Archive | April 2017

You’re the One That I Want, Giovanna Fletcher. The Theatre, Marsha R. West

You’re the One That I Want, Giovanna Fletcher.

You're the One That I Want by [Fletcher, Giovanna]

Genre:  RomanceRomance, Sci Fi & Fantasy

Ah, I so wanted to love this, but was sadly disappointed.
I’d actually BOUGHT Billy and Me. Yep, it wasn’t a review book, wasn’t a KU but one I bought – and I loved it, so when I saw this up for review I was hoping for more of that angsty, heartfelt drama and fabulous characters I found in Billy. Sadly they aren’t here IMO 😦

The whole format is very, very differently written. Amost diarised from mainly Maddiy and Ben. Little from Rob though.
It starts very briefly with almost the end of the story, and then goes right back to the three lead characters age 5.
Then probably the next third to half of the book covers them up to about 16, told in Maddy and Ben’s POV, with other little flashbacks. That didn’t work for me, I don’t want huge chunks of the story to be what they did as kids, even if it is giving me an insight into how they acted as adults.
Even when we do get to them as older kids, 16+, it felt just too repetitive, and it just didn’t work for me. There was so much indescision, second guessing, wondering what if etc.
I think the main issue for me is the whole format wasn’t what I expected, I wanted to read of three adults in a who-will-get-the-girl saga ( yeah – both of them!! I wish …) with maybe some dating with both or something.
I felt what I got was lots of seeing them as kids, a bit of Ben’s hankering after her from a distance as they left school, and we didn’t really hear anything from Rob. That felt odd as he’s such a major character.
I did get so bored I was flipping forward, skim reading especially when it covered them as kids.
Then there’s a short epilogue five years or so on, and  😮 I just felt it didn’t really fit with any of the novel except for the fact all three characters were in it. Odd.

Just not what I want in a romance but as always that’s just me, and I can see there are others that love this story. Horses for courses once more.
If it had been my first read of Joanna’s work I’d have probably never tried a second, but Billy was written so very differently and I loved it so I’m hoping this one is the blip and she’ll write/have written more like Billy….

Stars: Two, just not my kind of read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

The Theatre, Marsha R. West

The Theatre by [West, Marsha R]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

Sometimes you get a book that’s potentially a great story for others, but just doesn’t resonate for you, and that’s what happened here.
I did finish the story, but it was a bit of a slog. I can’t really put my finger on reasons, there’s nothing obvious, its more a fusion of many tiny issues.

Kelly, talented, gorgeous, barely eats, actress come choreographer is back in her home town for the summer. Everyone knows her and most love her. Her parents are kind of throwing her in the path of Josh, divorced son of their friends.
He’s the local Police Chief, tall, blonde and handsome, and though they don’t start off on the right foot they’re very attracted to each other, and soon sleeping together. Or not sleeping 😉

Both hers and Josh’s father have dementia, Kelly has a stalker, the gays in the theatre have bigoted haters, and that spills over to the theatre itself.
Somehow there seemed lots going on but it felt very stereotyped, very cliched. The good guys were very good, the gay guys were very “gay” and the bad guys stood out clearly.
I didn’t really like the way Kelly faffed about with Josh, didn’t really feel anything towards Josh and overall its a story that just didn’t work for me.
That’s just my opinion though, I can see for others it was perfect, and that’s how it should be, everyone wants something different.

Stars: Two and a half, there were a few parts I enjoyed and I didn’t dislike the book, just didn’t feel pulled into the story as I am when its one I love.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens. Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten, Heather McCorkle

Once Bitten (The Wolves of Hemlock Hollow) by [McCorkle, Heather]

Genre:  Romance,

My first read of Heather’s novels, but I love the werewolf genre and this sounded fun.
I found it a little – well – bland I guess? It was well written, the characters were all clearly set out and the take of the werewolf genre had some fresh additions. Sounds good doesn’t it?
However I just found the story dragged, with nothing much happening until the last 20% or so. Even then I found that for a group so set in rules and hierarchy the story-line went well off track.

