Archive | contemporary romance RSS for this section

Pretty Face, Lucy Parker

Pretty Face,  Lucy Parker

Pretty Face by [Parker, Lucy]

Genre:  romance,

I loved this, so much so that I’m off to look for the previous novel, Act Like It. Its a story that’s such fun, full of humour, snappy sharp dialogue, real characters and problems and kept me reading “ just a bit more “ til I finished! Definitely one I’d re-read.

So I mentioned sharp dialogue, and that’s such a treat to find an author who doesn’t feel every word has to be simplified, brought down to lowest common denominator, have three syllables or less. There seems to be a real trend to “dumb down” language in so many books, and it turns stories from potentially good reads into meh-just-like-any-other read 😦
I want to enjoy the richness of language, to see  authors use it to really set free plots, to let me really feel I’m there, seeing what the characters see, feeling what they feel. I want to read words that make me think “not sure exactly what that is” and look it up – of course context provides an educated guess, but its fun learning new to me words. As I read a lot that’s a bit of a challenge but this book gave me a few new ones 🙂

The characters were wonderful, I loved how Luc and Lily went from a bad start to a can’t keep hands off situation. I adored the clever and witty humour, which kept me sniggering. Wish I could think of things like that when I need instead of coming out with the mundane and conventional, and only thinking long after of things I could have said….
Lily’s speech issues reminded me so much of UK actress Sandra Dickinson ( think that’s her name), a gorgeous lady with a voice that really just comes out as a kind of breathy squeak. Our voices are so individual, and not everyone is blessed with a beautiful speaking one, some have ones that just make people snigger.
I remember some friends of ours from years back, sadly died now but back then one of the men was a very masculine type, but when the poor guy opened his mouth this high pitched squeak came out. People who didn’t know him would think he was taking the pi ss, and it must be very hard to deal with.

Its a very genuine kind of premise too, stage shows are hard work, illness, family issues, accidents all play a huge part and it must be a real nightmare getting a show to fruition.
I loved the way we saw it play out, understanding the minds of everyday pressures shows cause.
The characters were a good mix, and felt very true to type, and of course there’s the media, and they way everything gets exaggerated, a simple lunch together becomes a secret romantic assignation, catching someone as they trip turns into a passionate embrace, and of course the eternal “friends of ….said that….”
I have a real hatred of media hype – well, the truth twisting part – and yet clearly its what people want or they wouldn’t sell.

Its a great story, perfectly paced, loved the way Luc went from dismissing Lily as an airhead to not being able to keep his hands off. I enjoyed the fact that the characters were older – hurrah, romance isn’t confined to the younger generation!
I really liked the bit where everything falls apart, understood exactly how Lily felt, despite Luc not intending his actions to have that interpretation. That’s was so very believable, and made the drama perfect for me.

Overall a really fun read, with some solid drama and terrific humour.

Stars: Five, a great read when you need some decent romance with something extra that will make you smile.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

An Unseen Attraction, KJ Charles. Dating Ryan Alback, J.E. Birk

An Unseen Attraction,  KJ Charles

An Unseen Attraction (Sins of the Cities) by [Charles, KJ]

Genre:  romance,LGBTQIA.

I love KJ Charles writing style, very apt for the era she brings to her stories. It feels very much as if one is there in the time period, from the descriptions of characters, what they wear, their occupations, what they do and how they meet, the actual buildings, the London smog.
Even the actual wording used is full of things I have to look up, occupations now unknown or rare but common then, words I’ve never heard of but which seem so apt to the time and are so enriching to the story. (Gamahuching from one of the first novels of hers I read – what a fabulous word).
I hate the trend for dumbed down books, where words all seem to be three syllables or less!

We think of UK history as being mainly white people, and yet when people were so often seen as property they were brought back from other countries as such, and its not uncommon to see people of every race and colour in the cities in UK. KJ often weaves them into her stories.
I loved Clem, half Indian, with a very real backstory, one that happened so very often. He’s an amazing man, and I could see just how his slow and careful nature led to bullying as a child. He needed time to assess, to think, to speak and society both them and now doesn’t like that. People ( me) get bullied of they don’t grasp instantly what’s to be said or done. I don’t have so much difficulty now, but as a child I was very silent, always worried about saying the wrong thing, needed to mull over conversations, think carefully before answering or I’d get flustered just as Clem does. I feel for him.
I sympathised with  Rowley too ( sounds like slowly – I loved that quip!) When he’s talking about his glasses, he describes how someone discovered he needed them, and says how it never occurred to him that he wasn’t seeing what others could. I was ten when a teacher noticed I was very short sighted, until then everyone just thought I wasn’t very bright, was clumsy and slow…so I understood perfectly how Rowley felt without his specs. Mine are a lifeline to the real world. Rowley has had a difficult upbringing too, not uncommon for them time but wich of course affects his personality. He’s so understnading opf Clem, so in tune with what he needs, they make a breat pair. You just want them to be happy, to be left alone.
There’s as usual lots of sex, but not the eternal but dull stuff so often found, where it feels like pages and pages of the same thing.
Clem and Rowely have a varied and intersting way of love making, and again that fits, when sex was something not mentioned in polite society, sex between same sex people forbidden. Even something simple like a quick touch on the hand, a passing clasp of the shoulder could mean so much.
Sometimes I think we miss just how sensual a touch or glance can be, how it can have so much meaning between two people. When things have to be worked at, when they had to find ways round society’s constraints then a simple look could carry a world of meaning.

