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Heartfelt, Carol Owen

Heartfelt, Carol Owen

Heartfelt by [Owen, Carol]

Genre:  Romance,

The cover: I don’t often look at these unless they catch my eye and this one did but for the wrong reasons. I don’t like the font colour, and the whole faded appearance look just doesn’t do it justice IMO. With that and the pinkish swirly script it looks like an old 60’s/70’s M&B read and its far more intense than one of those….I don’t feel this cover suits the story at all.

This is a gentle romance, so very real, with characters that go through events that shape their lives and feelings just as happens in reality. We are products of what happens to us in life, and when I’m reading, even though its fictional lives I want to feel the characters could have lived through events, acted like the way they do in the book.

Shay is going through something that affects many of us, the big C. Been there, done that and like Shay found its a scary time, treatment is hard and picking up life again while still wondering of every twinge is a recurrence is very difficult, balancing fear and over reaction with the need to be observant and vigilant.

Drew, what a gorgeous man. Talented artist and teacher of art, he’s in Shay’s town while his house is renovated, hoping to get on with some work for his next show.
He’s had a tough spell too, with his estranged wife dying in a car crash while they were picking up daughter Patti from school.
Patti was badly injured, has spent months recovering and still can’t recall everything about the accident. It makes her frustrated and angry at Drew much of the time.
I think its strange how often in US reads that 18 year olds, as Patti is, are treated and act as if they are much younger. Reading about her I’d have thought she was about 14. Is there really such disparity between US and UK teens? Something to ponder…

Anyway Drew meets Shay and they’re both shocked at the attraction. Neither was looking for or expected that, and the path forward is fraught with bumps, one of them a real big bump!
I did think Shay was a bit OTT in her (re)actions, I know cancer affects us all differently, but somehow what she did didn’t fit too well with the person I thought I’d come to know – but then again it made for some perfect angst and I do love that 😉

Its not just Shay, Drew and Patti though. There’s his brother and sister in law, expecting their first child, his Gallery agent and his students, Shay’s son Luke and his girlfriend, her friends in the village and her online cancer support group.

It made for a very rounded read, with lots of emotion at times, and felt so very real.  Its a story I really enjoyed, not a heart stopping mile-a-minute read but a more sedate meander through all these different folk.

Stars: four, a very real, beautiful, gentle romance.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Walk of Shame, Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame, Lauren Layne

Walk of Shame: Love Unexpectedly 4 by [Layne, Lauren]

Genre:  Romance,

I loved Lauren’s Oxford sereis, so really looked forward to this one. For me though it was a disappointment. Looking at early reviews I see lots of readers love it yet quite a few like me didn’t.

Georgie, she’s not the usual type of heroine. I liked her cheery outlook, her friendliness and her general kindness to others. This character in books is usually the opposite to all that, though I’m not complaining, its what makes many books special 😉
I think for me Georgie lacked any real character though, she seemed all light and fluffy, no real depth to her, just partying along, spending time shopping, lunching, gossiping, its all so vapid and hard to make a character with any depth of of one like that.

Then there’s Andrew, totally her opposite, and again we could see why he was that rigid persona, but it made it very hard to see what the connection was between the two, how they could make a relationship work. The colour red is a very tenuous connection…
I liked Andrew in the same way as I liked Georgie, but didn’t see how either of them would work in a relationship, they have little in common, don’t really know anything about the other, and I didn’t feel that magic crackle of attraction.
I love the slow build up, the gradual dawning that each likes the other, then slowly they meet more and more and that deepens. None of that here. just some snark and lust and that doesn’t make a relationship.

I didn’t dislike the book, just found it a hard read, didn’t get properly engrossed in it and kept putting to one side.
I know its not one I’ve really enjoyed when I find myself glad I’ve reached the end…One of those reads that’s well written but where the actual story just doesn’t cut it for me.

Stars: Two. 😦 Sorry Lauren, loved other books of yours but not this one. Still, there’s lots of other  readers for whom its perfect.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend, K.M. Galvin and Interlude, FourMain 1, Kay Halliday.

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend, K.M. Galvin

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend by [Galvin, K.M.]

Genre:  Romance, General fiction

A book about and author and her books….interesting I thought. Well, it was…and it wasn’t.