I couldn’t see how all these things, all these anarchist actions wouldn’t have been seen coming, if those in charge had been taking note. Its hard to see a rigid, supposedly strong and well run system fall down so badly by the actions of such inept characters.
There didn’t seem to have been much thought or planning of what would happen,  and the ones creating the mayhem were strangely lacking in intelligence and strategy.
The story-line is sound, and things like this do happen but it needed to have characters that were capable of planning and executing such a strategy for me to believe it.

Its kind of a one plot book too, in that Sonya’s transforming was a part of that overall plot. I liked Ty, apart from his manner of speaking which proved irritating after a time, but he was so laid back he was almost horizontal, which didn’t fit so well with his thoughts on throwing everything, disregarding all the rules, because he was so attracted to Sonya. I anted to say “get a grip man, its only for a couple of weeks!!” The man I thought he was would have done just that, not been mulling constantly about giving in to temptation.
Its one of those reads that feels very simplistic, not complex drama but a quick easy read. Depends what you want – and its different for everyone, for me its more often the complex drama that does it.

First books in a series have a hard task and for me this one doesn’t quite live up to the promise of the description. I’m undecided as to whether I want to continue with it. I’ll see nearer the time I guess, how much other things I’ve got on and whether I’m pulled in by the description. I’m not saying I would read more, not saying its a no go for me but I am on the fence over it.

Stars: two and a half, a good premise but it needs a bit more action and drama, a little more speed for me. Maybe in the later books?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dark Moon Wolf, Calling the Moon, Sarah E. Stevens

Dark Moon Wolf (Calling the Moon Book 1) by [Stevens, Sarah E.]

Genre:  General Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I love paranormal/Fantasy, and wolf shifters in particular appeal to me. I was keen to read this, a first in what hopefully would turn out to be a new and fun series.
I’d made the mistake of thinking this was romance, isn’t not classed as that, simply my error and not looking carefully enough. That’s not a game-changer though, I read books other than romance too 🙂 Just that it came as a surprise to find out some things early in the story.

Its an interesting read, Sarah has put a slightly different slant on shifter practicalities and categories which was good, kept that part fresh.
The story though didn’t really work totally for me. There was just so much in it, the search for Carson’s dad, meeting the new people, finding out about werewolves and witches…Julie was incredibly blase about all the new things she was learning.
Then the murders. there was a lot of action, lots going on and I just had a hard time believing things would play out as easily as they did.
Don’t get me wrong – there was struggle, lots of it but given Julie is human and new to all this supernatural stuff she did really well. the other werewolves too has a very hard task solving the murders, they’d been cleverly done by someone who was clever and had lots of backing, and I just couldn’t see things playing out quite the way they did without Huge, Massive repercussions.
I didn’t guess who was involved til quite far on when there’s a really – to the reader- obvious clue but Julie completely misses it.

It looks like a debut novel, I can’t find any more books. Its well written but I just felt there was a little too much packed tightly into a novel that was just a bit too short for it. If the story was a bit longer so the action could have been made more realistic, and not have “Clue, and wow – here’s the Perpetrator” plots that these shorter novels need I think its one I’d love.

A first in series has a hard ask too, setting the scene, introducing new characters, and in the case of fantasy/paranormal, other types of people, and all the while leading a story to keep the readers interest. This one does OK for me, but of course will be perfect for others. That’s how it goes, we don’t all want the same thing thankfully!

Stars: Three, a good start to fiction writing, and a new series, but for me needed a little more reality and practicalities.

BTW Full/Lily: does she remind anyone else of Dolly Parton? For some reason she’s all I see each time Full comes into the story

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

His Family of Convenience, Amy Ayers

His Family of Convenience, Amy Ayers

His Family of Convenience (The Medina Legacy) by [Ayers, Amy]

Genre:  Romance,

Sometimes I just want to read a simple love story, the alpha male type, with a bit of angst but always a HEA. Entangled are my go-to publishers for that. I’ve been reading a few heavy romances, and in-depth paranormal and I wanted something light so chose this one for last nights bedtime reading 🙂

I loved the blurb, loved the secret baby idea ( but the failure rate for condoms in romances must be about 75%!!) The dilemma of Marco being ultra traditional, having an arranged marriage but now finding he’s got a son too was intriguing. I was really hoping that would lead to some delicious scenes between senna and his wife to be.

