Archive | March 2016

Ten Days in August, Kate McMurray

Ten Days in August,  Kate McMurray

Genre:  LGBTQIA, Romance

I loved Kate’s Such a Dance, the first book of hers I’d read, but this one didn’t fit so well with me.

It covers, as it’s titled, ten days in August, in a sweltering heat wave in New York. People are dying from the heat, the police and hospitals are stretched thin trying to help, and among all that there’s a murderer on the loose. He’s killing male prostitutes, and sadly many in the force think time spent on tracking him down is time that could be better spent elsewhere. They don’t actually say that of course but its inferred. As someone in the force who has inverted ( what an awful word) tendencies himself Hank treads a thin line. His partner is ambitious, clearly one of those who abhor and inverted tendencies, doesn’t like Hank and resents spending time on this crime.

Along the way Hank meets Nicky, a female impersonator who sings at the club where the first man had been before his death. Nicky was the last person to see him and the man he left with. Hank thinks Nicky is hiding something and goes back to see him. Of course there’s the fact he’s attracted to him and looking for a reason to go back too….Soon they’re in the throes of an affair, not just a fleeting, passing thing though, its one where both of them have very deep feelings. Its a dangerous time for those who like the same sex, especially when one is in the force and his movements don’t go unnoticed. That could bring Nicky into more danger too, so they tread a very wary line. They’re aided too by Andrew, who works for the Commissioner and has similar inclinations. He’s been a long time friend of Hank’s and knows some of those on the force who can be trusted, and that’s good, its needed when things come to a dangerous head.

That all sounds perfect doesn’t it, a story right up my street, and the writing once more is easy to read and flows effortlessly, but somehow the story just didn’t really resonate with me. I think the constant talking about the heat got to me, I felt kind of drained and listless from it too…even here in UK cold January! I just didn’t really connect with the plot, and though I liked the main characters, Hank, Nicky, Andrew and Charlie, I couldn’t really “see” them in my mind, feel they or the issues they faced were real. That’s not good for me, a great book is one where I’m lost in the story, “there” with the characters and living it with them. (Drove my mum nuts when I was a kid, lost in the magic of a book, and deaf to her words. things haven’t changed, good books still have that effect.) Here I felt like a detached onlooker, and I put the book aside three or four times before finally finishing. Its a good story, will be great for the right reader but that just isn’t me. I’m glad I read it but won’t re-read.

Stars: Three, one of those that’s good but not right for me.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers for review purposes

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The Do-Over, L.E. Bross

The Do-Over, L.E. Bross

 

 

Genre: Romance,

What a great fun read, I was laughing from very early on. Mel is such a terrific character, I could picture her, book in hand, trying to tell Eli that there might be a better way of doing things! He’s a fabulous character too, been through some tough things but picked himself up and moved on. Now he’s settled as a contractor in the little seaside town where Mel’s sister lives. I loved her, so friendly, so open to everyone and she really wanted Mel to just be happy. I love the idea of a cafe/arts place, arts and tarts.
Poor Mel had been through a huge upheaval in her life, from good job, husband, plenty of money to nothing, divorced, husband in jail and the money all frozen because of his actions. She’s been groomed since early childhood to be a certain way, to always be in control, to do exactly as her parents laid out and she’s followed that path slavishly. Now all she has left is the ramshackle cottage and her lovely. lovely sister.

Its a really fun read, flows easily and pulled me into Eli and Mel’s lives, where they got off on the wrong foot and yet somehow ended up hot and heavy in the kitchen! That was some serious steam, and not from the kitchen equipment.
Still, the path of true love never runs smooth and all that and true to form a couple of obstacles pop up that has Mel running scared. Eli needs to show her what she needs is him and he needs to work out what he needs to do to get that – he can’t just give up on love,. knows its special and will go all out to prove it.

Stars: Five, a fun lighthearted read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

Closer Home, Kerry Anne King

Closer Home,  Kerry Anne King

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction

Somehow I got the idea this was a romance novel… it is and yet it isn’t. It’s more a tale that’s got romance in it 😉 but that doesn’t take over the story.

