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A Lie for a Lie, All In Book 1, Helena Hunting

A Lie for a Lie, All In Book 1, Helena Hunting

A Lie for a Lie (All In Book 1) by [Hunting, Helena]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Romance

I first found Helena’s book from the fabulous Clipped wings, still my favourite and just downloaded again for a reread. I’ve enjoyed others from her but also read some that didn’t hit the spot. This one kind of falls in the middle.

I loved RJ, and understood exactly why he was so cagey about revealing who he was. Having had a stalker issue, he’s bound to be cautious and with fame bringing out all sorts of crazy its sensible to take care. Of course that led to lots of issues further down the line, but he never outright lied, just didn’t tell all and I thought once she knew the truth Lainey was a bit harsh to him over that.
I understood her issues, she’d been through a huge trauma. As a parent myself understood where her parents were coming from too, but of course at 25 no-one wants to still be having to run decisions by parents, and it was well past time for them to accept that.
When something happens in the novel I had a feeling it would lead to….and I was right. TBH I’m getting a little tired of that trope, its becoming too predictable. Maybe I’m just choosing wrong books though 😉 It then takes up a large part of the novel naturally, and becomes the focus of whether they can make it as a couple or not. I understood the characters, why they acted as they did, I enjoyed the story but wasn’t glued to it, and it won’t be a re-reader for me.

Stars: Three, an easy, relaxing read, but a little short on plot and drama for me.

Arc via Netgalley

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Lies Lies Lies, Adele Parks

Lies Lies Lies, Adele Parks

Lies Lies Lies: The Number One Sunday Times bestselling new domestic thriller from Adele Parks by [Parks, Adele]

Genre: ,Women’s Fiction, Romance

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Well, that’s out of the way so on to the book…I loved it, though at the start I thought it was going to be just meh!

Daisy and Simon seem top have the perfect marriage, adore each other and their talented daughter Millie, both have good jobs, a nice home and long time friends that lead to a good social life. Then we see a few cracks appear, the friends have a few issues, Daisy carries a grudge against one of her college friends, kept it up for the last 15 years even though the parties have all moved on. Lucy had an affair with Daisy’s sisters husband, she’s now married to him and they have a child, and Daisy’s sister is also happily married but for Daisy its an unforgivable breach. They all still meet, having friends in common but Daisy avoids Lucy as much as she can. For me this characterises Lucy’s nature, she has strict codes of right and wrong, and is incredibly loyal. This loyalty spreads to Simon when he drinks too much, he’s a functioning alcoholic and for the most part is more or less in control, always the life of the party, always a fun guy and he adores Daisy and Millie. So much so that he thinks they should have another child. It took a while for them to have Millie though, and they’re older and seek medical help. After that his alcoholism really takes over his life and Daisy just doesn’t know what to do. I really began to dislike Simon here even though I felt sorry for him. I sympathised with Daisy, been there, done that and its tough. You love someone but don’t necessarily like what they do.
Gradually the issues get worse, until things go horribly wrong. Their lives all change irrevocably, and the secrets that have been stacking up increase, there are outright lies and untold ones, lies of omission. I so felt for everyone, and the people I least expected to help stepped up, showing the power of true friends.
You need to suspend believe a little to really get into the story, when the secrets and lies get revealed and the consequences come out, but then as they saying goes, Truth can be stranger than fiction, so who knows?

A gripping read, full of unexpected events and turns, and a fabulous story. The characters felt very real though in my head, their actions very true to form. I guess I thought of them very much as “Boden Catalogue” families. UK readers will understand that, the Middle classes, university, property owning families. I’m making that point as a fact not a criticism, its just a type of family, as real as the landed gentry type and the families that never get beyond renting homes, where a stable job is an aspiration. Adele herself makes the point that Simon isn’t the typical prisoner, and sadly she’s right in that some people seem almost destined for a life or crime. The prison section, prison life, how easy it is to become accepting, institutionalised, how the hierarchy of people like the Dales who run the prisoners and some of the guards, even though they are prisoners themselves was very realistic. She’s celalry researched the prison rules for visitors etc, I learned a lot I didn’t know about visiting rules. I find when authors do that research it leads to a much better reading experience for me, that I can enjoy the realism of the events more, feeling that this is the way life, and in this case prison life, works.

