Archive | April 2016

Didn’t I Warn You, Amber Bardan

Didn’t I Warn You,  Amber Bardan

Genre:  Romance

*This  is book one, with book two due later this year. I’m assuming its just the two parts. I do wish authors would tell readers how many parts make up the whole story. I’m so cautious now after having got caught in the Crossfire  Trilogy fiasco  where the day the final novel, book three, was released so was the news that it had been changed to a five book story. I returned book three, didn’t want to wait unspecified time and pay unspecified sums for the next two books! * And that’s my rant over 😉

So here we have a story that kept me guessing, it seems Haithem is hot, delicious and dangerous. Just what had he done, just what had poor Angelina got herself mixed up in? What was her history? Its clear there’s a lot about her we don’t know that affect the way she is now. who is Josh? And what does he mean to her? Its all questions, questions, questions and each time we get hints at the answer of one it feels like it paves the way for two more. Great fun, I like being kept guessing.

Loved Angelina, but I wasn’t totally convinced of her actions. The magazine interview – would anyone really make up that on the fly? And expect to be able to do it when she knows nothing except the person’s name? How did she expect to be able to contact him? She got lucky in a way, or maybe unlucky….She’s definitely a mixed up girl, haunted by past events, trying to find herself. Then she meets Haithem, he paves the way forward for a new direction.

Haithem, Mr deep, dark and delicious….he smoulders with sensuality, drips sex just from his voice. Angelina goes weak at the knees when he speaks, but no – I can’t bring myself to use phrases like Pantie wetting, Pantie melting, I hate them! Ladies wear knickers, not panties, that sounds so mealy mouthed and twee….( and men wear trousers not pants!!) and who really carries around spare knickers all the time? I hate this constant thing where every little sound or gesture makes ladies wet…I hope I don’t have to sit where they’ve been sitting 🙂 Anyway, damp knickers aside, he’s suspicious of Angelina turning up where he is, three times in one day, so gets his partner Karim to invite her to the yacht, where they plan to see what she’s up to.

They’re convinced she’s a spy, so she thinks now is not a good time to tell him about the planned magazine expose, light hearted though it might have been! They have a few words and…somehow she ends up on the yacht once they’re at sea. She must be the most accident person going. When they find her of course they don’t believe it was an accident, so they’re even more convinced she’s hiding something.

Its odd though how quickly Angelina and Haithem go in to some kind of flirting, semi sexual relationship, and yet both convinced the other is up to something and don’t trust them. I enjoyed the way the story slowly revealed what was going on, how their relationship changed, how we finally learned what had happened to Angelina and made her the person she is, what Haithem was doing and what had prompted it – and it certainly wasn’t what I thought!

Its a fun read and I’m looking forward to book two. Its got plenty of heat in, but its not sex at first sight, rather something that develops from their enforced closeness. Fits the novel perfectly and is just the right amount of sex v story balance

Stars: Four and a half, that beginning was just a bit too unlikely for me to go five.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers for honest review

Selfie, A Bluewater Bay Novel, Amy Lane

Selfie, A Bluewater Bay Novel,  Amy Lane

 

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

 

I adore the Bluewater series, and have read most of the novels now. Its such a great idea, different authors writing stories around a common theme and makes each story fresh even though this is number 13. I love Amy’s novels too – especially the fabulous Little Goddess series – so was really looking forward to this.

 

Its a sad story; so, so sad in parts but ends wonderfully. Poor Connor, his ten year lover Vinnie died a year back, and as no-one but their agent knew they were lovers he didn’t fully get to grieve properly. Vinnie didn’t want to come out, worried about his family’s reaction and so Connor couldn’t reveal himself either. They had adjoining houses, and all their shared things, items collected over the years were in Vinnie’s house. As his family didn’t know he was gay, just thought Connor a good friend, then he couldn’t even grieve with them, be a part of the funeral or get to keep any of their possessions, all so full of memories. Sadly that’s something that happens too often in real life, and its horrible. I’ve read of long time partners being denied hospital access to their loved ones last days because of family disapproval, and that must be heart-breaking. Anyway, none of this really helps Connor get past Vinnie’s death. No one ever Gets Over a death, but we learn to get past it, to pick up life again but Connor, it feels like he’s stuck. Then he makes That tape…

 

His lovely agent has worried about him for a while now, he’s been so closed off, so locked away inside his head and memories, and when he’s offered a part in the hit TV series Wolf’s Landing she persuades him to take it. It comes just after the Tape incident that could have totally derailed his career.