Once more we’ve some wonderful characters, a careful, slow burn romance, one that simmers, builds very gently, with each wondering about the other. Given the penalties for homosexuality at the time they had to be extraordinarily careful.
I loved the taxidermy descriptions, though they were really interesting I did have to skip the more queasy parts….wimp I know!
You won’t find edge of seat drama here, no histrionics, or death defying stunts, but plots that develop cleverly, lead us around wondering who and why. Though I’d an inkling this time of the Who, I’d no idea of Why, and its a real quest for answers, very much time period apropos.
With a terrific cast and setting, a mystery that weaves all parts of the story together and introduces characters that hopefully we’ll meet in later books, and its another winner. I look forward to more from this group.

Stars: Five, a fabulous start to the trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

********************************************************************************

Dating Ryan Alback,  J.E. Birk

Dating Ryan Alback by [Birk, J.E.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

A new-to-me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect. It sounded fun, and was, but I found it a little too sweet, cutesy.
A good read, just not a great one for me. That’s fine though, others love sweet’n’light, cute’n’fluffy.

I liked both characters, there wasn’t anything to dislike. The setting, how they met, was a little stretching credulity to think either would do that when they both value their privacy, but the reasons given helped.
I could see why they’d connect, but though I felt a good friendship between them I didn’t feel the love, sexual tension, must-be-together feeling I need in romances.

When it went wrong, well I could see why Ryan reacted that way, but he was a bit OTT knowing only too well how the media screw things up, print anything regardless of the truth just to make money. I didn’t feel his past excused his antagonistic reaction. He’d been let down badly by a lover – it happens, and it was wrong to still be reactive, rather than proactive and his agent and friends were advising. Then to behave so callously to Jason. #justnoton

Then Jason, he’d also got a difficult past, but I felt he was far too forgiving when Ryan eventually came calling. It just didn’t feel right, I felt he should have held back more, make Ryan realise just how badly his actions hurt.

Family and friends on both sides added to the “cute” feel, they were all supportive, loving, protective, and that part felt detached from real life where sadly so much prejudice goes on, so many people are vicious gossips, always put to knock people down.

It was a sweet story, cute characters, a HEA but too sweet, too nice for me to rate higher than a three, I needed more connection between them and more angst.
Its exactly what some readers want though, look at any book and you’ll see some love it and others hate it for exactly the same reasons. this isn’t one for me to keep but may be just what you’re looking for.

Stars: Three, a happy read, but too nice for me to keep, just a one off read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Royal Affair, Parker Swift

Royal Affair,  Parker Swift

Royal Affair (Royal Scandal Book 1) by [Swift, Parker]

Genre:  romance, erotica

So, a debut book I think, can’t find any more by Parker anyway.
Its always a gamble not knowing what writing style you’ll get in a debut book, could be perfect for you or could be something you hate – I got lucky here, I love it.
Actually I’ve had several really good, well written and fun debut reads this year.

Inevitably this will get Fifty comparison. That trilogy has spawned so many others, some good, but far too many more that are really dire IMO.
Reading is subjective, and everyone wants different things. When I read an erotic romance I want sensuality, heat, and steamy sex but I need the  simmering tensions and dramas that make up the balance for me and a read I can enjoy. royal does that.
In fact rather than Fifty it reminded me much more of another favourite, Pippa Croft’s Oxford Blue trilogy. Both feature US females, UK titled males, and have a perfect for me balance of sex to story.
That’s really important, for me too much sex is just off-putting, I want story first backed up by the steamy parts, not dominated by them.

I’m pleased too that plans are for the next two books to be released fairly soon, later this year. I really, really hate waiting for further parts of a story.
I hate the trend into splitting romances up, they used to be either stand alone, or a series such as fantasy paranormals reads, but after Fifty though its all trilogies, some with very long gaps between releases, some that turn trilogies into five book series 😦 ( As the Crossfire one did. I got the “final” release delivered to my kindle after pre ordering, to find I needed to buy two more, unspecified price and date – returned it and gave up on that one. In my opinion its taking readers for a ride, abusing them)

