Archive | April 2014

A Betty’s Pledge – Volume One. Emma Husher

A Betty's Pledge, Volume One (A Betty's Pledge)

 

A Betty’s Pledge – Volume One. Emma Husher
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I like well written erotica, the sort that has a story behind it that appeals to me. As this novel isn’t released at time of writing I couldn’t read sample, but looked at description and decided to give it a try.
I’ve mixed feeling about the novel, though the description is apt I found it difficult to quite get my head around the purpose of the group, and just what Bettys and Consorts (the men) get out of it….Hot sex of course, but surely there was more motivation that that? I seemed to get a feeling that the participants were hoping for a full time parter, certainly some of the Alumni and mentors had found theirs that way, and yet that part seemed to be kept quiet, maybe as most of them were so wealthy they needed to protect themselves? I don’t really know and didn’t really find an answer.
Anyway Mady, I liked her, a nice mix of sexy without arrogance, and sensuality without being pushy about it. Her moments of confidence crisis too felt very real, and fitted with what we knew of her personality. I liked the other girls too – and the much needed bitch duo among the Bettys. Every good romance needs some nasties, some bitch personas to keep things interesting.
Then there’s Isaac…he seemed a mix to me of someone on one hand wanting what he saw others have, a partner to trust, rely on, and be close with, and yet on the other his brashness would come out when he’d act in a way that may him seem arrogant, cold and unfeeling, only interested in sex, not the person in the body.
Though I felt the book was slow starting, once it got going it was hot…with some erotic sensual scenes, including f/f and m/f/f and some minor BDSM so it that doesn’t suit take heed. I felt it fitted the story line really well, and worked to show what was happening. I wanted Mady and Isaac to be together, ( I’m a sap at heart!) but their relationship seemed to be one step forward and then two back… and then that ending! Arghh – I hate, hate, hate cliffhangers, and add to that the next book isn’t due til next year. If this were one complete book it would be a five star read from me, but I know I’ll have read several hundred others by time part two is out, and I’ll need to re read ( which is fine, but it means the time I’ve just spent reading is really wasted ) to get back properly into the story. I haven’t at time of writing got price or length info. From time it took to read I’d guess 120 – 150 pages on kindle.
Stars: four. As I said if it was a complete book I’d probably have gone for a five but….cliffhanger + long wait bring it down.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

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Eat Raw, Not Cooked. Stacy Stowers

Eat Raw, Not Cooked

 

