Archive | June 2018

Rainy Day Friends: Wildstone Book 2, Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends: Wildstone Book 2, Jill Shalvis

Rainy Day Friends: Wildstone Book 2 by [Shalvis, Jill]

Genre: Romance

This was a fun read, I’ve read a few of Jill’s novels now and they’re consistently quality reads.
Its not a deep dark drama, nothing over exciting either but some very real characters with some very real issues. Poor Lanie, thinking she’s the love of her late husbands life, that’s what he’s always told her, to find out some months after his death he had four other wives….what a nightmare. Its hard to imagine that but it does happen and I so felt for her. When she takes the winery job she’s very reserved, closed, keeps herself insulated from the world trying to avoid more hurt. They’re a family who are full on though, who open arms and hearts and just absorb people and Lanie finds they spring slowly under her defences. Someone else comes along too that’s struggling and Lanie slowly befriends her only to find an appalling shock. I felt for River, but understood Lanie’s anger and sense of betrayal too. They were both cheated in life and deserved better but they have to move forward and sadly all the hurt that comes with it.
I loved all the characters here, a real mixed bunch, and each had their own problems. I adored the twins, precocious but so cute! Its an easy read, a perfect summer beach read ( if we ever get some sunshine here in UK!) and one that makes the reader feel satisfied at the end.

Stars: Four, a fun and light read, with some very real people.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Shipped,  Karrie Roman

Shipped,  Karrie Roman

Shipped (Until You Book 1) by [Roman, Karrie]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I love M/M and books involving fame, such great potential for jealousy plots, fan over action etc. I really wanted to love this but…I liked it, a lot but it fell flat of being one I love, a re-reader.
Ryan seems to have walked into fame from nothing, top star Lucas has a wife, a beard only, but that seems to have escaped notice and I wondered just how realistic either of those things could be. The romance angle was kind of cute really, some sensual sex scenes but lots of sweet and nice between that and it felt a little too cheesy for me. I like some drama!
We did get drama later by way of a dangerous stalker, and the pressure that brings, and a climatic attack towards the end. Somehow though even that didn’t feel enough for me. There was endless talking about feelings, mulling things over, cutesy times out with yet more nice, sweet people. Ryan was nice, Lucas was nice, his wife was nice, the two sisters that owned the boat were nice…you get the idea? Everyone is so darned Good, helpful, pleasant. I wanted a bit of nasty, some jealousy, some real world maliciousness and back-biting.
It felt a little too fairy-tale charming when real life has highs and lows, pleasant people and ones that are bitchy and unpleasant. That won’t matter for many readers but for me its essential that I can feel things are real, that I’m “there” with the characters as action happens and here I simply felt like an onlooker, distanced from the action.

Stars: three and a half, a decent story but let down for me by the lack of reality.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

Quinn,  D. B. Reynolds

Quinn,  D. B. Reynolds

Quinn (Vampires in America: The Vampire Wars Book 12) by [Reynolds, D. B.]

Genre: Romance

Oh Gosh, I’ve been so looking forward to seeing more of Quinn but this book wasn’t the greatest for me.
I’ve loved all the books except Sophia, and this had the same kind feeling about it for me. I just didn’t feel the connection, the sizzle, the must-be-with each other that I’m used to in DB’s vampire mates.

The story was fun, and as usual I enjoyed the flashbacks to Quinn’s ( and Garrick’s) Turning. What a b itch their Mistress was. I’ve seen technical inaccuracies pointed out since reading this, but TBH I didn’t notice them at the time. Its a bit of a basic error though, I know in fantasy the chance to re-write history is there and Maybe in Quinn’s sixties technology had got that far, but without explanation of that then I can see how some readers are irritated. I guess I got too hung up on the story to notice. I really enjoyed reading Quinn and Garrick’s backstory.

I like that the main plot has now moved to Europe, that’s been set up since the early books, and each later story has been working towards this. Take the battle to the Europeans, rather than wait for attack, has been the recent decision by the American vamps. After all why should they wait, knowing that Europe has designs on their land. Put in some strong Lords and they’re all better off.