Sadly though for me this stayed in the mundane end of romance, a barely adequate story, nothing special.
The line I was hoping between Senna and Marco’s fiancee didn’t come, she was at one moment icy and unapproachable and the next she was all freinds with Senna. There were things about Max that Marco discussed with her, promised he’d put to Senna and which would have provided some awesome fireworks, but instead they never happened? Why raise that topic anyway then? Not just once but twice -maybe three times it came up.
I also had her pegged as responsible for something else that came out but…nope. TBH I felt she was an odd character and I was unsure of exactly how she was supposed to be, what kind of person she was, if she was going ahead with the wedding through duty, wantied to marry Marco for power and prestige, name etc, or in love with him and determined to keep him for herself….then at other times she seems to not be looking forward to the wedding.
Very mixed person, and she could – IMO – have made such a difference to the story. Still, its perfect for other readers of course.

I didn’t buy Marco’s excuses for not knowing about the pregnancy, he might have not got a few messages passed on, and of course he was concerned for his sick father but all of them?
Why didn’t his brother say something – Senna says she met him on one visit to the company to try to see Marco and he must have known she was pregnant. Not saying anything didn’t really gel with the guy he seems to be later, though maybe he didn’t know she’d been with Marco…I’ll let him off, though you’d think it would have come up in just general conversation. ” BTW Marco, did you know your former assistant is pregnant? I met her at the office recently” Y’know, how people just chat about stuff…
Senna, she’s come so far with just the help of her flatmate, and she stands up to Marco at first. I’d have been outraged too at the heavy handed way he did things, been so angry at his bulldozer ways. She realises though that he didn’t know, that her messages weren’t passed on and gives him a pass. Well….her choice, I’d have hung on a bit more.
He could have made the effort to see she was OK after their night of passion, he’s the sort of guy who’s always doing six things at once. It would only take a phone call to one of his team to check on her.
Then when they’re back at his family home and she’s being treated appallingly by his mother he says nothing, walks off and leaves her at the family dinners and functions. If it wasn’t for his sister Mila poor Senna would have been totally isolated.
After all that she just rolls over and says yes when he’s in her bed, knowing he’s to marry someone else in a few weeks. Senna, where’s your self respect!!

Stars: 2.5/3 A shocker for me from Entangled, just about makes it into a 3 star novel, when I was expecting so much more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heartfelt, Carol Owen

Heartfelt, Carol Owen

Heartfelt by [Owen, Carol]

Genre:  Romance,

The cover: I don’t often look at these unless they catch my eye and this one did but for the wrong reasons. I don’t like the font colour, and the whole faded appearance look just doesn’t do it justice IMO. With that and the pinkish swirly script it looks like an old 60’s/70’s M&B read and its far more intense than one of those….I don’t feel this cover suits the story at all.

This is a gentle romance, so very real, with characters that go through events that shape their lives and feelings just as happens in reality. We are products of what happens to us in life, and when I’m reading, even though its fictional lives I want to feel the characters could have lived through events, acted like the way they do in the book.

Shay is going through something that affects many of us, the big C. Been there, done that and like Shay found its a scary time, treatment is hard and picking up life again while still wondering of every twinge is a recurrence is very difficult, balancing fear and over reaction with the need to be observant and vigilant.