Eat Raw, Not Cooked. Stacy Stowers
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
I’ve an extensive collection of cookery books, from some very old ones found in second-hand shops, to more recent ones based around different foods or chefs. At age nine my youngest child decided she would no longer eat anything that had to be killed for food, so the collection added much more vegetable and fruit based ones. She’s now early thirties BTW and still doesn’t eat anything that has to be killed. There’s a huge market now compared to the 80’s in vegetarian food, but looking at some of the ingredients I can see why they’re anything but healthy! So this book intrigued me – I always thing we – and I’m guilty too – don’t make enough of our vegetables, and though I love fruit raw the thought of raw veg, apart from traditional salads has me head shaking and thinking “what can I do with this to make it appetising???”
Well,this book was a real eye opener for me. There are some amazing photos, and when I read the recipes I would never have connected the ingredients to what I was seeing. I love the way Stacy has taken the ready fast foods everyone loves, and produced something that looks very similar but is far, far healthier. Presumably it tastes good too, from what I’d read. At first I thought I was just going to get a book of salads and more salads as that’s all I could thing of, but here we’ve a complete menu from starters and tasters, to Stacy’s version of pasta, chinese and thai traditionals, tortillas – even the ubiquitous Burger makes an appearance…and the desserts…. wonderful creations and the most mouthwatering chocolate delights.
Though there are few “gadgets” needed, Stacy does give her essential kitchen preparation implements, and for those who don’t have the all singing, all dancing, but very expensive blender, she recommends soaking certain foods beforehand – nuts mainly – so they are easier to blend. I was interested too in how to stop nuts becoming a nut butter or paste when you want them to become flour…If you want more than just a raw food as occasional meal it’s essential I think, from what I read, to buy a dehydrator. In the UK these tend to be a specialist thing – I don’t know if they’re more common in US? I guess maybe its another example of a “divided by a common language” thing. Again, same as for foods, a quick google search has shown me they’re easily available online. Many of the foods mentioned – chia seeds, and green papaya for example – are not commonly seen here in rural UK. Maybe in cities where there are lots of smaller specialist/ethnic food shops, but again the internet means its easy to get most things, or find an adequate substitute.
I’m glad Stacy won the battle to include soups in her Raw food book, like her I think a diet without something warming on a cold winters day would be sad…soups are a compromise and a great way of ensuring nothing is wasted too. That appeals to the side of me that hates food waste 🙂
I think this book is great for those of us who are thinking post Christmas about a more healthy diet, and the recipes are in the main very quick and simple. There’s some I’m determined to try out, and if the cash comes along and isn’t earmarked for something else, I’d love to but a dehydrator as I can see that it makes a more inclusive raw food diet easier to incorporate and so much more varied and interesting. I’m a yoghurt addict and Stacy points out how unhealthy many of the ingredients are in commercial versions, and her substitute looks so easy I’ll certainly try that out. There aren’t long lists of difficult to find ingredients, but mostly based around food that can be found locally, with a few more specialist things that can be ordered from the internet. I think by starting with the easily sourced ingredients and adding a few extras to our normal diet, it would be a small step to take things further and get more involved in a Raw diet. Certainly less of a shock to the average stomach! One of the great things in our hard pressed for time society is that many of these recipes can be partly prepared earlier and as they don’t need lots of cooking they’re incredibly quick to assemble.
Once again I think much as I love my kindle, this is a book that is best as a traditional print version. Until I’d read a few non fiction books I hadn’t thought about this, but its clear that for me fiction is best in ebook, but other books, reference ones, gardening and recipes etc, work best a print versions. Its easier to flick though and find what you want, and you do need colour to appreciate best these amazing, mouth watering illustrations.
Stars: five. One of those books where there really is something for everyone as far as food goes and one where anyone interested in food can learn so much.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

Undying Desire, Jessica Lee.

Undying Desire (A Novel of the Enclave) (Entangled Edge)

 

Undying Desire, Jessica Lee.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews.
This is the third book in Jessica’s Enclave series. I’ve read and enjoyed all three. Each is a standalone story, but builds upon events from previous books, so though you could read this without earlier ones you’ll get best enjoyment from reading the whole series.
As with the earlier books the vampires are hot; built, attractive, and sensual. There’s sex. Lots of it – very erotic scenes, including BDSM and anal. So take note if that’s not your scene, it fits well within the storyline though and for a change there’s a couple of Dommes and a male submissive!
Marcus, the Enclave warrior who was seduced and won over to the side of the evil Marguerite, was recaptured by the team in the last battle when she was killed at last. He’s still mixed up, refusing to eat and kept imprisoned in the basement. He told his former partner Arran that Kenric had a daughter by Marguerite. Something he knew nothing about, and she’s now 300 years old. Arran shares this with Second Guerino, and they decide if she’s as evil as her mother, and with word out that she wants to kill Kenric and the Enclave that looks likely, she’s a threat and that Kenric will feel he has to kill her, something no father should have to do. They decide Guerino will seek her out and see what needs to happen.
Its the same blend of story, danger and sensuality that characterises the others in this series. Its a fun read, and realistic within the realms of fantasy – I hate it when authors pull new talents out just at the danger point, I like to know what the characters can do and that the danger is real, not that it will be overcome by some new and unheard of wonder skill. Guerino was a great lead, as with all the enclave warriors he’s hot and sexy, but very moral and out to protect those who need it. He sees Eve as needing that protection and though there’s a sizzling attraction that they both let happen, she’s not so sure of the long term with him. Years, centuries of hatred of Kenric and his Enclave can’t be undone just on someone’s word. No matter how sexy he is.
Stars: Four, an erotic and compelling read.
ARX supplied via Netgalley

