Archive | November 2020

Say Hello, Kiss Goodbye, Jacquelyn Middleton

Say Hello, Kiss Goodbye, Jacquelyn Middleton

Say Hello, Kiss Goodbye by [Jacquelyn Middleton]

Genre: General fiction (adult), romance

This is one of a series of connected books, each are stand alone romances, but feature characters from earlier reads.

I really enjoyed this story, what I love is that like my favourite of these reads, London, Can You Wait? the part where the romance falls apart last ages, really wrings every bit of drama out, when you know both are so in love but circumstances and personal fears keep them apart. Its a good section of the book, chapters long rather than the too often two or three pages, and that works for me. I adore drama, love to wallow in the sad bits, really feel the emotions.

Of course as well as a cracking, drama filled story this covers so many other things. The waste in society, where we throw away so much. Leia uses old and unwanted fabrics to create her one off and small run creations, Tarquin restores and updates old buildings to give them new life. I love that, I’m very much a fan of reusing and updating, I hate that we have become a disposable society, when parts of the world would love to have what we discard without a second thought.

Then there’s Leia’s sister, in a wheelchair. Being someone in a wheelchair myself I loved her drive for more accessibility, for us to be seen, for our views to be recognised as valid. 25 years on from the Disability Discrimination Act and sometimes I feel so little progress has been made. There are still brand new businesses where access is limited or non existent, still transport that we can’t use, still homes and holiday places that claim to be disabled friendly but aren’t. Still folk who feel that being in a wheelchair seems to affect our brains, that we cant have opinions worth considering. Then depression and the stigma that surrounds it, is included in the story. That was well handled here, and sadly so very true. And there’s Saz’, Leia’s sister, issues with clothing, with nerve pain that were so very real, I’ve had those problems, and of course before becoming disabled I never gave a thought to it.

Having all those things in the story would make you think its a grim read, that its very negative, but its not, its full of vibrancy, positivity, uplifting and fun. Somehow Jacquelyn has taken these serious issues and woven them carefully into the story, making the reader think, but without bringing the feel of the read down, keeping the humour and fun to the forefront.

What most amazed me about the story was how I felt about Tarquin. From earlier books he appeared a very shallow, couldn’t care less type of guy, just out for sex and fun, ignoring any real feelings. I didn’t really like him. Then with Alex in the last book I got a glimpse of how he might be, and here learning so much more about him I just fell in love with him. I was so cross with Leia, so angry, and yet I understood her reactions, her reasons. I was rooting for them to be together, but of course if she had given in earlier I wouldn’t have got that lovely, long drawn out, sad drama section.

At the end of the book the notes are full of really interesting bits of research and anecdotes that went in to the creation of this book. They are well worth reading.
And Jacquelyn, I fully understand grieving for a pet, for most of us they are family and the grief we feel when they are gone, especially when we expected many more years, affects us and how we deal with life.

Stars: Five. A fabulous read, great characters, it’s of fun, filled with drama, with emotion and of course what made it great for me, with real life, real people like me.

ARC supplied by publishers

The Silent Treatment, Abbie Greaves. Currently 99p on amazon

Edit: This is currently on offer for 99p on amazon. well worth it if you like a story thats a puzzle to solve.


The Silent Treatment, Abbie Greaves

The Silent Treatment by [Greaves, Abbie]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult)

I really didn’t know what to expect, the description is tantalisingly vague. All I could think was Why? Why didn’t Frank speak to Maggie? Did she speak to him? Had they rowed? What on earth had happened to carry this on for so long?

Well, that answer comes slowly, little by little as we learn about Maggie and Frank’s life together. Its clear they adored each other right from the start, from that first meeting up to now, even though he’s not speaking – and I was just so intrigued the more I read.
They were so close, one of those couples who were really perfect together, who complement each other. They had some setbacks in life but it seemed to bring them closer, so where, how, why did it all go so very wrong?
My first though was that maybe one of them has an affair or something, but it quickly became clear that neither would do that, and I just couldn’t think of what could have prompted such a long silence, especially when it doesn’t seem to be an angry or resentful lack of communication, not held out as a punishment, but simply a lack of speech, and I found it such a puzzle.

Its a beautiful story, very easy to read and engrossing, very moving, very emotional and yes, like other readers it did make me cry.
Yet the big question of why, which made it such a mystery also began to frustrate me. The more I read the less I understood, until pretty close to the end, and I did find that a bit disheartening, wondering if when all was reveled it was going to be anti climatic.