The idea was interesting, Bell and her friend/PA are on a tour promoting the final book in the series, and painfully self-conscious, publicity avoiding Bell has to dress up as the book heroine Mykala, while they bring in a model dressed as Max, along with his PA to accompany her.
Road tour with people who’ve never met but are spending the next two months in very close proximity, could be fun, could be a disaster.

I had issues with Bell, I get she’s self conscious but she doesn’t always act like it, appearing brash and over confident sometimes and at other times its causing her to have panic attacks.
She’s kind of rude too, to Caleb. Fair enough at first meeting he was a jerk and deserved it, but she continues even while they’ve formed a friendship.

I just wasn’t convinced of the enemies to freinds to lovers and maybe more in their story. I’m not really sure why though, I can’t quite work out what it is that stops me believing in them but something does. I think the real crux is that I wasn’t keen on any of the characters that much, I just didn’t really get a feel for them as real people, and that’s so important to me.

It’ll be a perfect read for others of course, and I’m glad for them. We all look for different things and though this one wasn’t for me it was well written and I’d be happy to try another by this author.

Stars: Two, sadly not one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Interlude, FourMain 1, Kay Halliday.

Interlude (FourMain Book 1) by [Halliday, Kay]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult

I love the Rock Star genre, but this is a story about rock stars, not one set in the active touring/songwriting/recording world.
I can’t find any other books by Kay, so assume this is her debit novel and it’s very well done for a first novel.

I did find though at times it dragged, usually I love long novels, but sometimes this one seemed as though they were hashing and rehashing things out so much I switched off. The same things came out in just slightly different way it felt.
That’s my main criticism about the book, its an excellent story but could (IMO of course! not everyones) have been tightened up a bit, with some parts made clearer, strengthened.
I’m thinking of things such as exactly why Kendrick and Eliza were apart, when its clear they’re both still deeply in love, he’s visiting her and the kids most days.
There’s this undefinable “something” that’s caused it and I found it frustrating not knowing what the issue was. I felt I’d missed reading a section maybe and even skimmed back to check. that carries on throughout the book and I just couldn’t see why they were apart. Given its such a huge thing, a major plot in the story, I needed to know sooner, and when right near the end it finally comes out it felt wrong, very anti-climatic. Life just doesn’t work like that, we don’t know whats coming, how we’d react, we just have to roll with it.

The first half was a little slow for me, and I did skim a few scenes…*blush* wanting to get to the meat of the story.
The last third was so perfect though, really set up the scenes, provided lots of excitement and drama, right up my street.
I’m hoping in later books this part gets continued, its a potentially great story-line, providing lots of potentially vituperative and nasty scenes. This book has lots of good people in, and the label owner, a real unpleasant greedy controlling man, isn’t actually in this novel, we just hear about him.
I’d like to see some nasties – him or some like him – in later books to provide a balance to all the good characters in this one.

Overall an excellent first book and I look forward to more.

Stars: Four, a really interesting read, with lots of emotion and drama.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

How to Bang a Billionaire, Alexis Hall and Wake Up Call, JL Merrow

How to Bang a Billionaire,  Alexis Hall
 
How to Bang a Billionaire (Arden St. Ives Book 1) by [Hall, Alexis]

Genre: Romance,

I’ve enjoyed several of Alexis’ reads now, he delivers a solid storyline with a side of romance that I can believe in, that has the edge on so many romance reads by making the stories fresh and unusual, the characters just that bit different.
On the face of it Arden and Caspian are unlikely lovers, total opposites and yet together they work. Not without some serious issues though 😉 Well, who wants a love story that runs smoothly, boring.
I was a little underwhelmed by the ending, it seemed for so long they were struggling, and then in the last few chapters there’s a glimmer of hope for the future, but it felt very HFN rather than HEA and I was just disappointed. I wanted more. As it was I would have rated four stars, I just needed more conclusion.
And then I came to write my review, looked on Goodreads to see what else I’d enjoyed from Alexis and found – hurrah – this ISN’T the end, there’s more – two books more, in Arden St. Ives 2 and 3, due out later this year.
That changes everything, I understand now why there wasn’t that happy ever after, why it felt inconclusive and of course I can rate as a part story, not as a complete one, and that’s the magic five because I loved it, and am looking forward to seeing where life and love takes these two next.

