Archive | June 2016

Didn’t You Promise, Amber Bardan

Didn’t You Promise,  Amber Bardan

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Genre:  Romance,

 

I had some issues with the start of book one, Didn’t I warn you, but once past them I was quickly drawn into the story, and like Angelina I fell in love with Haithem. Once the full story came out I understood so much more of his actions, though didn’t necessarily agree with all of them.

Book two is a bit like that, I understood his actions but like Angelina I felt he was not treating her as an equal, that his plans were still leaving her out too much. When there’s the outside pressures he already faces can a relationship work when he’s determined to still keep secrets, even while telling her he won’t any more?

Its a hot and steamy read, the big reveal at the end of book one about his invention doesn’t stop the dangers. He needs to get it public and widespread before those who hate the way it’ll hit their market and profits destroy him and it…and he knows they won’t stop at anything, and that means Angelina is in real danger still. She wants to be with him, support him, share his life, but he’s worried, terrified, for her safety – they try a kind of compromise for a while, but old habits die hard and Haithem recalls what happened with his family only too well. He won’t let that happen to Angelina even if it means losing her 😦

 

I so felt for her, and understood her frustration when he promised to talk to her, treat her as a partner and then still did things without telling her, his protective instincts just couldn’t switch off. She knows that’s a long time habit and not going to go quickly, but even while he’s promising her no more secrets he’s still keeping things from her. She understand why, I understand why and yet can a relationship continue when faced with that on top of all the other pressures?

I loved this book – but…there were times when I felt things were being stretched out a bit, padded to fill the pages 😦 and I really don’t like that. Some of the dangers were “sort of” explained, but more inferred and I wasn’t always clear just what threats Haithem was worried about, much of it seemed to be amorphous threats from unspecified sources…I’d really have liked a bit more definition so I could see exactly why he was worried, and that the moves he’s put in place – plans a,b,c and d would actually work.

Then towards the end Angelina seems to go off on a strange tangent, blaming him for things even while she understands why he did it. Part of it I felt for her, it was tough, she had gone through such a lot, but part of it just seemed like she wanted to punish him but wouldn’t be honest with herself about that, so came up with some strange “justifications” for her behaviour.

If you keep a guard dog you can’t expect it not to do its job, can’t expect it to sit happily while strangers pet it – in the same way Haithem was a strong, secretive man, his experiences had made him that way and that’s the man she loved, I could go along with the compromises she wanted, but sometimes what she wanted would not be possible given the person he was, that it was asking for him to change his nature much as the guard dog scene.

Stars: Four, another cracking read even if parts didn’t quite sit well with me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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The Stone Warriors: Damian, Book One of the Stone Warriors series, D.B. Reynolds

The Stone Warriors: Damian, Book One of the Stone Warriors series,  D.B. Reynolds

The Stone Warriors: Damian by [Reynolds, D. B.]

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Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

 

Debbie’s Vampires in America series is one of my all time favourites. I “found” her books when there were about four out, and have followed them ever since.

I still love Raphael and Cyn in the first two books as my favourites. Its there we first met Nick, Nicolas Katsaros – Cyn’s friend – with – benefits, though its not until “Compelled”, one of the latest stories,  we ( and Cyn) discover he’s more than just a rich, casual playboy type, that he’s actually a very old sorcerer. We learn there of his Warriors that were turned to stone over a thousand years ago by his old foe,Sotiris . He’s been searching for them ever since, and his latest attempts have seen him join forces with the FBI as a kind of freelance investigator with his team of hunters, searching out dangerous artefacts, and along the way looking for clues to find and release his warriors.

Casey is one of his team, a human but with the ability to sense magic, and we meet her right at the start of this book where she’s being chased by Hell hounds….and she fulfils the conditions to release Damian while she’s desperate to escape.

 

Well, Raphael had me hooked right from the start and I was hoping Damian would too. Its not turned out quite that way though, I liked this story, liked it a lot but wasn’t pulled in to the must-read-one-more-chapter that VIA does for me and did from book one. That’s unusual though, I often think first books in a series have a hard task, setting out a new world and conditions and producing a gripping storyline.

Damian reminded me of so many ways of Raphael, and yet where Raphael pulls it off, Damian just comes off as an arrogant misogynist at times. Casey was so strong to start but I felt she caved a bit quickly, and as for when she was worrying about whether she’d upset Damian…that just didn’t feel right, I felt she would have put more focus on the task, her job and less on him. Likewise his determination to tell her everything, yet he’d known her less than a week. It just didn’t sit right for me. VIA had the balance perfect, but here I felt the romance was a bit insta-lust and too serious too quickly, given its only a few days, whereas VIA 1 and 2  covered months.