There he meets Noah, his driver–come- helper. Connor isn’t good at finding his way round at the best of times, so Noah has been detailed to help him, and soon he’s doing more than just his job, and become more than just a workplace acquaintance. Noah is a few years younger but a very confident man, and its clear right from the start the two are attracted.

 

It all sounds good doesn’t it? And there were some fabulous moments, one that will stay with me for ages is that beach scene, the one where things are being burned, and another the Island one. They were incredibly moving and made me tearful, Connor was so, so heartbroken. I loved Noah, his quiet confidence, his way of knowing exactly what Connor needed and when. His family were great too and I could just picture his house. I loved Connor’s attraction for all things Kitsch…that felt like I was seeing a part of him that was very real. Yet somehow all these great bits still didn’t grip me to the overall story. I found myself putting the book down and restarting later, when usually I’m so engrossed in a story I lose track of time and the outside world. The one in the book becomes the real one for me. Its a good read, with some terrific dramas, and I’m glad I read it but overall it’s not one I’d reread.

 

Stars: Four, a good read, some heavy emotion that was so real, but not quite the magic five I was hoping for.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

 

Dirty, Kylie Scott

Dirty,  Kylie Scott

Genre:  Romance,

Kylie Scott is The Queen of Rock Star Reads for me, she’s got that perfect blend of addictive, gripping, realsitic story, real characters, sharp wit that sometimes is just plain funny and others very cutting edge, and of course sex. Hot, steamy, erotic sex that fits the plot, doesn’t dominate it as in too many novels I’ve read, doesn’t feel added just to titillate the reader. So when I read there’s a new series coming – well – sign me up!

She doesn’t let us down, its an amazing read, and having read and reread all the Stage Dive books it’s great to have something fresh to read. ( When I’ve read or begun and dropped a few stories that just don’t cut it I “treat” myself with a reread of an old favourite, and Kylie’s books often are ones I choose)

This time we see more of Vaughan, I was hoping it would be him somewhere. We met him quite a bit in the last book, where he was a real gem, and I felt so sad that after ten years of playing, just when it looked like they’d finally got a break his band folded…I got the feeling he still wanted to continue, but in a way was so tired of the slog this lifestyle demands. It’s not all top bands, there’s so many trudging round, playing to drunken audiences, dirty corner clubs and bars, staying in grotty B&B’s to save money – it’s a tough life and few get the break.

That’s what made me feel for him so much, his dream was so close…now he’s just come home, not been to the family home for over ten years, not since his parents died and he’s not yet told anyone he’s back.

Its only been a few hours and he’d just crashed out cold. Wakes up, goes for a pee and a shower, pulls back the curtain and gets confronted with a very distraught bride, ripped dress, scrapes, cuts and bruises all over and he’s standing starkers in front of her.

Its poor Lydia, literally just about to tie the knot, minutes away, when she gets a text and learns something it seems everyone but her knows…her husband to be is in love with his best man. She’s decamped in panic and anger, scarpered over the six foot fence, pushed her way through the tangle of bushes and trees and ended up hiding in Vaughan’s shower.

She’s a great character and fits in so well. Its been a whirlwind romance, she only knew Chris four months, worked for his parents in their Real Estate business, and they’ve never really taken to her – but now of course its easy to see they thought she’d bring “normality” to Chris, they’re not the sort to welcome a son in law rather than a daughter in law, image is everything, and though Lydia isn’t what they’d choose, isn’t from the background they’d like, she doesn’t know the rumours that surround Chris so is perfect for them to pretend all is well.

