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Meet Me at Number Five, Lisa Hill, Raw Need, Cherrie Lynn

Meet Me at Number Five, Lisa Hill

Meet Me at Number Five (Choc Lit) by [Hill, Lisa]

Genre: women’s fiction, Romance

What a terrific debut!! I find I almost always love Choclit publications, so where I’m sometimes wary of debut reads, the Choclit tag tips the balance. I’ll read debuts happily without reviewing, but if the book and I don’t gel, I feel so guilty giving a low star review so early in someone’s writing ideals.

I love horses, so have over the years devoured lots of horse based stories. The premise for this, and in fact the way it read reminded me very much of Jilly Cooper style. So when I read the author notes afterwards it made sense Jilly is one of her authors of influence.
Its got that same east read, fabulous characters though thankfully Lisa’s are a lot less stereotypical, much less OTT than Jilly’s later reads.

Its a light and easy read, but with some real issues, real emotive sections.
There’s Grace’ smarmy husband Charlie, devious, manipulating, conscienceless, and now he’s a caught out cheater in the worst way too. Poor Grace, that’s never easy to find out, but its come in the worst way and at the worst time possible for her.
She gets swept away by grandmother Clara, a wonderful lady, to live in her luxurious home in the local town, along with Colin, who helps Clara in everything, from chauffeur to PA, Hennie her cousin, Hennie’s two children and Natalya and her son Symon. Natalya is a kind of Girl Friday, living there as she needed a home and job, and she and symon fit in so well with the family.

The romance is wonderful, not just one but two…and I adored both Farrier Guy, and local Restaurateur Sam.
There were bits that felt a little unreal, the retrieval of Clara’s horse, the battle over the foal. As owner she shouldn’t have had to deal in subterfuge, but of course marching up and taking her in the usual way would have meant less story, so go with the artistic licence bit here, as it adds another connection between the groups.

The story romps along merrily, horses and training, baking and racing, the day to day issues of a mixed family group, the pressure of divorce, Charlie’s infidelity. There’s also the battle for Farrier’s, home for generations of the family, and the base for the training stables and home Grace and Charlie shared.

Its doesn’t stop there though, there’s intrigue and double dealing, family issues and backgrounds to sort out and an awful, heartbreaking secret Clara is holding.
It all plays out beautifully, with a sting in the tail for the bad guy, a couple of lovely romances that finally come together after so many problems, and of course the secret Clara is carrying which provides some real weepy moments.

Stars: five, a fabulous debut, wonderful, lighthearted contemporary read. I look forward to many more from Lisa.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Raw Need, Cherrie Lynn

Raw Need (Larson Brothers) by [Lynn, Cherrie]

Genre:  Romance,

Mmnnn…having been widowed myself last year I was a little skeptical about this book, however I do so love a rock star romance, and of course situations are different for everyone.
Maybe Rowan’s husband was abusive, a bully, a drunkard, you know, someone dislikeable which was why she was able to fall in love again so quickly.

But no, Tommy seems to have been a good guy, love of her life type so I just couldn’t see how she’d put aside her grief and fall for Zane within just four months or so. She be mentally wishing for more between them, wanting to get closer, then in the next scene she’d be in deep depression thinking about Tommy.

Zane’s a great guy, I could see who the rock star lifestyle had got old, why he wanted more. After a while having everything and everyone you want must get old, knowing the ladies only want Zane the band leader and not Zane the man must be galling. Would he really fall for Rowan so quickly though? Find her pregnancy attractive ( yes I know, shallow, but appearances do count sadly, it’s that first chance and attraction that leads to talking and what’s underneath the surface. If the first look doesn’t work someone can be a terrific person but it never gets known. )
I just didn’t feel the chemistry between them, not at all, I got tired of Rowan’s hot then cold personality, and I’m sure Zane would have been irritated by it too. Its not fair on him the way she acted.

Regina the mother in law was a real b itch, and much as I dislike her I do love characters like hers, so she was a win for me despite being horrible 🙂
Savannah, sister in law to Rowan and future sister-in-law to Zane was strange. One moment she’s besties with Rowan and the next she’s taking her mothers side, steamrolling over Rowan.

Maybe if I’d read the first book, I didn’t realise there was an earlier one, then I’d have understood the characters better, but as it was it was just an OK read for me, a bit Meh… I just wasn’t convinced of the romance, the feelings, between Zane and Rowan.

