Archive | April 2018

Forbidden, Elisabeth Naughton

Forbidden, Elisabeth Naughton

Forbidden (House of Sin Book 1) by [Naughton, Elisabeth]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Romance

Well, this was quite a dark read, told in alternating viewpoints from Natalie and Luc. It was uncomfortable reading in parts, though I’m OK with BDSM in stories, in this book it takes a much sharper edge, with the liberal use of alcohol and drugs, and the possibility of not all sex being consensual.
In fact that’s almost certainly where Natalie’s friend Elena met her end. She supposedly died from a drug overdose but Natalie doesn’t believe that and is on a quest for the truth.
I fond myself struggling with this story, it wasn’t the writing but the story itself. I just found so much of it hard to believe, and for me I need that reality. I kept putting this aside and picking it up later.
I found it hard to believe in Elena and Natalie, they’d been friends since young kids, but for the last four years they haven’t met, just corresponded. Yet now she’s dead Natalie can take off as much time as she likes in her quest. If they really were best friends surely they’d have made time to meet up somehow?
Natalie has a kind of naiveness about her and yet is very astute in others. She very determined and yet falls for some rookie mistakes, one of which brings her into real danger, that she escapes from only by the fact that Luc suspects what’s happening. Surely the “don’t drink unless you see it poured from the bottle” is a mantra for everyone when with strangers? It was things like that which irritated me.
It ends on a massive cliffhanger, and I hate those, really, really hate them. Its a well written story, its just that it didn’t hook me in. Though there were parts of the story I really enjoyed I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the trilogy. I just find parts of it difficult to believe in and when I’m reading I need to be convinced everything could happen.

Stars: Two and a half, a story I struggled to believe in, didn’t feel real to me.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Chaser,  Kylie Scott

Chaser,  Kylie Scott

Chaser (Dive Bar Book 3) by [Scott, Kylie]

Genre:  Erotica, romance

I adored the Stage dive books, and the first two in the Dive Bar series. Whats great is that it feels like meeting old friends, the Dive Bar gang are all close, a mix of family and friends and the Stage Dive families take a step into these books. Its great to catch up with them too.
When a new scene opens with “yeah, but who is your favourite in the band? Its me, right? It’s OK to be honest, I deal well with adulation” it can only be one person talking, the wonderful Mal of course. All the characters are written so well, and each have their own “voice”, their own characteristics that make them stand out even from just an anonymous sentence. Its a tribute to Kylie that she can still do that with each character even though the cast list has grown so much.
Anyway, this book, fabulous as ever. Its starring Eric, and new resident Jean. I love Eric, he’s just on the right side of man-whore, he’s pen to almost anything and anyone, so good-looking he has scores of ladies ready for a night with him and he’s always open, for him its all about A Good Time not a Long Time. He lets everyone know that and now that he’s thinking maybe that life is a bit tired, shallow, maybe its time for more its jumping back at him. Nell, she’s his biggest critic but no-one seems to feel he can be a relationship person, that he’s capable of giving more than just the odd, casual night. Poor Eric, I did feel for him. He really could have been they type I dislike, arrogant, always ready with the chat up, always looking for the next sex partner, and yet he’s also a gentleman, helpful, courteous and very genuine. I found myself liking him, even though from earlier reads I had him pegged as a bit of a jerk. The Nell issue, the ending of the last book, had him written like that for me and yet here when its dealt with I found myself sympathising with him. At first I thought the gap and consequences was a bit of a cop out ( talking circles trying not to give anything away) but as the story continued I could see how it added yet another dimension to the puzzle that is Eric.
I write at the end of my review of the last book, Twist “I’m really looking forward to the next story, and at some point to what/how Kylie is going to do/deal with Eric. How can she make this overconfident, ar sehole, this selfish, immature guy into one we readers will like? But I have no doubt through her magical writing she’ll do it 😉 “ Well, she did it, I love Eric, loved seeing him grow, change, loved seeing why he was the way he was, that there was another deeper side to him. I adore his almost-on-the-edge-of-panic actions, his way of protecting those he loves, looking out for others, just loved seeing the Real Eric, not the cameo we had so far.

So who’s next I wonder? I’d really like to back track a bit and see what went on with Pat and Nell, and then get up to date with them. Or there’s Andre, silver fox and all round good guy. Whoever it is I’ll be queuing up to read about them.
These stories are true keepers for me, ones I love to reread.

