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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

 

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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 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

 

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

 

 

Coming Home, P.E. Kavanagh

Coming Home,  P.E. Kavanagh

Coming Home (Friends & Lovers Book 2) by [Kavanagh, PE]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I hadn’t read book one, didn’t realise that these books were connected, I guess Lucas and Ramona were secondary characters in that. Maybe I’d have felt closer to them and the story if I had read the first.

I understood the sizzle when she first met Lucas again, but wished I knew if they’d ever been more than just Good Friends, as that seemed to get heated very quickly. Then once Ramona found out about the engagement I didn’t see why she was still with him, especially when he just refused to answer or even consider answering any of her questions. I’d be saying “right, I’m off” and the person I feel Ramona was would too. Yet she doesn’t, doesn’t ask questions even while telling herself she deserves answers, just carries on in the same way.
I didn’t really get why Lucas was with his fiancee. ( Annabelle? I’ve even forgotten her name and its only a day after reading…) the whole secrecy bit, reasons, excuses, nothing really added up IMO, and then at times it delves into what could be some deep drama but jumps out just as quickly without anything really happening.

I was irritated too at the fact Ramona hasn’t been back for ten years, and yet soon as she’s here its as if she has a monopoly on grief, she’s busy blaming her brother for not being around enough because of his career, even though he lives locally, while conveniently forgetting she’;s been away ten years!

Stars: Two, sadly a story that didn’t work for me. As ever though others love it, I guess its one of those reads that suit some readers, not others. You can’t please all of the people all of the time etc.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Rock Star’s Heart, Kella Campbell

Rock Star’s Heart,  Kella Campbell

Rock Star's Heart by [Campbell, Kella]

Genre: Romance, New Adult

I wasn’t sure about this, I’m way past New Adult age, closer to Old Adult, and find many of these books are just too unbelievable, and for me the story has to feel a bit real. But I have a weakness for rock star reads so decided to try this.
I was a bit worried when it started with some of the weird, slightly cliché, sentences, and when I read a little later the lead singer is shouting out /2we are deee-lighted to be able….” all I could think of was “One hundred and eeeeiiigghty!” And you need to be Old Adult to understand that I guess 😉 Got past those first hiccups though and found a story that actually I really enjoyed. Great characters, loved the fact that there was touring and all that entails included, for me that really helps with band books. I did feel Blade’s addiction issues were treated a little lightly, we did see some real problems when he slipped and that felt very true but overall I can’t help feeling that for a new(ish) control over his addiction he got off pretty lightly.
I did get irritated too over a certain incident- when dealing with an addict or anyone likely to have been in unsafe sex practices condoms are essential even for oral sex, and as a new adult book I think that should have been made clear, been more responsible. Its not a subject to treat lightly, life altering for some and books should (IMO) take the chance of educating those who may not be aware of such things.
That’s a small crit though and overall I really enjoyed this read, felt very band orientated when so few actually do, and I look forward to reading more from Kella.

Stars: Four, a story that surprised me after a shaky start and had some very decent plots.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Relight My Fire, Joanna Bolouri

Relight My Fire, Joanna Bolouri

Relight My Fire: The naughtiest rom-com you will ever read! by [Bolouri, Joanna]

Genre: Woman’s Fiction.

Gah, Woman’s Fiction – I hate when we dismiss a whole sector of readers. Why do that? Why shouldn’t men read this? Ah well, rant over.

I Loved The List, a fabulous read. Maybe I just had over expectations for this but I didn’t find it as gripping, as funny, as can’t-stop-reading. I liked it, a lot but didn’t love it.
Oliver and Phoebe are wonderful, and Phoebe’s friends are great. Its lovely to see how they all are five years on. Phoebe though finds that each time she approaches Oliver he’s too tried, not in the mood, Molly needs something, and its suddenly a couple of moths since they’ve made love.
Phoebe’s list comes into play again – and wow, what great ideas the two of them have. Soon they’re on full flow, unable to keep their hands of each other, just like the old days. It seems all their issues are sorted – but are they? People from Phoebe’s past suddenly appear, and Oliver isn’t happy, then something comes out from him that shocked Phoebe ( and me). It caused a huge rift, and I understood how both felt. Its the kind of issues many couples face, and what can break a relationship if not dealt with properly and I so didn’t want that to happen.
Of course in all the drama are the usual comedic moments that characterized The List and lightened the seriousness of the novel. That was a great balance, not too bright and chippy to be considered fluff, not too deep and dark to be off-putting to readers who want a story to relax with. I love books like this that deal with real events, with issues we all face but also give me some bright moments and a HEA. I need that.
Overall its another great read but there were times I found myself drifting, not fully into the story, unlike The List where I found it impossible to put down. Its a good follow up, and was good to see how they were doing five years down the line.