Nick, I wonder when he first came into VIA if Debbie thought then he’d become Nicolas Katsaros, or if that developed later? I love the way authors do that, make something or someone into so much more later in the series, or as here in a new one. He’s an intriguing person and I’d like to see more of him, he’s got lots hidden that would make for a great story. Still, for now I guess the other three warriors will come first and though this didn’t quite hit the spot I’ll be eager to pass that off as first-book-in-series syndrome and read more.

Stars: Three, a good start but didn’t feel quite there yet. Looking forward to seeing the series develop though.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Shadow Wings, (Skeleton Key), J.C. Andrijeski

Shadow Wings, (Skeleton Key), J.C. Andrijeski

Shadow WIngs (Skeleton Key) by [Andrijeski, JC, Key, Skeleton]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy
Skeleton Key Book Series
One Skeleton Key. Endless Adventures.
https://skeletonkeybookseries.com

One magical key.
The turn of a lock.
An adventure of a lifetime.

The Skeleton Key finds those who are brave enough. Curious enough. Crazy enough. It only needs an unsuspecting hand and inconspicuous door. Magic uncoils and where the door leads, no one knows. The one way to discover the truth is to step through into a world of the exotic and untold.

If you dare to dream the impossible…
Prepare yourself.
Unlock the Skeleton Key adventures
An intriguing concept, 28 different authors writing a story based around the same subject, the Skeleton Key. I love JCA’s writing style so was keen to read this one.

I enjoyed the story, a lot, but it wasn’t anywhere near the pleasure I have from reading Allie’s War, the Morph books  or the fabulous Black series. Raguel is just not Revik!! or Black…. Those books have a much deeper feel, more intese and solid reading. Everything  in this is good and easy to read but its kind of JCA Lite to me compared to the others.
Its a fun story, scary in parts thinking how easily the Russia described could be – in fact probably is – very much like the Russia in this book.
I liked the characters, the very moral Ilana, one of those people who do things because they believe in the rightness of them, not just because its a job, a paycheque. She believes in what she’s doing, genuinely feels as if she wants to make her Russia a better place, but she’s not blind to the corruption and the craze for power that some people fall prey to.
Then she meets Raguel, and she’s puzzled. He seems like a straight forward mental patient, but then he knows things about her he shouldn’t and how does he? She’s puzzled, doesn’t feel he’s the fruit loop others seem to be convinced of, and when he indicates he can help her with her quest to find the murderer she talks to him. What he tells her though though is something she finds impossible to believe..until she sees the key and its reaction to Raguel…

A  fun read, and one I enjoyed and would like to read some of the other stories when there’s time…its always way though, isn’t it – so many books so little time.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable read and it will be interesting to see what approach other authors take.

ARC supplied by author

Last Kiss, Laurelin Paige

Last Kiss,  Laurelin Paige

Genre:  Romance,

 

I struggled with parts of the first book, wasn’t sure of either Emily or Reeve, but they grew on me slowly and I began to understand them.

In book two though there’s still that dichotomy for me of how they both enjoy sex. I know there are people for whom sex like this is what they both want – I just find it hard to understand why? And it makes me feel a bit uncomfortable that there’s such a thin line between giving and taking,.doing what each wants or becoming a manipulative bully. Its something that demands so much trust, and yet these two don’t trust each other. Even now after so much has happened between them there’s still a myriad of secrets and both are still uncertain of each other – and yet I can feel that they’ve both fallen in love. There’s a complication now though – Amber.

Its safe to say I really didn’t like her, saw her as someone who used Emily to back up her own demands and lifestyle.

I’m not really sure why I felt that way – there’s no real evidence, but then that’s true for so much of this story, lots of inferences, hints, trails leading to another secret, bits of stories revealed that turn out to be misleading – a lot of the time I’m lost, trying to understand the hidden messages, read between the lines, understand the subtext underlying what’s actually being said. It seems every conversation between Emily, Reeve and Amber has at least two meanings, and often more and I struggled to work out the truth. That’s clever writing at its best 😉

I did get the ending right, did guess some of what was happening, but not because the plot let the story out, just wishful thinking and a need for a HEA on my part, which led me to look for the parts that would back up my supposition. Lucky guess really!!

Its a drama filled read, full of twists and turns to keep the reader guessing. Its a story that kept me reading, desperate to keep Reeve and Emily together even while I felt so uncomfortable about what they were doing sexually that spilled over into areas outside the bedroom.

