Archive | August 2017

Keyed Up, Laura M. Baird

Keyed Up, Laura M. Baird

Genre: women’s fiction, Romance

I was looking forward to this, I’m a sucker for a second chance romance, but though it was a really well written book the story itself just wasn’t great for me. a decent read, but not one that I’d want to reread.

I felt as though I was reading part two of a duo, where book one would have covered Penelope and Sebastian’s earlier romance, it just felt like I had missing gaps in the story. That was all covered eventually, but at first it felt somewhat odd to me.

Penelope is a very confident lady, the way she takes charge of the others, although they’ve been there years, is something only someone very self assured could do, and yet at other times she feels very shy and lacking in self esteem…
Sebastian, I really didn’t ever get to grips with why he stopped their romance on the first place. There are reasons given later but for me they weren’t strong enough to give up on a love if its serious.
That’s part of the issue for me though, I didn’t really feel the *love* between them, didn’t see that magic connection I needed. There are moments when they get very hot and heavy but TBH that just feels like classic lust, not because there’s anything more serious between them. That ten year gap – if they really felt that strongly why did they let it go so long, why leave it to chance before they come into contact together?

Still, as ever that’s just me, just my thoughts and you may feel very differently.
It is a very well written story, great characters, no missing parts, or plots left in mid air but it was just the story itself that wasn’t quite right for me. I enjoyed it, but wouldn’t reread.

Stars: Three, well written but lacking in emotion and drama for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Holiday in the Hamptons, ( From Manhattan with love 5 ), Sarah Morgan

Holiday in the Hamptons, ( From Manhattan with love 5 ), Sarah Morgan

Holiday In The Hamptons by [Morgan, Sarah]

Genre:  Romance,

I love this series, each book is a stand alone and easy to follow regardless of you’re read any of the others, but they all have an escapist read feel, a story that’s easy to follow, full of real people and predicaments.
They remind me very much of Holly Martin’s style of writing – if you like her stories then you’ll most likely love these too!

I can’t recall Seth, Fliss or Harriet from the other reads, but do remember Chase and Matilda getting together, and Eva from Urban Genie, and it was good to catch up with them.
There are some terrific secondary characters here, especially Fliss’ granny and the Poker Princesses, and they’re the type I want to emulate when I’m older 😉

So twins Fliss and Harriet run a busy dog walking business in Manhattan.
Fliss is still protecting Harriet, she did it in childhood where their awful bullying father picked on her for her stammer, and Fliss attracted his anger first to save her from it. She’s still doing it, its become second nature for her, she loves her sister and would do anything for her. The business caters to their individual skills with Harriet doing what she does best, seeing to the animals – they don’t judge, and Fliss doing everything else including dealing with owners.

Then Seth drops back into her life. Swoon…he’s gorgeous inside and out, a true gentleman.
He married Fliss at 18 and all we know to start is that it was short lived. Fliss never talks about it, never talks about any problems come to that, just sorts them herself, locks things in her head.
I really wanted to know why things went wrong, what happened and we get there in the end.
Its been ten years now and having tried unsuccessfully to forget her Seth is back to win her over. she’s It for him, and he’s not standing back this time without some genuine reasons, not accepting her silence.

Fliss, she’s so composed and confident but when she knows Seth is in Manhattan she’s a wreck. She wants to get it over, talk to him, so she can get back in her comfortable rut, carry on her organised and neatly boxed life.
She can’t seem to take that first step though, then a phone call from Gran, needing Harriet’s help after a fall sees Fliss impersonating her, escaping for a few weeks to the Hamptons, hoping Seth will be gone when she’s back.
It was a spur of the moment thing pretending to be Harriet, and she’s intentions of coming clean quickly, but then she bumps into Seth, he left Manhattan where he was covering for a colleague and is back where he lives and works as a vet, and the lie carries on….

Its a great read, lots of humour, lots of small town life and gossip, and through it all I was rooting for Seth, willing him to see what Fliss really meant, what she just couldn’t bring herself to say or do.
I understood her actions but if Seth couldn’t get her to open up the two were doomed to love each other from afar.
There’s drama here, lots of misunderstandings, lots of soft humour and teasing and its a great summer escape.

Stars: five, a great summer read, perfect to relax with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Rescued by the Wolf, Sasha Summers

Rescued by the Wolf, Sasha Summers

Rescued by the Wolf (Blood Moon Brotherhood) by [Summers, Sasha]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

I love fantasy and shifter novels are a huge draw for me so I was eager to read this, a new series. I enjoyed it, but it was kind of a “shifters lite” novel, one where there’s so much potential in the story but the sex and romance overtakes the drama.