So what did I love? Arden, wonderful, glorious Arden.
I adore characters like him, he’s small, slight, prone to dressing in a unique style – I want his T shorts, and his velvet jacket. I love fabrics, love the feel of velvets, satin, lace, a bit of glitter and sparkle and t-shirts that stand out from the mundane. My daughter reckons I’ve never grown out of my teen glam rock style of the seventies…. Why should only ladies get to love things like that?
Arden felt like a guy friend, a person I could know, I understood his Klutziness (oops, just wrote Clitziness…nope he’s definitely not that!) He’s very confident in who he is though, not hiding his attraction to men as so many people still feel they have to, and that’s good to read. Tough still in real life though, sadly there’s still too much bigotry and judgement, and too many hiding who they are.
He’s a good student, must have worked very hard to get to Oxford given his background and the struggles he and his mum have had. They’re very close, yet she’s clearly encouraged him to stretch himself, be ambitious. Trouble is like many students he’s not sure what comes next. Put everything into finals and now its almost over, he’s uncertain what to do.
In keeping with his general pleasant and helpful personality he’s manning a phone line one evening, his friend who should be doing it is sick and Arden been roped in. He’s calling old Alumni, reading from the crib script, trying to persuade them to donate to the university, and inviting them to the annual dinner for old and current students and staff. He’s not having much luck so far, and then he calls up Caspian Hart.
Delighted that someone doesn’t hang up once he’s delivered his opening spiel he’s thrown off course, forgets what he’s asking, fumbles and rambles.
Oh yes, that’s me on the phone, I hate it. Like Arden just here, my mind switches off the minute someone answers, so I understood exactly how he could go from an intelligent student to rambling motor-mouth in a passing sentence!
Caspian isn’t used to that, and …he’s quietly intrigued. The rich and powerful like him get told what people think they want to hear, not the truth. No one is ever as open as Arden. They chat a little, Arden delivers his spiel and the invitation and that’s it. So he thinks. And then the dinner evening arrives and brings Caspian. Neither are quite what the other expected, they are so totally opposite and yet the attraction between them leaps off the page.

Its an off, on, off sort of affair. It starts that evening in an unusual way, and ends abruptly. Then Arden discovers the Arden St Ives Scholarship and is furious, embarrassed, insulted, upset. Who wouldn’t be? And in what world did Caspian live that he thought this would be a good thing? Arden steams up to London, determined to have it out. Oh, that part was wonderful; fiery, small, Arden in one of his unique t-shirts, hair awry, velvet jacket with holes, frayed rainbow bracelets, storming into a hallowed bastion of prestige and money.
Caspian ought to be furious, he’s in an important meeting, but once more Arden pulls at him, makes him feel things he’s not used to. He explains what he intended  though to Arden, that he didn’t mean to offend, he’s anguished at how he’s upset him, never realised he’d see things that way.
He then tells him that he Doesn’t Do Relationships. He has predetermined connections. There Are Rules. Everything is planned, ordered, fits a schedule and has a fixed in advance end date.
Poor Caspian, he seems to have to be in control of every bit of his life, even down to sex. Opposites as I said, as Arden is all about the unplanned, in the moment hook-ups. Til now. Til Caspian. He wants more, Caspian can only give within his boundaries.

Moving on, its the night before the final exam, Arden can’t sleep, is mind is rambling,  “thought about calling home but didn’t see any reason to worry the s hit out of my family” Then he gets a call and it all begins..sort of 😉

Its a wonderful story, I can hear Arden’s voice in my head so well, I felt just how he was feeling. I understood when he was upset at Caspian’s actions, and yet I also understood why Caspian did things, he was trying, in a scene he wasn’t used to, floundering and doing his best to keep control. One look, one word from Arden though and he’s lost. I love how he says so often” Arden, my Arden…” There’s so much feeling comes through from just those three words. Some authors could write pages and not deliver such emotion as they contain. Sometimes Less if More.