Poor Lydia, she’s moved in with him and  believed all his protestations that they should save themselves for marriage, keep sex special, sees it as a sign of his respect for her when really….now she’s no home, no job, no friends. No help from her parents either, they never wanted a child and now simply ignore her.

Somehow she ends up staying with Vaughan, getting involved into his family and their issues, the bar his sister owns ( Dive Bar – where Stage Dive used to play). Its the bar that’s the connection to the previous series, plus the fact that the Stage Dive lads knew the Dive Bar people from schooldays and the connection is perfect, means we can get a view of the Stage Dive people from time to time as cameos in this series 🙂

There’s lots of problems laid out here, future books in the making too, and I so hope the next one is Vaughan’s lovely sister and the predicament she’s found herself in! That’s a rocking  potential storyline.

I can’t say much about the actual story here except to say its got all the usual Kylie gems, great characters, real issues, spicy, sensual, seductive sex, more terrific humour and of course the drama; the bit that makes you think “oh no!!” and feels heart-breaking, which makes the reader wonder how she’s going to get the characters out of this predicament.

My only criticism – and its a tiny, tiny one – is that this part is over very quickly. I like it dragged out as with David and Mal’s stories, where it covered days, weeks, and they had to work at putting things right. Its a little “easy” here – but that’s just me, I do love to wallow in the sad bits. Its still a gem of a book, a story that had me reading straight through, and one I know I’ll read over and over.

If you haven’t yet discovered Stage dive and now the Dive Bar stories you’re missing a real treat. They’re in a class of their own when it comes to Rock Star romance, and Kylie has really raised the bar for other novels to follow

Stars: five, all the Kylie Scott magic once again and I’m looking forward to more!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

 

Realm of Darkness, C F Dunn

Realm of Darkness,  C F Dunn

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I struggled with the first book in this series, it seemed like a story I’d love but couldn’t get into it. I picked it up a few months later and tried again and – Loved it. I got the next two immediately and now have just read book four – one more to go.
I don’t know whether to be pleased the story is wrapped up then or sad to be losing these fabulous characters. Inevitably there are comparisons with the Harkness All Souls trilogy – there’s a few surface similarities but the stories are very very different – yet I love them both 😉

Matthew and Emma are finally able to be together in the way they want, with a clean conscience. Ellen’s passing though has left some scars on some of the family, and Maggie still heavily resents Emma.
I love the mix of characters, how protective the family are of Matthew and he of them. Circumstances have ensured they rely closely on each other, with very few people knowing the truth about them. It means in a way they are very insular and  restricted in their lives, have to be careful of what they say, what they do and what they let people see about them, and new relationships are fraught with the potential for revealing everything to the wrong person. It means when one of them meets someone new all the family have to get involved, to decide how much can be told of the truth and what needs to remain hidden. Their surface family story works until people look closer and search below what they allow to be seen  and find the hidden truths, or hints of hidden secrets anyway.
With the passing of time though it gets harder to keep the truth away, and of course photographs and mobile phones now mean Matthew has to be incredibly careful of them revealing what he is

Some of the past secrets finally break free, we learn some of the mysteries that Emma was researching, but there’s also someone else rooting things out. Someone unexpected from Emma’s  past suddenly turns up and throws the family into disarray, just as they were learning to settle, to adapt and reform with Emma included within the family grouping.
Its a huge shock and means Emma looking to see what exactly she will do to keep the truth hidden, makes her search her conscience about what is right and brings forward some incredible dangers and tragedy.

I love this series, and it shows its important not to dismiss a book you think you’d like. Maybe its just not the right time for you to be reading it and some space will bring you into the story you wanted. I’m so glad I gave this a second chance.