I guess unless you’ve those tastes sexually it is hard to understand, and its not the first book which has left me wondering why on earth someone finds being treated so harshly, with words and actions is such a turn on – each to their own though and if it works for them that’s fine. I’d be gutted, devastated at some of the things Reeve says and yet he knows its what Emily wants to hear, what turns her on, and she in turn wants to please him.

The biggest issue I have with stories like this – and I’ve another very similar storyline part two read on review at the moment which gives me the same issue – is that the impetus that built up in first part has dissipated now, and its quite hard to pick up the story and feel the same as if I’d read it all as one book. Its been months and a few hundred books since I read First Touch, and all the drama and excitement I felt then has gone.

*sigh* I really, really wish these stories were just one read. I know that I’ll get so much more from it if I could read it in one go, now its finding time to do that when I’ve so many others waiting 😦

Great read, full of twists and turns, drama and danger, spicy, scorching sex and wonderful HEA.

 

Stars: Five, just need the time to read both parts in one go now.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Reliquary, Sarah Fine

Reliquary,  Sarah Fine

Reliquary (Reliquary Series Book 1) by [Fine, Sarah]

Genre:  Romance,Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, this was a treat – a book about magic, different sorts and people that can hold it, use it, sense it and those that become addicted to it all in a world where most people have no idea it even exists.

Mattie is a great girl, strong and caring, and when her fiancé Ben is abducted she feels not enough is being done to find him so takes her own tracks. She’s shocked to  find he’s ensconced in the world of magic, something he’s kept hidden from her and at first she’s convinced it’s all some kind of trick.
She learns things about him that shock her, and  discovers too that she has a rare talent for carrying magic in her body, enabling it to be transferred to somewhere else.That makes her very valuable to certain people.

In her search for Ben she comes across his estranged brother Asa, who at first seems to live up to his reputation as a surly, aggressive criminal, but along the journey we see another side to him, and I really liked him. Out of him and Ben I’m solidly on team Asa!
The search takes the two through a dangerous path, travelling across the world,  meeting with violent leaders within the money and power driven world of magic, who’ll stop at nothing to get their hands on what they want. Mattie and Asa are walking a thin line and risking their lives, not just once but time and time again to rescue Ben. Despite his deception Mattie is still determined to rescue him.

Its not a book with a cliff-hanger ending, but stops in a natural break but still, I want more, I’ve become a real fan of Asa and the way he and Mattie have such chemistry – for me he’s a far better person and fit for Mattie than Ben.
I love the magic world created here, its feels fresh and unusual, and full of promise for a terrific series. On to book two soon I hope!!

Stars: Five, a great start to a new series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Owned, Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott

Owned,  Cari Quinn & Taryn Elliott

I loved the early books in this series, wasn’t so keen on the novellas and the cliff-hangers that crept in, ( personal prejudice – I know they don’t bother,many readers) but still enjoyed the stories. I thought I’d love this book, but…I liked it, more or less, but it wasn’t a great read for me.

I think for me the magic of a romance is in the how they meet and will it work stuff. Especially with rock band reads with someone ready to jump into place them moments there’s any sign of disharmony. The barriers that creep up, the people, the assumptions about each other,  and other things that prevent two people for getting together all add to the story for me.

Now though Nick and Lila have passed all that, but there are still issues between them, Lila’s role with the band, the band itself and the dynamics between the characters. They’ve come so far from those early days, and I want them to all have a HEA, but maybe I should just stop when they finally get together, because this book just felt to me too much drawn out, too much made of incidences which were minor but blown up to major proportions.

I struggled to keep immersed in the story, to stay with the characters. They’re a great mix, love the way they’ve all grown, and so enjoyed earlier reads, but I found it hard to believe in the split between such long-time friends as Nick and Simon. I didn’t feel convinced that they really wouldn’t have understood each others fears, as they felt from earlier reads that they knew each other inside out.

It was one of those stories where because I love the characters so much from earlier books I had to keep reading, and though I enjoyed much of it there were parts that dragged, that felt forced and where I struggled to keep interested.

 

Stars: Three, a good finishing point that felt a little forced at times.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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Lovegame, Tracy Wolff and fantastic book giveaway

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Lovegame,  Tracy Wolff

Genre: Romance Romance,

I was really surprised by this book – I adore Tracey’s writing style and everything of hers I’ve read so far has been 4 – 5 stars. This though? Well, though I restarted a couple of times thinking maybe i just wasn’t in the right mood, thought perhaps I’d missed something integral to the story I just couldn’t get in to it. After struggling really hard to get to 40% I abandoned it.

