Archive | January 2015

The Fine Art of Deception; Undoing Time, Alyssa Richards

The Fine Art of Deception; Undoing Time, Alyssa Richards
Genre: Romance, paranormal
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Seems as though this is Alyssa’s debut book – and what a fantastic start. I love romance that has something extra, and though the genre selection didn’t suggest anything other than straight romance, it’s far more IMO, a beautiful romance with elements of paranormal and suspense.
Adeline comes from a family with extra talents, her sister can mentally “push” people to do what she wants, and Adeline has an ability to see the history from touching an object, and find out more about the people connected with it. Its not a gift that’s brought her family happiness though, her father and grandfather disappeared mysteriously, and when she told her best friend about it she lost both the friendship of her and others, her job, and then her boyfriend ditched her for the best friend too. She’s decided that she’s going to ignore her gift, and look for something normal, a straightforward job, and try to live as everyone else does. Its hard though, some touches happen by accident, and sometimes she just can’t resist a dip into the history of something. She’s learned so much about artists and art that way, being able to tell real from fake when they reveal their stories to her touch. Of course she can’t tell anyone other than family about it but its been both a joy and sometimes traumatic to her.
I love the idea that things can keep essences of people connected to them. I love old buildings and artefacts, and like to think about people connected with them – to have Addie’s gift would be wonderful – but then seeing what you don’t want, or actually being partially pulled into past could be not so good…. still, I’m open minded about things like that, and don’t find it hard to believe that this could happen to some people ( or maybe I’m just naive and gullible !!) Anyway I loved Addie, felt for her when the job she enjoys turns out to bring her into real danger. Then there’s Blake and what a guy he is. The connection between them sizzles, steams and feels intense, but of course Addie knows he’s hiding things, not least because she suspects he has abilities similar to her sister, and the things of his she touches are blank. That just doesn’t happen, has been done deliberately to hide things….so she tries to avoid him but he keeps on asking, and somehow she finds herself wrapped up in a relationship with him. There’s some real heartbreak though when her “touches” show her things she doesn’t want to see, and after her last disaster of a romance she’s wary…
I really enjoyed this read, full of sensuality, beautiful settings and stories, and people that felt real. When the dangers heated up they felt genuine, and like Addie I wasn’t sure who was to be trusted and what was the truth. Its a great novel, one I really enjoyed and I’d happily read anything Alyssa writes next.
Stars: Five, a great read.
ARC provided by netgalley and publisher

Going Long Cari Quinn

Going Long Cari Quinn
Genre: Romance
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Cari and two other authors have written The Boys of Fall series. I’ve read and enjoyed many of Cari’s novels, but not read the other two books in this series but that doesn’t matter as each are standalone though connected via places and characters.
Wade and Charli are the main characters here. Best friends at school, each wanted the other but was too afraid of spoiling what they had. Then Charli marries his brother, Colt, and Wade took off. Now he’s a musical success and she’s divorced. Coach Carr, his boyhood hero and mentor, is ill and Wade has an excuse to come home after all those years. He decides he wants to see if Charli still has feelings for him. The answer is yes, Coach tells him to go for it, life is too short to have regrets, but Charli still wants steadiness, and Wade’s music means she thinks he’ll be away too much, so all they can have is a short term fling. Wade needs to persuade her they can have more.
Wade – he’s a lovely, sexy man. He’s grown up and isn’t afraid to fight for what he wants, and yet in some ways he’s still that boy who always feels under the shadow of his perfect older brother. It means he reads between the lines too much and gets it wrong! That’s what happened when he left, when he didn’t make it clear to Charli how he felt, and circumstances meant she ended up with his brother, and it looks set to repeat itself unless someone steps in. He’s sex on legs, gets Charli in some very hot and erotic situations ( Coach Carr’s kitchen, the drive in movie, the car etc! Really Wade!!) and yet he still can’t really believe she wants him it seems to me.
Charli, she’s a real homebody in that she loves the town and the people, and wants to make her home there always, and has too many ties to just pull up and follow Wade. She’s scared too that if she does that, what happens to her if he changes his mind. Her mum always said security is very important, and that seems to be her mantra. She seems to see them as two people who are going in opposite directions, but she’s along with Wade for the quick and hot sexy relationship they have, however brief it is.
Its a lovely story, and it was great to see Gray and Jazz from Cari’s other books here in cameo roles. Its not a heart stopping, drama filled romance, and a less out and out edge of seat read than the rock star ones IMO, more a traditional type and a fun, sensual and solid romance to enjoy.
Stars: Four, sexy HEA romance.
ARC provided by author.