I did feel the last section wrapped up a little too quickly, after that long, drawn out story of questions, it felt as if I was given the answer I’d been waiting all through the story for, quickly followed by a tidy, neat wrap up. It felt a bit too slick after the way the main story was so carefully drawn out, as if the two didn’t really work together. This is one of those books I enjoyed, am glad I read but which I doubt I’ll reread. ,G

Stars: Four, a moving, easy to read story but I felt there was a disparity between the main part being so slow to reveal and suddenly , story out, reasons disclosed and bam, neat ending. I needed a little more than a quick, slick conclusion.

Arc via Netgalley

Harrowed (Haunts and Hoaxes Book 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt

Harrowed (Haunts and Hoaxes Book 2), Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt

Harrowed (Haunts and Hoaxes Book 2) by [Irene Preston, Liv Rancourt]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Mystery & Suspense, Paranormal

I’d read Irene and Liv’s other series, Hours of the Night, but apart from learning the background to the fire in the first book of this series you don’t need to know those characters to enjoy this series. I’m sure there may be more brief overlaps. Hours of the night was a pretty complex, intense series, this one has a much lighter feel and I found events less confusing, though I really enjoyed Hours.
Noel and Adam are both holding things close, its a newish relationship – I’m not sure how long but that’s how it feels – where you’re both wary of saying or doing the wrong thing. Noel, I do like his rich tastes and the humour surrounding it, isn’t sure of he’s really seeing and feeling past events or just going mad. A natural reaction for most folk who suddenly experience what he is going through. Adam, being “in the trade” so to speak, has noticed him acting oddly, but Noel won’t talk about it, shuts him down and its back to that new relationship where no-one wants to put the other person off.
Adam thinks maybe if they go to where odd things have been turned up, though he’s actually a little sceptical about the supernatural, preferring to rely on historical facts, Noel may be forced to confront whatever is playing on him. Noel isn’t keen, back to that supernatural visions or crazy worry, but agrees and things happen that neither envisaged.
I like Noel and Adam together, but at times I could shake the pair of them. Noel is master of avoidance, of doing something, anything, to avoid facing up to whats wrong ( hands up, that’s me too…), and at times he’s a real jerk to Adam, especially early in the novel. Adam too, I like him but at first I couldn’t help feeling he saw Noel’s issues as something to investigate, as an aside to his supernatural/historian investigations rather than something that’s actually hurting Noel.

Events move forward, and we reach a point where Adam wants to leave it for Noel’s sake, where he can see that whats going on is actually hurting Noel, and Noel is determined to stay, and face up to events whatever the personal cost. It brings the two closer, they move forward into a more secure relationship. The things that are happening are believable, as is the opposition from those making money from the local small town legend. Truth, or a good money making legend, which is more important. As always there are two very definite sides.
This was a fun read, not the scary spooky I feared. I’m a wimp, Stephen King et al are books that scare the c -rap out of me and give me nightmares, not what I want form my reading! I loved the relationship development, that “are we boyfriends or what?” issues, where neither want to voice it for fear of scaring the other off and yet we can feel both actually want more than the current undefined monogamous hookup style thing they have going on.

Stars: Five, a fun read. I wouldn’t reread as a stand alone but when a series I like is finished I love to binge read my way through and totally immerse myself in the characters and I can feel this is going to be one of those series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by authors

River Running Backwards, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 9), Susan Clayton-Goldner 

River Running Backwards, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 9), Susan Clayton-Goldner 

River Running Backwards: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #9 by [Susan Clayton-Goldner]

Genre: Mystery and thrillers.

Its no secret by now that Susan writes the stories I want to read. I’ve been transported to book-world so many times reading her novels, taken away from the dross and issues of the real world. We all need that sometimes, right now especially, it takes a special author to be able to write that way.

Anyway, I think this book is my favourite. Other folk have “book boyfriends” who are drop dead handsome, well built, rich, well known etc For me its Radhauser – I have just the teeniest crush on him now, sorry Gracie, we’ll have to share 😉 I missed Gracie and the kids in this book, even though they were only at the end of the phone.