Stars: Two and a half to three. There was a lot that just didn’t work for me but a couple of parts that were OK.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Cartographer,  Tamsen Parker, (The Compass series Book 6), Heartbreaker, Hollywood Hearts: Book 2, Belinda Williams

The Cartographer,  Tamsen Parker, (The Compass series Book 6),

The Cartographer (The Compass series Book 6) by [Parker, Tamsen]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance, erotica

I’ve loved this series, some books more than others. I wasn’t hooked with the first book, not totally, and looking back I can see that I just didn’t understand the story, didn’t understand or empathise with India. Now we’re at the end and I know so much more of the characters I could go back and my review would be very different.

This is Rey’s story ( Rey or Reyes you’ll be thinking – well, both are correct but for me Reyes is Reyes Farrow, Charley Davidson’s Big Bad…so this is Rey!) He’s intrigued me right from the start, the man behind the scenes, moving all the pieces around, sorting problems, finding partners, matching people perfectly. He’s such a true gentleman, so well mannered, (Cheetos with chopsticks) moral, kind, and he hates to see people abused.
He’s made it his life’s work to go where he’s needed, to make peoples lives better on an individual level. He’s firm but fair, always consistent, always thinking of the other persons welfare. (Baby’s First Safeword…that made me laugh and summed up Rey to a T).
He’s the star of the series for me, the person who’s most intrigued me right from the start, and the one who’s story I Really wanted. And what a cracker it was, definitely my favourite book.

This book is complete in itself, and for m/m readers they might be tempted to just jump in and read this without the others.
You can do that, you will follow the story, but you won’t get that satisfaction of really seeing how Rey deserved his own person to love, how the reserved, quiet, confident person was hiding a secret, and won’t get the feeling of sheer joy, utter bliss when he realises he too can have what he’s done so long for others.
Tamsen’s writing is so fluid, her stories so complex and full of details that create a feeling of reality, that it would be a shame to miss the early ones. She writes erotica, but its not wall-to-wall sexfest, but erotica of the more sensual type, where its not just d icks in a rse or p ussy, (gah, I hate that word, so twee, but there really isn’t a decent substitute), but a drawn out process, taking the reader on a seductive journey, a careful build-up to the climax…..
So if that’s the kind of read you like, compared to the spoon fed, in-your-face sex novels you’ll love these.

So, Rey meets Allie, tending a bar disastrously, covering for his sister that night.
Allie is so genuine, so kind hearted. He adores his sister and her two kids, and left the military where he was really happy, so he could help her when his best friend, her husband, was killed in action. Its just them, no other family and life is always a balancing act.
Allie puts them first in everything, but he’s got pride and won’t accept Rey’s help. That frustrates Rey, he’s got the money, why won’t they let him help, they really need it, but he also understands pride – he’s got enough of that himself.

As well as Rey and Allie, we meet Matthew, who’s been in previous books but I’ve never been quite sure of the role he plays in Rey’s life, Kendra, Allie’s sister, her two kids and also Rey’s mother. She’s a fabulous woman, I’d love to be her as I age.
We get updates too on characters from the previous books, which was fun to read.

The story is wonderful, how Rey falls for Allie and vice versa, two totally opposite people on the face of it, but who are instantly attracted. Allie’s very proud, Military man but comapred to Rey, a real innocent, and he doesn’t realise he’s a Sub. Rey is  a master at this and can see it from the tiny gestures he makes though. We get a true insight into just how patient, how strong and safe Rey makes people feel, how he doesn’t dominate by force but by trust, and he thinks and teaches that this is the only way. He’s truly is an inspiring man.

Of course he trains people and finds them life partners, he doesn’t keep anyone, and that’s the plan with Allie. A little arrogant of him that he doesn’t actually tell Allie this I thought, although he does say he doesn’t do permanent relationships.
Plans have a way of going awry though, and its clear to everyone except Rey that he’s in love with Allie, that Allie loves him. Rey doesn’t allow himself that though, and the reasons why are heartbreaking. I so felt for him, felt for Allie too, he was blindsided by events.
I do love this fall apart sad bit in a romance and maybe my only crit of this book was that though I could feel the sadness on both sides, it didn’t really seem to come over strongly enough. I needed to feel Rey was really down, desperate, heartbroken and he was, but he was also carrying on his life, though finding it hard. Somehow I just like characters to really hit the bottom and Rey only felt halfway down to me.
Its a tiny issue though compared the enjoyment I got from reading this fantastic story, and I know I want to go back and go through all the books again. I’m sure I’ll get so much more, understanding the characters better, seeing the little clues I missed first time round.

Stars: Five, a fabulous finish to the series, wraps things up, and brings us full circle, but I’m so sad at losing these characters. Still, there’s always re-reading!

