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Solo, Lauren E. Rico

Solo, Lauren E. Rico

Solo (Symphony Hall) by [Rico, Lauren E.]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult.

Well, I hesitated over reading this one. I read book one of Lauren’s music trilogy, and though there were parts I loved, such as the music, there were parts I found really hard to get along with, and haven’t yet decided if I’m going to read parts two and three. Eventually I took the plunge with Solo – and I’m So glad I did.

Its a wonderful story, perfectly written as far as my reading tastes go, mixing story, sex, drama and intrigue to make a tale I was gripped by. I’ve said often I hate when sex becomes the story, here its just right, sensual and erotic but fits within the book so very well.
I have to say though, that cover is just awful, really tacky and just doesn’t do the novel justice IMO. I’m one who rarely looks at covers, just reads the blurb, its only the brilliant or awful ones that catch my eye….

I loved Katherine, such a hard worker, so loyal to her father even when he’s acted so harshly, when she could make her life easier if she did things another way.
She doesn’t though, she’s strongly moral, and just keeps her head down, works hard, and struggles through whatever the personal cost.
I so felt for her all the awful things she had to endure. Drew’s hassling of her, he really picked on her, her advisor Tessa, wasn’t any help, she seemed to dislike Katherine so its no wonder she didn’t go to her for help, the other students were horrible to her.
She’s so alone, friendless, family less and just has learned the only person she can rely on is herself. Isn’t that horrible? When Drew asks her when was the last time someone gave her a present and its years, my heart cracked a bit, such a simple thing, a gift that shows someone cares about you and she’d had nothing from her father, had no freinds with whom she could exchange gifts, just this lonely, solitary life.

Drew, he was a real piece of work the way he singled her out, the way he picked on her for every imagined infraction. I did wonder how he got away with it, and I guess its only because Katherine avoided anything that might throw controversy on her father that she didn’t complain.
Then they get thrown together and he sees a different side to her, sees that he’s projected his anger at Cassie onto her. There are some really emotional moments when the penny drops as to just how awful he’s been to her over the last five years. We see a different side to him too.

Of course as student and professor anything between them is forbidden and they’re risking so much, and they do try to stay on the right side. Still, you know how it is, in the first throes of attraction we tend to think we’re being careful when it reality we’re anything but.

There’s drama here too with the press, in particular one sleazy guy, always sneaking round for a story, trailing her for months, asking everyone about her, trying to find dirt, especially now her father may announce his bid for presidency.
With their actions and they way they don’t see just how much they’re giving away its not long before it all goes wrong.

When it does,  well – boy – is Drew a first class jerk!
I kind of understood where he was coming from, understood that he hadn’t really let go of the past, and I’d guessed who was behind things and why – well, part of the why 😉
I loved the way it wasn’t all hate on one page all love again on the next. I like my drama dragged out, I like to wallow and poor Katherine really hit the depths.

I did find the way they fell headlong into romance despite the risks a little bit, teeny bit difficult to take, both had so much to lose, but I put that to one side as it made such a great read for me.
See, I like some realism in my novels, but this wasn’t too far off course, people do act in stupid ways when in love 😉

Stars:Five, a story I really enjoyed, Lauren’s love of music really comes through and gives a solid, realsitic background to the novel even to someone like me who knows little about orchestras, composing, conducting and the world of Classical music.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Sex in the Sticks, A Love Hurts Novel, Sawyer Bennett. A Bride for a Day, Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 2, Pam Binder

Sex in the Sticks, A Love Hurts Novel, Sawyer Bennett
Sex in the Sticks: A Love Hurts Novel by [Bennett, Sawyer]

Genre:  Romance,

I’m a great fan of SB’s novels, and I think the only one so far that wasn’t a hit for me was Uncivilised. Now its been joined by this one. a good-ish book, well written of course but content? Romance? well, for me it was kind of meh…I can see others love it – well, I’m glad but it didn’t hit the expected spot for me.

I guess Valentine had a lot to do with that. I just didn’t really like her, found her shallow and almost vacuous, kidding herself her blog was “work”.
She’s a trust fund lady, has never know life without riches, luxuries there for the taking, spending – as she says $10,000 dollars on a weekend isn’t that unusual for her. She wasn’t unkind to those who didn’t have her kind of money but there’s no way she could understand them or their lifestyles.