Usually I’m all about dialogue books, and not the inner monologue type, yet here Arden is internally talking to himself much of the time and it works for me, whereas usually that would put me off. Maybe because its something I do all the while, talk to myself, mentally muse on things.
He feels so familiar, feels like a friend, and as a klutz, lost for words at times, shambling through life person I can identify with him. Gender really doesn’t matter, its what sort of person you are and Arden is me, always waiting for the other shoe to fall, convinced someone is going to call fraud at times. When he’s in One Park Lane, and worries about calling up food, the cleaners, what he should be doing, whether this or that is the right thing to do that’s me. Every decision is preceded by lots of wondering, thinking, musing whether I should do x or y, or maybe z would be better….

He’s got some wonderful phrases and a cracking sense of humour, very irreverent at times. Wish I had the lines, but the humour is right up my street! When he’s drunk too much “..more of my innards wanted to be outards…” and “…animated Watership Down which incidentally is not a movie that should ever be shown to kids. That s hit is Stephen King terrifying…” I loved that book, took my kids to the film and like Arden was horrified by it. Its gruesome, nightmarish, though it has to be said I was the only one to get nightmares from it, the kids were fine!

One perfect line sums up their relationship ” He didn’t take control from me. I gave it to him” Arden knows what he wants sexually, he likes to be dominated, but he’s not a pushover, not a victim. Sadly he’s finding it hard to get Caspian to see it that way. Seems even though Caspian knows what he wants and needs, he doesn’t like it. He’s always afraid of taking advantage of Arden, always worrying about hurting him.
There’s a world of miscommunication between them contributing to the issues they have. They can say the same sentence, but each mean something entirely different it feels to me.
I really want them to find a way through, to be together and happy and am really looking forward to the next two books. And I didn’t intend to write so much – see, like Arden I ramble…

Stars: five, a terrific read, great characters that feel so real, and I’m dying to get more of them.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
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Wake Up Call,  JL Merrow

Wake Up Call (Porthkennack Book 1) by [Merrrow, JL]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve read a couple of JLM novels, and liked the look of this one – and it was great fun to read.

Devan, what a great lad. eternally optimistic, always read to see the good in others, despite the harsh realities of life for kids like him, fostered out to people who sometimes genuinely care, but more often are in it for the money, seeing it as a job rather than wanting to give kids a home. Then at 18 its out, on your own, the state washes its hands. Isn’t that shameful? Still, Dev is just such a wonderful character despite all that I couldn’t help falling a bit on love with him 😉
He’s on a search for his roots, and its taken him to Cornwall where he meets Kyle.

Kyle, he’s in a bit of a down-spell, recently diagnosed with Narcolepsy and Cataplexia, and like most people he – and I – knew little of the realities. Its not just napping at inconvenient moments, but something that’s unpredictable, hard to treat and lifelong. A couple of medicines and some herbs aren’t going to put his life back to what it was. There is help though, treatment to manage the condition and with some life changes he could still have a decent future, He’s in retreat though, determined not to take anything, not to give in, and yet what he’s doing is exactly that. It takes Dev and his kindness, his sense of fun and adventure to show Kyle there is hope.

Along the way they have hiccups, plenty of them, and sometimes it seems each good time for Kyle and Dev ends in yet another row, another one that has Dev stomping off, only to turn up later with apologies.
He’s only there for three weeks though, so what comes next, when he lives in London, and they have such disparate backgrounds, can they make things work, is there a future for them. I was so rooting for one, Kyle is a lovely man and he needed someone like Dev to balance him, and likewise he was so good for Dev, even someone so supportive of others needs someone to lean on himself.

Along the way we meet some fabulous characters, Dev’s sister and his friend Mal, the landladies, Ceri who works locally in the cafe and is hard to get along with at first. Dev’s not easily rebuffed though and just what she needs, someone who cares and who makes her see all is not lost, she’s had a hard time recently, problems that happen to too many teens. Then there’s her uncle Jago, her dad, the two girls on holiday – its a real mix of characters much like real life.