Stars: Five, a brilliant read, very emotional, very well put together, turning my feelings about characters completely upside down. The ending – a little hard to believe but for me it was what I wanted so I’m happy even if its a little stretching credulity.

Arc via Netgalley

Call Me, Maybe, Stephie Chapman

Call Me, Maybe, Stephie Chapman

Call Me, Maybe: A hilarious, uplifting romcom with a love story that will make you swoon by [Chapman, Stephie]

Genre: ,Women’s Fiction, Romance

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Well, that’s out of the way so on to the book…I liked it, a lot, but didn’t Love it. And I’d expected to, its got one of my favourite tropes.

Its got some fun characters, some humour that lifts parts and the potential for some great drama. I just didn’t feel it lived up to that potential. There were characters that were fairly major in parts who then just dropped away. There’s the mystery of Franco and its demise, which was kind of storm in a teacup when finally revealed, and the actions of some of the family over that seemed a bit OTT.

I was never really convinced of the romance between Cassie and Jesse, it seemed kind of insta-love and yet although they’re talking online they’ve only met a couple of times before they’re in deep….They were good together but I didn’t really feel I knew either of them well enough, and didn’t feel they knew each other well. Hot sex doesn’t make a relationship work, you need more.
The relationship between Cassie and her best friend for years seems rocky at times, and there’s no real explanation – like the romance issues its kind of hinted at, there are hurt feelings and then all’s OK again without any real exploration of what went wrong.

That Big problem, yes I can understand Cassie’s reaction at the way it came out, but TBH given that the real circumstances aren’t yet clear, no one has asked, or even really bothered to find out the essential question, and as it all happened well before Cassie and Jesse were in contact it seemed again an OTT reaction all round. By the time it had all happened simple maths would have given the answer too….It seemed too as if all the relationship issues were put down to that one problem but they had much wider ones, ones which if they didn’t explore would simply reoccur. Jesse cam close to seeing some of his issues but I’m not sure he was willing to look at changing them though. The same for Cassie, she recognised that maybe she’d over reacted but given similar issues I think she’d still be the same. I guess for me its back to that build a relationship – they didn’t really, but went from online chats to full fledged all in, and that middle part, the getting to know each there, is so important.
I did like Holly, I do adore a “good” nasty person, and she was a queen bitch! I wish there were more like her in books 😉

Stars: three and a half, a lot of potential, but for me it didn’t quite hit it.
Arc via Netgalley

Built to Last, Hidden Hearts Book 1, Kate McBrien

Built to Last, Hidden Hearts Book 1, Kate McBrien

Built to Last (Hidden Hearts Book 1) by [McBrien, Kate ]

Genre: Romance

I loved the Indigo Trilogy, and this is a spin off of characters from that, but you don’t need to read it to follow this story, its a stand alone read.

I remember Althea and Max from the Indigo books but only vaguely, and they felt very much like new characters for me.
I loved Max, taciturn, loving but troubled family and wanting to further his career in the direction he originally intended. That was on track til an awful betrayal by an ex led to him meeting Justin, and becoming involved with his band. That’s been good, but now he wants to move forward in his early ambitions, take his career that way. He’s got an opportunity, needs the job to help his struggling parents and pay for his sisters rehab treatment, and is determined to give this chance his best shot. And then Althea gets landed on him as an independent voice about the bands he’s seeing.
Althea. One part of me loves her, she’s so open, so friendly, so helpful. There’s a section where Max sings a song from Annie to her and TBH I hate that show, and Althea epitomises just why. At times she’s relentless. Relentlessly cheerful, optimistic, full of help and goodwill, and I just want to say “doesn’t Anything get you down?”
Of course it does, she just hides it well. She’s got her own family issues and reasons for living on the island, and there’s a lot more than this light, casual persona she shows.
I loved Kiki, Althea’s stepsister – I love nasty characters, and I wish we’d seen more of her….

