Archive | July 2016

How to Catch a (Falling) Star, A story of Secrets, Scandals and Hollywood Cover-Ups, Gabrielle Aquilina

How to Catch a (Falling) Star, A story of Secrets, Scandals and Hollywood Cover-Ups,  Gabrielle Aquilina

How to Catch a (Falling) Star: A story of Secrets, Scandals and Hollywood Cover-Ups (How to Catch a Star Book 2) by [Aquilina, Gabrielle]

Genre:  Romance,

I really enjoyed the first book, about Jed and Lillie, had a great mix of romance and drama and I looked forward to this. sadly though its a fail for me 😦
It happens, and of course that’s just my opinion and others will love it. Subjective this reading lark!

Johnny was a really sweet guy and a genuine Gentleman, even when it put him in a place he really didn’t want to be. In contrast I found Darcy very shallow, selfish and though I understood her dilemma, explain and face a career plunge or head down and wait it out, I really was angry with her for taking the easy route. Although she tried to set things right later it didn’t make up for it IMO and I felt Johnny was far too good for her 😉

I didn’t really find it a “rock band “ read, simply a book about a rock star – likewise the romance between him and Darcy was a little odd, didn’t really get started, and then became the be-all and end-all. No dating, no meeting up, just some torrid sex and they are in-luurve. Not for me, I need more build up to a romance.

Stars: Two, one that just didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Lessons in Gravity, (Study Abroad Book 2), Jessica Peterson

Lessons in Gravity, (Study Abroad Book 2), Jessica Peterson

Lessons in Gravity (Study Abroad Book 2)

Genre: Romance,

Jessica asked me if I’d like to read/review this, and as book one was on KU and sounded fun too I decided to start with that.
It was a great fun read, steamy romance and drama all set in sunny Spain. We met Vivian in that book, along with best friend Maddie from this one.

I really didn’t like Maddie there, she came over as flighty, shallow and sex obsessed. I love it when authors do that though, introduce a character one way and then in the next book we see Why they’re like that, and I felt for Maddie and understood just why she was that way.
She’s determined to enjoy her time in Spain, trying to find a subject for her final year so she can spend not just a term there but a full year. Along the way she’s going to indulge in some Spanish sex, some Madrileños meetings, holiday hook-ups. Its going to be all light, flirty and fun, nothing serious, no second encounters. then she meets Javier – on her first night out.
He’s Vivian’s boyfriend Rafa’s uncle, and when Rafa says he’s meeting them the girls expect some silver haired older gentleman, but in fact Rafa and Javier are very similar in age. Maddie gets her torrid tryst, and wow – the steam between those two. It scares her though and she jumps out quickly. He’s not so easily forgotten though, that was more than just steamy sex, and its got to her, confusing her and scaring her.

Javier has come home hoping to get back with an old girlfriend, she’s engaged but rumours are its not going well, and while he won’t interfere he wants to be in the right place if they do split. He’s just testing the water so to speak, letting her know he’s home. Then that night with Maddie plays on him, she’s not what he wants, not his long held love, but somehow he can’t seem to get her out of his head.
They agree to be friends…and of course when two people are as attracted to each other as all that its not simple, Javier begins to think maybe Maddie is what he wants, Maddie is falling for him and scared and then there’s his past. which he’d told Maddie about, told her he wanted to make that his future.
Its a tangled web, and a great fun story.

Its a really enjoyable romance, some erotic encounters but backed up with a real story, rock star Javier who wants to settle down, his childhood girl, Maddie’s issues from her family, her need to find a study subject strong enough to get funding to come back. Rafa and Vivian from book one are here and its a well rounded, solid and fun romance. A book to escape with, imagine you’re there in sunny Spain eating Tapas, drinking wine and chatting with friends.

You don’t need to read book one, they are both stand alone romances but it does make this one more fun when you know more of Maddie’s backstory and about Rafa and Vivian getting together.

Stars: Five, a fun summer read

ARC supplied by author

Nacho Figueras Presents: Ride Free, Jessica Whitman

 

Nacho Figueras Presents: Ride Free (The Polo Season: 3) by [Figueras, Nacho, Whitman, Jessica]

Genre: Romance,

I loved the first two books and enjoyed this one too. Very fun and flirty, very Jilly Cooper light hearted style with some hot sex, lots of romance and drama, and of course the horses…
Book one is still my favourite though, but all three are a great summer read.