Drew, what a gorgeous man. Talented artist and teacher of art, he’s in Shay’s town while his house is renovated, hoping to get on with some work for his next show.
He’s had a tough spell too, with his estranged wife dying in a car crash while they were picking up daughter Patti from school.
Patti was badly injured, has spent months recovering and still can’t recall everything about the accident. It makes her frustrated and angry at Drew much of the time.
I think its strange how often in US reads that 18 year olds, as Patti is, are treated and act as if they are much younger. Reading about her I’d have thought she was about 14. Is there really such disparity between US and UK teens? Something to ponder…

Anyway Drew meets Shay and they’re both shocked at the attraction. Neither was looking for or expected that, and the path forward is fraught with bumps, one of them a real big bump!
I did think Shay was a bit OTT in her (re)actions, I know cancer affects us all differently, but somehow what she did didn’t fit too well with the person I thought I’d come to know – but then again it made for some perfect angst and I do love that 😉

Its not just Shay, Drew and Patti though. There’s his brother and sister in law, expecting their first child, his Gallery agent and his students, Shay’s son Luke and his girlfriend, her friends in the village and her online cancer support group.

It made for a very rounded read, with lots of emotion at times, and felt so very real.  Its a story I really enjoyed, not a heart stopping mile-a-minute read but a more sedate meander through all these different folk.

Stars: four, a very real, beautiful, gentle romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Beyond the Wild River, Sarah Maine

Beyond the Wild River, Sarah Maine

Beyond the Wild River by [Maine, Sarah]

Genre:  Historical fiction

I was intrigued by this tale, a young lady didn’t often get the chance for adventure that Evelyn has with the Canada journey.

I really enjoyed the story, its beautifully written, felt very evocative of the time period and the wilderness of the lands. The philosophy that creeps in too, the unfairness of UK laws, where Ballantyre gets taken to task by a poacher of “his” salmon, the dichotomy of whether people can actually own salmon and other creatures just because they’re passing through their land. that could be taken further – who says land belongs to them….interesting points and fitted very well within the story as it unfolds.

I liked the mix of people included, and the descriptions of the journey and the camps.
I felt for James, from a child he’d been placed in an unfair situation, and life then was very much dependent on who you were when you were born.
Corruption, bribery, turning a blind eye all played a part if the perpetrators of a crime were wealthy, titled whereas everyone else caught the full throw of the law for tiny offences.

I loved Evelyn, and poor Clemmy, caught up in a journey she really wasn’t suited for. Evelyn has a spirit of adventure, Clemmy really belongs in a place where she can be indulged, surrounded by luxuries and cosseted hand and foot!
Evelyn chafed against the restrictions placed on a young lady of the time and fell into the adventure whole-heartedly, happy to rough it and live so very differently.

What I did find hard to take though was that the story was very slow, lacked any real drama in the first 2/3 rds.
We’re gradually learning about the mystery of Jacko’s death and the repercussions but the story itself, though so beautifully written didn’t keep me engaged and i did put it aside several times which is unusual for me. I like to read a book in two or preferably one sitting(s).

Stars: four, a lovely read for the time and descriptions of the wilderness but the story itself lacked pace at times for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen, P.J. Fox

Fallen by [Fox, P.J.]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction

I wasn’t really sure what this book would be about. Seemed to be some kind of dystopian/futuristic romance read, and as I’d not read any of PJ Fox’ work before I decided to try it.

I’ve finished now and TBH I’m still not really sure what it was about….A very strange romance between Dane and Ani, a weird society who have one might a year when everyone is free to kill who they want without reprisal, and some very odd behaving characters.

That’s about it for me. I didn’t really understand the story, didn’t get a sense of who and what the characters were and what the whole thing was about.
The idea that the free-for-all Purge kept society working better than imprisonment was just plain weird and of course open to all sorts of abuse. Some of the characters didn’t want justice, just wanted a chance to kill someone, anyone, just for “fun”.
I hold my hands up and admit I skim read the last third as frankly I was floundering and just wanted to get the book finished.

This is probably one of the shortest reviews I’ve ever done but even though I read the whole book I still can’t understand what it was about, what the point of it all was and whether or not I actually wanted Dane and Ani to end up together.

Stars: Two, a book that just didn’t work for me. Might be one you love – who knows? for me though it was a fail.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Walk of Shame, Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame, Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame: Love Unexpectedly 4 by [Layne, Lauren]

Genre:  Romance,

I loved Lauren’s Oxford sereis, so really looked forward to this one. For me though it was a disappointment. Looking at early reviews I see lots of readers love it yet quite a few like me didn’t.