Althea and Max don’t hit it off too well, and yet there’s a very clear feeling of attraction between them that neither wants to admit. Thrown together though for a week, looking at bands, talking and assessing them they each see that their first impressions weren’t everything, and of course that attraction is still lurking…..Slowly, as they get to know each other more their feelings change.
Its a fun read, much lighter than the Indigo books, no suspense and supernatural angle, just a straight forward romance, but with plenty of backstory and struggles to keep it interesting.
I wasn’t entirely convinced of Max and Althea in love, that they could get past their issues in the short time they were together, but loved that the breakup part wasn’t over quickly, but each really needed to reflect, to work towards the ending. I love where characters have to really work for the happy ending. That felt more real than the way they got together so quickly, where casual sex became more so swiftly, from just one night, just this week to…..For me that was just a little too slick. I can believe in insta-love so to speak, just didn’t really feel it here, they were such different characters in all ways.

Finally got round to listening to the Grateful Dead too… I enjoyed it a bit but its not really music for me, sorry Althea 😉

Stars: four, a fun read, a good story but Althea’s relentless cheer was a little too much occasionally, and I wasn’t totally convinced at first by her and Max. I was by the end though, the breakup reactions sealed it for me.

Arc via Author and Netgalley

Guilty Not Guilty, Felix Francis

Guilty Not Guilty, Felix Francis

Guilty Not Guilty by [Francis, Felix]

Genre: General Fiction ( Adult), Mystery and Thrillers.

I used to ( still do ) love Felix’ dad, Dick’s, novels. Being a horse mad child that grew into a horse mad adult, with a love of reading his books have kept me entertained for many happy hours.
Felix writes in a similar style, believable characters, a story that feels genuine, where you could place yourself in that setting and see it happening in real life. And of course there’s always the mystery of who the culprit really is. Its not a copycat of his dads style though, Felix has his own spin, his own way of writing and I find it very easy to follow, perfect for me.

I like to be puzzled as I read the story, but not so confused that I switch off. Felix lays out clues for the reader to pick up – some I got and some I missed. His books are set with a racing background but less intensely horse orientated, so this book we meet Bill as he is acting as a Steward at the races, having been a former jockey, but apart from a couple of race meets and his background in stewarding that’s the entirety of the horse content.
I felt so sorry for Bill, his wife has died and yet he can’t grieve properly because the police are convinced he killed her. With his family background its quickly become quite a high profile murder, and I guess there’s pressure on the police to find the killer. Bill has been neatly served up as culprit by his brother in law, once a friend but for the past few years he’s been viciously cruel to Bill and Amanda, his wife, causing her intense distress with his vile innuendo and threats. He’s now playing the part of devoted distraught brother, which makes Bill suspicious of him.
Bill is vilified in the press, made out to be guilty by them, and his former friends and neighbours almost all believe it. Only a handful of friends and family stand by him, one of them advising that the best way to clear his name is to set about proving an unquestionable alibi. Bill is rightly worried the police aren’t going to look further, as the way his brother in law has placed it he does look guilty, although of course there’s no real evidence, only suspicion and possibilities.

Its a raging paced read, racing from one drama to another, and I so felt for poor Bill. Once more fiction shows up the worst of the press, they do behave in this revolting way, dragging out any and all possible salacious details, spinning possibilities as fact, caring nothing for someones grief and sensibilities in their quest to be first with new details. The poor guy is mired in their web, damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. Advice is say nothing, but how hard when you know they are spouting total rubbish..