 

Trinity Stones, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles, L.G. O’Connor

Trinity Stones: The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles

 

Trinity Stones. The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles. L.G. O’Connor
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
So, always up for a challenge and in the mood for something different, I began this one. To be honest I restarted it several times, its such a complex novel, with so many different types of character that I just couldn’t work out who was who, and how they fitted in the plot. That’s something that I struggled with for some of them right to the end, but as this is clearly a beginning to a series then I understand the problems L.G. had of trying to set the background to a completely different type of paranormal, and also make this story interesting. I guess that’s always a problem if you want to write ( and read) more complex novels that the usual gentle, paranormal romance. And I’m all for something a bit extra, something that makes me think, uses my brain rather then just letting the words flow into my head almost effortlessly. There’s a place for both for serious readers, and I enjoyed the puzzle this book posed once I’d got past the initial barriers.
The characters and settings – great characterisations, they all felt very real but I did think the whole glossing over to friends story about what had happened was just a little too simplified. I can’t imagine my best friends just accepting the story given 🙂 but that’s fiction….The settings though – that’s where I struggled a lot. First I got to grips with Cara’s work problems – then they were over – then there’s the move to an impossibly wonderful apartment, the dangers she faced and solutions were real but in a way clichéd – someone in the group has a wonderful power to overcome that danger…OK I get they’re thousands of years old, but though I like to know what powers they have ahead of problems, I feel a bit cheated when first I learn is in the middle of what should be an impossible battle. Kai, that person bothered me – it seemed almost as if he was tweaking Cara to keep the dream of him just for his ego, and yet when we met him it didn’t seem like that – complicated situation. The friction between Sienna and Michael felt a bit forced, I didn’t really understand their problems with each other and each time they clashed it just felt unreal.
So, parts I liked, parts I loved, but there’s still so much I didn’t understand fully even at the end. Maybe with further novels that will become clearer, but I really struggled here when I just couldn’t work out who was doing what, and why. I need to know as much as I can, I like to work out alongside the story what’s going on, and what may happen, but I felt I was working partly blind. There were occurrences and conversations looking back that I now think were possibly major reveals, and yet I glossed over them trying to work out other things. I think its one of those books that will open up far more on second and subsequent readings, for those that want to do that. I just wasn’t engaged enough with the characters to do so 😦 Its a good long length which is needed as its so complex.
Stars: three, a read that was really well written, but just didn’t quite hook me in and absorb me fully.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

Don’t Let Go, Sharla Lovelace

Don't Let Go

 