Georgie, she’s not the usual type of heroine. I liked her cheery outlook, her friendliness and her general kindness to others. This character in books is usually the opposite to all that, though I’m not complaining, its what makes many books special 😉
I think for me Georgie lacked any real character though, she seemed all light and fluffy, no real depth to her, just partying along, spending time shopping, lunching, gossiping, its all so vapid and hard to make a character with any depth of of one like that.

Then there’s Andrew, totally her opposite, and again we could see why he was that rigid persona, but it made it very hard to see what the connection was between the two, how they could make a relationship work. The colour red is a very tenuous connection…
I liked Andrew in the same way as I liked Georgie, but didn’t see how either of them would work in a relationship, they have little in common, don’t really know anything about the other, and I didn’t feel that magic crackle of attraction.
I love the slow build up, the gradual dawning that each likes the other, then slowly they meet more and more and that deepens. None of that here. just some snark and lust and that doesn’t make a relationship.

I didn’t dislike the book, just found it a hard read, didn’t get properly engrossed in it and kept putting to one side.
I know its not one I’ve really enjoyed when I find myself glad I’ve reached the end…One of those reads that’s well written but where the actual story just doesn’t cut it for me.

Stars: Two. 😦 Sorry Lauren, loved other books of yours but not this one. Still, there’s lots of other  readers for whom its perfect.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Candy Is Magic, Real Ingredients – Modern Recipes, Jami Curl

Candy Is Magic, Real Ingredients – Modern Recipes,  Jami Curl

Candy Is Magic: Real Ingredients, Modern Recipes by [Curl, Jami]

Genre:   food and wine, cooking.

I love my kindle but there are some books, non fiction mostly, that I feel are better in print and this is one of them.
I read it on my kindle fire, at least there I can appreciate the stunning colour photos. and drool at the wonderful confects created.

When my kids were young I used to make toffee, mainly for toffee apples and millionaire’s shortbread, something they all loved. ( And probably with a million calories in, though very delicious…)
Of course I burned it a few times, soon learned that soaking burned pans lifted off the burnt sugar in time, but the results of my experiments were always a bit hit and miss.
I didn’t have kitchen scales or a thermometer, used to use the cold water cracking method of timing, which isn’t accurate…somehow having several bad batches put me off and I stopped.
Reading this book though gives me the enthusiasm to restart, make some for Xmas gifts and birthdays, and just for fun.

The recipes are clearly set out and very well devised, so that the amateur cook can follow using the recommended tools.
There isn’t a need to buy too much, scales and thermometer seem to be the basic must haves, with other things recommended but not essential. The recipes don’t have 101 hard-to-find ingredients. That is so off putting when something you want to make has ingredients you just can’t find, or have to buy a huge pack to get the few grams needed for a few lollies or toffees.
The combinations used for flavouring sound delicious, and will also spur the reader on to their own ideas.
The sky really is the limit when it comes to flavours, some you’ll like and some will get a pass…but all will be perfect if you follow the easy steps laid out here.

I want to get back into toffee making, know now why my attempts at fudge went wrong, and the lollipops, those clear ones with little seeds etc in for decoration, I really want to try those. Maybe some candy canes for the tree at xmas too. I love all things glitter and metallic so I thought I could add some edible gold leaf or some gold dust to the clear lollies and have a bit of edible glitz for xmas.

Stars: Five, an inspiring book, to create sweets to satisfy cravings without filling your body with preservatives and artificial flavours.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend, K.M. Galvin and Interlude, FourMain 1, Kay Halliday.

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend, K.M. Galvin

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend by [Galvin, K.M.]

Genre:  Romance, General fiction

A book about and author and her books….interesting I thought. Well, it was…and it wasn’t.

The idea was interesting, Bell and her friend/PA are on a tour promoting the final book in the series, and painfully self-conscious, publicity avoiding Bell has to dress up as the book heroine Mykala, while they bring in a model dressed as Max, along with his PA to accompany her.
Road tour with people who’ve never met but are spending the next two months in very close proximity, could be fun, could be a disaster.

