Archive | July 2017

All or Nothing at All, Jennifer Probst

All or Nothing at All, Jennifer Probst

All or Nothing at All (The Billionaire Builders) by [Probst, Jennifer]

Genre:  Romance,

I’ve enjoyed a few of Jennifer’s stories now but this one didn’t really work for me.
I understood the background issues, the need Tristan felt to get away, as well as the reasons why Sydney wouldn’t leave with him.
He acted like a spoiled child growing up, a thwarted teen when he left for the city, and now he’s back eight years later he’s still acting like a kid, holding old grudges, never once looking at his own decisions or questioning them.

The romance side is pretty generic, secrets revealed, heartbreak just when the characters had finally got together…but as usual for a book by Jennifer its well written, and plays out nicely.

What I had major issues with was the way Sydney managed to get away with no one, not one person, questioning who’s Becca’s father.
Its a small town, and as we see in the book, like most its one where everyone knows, or think they know or suspect, every little thing that happens, so how she managed to keep this a secret isn’t believable.
Then Tristan returns home and never once suspects? Nor do his family, who Sydney works for, who are very close to her? Even when they’re organising Becca’s 7th birthday party is still way over Tristan’s head…..
That was a huge issue for me to get past.
When finally he finds out his reaction at first is understandable, but they way he acts after didn’t make me like him.

He’d been a pretty cold jerk to Sydney for the past year and he reverted to, went past even, that same icy behaviour. I just wanted to say “grow up man! Look at who you were and think honestly how you would have reacted, if things could have worked out!!”
Sorry, a well written read that many will love, just not me.

Stars: Two, a good read for some, but which didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Suddenly Engaged, A Lake Haven Novel Book 3, Julia London

Suddenly Engaged, A Lake Haven Novel Book 3, Julia London

Suddenly Engaged (A Lake Haven Novel Book 3) by [London, Julia]

Genre:  Romance, General Fiction (adult)

I really enjoyed the first two Lake Haven novels and was eager to read this one. Its another great read, full of emotion and drama but tempered with some fantastic humour from little Ruby.

Kyra, she’s lovely but its hard, there’s only her and Ruby, her dad lives far away and isn’t really close to her, mum died when she was a kid and she’s no other family. Still, she knuckles down and does the best she can for her and Ruby, works hard even if its is only breadline earnings.
Ruby is a wonderful character and gave the novel so much fun. I could picture her red head nodding enthusiastically, her mouth moving at a mile a minute. Who couldn’t love her? Some kids are like that – when mine were small I used to say all kids should come with volume controls. Wouldn’t that be great? Save on the eardrums when all three were arguing, trying to get their voice heard. There was only three years separating eldest and youngest so….

Then there’s Dax, the neighbour in the new house they’ve just moved to. Mr Grumpy as Kyla refers to him.
Poor guy, he’s got a sad past, bad divorce, bad situation and I so felt for him. That must have been so tough emotionally. Ruby wears him down though, slowly bit by bit.
He calls her and Kyra the Coconuts, play on their surname which makes Ruby giggle. she’s such a sweet child, so full of fun, loves his dog Otto, knows no boundaries and has this innocent logic ” but I didn’t go under the fence today mummy, I went around it!” That kind of logic where she does just as she wants, seeming to feel she’s still within mum’s rules.
She was a really great part of the story, the way she slowly wormed herself into Dax’s heart.

It was great seeing Wallace again too, from the furniture shop. He’s a real character, and I enjoyed the way he put the moves on Dax every time he came in to bring his latest works. Its all chat and fun, he has his partner but can’t resist embarrassing Dax.

Who else? Well there’s loads of characters, from Ruby’s father to Furniture shop employee Janice and her friend Heather, who she kept trying to set Dax up with. I felt a little sorry for Heather, Dax really hadn’t led her on, but she was hearing and feeling what she wanted to happen, and not what actually did happen or was said. Sad, but no ones fault. She was a little over enthusiastic, slightly pushy and I think most guys would feel a little taken aback by her attitude, even if they weren’t hoping to be more with someone else…There’s the diner staff, the others who live around the Lake, plus the summer visitors, and of course Ruby’s father and his wife…

When things take a turn for the worse with Ruby’s health I so felt for Kyra. I’m so glad we have the NHS in the UK, and we don’t need to find cash for surgery and doc visits, choose between expensive health plans or food and a roof.
I understood just how scared and desperate Kyra must have felt. I loved Dax for what he offered, but was so cross at him not acknowledging even to himself how he felt until it was almost too late. But it would have cut short the story if he had 😉

The drama keeps on coming with Ruby’s health issues, the financial side, the romance between Dax and Kyra and the involvement finally of Josh – and I so did not like him! Jerk!