I didn’t really feel connected to either Ian or Veronica, didn’t seem to be able to get a sense of what type of person they were – the characters are for me usually a really strong point in Tracey’s novels, and I get drawn in to them and their problems very quickly, so I just didn’t expect that.

There were some very tense and heated sex scenes, but they felt kind of distant in that I couldn’t feel they were truly what each of them wanted to do. It was as if they were having sex purely through lust, and intentions other than romance and sensuality, as if they did it because if what was going on rather than because they just couldn’t keep their hands off each other.

I felt the romance, the characters issues, plus the mystery to be unwrapped connected very tenuously, rather than meshing into one must-read story, and for me this was a surprising fail.

I still adore Tracey’s stories, just that this one didn’t cut it for me. Of course as always that’s a personal view and there are others who are blown away by this story. That’s how it goes, and what keeps novels interesting 🙂

 

Stars: two –one that just didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Seduced,  Devyn Quinn

 

Seduced (Kith & Kynn Book 1) by [Quinn, Devyn]

Genre:  Erotica, Romance

I was really looking forward to this, sounded right up my street but…I didn’t like it.

First issue was Rachel, I found her really selfish. Her ex employee, trusted and valued while she had her bookshop, becomes someone she’s happy to dismiss as soon as she doesn’t need her…and the poor women is only 62 ,but she’s described as practically senile in Rachel’s views.

Then Rachel goes from waitress to higher and then gone in just a few days, and though she was a more than willing participant in what happened, is one of those irritating women who call  foul after the deed is done, blaming everyone else and saying she didn’t really understand. Yep Rachel, would that be before or after you got naked, before or after you mulled over never having had sex with a woman before. Grrr….

Then the cheque issue – how grasping and immoral was she? Nope, I really, really didn’t like her. That means of course I can’t get behind her, want things to work out for her and spoils the way I take to the story.

I had issues with Devon too though, couldn’t believe he would honestly be as all-in after only a couple of days, could really show her his world to that extent, change her life so much, when he knew so little about her. That was a huge risk to the Kynn, and something that I’m sure he wouldn’t have tolerated in his position as Chancellor from anyone else.

I struggle too with the whole I love you, lets have sex with lots of others concept…..my issues of course but ones that affected how I felt about the novel.

Guess my star rate comes as no surprise then – but as always its only how I feel, and everyone wants something different so this could be exactly what you want. I really don’t like Terry Pratchett books either but they sell in the millions 🙂

Reading is subjective, thankfully we’ve a huge range to choose from.

 

Stars:Two, not one for me

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Playing the Perfect Boyfriend, Gone Hollywood 3, Julie Particka

 

Playing the Perfect Boyfriend (Gone Hollywood) by [Particka, Julie]

Genre:  Romance,

I really wanted to like this book, I’d loved the first in the series, somehow missed book two and was hoping this would be as good (for me) as book one. Well, it was an OK read, just didn’t have that magic spark though that the first story had.
Jade, I just couldn’t reconcile her as she is to the person she needed to be for Isak. She’s so full of fun, full of life and takes every minute as it comes – a real grab life by the balls and run with it woman. So why on earth did she think she’d work in a relationship with Isak, who wanted a quiet and sedate wife, someone happy to be a mum and let him have all the limelight. I couldn’t see why they’d ever got together before, and why she wanted to connect again with him. I know her friends are all getting in relationships, becoming settled but kids hadn’t ever been on her horizon so why now?
Dean…mmmnn…what a real man he was. Older than his years mentally he was perfect for Jade, but she just couldn’t seem to see it. The sensuality between them is off the charts – did she really want to give that up for a life of sedate, missionary sex with Isak? He sounded like the kind of man who details sex in his diary along with other dates and spontaneous sex just doesn’t happen. Sun 2pm – golf , Tues 7pm- squash ,  Thursday 12pm- lunch with university colleagues, Sat 10pm Sex….Dullsville all the way and not Jade at all.
I loved Jade and Dean together, loved the way he let her be herself and she let him be Dean, not his actor persona he has to show everyone else. Then of course all gets turned on its head when both have a change of plan and rethink.
I loved the heat in this, adored Dean but Jade – well, for an intelligent woman who’d worked so hard to make her profession a success I found it difficult to believe she’d willingly give it all up for Isak. There’s no chemistry between them,nothing, they’ve not met for two years and yet she wants to abandon her life, move to another country to be with him? Just didn’t feel right or believable for me and that’s where the story let down as its a huge part of the plot. 😦

Stars: Three, an ok read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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