I had issues with Bell, I get she’s self conscious but she doesn’t always act like it, appearing brash and over confident sometimes and at other times its causing her to have panic attacks.
She’s kind of rude too, to Caleb. Fair enough at first meeting he was a jerk and deserved it, but she continues even while they’ve formed a friendship.

I just wasn’t convinced of the enemies to freinds to lovers and maybe more in their story. I’m not really sure why though, I can’t quite work out what it is that stops me believing in them but something does. I think the real crux is that I wasn’t keen on any of the characters that much, I just didn’t really get a feel for them as real people, and that’s so important to me.

It’ll be a perfect read for others of course, and I’m glad for them. We all look for different things and though this one wasn’t for me it was well written and I’d be happy to try another by this author.

Stars: Two, sadly not one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

*********************************************************************************

Interlude, FourMain 1, Kay Halliday.

Interlude (FourMain Book 1) by [Halliday, Kay]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult

I love the Rock Star genre, but this is a story about rock stars, not one set in the active touring/songwriting/recording world.
I can’t find any other books by Kay, so assume this is her debit novel and it’s very well done for a first novel.

I did find though at times it dragged, usually I love long novels, but sometimes this one seemed as though they were hashing and rehashing things out so much I switched off. The same things came out in just slightly different way it felt.
That’s my main criticism about the book, its an excellent story but could (IMO of course! not everyones) have been tightened up a bit, with some parts made clearer, strengthened.
I’m thinking of things such as exactly why Kendrick and Eliza were apart, when its clear they’re both still deeply in love, he’s visiting her and the kids most days.
There’s this undefinable “something” that’s caused it and I found it frustrating not knowing what the issue was. I felt I’d missed reading a section maybe and even skimmed back to check. that carries on throughout the book and I just couldn’t see why they were apart. Given its such a huge thing, a major plot in the story, I needed to know sooner, and when right near the end it finally comes out it felt wrong, very anti-climatic. Life just doesn’t work like that, we don’t know whats coming, how we’d react, we just have to roll with it.

The first half was a little slow for me, and I did skim a few scenes…*blush* wanting to get to the meat of the story.
The last third was so perfect though, really set up the scenes, provided lots of excitement and drama, right up my street.
I’m hoping in later books this part gets continued, its a potentially great story-line, providing lots of potentially vituperative and nasty scenes. This book has lots of good people in, and the label owner, a real unpleasant greedy controlling man, isn’t actually in this novel, we just hear about him.
I’d like to see some nasties – him or some like him – in later books to provide a balance to all the good characters in this one.

Overall an excellent first book and I look forward to more.

Stars: Four, a really interesting read, with lots of emotion and drama.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

How to Bang a Billionaire, Alexis Hall and Wake Up Call, JL Merrow

How to Bang a Billionaire,  Alexis Hall
 
How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives Book 1) by [Hall, Alexis]

Genre: Romance,

I’ve enjoyed several of Alexis’ reads now, he delivers a solid storyline with a side of romance that I can believe in, that has the edge on so many romance reads by making the stories fresh and unusual, the characters just that bit different.
On the face of it Arden and Caspian are unlikely lovers, total opposites and yet together they work. Not without some serious issues though 😉 Well, who wants a love story that runs smoothly, boring.
I was a little underwhelmed by the ending, it seemed for so long they were struggling, and then in the last few chapters there’s a glimmer of hope for the future, but it felt very HFN rather than HEA and I was just disappointed. I wanted more. As it was I would have rated four stars, I just needed more conclusion.
And then I came to write my review, looked on Goodreads to see what else I’d enjoyed from Alexis and found – hurrah – this ISN’T the end, there’s more – two books more, in Arden St. Ives 2 and 3, due out later this year.
That changes everything, I understand now why there wasn’t that happy ever after, why it felt inconclusive and of course I can rate as a part story, not as a complete one, and that’s the magic five because I loved it, and am looking forward to seeing where life and love takes these two next.