Stars: Five, a real fun read with some serious issues within it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Falling in Love Again, Marilyn Forsyth

Falling in Love Again, Marilyn Forsyth

Falling In Love Again (Outback Gems Book 2) by [Forsyth, Marilyn]

Genre:  Romance,

Well, I love a second chance romance and was really looking forward to this. sadly though it was an OK read, its wasn’t the Gem I’d hoped for…..And that cover – he looks about 16, not a grown man;-)

Jamie, fiercely devoted to his dad, he feels he owes him so much. Its just been the two of them struggling through life for so long, and his dad’s adorable but a bit of an adventurer, and Jamie’s grown up moving from one scheme to the next.
He’s at Uni/College when he meets and falls in love with Gem. then his dad comes up with a new moneymaking scheme and he’s off again. Gem was devastated when he left, thought they were in for a happy ever after.
I really liked Jamie, so loyal to his dad, hard working, loving and it was hard to see why he just left Gem, it seemed so out of character after the way they were together.
He’s such a happy man, so close to his dad, respected by the others in his community, and he just seems to have a streak of fun and lighthearted-ness running through him – except when he doesn’t, when he’s challenged and then I found his readiness to settle everything with a fight a bit unnerving.
That’s not a good move and happens more than once, made me feel that perhaps he could be a dangerous man, not the sunny guy he seems, and as a woman I’d be wary of someone so ready to use his fists. There are times here when its simply not necessary, unwarranted, he knows Gem doesn’t like it but does it anyway.
#Redflag Its a big flaw but the only one I see in him and not one that’s irredeemable, just a proceed with caution warning.

Gem, well….I just didn’t like her and that coloured the whole book for me.
She was pregnant when Jamie left, but he didn’t know, and she didn’t tell him. To be fair she was probably shocked having only just found out, but she soon took other roads, didn’t attempt to find him and let him know, and that was unfair and manipulative of her I felt.
She continues in that streak when she meets Jamie. She’s shocked to see him, but soon is being (IMO) very judgmental of him for wanting to make the most of his find. She has other plans for it, she calls him mercenary and yet she wants it so that she can secure a better position at work, so a little two faced of her. She takes – or at least thinks of and starts – other positions that add to that manipulative feeling I get from her.

The romance is OK, the setting a fun one, and some of the secondary characters interesting, but overall it was just an OK read for me, mainly as I didn’t take to Gem, and found the hate to love part of the story too easily resolved.

Stars: 2.5 to 3. Its an OK read but not liking Gem really made it hard for me to root for the romance..

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Good Gracie, Inés Saint

Good Gracie,  Inés Saint

Good Gracie (The Piper Sisters) by [Saint, Inés]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve not read any of Ines works before, and this one is set in the same place as the Spinning Hills books, but features three sisters.
I enjoyed it, a romance with a side of gentle-ish mystery and suspense. By that I mean that the romance is centre but the mystery and what evolves is very connected to it. Its not heart stopping drama type suspense, though brings the characters into very real danger when it comes to a head.

So, Gracie – poor girl, she’s been through what is a horrible reality for too many kids in this age of technology, when a private picture or video can get shared and seen by thousands, millions even, so easily when that trust is betrayed.
That happened to her at 17, she stood up for herself but at great personal cost. Nine years on and she still bears the scars of it in her behaviour. No longer is she the happy, outgoing “goof” as her family describe her, but someone determined to blend in at all times, to go unnoticed.
She’s worked hard on her career and its brought her back to Spinning Hills for a job that is the biggest she’s had and very important to her. Someone seems determined to stir up the past though, to cause trouble for her.

Josh was her defender at the time, early in his career, and went against his very wealthy and influential family in taking her case. He’s still in the town, and now campaigning for the position of County Prosecutor. Those old rumours and misconceptions are muddying the waters for his campaign, and he doesn’t need the scandal.
He’s always admired Gracie though, and when he sees her now something about her really pulls to him. Its an attraction that Gracie feels too though neither will admit it for a long while.
With rumours and inferences of the past having been more than was revealed the anonymous person seems set to ruin their careers. Who is the target though ? Gracie or Josh? And why?

I enjoyed the pull between them, the way they were both so careful, so guarded. The family too, Gracie’s sisters, grand her her friends are a scatty bunch, and provided so levity to the story.
I didn’t work out who dunnit – though once its revealed there’s that “ah! Of course” moment. Its a story I enjoyed but not one I’d reread. I would like to see more when the other sisters stories come out.

