Stars: three and a half.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

Hollywood Blackmail. Jackie Ashenden

 

Hollywood Blackmail: A Seacliff Novel (Entangled Indulgence)

Hollywood Blackmail. Jackie Ashenden

Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.

Another Entangled novel, I thought this sounded fun with the “blackmail” element, but it didn’t work as well for me as I hoped. I wasn’t expecting a deep, dark novel, but this was really a bit too light and fluffy for me. I thought the blackmail elements would be stronger than the line it was, darker, more evil, more perversive. It wasn’t really blackmail as I expected, more just heavy persuasion. There was lots of happy and fun, but I also needed a bit more sad to balance it and that was lacking 😦 I love some angst, and just didn’t get it. There was a downside part of the romance, but not that much it felt to me, and not enough to make me feel really sad for Lizzie and Ash.

I liked Lizzie, understood her fears, she’d worked hard to get where she was, and didn’t want to give it up. Ash, he was a Hollywood star but without that awful Star persona that we often see, and having found Lizzie he wasn’t letting her go….but was there a mid point where they could meet? Well, the story finds their fears, their good and bad points and makes the reader wonder “what would I do faced with that situation” Me? I really don’t know – I’m an unashamed romantic, but we’ve seen so many people parted by the stress fame brings, so I could understand both points of view.

Stars: three and a half, a fun read, but not really one that grabbed me and made me want to keep reading.

ARC supplied by Netgalley

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