This time its Antonia that’s the lead. She’s had a difficult upbringing, a mum who’s a real flighty, arty type, more concerned with her appearance and reputation than Antonia, even from when she was a small child. They moved constantly, always with the sense of escaping someone, and she was given the impression that her dad wanted nothing to do with her.
Then a few years back, just when she was at a really low ebb, going through a dark time and struggling for money she discovers its all a lie. She has two older brothers who want her in their family,they knew nothing about her until their father died and they’ve finally tracked her down. Her dad wanted her, wanted to be part of her life but mum always hid from him because he wouldn’t leave his wife, and Antonia is actually an heiress. Well when she’s thirty she will be, for now the Del Campo’s brothers want her at their home, want to get to know her.
Of course Carlos wife isn’t so keen, always had to turn a blind eye to her husbands infidelity and now she’s faced with it daily. Pilar is still giving her the cold shoulder after all the years she’s been there, but they’ve worked around it.

Enzo had wanted her since the first time he saw her and her hard work ahs earned his admiration too. He stays away though, thinking she’s way above him, but its hard. She’s always been attracted to him too, but thinks he sees her as a frined, nothing more. Then things heat up and they get closer, just as they jump into the beginnings of a relationship and it all goes bang and falls apart.

Its another drama fuelled read, with the trademark high society background these books have.
Its an escapist read, one to take you into a world of luxury, where its all ponies, polo, parties and playing around. Its a great summer beach read, one to relax with and enjoy.

Stars: five – another fun read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Reckless Love of an Heir, Lark, Jane

 

The Reckless Love of an Heir by [Lark, Jane]

Genre:  Romance

I dip into historical romances sometimes as I enjoy reading about the past, the way people lived, the contrast to todays world. I’ve enjoyed a few of Jane’s novels and this sounded fun, a little drama along with a romance.

Its a gentle story, I enjoyed the way it played out, and the subtle drama that reflected so well the time period. I did find it hard to really get to know the characters, and to “feel” them but of course the time period means they kept the faces very bland, their emotions tucked away and that’s reflected in this story. Makes it very time accurate but hard for me to understand how the characters feel.

I found Susan to be a bit judgemental at first, but she grew on me, and it was clear Alethea was the favoured sister, the one considered beautiful and she was very much indulged. In contrast poor Susan takes second place, and though she adores Alethea she’s very much dominated by her, even if it is done in a way that’s not openly bullying, but subtle pushes and put downs.
I don’t get the feeling Alethea intends to be unkind, its just the way the family structure plays out, and they way the sisters take their allotted places.

Henry, yep, he was a typical lad-about-town at first and he and Susan are like oil and water, she thinks he’s reckless and selfish, he thinks she’s a prig and judgemental. In a way they are both right but when Henry is home injured and they get to know each other better a real attraction grows. Its slow, and gentle as reflects how Gentlemen and Ladies treated emotions and Love at that time.

Its a disaster though – he’s promised to her sister, a match made at birth and one both families have long accepted. They’ve been waiting for Henry to actually man up and get engaged, and he has been putting it off, living life up with his friends, enjoying life as a bachelor. Now though he can’t face losing Susan but she won’t let down her sister – what are they to do?

It works out well, very true the the actions of the Gentry in that period, but it lacked for me the appeal of some of Jane’s other historical stories. Its one of those that is a fun read, but forgettable, and not one I’d reread.

Stars: Three, a decent read but not one I’d reread.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Sapphire Affair, A Jewel Novel Book 1, Lauren Blakely

The Sapphire Affair, A Jewel Novel Book 1,  Lauren Blakely

The Sapphire Affair (A Jewel Novel Book 1) by [Blakely, Lauren]

click image for amazon link

Genre:  Romance,

I loved Lauren’s Seductive Nights trilogy, full of sexy romance and heart stopping drama so I was keen to read this, even though *sigh* I’ve already been turned down for book two which I’d requested before I got this one…..