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Heartbreaker, Hollywood Hearts: Book 2, Belinda Williams

 

Heartbreaker (Hollywood Hearts Book 2) by [Williams, Belinda]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

I loved the first in this series, Heartthrob, and was keen to read more.

We met Lena in book one, and this time she’s centre stage and Ally is a secondary character.

I really enjoyed this, a little romance, a little mystery but it didn’t grab me in the same way Heartthrob did. I think the way Ally was so badly treated by the Hollywood B itch crews was what made that one so special, and of course Ally and Jacob.

I like Lena and Marc but they didn’t have the same chemistry for me as Ally and Jacob, more of a subtle slow burn romance there.

Its a fun spin through the issues fame brings, whats acceptable and how much of a private life can a star have? Its weird the way people see the screen/stage personas as the real ones and fancy themselves in love with them – or conversely love to hate them. I’ve never really understood how supposedly normal people do that, get caught up in fantasy lives and imagine them real but it happens.  A lot.

Lena’s had stalkers before and Marc has been part of the team who deal with them. She also has her own long time security team, but she can’t live life glued to someone’s side, can’t spend her days looking over her shoulder worrying if someone is out to get her.

Yet however tight her precautions there are ways round them, and once more she’s caught up in danger.

I do like Lena, very famous and yet straightforward, down to earth and part of that I think is her good freinds, who don’t fawn at her feet but remind her she’s just a person. She’s not really the type to take advantage of fame anyway, she’s a really good lady, not a pretentious jerk like some become.

I felt for her when she’s trying her best to keep her life normal, as normal as a film stars life can be anyway.

Marc, he seemed so grumpy, almost rude with his genuine dislike against all things Hollywood, and yet his background is steeped in it.

Maybe its the fact he didn’t follow the family footsteps, maybe its the things he saw and did while serving as his country. War brings out things we should never see and the effects are very long lasting on people’s psyche.

He’s determined to protect Lena though, even while clearly disliking her world, and then the film bosses decide he needs to be very close to her, so he becomes her boyfriend for the public.

Of course his security issues mean he needs to use a false persona, but the press start to wonder – who is Lena’s mystery man. And her stalker ups the pressure on her and the dangers.

Its a fun read, I had a little idea who the stalker might be but not til maybe three quarters through the book.

Lena and Marc didn’t have the magic sensuality that made me so love the first book, but there was a real sexual tension at times between them which was perfect.

I love Lena, not so sure about Marc. By the end I liked him, but it took a while for me to get past his Hollywood Hatred. I kept thinking – why take jobs there when clearly you feel its all superficial?

I never really came to understand why he felt this way, and maybe that’s behind some of my prejudice towards him.

Stars: four, a perfect escape with a little drama mixed in to spice up the romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Red Dust Runaway, Eva Scott

Red Dust Runaway, Eva Scott

Red Dust Runaway by [Scott, Eva]

Genre:  Romance,

I wasn’t sure about this, I do love rock star romance but this is kind of a side issue rock-star theme. It was a great read though, a real escape.

I loved Iris and Kit.
I so felt for her, a father that’s very domineering pushing his ambitions for her, rather than seeing what she wants. That happens. We say “she’s 20, why not stand up to him?” but after her mum died she came to live with him age 8 and he’s been directing her life ever since. Very single minded in his ambitions for her.
She’s always gone along with it, well at 8 you don’t challenge parents, and as she got older its just become her accepted norm doing what he says, wearing what he says, eating what he says, practicing her violin for six hours or more each day….then a chance conversation with her next door neighbour leads her to thinking “what if” and seizing the chance for an adventure with her Nan’s help. She sounds a great lady, I’d love to be her!

Then there’s Kit, discovered at a young age by The Major, and moulded into an award winning star. Its all he’s known since his early teens and the last two years have been none stop touring.
Both he and the band are fractured, sniping and bitching at each other, shattered by the constant stress of performing and publicity. Its pressure all day every day, and he feels sick of it. Music was his love, his dream and its in danger of becoming his gravestone.

He knows something has to give, he’s in pain every day, popping painkillers just to get through, drinking too much, he feels ill, can’t sleep, can’t relax. He feels headed for a breakdown and the Major isn’t listening.
He tells himself he’s leaving the band after their last concert in a few weeks, but he’s a two week break til the next one, and though The Major has filled each day with interviews and promotional stuff he just can’t hack it. Then he sees Iris and persuades her to let him go along with her.