Stars: Four, fun read with some light suspense.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Learning to Love, Sheryl Browne

Learning to Love,  Sheryl Browne

Learning to Love by [Browne, Sheryl]

Genre:  romance, women’s fiction

I hadn’t read any od Sheryl’s novels before but this sounded fun, and its published by ChocLit, and I’ve found from experience that they publish books I enjoy so “click Request”….

Its a great fun read, moments of almost slapstick humour, entwined with some incredibly subtle comedic interludes.
Drama abounds right from the start when poor Andrea gets stood up by Jonathan, and it widens out into a story filled with humour, drama, neighbours that are helpful one moment and snide the next, and kids that were just so wonderfully written.

I love so many things about this book, poor Andréa, doing what so many are, trying to run a home composed of teens and toddler, partner, elderly parent and keeping a full time job going too.
Its a small village, one of those where everyone soon knows everything that’s happening – and a few things that really aren’t!
I got really irritated with her fiancé to be, Jonathon, he was an odd sort, not really supportive, and at times I wanted to scream at Andréa “ask him what/where/why” when he was being evasive.

The kids were brilliant, toddler Charlotte, teens Sophie and Ryan, and David’s ten yr old Jake. They spoke and acted as kids do, bickering one moment but helpful the next, eye rolling, ever empty stomachs in the case of the lads – reminded me so much of my own kids at that age.
I loved the way Ryan took Jake under his wing, and didn’t let things pass from David, helping but guiding him too.

The way the locals rallied round after the fire was good too, even down to the clothes donated that some of which was just real jumble….yep, that happens.
I enjoyed the way they were always in and out of each others lives, the way Dee, Andrea’s slightly batty mum , and Eva, one of the more senior residents of the town were always bickering.
Good too to see a teen that’s in a wheelchair, who’s still a typical teen, not some sanely type, and living a normal as can teen life. She was a great addition and as a wheelchair user myself I love to see all types represented in books, not just the able bodied.

The way the story unfolds is perfect; it’s got romance but not Just romance, there’s
drama and mystery, lost dogs,  modern day family life with all its chaotic stumblings, a snippet of small town life, all the dramas and incidents that make a story so real. Add in the mystery that’s fast gathering pace and I was wondering just how it would all work out. There’s a surprise too that I didn’t see coming, and I so felt for all involved.

The only criticism I have its that its all happening in a very short space of time, David goes from surly to perfect, from disliking everything to in love, Andrea goes from being – well maybe not “in love” but certainly still trying to keep up her fragile relationship with Jonathan, and then suddenly its all David, and he’s front stage in her thoughts. All that happens over just a few days….but there’s so much packed in that it’s a small thing and easy to ignore.

Stars: Five, a fun, engrossing read that made me laugh at times and tearful at others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dancing in the Rain, Kelly Jamieson

Dancing in the Rain,  Kelly Jamieson

Dancing in the Rain by [Jamieson, Kelly]

Genre:  romance,

Kelly has written a lot of Hockey romances, this one is very loosely based around that world however.

Drew is a lovely man but after multiple surgeries on his knee he’s been forced to retire before he’s ready. He’s busy wallowing in a pity party when he meets Sara. The publicity around his career end had led her to find the man who fathered her daughter, twelve years back after a one night fling. She only had his first name so had been unable to contact him. He’s naturally wary, claims like this get made too often, but her story checks out.
Then we meet her family, daughter Chloe and sister Peyton.
Sara is dying from cancer and has only a short time left, and Peyton is stepping up to look after Chloe. They’ve no other family left, and finding Drew after all this time is a surprise.
Chloe is a wonderful preteen, written very well, I recognise many traits of hers from my own daughter and granddaughter 😉 I loved her, how close she was to her mum, how confused and upset at facing losing her.
Peyton took a while to warm up to though, I did find her very judgemental of Drew, and focussed on her career more than what was right for Chloe in the circumstances. Drew isn’t in a great place, and has let himself go a bit recently, but she acts as if he’s a raging alcoholic and has been like it for years, instead of a man facing the loss of his career and struggling to know what to do next. On that note although they lived far away his family were very close, I’d have thought he’d have talked things over more with them but? Ah well…maybe some other reasons, pride perhaps.
Sara, poor Sara, facing what happens to too many young people. Her wanting to die at home, but then when it came to it the hospice proved a better fit resonated with me. Last year my lovely husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer just ten days before he died. We wanted him at home, but its not like the adverts, not always suitable, and we sadly took him to a hospice for his last two days. They were wonderful and though he was in a coma for most of it they allowed me to stay 24 hrs round, and treated him with so much dignity that I didn’t feel I’d failed him by being unable to cope at home. Sara and her family had a similar experience and that came over so, so well in the book, and felt very real to me. I hate when death is glossed over and dealt with in a way that gives false expectation, here it was very real but peaceful, exactly how it should be.