Afterimage, Book 2 of The Image Series, Jaye Roycraft

Afterimage, Book 2 of The Image Series, Jaye Roycraft
Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy.
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I’ve not read book one, but again as with several recently  its a series where characters or setting are connected, and each book stands complete.
I was attracted to this book because I love vampires fiction, and  I do like those romances where the protagonists start off disliking each other – in this case they Hate each other. Alek thinks Marya is an Aberration, something that all vampires hate and think should be killed. Marya, because of her personal history and the constraints the vampires have put on her personal live the last twelve years, thinks all vampires are evil and need to die. Strong stuff eh? It starts off well, and I always love that progression from hate to love, like to see just how and when things begin to turn, but somehow here though it made that change from hate to love, there wasn’t really (IMO) a turning point or reason for it, and sadly I wasn’t convinced of the relationship or connection between them. That of course affected my whole view of the romance and it just didn’t feel convincing for me.
The plot is decent, trying to track down who wants Alek killed, and why, and of course he’s no idea who he can really trust. There’s some interesting moments, and some drama when they’re captured and need to use their wits to get free. I didn’t guess who was behind the move to kill Alek, and much of the political machinations made it feel that it could be any one of a number of people. Had a good ending though – I need a HEA to a romance, but overall thought the book was good its purely a one off read for me.
Stars: Three, a good read but for me not a keeper.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.

Hell’s Warrior, Book 2 of The Hell Series, Jaye Roycraft

Hell’s Warrior, Book 2 of The Hell Series, Jaye Roycraft
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy

Like the first book this isn’t really romance as I’d class it. We do meet Cade’s past love, and see show they got together but that’s about it. I kind of expected more, but after the first book suspected I wasn’t going to get it. Still, it was a good read and one I enjoyed.

Once again the story is told in alternating past and present format, with Cade’s early days as a vampire being seen. We can relate to how he acts now when we see some of those early battles and the problems he had. There’s a brief part where Vall from the last book comes in, where we see how he and Cade split over the Hell events.
Cade’s accused of murder now, he knows he can’t let things stand, or go through the normal channels as he’s clearly been set up in a very accomplished way. It leads to him and his second, Thor, being on the run, staying at various safe houses set up for just this eventuality. Cade hasn’t got to this great age without planning for as much as possible. Red, a blood whore, gets caught up in it all too and has to come along. Things get heated, there are assassination attempts, more human murders, political ploys and vampire True deaths, and Cade seems to be enemy number one from all sides – how on earth can he find his way out of this? Who can he trust, and who’s out to get him? Help comes from an unexpected source, though even then he’s unsure of how much he can trust it.
I like Cade, he seems to want to protect his people, though he’s not been always proactive about it in the past. He’s not a “love story” type vampire, but one who’s pragmatic and kills when its needed. I couldn’t guess who was behind all the moves, tried to work it out but failed miserably! I enjoyed the snippets into his past too where we saw how he’d developed into his current form. Overall it was a fun read but not one I’d reread.
Stars: Four, enjoyable suspense mystery to puzzle out.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Bring Me Back (The Evans Trilogy 3) Jennifer Collin

Bring Me Back (The Evans Trilogy 3)  Jennifer Collin
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance.
I hadn’t read the first book in this trilogy, but its one of those where each story is complete and the stories are connected by characters only. I loved the second one Open My Eyes, and recall vaguely Andy and Annie from there.

Annie’s steampunk style of dress – I love it. she’s a great friend to all of Andy’s family, with his sister Emily being her best friend. She is almost part of the family – they regard her as such, but she’s had such a lack of love since her mum died that she doesn’t seem to feel she deserves anything good, and holds part of herself back all the while. This shows up in her boyfriend stance, casual only, nothing permanent or serious. She’s always felt guilty as Andy disappeared while she was watching over him, he’d been beaten up by his drug dealer, and after they’d all been out for the night and found him everyone else was busy, so she was watching over him and fell asleep. So she’s searched out constantly since then, feeling so guilty. Now she’s in Oamaru for the weekend for her work, and she spots him and doesn’t let go!
Andy – he was in a bad place when he left, an addicted rock star, he’d been in rehab unsuccessfully, caused much worry to his family and owed his dealer a substantial sum, hence the beating. He knows that this time he needs to get away from everything and everyone if he’s to pick up his life, and does a complete disappearance. Since then – six years on – he’s had lots of cash jobs under an assumed name, and its only by co-incidence that he’s in Oamaru at the same time as Annie. He always liked her, though showed it by snark and snippiness, thanks to his jerky junkie personality,  Annie was attracted to him but due to her foibles and past never let it show. There’s something they’ve both done that’s really sweet when its revealed, and shows just how much they cared.