Stars: Five, a fantastic read, light but with depth, humorous but with a series side, and reading it was like being with old friends again.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Bride for Keeps, Nicole Helm

Bride for Keeps,  Nicole Helm

Bride for Keeps (Big Sky Brides Book 2) by [Helm, Nicole]

Genre: Romance

I was looking forward to this, I have a weakness for a second chance romance.
It didn’t start well for me though, they’re already at break point when we meet them and TBH I didn’t like either character. They seemed so opposite I wondered how they ever could have been the couple who were so in love they ignored everyone else. Sierra is like a big spoiled kid, throwing a tantrum when she doesn’t get her own way and as for Carter. Well, he’s so closed of he barely speaks to her, for days, stays at hos parents home for days…They’ve been married months, together less than a year and I found it hard to like either of them.
Didn’t like Carters parents either, though they and the shock they reveal about him made me see why he was so introverted, so able to be single minded to the point he ignores Sierra.
I guess if maybe I’d seen the love I’d have been rooting harder for them, but it took a long while for me to warm up to either of them, and the whole breakup/get back together seemed very superficial.
Its not a bad book, just one where the story and characters don’t work for me. Nicole has written many stories and I’d be happy to read another, hoping its just tis one that doesn’t suit.

Stars: Two, a book I just didn’t connect with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Maybe Someone Like You, Stacy Wise

Maybe Someone Like You,  Stacy Wise

Maybe Someone Like You by [Wise, Stacy]

Genre:  New adult

I loved Stacie’s Beyond the Stars, almost a five star read for me but this one? Well, Its sweet, cute, easy to read but I didn’t feel that magic of Beyond the Stars in it.
I liked Katie, liked Ryan but didn’t really feel much beyond friends with them and the set up of miscommunication was so tenuous to hang a full romance on that I just didn’t find the story believable.
The Jasmine issue was one of the best parts of the story, how it led to Katie volunteering with the pother group and yet it was a secondary part of the main novel.

Stars: Three, a story I had high hopes for but which ultimately was just an OK sweet read, not a solid romance for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

recent reading

I’ve been reading some non netgalley stories, a couple i was asked to review by authors, some I borrowed on KU, and a couple I bought.

The Ex Factor,  Debbie Viggiano 

The Ex Factor by [Viggiano, Debbie]

Genre: general fiction

I’ve read several of Debbie’s books, and this is a departure from the usual but still with her excellent solid writing style.

Its a hard subject, one that strikes close to home for many readers. When a marriage breaks up some fathers drift off, happy to abandon their family, others though are like Sam, desperately want to be a father, to have as much access as possible but get thwarted at every step by the mother. Sadly apart from expensive court proceedings, and not everyone has the thousands that can cost, there’s nothing else they can do. Even then having a court order doesn’t help when the mother say the child is ill, asleep, at a friends, doesn’t want to come and refuses access. The father can go back to court as Sam does, but that takes time and the months away from his daughter take a toll on him, on his new family and of course on Ruby. The only happy one is the mother, Annie, such a vindictive character. It would be nice to think parents always wanted the best for their child/children but like Annie many only want control, revenge for what they see as slights. Annie was the one to leave, yet tells Ruby Sam was at fault, forced her into an affair. Of course her poison is all lies but kids naturally believe what parents tell them and Annie has Ruby for the majority of the time, been drip feeding her malicious words into her ears. Its cruel, and yet it goes on day after day for many families. My lovely brother is going through the same process, so far he’s been unable to see his daughter for almost two years, despite spending several thousands on court fees. The court agreed he’d done nothing wrong, was a good father, but the mother was so vindictive she has kept his daughter away and all he can do it seek more legal proceedings. Meanwhile his little girl probably is being told daddy didn’t want her…..
Its an incredibly sad, very realistic story of what pressures a family breakdown can put on the absent parent, spilling over into other family members. Thankfully the end shows there is a glimmer of light, and I’m hoping that same thing happens for my brother in time.

A KU purchase

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya 

Royal Love (Last Royals Book 1) by [Serruya, Cristiane]

a KU purchase
This was a fun read, though it took me some time to warm to Angus, he was alpha male but on the OTT side, and there were times when I wanted Siobhan to just tell him where to go. She veers between wanting him and wanting independence and I did feel the whole getting together part was a bit rushed. I felt both acted out of characters and one thing that really annoyed me was the lack of condoms. That’s just not a good message to send out in this day and age!
There’s a little suspense, I’d kind of worked out what had happened and who was behind it, but it was still a good addition to the story and gave it a little extra edge.
I loved Angus mum and aunt, perfect snobbish b itchy characters – they really add to a story for me, make a contrast to all the sweet stuff.
Its not a story I’d re-read, a little too light and sweet for me, I need a bit more drama but its a fun read for when you want something easy to relax with.
Stars: Three, a little light but a fun story.

Rockstar Daddy, (Wilder Rock 1), Taryn Quin

Rockstar Daddy (Wilder Rock Book 1) by [Quinn, Taryn]

Genre: Romance,
a side spin from the Oblivion series. I usually loved Taryn’s stories, especially when she writes with Cari Quinn but this one was a little simple. Its got plenty of heat, lots of erotic encounters but for me they became the story, and there was little else to it – just a series of very hot sex scenes tied in with a tin backstory. For many people that’s perfect, for me it needs to be story first.