Stars:five, fabulous book to join the keepers file with the others for rereading when all parts are out.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Shift in the Water, Elemental Shifter Series, Patricia D. Eddy

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Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

 

This sounded right up my street but…though it was a good book for me it wasn’t a great one. First novels in a series have a tough job however, so maybe I need to read book two before finally deciding this sereis isn’t for me.

I found the characters to be a bit lacking. Mara was a tough strong lead and I liked that, but her insistence on “I’m dying” began to get irritating…then Cade. He started off great, a strong Alpha male, but as time went on he became a weird sort. I know he’d been through horrors but he just didn’t seem to have that Alpha confidence any more – a shame as his pack were a loyal bunch.

I loved a “good” nasty person, they add so much to a story and Katrina should have been that, but again for me there was something missing. It made for an interesting read, and its a strong and fresh idea but I just didn’t gel with the characters somehow which meant for me its just a three star one off read.

As ever remember we all want different things and though its a three from me its a five for many others. It just depends what you’re looking for and I want my shifter read to be along the lines of the fabulous Patricia Briggs.

Stars: three, lots of potential but the characters let it down for me

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Chasing Eva, (In Light of Shadows 1), Camellia Hart

Chasing Eva, (In Light of Shadows 1),  Camellia Hart

Genre:  Romance

Debut book by Camellia, and its very well written. I didn’t realise it was a trilogy and I’m a bit concerned over the title of the last book Killing Eva – sounds ominous, I hope its not 🙂

Its a story I enjoyed but I wasn’t stuck to the page, unable to let go. Its easy to pick up again though and continue. It does feel a little slow at times, but then making a story last over three books inevitably tends to have that effect for me.

 

I loved Eva, loved her confidence and her good friends. Every girl needs those and they were great characters in themselves. I also loved/hated the swimsuit model/ex fling of Clive’s – Sylvia? I think that was here name – I love the manipulative, jealous b itch type in a story!

 

What didn’t work so well for me: Clive and Eva, I loved them, and the way Clive has been searching for her in a way for such a long time. I just wasn’t convinced by their romance though, it didn’t feel real to me. I needed a bit more build up before they got together, that slow burn of can’t stop thinking about each other, the need to touch, kiss and more that comes over time as they get to know and respect each other. They certainly had lust and those scenes were good and fitted the storyline, but I just wasn’t feeling anything more….Also could Eva really pick up and run a top company so quickly and so well when its not what she chose as her career?

 

Then there’s the “what’s going on” suspense angle, and I just didn’t really understand it – why would the FBI get involved, and would they really have agents that inept? Again though suspense is hard to get right, especially in a debut book, and though this was a good line, it just felt a bit confusing to me. I wasn’t really sure why someone would do what they did, the motives – though I suspect one person and the motive is there, it just doesn’t quiiite add up yet for me. Maybe it’ll come together more in the later books – that’s happened to me before, when I need the whole story to understand and make sense of what’s happening.

Stars: Four, a good start, but a little slow and confusing at times

ARC supplied by author

The Real Thing, Tina Ann Forkner

The Real Thing,  Tina Ann Forkner

Genre: women’s Fiction

This book turned out to be a very different read from what I expected, still good but a complete surprise! I thought this would be a fun, rodeo themed how the new wife fits in to the family read, with the ex wife being some beautiful, jealous b itch type,  popping up to cause problem’s. I do love those characters 😉 they provide so much fun! Well, the ex does pop up but she’s nothing like I expected and the issues her presence causes are totally different.
I love Manda, though at first she does come off as the teeniest bit spoiled daughter self obsessed. Just saying – she’s not really like that though, her past marriage and problems have really knocked her confidence. Keith’s son is very young and happy to have her around, but Peyton, the 14 going on 24 year old daughter (aren’t they all at that age?) really isn’t happy about dad’s new wife.
Then there’s Keith, handsome, charming rodeo star, and all the issues that come with that. He’s their dad, her husband but on the circuit it feels like he’s everyone’s property….He’s a great guy though, devoted to his family and adores Manda and her sister and dad. They’ve become one big family, with lots of friends they all know from the town they’ve grown up in and the rodeo world.
Manda’s trying hard to fit in, difficult when she’s scared to ride, and Peyton makes it clear that she’s Not a substitute for her mum, that she wants Violet’s things left alone. Poor Manda, I understood her desire to stamp her own mark on their home, but of course Peyton wants her mum’s things left alone. She’s convinced her mum, who disappeared without trace except to forward divorce papers, will return, so when she gets a call on her phone from her she’s ecstatic. Just when they’re beginning to create a new life, when things are going so well then its all turned around.