Poor Lise, a small town country girl she’s never embraced her sister’s celebrity life and status, they’ve not spoken for years and Callie told the media her family was dead. Now its Callie that’s died and sister Lise inherits most of her estate, and is made guardian to her 16 year old niece. Ariel acts so old at times but at heart she’s just a kid, trapped by her mothers career in this fishbowl lifestyle. Her mum’s family being alive is big news to the media, and they’re determined to wring every drop of the story out.

Its a horrible story that – the way the media jump on people’s grief, want to make their tears viewing for everyone, the false lowered voices “ how are you Really feeling though?” wanting a  scoop for their company. I hate it all, but sadly stuff like that happens all the time and sells 😦 and poor Lise and Ariel are trapped in it. Of course Callie’s team make money from her so they too are out to push the story as far as it will go. Ricken, her Agent/publicist – can’t recall which – is a typical money grabber, organising memorial charity events, a biography of Callie and TV/Magazine articles for Lise. She’s way out of her depth and when Ariel announces she’s off to find her father she goes with her, she’s needs someone and she’s going along of Lise doesn’t step forward right now!

I really felt for Lise, she’d spent her life caring for others, trying to support them, to do the right thing, and now all this is heaped on her. She doesn’t know Ariel, and Ariel doesn’t seem like she wants to know Lise. They start their journey though, aided by Callie’s diary from when she got pregnant, Ariel is determined to search out would be fathers and find out the truth. Callie had refused to tell her, now she’s got a Wal-mart DNA kit and she’s not afraid to use it.

This covers the largest part of the novel, finding out people from the past, asking Lise about them and Lise having flashbacks to events so we see them as they happened through her eyes. Its tough keeping away from the media though, they manage for a while but get let down by someone close. Lise is learning quickly about fame and all it brings, and doesn’t like it, Ariel is learning the its not the same when its not an organised photo shoot, but a tornado of cameras and people dogging her every move, capitalising on her grief. She and Lise slowly start to thaw, to see that perhaps there’s more to the past than they know. I found the first part of this novel dragged a bit for me, but then it gathered pace and emotion, and as more things came out I so felt for the key characters, and got wrapped up in the issues they faced.

I enjoyed the final part when they’re back in the small town where Lise lives, where she and Callie grew up. There’s a lot of surprises come out, things we don’t know, things Lise doesn’t know and slowly all gets revealed. Dale, he’s a wonderful guy, one of the quiet, solid types with a big emotional depth to him. I loved him, they’ve known each other since childhood and he’s still a close friend, but somehow after the funeral the press have got the idea they’re a couple and run with it. Like everything about this issue Lise seems to have a head in sand approach, put it away for another day, so she ignores it and she and Ariel start their search, and she doesn’t do anything about it. She doesn’t contact Dale, seems to not know what to do, so she opts for dealing with what she can and just putting that one aside. He’s been a great support, known Lise and Callie since they were kids, but he’s now caught up in the story too and doesn’t want to be. He’s got his own reasons for holding back, but keeping quiet about them.

His parents and sister were great, George the dog a real hero! I loved when Lise gave in full flow to her grief and rage, and tell the busybody neighbour/teacher who’d picked on her all her life what she really though. Sadly there’s too many people like her, the judgemental sort, those who hold themselves up as Christian, toddle off to church each week etc, and yet turn a blind eye to what’s really happening, let kids get hurt, used and abused, without saying anything except criticism of them. Rant over!

Dale came into his own at the end, I was so on edge, how would they get over the past, the problems? Could they? Did they want to even? and Ariel, poor girl, she’d not had a great upbringing, lots of material things but fame is a machine that demands worship, and Callie was a fervent believer, Ariel didn’t lack for material things but didn’t seem to have had much one to one love and support.

Its a story that unfolded gradually, drawing me in and moved me much more than I thought it would. It covers so many issues, and made me thing “what if?” so many times. At the start I felt a bit detached, and wasn’t sure I was going to like it but I did, it was a perfect read and contained a lot of emotion, from the past and the present.

Stars: Five, its a great read, I really enjoyed it but not one I’d reread though now I know the story.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers for honest review

 

Heartbreaker, Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion


Heartbreaker,  Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion

Genre:   Romance, New Adult.