The characters were OK, not great but not bad eiother. I found things a little glossed over though, for example how easily Olivia puts all the weirdness behind her, how she’s so accepting of shifters. Most people would be climbing the walls terrified, she’s all “oh I must be dreaming, yep, Ill carry on dreaming about sex with this guy I’ve just met” Who must have been pretty whiffy and unsavoury to look at!!After all being tortured for all that while, and barely kept alive means his captors were unlikely to have given him regular access to showers, deodorant and toothbrush!!
Then there’s Mal, one moment he’s Mr Angry, all Others are bad, he’ll wreak vengeance on them all, his Pack are bad, they left him, and then he hears Finn’s explanation and becomes Mr Understanding. Logic doesn’t always play in to emotions but he capitulated on that quite quickly.
Finn was right in what he did, and I know Mal would see that, but a little more internal struggle before accepting would have been good.

When it comes to the Others, well I can see how evil they are, how Finn’s pack needed to protect themsleves but the mystery over the connection the Others had with Olivia’s brother wasn’t hard to guess. Soon as the imported items were mentioned I’d guessed what they were, just surprised that none of the pack did.
I did like the explanation of the origins of Finn’s pack, but I’d like to know more about the origins of the Others, how many of them etc. Though looking back I think I read they didn’t know, so maybe that can’t be done yet but is coming later.
I’d like to know what the pack do on a day to day basis, do they work for Finn, elsewhere, spend the time practicing defence or something?
Why were they so trusting of Ellen. Granted she’s useful with Jess but that wouldn’t have been clear when they first met so why did they take her in? And speaking of her why was she so full of animosity to Olivia and then kept being friendly, then cold, then OK again. I found her very changeable.
I’d like to have known so much more about the pack and the people in it – what about their previous freinds and relatives – did they think they were dead or something? How did the pack first find out about Others and vice versa.

Its a series that holds potential but for me there’s a way to go and I need a few more answers to the basics and a little more reality ( in as much as there can be in Fantasy) in the characters and their (re)actions and the story itself.

Stars: Three, it’s hard for first novels in a series, for me this is OK but doesn’t quite cut it yet.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hearts on Fire, St. Caroline Series Book 2, by Julia Gabriel

Hearts on Fire, St. Caroline Series Book 2, Julia Gabriel

Genre: Women’s Fiction,Romance

I love Julia’s writing, both as Julia Gabriel and as Marie Martine but this book? Well, sadly its a fail for me.

I felt for Becca, poor woman has a history of disasters and was so determined not to be a burden, to do her best for everyone that she always put herself last. When it came to the romance with Jack though? Well, I just didn’t feel it. certainly there was nothing between them except that one night when they were teens, and even that felt odd to me. Which was he, awkward geek, or college Golden boy? Because there’s a world of difference and the Golden Boy certainly wouldn’t have needed help losing his virginity, the girls would have been all over him – as Nan would say “like s hit sticks to a blanket” !!

Fast forward seven years and this time they do get romantic, but even so I was entirely convinced by them. I didn’t feel the chemistry, that pull, that must be together sense some couples have.
I was waiting for whatever was going to happen to bring The Baby up, and waiting, and waiting. Its not til the last quarter that really makes a part of the story. Somehow I’d expected it to figure much larger in the overall plot but it felt almost like an add on.

As always though, not all readers like all books and though this wasn’t a good fit for me it could be perfect for you. Maybe its just this book didn’t work for me, maybe its this series? I don’t know, I do know I love Julia’s work and not liking this book won’t put me off further ones from her.

Stars: A two sadly, well written but a story just not right for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

The Shark Club, Ann Kidd Taylor

The Shark Club: The perfect romantic summer beach read by [Kidd Taylor, Ann]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, General Fiction.

I’ve mixed feelings about this book, I enjoyed it very much but it also left me feeling fainly unsatisfied at the end.
It’s not classed as Romance and yet…the synopsis certainly hints at a strong romantic content. Well, there is romance here, but for me not enough to justify inclusion in the brief description.
Its a story about so much more, loss, betrayal, families and coping, childhood bereavement, and of course Sharks and all the stories that surround them.

Maeve gets badly bitten as a kid, then becomes fascinated by them, and through her work we get to know so much more, how intelligent they are, that they’re not the hardened killers so often made out, but incredible creatures just living out their lives until we interfere. Through that we get the whole Shark Finning theme – something pretty horrific IMO, and I didn’t realise it was so widespread or such a lucrative trade.