I feel a little underwhelmed though, I enjoyed the story, but just didn’t love it, it lacked that magic spark that makes a five star read. I found it really slow to start, and given that I was approved for book one but refused book two ( boo, hiss) it was really hard continuing with the story. It does get better though by 30%.

Both Jake and Steph didn’t feel “real” to me for a very long time, I didn’t feel I could know them and so that affected the way I cared about them. I could feel the lust between them, but that was purely a physical reaction, and even that didn’t have the can’t-keep-hands-off-each-other feel that usually goes with this kind of story and is so well done in Lauren’s other stories. Maybe that’ll change in book two. I did get to feel more for them as the story went on.

I was a bit confused by the storyline too at times, especially once they join up – they never discuss who is getting what if they are successful, or what they are planning to do with the haul, and I’d have thought that’s one of the first things they’d want to agree on. Maybe it was there, but if so it was very brief and I missed it? Just seems odd to me to have such a huge question unanswered.
Then there’s stepdad Eli, a rat fink ex and yet he was with her mum for a long while, a great dad to her, and I wasn’t sure where and why he changed? There’s one tiny mention of him cheating on her mum, but after they split its as if he was doing it all the while and I needed to know which version was the real one.
Her mum describes “giving” him the money to start his business, not that it was a loan, and though he’d supposedly embezzled the company he seems to have been a well respected, and very successful person in all the years he was there. I’m wondering why he didn’t just use the money he had honestly as part owner of a very successful company? Maybe I’ve just misread/misunderstood that section but it left me with questions that affected how I saw the plot playing out.

Of course there’s a cliff hanger ending of sorts, but given there’s book two to come I’m pretty sure that will get speedily resolved 😉
As always I do wish the next book was out now or that the tale was all in one book – I just lose the impetus of the story when waiting for months, and when I’m sort of not “in love” with the story sometimes I find it really hard to pick it up again.
Its a good read, well written as we expect from Lauren but somehow for me it just was a bit lacking.

Stars: Three and a half, an Ok goodish read but I’m hoping book two picks up the pace and answers my questions.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

To Have and to Hold, A Returning Home Novel, Serena Bell

To Have and to Hold, A Returning Home Novel,  Serena Bell

To Have and to Hold: A Returning Home Novel by [Bell, Serena]

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Genre: Romance,

 

I’d read and loved the first two Returning Home novels, so looked forward to getting stuck into this. Once more I got a story and characters I could fully engage with – Trina, poor Trina. What an terrible position to be in, my heart broke for her, but she handled it incredibly well. Hunter too – it must be awful to have gaps in your memory, to have that weight of expectation put on you when you can remember nothing of what relates to it.

The two daughters were wonderful characters, as was the gran. Her actions – well, if I’d been Trina or Hunter I too would have been angry,and yet she did things from the right motives.

Its a heart breaking read, where you can see Hunter wants to do right but just doesn’t remember the feelings he had, where Trina can see the man she loves and yet he’s not that same man anymore, looks like him, talks like him but inside there’s a huge gap, and you wonder if they can get past this hurdle, if his memory will return, and what will happen if it doesn’t. Hard times and I felt for all of them.

Another cracking read that’s full of emotion and drama, and fits perfectly with the two earlier books,

but which can also be read as a stand alone if you haven’t read those.

Stars:Five, a great addition to the series.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

True North, (The Compass 4), Tamsen Parker

True North,  (The Compass 4),  Tamsen Parker

True North (Compass series Book 4) by [Parker, Tamsen]

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http://amzn.to/29Y9pHx

Genre: Romance,

I’m really getting into this series now from a somewhat tentative start, and love Tamsen’s writing style. It’s a story that draws you in, real characters, believable plots and of course lots and lots of hot, erotic sex. The well written kind, not the squirky, twee, mealy mouthed sort . I’ve been compiling a list of stomach churning sex terms – none here thankfully, but at the weekend I read one novel where, I kid you not, the terms “curls of her divide, her pleasure point, sliding his enormity into her…” were used…. I’ve also found fluttering, quivering openings, and man meat/man muscles, mushroom caps in other reads. I just can’t take a romance seriously when things like that crop up, and thank goodness Tamsen doesn’t do that. Sniggering when you should be rapt with sensuality just isn’t right!