Anyway, having got that off my chest more about this book.
I really really liked the story. Lots of steam, well written and fun, some proper dramas, perfect storylines, it all felt very real. I loved the UK setting, as a UK resident, though I think maybe we’re less hung up on titles than US readers 😉
It is an odd world though, duty and tradition do still reign in so many titled families, so Dylan’s family pressures didn’t feel wrong.
He’s an intelligent, successful man in his own right, has turned his life around but parental/family pressure is hard, and add on the media invasions….Yep, sadly the UK press laps up every little bit of “news” that helps them sell papers. Truth doesn’t really matter to them so long as they’re first to break a story, and they’ll go to scurrilous lengths, legalities get cast aside, anything to crack that first bit of news, without any thought for their actions on the people concerned.
Yep – you can tell what I think of UK media outlets, papers, TV, magazines – they’re all awful, and I don’t buy papers or magazines and only read news online where I can stay away from, the stuff that hurts people involved. That part of the story added real authenticity though, as a UK reader I can confirm its horribly true.

I loved Dylan and Lydia, they were perfect together, and the secondary  characters, Lydia’s best friend, her work colleagues and boss, Dylan’s family and friends all felt genuine. I need that, need to feel people and situations could be real or I just don’t enjoy it. I really want things to work out for them as characters I like, but of course as a story I really want fireworks along the way!! Lots of in depth, solid drama, blocks that seem imsurmountable, the stuff that makes me feel emotional for them.

There were some partsthat niggled me, but thankfully only cropped up in the early pages….Chapter 2, loc 178, she claps eyes on him and instantly is rambling on about the wonders of his hair, how she imagines running her hands through it, then a couple of paragraphs later she’s looking at his hands, imagining them grabbing her hair, holding her…I thought it was going to turn into one of those novels where the girl had wet knickers every time she looks at him, but I was wrong. Thankfully. I always think that must be horribly uncomfortable 😉

So its a great start, fun but solid story, sexy without being OTT, plenty of potential dramas and I’m looking forward to more.
Bonus points too for avoiding the – to me – dreaded cliff-hanger. I HATE  those, fiercely hate them, and I know many other readers do too. In fact I rarely buy romance trilogies until all parts are released (see my earlier rant…) so I can read straight through – far better experience for me that way.
This time we’ve a proper ending, but a sneaky set up for book two promising some fireworks without leaving the readers hanging in limbo.

Stars: Five, a fabulous start to the trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

For 100 Nights, A 100 Series Novel, Lara Adrian. Breaking The Girl, by M.C. Webb

For 100 Nights, A 100 Series Novel,  Lara Adrian

For 100 Nights: A 100 Series Novel by [Adrian, Lara]

Genre:  romance, General Fiction (adult)

Well, I looked back to my review of book one on getting this – as usual its quite a time and many, many other stories since I read that. I couldn’t remember the minor details, just the very basic facts.
That’s the main reason I prefer to read trilogies/duos etc back-to-back, so the story stays fresh in my mind. It just loses impact for me when its months or more between parts.

So, moan over, what about this part? Well, I loved it once more.
Once the story started filtering back into my brain I was able to pick up connections, though possibly missed some – I’ve found with trilogies that when I do a back-to-back read there’s always things I’d missed, little hints and snippets that I passed over unnoticed.

Avery, I really like her but…sometimes I get irritated when she takes the least logical course of action. She has to, to let the plots advance that way they do but there are times when I feel an action could have been written differently, so as to make her not such a berk…to not let her do things I feel she wouldn’t have.
I do like the art snippets – as an artist myself I appreciate seeing just how hard it is to get work seen and sold. So many books make someone pick up a brush, and from that first picture they get fame and fortune really quickly. real life isn’t like that, there’s many, many artists like me who have a shed full of unsold paintings 😉
And the food…mmmm….got my mouth watering! Food scenes can be very raunchy and erotic and thats shown well here.
I love the way her secrets finally came out in part one, but got the feeling – especially after that ending – that there’s more to come. And there is, something huge, though looking back perhaps not quite so unexpected…

Dominic, another rich, I-don’t-do-commitment guy. Seems the romance genre is full of those, and usually they fall in the end. Will Nick though or can he hold out?
Looking at his past he’s cut loose as soon as there’s any kind of real emotion hits a relationship. Will he do it this time, or does he feel more for Avery? Its clear she’s in love with him, and she’s told him so, and thats been the thanks for a good time, and on-your-way message from him before. She’s still here though.

Its a great story, more secrets from both characters coming out, lots of searing sensual sex, and a solid plotline backing it.
Regular readers of my reviews will know that’s a must-have for me, sex without story is just boring, bland, dull. I know there are a couple of books made up purely of sex scenes from different books – to me they’re pointless, and I just can’t see why they sell so well – takes all sorts though 😉

I’d kind of half guessed at one of the secrets, but not the whole thing, and that played out very well. Katherine is here again, and I actually managed to feel sorry for her, when after book one I really disliked her. I still don’t actually like her, but can understand her a little better now.