Its a book that shows how issues affect everyone, how that we all make mistakes, that trying to do the right thing can cause so much pain. I liked that Keith was such a wonderful husband to Manda, and a great dad to the kids, but he’d learned too from his past mistakes, he’d done things he regretted.  I liked how Manda had to learn to trust him, to not jump to conclusions because of how her ex was, I loved seeing how Peyton grew, and how they became a family finally, working through all the issues and difficulties to move forward. They were all in a really difficult position, one that’s faced by so many families in one way or another. There a section where someone says “Think about it. Most families don’t fit that conventional bill, whether it’s Grandpa living in the guest room or a single mom working double shifts while Grandma babysits…” and it echoes what I’m always thinking and  saying – there is no such thing as “Normal” – whether that’s in families or individuals. Everyone has problems, the perfect life we read about is just a story, in real life we all have things to work past, problems to deal with.
It turned out to be a very different read from what I’d expected, but a very moving and emotional one. Who would know what to do? Which route to choose? And who’s to say which way is best when any decision, any choice can have the potential cause terrible problems. Thankfully, here they all come through but its at times a hard journey.
.
Stars: Four, a really interesting and moving read. How many families face a problem similar to this and what would I have done?

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers for review purposes
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Ancient Magic, Linsey Hall

Ancient Magic, Linsey Hall

Genre:  Romance, Sci Fi & Fantasy
I really liked the sound of this but….sadly it read too much like a Young adult novel. I’ve enjoyed some reads in this genre but this one was just too simplistic, too immature. I can see that many reviewers love it and I’m pleased for them but for me it just didn’t work.

I didn’t really take to any of the characters and I need to feel connected to them, to empathise with them, worry for them and get pleased when things go well. I felt detached from what they were doing though.
The plot wasn’t really one that appealed either – I’d loved the sound of it from he description but felt it just didn’t live up to that promise for me, the drama and the suspense just seemed flat and the characters one dimensional.

As always though remember we all want different things and though this didn’t work for me its been great for other readers. It’s all down to personal taste.

Stars: two – just didn’t cut it for me sadly.

ARC supplied by Netgalley

Calling It,  Jen Doyle and Broken Down, Amanda K. Byrne

 

Genre:  Romance, Sports

Sometimes I want fantasy and sometimes just a straightforward romance – but even then it needs to have an edge, something special, a story behind the romance and Calling It delivers all that. It was a really fun read, I know nothing about Baseball other than it reminds me of our UK rounders….and yet it was easy to follow the story, easy to get swept along with Nate’s sport, the training, the managers and the way the top players really are like Stars and treated as such by the media.

Nate and Dorie individually were great and together were perfect, I felt her fears and worries, after all up to now he’s been engaged to a wealthy and beautiful lady. Sure things went wrong, and before that he was like many of them, a real playboy, but Nate knows Dorie is different, that she means more to him yet Dorie can’t see herself as more than a fling in his life. She’s always waiting for the other shoe to drop and trying to get out of the way before it does.
Dorie was a great character, I really admired her grit, her determination to make her own place in the world, even though her six brothers and her parents saw her as their little sister/girl and in need of their protection. Moving far away was the only way she could get independence.