Its a fabulous journey, where they get to know each other slowly, meet some great people, have a real adventure and fall in love.
One big barrier though. It seems everyone in the world knows who Kit is…except Iris. He loves being seen for himself, a real person and not the image he has to project, and then as they’re together longer the chance to tell her the truth slips away til it all comes crashing down.
Can he get her to trust him again?
Stars: five,a great read, a real piece of escapism in every sense of the word and a perfect HEA.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Strong Enough, Melanie Harlow.

Strong Enough, Melanie Harlow.

Strong Enough by [Harlow, Melanie, Romanov, David]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve enjoyed some of Melanie’s past novels and was delighted to get this for review – I do so like a good M?M romance, somehow there’s so often the tenderness, the real romance side that’s often lacking in hetero novels. And this book had bags of that, along with some very sensual heat.

I loved Maxim, he’s just such a true gentleman, loves his mum and little sister, opens doors for ladies, always polite, that sort of guy.
He wants more than the life waiting for him in Russia, with its anti-gay stance, and has taken a 6 month visa to the US to follow his script-writing dreams. Sadly though, like so many he’s unprepared for the vicious, cruel world waiting to take advantage of an innocent.
The guy who’s meeting him and showing him to his new home doesn’t show up, then having a drink in a bar wondering what to do next his luggage gets nicked, and he’s homeless, jobless, cashless all in one fell swoop.
Luckily Derek’s sister has a penchant for strays, for helping people and animals and when she hears whats happened she invited Max to stay with Derek, then rings Derek and tells him 😉

Derek’s kind of  a neat freak, a place for everything and everything in its place. His friends take the mickey but its how he is, along with his long held dream of wife and family. Times passing though, he’s approaching forty and hasn’t got there yet despite trying hard.
Of course when we see him with Max its clear why, he’s really not that into women, maybe he’s bi, but its clear he wants Max. He’s had an upbringing though that’s taught him Gay Is Bad.

What a disservice parents do when they inflict their bias and views on their kids, and how hard it is to come out and go against parental dictates.
Its not good parenting doing that, but sadly for so many people its what they get. I get the feeling its not so much homophobia, as not really understanding it and fear that drives his parents.
Never the less Derek is not going to act on his attraction, it makes him angry with himself and Max, just knowing its there. And then it all gets too much and he snatches Max into one searingly sensual, erotic, life changing kiss that shocks them both.

Gah, Derek made me so angry with his hot/cold, not-my-fault attitude, and poor Max was totally confused.
I did understand and sympathise with Derek though, he’s repressed these feelings for so long, won’t even acknowledge them to himself, so he’s had his world turned upside down when he cant do that with Max.
Max isn’t going to be anyones dirty little secret though, had to hide himself in Russia, isn’t doing that again…

So can they make it through, can they find a HEA or is their romance doomed?
Its heartbreaking at times wanting them to be together and yet seeing Derek’s barriers fall down tight again.
I really enjoyed their story, the emotions, the sweetness, and of course the angst.

Stars: five, a really emotional read, with a sweet and yet steamy romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Savaged Dreams, Jennifer Lyon

Savaged Dreams, Jennifer Lyon

Savaged Dreams: Savaged Illusions Trilogy Book 1 by [Lyon, Jennifer]

Genre:  Romance,

This is part one of a trilogy, and has quite a dramatic ending but books tow and three are scheduled for July and September this year so not too long to wait 😉
I can live with that, its waiting a year of more that I hate! Forgotten half the story by then, and lost the impetus that kept me reading. a few months means its still reasonably fresh.
I’d still like trilogies like this to be all three parts out simultaneously – but that’s not going to happen.

Anyway, great start. Liza is young, but not one of those lightweight main characters, she’s solidly ambitious, she’s got a dark past and a big secret.
She needs the intern position that comes if her band wins the competition, but they’re one of three in the finals and they’re all out to win.

Justice, band leader isn’t happy they’ve a college student for their PR. He expected someone with experience, but as he and the band are learning, the contracts they signed are tough and there’s lots of things were hidden carefully in the wording.

From that rocky start though they soon are into a hot and heavy romance, and while he’s focused on leading his band to win, she’s also dealing with things as they crop up. Some of the band have secrets too, dark pasts, things that can damage their reputation, and its her job to ensure they don’t.
There’s a fierce and vindictive rivalry with one of the other bands that’s above usual issues, and brings them into danger and dirty tricks.