The story of his dead baby sister resonated with me. At 17 I had my first child who was still born, and he’s still a part of my heart. I so felt for Radhauser’s mum. That shock and grief, one moment a lovely newborn daughter, then she’s gone. The more I learned of events the sadder I felt for her, all those years can never come back.
I felt for Radhauser too, finding out that not only is his beloved uncle dying, the man who’s been a father to him since age of three, but that actually his parents are still alive. What a shock, and I understood his anger with his aunt and uncle, and of course his father, who abandoned him. That must have been so hard to take – yet I also understood why his aunt and uncle acted as they did when he was a child. When he was older? Well, we all do what we think is right, I think it was fear of losing him that kept them quiet, plus of course Radhauser’s tragic story when his first wife and son were killed. He’s had a hard life when it comes to tragedy.

We see him slowly start to unravel events, to pursuing what he feels is a wrongly held blame on his mum, and his determination not only to get her out of the home, but to find out who really killed his sister.
As usual the story twists and turns, there are suggestions it might be one person, then another, and slowly events start to knit together. Dealing with a 40 year old event presents issues with records, with memories, with relevant people maybe having died, but he’s steadfast and determined not to be put off. Along the way he learns more about his father, the man he is adamant he doesn’t want to acknowledge as a father, but gradually accepts has changed, regrets his actions, and is essentially a good man now. Its not just words either, his actions prove how much he wants to mean something to Radhauser.
Of course as usual the more he uncovers, the more danger he’s in, and there are some real surprises in store relating to the events of the past. I never see who’s the culprit, one day maybe…and once more I was totally surprised, and yet it all made such sense.

Its a very emotional read, I still feel for poor baby Hope, a life snuffed out that had barely begun, even though I know its fiction. Stories like this are rooted in reality, this one is fiction, but there will be many like in in real life. Man’s cruelty, reasoning of unreasonable actions never fails to surprise me.

Stars: Five, my favourite yet. I loved the personal connection, the more measured approach, without the usual hassle by Murphy to get results.

ARC supplied by author

The First Time We Met, Jo Lovett

The First Time We Met, Jo Lovett

The First Time We Met: An utterly heart-warming and unforgettable love story by [Jo Lovett]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Not Again!! Its 2020, not 1820. Men write romance, men read romance, and I’m tired of seeing this outdated genre.

Anyway, the book. I’ve mixed feelings, mainly because so much of the story took place via emails.
The premise was fun, the kids on both sides were great. Having had a granddaughter with severe speech issues ( she used only vowels! Spent a year at a language school, where the teachers for a group of nine primary age kids were two speech therapists) Speaking properly made a huge difference to her, and the struggles and successes Barney went through with his speech problems were very real. Liv, Barney”s sister was a typical young girl, liked Izzy until she thought she may take away even more of their very short time with their dad, and she brought out the dead mum guns. I cold see that playing out so well. Ruby, Izzy’s daughter, was just adorable.
I loved Sam and Izzy, loved their practical everyday life, the one we all lead, with problems and stress, and as single parents that made some things even more of a juggle. Sam was torn between home life and career. His kids wanted more of him, so did the job. He’s worked hard to get where he is, and the juggling he’s currently doing isn’t going to work. We can see that but it takes a while before he realises what he’s losing, rather than what he is gaining. Kids need time more than material things, they grow so quick that its easy to miss it and that’s whats going to happen to Sam. He was such a wonderful man, so honest, so caring. The way he talked about his wife and their relationship was very real.
I loved Izzy too, such a great character, enjoys her job, her friends, her daughter and has never really let go of the idea of Sam.
I enjoyed the ending but…it felt rushed. I like that the drama, the sad part was drawn out, that’s perfect for me, but the ending just seemed a little underwhelming after that fabulous sad part, and was done so quickly.

So, some great characters but somehow the book was good, but not great. Its not a re-reader for me, though I enjoyed it. I think its the combination of the time hops, and the fact so much of their fledgling relationship is done via emails. It lacked the feeling of Real for me.

Stars: Three, a fun read, quite deep at times with the issues all parents face.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Found in Flame and Moonlight, Kat Bastion

Found in Flame and Moonlight, Kat Bastion

Found in Flame and Moonlight (Highland Legends Book 4) by [Kat Bastion]

Genre: Romance, Sci fi and Fantasy.

Gah, my bad. I should have looked at my review for the last book, but the magic of the first book and the holiday novella still stays with me after so many years back first reading that I jumped in.
I have the same feelings here as with the last book. I can’t connect with the characters, can’t feel the romance, don’t understand much of the story. Gawain I remember but wasn’t convinced of his reasons for no emotions, though certainly when he was with Chelsea I could feel he didn’t have any. Chelsea, for a being however many years old I’m assuming that’s not her original name, we never really get to know much about her, her purpose, her people, and given she too has this no emotions training, she was incredibly accepting of marriage and all the events that happened.
Its all “poof” magical solutions with no explanations, and even with magic I like some answers 😉 I gave up half way through, I’d rather spend my reading time rereading those first two magical stories. As always its my personal opinion, others will and do love the story.