Its got the perfect ending, as with the whole story everything is perfectly paced, measured and we have to wait for the right moment, for the time when all falls into place. Its a great read, and one I’ll re-read.

Stars: five, a fabulous story, full of pathos and emotion, perfectly paced and with some terrific humour from Ruby lightening the story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lightning Only Strikes Twice, Stanalei Fletcher

Lightning Only Strikes Twice, Stanalei Fletcher

Lightning Only Strikes Twice by [Fletcher, Stanalei]

Genre:Romance

I liked the sound of this, but found it a little…dull 😦

I didn’t really feel any chemistry between Luke and Annie, either in the past or the present. I did enjoy their time in the past, meeting the other characters, but found it odd how accepting the townsfolk were of two strangers arriving out of the blue. Also given they arrived with nothing except their clothes how on earth did Luke get to be in the position he did, he seemed to be pretty much what he was in the present, some kind of wealthy building contractor.

I quite enjoyed the double twist at the end, but the shaman was a bit of an oddity – came in, did a couple of mysterious things and disappeared. I felt his presence very weird, as if he was brought in for a sole purpose and I hate that kind of ploy in a story. I did wonder too, where did Luke disappear to when he went to search for him and was missing? No-one, not even Annie, seemed to wonder where he’d been.

Its an interesting premise but lack of real emotion, and too many oddities for me to rate higher than a three, OK read but not one to keep.

Stars: Three, barely. An interesting idea but one that didn’t hold me for long.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Blood Gamble, Disrupted Magic Book 2, Melissa F. Olson

Blood Gamble, Disrupted Magic Book 2, Melissa F. Olson

Blood Gamble (Disrupted Magic Book 2) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, General Fiction.

I love this extended series, first got into it via Lex’ book, and then found the Scarlett novels and have eagerly devoured them ever since. Its got for me the perfect blend of story, paranormal issues and drama. It feels real, so very real.

Scarlett’s in Las Vegas, Dashiell having used his usual devious means to get his way. She hates it, had a bad experience there in the past and didn’t want to return ever. Vampires are disappearing though, and the new show, run by two vampire celebrities seems to be at the centre of it.
As usual Scarlett gets right in the heart of danger, scrambling from one danger straight into the next. It would be easier to just do the bare bones of what she was tasked with, and in fact she has done what Dashiell asked so could leave.
This is Scarlett though, she can’t leave when those she’s come to care for are in dangers, when there could be something she can do to stop more disappearances, more murders.

Its a great story, fast paced, very real and cleverly done. I didn’t see how it was going to play out and certain revelations really caught me by surprise.
Its a great follow on from the last novel and given the ending ( what!!) I’m keen to crack on with the next novel.
What I didn’t feel so much was the relationship between her and Jameson. I can’t really recall them back in NY, so maybe if I had this would feel more organic, more a natural development. as it was I could have believed in insta-lust but Love? Err…nope, wasn’t feeling that. and maybe I just didn’t want to, I’ve always hoped Jesse would prove to be the one for Scarlett…maybe one day?

I missed the regulars too, Dashiell, Kirsty, Will, Molly, and of course Jesse and Shadow. Though I enjoyed this story I would have enjoyed reading about them even more.
Not sure how the whole crew could have been in Las Vegas though, in fact they couldn’t. Paranormal constraints against most of them, supernaturals having fairly rigid rules and protocols for many events. And that would have made for a totally different story.

I do hope Scarlett’s back on home turf next time, with the characters we’re used to meeting.

Stars: five, another drama ridden suspenseful story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell

 

 

Then She Was Gone, Lisa Jewell

Then She Was Gone by [Jewell, Lisa]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Mystery & Thrillers

I love Lisa’s writing, have read a few of her novels now.
This is a typical LJ story, one that slowly unfolds with each reveal giving us more questions til really I had a few wild stabs about what happened but was way off course in the final denouement.

Laurel, mum, wife and like many of us, nothing more than typical family petty issues mar everyday relations,  life is good – til it isn’t.
Ellie, her youngest child, beautiful, golden Ellie disappears. The family are distraught, Lauren retreats, leaving her two older children and her husband to cope alone.
Its a huge problem, who knows how we’d deal. For the Mack family it means life fractures, Laurel and Paul separate, the kids grow apart from their mum, and the impact stays with all of them for many years.

The story is told partly from Laurel’s POV, partly from Ellie with a few other voices thrown in.
I like that format, it lets me see what people are thinking, what their motives are and a story is often very different according to who is telling it.