There’s lots going on in this read, a fun and real feeling romance, dark secrets, dramatics, and of course the band stuff, songs and music making, the TV show that’s strongly skewed to ensure top viewing more than letting the band and their music show through.
The fireworks really light up, with the TV guys positioning things to let the sparks fly, regardless of the damage it causes to people, reputations and the bands as a whole.
Its the whole viewers attract ads, ads bring in money and money is God that rules reality TV ( and why I never watch it).
Its done really well in this book, shows exactly how badly people can get hurt in the quest for maximum viewers.

I really enjoyed this story and though it ends on a cliffhanger its also a natural break point. Not one of those reads where you’re expecting the story to continue and just run out of pages.
Roll on parts two and three, I’ll be waiting to read the rest of the story. Its for me a perfect blend of great characters that feel real, problems and issues that many people face and which make for a good story, and its balanced out by sex that adds heat but doesn’t dominate. Great read.

Stars: five, a great story, lots going on with main and secondary plots that feel genuine and lots of drama and excitement, plus of course some very sensual heat.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

New Moon, Lisa Kessler. Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

New Moon, Lisa Kessler

New Moon (Moon Series Book 8) by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:  Romance, sci-fi and fantasy

We’ve reaches the end and I’m always feeling conflicted when that happens. In part because I love a good series and its hard to say goodbye, but set against that is the feeling of satisfaction when the little clues throughout the series are finally wrapped up, when we know who was behind things and why, how it all worked out.
With a good series we’re left feeling hope for the future, that these people we’ve got to know so well are facing a time when they can finally relax, live a normal life, enjoy their friends and family. Still, I love rereading series so from me its not really Goodbye but See you later 😉

The back to back reads through a whole series work best for me too, when each book is still fresh in my mind, so its easier to follow the story, recall which character fits in where. Sometimes after months and lots of other reads its hard to recall exactly who belongs with whom, and how they fit in the overall story.

I remember Sebastian from the first book, and he’s changed. Or has he? Maybe its just my perception of him, as looking back the seeds of his discontent were clear even back then, but i just didn’t see it.
Its a great author who can turn around a character so the callous, murdering, immoral man we met becomes someone we love, who we want to have that HEA…but Lisa does it for Sebastian.
I found he was a terrific man, that he had been trying to put things right as much as he could for a long time, and with a father like his no wonder he grew up to be the man he was. Thank god for his mother’s influence, its whats kept that core of humanity in him.
Sebastian and Isabelle don’t have the best start, with her trying to kill him….well, until her wolf tells her she Just Can’t Kill Him! That’s a bit of an eye opener and changes everything. Isabelle is shocked.

Its another fabulous adventure, when plans get made, and changed and remade all the time. Nero has really hit bottom in its actions here, kidnapping a child for Antonio Severino’s cruel crusade, but it proves the catalyst for some unheard of co-operation.
Things quickly change in the story as the plots unfold, and this final book brings in many of the characters we’ve met in the preceding books. It opens up the Packs even more than they have been. It was a struggle getting Lana accepted into the pack, as she was a jaguar shifter back in the early books but since then they’ve become more accepting, less Wolf only insular and that’s given them an edge they needed for this final battle.
They’re not just a wolf pack now but have Jaguars, Psychics and humans among them and that’s given them strength, and maybe what Fate intended, that supernaturals work together, find power in collectivety.

I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole, and love this last book. Looking back to some of the books that weren’t quite top whack I can see the gaps that bothered me back then filled in now and I understand why things played out certain ways.
Despite not all the books being five star reads for me, the series as a whole deserves a solid five stars, it all adds up now.

Stars: five,a great read to finish a fantastic series

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

Chief's Mess (Anchor Point) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved the first book in this series, but the second did nothing for me.
Still,  LA Witt is one of my favourite m/m authors so I thought I’d try book three.

It wasn’t a great read for me, I just didn’t feel I Knew the characters, just a surface opinion of them, and I really want to feel book characters can be people I know. I need them to feel real for me to get invested in what happens to them.
Here I just didn’t, they were just two anonymous guying hooking up for hot sex.

They were very alike in many way, and TBH I kept getting confused, right up to the end, about which was which.
Not a good thing, and when characters are well fleshed and distinct not something that happens. I think maybe there could have been – for me, not for everyone of course, a little less sex in the first half and a bit more character and plot building.

I mention the plot, and that really is pretty simple, Noah ( and see? I almost wrote Anthony there – had to check it) is a functioning alcoholic, and like many others doesn’t recognise he has a problem.
Of course for Anthony that’s a bigger trigger than it maybe would be for others, his ex brother-in-law was an alcoholic, and that caused great distress for his sister and their kids.
I liked the build up, though it was pretty muted and did make Noah come over as judgmental rather than sympathetic, but the way things played out felt very simplistic, and its rarely as easy as that.
I guess there wasn’t space to go into any depth, but in reality it would have been far, far harder.