So what did I love? Arden, wonderful, glorious Arden.
I adore characters like him, he’s small, slight, prone to dressing in a unique style – I want his T shorts, and his velvet jacket. I love fabrics, love the feel of velvets, satin, lace, a bit of glitter and sparkle and t-shirts that stand out from the mundane. My daughter reckons I’ve never grown out of my teen glam rock style of the seventies…. Why should only ladies get to love things like that?
Arden felt like a guy friend, a person I could know, I understood his Klutziness (oops, just wrote Clitziness…nope he’s definitely not that!) He’s very confident in who he is though, not hiding his attraction to men as so many people still feel they have to, and that’s good to read. Tough still in real life though, sadly there’s still too much bigotry and judgement, and too many hiding who they are.
He’s a good student, must have worked very hard to get to Oxford given his background and the struggles he and his mum have had. They’re very close, yet she’s clearly encouraged him to stretch himself, be ambitious. Trouble is like many students he’s not sure what comes next. Put everything into finals and now its almost over, he’s uncertain what to do.
In keeping with his general pleasant and helpful personality he’s manning a phone line one evening, his friend who should be doing it is sick and Arden been roped in. He’s calling old Alumni, reading from the crib script, trying to persuade them to donate to the university, and inviting them to the annual dinner for old and current students and staff. He’s not having much luck so far, and then he calls up Caspian Hart.
Delighted that someone doesn’t hang up once he’s delivered his opening spiel he’s thrown off course, forgets what he’s asking, fumbles and rambles.
Oh yes, that’s me on the phone, I hate it. Like Arden just here, my mind switches off the minute someone answers, so I understood exactly how he could go from an intelligent student to rambling motor-mouth in a passing sentence!
Caspian isn’t used to that, and …he’s quietly intrigued. The rich and powerful like him get told what people think they want to hear, not the truth. No one is ever as open as Arden. They chat a little, Arden delivers his spiel and the invitation and that’s it. So he thinks. And then the dinner evening arrives and brings Caspian. Neither are quite what the other expected, they are so totally opposite and yet the attraction between them leaps off the page.

Its an off, on, off sort of affair. It starts that evening in an unusual way, and ends abruptly. Then Arden discovers the Arden St Ives Scholarship and is furious, embarrassed, insulted, upset. Who wouldn’t be? And in what world did Caspian live that he thought this would be a good thing? Arden steams up to London, determined to have it out. Oh, that part was wonderful; fiery, small, Arden in one of his unique t-shirts, hair awry, velvet jacket with holes, frayed rainbow bracelets, storming into a hallowed bastion of prestige and money.
Caspian ought to be furious, he’s in an important meeting, but once more Arden pulls at him, makes him feel things he’s not used to. He explains what he intended  though to Arden, that he didn’t mean to offend, he’s anguished at how he’s upset him, never realised he’d see things that way.
He then tells him that he Doesn’t Do Relationships. He has predetermined connections. There Are Rules. Everything is planned, ordered, fits a schedule and has a fixed in advance end date.
Poor Caspian, he seems to have to be in control of every bit of his life, even down to sex. Opposites as I said, as Arden is all about the unplanned, in the moment hook-ups. Til now. Til Caspian. He wants more, Caspian can only give within his boundaries.

Moving on, its the night before the final exam, Arden can’t sleep, is mind is rambling,  “thought about calling home but didn’t see any reason to worry the s hit out of my family” Then he gets a call and it all begins..sort of 😉

Its a wonderful story, I can hear Arden’s voice in my head so well, I felt just how he was feeling. I understood when he was upset at Caspian’s actions, and yet I also understood why Caspian did things, he was trying, in a scene he wasn’t used to, floundering and doing his best to keep control. One look, one word from Arden though and he’s lost. I love how he says so often” Arden, my Arden…” There’s so much feeling comes through from just those three words. Some authors could write pages and not deliver such emotion as they contain. Sometimes Less if More.