Anyway – enough of that – this book. Well, I recall Slade from ( I think ) book 2. I love the way authors can create a whole story from a character, who’s almost a fleeting thought in an earlier book, and it was great to see more of him, see why he was so obnoxious to people. Boy was he that, and as for poor Pressley, well the wonderful Reyes soon put him right.
India, I’ve had issues with her but she was generous enough, even after how she’d been treated, to tell him he needed professional advice…well, in her own way, she was hurting in more ways than one at the time.
That intrigued Slade. Could there really be more people with his needs, was he really not so weird, different, someone who needed to be avoided?When I realised how he felt about himself it all made sense, and though I hated the way he’d been treating people, once I understood him I had more sympathy. I’m glad he wasn’t my boss though.
Then he meets Reyes, and Rey doesn’t stand for any nonsense from him, lays his conditions on the line while reassuring him he isn’t weird, a pervert, but someone with specific needs, which he has to learn to control. He makes it clear one step out of line and he’s alone again. Then Rey takes him to a club where he gets a huge surprise…massive!
It gives him a second chance, and I loved the way he tried so hard, struggled, loved the way Pressley had changed, had grown more sure of herself, and the struggles when politics got caught in the play. I love the way all this takes place over months, so many books cram huge changes in the characters lives into a few weeks, even just a few days sometimes and for me that just isn’t believable, that you can change habits and inclinations of years in such a short time.

A great read, made richer by the tantalising glimpses of the wonderful Reyes – I am so, so eager to read his story. From the first book I’ve found him so intriguing and I’m so keen to know more about him. And Matthew too of course, that’s one relationship that’s kind of hung out before the reader, dangled but kept very elusive, nothing is really given away. Are they lovers, emotionally or physically, or is it a D/s relationship only. I need to read more of Rey ASAP Tamsen!

Stars: Five, a cracking read.

ARC supplied by Author

Nacho Figueras Presents: Wild One, Jessica Whitman

Nacho Figueras Presents: Wild One,  Jessica Whitman

Nacho Figueras Presents: Wild One (The Polo Season: 2) by [Figueras, Nacho, Whitman, Jessica]

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For some reason this is out in US but not til 24th Aug in UK, even though book three is out 27th July? Weird huh?? Its on preorder though.

 

I loved the first book, High Season, and this was another fun, flirty read featuring Polo and the Del Campo family. It reminded me a bit of the Jilly Cooper novels, especially Polo, having that same light hearted, drama fest air.

Sometimes you want a read that’s solid drama, intense and moody and at other times you need a book like this, one that’s fun to read, an escape into a world you’ve never touched, where its all glamour and glitz on the top and horses, hard work  and sweat underneath.

In horse-riding its like most sports, the easier it looks the harder you know it really is, that only intense training produces those results. I’ve ridden ( still have Muska my 26 year old Icelandic mare at home in the garden ) but never been in competitive sports, never seen anything like a Polo match, and yet from novels and my own experience with horses I’ve an idea of just how much goes into it, and how expensive and sponsor dependent it is.

I loved Sebastian in the last book, love that easy going, fun air he has about him, and in this book we see he also has a more serious side, that there’s a reason for his blend of frivolity and seeming carelessness. Kat too was a great lead, I understood her issues, how hard it must be to replicate the success of her first film, when after that flop of the second no-one wanted to take a chance. That old adage about never resting on your laurels springs to mind – she didn’t want to rest, wanted to work, to keep going but Film making is a small world, the risks are high, and those with the money to back something don’t like high risk ventures.

 

Its another fun, sensual read, with realistic people and that felt “real” to me, knowing little about how that world actually works. I had no trouble imaging the scenes, keeping up with the plots, the problems, that worries and then when things went right that “down” drama made it feel so much sweeter.

Its a read I’ll be happy to enjoy again when i want a fun, summery romance, an escape from reality.