I didn’t really feel the romance between Drew and Peyton, they were sexually attracted, there was certainly lots of lust but more? Maybe from Drew’s side, he liked and respected Peyton, but she was very quick to judge and dismiss him, and very watchful over his actions as a father, not helping him but standing back when he was learning a new way of life to him. I felt she could have helped more, offered more support and less criticism. Still, it’d be a different book then 😉

Like I said at the start, the hockey connection is thin, there’s no hockey action, matches, teammates etc and for me the romance was so-so. Its a good story overall though, felt very real and I enjoyed reading it. just not a five star re-reader.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable novel, with very real characters and situations.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Twist, A Dive Bar Novel, Kylie Scott

Twist, A Dive Bar Novel, Kylie Scott

Twist by [Scott, Kylie]

Genre:  Romance

I love well written rock star romance and Kylie is the Queen of the genre IMO.
This series isn’t rock band romance, more romance with cameos from rockers ;-), but its so well plotted and carried out, plays out the same magical way the Stage Dive books did and is perfect for me.
I’ve recently reread Dirty, the first Dive Bar story, so the characters were fresh in my mind. I enjoyed Vaughn and Lydia’s story even more the second time round, so was keen to see to the characters and where they’re going now. But beards….I don’t do beards. Face fungus. Yuk. Still each to their own 😉 I guess I can Just About live with a sharp neatly trimmed short beard….

Joe reminds me of Ben in description, bearded, huge, quiet, and Ben isn’t my favourite character so I wondered what I’d think of Joe.
I liked him, which surprised me. He’s a kind of gentle giant, and he’s a real people pleaser. I feel for him, I’m one of those, find it really hard to say no, and end up with too much on my plate.

Poor Alex, what an embarrassing situation she found herself in, and what a total jerk Eric was. He is anyway, but his reaction here really took the biscuit! She was crushed, (oh – crumbs…) gutted, destroyed. She’s really put herself out, traveled across the country when normally she is so stay-at-home she finds it hard to interact with people, and works from home much of the while.
She’s got one good friend, Val, who’d chosen her outfit. Val’s style of dress is perfect – for Val, not so for poor Alex. There she is dragging her suitcase, dressed in skintight LBD and sky high heels, feeling pretty uncomfortable and Eric hasn’t a clue who she is. She thinks he’s kidding, he thinks she’s a stripper or something hired by the family for his birthday. Then the truth comes out, she’s been emailing Joe, who used Eric’s photo and details….oops. Big shock.
I so felt for her, its like everyone’s worse nightmare, certainly hers. She’s taken herself out of her Comfort Zone, hoping the guy she’s been emailing, who seemed keen on meeting her when they started, will be delighted to meet her. Instead she’s humiliated. Not a good start to a relationship.

Through a catalogue of events Alex ends up staying longer than planned and becomes friends – and more – with Joe. He’s really taken by her but doesn’t do relationships after getting his heart broken years back, but freinds, he can do that. Friends with benefits when the friend is as hot as Alex, he’s in! They’re in a hot and steamy relationship, kidding themsleves they’re just friends, insisting to family and friends there’s nothing more when its plain to the others how it is.
Then tragedy strikes, everything gets changed, someone from the past creeps in – and I love characters like Star, fantastic the way Kylie does them.

Its a great read, so good to catch up with Eric – even though he’s a real self obsessed jerk, Pat, Andre, Nell, Rosie, Vaughn and Lydia. The Stage Dive guys and girls drop in too at the end and it was fun seeing them a couple of years after we left them.