Don’t Let Go, Sharla Lovelace
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I’ve not read any of Sharla’s work before so didn’t know what to expect. I thought I’d be getting a gentle contemporary romance and I was hooked by the idea of older characters – its good to see that romance for anyone over 30 is still considered realistic, sometimes I think its assumed we’re all dead from the neck down!!
Anyway- expectation= gentle romance, actual experience = book I was blown away by! Its easily one of the best I’ve read in while. Its full of characters that act as real people, make mistakes, have everyday problems, and they resonated with me. I had a difficult relationship with my daughter when she was a teen ( great now she’s older and so am I) so Jules and Becca had my sympathy. Like them the faults and problems I had were on both sides, but sometimes when you’re entrenched in them you just can’t see what you are doing wrong. Then the baby scenario – oh poor, poor Jules, parental pressure is difficult at that age. Been there, done that, different result but I understand how hard it is to try to stand up for yourself when you’re used to parents that control every part of your life. I was grounded, and day after day after day came the pressure to do what they wanted, not to let anyone know I was pregnant, etc…So I empathised with Jules so much. Luckily she had some good friends and her gran for support. Then there’s Noah, I understood his side more as the story unfolded, there were even more secrets than the ones that opened the book. He was just as lost as Jules, and thought he thought he was over her, but once he saw her again that sizzle between them was sooo intense. But he has a fiancée with him, though that didn’t stop the glances and stares when each thought the other wasn’t looking. There was so much sexual tension between them it was burning up.. I loved Noah and was rooting for him and Jules right from the start but…his fiancée was such a lovely lady and that made it tough. Luckily Sharla has a good answer…
Poor Jules, it seemed just as she was getting over one disaster something else would come out, problems with the shop, her daughter, her ex-husband, Noah’s dad, who has the shop next to hers and hates her, and problems with the time of year which brought a special kind of sadness to her. I was on a roller coaster of emotions with her, kept getting tears in my eyes, then that would pass, then something else emotional would happen. It wasn’t all angst though, once all the secrets were revealed there was a fantastic happiness for all of them, a bonus she never expected that lifted some of the years she’d been grieving. It all came together in a fabulous, plot filled, and fantastic finale. I spent the whole time gripped to the page, wondering just what else could come out. Just when I thought noting worse could happen something did. But I got my HEA, and that made it all worthwhile. A fabulous book and definitely once for the keeper files. Its priced at £2.41 for 301 packed with emotion pages.
Stars: a cracker, stand alone and worth every one of the five stars!
ARC supplied via Netgalley

Catch My Breath: Lynn Montagano

Catch My Breath: HarperImpulse Contemporary Romance

 

Catch My Breath: Lynn Montagano
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Well..WOW! Lynn’s début novel is certainly a cracker. I really got pulled into the story, angry at Alistair so much that sometimes I was wanting Lia to SCREAM at him “Stop being a jerk!!” He was so loving one moment then- off like a light switch, cold, blank-faced and unfeeling. Poor Lia, she deserved better…Of course as time goes on we see there’s more to him that that, he’s got some demons from his past that make him behave this way, but Lia too has her share of problems, yet tries hard not to let them impact upon their relationship – she doesn’t always succeed but at least she shares with him. When he has problems he just shuts her out, and that she can’t deal with. Rightly so, a relationship is a two person process, it can’t function if just one is taking part.
I’m sure this book is going to get comments that it’s very reminiscent of FsoG. It’s inevitable there’s overlap in some books, there’s only so many ways one can write a romance, and only so many excuses for bad behaviours. I feel though that yes I did get a fifty feeling, but that Lynn has put her own stamp on the story, swung it round and made it her own book, and given a new slant to parts. There’s a myriad of novels following that hero/heroine with a tortured past theme, and some are good some not so, this one for me works well.
I was so angry at Alistair part of the time and yet felt for him too. I loved Lia, loved her independence, and that she wasn’t a simpering vapid heroine, but a strong lady who’d worked and struggled to overcome and get out of a relationship where she was under severe stress. That takes guts especially when the man is as powerful as her ex. I have to feel I like the main characters, that I can laugh and cry with them, and these two were perfect for me.
It ends with a HEA – but I just feel that there’s enough problems encountered that aren’t really solved, just solved for now, and that there’s potential for more from Lia and Alistair – that they will continue to have problems, that the exes on both sides won’t give up that easily, and that both of them still have work to do before they can be totally happy together. I feel they’ve really got a happy for now, and that another book about them would make me feel more confident about them having a happy ever after 🙂 Some books get strung out when they could be a stand alone, this one is the reverse, it’s a good standalone but I feel it could still deliver more. Hope so anyway, and I’ve asked Lynn if there’s more planned. I’ll edit my review when I have a response if there is more to come from these two….
Its priced at £2.48 for 260 pages.
Stars: loved it – four and a half. I’d have gone five except I feel they need a bit more work before they get a solid HEA.
ARC received via Netgalley
Edit: I contacted Lynn over whether there was more to come and there is – hurrah! Not long to wait either!! This is her reply:- “This is the first book in a trilogy, so there is more to their story. The second one is called Unravel Me and is due for release this July =)”