The blog: Well, as a blogger and blog reader I know that for many blogs are Big Business, a full time job and very important.
Valentines a bit more like me, a hobby blogger. I do it to get ARCs as I could never afford to indulge my love of stories without them, Valentine does it for ? Well, I’m not really sure. Seems to be she thinks of it as a job, but a non paying one.
Some of her comments verged on cruel, and that kind of thing can be funny, but needs care and when she’s identifying who the other people are, but they don’t know about it I feel its kind of nasty.
It felt as if she was somehow looking down on them, that she was hinting they didn’t live up to what dating Valentine French was all about. It just made me think, what exactly does she feel is so attractive about her, why does she think she’s such a catch.

Logan, a great guy, loved him and the way the locals respected him.
When things went wrong between him and Valentine the first time he overreacted, IMO. Acted like a thwarted teen. Just ASK man, that’s all you have to do. He of all people should know about that kind of situation and how the truth gets twisted.
The second time I had more sympathy for him, but somehow by then I’d got a bit bored with the whole thing.
You may love it, lots of others do but for me, well, it was just between 2 and 3 stars.

Stars: two and a half, I did like a few bits but most of it I just didn’t enjoy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Bride for a Day, Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 2, Pam Binder

A Bride for a Day (Matchmaker Cafe Series Book 2) by [Binder, Pam]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s fiction

My first book by this author so I didn’t know what to expect. Sadly its one that didn’t work. I think that though this author’s work is perfect for many readers I’m looking for something different. That’s life.
I was intrigued by the synopsis but in practice the story has so much more. Unfortunately it wasn’t what I look for in a novel, and unfolded in a way that left me with more questions than answers.

Everything happened so fast, one morning she’s at work as usual, then later that day she’s marrying Michael!
I understood – just- the issues around the marriage, but in practical terms I just don’t believe they would work. Arranging a wedding in such a short time too isn’t possible, Scotland might be the land of elopement but even then there were/are time restrictions. You cannot simply get married on the day you think of it…Legalities just don’t allow it and without some kind of explanation of how they got round them I can’t put that aside.

Then there’s the reasons: I thought Tatiana’s issues felt contrived, I didn’t see that the marriage would affect that, and I didn’t like her or her mum.
Michael’s film and image problems too, well, they may be real but marrying one day, filing for divorce the next isn’t going to change them. Studio heads don’t make decisions this way, they wouldn’t have given him the role so quickly just because he got married on a whim. That doesn’t scream stable and settled even if he could convince them he’d known CC a while. Especially when his involvement in Tatiana’s life is well known..the practicalities just wouldn’t work.

And then there’s the second thread, the description makes no mention of this, the sisters and the magical matchmaking. I was pretty confused when that all started, I love fantasy novels but this was just…odd…and I found it hard to believe in.
I hadn’t read the first book, thinking it wouldn’t matter as these are connected but stand alone reads, so maybe that would have helped me understand what was going on there. Perhaps? I don’t know.
As it was I felt it was a book that had maybe just too much packed into too short a space, as it’s just 133 pages long.

I didn’t ever feel I knew the characters more than just a surface gloss of them, and I wasn’t really invested in them or their issues. Either a longer book so more detail, or less complex story might possibly have made a difference for me, but of course not all books suit all readers, and for very many readers this book will be perfect as it is.

If you like light and fluffy, don’t bother about practicality and reality and are happy to accept the story as its presented then you’ll love this.
If like me you need reasons for decisions, ones that feel real and are practical/legal, and want to get to know your characters well then probably you won’t.

Stars: Two, too unbelievable for me – and I don’t mean the fantasy side, but the practicalities.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Asher Black, Parker S. Huntington

Asher Black, Parker S. Huntington

Asher Black: (Book 1 of The Five Syndicates Series) by [Huntington, Parker S.]

Genre:  Romance,

After reading this I was looking for more info on author, and astonished to read that its her first book and…she’s only 21! That came as a real shock as IMO its a very well written, polished novel, and I can only imagine what Parker is going to produce with a bit more experience! An author to watch.

So…I rarely read Mafia/biker/MC type novels. I just find usually they’re a combination of pet hates, grunting, monosyllabic alpha males and improbable story-lines.
I don’t mind a bit of artistic licence, a small leeway in what’s credible, but find these tend to stretch my beliefs too far.
Then there’s the Mafia type ones, where the MC kills indiscriminately all the way through but – hey he’s very good looking so we’ll just ignore all those dead bodies…that really annoys me.