The ending – wow – didn’t see that coming, and gah…cliff-hanger. Hate those, but fingers crossed next book due out very soon. Its middle of Feb now and it’s due this spring so on the way I hope!

Stars: Five, another hot and sensual instalment with lots of surprises and story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Breaking The Girl, by M.C. Webb

Breaking the Girl by [Webb, M.C.]

Genre:  romance,General Fiction

A new-to-me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the premise sounded interesting. What does happen when a porn star gets tired of his/her work? Why do people get into this line anyway?What happens when they fall in love?

So, I was looking forward to what would unfold, but sadly this book was a huge fail for me.
I found the characters flat and dull, and the situations veered from boring and bland to start, then going from ludicrous to simply unbelievable. As usual though what doesn’t work for me is just what makes a story perfect for others, and this book has lots of 5star reviews. I’ve often bought books that garner one and two star reviews as what others hate is just what I love. Its all down to that personal choice issue, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that You won’t.

At the start we learn Payton was homeless when picked up, desperate and I understood why she’d maybe go for something like this. She’s naive, gullible, but it was too hard to take that this innocent, untouched, precious girl would see Axel and fall in love, right from the off. She’s seen some of his vids and “jumped at the chance” Really? Reluctance as its her last option I can understand, but being excited at having sex with a porn star, being trained for porn films? I thought it was the money she wanted, but she seems to want the experience too, even looking forward to it. She says she can’t wait to get close up to certain parts of him..She talks about him as if she knows him, and yet she’s just seen his vids ( not sure where when she was homeless, don’t expect shelters go in for pay per view porn 😉 and doesn’t actually know him. She’s no idea what kind of person he is, kind or cruel, helpful or grasping, caring or just ready to beat her into shape. He could have been more like Travis, a sadistic, cruel, sex fiend.

Axel sees her and says she’s got “full, not-too-big breasts on an hour glass figure”. Fair enough so why does he then say in the next sentence that she’s long and lean, but a bit on the thin side?
Still, he’s being paid good money so back to his place they go. Its downhill from then on for me basically, nothing much happens really, they’re in his home, talking about sex and porn, why, how and when…and then bam – and its all action, violence and a totally unbelievable last third. No way to explain to the Law – which his friend Reece is part of – what went on, and as the story continued it just lost what little credibility remained for me.

** Warning: there’s a pretty nasty rape scene towards the end (not Axel) Those who’re affected by such scenes may wanr to avoid that **

This is probably one of the harshest reviews I’ve ever written and I hate doing that, authors work hard on a story, and bad reviews must hurt, but if reviewers aren’t honest about how they feel then reviews become pointless. Two stars from me simply means that I personally didn’t like it, NOT that its a bad book. No-one can make that decision, only how we feel as individuals.

I’ve not read other books of Ms Webb, and maybe they are great, they do seem to be a different genre, and perhaps I’d love them but just not this one. who knows?
I can see on Goodreads that there are some 5* love it reviews, so I felt I had to put in full all the things I really didn’t like about it for balance.
Ultimately its up to each reader to make their own choice, maybe the things that irritated me here you won’t bother about and can ignore.
I’ve loved some stories others have one and two starred, that illustrates just how subjective reading choice is, though I hated this you may love it for all the reasons I don’t.

Stars: Two, sadly I just did not get along with this story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dirty Like Me, A Dirty Rockstar Romance, (Dirty – Book 1), Jaine Diamond

Dirty Like Me, A Dirty Rockstar Romance, (Dirty – Book 1),  Jaine Diamond

Dirty Like Me: A Dirty Rockstar Romance (Dirty, Book 1) by [Diamond, Jaine]

Genre:  romance,

Well, I love rock star romance, and am always looking for new reads. KU has hundreds – sadly most are meh, varying from awful, dire, copycat reads, with a few decent-ish reads and the occasional gem tucked in, so I wasn’t really expecting much from this.
The beauty of KU though is that once you’ve paid your fee its a free way to try out lots of new to you authors – and some that are simply completely new as Jaine is. She’s two books, the other isn’t really one for me but this was a good fun read.

So, Katie, I liked her, loved the way she got plunged into the video by default almost and under the eye of Jesse Mayes.
So its stretching credulity – but its fiction and sometimes truth is odd, things like this do happen.
Its written in a very real way with all the questions readers have answered, not left hanging in the wind. Reading it you’re never thinking “how did she get there/why did /what about/ when will???”. Stuff like that, plots that get started and fizzle out of just left hanging really annoy me and are seen in so many Rock star reads I’ve found.
So she’s on tour with Jesse, determined to take the money and enjoy the six weeks, having got his word that if she doesn’t want to sex isn’t part of their agreement, and she thinks she can hold out despite the sparking sensual attraction each time their together. Of course the inevitable happens, and hearts just aren’t made to stand up to such feelings. We think we’re in control and we are…til we aren’t.