Its heartbreaking, I so felt for all of them, poor Ellie, the slightly spoiled teen, to have that happen, so tragic.
The family, on course for normal average family where kids grow up, parenst become grandparents and life is full of happy family occasions – then all that is lost.
Like ripples in a pond the repercussions spread outwards.

Then there’s Floyd, we know he has a bigger part than he’s telling but how and why? And Poppy, 9 going on 49, a precocious child, so grown up in many ways but the child she should be is there deeply hidden. Why does she look so much like Ellie, how did she come into Laurel’s life, how do the puzzle pieces fit together?

Some secrets get revealed along the way but the finale brings out parts I’d never imagined and made me so so sad for all of them and what they’d been through.
A real tear jerker emotional read, and a story that could so easily be real.
When I was a teen one of my dad’s workmate’s daughter disappeared. She was my age, 12-13 maybe back in early 70’s, taking a short 1/2 mile bike ride to another family member in the middle of  a summers day. Her loss never left her family, tore through them, had such a massive impact on what was a standard family with standard expectations. She never was found, and the mystery has always stayed with me.
As a parent I think I grew to understand even more about the impact her loss had on them, and while reading this novel I recalled so much of the shock and horror of April’s disappearance.

Stars: Five, a gripping read, emotionally gutting at times, ripping through me as secrets upon secrets came out. Sadly very realistic, which makes for a terrific read of course.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

One True Pairing, A Geek Girl Rom Com, Cathy Yardley

One True Pairing, A Geek Girl Rom Com, Cathy Yardley

One True Pairing: A Geek Girl Rom Com (Fandom Hearts) by [Yardley, Cathy]

Genre:  Romance

Sounded a book I’d love, the Hollywood trope with a heroine who works hard, isn’t a simpering coy miss who falls at his feet.
Sadly though it was an OK read for me that was it, its not a re-reader, and parts dragged and I found myself skimming through. somehow it all became very storm in a teacup stuff.
The fact their “romance” only covers a week, apart from the last few pages meant there had to be some serious chemistry between them for me to believe it, but though there was lust by the bucket load, that was it for me, no real romantic feelings.

I found Haley a bit abrasive at times, I know she had a difficult past, but she verged in outright rude to Jake, and he wasn’t the Hollywood hero I was expecting, but a star on the way up who almost rolled over and let her stomp on him at times.
I like strong women, but I like strong men too, and Jake was just far too trusting of everybody!
There’s one “twist” that was pretty clear very early on but the person it affects was oblivious. That smacked of naivety, a laziness in not checking,  and made me want to shake them….
The story didn’t really have anything more to it than the blurb, very one paced, one plot where I was hoping for more. Its going to be a great read for some but for me it was just an OK one, I didn’t dislike it but didn’t love it either.

Stars: Three, a little bland for me, but that’s OK, others love it, we all want different things.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Betrayed by Blood, Beth Dranoff. Cutie and the Beast, Fae Out of Water 1, E.J. Russell


Betrayed by Blood, Beth Dranoff

Betrayed by Blood (Mark of the Moon) by [Dranoff, Beth]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I enjoyed the first book in this series, but had a few reservations. I still think Dana does a bit too much introspection, but its far less than in book one and the story feels as if it flows better to me. A bit more Show going on, less Tell 😉

Dana’s still working out how to live as a shape shifter, how to adapt to her new life. She’s still working at the bar, still having the occasional fling with Jon, and he’s still close to Claude. Clearly he isn’t an ex….

Sam, he’s around too. He would like it to be just him and Dana, but accepts Jon, while not liking it. He can see that commitment scares Dana so for now he’ll go with the flow. He’s not so happy though when an ex comes back on the scene, the guy who really let Dana down.

Seems the organisation she left has a job for her…but they need to get in line because a group of supernaturals also have a job for her. She’s kind of in a rock and hard place though, these are the kind of offers that don’t accept sorry, no can do as an answer….

Dana’s learning more about herself, about her heritage, her father, the strange tatts on her back, and of course her new life as a shape-shifter.

Busy time for her and means there’s a lot going on. she grows a lot over the course of this novel. She adapts to what she learns, grows to trust others and there’s less sex for the sake of it and more feeling comes across, though she still struggles with commitment. It made me wonder how she’d feel if she found Sam with someone else….

I found the action flowed better in this novel, that things fell into place easier, more naturally. It makes me want to know more, what’s really the secret, what do the tatts mean, and who wants the info? We know some of those answers now, but there’s still a whole lots we don’t know.