Parker contacted me though and offered an ARC.
As I have KU I chose to read it that way, feeling as its a genre I wouldn’t usually choose that was fairer than accepting an ARC and writing a low review if I didn’t like it, when I know that its very likely it won’t be a read that suits me.

And I was wrong, very wrong.
Yes Asher is Alpha male, but very literate, very intelligent and not prone to the grunting commands I so hate. His decisions are thought through thoroughly, he works hard at his business, has built it up from nothing and is careful about his position.
There are rumours about his Mafia background, it suits him to say nothing. He’s killed in the past, had Mafia connections but as he explains to Lucy, that’s not who he is now. Even the murders when explained I could understand. I don’t need to agree always with a characters actions, but I do need to understand the motivation, the reason why, before I can say – OK that’s in the past and get behind him or her.

The plots in this book are pretty well set out, easy to follow and felt credible, maybe stretched what’s acceptable a bit much at times ( the way he can sort Anything, literally anything it seems, whether its a parking ticket, ticket for something sold out, Lucy’s school issues or just having the cops help him cover up or gloss over an event) but somehow it all worked out and felt good.
So yes, the reason he’s needs a fiancee isn’t that original, but it works, and with so many stories around there’s always an overlap of some plots.
For me Parker made this story work, caught me up in the tale, anticipating events that played out, getting caught out by ones I didn’t see.
I love drama, its the one thing that Mafia/MC reads do well and I enjoy. Its just the rest of the plots that usually have me avoiding them. Maybe I need to take a closer look at some in future 😉 Here Parker got plenty of it in – and I loved it. I would have liked a bit more downs towards the end, I do love sad parts too so long as I get a HEA!

There’s a great group of characters here, and I love that Parker includes some nasties, some real bi tch ladies. They always add to the fun for me, I do love to see them built up then brought down 😉
There’s some great heat in this, some serious sensuality that’s well done. I hate when sex overtakes a story, here Parker has the balance just right.

Overall its a book I loved, totally against what I expected. The Mafia connection is mainly in the past and really only a small part of the story, and there’s so very much more to this read than Mafia murders…

Stars: five, a really fun and sensual read, a romance I thoroughly enjoyed. Perfect drama for me 😉

Read via KU at authors request.

Back Piece, L.A. Witt. Too Hard to Forget, Tessa Bailey. Making Waves, A Beach Lane Novel, Laura Moore

Back Piece, L.A. Witt

Back Piece (Skin Deep Inc.) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

Bit of a shock for me this one. L.A.Witt is one of my favourite m/m authors but I really struggled to finish this book. That came as a huge surprise!

The characters are good, the settings feel real, and the issues both of them have are more common that we think, and yet taken as a whole the book just didn’t work for me. It just didn’t seem to gel together into a tale that kept me reading.

Colin has issues, but they began to bog him down in the story, and we heard about them so much I was losing sympathy for him. That’s unfair I know, but too much of something like that just drags the readers spirit down and that’s how I felt.
I wanted to say to him, you’ve got all these loyal friends and family helping you, why are you doing this to yourself, and writing off the relationship before it gets a chance? And that was pretty unfair to him, but its human nature that we can only sympathise so much.
We’ve all got friends who have issues but tend to wallow in them, acting as if they’re the only one with problems, and that was how Colin began to feel for me, like the friend who when you see them coming your heart sinks a bit….

Same with Daniel, I get his awful homophobic upbringing, that’s too real for many but he’s not a kid anymore, he’s 25 now, and these’s a time when by not saying anything you’re tacitly letting people think their views are OK with you, that you agree. Its tough when its your parents, but was he going to spend all his life hiding, afraid of the fallout?
Gosh I sound horribly callous and I don’t mean to, I value family very much, but when they’re this blinkered they aren’t the wonderful family he’s telling himself.
So bits of the story worked, I loved the tale behind the tattoo for example, but as a whole for me this one just didn’t cut it, took me several attempts to finish and in the end i was just “Arrgh, I just want to be done with this story” and like I said that is So So unusual for me with a L.A.Witt read 😦

Won’t put me off of course, its inevitable that not all stories suit all readers, even when past ones from that author have done. It could be just this series doesn’t work for me, could be I love the rest in the series and its just this book. Who knows?