I love that Katie thinks about taking the money, thinks about the impact it will have on her life, whether she can fulfil what Jesse wants, act like the devoted girlfriend while keeping her heart free. She doesn’t just think “yay, lots of dosh” and throw herself in but searches her conscience, talks to her friend about what she should do. She loves her art but after a huge setback she just has student debts and has lost her mojo. Maybe this money will allow her to resume her love for her art.

Jesse is gorgeous, and he’s loyal too, to his friends, to his family and to his band, old and new. He’s a very genuine person, and I just couldn’t help but like him. He wants the best for everyone, not just fame for himslef, but to bring his music out to aothers, to provide jobs to the people who make it happen, to have fun with both bands, to deliver what he feels the fans deserve. He hasn’t let the fame go to his head, isn’t one of those I Am God types…

I really wanted a little jealousy from the females towards Katie, there’s a few minor incidents but a book such as this is made perfect for me by a nice meddling bitch 😉 Still, its an unexpected gem of a read, almost a five star for me and I’m hoping for more from the band soon, maybe I’ll get my jealous bitch then!

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, and a terrific start for Jaine’s writing career IMO.

Claiming Mister Kemp, Emily Larkin, Guarding Mr. Fine, HelenKay Dimon

Claiming Mister Kemp, Baleful Godmother 4,  Emily Larkin

Claiming Mister Kemp (Baleful Godmother Historical Romance Series ~ Book 4) by [Larkin, Emily]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

Well, I’ve not read any of Emily’s stories, and this is the fourth in a series….but it reads as though each are stand alone though connected, and the description appealed to me 😉
Historical M/M – for me the Queen, the 5* Gold Standard of this genre is K J Charles, I love her works. This stands up pretty well against that for me, and I really enjoyed the story. There are earlier books, which I’d like to read, and in fact book one is free so that’s on my kindle 😉

I loved Tom, so clear about his love for Lucas even at a time when it mean death if it was discovered. Awful isn’t it how we treated anyone in love in a non conventional way back then – and in many places still do 😡  Tom has served his country loyally, risked his life for small reward and yet if he’s caught with a man he faced being hung.
Lucas, he’s so scared to admit his feelings. Its clear to those close to him but he won’t even admit it to himself, and talking to Tom when he forces the issue he’s sticking to the conventional “unnatural” etc. As for anal sex – I have to look up the term they used, was new to me and I’ve forgotten it – there’s no way he’ll consider that. Back door Usher – that’s was it, perfect for the age in which the book is set.
That’s one of the things that makes historical books so real, when the characters speak as they would back then, use terms familiar to that age. When Tom is talking about paint colours I had to look some up, hazarded a guess as an artist myself but they were colours I’ve never heard of, superseded by more modern ones.
I love when an author takes the trouble to do relatively small things like that which have a big impact on how I feel about a novel. Its research many fail to give credit to and just don’t do but can make a massive difference to how real novels feel. Its something that KJ Charles does all the while, and what makes her books feel so special to me.

There were times I wanted to shake Lucas, thought him a coward he was bringing such distress to Tom in his refusal to act on what they both felt. Then I had to remind myself just what they were risking, and it puts his fears into context better.
Even today in the UK many people find it difficult to acknowledge their sexuality, and there are no criminal charges now, just bigots to face,but that’s still tough, especially when they’re sometimes within the family we love.

Holding up this would be/won’t be romance is a great cast of characters, snippets of real history, and events, and plots that fit the story perfectly. Its a fun read, one I thoroughly enjoyed..

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, maybe if I’d read all the former stories it would have hit that? Who knows?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

***************************************************************************

Guarding Mr. Fine,  HelenKay Dimon

Guarding Mr. Fine (Tough Love) by [Dimon, HelenKay]

Genre:   Romance, LGBTQIA

I didn’t realise I’d read one of Helen’s books back in 2014…not surprising as she’s a prolific author.

This sounded a fun read so I waded in, and got hooked into Seth and Rick’s romance.
I love that they’ve-hooked-up-but-now-its-awkward scenario. Rick and Seth had a quick, steamy interlude in a club back room and that’s it. Or so they think, so imagine the shock when next day Seth finds out Rick is the person he’s bodyguard for.
Rick knows who Seth is via the paperwork, and has his own issues about that, but has no idea what he looks like until he walked in the door!

Well, that visceral attraction that had them hot and sensual in the back room is still there.
Rick’s had relationships before but Seth? Not really. He’s just broken up with the closest he came to one with his ex, Elizabeth. She felt he wasn’t there enough, and when he was, he wasn’t “there” with her anyway.
They can’t keep hands – and other body parts – to themselves though, and what was a one off becomes more and more, until Seth can’t bear the thought of anything happening to Rick.

There’s a lot of danger surrounding this post though, Rick isn’t really the new Consul, but an agent looking into the supposed suicide of the old one.
He and Seth uncover a dangerous plot that could get them killed, and they come very close to it more than once. The suspense part and action of the story worked well for me. I don’t want it too in-depth that I get lost but do need it to feel real.