There’s less Pack stuff here, more emphasis on Dana herself and the secrets that surround her, the things she needs to know but doesn’t. I felt that made for an easier to follow book. I do like the Pack side and hope they feature in later books but for now keeping them as a minor side story felt right. I don’t mind complex, actually I love complex, but sometimes there’s a point when too much just spoils the story, just makes things confusing and that’s a bit how book one was for me.

The things I didn’t like? Well, pretty short list, mainly the “silly” stuff that I felt dragged the story down, the names and descriptions -Squid D’Le for example, felt too YA, too juvenile.

Can you imagine Mercy Thomson dealing with a weird tentacled crew, headed by a Squid D’Le? Kate Daniels slinging back Bloody Marys garnished with oil demon eyeballs, toenail clippings and frost nymph snot? Nope, nor can I…
The descriptions of some of the demons feels pretty much like that too. Can they be just frost demons, tentacled land evolved sea creatures? Nope they’re all kind of “pink, with blue spots, green horns, purple suckers, and six eyes, drooling acid yellow venomous slime..” kind of thing. Ditto the drinks and food. That really detracted from the story for me.

Its a good story, shaping up really well IMO but those silly bits let it down and make it hard to take seriously. Stories usually have either serious drama or comedy angles, but this feels like Beth has tried to incorporate both, and for me it doesn’t work.

It can be done, but its not easy, and doesn’t work here. Thankfully that’s only a small part of the story!

Stars: Four. Maybe four and a half, I can’t quite get past the silliness side…but yes, four and a half, its a real step up from book one and I do want to see what happens next.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Cutie and the Beast, Fae Out of Water 1, E.J. Russell

Cutie and the Beast (Fae Out of Water Book 1) by [Russell, E.J.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I’ve enjoyed some of EJ’s stories before and love tales around Fae so was eager to read this.

Just didn’t work for me though, felt a little too “fluffy” and the characters too stereotyped. I couldn’t really get into it, didn’t care much about what happened to the people and it all just fell a bit flat for me.

A series that’s clearly not for me. won’t put me off reading different books by this author though. not all books suit all readers, even if we usually enjoy someone’s wring style.

 

Stars: Two, I’ll pass on the rest of this series but still look out for E.J Russell’s other stories.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Savaged Vows, (Savaged Illusions Trilogy 2), Jennifer Lyon

Savaged Vows, (Savaged Illusions Trilogy 2), Jennifer Lyon

Savaged Vows: Savaged Illusions Trilogy Book 2 by [Lyon, Jennifer]

Genre:  Romance

I loved Savaged Dreams, the first part of this trilogy, and have been waiting for this installment. Luckily its not been too long so that was still fresh in my mind, and the final part is out this autumn.

I hate waiting long periods between parts in duets/trilogies, I’ve lost the impetus often, especial when its a year or more….I know I’m not alone in that so a huge thank you to Jennifer for keeping the wait to a reasonable time 😉

Anyway, the book…well, another winner from me. Lots of Beth/Liza and Justice, and of course the band and their way upwards in the fame search.

Having lost the competition – in part due to the negative publicity around Beth and her past – they’re now pulling things together and moving on, and upwards they hope. Its just one of those things that happen, none of them could have prevented it but understandably the band are feeling a little as though Beth is a bar to their future.

They like her as a person but she is undoubtedly a force that can be used against them, and there’s nothing they can do except for Justice and Beth to separate – and they’ve made it clear that’s not happening.

The dramas move on rapidly in this part, scarcely has the ink dried on their marriage certificate than she’s pregnant.

Wow, their publicity officer really isn’t happy about that, and urges Justice into some moves to prevent it harming the band. Some he does, some he stands out against, but its a compromise at best and he feels he’s not being fair to Beth or the band much of the time.
Some of the measures isolate Beth from the band a bit, but she’s also busy building her career, in a new and exciting job, spending time with her best friends.

She does feel as though they’re drifting though, with Justice being more and more wrapped up in band stuff. She understands but..it hurts, especially given the nightmare of her past that still affects her badly at times.

Justice is stuck between the traditional rock and hard place, does he give up his dream? Will that affect the band badly if he leaves? And will he come to resent Beth? And of course money, they’re all deeply in debt now and only carrying on with the tour can bring them out, and let him give Beth and the baby the lifestyle and protection he wants for them.

He has a really tough time in this book, and there’s the pressure of Noah too, his father who’s struggling with PTSD. Jagged Edge ( or Sin – I can’t quite recall their name..)  and Gene Hayes are still lurking around too, providing danger and dramas.

Its all action and just when you feel that’s it, nothing worse can happen, there it is.

Beth feels betrayed on all fronts and once more there’s a nail biting finish.

Its all very realistic, very genuine issues that could happen and its hard to see what else either of them could have done, or whether that would have made things worse.