Kylie does a great line in strong females, great drama that’s a mix of sadness, pathos and lively, fun action, men that can be jerks but also men that can be sensitive, thoughtful and gentle. The sex scenes are hot and sensual, the funny parts are perfect, the sadness nicely drawn out and the comic scenes off the wall quirky at times, snappy one liners that could be missed at others.
I found rereading the first book, and when I reread the stage dive ones that I’d missed some of the humour first time round, being too engrossed in seeing where the story took me next, so I’m already anticipating rereading this one.

I’m really looking forward to the next story, and at some point to what/how Kylie is going to do/deal with Eric. How can she make this overconfident, ar sehole, this selfish, immature guy into one we readers will like? But I have no doubt through her magical writing she’ll do it 😉

Stars: five, another cracking read, meeting old freinds and new. A great keeper book for rereading.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

For a Good Time, Call…, Anne Tenino, E.J. Russell

For a Good Time, Call…, Anne Tenino, E.J. Russell

For a Good Time, Call... (Bluewater Bay Book 17) by [Tenino, Anne, Russell, E.J.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

Bluewater: I love this series, so many different authors bringing fresh story-lines and ideas keep it fresh even though its got loads of books in now.
It could get messy, could lose continuity but whoever checks overall management of that does it perfectly. each book has cameos but characters from other reads but even though they are characters created by someone else they always manage to keep their same “voice~” and personality, and that makes it feel so right to me. Like meeting old friends once more.
I don’t know much about characters that are not on the mainstream side sexually, and Grace (grey asexual) is a term I’d never heard of. Still, that’s the beauty of fiction, reading about so many different people, different issues and problems means its always new and interesting.

I like to imagine What would I do if placed where a character is having difficulties, and when they’re like this it means some deep thinking.
What “I” want isn’t what “they” want so I need to look sideways. Reminded me of Animal Welfare Law at uni, just because we enjoy being inside by the fire on a cold wet day doesn’t mean its the right thing for a fish, he/she doesn’t want to be inside by the fire but needs to be out in the water, regardless of weather and temperature.

I enjoyed too the way it wasn’t kind of preachy and prickly, as so many books are – not just about sexuality but any kind of discrimination, anyone who’s not quite on the middle section of “normal”. I know some disabled people who are very prickly and easily offended and that happens in life, but I don’t want to read it all the while, even though as a disabled person myself I understand it. After all reading is for many an escape from real life and its issues.
Still, that said things need to be handled realistically, I need to feel the characters and issues are real and that’s was so perfect here.

I learned a lot form Nate, from seeing what he felt. He was a lovely man, and his dog, Tarkus, well he was such a star!! #tarkusisastar.
Nate had been in two relationships before, both ended badly and he’s given up on finding a third one.
Then he meets Seth. That first meeting doesn’t go well…and was so understandable. I so felt for both when the penny dropped. Still, they become freinds, mainly via Seth’s search for history about his family, and Nate’s interest in genealogy.

We meet both sets of families, and poor Seth, lovely nan, on the fence dad and a viperous mother and uncle. The parents and uncle hold the purse strings, and while nan wants to sell up the family home and move to somewhere more suitable for her age, they don’t want it, won’t allow it.
Poor Seth draws the short string with them too, always being ridiculed for his bar-tending job, and they insinuate its by their good grace he gets his apartment over the garage free. Seem to forget that he’s been solely responsible for the upkeep of the whole building, for looking after nan and ensuring she’s well. Nice people…not!

After a while Nate’s astonished to discover he has real feelings for Seth. What to do though? Take the risk of more and  lose it, or lose the potential of more and settle for freinds. How will he feel if Seth moves on? What if Seth doesn’t return his feelings? What if he does!
So many questions and they lead us a lovely dance into a slowly growing romance.

Though I loved all that, I found the side issue, the house and all its history, the family issues where Nan was prevented from selling, were a bit confusing and kind of muddied the water. At times that felt like a totally different story, and though there was interest in it and what they found, it didn’t mesh well with the main story for me.

Stars: Four, a great read, sensitively done.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

J.A. Hazel

Author of Siren's Wave, a rock romance novel

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