Another KU purchase

Lifeline,  Amelia Lawrence 

Lifeline by [Lawrence, Amelia]

Genre: Romance, M/M
A good read, very real with scenes that happen far too often. Alex was heartbroken after his romance with Jack went badly wrong, and feeling rejected he’s a prime candidate for manipulative bully Cole.

Like so many of these characters Cole starts off well and then the crack drift in, by which time Alex had lost his self confidence and was constantly striving to be someone who wouldn’t anger Cole. Its easy to say “why not just leave?” but much harder for anyone to do it. Bullied sap at self confidence, convince people no-one else will want them and of course the threats that Leaving will have drastic Consequences is enough to put most folk off, and Alex is just working and returning home, all the joy has been sucked out of life.
Jack – well, Jack was wonderful, regretted the past very much and wanted a second chance with Alex. The way the story played out was really well done. Its not one I’d re-read but was a very enjoyable story, a realistic portrayal of an unpleasant subject.

One I bought, was only 99p

The Taste of Air, Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air,  Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air by [Cleare, Gail]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction.

Bah, my usual moan…Women’s fiction – why? Why assume men won’t want to read this, why cut off a group of customers.

Got that over with and this is a fabulous read. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like it and it does have the potential to get confusing, told from POV of Nell, Bridget and Mary, and told in past and present. Yet somehow it all works and I wasn’t left feeling lost, wrapped up in the past and sharply brought up to present. This isn’t my preferred way of reading a story yet it worked so well, letting me see events as they unfolded naturally.
I liked that the characters had faults, weren’t just sweet and light, lovely and loving but displayed elements of reality, dissatisfaction with life, partners, family. That’s all of us at some points, we don’t live in a happy vacuum, real life has issues that affect us, problems that need to be sorted and we don’t always deal with things the way we should.
I did wonder why Nell’s husband wasn’t more questioning of what had happened, why Mary was so far from home, why Nell was staying. Mine would have wanted every little detail, David just seems to be “OK, see you sometime”. Maybe its part of why Nell is dissatisfied with her life, though it may look perfect to others, and I liked the way the author brought about changes to them.

I did find a few things a bit hard to believe, would it really be possible to hide that alternate life, and of course the Mary, Ginnie, Jake triangle. Its not a cheating story, per se, but does have some pretty strong deceptions going on and I wasn’t convinced that everything would have stayed secret for so long.

Stars: Four, an interesting and absorbing read, but I did feel it stretched credulity a little in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya  

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya  

Royal Love (Last Royals Book 1) by [Serruya, Cristiane]

Genre: Romance

This was a fun read, though it took me some time to warm to Angus, he was alpha male but on the OTT side, and there were times when I wanted Siobhan to just tell him where to go. She veers between wanting him and wanting independence and I did feel the whole getting together part was a bit rushed. I felt both acted out of characters and one thing that really annoyed me was the lack of condoms. That’s just not a good message to send out in this day and age!

There’s a little suspense, I’d kind of worked out what had happened and who was behind it, but it was still a good addition to the story and gave it a little extra edge.

I loved Angus mum and aunt, perfect snobbish b itchy characters – they really add to a story for me, make a contrast to all the sweet stuff.

Its not a story I’d re-read, a little too light and sweet for me, I need a bit more drama but its a fun read for when you want something easy to relax with.

Stars: Three, a little light but a fun story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Diamond in the Rough, Brenda Jernigan

Diamond in the Rough,  Brenda Jernigan

Diamond in the Rough by [Jernigan, Brenda]

Genre: Humour, Romance

I thought this sound a fun, light hearted read, as someone who’s always struggled to control my weight I felt for Kathy. Sadly though there were so many things that made me angry in this story that it was a fail for me. ** possible spoilers ahead**

First off The Weight. She’s fat, plumpish, tubby, I’m not sure which, but the reactions of Devon is so patronising. He calls he fat, controls her diet, berates her when she suggests wanting something else to eat. He might have been doing it for her own good, he might have had weight issues in his past, but nothing, nothing excuses the way he chipped at her confidence. He’s a bully. He gets her the sack, controls how she spends her own money, tricks her into a four week fat club.
Kathy too was someone I didn’t expect, she sees Devon as “hers” from very early on, calls him on his attraction to other ladies, his past dates etc, berates him for things that really aren’t her business and yet rolls over when he dictates her life.
Kathy’s sister was a good character, I like ones like her, jealous and trying to sabotage Kathy’s diet. There are people like that in real life.
Some things niggled, self employed artists set their prices, they don’t blithely send off a painting and get surprised at what they get paid. I can tell you from personal experience too that its not possible to be putting finishing touches on a huge painting the afternoon of starting it….If you’re going to have your characters do certain things research first, make them realistic. I hate when Devon calls her Luv, its not professional, not something a Lawyer would do. I hate the actual term Luv too, its Love….The ride in the New Orleans – that bit did make me cross. The quote is “A black man sitting high on his perched seat….” He’s the carriage driver, and the term “black man” felt wrong to me, felt racist, made me very uncomfortable. There’s no reason to mention his colour, he’s an ancillary character, and doesn’t get another mention if the story.