Stars: Two, an uncommon occurrence, an L.A.Witt read I struggled with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Too Hard to Forget,  Tessa Bailey

Too Hard to Forget (Romancing the Clarksons Book 3) by [Bailey, Tessa]

Genre:  Romance,

I’ve loved some of Tessa’s books and thought this sounded perfect. My bad though, I knew it was third in a series and thought they were that stand alone but connected by characters and events sort, where they can be read individually. This one though is too interconnected, there’s too much the reader really needs to know about what happened in other books to enjoy properly without having read them.
My fault, I made an assumption and should have looked further.

Peggy, I just didn’t really understand her. Pining over Elliot OK, I understood that, but to have been engaged four times in three years?? That’s pretty harsh on those guys, and makes me think of her as shallow and uncaring of their feelings, rather than someone so in love or hankering for someone from her past.
She’s fun, bright and breezy but almost too much so, she feels quite shallow. Even when she does intervene, as with Alice, she gets the right result but by default, not intention. I just didn’t really understand her, but wanted to.

Elliot, if ever a guy to the cake for Mr Grumpy its him. He’s sour, rude, selfish (after all he was the adult and she a pupil/student even though she was 22), and seems to blame her for his feelings.
There’s certainly incredible lust between them still, sensuality that sears, but for me that didn’t really translate to any deeper feelings. I couldn’t see what connection other than lust they could have, they were really total opposites.
I didn’t like either how he was so happy to leave his 12 year old daughter home alone all the while. She’s a kid, you’re her dad, act like it.
As for his religious feelings, and the praying, rosary caressing, well he just didn’t feel that kind of guy, that just felt plain strange, odd.
Wouldn’t most 22/25 years olds get weirded out by a guy who starts praying aloud when having sex?

Which brings me to background, and the fact that maybe if I’d read the first two books I’d understand much more of this one, and that what feels weird to me would have a proper explanation that made it fit better. Don’t know, but after some of the great reads I’ve enjoyed of hers this one was a fail 😦 Sorry.

Stars: Two, perfectly well written but I really need to read books one and two first to understand the characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Making Waves, A Beach Lane Novel,  Laura Moore

Making Waves: A Beach Lane Novel by [Moore, Laura]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve enjoyed a couple of Laura’s novels but this one is by far the best, its hard to say why exactly but it’s just one of those that pulled me in quickly and kept me absorbed to the end.

I love Dakota, she’s had a horrible background, one of those where she’s tolerated -just- by her mother’s family, and really treated as if she should be grateful for every scrap of attention.
They’ve always let her know she’s not quite good enough, illegitimate, doesn’t know her father and a blot on the family name. You’d think her mother Piper would carry the blame but its not that way.
She’s grown up very self reliant, made her own way in life and set up her concierge company, building on what she knows, how to sooth and cater for every whim of the rich and pretentious that live/holiday in the Hamptons. She’s made some good friends there too, not all the rich are shallow and spoiled, and she values those who see her for what she is, and not just as the outcast Hale.

Max, what a man. Loved him, and the tension between them, the sizzle just burned off the page from their first meeting.
Dakota doesn’t get involved with clients though and tells him that. He’s not used to hearing no, and Dakota is someone he just can’t seem to let go. Usually he’d just move on, never short of someone to fall at his feet, well his wallet too…
I loved the way he carefully kept pursuing Dakota, knowing she really wanted him as much as he wanted her. Clever to use her love of surfing to spend time with her, and from there they moved into – well, hot and sensual sex but a bit more too.
Dakota wants a family of her own eventually, she knows Max isn’t interested in that, but still can’t seem to let go, telling herself its just a casual relationship with an expiry date at some point.
Max too finds he’s breaking his usual roles, letting her into his life, when usually the rules are clear, it’s a fling, casual, fine while its on and when times up he’s off.

Then there’s a hiccup, brought on by Dakota’s love of family and traditions and his steering away from anything resembling that – and that was a very emotional part, I so felt for Dakota, just trying to be nice.
They’re off, and though the parting seems OK they are both sad, regretful, but don’t know what else they can do. They want different things in life and that’s all there is to it. Oil and water don’t mix.

There’s more though, something happens that brings them together again, puts them right in the forefront of Society gossip, threatening Dakota’s hard won business and Max’s work position.
It doesn’t stop there, even more comes out, secrets on both sides that really pull at the heart, and things that could threaten the current fragile relationship between them. Its easy to see how their delicate new connection could easily get derailed.