I’m pleased Quinn has roots in Ireland, I didn’t – and don’t – want a US Vamps are the only ones strong enough thread to this story line. I’m hoping DB sticks with keeping those roots connected, and also that at least some of the European vamps stay as Lords. I don’t want a total US annihilation.

That’s all for the future though, back to this story. There’s bits I loved, as usual the battle scenes were slick, polished and very real, bloody at times as befits Vampires. I loved Quinn and Garrick, though did find it a bit incredible that Quinn was so fixated on Eve at times, while at others he was very take it or leave it and the-battle-comes-first ( as it should, he’s Lord for a reason)
I have to say it, but I didn’t like Eve. She’s a bigot, selfish, cold in the way she regards Vampires. As Quinn says, if her brother was killed by humans would she go all out killing them? I do find it a bit incredible she’s been so successful, given she hasn’t any special talents, isn’t superfit, gun trained etc but simply relies on her femininity and surprise ( Hey guys, look, Boobs…oh and here’s my pointy stick!) That’s not enough to kill stronger vampires, as we see in the story, and it seems weird that she’s managed to avoid meeting and trying to kill any of them when she doesn’t know how to tell strength. I did feel for her about her mother, she was a horrible woman, and of course losing her brother like that, seeing him killed, was tough. Still didn’t mean I liked her though.

Same goes for her romance with Quinn. With every other one I’ve been able to feel a strong attraction, feel the pull to each other from early on, and felt that human and vampire both respect each other. Not so here, there’s lust, but that’s it. There’s certainly no respect for each other, and in a way everything takes place over such a short time – couple of weeks I think – that perhaps there isn’t time for them to develop that. Apart from sex they spend very little time together, and yet they become Mates….I wasn’t feeling it. I respect all the other Mates, they all have different qualities, but there’s that indefinable Something about them that works. Maybe it’ll grow here, as I’m not feeling it yet.

Stars:Four. I enjoyed it as part of the wider story, loved the Vampire side of things but felt it was let down, rather than enhanced, by the romance. I’m currently re-reading this series- I love catching up with it on a second or more read, the only other one I don’t love is Sophia, and I skim read that to get gist of story, I guess I’ll do the same here.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

To Be or Not To Be: The Actors, The New York Artists, Cathrine Goldstein

To Be or Not To Be: The Actors, The New York Artists,  Cathrine Goldstein

To Be or Not To Be: The Actors (The New York Artists) by [Goldstein, Cathrine]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, romance

*Sigh * Women’s fiction once more – why write off half the population, who says men don’t read romance? They do, and write it too!

So I read Cathrine’s first book in this series, The Rock Star, and liked it but wasn’t swept away by the story, found it a bit sweet and simple, but decided I’d try this one and see if it was maybe that story and not Cathrine’s writing style that didn’t suit me well.

I really enjoyed this, almost to the five star loved it, just a little short of that. Its got a fun story line, lots of emotion, though I so hoped Maggie was going to be a lot nastier….I do love the b itch characters, but it wasn’t to be 😦

Trevor was lovely, very genuine, great with his fans even though he tires of the series that’s made him a Name and lots of £££. He needs that, his sister does anyway, as her husband skipped out when their son was seriously ill, and Trevor supports all the expensive medical bills. I loved his sister and nephew, not that we saw much of them but they added a feel of reality to the story. Ill health hits many of us, changing lives, meaning many are in Trevor’s position, though not such a monied career usually….
When Trevor sees Jenna he’s swept away, not just by her acting talent but also the attraction he feels to her. That shocks him, he’s not felt this way, and of course he’s in a relationship with Maggie, and that’s also connected to his career….

Jenna made me feel two ways. I admired her determination to act, her sheer talent that she’d honed through hard work, her care for her family and friends, she was so giving to them. And yet she irritated me with her “I am right” stance, she was almost rude, actually at times she Was rude, to those she felt were out of step, didn’t agree with her. For a young actress in a position few find themselves she’s full of opinions, and seems to have little respect for others at times, even though they’ve been at the trade far longer. I know youth and enthusiasm go hand in hand, but it was the way she waded in, spouted her opinions at times without thinking how it affected others. There are different ways of doing that, and for me she chose the wrong way.
She feels attracted to Trevor too, and yet has reasons why she won’t act on them, not just the fact he’s with Maggie, but reasons that are personal to her and which she won’t reveal. When they did come out I was shocked, not seen that plot-line before, though its something that’s very real, in fact for many people very needed. Could I do it? I don’t know, she felt it was her only option but I think its a tough thing to do, and did understand her reason for avoiding relationships, even while I didn’t agree with it.