There’s lots of action here, lots of on-going drama, and some cracking snarky lines that made me smile.
I liked Seth and Rick, they worked well together as colleagues and as lovers. Could they continue after this post was done though? Would Seth even want to or would he do his usual fast exit?
As well as the romance there was a decent storyline – and I’m all about that, a proper balance of sex v story, and here it worked well.
The characters were well thought out, very real feeling though I’d got an inkling of who was the bad guy early on. Makes a change for me to get it right 😉
I loved Nathan too, love the banter he and Seth had, being comrades from other dangerous jobs had led them into a special trust, only found when you rely on the other when you’re risking your lives.

I did enjoy the “why do straight guys always think we’ll hit on them” talk – I was having that chat just recently with son number two. Its something that always puzzles me, straight guys don’t fancy every woman that crosses their path so why do so many of them assume a gay guy will fancy them?

Stars: Four, a fun read, with a good balance of sex and story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Saints of Denver (3), Riveted, Crownover, Jay

Saints of Denver (3), Riveted,  Crownover, Jay

Riveted (Saints of Denver, Book 3) by [Crownover, Jay]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve read quite a few of Jay’s novels now, some I love, some are still good but not quite such a hit with me. Riveted falls into that category, and its really difficult to pinpoint why.

I love the characters, the settings, the realism of it all. There is irrational bigotry around, those who see skin colour and not the person, and when that happens to Dash and his brother  it felt so very genuine. I’m naturally fairly dark-skinned/tanned looking, though English through and through, and used to get bullied at school back in the sixties for my appearance, so I understand that affects people though I only had a small taster.
Its sad but a fact of life, people that are in any way different get picked on by ignorant bullies.

Poor Dash, what a tragic background and I kind of understood why he joined the Army as a teen, and how the awful things he’s seen since affected him. I still wasn’t quite convinced though of his reasons for a) not going home and b) feeling he wasn’t good enough for Dixie, that something would happen to her. Thank goodness that girl has some real sticking power!

Dixie – well, we need more like her in the world. she’s everyone’s friend, works hard, always has something nice to say, and always there ready to help.
She’s like a Pollyanna type but without the cringing sweetness, there’s something real about Dixie, something that makes her beautiful in spirit without feeling sickly sweet.

The sexual tension between those two – off the wall, and wow when Dixie finally wore him down – or maybe it was just that he stopped telling himself he wasn’t good enough, sparks flew.
They’re perfect together, but that HEA has a few barriers on the way.

There’s some terrific secondary characters here too, who really caught my eye. Its a lovely story, a beautiful romance, with genuine feeling people and places. I could feel the sunshine, and here on a murky February morning in the UK just remembering that feel cheers me up.
Given all that why haven’t I gone for five stars? Well, its hard to say, I did enjoy it but…sometimes I found myself drifting, not concentrating on the story, and other times I just had to put it aside for a while, and that doesn’t happen with five star reads. I just can’t work out exactly why though.
It’s clear its a five star read for many and that’s great to see. I just wish it had been that for me, but it fell marginally short.

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, maybe if I’d read all the former stories it would have hit that? Who knows?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

One More Kiss, (Band on the Run 1), Samantha Chase

One More Kiss,  (Band on the Run 1), Samantha Chase

One More Kiss (Shaughnessy: Band on the Run) by [Chase, Samantha]

Genre:  Romance,

Well, Band on the Run – its going to be a rock star band book isn’t it?
That’s what I was hoping, but sadly its a rock star in hiding book, and for most of the book its just Matt and Viv, having endless conversations about food. Yes that’s right, food.
She’s a food blogger and magazine writer, and I read far, far too much about food. I love food, love recipe books, and am all for the little details in a story that make it real, but there was much more about food in this story than there was about the band/fame/music.

I wasn’t really invested in either character, and although they were the main stay of at least the first half of the story I didn’t really feel I knew them – other than what they liked to eat 🙂
I didn’t really understand why Matt was hiding, for a couple of weeks; maybe a month or so, but news is a hot thing when its celebs, and out of the public eye he’d soon be forgotten.
I thought as a musician he’d be doing more about that while staying with Aaron, Viv’s brother and his long time friend, but mostly he just seemed to be drifting, stopping in to talk about and eat food with Viv.
I just didn’t really feel that I knew either of them well, and I need that to be invested in what happens to the characters.

The kiss: the blurb has it as if he’d never forgotten it or Viv, but though there’s a neat explanation about it to me that didn’t feel genuine, it felt more likely that he’d kissed her while drunk and then it was gone from his mind, though not from hers.
He really was a jerk back then, and I’m not really sure why Viv is so attracted to him, as she hasn’t seen him in years and he was her brothers friend not hers, so she doesn’t know anything other than his public persona. The attraction just felt contrived, forced and I couldn’t see it being real.