Its got some great characters, some intense issues, starting with the twins parent’ death and subsequent upbringing by their aunt, childhood friendships, where they were so close with Daniel, he too having his own family issues. Then there’s the conundrum of relationships v career and that’s something that affects so many couples.
Some real characters her, I loved Maeve, felt a bit annoyed at Robin, though he’s just dealing with life his way, adored Daniel but them Nick….I loved him too.
Of course the real star is Hazel, 7 going on 37, a gem of a girl, confident and yet scared too. She was so perfect and the title reflects just how wonderful she was.

Its kind of a book that brings things out and explores them but doesn’t really give any answers. Maybe because there isn’t a right and wrong way, its not cut and dried but varies from person to person and all we can do is what feels right to us at the time. Certainly I can look back at my own life and see where I could have taken a different route, but at the time what I did felt right…
I enjoyed reading it but wanted more from the romance(s). I didn’t get the ending I wanted, perhaps that was just too predictable though, and I can see that it had the right ending, just not the one I necessarily wanted 😉
I did feel that some parts were treated very lightly, not just the romances, but Robin’s book, Daniel’s actions both past and present, Maeve’s uncertainties about love, her way of dealing with loss, and Nick and his problems. The Shark Finning though was especially ” missing” something for me, it’s so awful, so cruel and graphically described, and yet the conclusions just seemed so rushed and simple. I expected more action, more drama, or else to have left it as an unsolved issue. The way it was treated seemed horribly superficial, a slapped wrist for those involved and all over in a few pages ;-(
Despite my criticisms its still a story I enjoyed very much and would recommend to those who like thought provoking novels, ones that give you something to mull over in quiet moments, who want to read about real people, real issues and enjoy a story that will take you away from everyday life for a few hours.

Stars: four, an absorbing read but I felt some parts were lacking a bit for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Art of Hiding, Amanda Prowse

The Art of Hiding, Amanda Prowse

The Art of Hiding by [Prowse, Amanda]

Genre:General fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction

I love Amanda’s way of telling stories, bringing everyday scenes to life, showing us Real people in Real situations. This story hit the spot once more.

So, Nina’s life isn’t a real story for most, her situation is what many see as privileged, distant from the reality of money struggles most of us face. She’s got a husband who adores her, runs his own successful business, two lovely healthy boys at private school, and a house most can only dream of.
But is her life really so perfect? When Finn dies suddenly it all comes crashing down, and all the things she thought were real prove false. Its a real picture of the old adage Money doesn’t buy Happiness ( though I’m a great believer in that it does let you be miserable in comfort! Poverty doesn’t equate with happiness either…)

Faced with dealing with finding a home, job, school for the boys, sorting out finances, Nina slowly regains the sense of herself that had become lost in her marriage, where she’d tried so hard to please everyone that she’d forgotten who she was.
I love her sister Tiggy, the way she’s brash and yet practical, the way she’s there for Nina even when Nina seems to have left her far behind in her new shiny perfect life. They really get back that sister closeness, and I enjoyed seeing how Tiggy helped the old Nina come back.

The boys were pretty selfish to begin, but kids of that age often are. They do think life revolves around them, its only natural. When it all fell apart they reacted in very different ways, but it was clear how badly they both were hurting.
The other parents, their schoolfriends and their old school, the neighbour – its true you really find who your friends are when you need help. They were so horrible, and forced Nina to look at what she had considered priorities when she was in their situation.

Its another great read, very real, very thought provoking. It could have been a very grim read, and yet its not, its full of tiny light spots that lift it, a real rainbows from rain story. ( much nicer than lemons/lemonade)
I don’t do the book club thing, I like to read for me, enjoy a book and move on, but I can see this is a perfect read for clubs, with themes that will have people reacting differently and give lots to talk about.

Stars: five, a great read, giving lots to think over after.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Before I Knew, The Cabots Book 1, Jamie Beck



Before I Knew, The Cabots Book 1, Jamie Beck

Before I Knew (The Cabots Book 1) by [Beck, Jamie]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Romance

I really liked the sound of this book, and dived in eagerly. I found that though the writing was excellent the story and characters just didn’t keep me captivated, that I kept flicking into other stories putting this aside to finish later.
I did read it all, did enjoy it but its not a magic five re-reader for me.

I liked both Colby and Alec and they worked well together. I felt for both of them for what grief they had suffered, and there’s no time line on grieving – its different for everyone. For both of them their grief was compounded by guilt, by the secrets they both held.
Those secrets always creep out at the worst time don’t they?