Stars: Another Two. My fault, I should have stopped at reading the first one and the novella. Just because its not for me though doesn’t mean you won’t love it. We all want different things. Thankfully 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Stable Hand, The Braided Crop Ranch Book One, AE Lister

Stable Hand, The Braided Crop Ranch Book One, AE Lister

Stable Hand (The Braided Crop Ranch Book 1) by [AE Lister]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

Well, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but TBH whats in the description is pretty much the whole plot. Its fun kink erotica, not deep, sensual romance.
Jensen, that interview. That made the whole book worth it, somehow I could just see this slightly naive cowboy expecting some fancy horses, “ Arabians? No? Maybe you have Lusitanos?”…or something like that while poor Adam and Connor are barely able to hold back sniggers…..

The rest is really Jensen’s journey into kink, and real “hands on” education. I’m not sure six weeks holiday is as realistic as the author makes it sound but hey, its fiction. Consent was the order of the day, all the time, not just in training, and that’s very important IMO. If both parties consent and its harming no one then that’s fine, if there’s no fully informed consent at all times then its a No Go for me. I was bothered that it was gloves and lube all the while, but a real lack of condoms for oral work, especially as Jensen can’t have been tested yet? A big hole there I think. Hopefully to be filled in later books. ( and her I am sniggering about holes and fillings. One day I’ll grow up!)

What I did like, though at times it was repeated a little too much, was the psychology of kink, that Adam was actually a qualified therapist, and oversaw all training plans. Playing, even just through kinky sex, with peoples different issues and backgrounds, can cause real harm, and needs careful thought.
I like that there wasn’t the typical stereotyping that often happens in erotic fiction, where the dominant folk always are obvious, always dominant, never have their own issues, and always have the answers. Luke was a complex personality, in that he was naturally dominant, yet also had the submissive need but that he seemed to fight. Noah was one of these folk who are happiest when able to let go and someone else make all the decisions. The others were somewhere in between these two. We’re all complex people, some like Noah, have more simple needs, while others take more work to see what they really want, what issues they have that may be causing problems.
I really like human and animal psychology, and that part of this book resonated with me, the explanations how animals are just into “now” unlike us who mull over the past constantly, and worry about tomorrow. If you don’t know animals well, and how they work you may not understand why some things are so freeing to people.
It covers a short space of time and the romance, such as it was, was more HFN rather than HEA and I felt that’s more realistic. It wasn’t heavy on romantic emotion and connection, more the physical side, where I’d like more emotion and romance. But I hate when there’s insta-love and all is well, even though they’ve only known each other a few days or weeks so given the time constraints this works better for me. Ideally I’d like more romance but for everything to cover a longer time-span, which simply isn’t possible given the immersion therapy type of set up here.

Stars: Three, it made me laugh so much at Jensen’s interview, but as I said its kind of light on the romance side even though I understand why. I thought there would be more romance though. Its a good book, hot smut and fun, some real issues but not wholly what I was expecting, that’s why its three.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Claiming His Bollywood Cinderella, Tara Pammi

Claiming His Bollywood Cinderella, Tara Pammi

Claiming His Bollywood Cinderella (Mills & Boon Modern) (Born into Bollywood, Book 1) by [Tara Pammi]

Genre: Multicultural Interest, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Not Again!! Its 2020, not 1820. Men write romance, men read romance, and I’m tired of seeing this outdated genre.

Hands Up, every now and then I want a slushy romance, one I don’t have to think about, and throw in the film star and the poor girl and I’m in. Except for this story I wasn’t. I wasn’t convinced by the romance, it just felt forced. I didn’t really understand Naina, one moment she was shy and hiding, the next outgoing and confident. Vikram…..I just didn’t really like him. I understood why he’d acted as he did, what a huge burden he’d been left with but he felt cold almost, except for these feelings he has and doesn’t want to admit to about Naina.
For me it would have worked better as a straight romance, the pushing it to fit Cinderella felt too forced and I think it was detrimental to the flow of the story.
Its my first read by Tara, and it won’t put me off from trying another. Its just this story, not the writing style, that doesn’t suit me.

Stars: Two, sadly though I wanted to love it, this one just didn’t work for me. As always though that’s a personal view, you may love it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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