When you read a lot as I do, you start to notice some authors have a distinct pattern to their writing – when that coincides with what you want to read, as with this duo for me – that’s great to find. I’ve recently been rereading a few favourites, and by chance this past weekend had uploaded the first in Kate Catabary’s series – that’s about a family of siblings, two girls four boys and is very much the same style of writing as this duo. This is the first in a new series but featuring the same family from the No Weddings/Invitation Only novels. That’s Cade and his sisters, and the last series was how Cade and Hannah came together, and the sisters were in the books constantly but in secondary roles. I loved those so was really pleased to find a new series starting. It’s been like catching up with friends I’ve not seen for a while

This time we meet sister Kiki, who’s a terrific but somewhat avant garde artist ( I sympathise – my family look at me with a confused face when I’ve finished some works. I can see the “err..what is it?” hovering.) She’s a great girl but guarded, had her heart broken once when she was let down by someone she thought loved her, and she’s not going there again, she has one nighters only!

Darren doesn’t want that though – she’s better than that in his eyes, but – the kicker – he’s got responsibilities that he thinks mean he can’t be the person she needs. But somehow after a few words a challenge is set, and he’s training her several times a week, well – running with her and encouraging her anyway. It looks as though friends is good for them – until it becomes more.

Darren though has a complicated home life, he’s still young, but has responsibilities that demand all his attention. Kiki too isn’t’ the carefree person she presents, she’s got some difficult issues going on she’s keeping close to her chest. Can they work through all these problems or are they doomed? I was so rooting for them, they seemed such a perfect fit for each other, has such respect for the others feelings and just wanted to help and it’s the sharing that we all need, someone to listen, to offer ideas, to be a real partner.

Its a story covering several issues, not a one strand, one plot read and how they all come together, how they work up that head of steam for the perfect dramatic finale is great. I’m always amazed at how authors do that, sow little seeds through the plot, nurturing them along, and bringing them all together so that everything makes sense, and yet as the reader we think how on earth can this end well, how can they get the HEA, but thankfully knowing somehow it will come.

Stars: Five, a great start.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers for review purposes

 

LOST (St. Barts Romance Series Book 8) EMME CROSS

LOST (St. Barts Romance Series Book 8)  EMME CROSS

 

Emme said “Jeannie this book will make you cry” and she was right – I did. It was perfect however, a fitting ending to the saga of Sunny and Sven and their family.

We’ve fast forwarded a few years and the kids are growing up. Its not all fun, Bliss is, as often happens with teen girls, at loggerheads with her mum, and Lennon, well he’s become an adorable 11 year old, a real people pleaser. And then something huge happens, a real shock but that brings drama to what could have been just a mundane follow up read.
Thats one of the reasons I’m wary of series that go into multiple books, they get stale, run out of things to happen. After all there are only so many things that can happen in one family and still remain believable. I was thinking of a once favourite series where one character gets abducted and raped for the third time, and it made me roll my eyes, spoil what had been til then a terrific read. Emme has done the right thing here IMO wrapping up the series – well, Sven and Sunny’s part of it – and its made it a perfect finale.
The Event brings about some major changes to all the family, and they learn to adapt but of course have intense feelings about what happened that shape their ways forward. Each cope in different ways and we jump forward again a few years.

This final part really focusses on Bliss, and her career, her efforts to make it as a chef. She runs into some tragedy though that brings her back into the circuit of Charlie, her childhood crush, but who unwittingly broke her heart. Now they start anew and find they become very close, and its a brilliant way to close Bliss’ childhood with a perfect ending. I love Charlie, we’ve seen him grow up from that distant ten year old, to a young man thats so close to Sunny and Sven and been treated as part of the family. Thats what Sunny excells at – making people feel welcome, making them part of the group and feel at home with them. No one gets left on the outside, she makes a place for all – except Evangline of course!!
I think – am hoping – that there’s going to be a book about Lennon and for me that will close the circle of Sunny and Sven’s life.
Its been a wonderful read, and one of those series to indulge in a fabulous reread of all the novels in a back to back romance and tear fest.

Stars: Five, another fresh, drama filled read.

ARC supplied by author for review purposes

Manaconda,  Taryn Elliott & Cari Quinn

amazon UK buy link  Amazon com link

 

Genre:  Romance,

A rock star romance,a weakness for me…and the magic Taryn Elliot/Cari Quinn duo so I had to request it 😉 I loved the Oblivion books so looked forward to this.