They both had family issues too, that could have made for a great bit of drama but…it kind of fizzled out. I wasn’t convinced by the convenient solutions to those issues, they just didn’t feel real, after all the things we’d read about them.
There were a few things like that which I thought were going to lead up to some dramatic reveals, surprises, issues but they didn’t. I guess at least I can’t say the story was predictable!!

Its my second Samantha Chase novel, the first was a sweet story which I sort of enjoyed  but wasn’t really pulled into, and I felt it was a little predictable. After reading this one I think maybe she’s an author who writes books that many, many readers love, but whose writing style doesn’t mix with what I want to read.
That’s how it goes, not all books suit all readers, no matter how well the story is written, some love them some don’t.
Its not a reflection of how good or bad a story is, simply that it didn’t work for me personally.

Stars: Two, one of those well written reads that others will love but which didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hard Rhythm, Cecilia Tan

Hard Rhythm,  Cecilia Tan

Hard Rhythm (Secrets of a Rock Star) by [Tan, Cecilia]

Genre:   Erotica

I’ve liked a few of Cecilia’s stories and looked forward to this one especially and its got my favourite band trope connection! Its a hot and sensual novel, and one I enjoyed reading.
I was a little puzzled at first, it seemed as if I should know more about certain characters, events and places and then about 25% I decided to check and …yes, this is the third in a series and I’d missed the first two.
That would have made things clearer, I enjoyed and could follow the story without reading those early ones, but I think it’s more likely to have been a five star read for me if I’d read them first.
Still it’s a good read and didn’t “lose” me with details, just would have been easier to pick up some incidents and see their relevance earlier.

I liked the characters, we’re mainly with Maddie and Chino but what we see of the others is promising, some from earlier books and maybe some in the future ones?
Maddie’s been and done it all it seems, and she feels kind of jaded about everything, nothings really exiting her now, really enticing her to take part, and  then Chino makes his move.
There’s been a subtle undercurrent between them for months, nothing you could really point to, no obvious tensions, but its clear they both are strongly attracted to each other. Maddie thinks its a one night only and she’s happy with that, she’s been wanting him for a while and they have a great time, but that one night stretches and soon they’re in a solid sensual relationship.

I loved Maddie’s sex toy blog, and the way Chino was so enthusiastically helping her with it 😉
I liked Maddie, she’s one of those people who project confidence and self security even when she’s struggling inside. She’s worked hard to get where she is even without parental backing, and she’s not actually upfront about what it is she does to them. Understandable, not everyone can accept that kind of life and job.

Chino and the band connection…well, that was it for Band trope stuff, that he was in a band and the novel includes his band-mates. There’s no huge band dramas, no touring life-on-the-road stuff, just that they are band members. A little disappointing for me in truth, but it was still a good read.
I loved his backstory, can see that as so true, there are people like his deeply religious family, who see his lifestyle as wrong. The resulting parts of that section of the story surprised me! And I do like to be caught out, to get a touch of the unexpected even when its not part of the main plot.
I loved Chino himself, the thought he put into sex, the way he planned hard, organised what he wanted rather than just leaving it to chance, the way he played Maddie, knew what she wanted, needed, even when she didn’t realise it.
They may not have been together long, but he’d been watching her and planning long before they got together.
I did love his stance on p-i-v sex, that there are alternatives, that waiting can make it special. That was a treat to read when so many stories have the male balls deep by page five it seems. It makes me thing what can come next when they’ve reached the main part so quickly.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable read, and I think if I’d read books one and two then this may have been a five for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers (Common Law Book 2) by [Sherwood, Kate]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

This is my fourth Kate Sherwood read, two were five stars, one was three – that’s how it goes for me, liking an authors writing style doesn’t mean I’ll love all their novels 😉 Still, Long Shadows, Common Law 1, was a five and I was keen to see where Wade and Jericho (Jay) would go next.

This is one of those excellent slow burn romances that I love, where we can feel just how attracted each person is, feel the sizzle, the heat, the tension whenever they are together. Right now though they’re not together, not even close to that, still feeling their way round each other, but though everything seems stacked against them I just can’t help but feel them being together is something that’s almost predestined, fated, just has to happen at some point. But when, where and how still isn’t clear!
Wade and Jay had a relationship 15 years ago and then Jay left…didn’t stay in touch, didn’t contact anyone, and now he’s back. He and Wade are on opposing sides of the Law though, with Jay being undersheriff, his also close friend Kayla is sheriff, and Wade has a rep as a criminal.
Although he’s never been caught doing anything wrong, whenever there’s trouble somehow he seems to have a connection. This book shows that once more, with people believing Wade’s hand is in the mix of murders/drug smuggling and biker wars.