Annie is a lovely person, very one off original and I’d love to be her. Andy in his reformed personality was fabulous, he was ready to come back, and probably would have been before, but wanted to keep his family safe. We see behind the man he was. I love his family – the closeness of them, loved seeing how Emily and Ben have progressed since the last book, and was pulled into the story. Loved too how Annie came out on top at the end over her awful uncle and his wife, who’d done so many horrible things to her.
It’s a lovely romance, with a bit of a suspense and mystery attached, and I enjoyed it though I didn’t love it as much as Open my Eyes. Still a good read though if you like a real romance that’s full of story and not simply sex on every other page…

Stars: Four . a solid romance read with plenty of story.
ARC supplied by Author

Too Hot to Handle, The Boys of Summer, Katie Rose.

Too Hot to Handle: A Boys of Summer Novel (The Boys of Summer)


Too Hot to Handle, The Boys of Summer, Katie Rose.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Despite not being a sports lover I’ve read some fun baseball reads, although it’s not a common sport here in the UK. This novel was fun but I couldn’t really relate well to either lead character, and I need to do that to really get into the story.
Nikki was the new PR rep for the Sonics, a baseball team suffering from image problems. I did feel for her attempts at first when the team were so anti whatever she suggested, and not working with her. You’d think they’d want to improve their chances of success, but they were still just acting like juvenile schoolboys, being horribly negative and treating her like a spoilsport parent.  She was good at her job and I liked her approach, especially the barbers in bikinis! Despite some of her approaches having a positive response though the team as a whole were still working against her, and I think if I was here I’d have said to them “ do you want to succeed or not?”, and make them see how badly they were harming their careers. Jake was one of their star players and the team tended to follow his lead. He was attracted to Nikki, but she was a more serious type and he’s the total opposite, the fun loving playboy type, different girl every time, and with his own set of groupies who follow him around hoping for a night with him. Nikki is attracted to him, but doesn’t want to get involved with a man who she knows will drop her soon as someone better comes along.
Jake works on her though and slowly wears her down. I loved the heat when they were together, that was very realistic feeling and showed a different side to Jake than the public one everyone knew, and when it all went wrong I was saddened for her and for him. He needed to think about what he really wanted and the advice his caoch gave was spot on. It’s too easy to lose sight of what’s really important, to miss that chance and never get another. Poor Nikki though, after hearing that she must have felt awful, humiliated, devastated and be lost as to what to do next. I do like a scene like that, especially when it’s drawn out the way it was here, not quickly over as so often happens. For example page xx2 the breakup – page xx4 they’re together again – that happens too often and the drama loses impact, but treated as it is here its reaches full potential, and that part of the book worked well for me.
Overall though I didn’t really get to feel “into” the story, to really feel part of it and not just an onlooker. I could see the  attraction starting, but didn’t feel it was inevitable, that Nikki just couldn’t stand out and they seemed to get together so quickly considering her stance on not getting involved. I thought he’d need to work harder.
Stars: Three – it was a good story, well written but just didn’t make a solid connection for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Playing Dirty, Kelly Jamieson

Playing Dirty (Windy City Kink)

Playing Dirty, Kelly Jamieson
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance
This is book three in the series, and I found it was fine that I hadn’t read the earlier ones, though of course as they are each complete books but connected I’d have understood the connections better if I had…
I loved Paige right from the start, she pulled herself up out of an abusive relationship and put her all into starting her business and being independent. That’s tough, its easy to just wallow, sit back and worry and feel sad – doing what Paige has done takes courage, its a risk opening a new business but she wanted a complete change even down to the city she lived in.
Its all going well, and then looking over new premises to expand into she meets Raff. He’s a lovely man, a real gentleman and yet he’s pushy, like a steamroller. I really liked him but… that cut off speech so often found in romance books sounds wrong to me, you know when they speak in part sentences, saying “want you/need you Babe” and missing out the “I”. I hate Babe/Baby too…personal thing though I can just about deal with Babe without rolling my eyes!!  Anyway, back on track -he goes all out to get what he wants, and what he wants is Paige. Her ex was like that though – been there done that, and she’s not taking a return journey. Slowly though Raff wears her down, and somehow the one date she agreed to becomes more, with him sneakily doing things like  bringing lunch for her and her assistant Tenise, then carefully sliding further into her life by way of her friends. Tenise thinks he’s great and encourages her to just have a quick fling ad a bit of fun, but that’s not the way Paige is. Somehow though she quickly finds herself in Raff’s bed and his life more and more.
Then of course just when its all going right something happens that shatters her confidence, and makes her doubt her judgement and it all goes wrong. She’s unhappy, Raff’s unhappy but is there a way back – it doesn’t look like it? Its  fun read, peppered with some hot and erotic sex scenes, enough to spice up the story but not dominate the beautiful romance that’s developing. I love the conundrum of independence versus being too stubborn to accept help. When is it right to accept help – can it compromise principles of self reliance, and does it always have a cost attached, hidden or otherwise? Then there’s the difference between being out of control angry, dangerous to those around, unable to weigh up decisions though temper problems, against controlled anger, where one is standing up for oneself or someone else in the only way the other person respects. Can violence ever be right? Can it be controlled so as to work only when the user wants it, or does the turning to violence simply mean lack of control and danger. Its an interesting puzzle and made me thing hard about things. I tend to be independent and find help hard to accept graciously and yet sometimes as a wheelchair user that’s just what I have to do. The other person can get lots of pleasure from helping, and if we do it for others what’s wrong in accepting it when its in the spirit of a no strings gift, just something done because the person can do it. .
Stars: Five, a romance I really enjoyed
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Misery Loves Company, Tracey Martin