Once more the writing style was easy to follow, flowed well, and full of little snarks and funny quips. Sometimes they’re so subtle I almost missed them, then they hit me and had me sniggering. I loved Kennedy and Hunter but….it just felt very brief, truncated almost as though I was waiting forever for something to happen and then – bam- it was over. Their first meeting covers around 30% of the book, which means all the rest kind of gets compressed especially as its quite a short read. (actually it’s not – I just checked and its 275 pages, but just feels much shorter? Maybe because I spent a lot of it feeling as though I was waiting for something to happen. )

Its not really got that typical Rock star read feel about it, and I was Really frustrated that one major plotline that was touted so much throughout the book seemed to have just got dropped, forgotten, passed off with a few words between the two characters. That just wasn’t good enough for me, I needed to know what was behind things, and why. Really irritating, but maybe a future read will tell more and I’ll understand. .

I did feel for Hunter over the whole Manaconda issue, that must get so annoying when people focus on that and not the music, is quite demeaning but of course in our shallow world so very, very real.

I wasn’t really convinced of the romance between the two, they seemed definitely in Lust with each other but more than that? Dunno, I wasn’t feeling it.

I did like reading the dual POV, that always works for me, I feel I know characters better that way. I would have liked to see more of the band, the members and the way they interact. Oblivion did that so well for me, and I missed it here. I did like the cameo references to that band 🙂

Its a story I enjoyed reading, a fun read, but I felt it was lacking in some indefinable way – the drama maybe? The connection between Hunter and Kennedy? Maybe just that I didn’t really feel I knew them well as people rather than rock star and PR person. If Hammered is to become a series ala Oblivion maybe I’ll get to know them better that way.

Stars: Three, a fun read but a one off only.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Southern Sweets, Cori William

amazon UK buy link  Amazon com link

Genre:  Romance,

Sometimes I just want a simple romance to read, and I have a weakness for the Southern style – I love the “Bless Your Heart, how brave of you to – wear that colour/ show up after everything that happened/ try again after the disaster of your last attempt…” The way a cutting insult is delivered with a smile.

There wasn’t much of that here, but it did have that Southern Small Town feel with the characters being very realistic. I so felt for poor Amelia, she’s gone through so much and yet her heart seemed to get shattered again and again. She’s still feeling for Tanner, feelings she doesn’t want to admit to herself, doesn’t want to have, but he made his choice, went back to Marissa and left her to get on with her own life. She’s such a great character.

Lesser people would have caved, broken hearted, but she picks herself up, carries on with her bakery and brings up her daughter with the help of her parents and long time friend Monroe. Then the tide turns again and she’s got to decide once more where her heart lies.

I wasn’t expecting so much drama here, for the deep parts to go back and forth. When it went wrong first time I was ready, when it went wrong the second time I expected it but then…well, that really took me by surprise and the way it was played out, given full depth to grow, covered a span of time instead of a couple of days, as too often (for me) happens was magic. That made the book perfect for me, I love the heartbreak ( so long as I get a HEA!!) and love it to be fully drawn out, to really get the maximum drama from it.

It wasn’t til I was about third of the way through I realized this was the second book, and I’d recently started the first, Midnight Ballerina, which I’d abandoned at about 50%. It was a decent read but not really gripping, and as I’d got several review novels I put it to one side. Now I intend ( when time!!) to go back and finish it, hoping its going to have some of the depth and drama I found here.

I’ve never read any of Cori’s books before but will look out for more. Oh- and I love her monthly surprise box ideas 😉 More fun than fruit and veg or Graze snacks ones….

Stars: Four, a really satisfying read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

A Sworn Virgin: Broken Promises, Historical Fiction Novel, Kristopher Dukes

Family illness means I’ve been short on reading time this week, but this debut book seems worth a look for those who enjoy historical fiction. I’ve not read it but copied the description from amazon. Its 293 pages so a good length for those like me who enjoy longer reads, and priced at £4.91 or free if you have Kindle Unlimited.

Authors need reviews, especially debut authors who need to build a following so if do do enjoy it please leave a review, It only needs to be a few lines long and will make such a difference.