Dakota had some great friends and I loved seeing them. They really valued her, saw her as a person, and got so angry at how Piper and Mimi treated her. There’s that saying about friends being people who’d help you hide a body, and Dakota’s would just say where is it, and come armed with a shovel. ( and probably champagne if it was Piper or Mimi!!)
I’m hoping that one of those friends, Lauren, is in for a book of her own, she’s got a very sad past, and deserves a shot at happiness for herself and her two children.
It would be great to stay with this group of characters and see more of how their lives develop.

I love the not so nice people too in a story, they add that sharp edge a good romance needs for me, the balance to the happy side.
Dakota’s mother, Piper was a classic rich b itch, brought up to assume the world revolves around her and her wants. She treats Dakota as though she should be grateful to have her as a parent, when in fact she’s a hopeless mother, no maternal instincts, and takes every opportunity to belittle her.
Throw in a bitter aunt who resents the success she’s made of her life, and an uncle who we don’t actually meet but know he regards her as a nonentity and its no wonder she’s learned to rely on herself, work her own way in the world. She could have been a horrible person – and yet she’s wonderful, a great friend, kind to those who need help, hard working and ethical.

I was so happy at the ending, and loved the drama that came up on the way to it. I would have liked those parts to be drawn out a teeny- teeny bit longer – but that’s just me, I like people to really hit rock bottom,love to wallow in the sad bits and that would have just been glitter on the icing of a fantastic cake.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, full of emotion and drama.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Royal Disaster, Parker Swift and Fourth Time Forever (The Oxford Blue Series Book 4) Pippa Croft

Royal Disaster, Parker Swift

Royal Disaster (Royal Scandal Book 2) by [Swift, Parker]

Genre:  romance

Well, I’ve been waiting for this 😉 and of course for the final part. I really enjoy trilogies and series best when all parts are out and I can immerse myself in the whole story, start to finish. I loved book one, so on to book two.

I feel I know Lydia and Dylan pretty well now, and what a long way they’ve come in a short while.
Lydia had come to UK for her career, new country, huge challenge and living her dream. Then she met Dylan, known as Mr No Commitments, a playboy dating dilettante….but when he meets Lydia things change for both of them. For her its a whole crash intro to UK traditions, how structured and insular the royal family, immediate and extended, are. For someone from the USA its a real culture shock, and she’s worried about putting a step wrong and letting Dylan down.

He doesn’t care though, loves her freshness, her sense of fun, her wanting him, Dylan the man as opposed to Dylan the Duke.
He’s has some tragedy in his past through his heritage and the way the press (vultures) hounded someone close to him, and that led to his dating ban, his one nights and fun only stance. When he meets Lydia that soon changes, a few frivolous interludes simply aren’t enough and he’s soon wholly in love with her and she with him, even though its been only a short while.
Now though there’s threats again, and he’s trying so hard to protect her in the way he knows best, but its shutting her out and causing friction. Someone is watching them, proving he can’t keep her safe, that she’s vulnerable even when he thinks she’s OK ensconced in his own home…Nightmare situation, and adds to the stress he’s already under from his family and the family business, alongside running his own successful business. Poor guy, he needs a 36 hour day.

I love both these characters. Inevitable there are comparisons with other romance trilogies, especially those with an erotic angle, but to me this has enough to keep it fresh, to stand successfully on its own. As a UK reader I love that its set in UK, with all our peculiarities, our unique heritage.

I love the way Dylan calls Lydia Damsel, so much nicer that the ubiquitous Baby, that title really grates on me.
Damsel is just so much more nicer, suits the story, suits Dylan and his sense of tradition, even while he’s balking against some of it, dating Lydia for whom Tradition doesn’t really mean much. He’s a gentleman in the truest sense of the word, and treats Lydia so carefully, always protective but without being stifling or presumptuous. He sees her strength, values her ambition, and they make a perfect couple.
Without going OTT Parker brings in some of the media speculation that abounds in this sort of situation, the pictures taken in an unguarded moment that show something that didn’t exist, they look for signs of friction, invite readers to speculate on whats going to happen, what Lydia needs to do/needs to change, compare her to Dylan’s past ladies. Sadly all that is very true of the UK media, and one reason I never buy newspapers or magazines. The quest for scandal is fierce, and ruins lives, and Dylan is rightly protective of Lydia.
He needs to let her keep her sense of self though, her sense of self respect. One of the things he and I admire is her independence, the way she hasn’t taken advantage of her sudden rise to fame, but only takes what she feels is right, does what she feels is fair and correct. She needs to feel she has control of her life and that has been a bit of friction between them, when Dylan’s past experience lead him to take action but not tell her about it.
She’s also got a thin line to tread at work, with Josh and Fiona who were so kind to her when she first started but could now feel pushed aside. She needs her friends, values them so needs to watch that angle.