Stars: three, it was just an OK read for me, and maybe I need to look carefully before accepting any more Anchor Point novels.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Exclusive, A VIP Desire Agency Romance, Mel Teshco

Exclusive, A VIP Desire Agency Romance, Mel Teshco
Exclusive (The VIP Desire Agency  Book 3) by [Teshco, Mel ]

Genre:  Romance, Erotica

Ping, Rock-star romance and erotica? Yes please 😉 I was keen to read this, sneaked it up the TBR list but its wasn’t a must-keep-reading book. I enjoyed it but its not a keeper/re-reader for me.
Its quite a short read at 125 pages, and I hadn’t realised that. Maybe if I’d read books one and two I would, but I hadn’t, simply noticed they were there but that each novel was a stand alone but connected one.

I felt that Amos, the definitely no-relationships Amos, fell in love and changed his mind about that far too quickly for me.
Likewise that Tiffany was ready to give up everything for a man she’d known a few days when she has a serious and compelling reason for working in the VIP Agency.
I guess the books brevity meant that was inevitable, but its why I so rarely read novellas, they just don’t have enough detail and timescale to make the stories feel real.

There’s some sensual, erotic heat here, really well written, not just the same scene churned out ad-nauseum as often happens, and that fitted the story perfectly.
There was a secondary thread, an issue that was one of the reasons Amos didn’t do romance, that if the book was longer would have been a really great addition, but it was simplified and soon over 😦 Tiffany’s issues too with the man she thought she was in love with would have been good if expanded but…

As a full length book I think I’d have loved this, the writing is good, the background plausible and the characters great, but it just felt too abbreviated, plots over almost before they start and with the romance full pelt from the off, that it didn’t make for a great read for me.  Others love novellas though, perfect length for them so you choose.

Stars: Three, at full length this would probably be a five, but its just too short and condensed for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hunter’s Captive, Cassandra Bella. Memory of Love, JJ Keller

Hunter’s Captive, Cassandra Bella

Hunter's Captive by [Bella, Cassandra]

Genre:  Romance, Mystery and thrillers

I enjoyed this story, but parts were a little hard to take, and though they moved the tale to where it needed to be they lacked real credibility.

Paxton, rich girl, daddy’s girl, trust fund baby, shared a beautiful summer with Hunter ten years ago. Then it all went wrong, and he’s been bitter about it ever since.

He’s focused on his career, and the boy from the poor side of the town has done well, is a top agent and he thinks he’s moved on.
Then the case he’s on involves Paxton. He can’t bear to think of her locked up just because its her wedding day to the jerk who’s finally being brought in. So….he kidnaps her.
That part one of the hard to take bit. Would a professional really do that? and get away with it with his boss and colleagues? Still, they’re on the run now and it seems her fiancee has sent killers after them.

Paxton is so angry at Hunter and thinks he’s just doing this out of revenge. Her fiancee a wanted man? Please ( roll eyes), he’s not like that she says, he’s a good man, her father admires him, he’s a solid businessman.
She won’t believe Hunter until the others track them down and they’re running ( well driving) for their lives, at breakneck speed down the mountain side. How did they find them?
Well, that’s the second hard to take part. She’s an intelligent woman and would she really do that? I can see the first part, out of concern and worry but the second thing she lets out, perleease…she’d have more sense surely. Or maybe she is just a dumb blonde…

Anyway, there they are running out of danger and the tensions are high. The attraction between them that each thought was gone is clearly still there, and before long they’re talking about the past, have become close again, very close and are into some erotic and sensual sex. Can they have a future?

Well, first thing is to escape the danger they’re in..

Its a fun read, some hot and heavy sensuality, some danger and excitement and made for a decent read to pass away a coupe of hours.

Its not one I’d re-read, but I did enjoy it despite those couple of irritations in inconceivability factor.

Stars: four, a decent but one off read for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Memory of Love, The Valkyrie Series, JJ Keller

Memory of Love (The Valkyrie Series) by [Keller, JJ]

 

Genre:  Romance,

I was so taken with the synopsis that I didn’t do my usual checks so missed that this was thrid in a series, and also its a novella. My bad.

Lots of readers love them, but for me they just don’t work, I don’t feel they have the space I need to understand the story, the characters or really get to feel for them.

Its a good read if you are following the series, and of course, if you like novellas.