A Sworn Virgin: Broken Promises, Historical Fiction Novel, Kristopher Dukes

WHEN 18-YEAR-OLD DIANA’S FATHER IS SHOT DEAD on the cobblestone streets of 1910 Eastern European Albania, Diana must abandon her dream of studying art in Italy as she struggles to survive in a remote mountain village with her stepmother Mirlinda.

Nearing starvation, Mirlinda secretly sells Diana into marriage with the cruel heir of a powerful clan. Rather than lose her freedom, Diana swears to remain a virgin for the rest of her life, a tradition that gives her the right to live as a man: she is now head of her household, can work for a living and carry a gun. She may participate in the vengeful blood feuds that consume the mountain tribes, but she may not be killed — unless she forsakes her vow.

When an injured stranger stumbles into her life, Diana nurses him back to health, saving his life — but risking her own when she falls in love with him . . .

Pink is a Four-Letter Word, Toronto Collection 11, Heather Wardell

Pink is a Four-Letter Word, Toronto Collection 11,  Heather Wardell

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

I’ve reads several of Heather’s stories now and loved them but this one – well, I think the lack of true love for Larissa shows in how I feel about the story.

Larissa always seems to feel second best, undeserving, always seeming to seek validation from others and yet she’s a great lady with a lot to give. Things aren’t going well for her right now, she’s struggling to assert herself in her profession, things are going wrong in her personal life, and after almost getting raped she’s ripe for a change.

She seems to think a fresh start will mean a new Larissa, but of course we can’t outrun ourselves and she learns her issues have travelled with her. That’s a tough lesson when you’ve travelled so far, and one many of us need to learn.

Its more a journey for Larissa, learning to love herself, to be proud if what she does and finding she does not  need validation from others to feel good about herself, than an actual romance IMO. Though that was enjoyable and so very, very real I missed the love angle that usually Heather does so well – at least in the books I’ve read so far.

Its a well written story, and I felt I was there with Larissa, thinking the problems through as she does and wondering what’s the right course, but on the whole this book just didn’t grip me, its not a re-reader for me and therefore a three star.

Stars: Three, a fun read but a one off only.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Misery Happens, Tracey Martin

Misery Happens, Tracey Martin

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I’ve been following this series since book one, and loving it but somehow dammit – I missed book four, and didn’t realise till I saw this final part. Dilemma – do I buy book four before reading this or plug straight in? Trouble is I’ve got into that situation once more with so many books and so little time…and hate to keep review books waiting for too long. A 36 hour day would suit me 🙂

 

So, it was straight in to the final read, picking up on what happened in the last book as I went along. I know this world and its inmates pretty well now from first three so its wasn’t hard to keep up, and I could guess much of what happened in France from the text.

Poor Jess, Lucen’s Little Siren, she’s in danger Again. For her recently it seems it ever stops. What so hard to take is the Anti Magic/preds faction among the humans who don’t seem to realise she’s risking her life for them. Of course some of the Preds aren’t much better to her….but Tom, Lucen, Devon, Mitch, her friend Steph; they’re a close group around her now who do all they can to help and support her. Turns out she’s the key ingredient in some centuries old prophecy and all she has to do is dip down into the Pit – yes, the one full of powerful demons, find the Key that no-one knows what it looks like or where it is, and lock their prison..somehow, as no-one is quite sure how she does it. Easy Eh? Just another day on the life of Jess.

I love Jess, she’s grown and matured so much from the girl we met at the start. She’s had a tough life, and recent events haven’t helped. Lucen, he’s a hero in my eyes, saw her true worth years ago when everyone seemed to discard her and her own view was jaded and very low. He helped her then as best he can, and has been at her back ( in all ways!!) ever since. He’s such a real Gentleman, and so perfect for her, encourages her to find her true strength while encouraging her all the way, protecting her when its needed but never smothering her. Now they’ve finally come to something of an accord can they get a HEA or is it all going to end in the Pit?

Its been a great series, full of surprises, full of unexpected types and mixes, allies where they aren’t expected, betrayals too from sources once trusted. I’ve really enjoyed the journey, and its a series to go in the keepers file for rereading back to back ( and maybe finding time for book four too so I can fill the gap)

 

Stars: Five, a climatic ending but fitting for the series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

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