Its a fabulous read once more, hot and sensual scenes, very real feeling issues happening both in their private and public life, and I’m looking forward to how Parker finally winds up the story.
Somehow I feel she’s saving the best fireworks for the finale!

Stars: five, a great second book and roll on the final installment.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Fourth Time Forever (The Oxford Blue Series Book 4) Pippa Croft

Fourth Time Forever (The Oxford Blue Series Book 4) by [Croft, Pippa]

Genre:  Romance,

This trilogy has so much going for it – and now even more as its become a quartet! In a world where there are hundreds of thousands of romance reads its hard to find ones that stand out – but this series does.

Its got a US female lead and a UK (hurrah!) male lead.
What I love is that they’re intelligent people, moral, disciplined, not the out for themselves, selfish, irritating types seen so often. You know, Alpha males that only grunt a few syllables, act as if they own the world, expect the females to obey every command instantly, where the ladies as simpering, idiotic, fall at their feet types.
When I here them grunting “Here, Knickers, Now!” ( I know they always say panties, I’m a UK reader, I can’t bring myself to write that). I want to say “No, p!ss off, Prick!”

I want characters I can get behind, want people I think I’d like to count as freinds if they were real, and this series delivers that. Not just in Lauren and Alexander but in the secondary characters too.

I loved the first three books, and while I liked the ending in book three it also felt like there was something missing, felt a little ambiguous.
Lauren and Alexander’s story hadn’t been a smooth run so in a way that fitted, but the romance lover in me really wanted more definite HEA, and when Pippa released this short novella to wrap up things as others had felt like me I was delighted.

Its delivered the perfect ending, but to get there – even though its just a short read – its another action packed , heart wrenching read. There were some real tears here on my part, and smiles when finally, finally they got their HEA.

Stars: five, a fabulous finish, the book I didn’t really know I needed, but which has made a perfect end to the series.

The Aurora Affair, Carolyn Haley

The Aurora Affair, Carolyn Haley

The Aurora Affair by [Haley, Carolyn]

Genre:  Romance,Sci-fi and fantasy

I was really pulled in by the blurb on this book, but it turned out to be nothing like I expected.
There’s lots I enjoyed, but at times it got so over complicated that I was lost.

There’s a lot of esoteric descriptions, flowery prose over psychic events, lots of inner musings about what’s happening now, in the past and in the future and why, and how, and what possibilities there are to stop it.
And soulmates, Maddie is fixated on soulmates, whether Buck or Kit is destined to be with her, but maybe she has a connection with Dru too, and yet one more guy later in the book….You’d think Dru’s girlfriend, Maddie’s sister Blanche would have something to say, but she’s just as open minded about who she should be with, and when and how long….Confused? You will be 😉
You can see how complex just the sex parts get. Throw in the other characters that live at New Atlantis and a few more visions/premonitions/echoes of past lives, and at times its one big sex fest, but one where emotions as far as love are concerned just don’t come into it.

I didn’t really like any of the characters much, probably Kit’s the only one I came close to feeling for, and it seems to me he gets swept along the psychic tide by accident. I felt the otrhers were rationlising much of their behavoiur telling themsleves, and others, it was for the common good.

Its really a story of the supernatural, of good versus evil, and of how governments are afraid of anything they can’t understand, and will stop at nothing to keep control. That’s scarily true and if this was real I think it would play out as described.

Its billed as Romance, but to me there’s little actual romance, its more a question of “your chakra needs re-balancing/your aura is out of sync/you’ve too much negative energy/the tides are predicting this” ( or moon/stars/sun – take your pick) or simply “its a festival and I want you”….Everything becomes an excuse for some hot and steamy sex, but without the emotion and feelings of love for the individual that are needed for me. TBH that spoiled it for me.