 

Before We Fall. The Beautifully Broken Series: Book 3. Courtney Cole

Before We Fall (Beautifully Broken)

 

Before We Fall. The Beautifully Broken Series: Book 3. Courtney Cole

Review from Jeannie Zelos Book Reviews.
I loved the first in this series If You Stay but hadn’t read the second book, then I saw this one and knowing I love Courtney’s writing style I requested it. What I didn’t realise is that though each book is a standalone complete romance, they are linked in that the characters are related or friends, and they crossover in the different books. So having loved this one I really need to read book two – its a series that will definitely join my keepers file for re reading.
I’m a great fan of contemporary romance but it needs to have that something extra, something that lifts it from a bog standard girl meets boys – they live HEA. The same way that some food is described as having Umami – that indefinable extra flavour that lifts food far above average tasting. Courtney’s writing does that – she writes a romance thats different, peopled with great characters that have flaws, big problems that affect their emotions and stop them finding happiness. People that we meet everyday, real people. They get by in life rather than living and enjoying it, and then the hero/heroine comes along, the one person that can see beyond the surly, difficult outer shell to the person insde. She writes the tension between them initially so well too – I could feel Dominics pain, his avoidance of anything that could touch his raw emotions, and as for Jacey – she seemed an insecure, slightly brittle person initially, and yet she had the strength she and Dominic needed to sort through the problems surrounding both their pasts, and to move forward to a happy future.
Thats the thing about romance novels – we know the characters will get there, its the journey they take that makes or breaks the book. Courney makes that journey a surprise, we don’t know what’s going to be revealed or how the characters will react. What I do know having read her work is whatever form it takes it will be a book I’ll enjoy. I need high emotions, tantalising sensuality in any sex scenes, and a plot thats unpredictable. Courtney gives all of those and more, to produce a novel thats perfect for readers of contemporary romance who want something more than a standard sweet HEA book.
Its priced at £4.49/$7.15 and though I don’t have length info the previous two were 352 and 384 pages and this feels a similar length. I love the way longer novels allow characters to be really fleshed out so we understand more about their actions and motivations.
Stars: loved it – five 🙂

ARC supplied via Netgalley

Rocked, Lost in Oblivion Series book one, Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott.

Rocked (Lost in Oblivion)

 

Rocked, Lost in Oblivion Series book one, Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book review.

I loved the prequel to this series, Seduced, and though this book can be read as a standalone I think readers will understand the band dynamics better if they’ve first read Seduced. It explains so much about how they started and the problems they faced.
Anyway – Its Deak, Deacon, in this book who’s main character. He’s always the steady man of the band, the sensible one who checks contracts, liaises with promoters, finds them places to play. At the start of this book they’ve just been signed up for a tour, as the opening band for another group, and the promoters have given them a manager Gordo, who takes over all the things Deacon used to do. He’s still the peacemaker in the band though, the glue that holds them together and Mr Dependable. He’s feeling frustrated at losing his mediator role to Gordo and using punishing workouts to get rid of his excess energy. At 6ft 5on the extra muscles he’s gained make him one Big Boy. He doesn’t really get into the girls/groupie thing as the others do, but when he sees Harper, new chef with Food Riot he’s entranced. She’s a hold on his psyche right from the start, but she’s aloof, polite but distant. Brought up on the road since she was 12 with her roadie parents she’s seen and done the musician scene, and is now concentrating on her career. Deacon eventually wears her down though, and they embark on a sensual, heady, torrid romance. The tour is for six weeks though, and she’s so determined that will be the end for them, as she could be working anywhere at the drop of a hat. Deacon though feels she’s his Forever person, and tries to get her to see they could be so much more than just a fling, but with two opposing careers, meaning time on the road in different places it’s a tough job.
Its a fabulous read, I felt I was there on the road with the band, twittering, scavenger hunting, watching the gigs, and it was so real to me. I loved that we saw the niggles, the little bits as well as the overall picture. That we really got to know the band members, warts and all. When things began to go wrong – wow I was shocked! How could that happen…but it made for a great drama in the book, and all good romances need drama and hiccups to be interesting, not just happy, happy, happy.
Its a terrific realistic read, and long – hurrah! Its priced at just 99p for a massive 474 pages, well worth a punt. I look forward to more from the band.
Stars: Five, has to be 🙂
ARC supplied by Netgalley.