I loved this read, know I’ll re-read it, and there’s a twist at the end that completely caught me out. I Did Not See That Coming!

Stars: Five, a cracking paced read, full of wonderful fiction that felt incredibly real.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Let It Snow, Sue Moorcroft

Let It Snow, Sue Moorcroft

Let It Snow by [Moorcroft, Sue]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction.

Quick usual moan about the genre Women’s Fiction – why? Why assume men won’t read this? Men write romance, men read romance….

Well, I was late to the Sue Moorcroft appreciation group 😉 but she’s the kind of author whose books are worth reading multiple times. They’re so packed with mini plots, secondary characters, fascinating dialogue that I know on subsequent readings I’ll pick up things I missed this time round.

As usual its not just one plot, one strand of story but lots. I love that in a story, keeps things exciting. Some books are single plot and I find that can mean the story becomes a bit dull, fixated on one event but here we flip between plots, many of which prove ultimately to be connected.
Fabulous charters too, that make the story feel so real. They’re the kind of folk you find in any village, with all life’s dramas, the everyday issues we all face at times. There’s Lily, Zinnia and the two mums, and the issues that’s brought for all of them, and then Lily discovering her two half brothers, and what she should do about that. They have no idea about her, the mums and Zinnia are feeling a bit rejected, even though Lily still adores them. I guess that’s natural, how most parents would feel when their child wants to search out other family members. Til now they’ve been a tight knit unit of four, what will happen when Lily finds them.
Of course its not straight forward, Lily finds Harrison Tubb ( known to all as Tubb), he’s a well liked genial landlord of a village local, and she gets a job with him, intending to tell him who she is when time is right. Its never that straightforward though, and that simple quest gets more complicated as she falls in love with Isaac, who’s minding the pub while Tubb recovers from a heart issue in Switzerland with his brother. By now Lily has been at the pub two years, part time, while building her own business. That brings in an opportunity to work at an event in Switzerland, via Tubb and his brother Garrick, who still don’t know who Lily is to them.
Then there’s the singing group, who are also on the Swiss trip, singing Christmas songs, the other villagers, Isaac and his ex Hayley, and of course their dog, Doggo. He’s a real star of the book, so typically Dalmatian, full of exuberance.
Everything comes to a head just before, and on, the Swiss trip, its multiple dramas pulling Lily from all sides. Perfect read for me, I adore that kind of drama that makes you think, how can they get through this, will they even, or are the odds so stacked against them they won’t?

Its a perfect read for me, full of people and issues that feel so real and one in particular is handled very well, an illness that touches many of us. I’ve read similar plots in other books where it feels like its been brought in to add drama but just isn’t handled well, with parts being very unrealistic. Having had an illness similar myself I appreciated that this was written sensitively but realistically.

Stars: Five, a fun read, full of drama and subtle romance

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Saturday Supper Club, Amy Miller

The Saturday Supper Club, Amy Miller

The Saturday Supper Club: An absolutely heartwarming romantic read by [Miller, Amy]

Romance, Women’s Fiction

Bah, Humbug. Women’s Fiction – that infuriates me. Why do we insist on having such an outdated category?
Anyway, the book. Well, I love a second chance romance, and when characters stories are unfinished like this I want to know how they will end when they meet, will that second chance take, will things work out or has too much changed.

Sadly it wasn’t a great read for me. I love the cafe and how that was being set up, liked the idea of the supper club. I somehow felt the execution was lacking though, given the title, it didn’t really take a major setting.
I found most of the characters strange, except for Eve’s dad and his girlfriend. Though even Dad’s actions were not right either over one event, he meant well but it was wrong. Eve was shilly-shallying between the two men, not really being fair to either. I don’t like that behaviour, even though I understood her need to know, her shock at meeting Ethan again.
Some odd events are disclosed when Ethan finally reveals why he left and his excuse – well, it gobsmacked me. Really? She was upset so you …?? and thought it wise to cuddle someone in those circumstances? What a berk, what a stupid man. I’d have never been able to trust him again.
There are times when things happen between couples that make me feel there is some exoneration, even though its wrong but this? Nope. Out Of Order Ethan. Then he took cowards way out.