I was able to keep up with the story OK, but it would have worked better for me if I’d read the first two books, as the characters and plots follow – or I assume they do – from things that happened back then. It meant I had to guess at parts, and how each person was connected.

Its a fun read, I liked the Viking legend part, something not often seen in fantasy sadly, as its very interesting and can create some great stories.

If you’re happy with shorter reads this could be a great series for you. For me it’s just not in-depth enough, even if I had read the first two novels.

Stars: three, interesting premise, and a good series if you like shorter novels.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

CHASING WICKED, KATHYRN L. JAMES. The Lie of the Land, Amanda Craig

CHASING WICKED, THE MITCHELL BROTHERS,- WICKED SERIES BOOK 1, KATHYRN L. JAMES

Chasing Wicked (The Mitchell Brothers - Wicked Series Book 1) by [James, Kathryn L]

Genre:  Romance, erotica

Well, a good start to a new series if you like a hot and steamy read. I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it.
For me I felt the story was a little weak, a wonderful story-line but in practice I felt Stone and Avery had little in common after all those years, and needed to focus a bit more on their lives rather than the hot sex.
Still, its erotica as well as romance, and for many readers heat and sensuality is what they want. Its what I love too but I need to feel the story, the characters are real.

I felt for Avery, what an awful thing to happen and understood her actions.
Stone, when he found out what happened after, is back in her life and they’ve both had a huge life change to take in. Not the best time then to leap into sex…but that doesn’t stop them.
I did feel she was a bit of a doormat for Stone, letting him dictate terms, when she knew that kind of relationship wasn’t for her and would break her eventually. As she keeps saying, she’s got Savannah to think of.
Stone had been through a lot too, and I wondered how he’d ended up owning all those hotels, 54, given what had happened to him in the intervening 6 years.
That’s a heck of a business to grow, when its not the family one he was born into. Even if they funded it initially, it takes time to build sucess like that.
He was so adamant about a sex only relationship, a friends with benefits was all he could offer and then – well, I found his about turn very hard to take. That quick, after all that stone walling (oops, unintended pun there..) earlier, all those proclamations about what he couldn’t do?
There’s some drama at the end and maybe that kind of fright would have felt right for me to change his mind, but it wasn’t that which did it.

Some of the story lines felt a little unfinished to me, there was a good ending, but it wasn’t really clear about reasons and the how and why’s of what happened. Maybe that doesn’t bother others but it left me thinking “how did that, why did he/she, what about…?”

Stars: Three, a hot, sensual and steamy read if you want just that but for me the story lines felt a little thin.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Lie of the Land, Amanda Craig

The Lie of the Land by [Craig, Amanda]

Genre: General Fiction

Usually novels I read have romance somewhere, but I like to read stories that stretch me a bit, make me think “what if” and some of them, as this one does, come under a General Fiction heading. What if Quentin hadn’t had affairs, what if there hadn’t been a recession, what if Xan had got into his chosen uni? As for down in Devon, there’s any number of What Ifs that would change things hugely.

I really, really didn’t like Quentin for at least the first half of the book. He’s like a big kid – its always someone else’ fault, he’s a man, can’t be expected to be faithful, he can’t help his straying ways etc. etc..
Ugh, I hate hearing that,  and it made me wonder what Lottie ever saw in him. Xan seems to hate him now, calls him Dud, which made me snigger. Yet from what we read he idolised him until recently, much his two younger hald sisters still do.

Poor Lottie, they can’t even afford a divorce. Quentin is moaning all the while but it seems she’s the one making sacrifices, getting things to work, dealing with day to day issues, the kids, the house, the lack of money, while he keeps swanning back to London in pursuit of another job, another story, another woman.
He’s acting like one of those awful men who still imagine they’re single and what they’re doing won’t hurt anyone….
When we look deeper into their backstories though its not quite so cut and dried. He still makes me angry, I still think he’s appalling as a husband and father, but do understand him and his actions a little better.

There’s a subtle danger in the so called peace of their retreat though, and they find out the countryside has claws, and its not all rural idyll, bohemian joy and rhapsody, but dreary, damp, dark and dangerous…and that danger comes knocking very, very close to home.
Some of it I’d guessed from the story but not all, there’s a really tangled web to unravel.

There are some great characters here, ones that felt so real, as if I could know them.
The descriptions of country life are spot on at times too, work in factories as grim as Humbles does abound, minimum wage, long hours, zero hours contracts, no regard for safety and no job security.
There are few other jobs in the countryside though. Work is mind numblingly boring, life is hard to cope with, and we see just how so many different families are doing that, most people simply struggling day to day, and a select few are thriving. It’s not just Lottie and Quentin that are having issues, both work and personal, but others that hide their struggles carefully behind a public face. The old UK Putting a Brave Face on, Stiff Upper Lip and all that.