Usually I’m all about dialogue books, and not the inner monologue type, yet here Arden is internally talking to himself much of the time and it works for me, whereas usually that would put me off. Maybe because its something I do all the while, talk to myself, mentally muse on things.
He feels so familiar, feels like a friend, and as a klutz, lost for words at times, shambling through life person I can identify with him. Gender really doesn’t matter, its what sort of person you are and Arden is me, always waiting for the other shoe to fall, convinced someone is going to call fraud at times. When he’s in One Park Lane, and worries about calling up food, the cleaners, what he should be doing, whether this or that is the right thing to do that’s me. Every decision is preceded by lots of wondering, thinking, musing whether I should do x or y, or maybe z would be better….

He’s got some wonderful phrases and a cracking sense of humour, very irreverent at times. Wish I had the lines, but the humour is right up my street! When he’s drunk too much “..more of my innards wanted to be outards…” and “…animated Watership Down which incidentally is not a movie that should ever be shown to kids. That s hit is Stephen King terrifying…” I loved that book, took my kids to the film and like Arden was horrified by it. Its gruesome, nightmarish, though it has to be said I was the only one to get nightmares from it, the kids were fine!

One perfect line sums up their relationship ” He didn’t take control from me. I gave it to him” Arden knows what he wants sexually, he likes to be dominated, but he’s not a pushover, not a victim. Sadly he’s finding it hard to get Caspian to see it that way. Seems even though Caspian knows what he wants and needs, he doesn’t like it. He’s always afraid of taking advantage of Arden, always worrying about hurting him.
There’s a world of miscommunication between them contributing to the issues they have. They can say the same sentence, but each mean something entirely different it feels to me.
I really want them to find a way through, to be together and happy and am really looking forward to the next two books. And I didn’t intend to write so much – see, like Arden I ramble…

Stars: five, a terrific read, great characters that feel so real, and I’m dying to get more of them.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
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Wake Up Call,  JL Merrow

Wake Up Call (Porthkennack Book 1) by [Merrrow, JL]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve read a couple of JLM novels, and liked the look of this one – and it was great fun to read.

Devan, what a great lad. eternally optimistic, always read to see the good in others, despite the harsh realities of life for kids like him, fostered out to people who sometimes genuinely care, but more often are in it for the money, seeing it as a job rather than wanting to give kids a home. Then at 18 its out, on your own, the state washes its hands. Isn’t that shameful? Still, Dev is just such a wonderful character despite all that I couldn’t help falling a bit on love with him 😉
He’s on a search for his roots, and its taken him to Cornwall where he meets Kyle.

Kyle, he’s in a bit of a down-spell, recently diagnosed with Narcolepsy and Cataplexia, and like most people he – and I – knew little of the realities. Its not just napping at inconvenient moments, but something that’s unpredictable, hard to treat and lifelong. A couple of medicines and some herbs aren’t going to put his life back to what it was. There is help though, treatment to manage the condition and with some life changes he could still have a decent future, He’s in retreat though, determined not to take anything, not to give in, and yet what he’s doing is exactly that. It takes Dev and his kindness, his sense of fun and adventure to show Kyle there is hope.

Along the way they have hiccups, plenty of them, and sometimes it seems each good time for Kyle and Dev ends in yet another row, another one that has Dev stomping off, only to turn up later with apologies.
He’s only there for three weeks though, so what comes next, when he lives in London, and they have such disparate backgrounds, can they make things work, is there a future for them. I was so rooting for one, Kyle is a lovely man and he needed someone like Dev to balance him, and likewise he was so good for Dev, even someone so supportive of others needs someone to lean on himself.

Along the way we meet some fabulous characters, Dev’s sister and his friend Mal, the landladies, Ceri who works locally in the cafe and is hard to get along with at first. Dev’s not easily rebuffed though and just what she needs, someone who cares and who makes her see all is not lost, she’s had a hard time recently, problems that happen to too many teens. Then there’s her uncle Jago, her dad, the two girls on holiday – its a real mix of characters much like real life.

Stars: Five, a real fun read with some serious issues within it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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