I thought Joe was great at first but as we came to know him I found him a bit creepy, manipulative…and then of course things come out that confirm that for me.
Daisy – well, with friends like her who needs enemies is all I can say. Even when the story comes out she’s still “poor me” “ I loved him first” even though he never had anything other than friendship with her.

Overall there were some interesting parts but the characters let it down for me, I didn’t really like any of them, and that spoiled the story.

Stars: Three, I just felt with a bit of tweaking it could have been a great read for me but then I’m sure others will love it as it is. Horses for courses etc.

Arc via Netgalley

Unearthed, A Death Seeker Novel, Cecy Robson

Unearthed, A Death Seeker Novel, Cecy Robson

Unearthed: A Death Seeker Novel by [Robson, Cecy]

genre: General Fiction (Adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy

I love Cecy’s stories so was keen to read this but…I did find it confusing at times. Its got that “first novel in series” issue that often happens, where there’s so much to deliver, story, world building, type of character and what magics they have, that it can easily get confusing.
Everything here is so very different, for example Olivia is a pixie, but living among humans as so many of the Fae are, but undetected. She has magic that’s so far unknown but when it does come its kind of typical Olivia, she of the rainbow coloured hair has pink magic, deadly, dangerous magic, but pink.

I really liked Olivia’s spark, loved the humour in the book, the loyalty she inspires. I loved Jane, a fellow magic user, an Elder, but who communicates in somewhat different ways. Then there’s Ryker…swoon…who turns out to be more than just a heart throb top legal expert.
There’s a terrific cast overall, some much needed humour at times among all the death and destruction that lifted the tone just when I needed it. I had a hard time believing that all that devastation could go unnoticed by humans though, and it wasn’t really explained that well. A couple of times early in the book we get to hear what story has been put out, but later on when the destruction is massive, I didn’t find any explanations of how humans wouldn’t have noticed, or what they would have thought.

I did find the constant battles with the hell hounds a bit wearying, and too graphic for me. I know it wasn’t easy killing them, I know the deaths they caused weren’t pretty, but after the third time of reading just how they dismembered victims I got the picture, didn’t need a blow by blow account full of gore and detail every time. I ended up skipping those parts, and of course there lies the danger I may have skipped something that’s later a major part of the story.

I enjoyed this story but wasn’t riveted to it. I think its one I’ll come back to further on in the series when I understand more, and get much more from it. For now I just feel a bit overwhelmed by such complex events and characters. Its a three star now, but I suspect when I’m more into the series it’ll actually be a five star read. I’m just still a bit confused and bemused…
BTW thanks Cecy, no awful cliffhanger, my bête noire . This story ties up with indications for future books and that’s just how I like a book in a series to end.

Stars: Three, a story that’s complex, and I found a bit too packed with world setting, new events and characters. I feel when I understand more of this world I’d probably rate this a five but for now its a three.

Arc via Netgalley

Reveal, K. Bromberg, Wicked Ways book two

Reveal, K. Bromberg, Wicked Ways book two

Reveal (Wicked Ways Book 2) by [Bromberg, K.]

Genre: romance, general fiction (adult)

Confession time: I loved KB’s Driven trilogy, which I read years ago, and I’ve enjoyed several of her follow up novels, so when I saw she was the author of this book I dived in and hit request. Wasn’t til it was on my kindle I realised it was second part of a duet. Luckily book one was on KU so I borrowed that – loved it BTW – and went on to this.
What I love in a story is romance, but I want a novel that delivers more than just A meets B, and after a few struggles they live happily ever after. I want my characters to really get put through the mill and KB delivers all that in spades.