Misery Loves Company, Tracey Martin
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
Genre: fantasy/paranormal romance
Book three in the series, and while I missed book one I loved book two and was keen to read the next instalment.
I wasn’t disappointed. Once again Jess is plunged into danger and mayhem, and really none of it down to her actions. Seems she gets stuck in the rock and hard place scenario whatever she does, and whichever route she takes to get out of it is going to upset someone. I love Jess, she’s a tough girl, has her problems from a troubled past but she doesn’t wallow,  just gets on with life, shaping her actions according to her own sense of morality, not some arbitrary rules.She’s the best type of female lead, intelligent, sexy, loyal to her friends and with a sense of morality.  Lucen, her Satyr lover, is a great guy too – he’s waited patiently for ten years for Jess to accept him, knowing she’s worth the wait. Of course him being a Satyr is a problem – he has to have sex with others to stay alive, and Jess finds that hard to accept however much he tells her its just physical, and that she has the emotional part of him. He’s encouraging her to have sex with others to see if she can understand what he means…Like Jess I’d find it hard too, understanding its not a choice for him but still…that’s human thinking though and as he tells Jess she needs to accept what she is. I really like Lucen, he’s also loyal to his people and it’s clear he loves Jess, but struggles on how to get her to understand him. She wants to know more about his past but he deflects her every time and it makes her wonder why.
Having left the Gryphons at the end of the last book, Jess now needs to get back in to help her best friend, whose cousin has had his soul taken. As it happens she’s there when the event occurs, and the Gryphon who attends straight after is one she knows, and she asks for Jess’ help…Lucen isn’t happy though – he knows how much they’ve upset Jess in the past, and finds it hard that she still wants to work with them, even if it is to help a friend. There’s someone keen for Jess to take Lucen’s suggestion about other lovers seriously, and he’s trying to seduce Jess every time they meet. Her problem is that she’s strongly attracted to him….but her mind says she should only have one lover.
Then the Goblin leader calls in her favour, and the leader of the Satyrs makes a surprising suggestion to Jess. Throw in lots of action, magic, soul sucking and danger, prophecies and visions, yet more secrets being revealed, and the joining together of some unusual allies, and again its a packed read.
Stars: Five, another terrific read.
ARC supplied by publishers and Netgalley.