Its a fun read, a very real feeling romance, with barriers on both sides, and yet they can’t seem to keep away. I could feel that magic pull between them and love that. It wasn’t a clothes off, sex on in second chapter romance, but a slow burn one where for much they are nothing more than friends secretly attracted to each other, and then friends who admit attraction but understand it can’t go further….til it does 😉

Stars:Four and a half, not quite the magic five and TBH I’m not sure its a re-reader but its a story I really enjoyed as a one off.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Double Down, Alessandra Torre

Double Down, Alessandra Torre

Double Down (All In Duet Book 2) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Erotica, romance

Having just finished book one I dived quickly into this. The last ended on a real cliffhanger, but everything changes when we start book two.
I wondered how Alessandra was going to work things out to give Dario and Bell a HEA, and just couldn’t see how they could avoid either the killer, Gwen’s father or the police. Its one of those stories where We know they didn’t do it but will that matter to the cops, will one of them get blamed for Gwen’s death? After all we know her father has half the local force in his pay.

Its a roller-coaster follow-up, where I wanted to scream at them for what looked a bit like complacency at one point. We know the danger is still there, and Dario is still heavy on the security but Bell is chafing at the restrictions. It brings a question up for Bell, can she live like this, Dario is always going to be vulnerable now people know how he feels about Bell, and she isn’t sure she can live with a constant shadow. Still, for them sex heals, sex talks, sex bridges all the gaps and there are plenty of Alessandra’s trademark erotic encounters.

I love the way they talk through their feelings of guilt. Its understandable, we all think “if only I…” when things go wrong but neither of them are to blame, its the person with the gun that’s wrong, not them, they aren’t accountable for another’s actions. Thankfully Dario has deep pockets as they need it in this book to avoid getting caught unfairly.

Fantastic read, had me wondering “how will/why don’t they/what about….?” and struggling for answers. I was surprised, and then surprised again and of course like most of Alessandra’s reads its not just a one plot book, but has a solid second strand that becomes joined to the first, and gave me lots to try to work out.
Fantastic ending but….I can’t help wondering about that one loose end 😉

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. Some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up and give Dario and Bell a HEA. Thankfully they do get one.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Even Money, Alessandra Torre

Even Money,  Alessandra Torre

Even Money (All In Duet Book 1) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Erotica, romance

Alessandra’s writing is perfect for me, solid plots and excitement, real feeling people I can like – or dislike, books need those too, plenty of drama, angst, steamy, erotic encounters and loads of emotions.

So I went into this one eagerly and wasn’t disappointed, its got all of that and more. What I hate in a book though is a cliffhanger and this is a real doozy….BUT thankfully book two is only a week or two away. I can live with that, its when it happens in a book and the next isn’t due for 12 or 18 months, or even longer….( of course I’m lucky enough to have got an ARC for that on my kindle, but I’m writing there as a standard reader, about how frustrating it can be when the next book is so far away)

Bell’s a cocktail waitress in a “neutral zone “ casino, one where the other casino owners come to play. Its owned by two men who have become really good friends of hers, the kind who will – as the saying goes – help you hide a body without asking questions.
I like Bell, just wants to get through school, enjoy life and live and do her best to be independent. She’s had a tough background, some awful events in it and yet is strong, determined to live a better life.
Dario – I wasn’t sure of him at first, he seemed arrogant and one of those snap his fingers and demand instant obedience types. As we get to know him though I liked him more, he’s like Bell in that he too comes from a non moneyed background, but he’s talented, worked hard and married well financially, and is now in a strong position. Despite all that his hands are still tied in a way, his wife’s father, what an awful man, totally immoral, money is God type, and Dario and Gwen are tied tightly to him. Independence is close but they’re not there yet.
Gwen, Dario’s wife, is mostly a background figure. They married for complex reasons, live separate lives in many ways though they live together, and have a close respect and friendship with each other. So when he tells Bell Gwen knows and is OK with him having other women, he is actually telling the truth, not spinning a well worn line.