I loved Ryker, the type of guy you hate until you see beyond his surface, and when he meets Vaughn he’s hooked, though he doesn’t yet realise it. When we learn about his background its easy to see how that has influenced not just his career, but his whole way of living, and until he meets Vaughn he thinks he’s content. Now he’s seeing that he can have more – if he’s brave enough to try. Vaughn though, that girl has some real problems….
I adored Vaughn, been through so much with the loss of her sister, with the awful family situation they had, and now she’s determined to get custody of her niece Lucy, who has learning issues. Lucy is just adorable and loves Vaughn so much you just want things to work out for them, but life is stacked against them. Its hard already with Vaughn working two jobs to pay off the huge debts she ran up for her sisters medical care. Of course one of those jobs has to be kept quiet, hidden from social services, but that’s the one that’s bringing in the money.
Slowly the worlds she tries to keep apart start to collide, problems from her secret job start to create real issues to her custody application, and to her safety. She has secrets on all her clients, but some are bigger than others, and one in particular is bringing her into real danger. She can’t trust anyone, she thought she could trust Ryker but the events at the end of book one threw that into confusion, and left her distraught and feeling so alone.
This book is action packed, full of drama, of secrets, of issues that seem to come between her and Ryker, even though its clear they are totally in love ( and lust!!!) Can they make it through, will her adoption of Lucy work out or is it all doomed to fail?

I had anticipated a few events but there were some that really threw me out completely, and the action – bam, bam, bam, with scarcely a break before she gets hit with the next problem. I so felt for her, I don’t know what I’d have done in the same situation to determine what was the right for her, Lucy and Ryker, but I was so holding out for them.

Stars: Five, a cracking duet, full of scorching romance,and non-stop suspense

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Reach for a Star, Kathryn Freeman

Reach for a Star, Kathryn Freeman

Reach for a Star by [Freeman, Kathryn]

Genre: romance, humour

I loved Kathryn’s Before You, so when I saw this I was keen to read it. I have a weakness for the fame/ordinary person trope and this sounded perfect.
I really enjoyed it, but it didn’t quite have that five star magic for me. Michael was a wonderful man, and his loneliness, at the top of his career, his desire for something more, was clear. Until he met Jessie though he didn’t realise himself how he felt, and as he started to develop feelings for her he was also aware of his past where emotions were concerned. I so loved him, he was the perfect lead.
Jessie I really liked at first but I did get tired of her on/off/on feelings, doubts yes, but poor Michael really got put through the mill with her and he had the patience of a saint to put up with it all. I did understand her feelings about her family, but she was making decisions for Michael rather than talking through them.
Georgina – I had such high hopes for a really good B itch type and she started well but, well, I so love the chaos people like her bring to a romance but she didn’t. Works for others, left me a little disappointed though 😦
There is some great humour here, not in your face forced stuff, but subtle and funny. One bit got me though “damn it she was thirty six not sixty three. She didn’t want slippers. What she wanted was knock-em dead Louboutins” I’m not far off 63, I want Louboutins too, not slippers 😉
Her friend, her Ex and the boys were terrific side characters and added so much to the story, made it feel real. I like books that are rounded, not just single plot.
What if your dreams were so close you could reach out and touch them?
How could anyone resist Michael Tennant, with his hypnotic blue eyes and voice like molten chocolate? Jessie Simmons certainly can’t. But Jessie’s a single mum who can’t sing to save her life – there’s no way she’ll ever cross paths with the star tenor.

At least that’s what she thinks until she’s unexpectedly invited to take part in a new reality TV show. The premise? Professional singers teach hopeless amateurs how to sing. The surprise? Jessie’s partner is none other than Michael Tennant!

As she becomes better acquainted with the man behind the voice, will Jessie find out the hard way that you should never meet your idols? Or will she get more than she bargained for?
Stars: Four, a fascinating read, bring in life in a very personal way.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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