Its not as clear cut as Wade not being caught though, everything that makes the locals ( and the out of town Feds) think he’s guilty is circumstantial, and how much is jealousy from the locals and frustration from the feds?
Wade doesn’t not cooperate, on the surface he’s friendly, calm and helpful, but we all know that what he isn’t saying is far more important than what he is telling them.
Jay struggles to concentrate when he’s with him, the Wade of now is wrapped up with his memories of past Wade and both have the tendency to make him forget everything, and that doesn’t bode well for a man of the Law.

All the old team are back, Jay, Wade, Kayla, Nikki – Jay’s fathers wife and her two kids, the feds who still seem to distrust Jay and shut him out as much as they can, and there’s a few new people, with the bikers being a main thread of this story.
It starts with the burning of Wade’s bar, and a text from him to Jay that no-one is there.
Jay was terrified Wade was inside, panicking over all the things he wanted to say and hadn’t, and then Wade texts him back this brief, ambiguous reply in response to Jay’s question over where he was. Does that mean he knew the bar was burning as he was involved? Jay hadn’t told him, and once more he’s left with the dilemma, does he show Kayla the text as he should as her deputy, knowing he’ll drop Wade into trouble if he does, or should he keep quiet?
Its typical Wade, laconic information, words that can have more than one inference, and poor Jay, I so felt for him. The more he gets caught up with the town the more he feels for Wade.

I love these guys, the friction between them, Jay trying to do what’s right morally, but struggling when it comes to Wade, Wade and his manipulations. I feel Wade knows Jay better than he knows himself, I think he’s a good guy, they both are but Wade hides it.
I haven’t worked out whether he’s just running his town the way he thinks benefits it, skirting the law deliberately or whether he’s maybe part of something bigger on the legal side. Who knows? Maybe I’m totally off tangent thinking that, but Wade is so closed, so careful and so manipulative that everything he says and does can be taken in many different ways. Is he using Jay for his own purposes, giving him info he knows Jay will feel he has to pass on to Kayla and the feds, or is he just trying to keep Jay safe?
Kayla, she asked Jay to stay, to take a huge pay cut from his city posting and help her keep the town safe, but she doesn’t seem to fully trust him when it comes to Wade and TBH its easy to see why. Sometimes Jay doesn’t trust himself. So far its all worked out well, but is that because Wade was directing it that way or purely coincidence?
What about the feds, first they don’t trust Jay but do trust Kayla, now it seems to have turned around, so what’s really going on there?
What about the murders, how can Jay keep his town safe when the feds aren’t giving him info over such serious things as that?

Its a book that’s perfect for me, sizzling romance, great characters, small mysteries to puzzle out and lots of false trails. By the end we can see what has happened but we still don’t really know why, whether it worked that way by default or by clever planning. Jay’s getting to know the way Wade works, but still struggles with the morality of having such strong feelings for someone who may well be a murderer, drug smaller, involved in some serious crimes. Poor Jay. He wants to think the best of Wade but he’s hampered by that tricky stuff, evidence that seems to point Wade as guilty but doesn’t quite fit, can be seen in different ways.
Wade I just love, such a clever, sexy man and for me he’s not a murderer but has perahps found ways to skirt round the constraints of legalities to get the results that are best for the town and its inhabitants.
There’s some real steam coming off the pages in this book, although its mostly touches, glances and words, very little real action, but that makes it so much hotter, so that when they do kiss, one touch and bam….its explosive.

A fabulous story once more, carefully paced, flowing easily and taking the reader along a will they wont they/is he guilty or isn’t he/how can they ever actually make it as a couple journey?
Eternal optimist that I am I know Kate will work it out for them eventually but how, when and why…well, thankfully there’s more books to enjoy to read about that!

Stars: Five, perfect second book, advancing the story and opening up the plots for lots more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

barn conversion blog

Saving a piece of local history and creating our dream home

Emme Cross

Totally Addictive Romance Novels

Kelly's Book Blog

Book reviews! I'm a book lover, speed reader and reviewer!

Reads and Treats

Satisfying books, Scrumptious eats

jeannie zelos product reviews

Jeannie's honest thoughts on products bought or received for review purpose.

By Hook Or By Book

Book Reviews, News, and Other Stuff

So, I Read This Book Today

Editing, Proofreading, Reviewing and Other Stuff

Book Junkiez

The place where book addicts go for their book fix!

Hit or Miss Books

Honest book reviews for the Young Adult, New Adult and Adult categories.

Lorna Soar

Feltmaker & Artist

The WordPress.com Blog

The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.

A Writer's Life For Me.

Blog of Author Mishka Jenkins

Book Gossips

We are four cousins hailing from Australia. Love of books runs in our family and we have decided to share our exhilirating gossip sessions with you. Here you can find book reviews from multiple genres, bringing you the best of buzz worthy popular fiction.

Brandy L Rivers

New York Times and USA Today Best selling Author

JUNO ROSS

Love Stories Round the Beltway, Round the World