Of course life isn’t smooth, even though her bosses warn her about Dario, even though she knows he takes and drops women when the next comes along, even though she promised herself she’d never get entangled with a man like him she’s drawn to him, some undeniable thread pulling them together. Dario can feel it too, this connection that keeps him coming back when he Never chases, Never pursues women. There are too many ready and willing for him to have to do that.

Of course true love never runs smooth, and despite all the signs and self imposed blocks they do get together, then the fireworks start, ending with that astonishing cliffhanger.

I was desperate to read book two, and have it on my kindle so I did just have to take a sneak at the start to see how that cliffhanger moved forward….but didn’t let myself read more until I’d written this.

Its hard for me to write a review if I’ve read both books, trying to recall what was in book two not book one so I was disciplined! I was almost tempted to get up in the early hours and write though.

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. This book is a perfect read for those who want a solid romance with some real adventure. No sweet and cute folk here, no fluffy feeling scenes, no “heart warming” sections, heart rending maybe 😉 I will be eagerly reading book two today!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The King’s Witch, Tracy Borman

The King’s Witch,  Tracy Borman

The King's Witch by [Borman, Tracy]

Genre: Historical Fiction

I have an occasional foray into this genre, Tracy Borman is an author new to me but I’ll look out for more of her novels. When I’m reading an historical work I want the personalisation, the feeling I understand the characters, to see them in day to day action, and Tracy did that perfectly here for me. I don’t work a work of fiction that reads like a text book, but I do want the events and maybe some of the characters surrounding them to be presented as they happened more or less.
Its pretty horrific how we treated people in history ( and sadly in current times too). It never ceases to amaze me how inhumane man can be, how inventive with torture. Reading a reminder of the penalty for treason gave me the usual sick feeling, that people would do all that and expect the result to be genuine, threaten and expect to get the truth. Though really I guess it wasn’t truth they wanted, just a list of names to prosecute/persecute. Seeing what happened to Frances and how she came through shows how the system was so skewed against truth.
As well as charting the end of Elizabeth the first and the succession of James 1st (of England & NI) this story covers the persecution of witches, and the still difficult question of religion. No such thing as live and let live then, it was each man out for themselves mostly, with political figures changing stances on everything according to the current climate. A very insecure time to live, especially of someone powerful in court held a grudge.
I loved Frances and her family, her love of healing and helping, her compassion but when witchcraft was being pursued so heavily, with people taking the chance to play out old grudges it was a very dangerous time to have knowledge of simple healing. I’ve always been attracted to natural remedies and how we discovered them, how people found what worked, how they did things that we would see as plain idiotic and yet they derived strength from them. Sometimes I think we have an innate need to believe in Something, Anything to help with pain, illness, things out of our control.
When it came to making a decision over Tom and his compatriots, whether to do one thing or another, I so felt for her. Each course of action held danger, each held things that went against her nature and it was a very hard decision to take.

It was a fascinating read, felt very true to time period but with that personal touch that makes a story easy to read for me.
I hadn’t realised it was a trilogy so look forward to what next for Frances and for England.

Stars:Five, a great read, very real characters, a writing of real events in a way that well could have played out.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Secret Lives of Royals, Shalini Dua

The Secret Lives of Royals,  Shalini Dua

The Secret Lives of Royals by [Dua, Shalini]

Genre: General fiction (adult), New Adult.

I was intrigued by this, and really wanted to like it. It seems to be a debut book, at least I can’t find any others by this author so I wanted to be able to write a positive review. Writing is darn hard work, so I admire those who go on to actually publish. Sadly for me this book just didn’t work though 😦 I’m sure others will love it but for me its a fail.
I didn’t really like Olivia much, she veered from over confident to cautious, all about the wrong (IMO) things. She dropped her long time friends like a hot brick and seemed to just accept this strange job, one she dreamed of but was totally unqualified for without any worries of why it just fell into her lap. Tells her long time friends she’s too tired to go out, but jumps up and happily goes off with her new friends when they call.