Its not a story I’d reread, very uncomfortable at times, but one which I enjoyed as a one off, one that made me really think about the characters and situations.
What would I have done if I was Lottie? Not let him back home is my first thought, but then he’s a good dad to the girls, was good to Xan when they first got together, and of course she’s the memory of that man and the hope he’ll come back to her.
Will he though, or are the changes too much?

Stars: four, a fascinating read into what can happen to those affected by financial issues, marital issues, jealousy, unplanned pregnancies, lack of quality/well paid work…

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Idea of You, Robinne Lee

The Idea of You, Robinne Lee

The Idea of You: A Novel by [Lee, Robinne]

Genre:  Women’s fiction,

Well, what an amazing book, and how hard it is to write a review.

Its not classed as romance, but the blurb suggests its a romantic tale and it is – and yet it isn’t.
If you want the HEA its not for you, but it is a beautifully bittersweet story that’s worth reading for itself, not for the ending grab this book now.
It’s a romantic story but not a Romance novel, featuring a 39 year old polished, confident, successful lady, mother of 13 yr old Isabelle, and Hayes, 20 year old pop star sensation.
You read that and think “no way, what will they have in common?” and that’s my unrealised perceptions and bias coming in because if Hayes was 39 and Solene 20 who’d take notice?
Its accepted for men to have vastly younger girlfriends and yet for women? Nope, that’s just Not On. Why though? If they’re in love should age matter?
Hayes isn’t like the average 20 year old, in fact all the lads in the band act older than their age. Is it their upbringing? Education? Or what they’ve been through to get so far with the band?
It means though that for me the romance is believable, Solene and Hayes really do feel in love.

I enjoyed Solene’s character, beautiful but not Barbie model style, she loves her daughter, gets on OK with her ex – who does have a younger girlfriend – and of course that’s easily accepted.
When the ex is criticising her about Hayes I wanted to say “look at yourself first before throwing stones”, but its back to that unfair divide between the sexes.
Its like when men have lots of sexual partners they’re Playboys, eternal bachelors, and no one thinks anything of it, but when it’s the women they’re with, they’re described its shameless, sluts, tarts etc. All the derogatory comments get thrown at them, but never at men for doing exactly the same thing. And that’s my rant over 😉

What I love about stories like this is how the characters get together.
Hayes is always open about what he wants, but Solene? She knows how it’ll be seen even while she’s feeling the pull of attraction to him, kids herself its just lunch, then a little more and so on, until they’re deeply in the throes of passion, fallen hard for each other.
The age gap honestly doesn’t seem to matter. Hayes is mature enough to know what he wants and go for it, and Solene’s able to enjoy time with him, in and out of bed.
He’s intelligent, a good conversationalist, educated, interested in so many things.
I loved that Solene was successful in her own right, that she and her partner ran a flourishing art gallery. The way the art, the exhibitions, promotions and artists are talked about suggests its either a field Robinne is familiar with, or has researched very well.
Its things like that which lift a novel and make it stand out from the hundreds of thousands of similar works. A novel for the Thinking reader 😉

The media: once their story was out, the way Solene was savaged in print and on the net, the way it over spilled into her personal and business life, all embody just what I hate about the media.
Truth isn’t important, only the sales that come with a story, the more scurrilous the better. Destroy a family, pushing someone to suicide, ending someone’s career, all become unimportant casualties in the quest for sensationalism.
I hate it – please don’t buy/read those kind of stories, without readers there would be no adverts, without adverts and the income they bring there will be no life breaking untruthful or deceptive stories.

What I hated – really, really hated – was the ending. I just didn’t expect that, didn’t like it, and find it hard to accept. I’ve mentally decided there’s another book 🙂 giving me the ending I wanted.
As I said its not billed as Romance, but the way the story unfolds lulled me into thinking it was going to be one…

Its an incredibly believable tale, even if like me you think “20?? what will they talk about?” Its written so cleverly that you very soon forget their ages, and get caught up in their lives. There are times it hits with a bang, when the band do something, someone says something, that reminds the reader of the gap, but those moments seem to serve as a harsh reminder of people’s perception, of Solene’s fear of where it will end, what the future holds.

Stars: five, a fabulous story, and if the ending had been different its would be one I’d happily reread – but its not, and I won’t!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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