Stars: Five, a great fun, flirty, summer read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Boundary Born, Boundary Magic Book 3, Melissa F. Olson

Boundary Born, Boundary Magic Book 3,  Melissa F. Olson

Boundary Born (Boundary Magic Book 3) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

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Genre:  General fiction,  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I read books one and two on KU, and just loved them. Melissa is a new-to-me author and I just love that, someone who’s got a host of stories I haven’t read. There’s a couple of side books too that don’t need to be read to understand this trio, but which do make certain issues clearer and as they’re on KU – well, yep, I read them too.

This is the final part of Lex’ story for now, though I understand Melissa may return to this world at a later date. In a way I’m sad, but also I think its worked well this way, and its good to have a for-now closure.
Sometimes series go on so long that the whole main story gets lost, and it becomes a muddle and the magic of earlier reads gets spoiled. Its clear here Melissa had a definite plan for Lex.
I love Lex, love the relationship with her dead sister Sam, and of course with Vampire Quinn.

There’s enough romance to keep me happy, and it never dominates the story, its very much a background issue. I like the personal relationship, the way they’ve come together and support each other, but in a story like this its great to have a romance that doesn’t interfere with the main story.
The plot in this one ties up many things raised in earlier stories, and the whole main plot surrounding Lex and the boundary witch thing comes full circle.
Its a great story, Lex goes from crisis to crisis once more, with her good friends help as always. She’s one of those characters who make strong ( and useful) friends and they are an integral part of the story. Even though its a fantasy read it feels real, the dangers feel genuine and there’s no “rabbit out of a hat” fixes, Lex and her friends have to work hard, risk much to get to the solutions.

If you love a good fantasy read, real characters, a story with drama and depth, things that “could” be real if this world was genuine, then this trilogy is a great choice. Its on KU too and for those like me who subscribe its a terrific bargain.

Stars: five, its been a wonderful trilogy to enjoy

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Until Harry, L.A. Casey. Hiatus,  L. A. Witt

Until Harry,  L.A. Casey

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Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

I’d not read any of L.A.Casey’s work before but this had a slew of 4 anf 5 star reviews so I requested it. Sadly though its a book that didn’t work for me.

Its well written and plotted out, everything falls into place just as it should, though some parts are a little predictable ( the will…I saw that coming a mile away). It wasn’t the story I didn’t like, it was the characters 😦

Its down to that old divider – personal taste. Reading is very subjective and where others found Lane a great lead I found her ( and Kale) older than years when she was young and then childish and selfish when she’s older. In fact it was really hard to belive in her and find her real when we meet her at 6, 10, 13 etc.
Kale has readers that adore him, I found him a bit – well – weird. What young lad really is best friends with a girl when he’s regarded as a brother he’s at their house so much and she has two brothers close to his age?
The whole family “Waltons” feel – I never did like that 70’s series although millions did, and this book has that same slightly idealistic, unreal family grouping to me. They way they treated Lane, “ you can’t leave!!” from them – she was 20 then and yet they really expected her to do as they said, and then acted like that when she wouldn’t?
Like I said its a book clearly thousands will love, its well written, well thought out but the characters just spoiled the story for me. I have to like them, want them to suceed in their love and here I was just too indifferent to the couple. Add in that the “romance” side never really kicks in until near the end and it was a fail for me :- (

Stars: Two, sadly not to my taste.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Hiatus,  L. A. Witt

Hiatus by [Witt, L.A.]

click image for amazon link

Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA

I usually love LA Witt’s writing and expected to enjoy this read but…it was good – but not great. a bit Meh, and that came as a surprise. Maybe as most of the ones I’ve liked have come via a different publisher and of course each house sets its own basics. Perhaps MM via Samhain doesn’t do it for me, although Fantasy mostly does…..

I didn’t really feel connected to the characters, wasn’t upset, happy, sad for them as I needed to be. It was a kind of take it or leave it read for me. One I could happily put down and walk away from whereas usually I just Have To Finish the story. I felt really frustrated by their actions, and just didn’t understand how after so long together both Cam and Theo could have missed what the other was going through. I know they were kind of insidious problems, and maybe the fact they had their own things going on didn’t help but it just didn’t feel real to me and that’s why it was an OK read but not a great read. Still, as ever others will love it – we all have different criteria for what makes a good read thankfully 😉

Stars: Three, not as good for me as others by this author.

ARC supplied by publishers and Netgalley

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