Kissing Drake, Butterfly Girls, Jenna Dales

 

Kissing Drake, Butterfly Girls, Jenna Dales
Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews.
New to me author = I’m never quite sure how I’m going to gel with the writing style. This was fun though, easy to read, well set out and with real feeling people in it. Its mainly focussed around Drake and Paige, though there are nods to other island inhabitants in the story. Paige sees Drake, knows he’s here for just a short while, and decides that as he’s looking at her like he wants her, a one night fling will be perfect. Give BOB a rest… She doesn’t get opportunity often with there being so few people living on the island so its Carpe Diem!
They have some shuffling about before they both take the plunge, Drake is surprised by her forwardness. “I’m a sure thing” she tells him at one point 🙂 Then there’s fireworks, star-bursts and lots of hot, heavy erotic sex. That Drake may be staid on the outside but in bed he’s something else 🙂 In between bouts of sex they talk, though he’s very closed about why he’s there, and they both start to look at the lives they lead. Is staying on the island the rest of her life what Paige really wants? She’s always thought so, lost her fiancé as she wouldn’t move, but talking to Drake she wonders if maybe its just that she’s settled, reading books about other people travelling, having adventures, finding romance, as a substitute for what she really wants to do but daren’t take the plunge. She loves the island but maybe she could spread her wings a bit too. Then there’s Drake, dragged himself up from very poor childhood to rich businessman, but on the way has he lost sight of what life means? Talking to Paige about his travels he realises that although he’s been to many paradise places, all he’s seen of them is the inside of a hotel room…They both need to do some inner searching. Things conspire to force Drake to stay longer on the island, and the purpose of his visit comes out. From then on its Islanders against Drake, and just when he and Paige were finding out how good they were together. Can they get past that when they are so diametrically opposed.
Its a shortish read at just 123 ( goodreads info) pages but its well put together and is a fun way to lose some time on a paradise island.
Stars: Four, enjoyable read but not one I’d re read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley

Liam: Branded Brothers, Raen Smith

 

Liam: Branded Brothers, Raen Smith
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
An author new to me plus the first book in a new series = fun 🙂 This is a romantic suspense, and certainly has some sensual, steamy heat in it. I love that first sizzle of attraction, and when Liam said “ Charla, I’m going to kiss you now” I melted….He’s such a conundrum, he’s tattooed, a big, well built man, Bounty Hunter, ex Services and owns a bar – sounds like a real toughie and yet when it comes to Charla he’s so gentle, so careful and protective of her. They made a perfect match.
Poor Charla, used and abused by her ex, brought up by an alcoholic mum, with a series of weird boyfriends she’s learned that the only person she can rely on is herself. She’s slow to trust and yet something about Liam draws her in. She’s charged with giving him a letter after the patient she’s been living with dies. And it brings along some big changes, some adventure and mysteries and some very real dangers to her and Liam.
There’s so much comes out once that letter opens, and its hard to review without giving too much away. Lets stick at telling that the letter says Liam has brothers, and once he and Charla get to tracking them down more secrets get revealed, leading to more danger for them all. I’m expecting the next books will be about the other brothers? – I hope so, and I hope we get to see more of Charla and Liam.
Its a great mix of mystery and suspense, wrapped up in a couple that find romance and have some sexy and sensual encounters! It’s priced at £2.45 for 196 pages.
Stars: Four. I enjoyed this, and found the suspense/romance mix was just right for me.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

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