Stars: two, sadly a story that really didn’t work for me. I expected to like it, I do like this type of transformation story, but there were too many personal issues for me to rate higher.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Limits,  Susie Tate

Limits,  Susie Tate

Limits by [Tate, Susie]

Genre: Romance

I loved book one in this series and Millie and Pav both feature there as secondary characters. Rosie, Jamie and Libby from that book are secondary characters here along with the vivacious Kira.

Millie is painfully isolated, has a real social issue among her other problems. Seems she was a child genius, pushed by ambitious political parents into schooling way ahead of her years and peers. She never learned to mix with others as a result. Her parents were bullies in other ways too, sapping at her fragile self esteem and now she’s an incredible medical personnel trapped in a job way below her skills officially but where they are recognised and valued so unofficially she does all the work a consultant would do. She’s been having therapy but is a long way from being who she wants to be. She’s trapped in her own self limits.

Pav is her total opposite but by a series of incidences begins to see Millie isn’t the person he nicknamed Nuclear Winter. Millie envies him, is attracted to him but knows he, like the rest of the staff apart from Libby and her colleague Don, would never want to even be friends with her, let alone more. And then things change. To begin Pav does have an ulterior motive, but he very soon sees Millie isn’t stand offish, isn’t looking down on others but plain terrified. After an incident leads to her totally falling apart in front of other staff he sees beyond her facade, and tries to help. Libby too and the irrepressible Rosie, work on bring Millie forward, helping her get past those limits.

I so felt for Millie. Social anxiety is genuine, many of us have issues where the thought of meeting others has us in a sweat, hearts racing, blood pulsing, just knowing that we don’t have that easy connection, that simple conversation is anything but, that trying to talk to someone unknown will result in the usual brain jelly and lack of speech. Millie’s reactions are way beyond most though, and the way Susie gradually brings her forward, showing us how the CBT, the people she depends on, the gradual widening of those she can trust bring her forward is wonderful to read and felt so very real.
I loved Pav, he saw beyond the obvious to the gem that was Millie, and its was a treat to read this romance. When he spoke to Millie’s parents I was cheering him. Its a great read, I loved seeing the familiar characters from book one, loved seeing just how difficult Millie found things others breeze past, loved how Pav’s family changed when they got to know the real Millie.

The epilogue too was just perfect. Just enough to let us see how things would work out, but not enough to feel the story gets past the interesting part.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, and a terrific follow up.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The War Widow, Lorna Gray

The War Widow,  Lorna Gray

The War Widow by [Gray, Lorna]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

WW2 isn’t my favourite time setting for reading, but the amazon sample of this intrigued me, very mysterious, had me wanting to know what happens next.
Sadly I carried on wanting to know what came next, as for most of the book it seemed to me to be hinting at various events and revelations that didn’t come out until the very end, and even then I’m still unsure of just how all the connections tied in.
Its – for me, not for everyone clearly – a novel that was well written, had a fabulous use of language and yet was incredibly confusing. For much of the novel we know that Kate has experienced so many bad things, its her voice telling the story, but then the hints are there that maybe its all in her head, trauma from the suicide of her ex husband, trauma from the accident she head, so what she tells us may just be what she believes and not what actually happened.
I didn’t really like her, but of course she’s very true to the time, recent history it maybe but still a period when Men Ruled, and the ladies were expected to defer always.
I did like Adam, though sometimes he appeared brusque.
The other hotel residents were a mixed bunch and I just loved the way Mary’s sister was so determined to see Mary in the running for Adam’s affections, and the way she tried to discredit Kate constantly.
Overall it was an OK read, I did keep putting it aside as I was so confused at what was happening and incredibly frustrated not to know what was the big secret, what the guys after her wanted, what the police were really doing etc. It works perfectly that way for many readers, thus the five stars of course, but we’re all different and it didn’t suit me.
It does all tie up neatly, though even then the bluffs and obfuscation and constantly in presence, and getting to the end I had to re-read some parts to see exactly what had happened. I still can’t say I fully followed all of it 🙂

Stars: Three, its not a story I’d reread, and one I did struggle with, but that’s more a case of me not the book. Not all books suit all readers, that doesn’t make them bad books, just ones that will be loved by some and disregarded by others.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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