The first meeting with Nate – I wear glasses too and have worn contacts and like Dorie if I’m not wearing them I can see very little, so I wasn’t at all surprised she couldn’t recognise her childhood hero/heartthrob! I love the little touches, the library and the way they all rallied round, the time Nate joined Wash and the others at the school, the Trivia quiz where Dorie was on the girls team, and of course That poker Game. ” never trust a pair of ti ts” Yep, she did that so well!

It’s a great read, full of fun, very real feeling and the drama was perfect for me.

Stars: Five, a really satisfying story and a fantastic debut novel

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers.

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Genre:  Romance, General Fiction (adult)

A rock star romance,a weakness for me…so I had to request it 😉

I really enjoyed this, very full of emotion, flawed people, problems that affect many people and Krista and Shane were such great leads. They’d had a past sort-of romance, but it was all very quiet, Shane thinking he was keeping Krista safe from the paps, Krista feeling she was just a friends with benefits person for him. Finally something happens and she stops seeing him.

Now its a few months later, and he’s just been through the death of his brother from drugs, the band is rocked by the loss of a key member, and they’re all taking time out. Shane’s just not certain he wants to continue, music seems to have left him, and before whenever he felt down, felt the need of someone real he’d go to Krista. This time he’s unsure he’ll be welcome, but he needs her so much one night he drops everything and lands on her doorstep in the early hours. . Krista is still in love with him, moved far away to be close to her friends, to try to forget him, or at least get past him and pick up her life, and now he’s there she’s plunged back. She sets rules, friendship only, no sex, she can’t go back down that route, its taken her so long to recover from last time. She’s got her own issues too, with her only brother going through rehab yet again. Shane’s changed though, realised what he lost and is determined to get it back. He hadn’t realised how heartbroken Krista was, even though she instigated their breakup. He works hard at supporting Krista emotionally and physically with her brother, at trying to help her when something happens that leaves him needing her help too. In a way that’s a blessing as it keeps him close to her, gives him an excuse not to go back, and time to try to convince her that he loves her, loved her before and hasn’t stopped. Krista though is hiding a secret that could change his feelings and the need to tell him is wearing her down.

Its a great read, some hot and sensual sex,a good story, and characters and issues that were believable. I really like them both, wanted to shake them at times and say “ just talk, dammit!!” but of course if they did the book would be a lot shorter 😉
Its a story I enjoyed reading, a good realistic tale that wraps up well. I didn’t feel the drama was sufficient for a five for me, but of course everyone is different and its perfect for other readers.

Stars: Four, a realistic and moving story

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

So Now You’re Back, Heidi Rice

So Now You’re Back,  Heidi Rice

Genre:  Romance,

This made for a simple, fun read. There two romances, the main one of Halle and Luke of course, but also a gentle romance beginning between Halle’s daughter Lizzie and Trey, au pair for Halle’s ten year old son Aldo – and he was a terrific addition to the group. He felt very real, very true to the average ten year old!
Lizzie and Trey – that was a sweet romance and it was interesting to see Lizzie mature from a spoiled, pouting teen into a caring and thoughtful young woman.Trey was only 21 himself, and yet what he’d been through meant his background was very different to Lizzie’s and had made him into a thoughtful and caring young man.

So, MCs Luke and Halle, get thrown together for two weeks, each having their own agendas. I love the way authors make a situation and/or a person so horrible we immediately hate them, lay the blame for everything wrong at their door, and then they show us a different viewpoint and I’m wondering and thinking “ah, maybe if?? I understand why he/she did…” Its easy to prejudge only knowing half the story and here I felt Luke was a rat bag of the highest order…then we learn more and Halle too is surprised.

If you’re looking for a fun read, a light story that will make you smile and feel good at the end this book is for you. Its not a heart stopping, drama filled read – I love those but sometimes I’m in the mood for something simple and easy, that doesn’t need too much thinking over what happens. There were times I felt it dragged a bit or when I wanted to shake Luke and Halle. Its one I enjoyed but won’t be rereading.

Stars: Four, a fun. light read.

ARC supplied by publishers and Netgalley

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