I did get irritated about Colby when she still won’t talk about Mark’s issues, still keeps that secret, and yet if she confided in her family, in Alec they would probably understand more her feelings. Instead she kind of martyrs herself over it.
Alec too got me cross at his drama over the food awards. I know they mean a lot to chefs, everyone wants something to aim for in their career. Though I understood how that combined with Joe’s death led him to lose his restaurant, I felt this time round he was very melodramatic about it, too ready to drop everything and everyone in search of that magic praise.
And I guess that bring in my personal bias, critics, whether food, art, theatre or what, who make a career out of judging, often unfairly, and destroying others careers with harsh words just to build their own. Gah! I know they need to be honest, but not deliberately hurtful and negative. The pressure that places on guys like Alec can destroy them and all those around them, and that’s -IMO- just wrong.

So its a pleasant story, a decent romance with lost going on but it didn’t really resonate with me, I didn’t really get to feel Alec and Colby and others were genuine, real people not story characters and that’s why this is a three star good read, not more.

Stars: Three, good simple romance but not a re-reader for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

If the Creek Don’t Rise, Leah Weiss

If the Creek Don’t Rise,  Leah Weiss

If the Creek Don't Rise: A Novel by [Weiss, Leah]

I really thought I’d enjoy this, it sounded so intriguing. sadly I just found it too grim for me, too dirt poor desperate and couldn’t like or engage with any of the characters, though I felt incredibly sad for them trapped by circumstances into a life like that.
I’m sure for many people it’s real.

Its very well written, a great debut for those that like this type of story. I look for more upbeat books though, ones I can enjoy reading, an escape into another’s life, and I don’t mind that being dark, or sad so long as there’s hope that it gets better. With this though it just felt like unremitting sadness, no hope of anything positive coming out.

I just couldn’t continue reading, I could feel myself being dragged down into the story without any light at the end. Real life is enough like that for me right now, I don’t want to get sucked into that in my leisure time.

It’s one of those cases where its me not the book, I just found it too depressing, it just wasn’t one for me, and I couldn’t finish it.

Stars: two, DNF, too grim for me but well written and perfect for others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Michael, Doms of the Silver Screen Book 1, Marie Tuhart

Michael, Doms of the Silver Screen Book 1, Marie Tuhart

Michael (Doms of the Silver Screen Book 1) by [Tuhart, Marie]

Genre: Erotica, Romance

My bad: I saw Hollywood, romance, erotica and BDSM and I love any/all of those so clicked without checking further.
But its just 65 pages, yep, short story time, and for me they just don’t work. Too much to compress in too short a space for me.

I liked Michael, seemed a responsible Dom, and Kelsey needs to trust him, but given her past that’s hard.
Its his job though, his career, and she can’t (and doesn’t of course) expect him to limit what he does to suit her confidence. She either trusts him or doesn’t.

The press, all the things I love to hate in a story 😉 along with the wonderful, scheming, manipulative co-star.
If this was a full length book I think I’d have really enjoyed it, but its so short there’s not really time to go into any of the people or plots in any detail. Scarcely has a potential issue arisen than its over, done and dusted, and though that’s great for many its not for me.
I need books I can really lose myself in, plots I can really get my teeth into, emotion that pulls at me and makes me feel as if everything is real.
Novellas, short stories just don’t have the time to do that, and that’s why I usually avoid them.

Like I said , my bad- it’s not the book it’s me.

Stars: Two, just too short for me though as full length I think I’d love it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Kane, Sinclair Jayne

Kane, Sinclair Jayne

Kane (American Extreme Bull Riders Tour Book 6) by [Jayne, Sinclair]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

There’s something about these western romance reads, I hate the idea of rodeos and bull riding, the stress on the animals and yet…they make for some great reads 😉
I loved Sky, and understood exactly why she kept Montana a secret. Given her family history and Kane’s career and lack of commitment to her she did what she thought was right for her baby. I felt for Kane though, he feels he’s missed so much, and he too has a background that’s not the happy family unit everyone sees in public. Its easy to be wise with hindsight, to say he would have been happy, would have been involved but it could have been such a disaster, he could have ended up resenting Sky and Montana if his fledgling career crashed.

Now though he knows, and he’s like a bulldozer. I did want to say to Sky at times “stand up for yourself woman” especially when it was a d ick waving contest between him and Jonah. As an artist too I was a bit puzzled how easily her career seemed to go, casting in bronze and metal sculptures in general are very expensive procedures, not one the average single mum can afford easily.
I hadn’t read any of the earlier books, didn’t realise there were any but I still followed the story easily. I think that if I had read them though it would have enhanced my reading, I’d have enjoyed updates on the earlier characters. It was a fun romance, loved the setting, the characters felt very real, and its a series that would be an enjoyable read. Its not one I’m likely to reread, but I’ll look for more from this author.

Stars: four, fun romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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