Stars: Four, not up to the List for me, but a good read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Part-Time Husband, Trophy Husbands Book 1, Noelle Adams

Part-Time Husband, Trophy Husbands Book 1,  Noelle Adams

Part-Time Husband (Trophy Husbands Book 1) by [Adams, Noelle]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

Once more, Women’s fiction. Why? Why do we try to cut out a whole section of readers, who says men don’t read romance 😦

So, this was a fun read, predicable but that’s fine. Sometimes its the actions, the characters that count and it doesn’t matter you can see where the story is going.
I liked Trevor, he is very sure of himself but not in an obnoxious way IMO, just very, very confident of himself and his abilities.
Melissa is a sweet woman, but I felt her determination to stay in the job she has partly because she loves it, has worked for it and of course loves her grandfather was understandable but to marry someone? Somehow that was a step to far for me. Still, she did it and it wasn’t long before feelings – on both sides – crept in.

Her grandfather, she says he loves them, he’s brought her and her sisters up but I found him to be an overbearing, misogynistic old man. I really can’t see how anyone who loved his family could take the decisions he did.

The story is sweet, plays out as expected, and was an easy read. No great dramas, just some hot and steamy sex, strong personalities, and an ending we can see coming….

Stars: Three and a half, its better than just a three/good read but not quite up to a four for me. If you can put aside a grandfather who pushes his family round like pawns, then its a cute, sweet romance, with some serious sensual scenes to liven it up, and an easy one to take on holiday to relax with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Making Up, Lucy Parker

Making Up,  Lucy Parker

Making Up (London Celebrities) by [Parker, Lucy]

Genre: Romance

I loved the previous book, Pretty Face, and have just put the first one on my kindle. Somehow despite my intentions I missed it….In this book the characters from the earlier reads are here but the books are each stand alone stories, so its not necessary to have read the others, but is fun to catch up with them if you have.

Leo and Trix are the best of enemies, have been since they were teens and in the small theatrical world they inhabit their paths cross now and then. Each time the wit gets sharper and more caustic and to outward appearances they hate each other. Love and Hate though – two sides of the same coin the saying says…

Trix and Leo are now part of the same production, and as if that’s not enough Leo is her new housemate. ( and yes, Lucy described the aroma of a house of males perfectly!) Thrown so close together they see that the other is not quite the person their imaginations have constructed. To add to their confusion that spark that’s always made them snark and b itch at each other now has them in the grip of a sensual attraction, and they find that actually the person in their imaginations isn’t actually the real character, that the grudges they’ve been bearing are based on a flawed premise, misunderstandings, teen issues and angst.

Now they’re together that attraction is visceral, tantalising, a sensual searing that has them making out at every opportunity as if to make up for those lost years, unable to keep their hands off each other. There are some well done, heated scenes that aren’t OTT but fit perfectly the characters they are.

Its not a route to HEA though, both of them have some serious issues from past and present to contend with, and of course though their career fields match up sometimes, at others they could be not just hundreds of miles apart but whole countries. Can they work things out or are they doomed to fail?

Well, its a great fun journey finding out, full of love and angst, real issues that we have, fears and families, all the things that make life so real made these characters and their problems feel alive to me.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, and a terrific follow up books. It was good to catch up with characters from the last book, and finally book one is on my kindle waiting for time to be read…..

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hedging His Bets, Laura Carter

Hedging His Bets,  Laura Carter

Hedging His Bets (Brits in Manhattan) by [Carter, Laura]

Genre: Romance

My first Laura Carter read. I enjoyed her writing style, characters that felt real, that I could believe in but…I didn’t Love this story. Liked it but there were a few things that just seemed weird to me. One time early in the book Jake and Jess are laughing about when Jake bought Emily a toilet roll as a present as – in her words – “there were a few times I sh it the bed” WTF? That’s supposed to be funny? Maybe we Brits have a different sense of humour…Then later he’s reminiscing “last time Emily kissed me like that I was making love to her. It was seven years ago” but they only split up three years ago, so does that mean for four years they didn’t kiss deeply?
I kind of felt a bit ambivalent too about Jess reasons for not wanting commitment, didn’t feel a really good reason, though I understood it was upsetting for her. Still, that could be just me.
I really wanted Emily to be a b itch, to try to cause problems, to provide some real angst, jealousy, that kind of thing but she’s not, she actually a sweet girl. It all works out well for everyone with a little drama at the end but I would have loved Emily to have been other than she was – again, a personal preference. I love romances that have some really nasty characters, makes the good one and the success of them over the nasties so much sweeter.
There was lots I did enjoy, the banter between the characters, the descriptions of their BBQs and how they all spent time together. I liked Marty too, one of the nasties… 🙂 if only Emily was too….It was an easy read, with events flowing well into one another and the sex between Jake and Jess was seriously hot, balanced well with the story. Sometimes the sex overtakes the story in some reads and that never works for me. Here it was just perfect though.

Stars: Three and a half, a decent read but not one that kept me gripped to the page, not one I’d re-read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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