Its heartbreaking at times, and I felt so sad for all of them, really difficult choices, just as we have sometimes in real life.

Stars: five, another great read. Roll on book three

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Seducing Abby Rhodes, J. D. Mason

Seducing Abby Rhodes, J. D. Mason

Seducing Abby Rhodes: A Novel by [Mason, J. D.]

Genre: Multicultural Interest.

I saw the synopsis for this, thought “romance” and as it had a great prospective nasty B itch female – I love those – I requested. It wasn’t until writing this review I saw the Multicultural Interest tag.
I did notice after the first couple of chapters that Jordan isn’t the usual white, well connected, Alpha male and thought then how refreshing it was to read of a male coloured lead. We see ladies of colour in romance, almost always gorgeous Latino types 😉 but I can’t recall the last time I read one with a male lead. That’s a shame, and bad in that it certainly doesn’t fit reality. I was pretty ashamed too, that until then I’d just made the assumption that he was white. Says much for today’s stereotypes and how they lead to unconscious bias. I’ll try to work harder at avoiding it in future.

I loved Abby, a real Lady and so hard working. My type of lead lady. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty, join in and work with her construction crew on the pull down and build up of her projects. As someone who loves to garden and usually has somewhat dry and scrubbed hands and nails, rather than elegant manicures that was good to read.
The romance between her and Jordan takes place pretty quickly, and was really believable. Even though they are very different sorts of character, very contrasting backgrounds I could feel the pull between them. And of course when Robin got involved that was perfect for me.
Characters like hers add so much fun to a story. I do wish there were more like her! Educated, gorgeous looking and determined to hang on to her catch, to do whatever it takes to me the next Mrs Xyz.

Of course there are always things in people’s pasts which could be misinterpreted, and Jordan has a few more issues than most people. I really wanted to know the connections, the real story, and little hints kept being teased out but determining what was real, what actually happened wasn’t easy and I didn’t get it til the reveal.

The biggest problem for me in this story was when things did play out they felt almost anti-climatic, after all the big build up. It felt like there should have been more consequences, stronger reactions somehow, it just felt kind of faded, muted to me.
Still, that’s me, drama all the way is what I love, and I did like the way when things went wrong for Abby and Jordan that it was stretched out, given a good working over, not a two-pages-later-and-all-is-well solution.
I like breakups to be solid, heartbreaking, to really wring at my emotions.

I hadn’t read any of the earlier books, and maybe if I had the revelations of the past would have worked better for me, knowing what happened, or some of it. I had a little trouble remembering who was whom at first too, and if I’d met the characters before that would have been easier to follow. Never the less this can be read as a complete read, a stand alone in its own right.
One day I’d like to read the earlier books, I really like JDM’s writing style and the types of characters she creates.

There is a very slight supernatural element here, a little ghostly action, people from the past interacting with those in the present, and that was fun, but a very minor part of the story.

Stars: Four, a enjoyable story with some solid plots and intrigues…

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

All Wheel Drive, Z.A. Maxfield

All Wheel Drive, Z.A. Maxfield

All Wheel Drive (Bluewater Bay Book 18) by [Maxfield, Z.A.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I love the Bluewater sereis, and devoured ZA Mazfield’s Cowboy sereis so I was sure I’d love this. But somehow for me it just doesn’t work.

Healey doesn’t seem to know what he wants, given what he’s been through that’s understandable, but I wasn’t convinced he’d be ready to jump into something with Diego so soon after the ultra traumatic breakup with Ford, someone he’d been with for (I think) two years, maybe more.
Diego is ultra prickly, being in a wheelchair myself I know how easy it is for people to be offensive even when they don’t mean it, but he seems to take offence at the slightest hint, maybe there’s another narrative.

I didn’t feel anything between him and Ford, no chemistry, no attraction or even just plain old lust, but to be fair I only got to 50% before giving up and just skimming to end to see what actually happened between Healey and Ford, and what the accident was.
I found all the things we couldn’t know so frustrating, Healey and Ford and The accident, the Gag order – wouldn’t his family insist he gets his own solicitors? He’s supposed to be ultra brilliant, wouldn’t he have seen the need for independent representation. even Ford tells him he needs it!
Diego, his past, his mum, whether she was famous, and why, and who wanted this exhibit, and why was he in a wheelchair, its kind of central to know what his history is to know why he’s so prickly. Is it from an accident, an illness, from birth? all those things affect differently how people cope with life on wheels.

Just too many unanswered questions, combined with lack of chemistry and me feeling I just didn’t Know the characters, didn’t feel they were real.

Stars: two, still love Bluewater and Z A Maxfield’s stories but this one just didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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