Forged in Fire, Juliette Cross

Forged in Fire, Juliette Cross
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I’ve mixed feelings about this trilogy….I liked that Genevieve wasn’t a simpering miss, nor one of the popular kick arse heroines so beloved of fantasy recently. They have their place, and work for some stories but aren’t needed in All of them! Lately it seems they’re everywhere, and I’m just tired of reading them. So Genevieve being proficient and able to look after herself when it comes to humans, but not to demons works fine for me.
I love that her professor is so “ don’t be stupid, demons don’t exist”, and can feel her frustration – who wouldn’t want to put him right, but doing so would have her end up with the men in white coats  Then there’s Jude, Dominus Daemonum, Master of Demons, who’s drop dead gorgeous and saves her from the first demon attack. He’s also incredibly bossy and overbearing and at first they have a few head to head arguments about that. Genevieve is still have trouble accepting what he says is true – well, most people would. Some guy attacks you, another saves you and yanks out some grizzled looking creature from his body,  and then tells you you’re some kind of supernatural vessel. Yes – of course you’d think it was true, and not blame it on one too many tequilas….Still, the dangers stack up quickly, and Genevieve soon has to accept he’s right, and she’s is getting to like his attentions too, that helps….Kat, another demon hunter, completes the trio that make up the main part of the story, with smaller roles given to demon prince Dante, who wants to have Genevieve for himself and the head of the hunters George, who drops in to check on things.
So, some great characters, a decent story line ( and yet another prophecy – something else that seems to dominate this genre at times ) and yet it didn’t have that Can’t put it down, must read just one more chapter, and another, and another… feel to it. Its was a good read, just not a great one. I’m not sure why, there doesn’t seem anything I can pin point, except that the romance went all too smoothly, and I like a bit of drama and upset there, some strong jealousy or something. I thought Kat might provide that, or maybe the woman in the picture but no. The dangers too seemed over very quickly, not long and drawn out and I didn’t really feel Genevieve was in any serious risk. I thought at the beginning this was going to be a five star read but it’s not, for me anyway…Its a great start though, and maybe once the story gets going more it’ll make my five star rating.
What was great was No cliff-hanger ending…this part of the story ties up neatly – as readers of my reviews know I Hate Cliff-hangers, hate them, drive me mad, so a huge thanks to Juliette for making this work without that. The story is good enough not to need a lure to tempt me into reading the next part, and I’ll be looking forward to it.
Stars: Four – its a solid beginning and well worth reading if you love fantasy with a strong romantic element.
ARC supplied via Netgalley and publishers

The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Rachel Higginson

The Five Stages of Falling in Love, Rachel Higginson
Genre: Contemporary Romance, women’s fiction
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
This book is one of those that gets you by the trhoat as soon as you start. I just couldn’t out it down – had to keep on reading right to the end…
We begin when Grady is in hospital, getting flashbacks of his and Liz’s life so far. They’ve been living the dream, lovely house, successful business, four adorable kids and a perfect love between them. Then Grady gets brain cancer, and its a nightmare. I had cancer at 36, and though luckily I survived it took its toll on the family, life changed from a family with two working parents and three teens, to one where everything revolved around Cancer and trying to survive it. So much of what Liz is going through sounded familiar, and Grady – wow – what a man. I was in tears for him and the loss his death would cause. It doesn’t seem fair does it when this kind of thing happens, when families are going about their business merrily, happy, helping others and loving their lives and then – bam!! What was a major worry, say about a big bill or something – becomes irrelevant when Death is being faced. Nothing else matters and priorities change massively. Its like a bolt from the blue for most of us, there we are trundling happily along and then…well, this book has it perfectly. How can Liz carry on? She’s been part of a team, their life and family are geared up to two parents, and now there’s just her. I so felt for her, struggling with four young children. Thank goodness for her sister, she was such a support, so so needed. At first friends and school make allowances, but as Liz found out that doesn’t last and they can’t seem to understand her and the children’s issues, why they aren’t on time, why the kids play up. Its so tough for her, and easy to just fall into the black hole. Then Ben moves in, and right from day one he’s such a help. Its clear how he feels about Liz and the kids, and he just goes about helping in his gentle unassuming way. He really is a man in a million.
It would be easy to think that having got to mid thirties without being engaged or married there was something wrong, maybe he’s one of those life bachelors or something. Rachel deals with those thoughts perfectly though, giving us a very easy to understand reason why he’s never been in a serious relationship, and why that is now possible. I could get behind that easily, and it made me love him even more. He slowly works his way into Liz’s family, and becomes a support she can’t do without. That first date, first kiss, first time they make love are such huge milestones for her, and I could see her dilemma, she felt she was letting Grady down, even though he’d been emphatic that she find someone and share her light. He was so generous, he’s basked in her love and wanted someone else to share in it – he seemed to know too that Liz needed someone for herself when he was gone. To be dying and still that considerate – when my diagnosis was given my first thought was that husband would look after kids of course, but I was emphatic about my horse too – only had him two years, after waiting all my life for one. The thought of him needing another wife never entered my head. If it did I think I’d have been much more selfish than Grady, and said “no way”!!
Its a one step forward two steps back romance, so carefully constructed, Ben was so patient and understanding and the kids loved him. He didn’t seek to take Grady’s place but to just be another person they love. That worked well for me, I just loved the way they kids took to him, that he and they seemed to have an understanding early on. It’s a beautiful read, sensual and seductive, and packed with emotion. I was on the edge of tears so many times, and then high with happiness when things went right. It feels so very very real, all the doubts Liz had, the way she was dealing with issues, and the way she seemed to sway from one view to another, questioning all the while what she should do, was it right, acceptable for her to be happy. Perfect read, perfect characters and one to savour and re read.
Stars: five, a great read.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.

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