The story itself was so intriguing, a society within society that’s really running the world, calling the shots. If that were so though they would never let some un-briefed, unsigned new girl be party to all the facts.
I felt when they were having meetings, especially with the King that there were lots of heavy words put together to make what they were doing sound good, but in fact there was little or no detail about what they were actually doing and how. “Beets need promoting Olivia, trundle off and talk to Gordon Ramsey, push it in the top mags, get it talked about on TV”. “OK then, super, jolly good sir”. Well, it wasn’t quite like that but it ran along those lines. I couldn’t really believe that this society with few rules, very lax on details was capable of running the world, and that was a disappointment because I really wanted to be convinced. I needed to know how things were arranged, how all this lush lifestyle was financed, how they got and kept control of information, checked fats, actually did things. I’m not convinced the royal tags were correct either, we in the UK have some strange ways about titles and they don’t always run as simple as it seemed here. TBH I felt that the Royal stuff, the details of how the Society ran were too thin, too poorly researched and it showed. It could be a great novel, its a terrific idea, secret bloodlines, people behind the scenes forcing changed, and running things for the greater good, but in my view it needed a lot more work on the details.

I think maybe the New Adult tag is correct and the General fiction (Adult) is over optimistic, and maybe teens will take this as its meanr, while older readers like me are too much a cynic to believe in this without more detail of the how, why, when stuff.

Stars: Two, a story with lots of potential but which I struggled to believe, didn’t feel real to me. Maybe will have greater appeal for younger readers.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon (Mated by Fate) by [Cole, Kari]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I enjoy paranormal romances, so this appealed. I did feel at first as if I’d made a mistake as it seemed to be rather cliché ridden and I thought it was going to be one of those where frankly the romances are more or less the same and only the characters and settings change. As the story continued though I found I was wrong, it took its own path, and was a decent read.

I did find Izzy’s conversion to meat eating a little weird, and also the fact that she’d managed to control her wolf and sustain herself ( though not healthily) on a vegetarian diet. Its find for humans but wolves?? The thread that usually goes through all shapeshifter books is a hungry wold is a dangerous one, and Izzy’s career choice took her into stressful, dangerous and blood filled areas.
Still, an interesting read, even if I did want to smack Luke a few times for his alpha posturing in front of Izzy. He just about stopped short of calling her Little Woman, but somehow I got the impression barefoot and pregnant in his kitchen was how he saw her ideal future with him, when she’s go so much more to offer. He did grow to see just how strong she was and respect it but those early scenes were irritating for me.
I did struggle with how was who and where they fitted in the story. For a long while it felt as if I was reading a spin off series and should know who all these folk where and how the pack arrived at the position it was in. I can’t find any other books though so I guess I’m wrong there.

Stars: Three, slow start, a bit confusing at times but overall a decent read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Start of Something Good, Stay Book 1, Jennifer Probst

The Start of Something Good, Stay Book 1, Jennifer Probst

The Start of Something Good (Stay Book 1) by [Probst, Jennifer]

Genre:  General Fiction ( adult), Romance

I’ve read and enjoyed several of Jennifer’s stories now, had one that didn’t fit and sadly this one makes two. I just didn’t like Mia right from the start. Her ideals are solid and to be admired but her nature, well, she came over as arrogant, obsessed over appearances, self important, impatient of others, a totally dislikeable, unsympathetic character and for me that’s a huge problem. I got to 35% and ended skim reading the rest as I was just so cross with her.

The characters as a whole didn’t feel real to me, very stereotypical, and false, from Ethan and his family to the people who stayed at the B&B. As for Chloe – she’s 19 for heavens sake, why isn’t she being made to take responsibility for her actions, why does she need Mia there as some kind of baby sitter. She’s an adult but acted like she was 13 and was treated that way, and it really irritated me. At 19 I was married and had my first child, and no way would I have expected my parents to act as Chloe’s dad did, I was treated as an adult and acted as one, that’s how it should be.
Sadly those issues overrode the whole romance for me and made the book a fail.

Stars: Two, sadly a fail for me but of course others feel very differently. Subjective taste books…we’ll never all agree.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

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