Eventually after many false starts, and lots of failed attempts – and lots more sex – the Evil gets identified and pushed aside, but not at cost, and not without the sticky fingers of the Government getting involved.
That sets up another trap, possibly as dangerous as the Evil they’ve just overbalanced for now.

Its a very complex tale, lots of content and action – for me a little too much. I want a story where I can work out what’s happening, and follow along with events, but there’s so much psychic intervention here that it becomes impossible to predict events, to work out who, what, how and when.
I love paranormal stories but this one gets so over-complex that I found myself switching off sometimes, and just flicking past events trying to see what part that had actual relevance to the story came next.
I like a romance with characters I can get behind, a couple – or couples/trios – that I can want to be together, without all the sex with others muddying the way. I didn’t really feel any actual romance in this story, until maybe close to the end. Speaking of endings – its very amiguous. Are there more books to come or is this it? I felt for a long while when starting that I’d jumped in to an existing sereis, and missed a book or two but I can’t find anything else except this book.

Overall its an OK read for me, I just felt there was so much going on that the story, the message, got lost.
As for the romance, well, don’t expect tenderness, hearts and flowers, but people who really don’t know who they want to be with and end up trying – lots of times – before they buy!

Stars: Three, parts of it I liked, the idea I loved, the execution not so much.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Siren’s Wave, A Rock and Roll Love Story, J.A. Hazel

Siren’s Wave, A Rock and Roll Love Story,  J.A. Hazel

Siren's Wave: (A Rock and Roll Love Story) by [Hazel, J.A.]

 

Genre:  Romance,

Well, by now regular readers of my reviews will know I have a weakness for rock star/film star romances, so when I was asked to read this I was a happy bunny.
Did my usual checks first though because there are hundreds of thousands ( or so it feels) of novels in this genre and I know from experience that 90% of them just don’t do it for me. They work for others, dominate best sellers but I need something a little more, a story with an edge.

I want a novel that’s true to the music industry, that brings in all that band life, celebrity/media excess if they’ve found fame, the struggle to climb up if they haven’t, one that shows the underbelly, the grittiness and stuff we don’t often get.
Things like how common drug/alchohol use becomes, first to give a little extra and soon its needed more and more just to cope with the onslaught of demands made by those who hold the purse strings, and who want more and more from the people creating the music.
I need characters that feel real, have genuine emotions and problems, that I feel I could know, talk to, and I have to like the leads, to want them to be together. We get all that and more here….

Bran, what a great lead. The band he’s on is on the cusp of fame, but right now each of them are also working at other jobs as well as gigging and trying to get spotted. Finally that magic call comes and they’re off to Anoxia, an Australian record company to record their music.
I love Bran, and when we meet him its feels like he’s the laid back one, the band peacekeeper, though they’re a close knit bunch, when they argue it doesn’t bring actual friction.
He’s got a damaged past though, and his band mate Nate and Nate’s mum are responsible for getting Bran through his childhood, without going off the rails. He still has nightmares though, is still inwardly really troubled though hides it well. He’s gorgeous, but seems totally unaware of it, and its wonderful to see how gentle he was with fans, how open and honest.
Then he meets Ava.

Ava works for Anoxia, has done for some years now and is well respected. She’s small, a fifties starlet type lady in appearance, and always conscious of being a little over the ideal size. Still likes her food though 🙂 me too….and she comes over as pretty confident in herself, she hides her insecurities well.
She’s close with the Anoxia staff, they’re good friends as well as work colleagues, and feel like a family unit almost.
I love Ava too, she’s so open and honest, fresh, but she has one weakness and its for guys that look like Bran….

Their first meeting doesn’t go so well, Bran is – well, simply obnoxious to Ava, and that continues over the next few days.
His band-mates are astonished, this just isn’t like him. It really is like that schoolboy pick on someone you like feeling. He’s attracted to Ava but won’t admit it to himself, maybe its because he knows she’s not a one and done lady and that’s all he’s ever had, or wanted.
Ava just ignores him as much as she can and mentally labels him a dick…prick dick I think was the term she used 😉 Its such a contrast to the Bran we and his band mates know.

Things change though and soon they’re having steaming sensual encounters, though still have a strange relationship. They don’t date, just feels like Bran keeps sneaking into her bed, needing to be with her, needing the feeling of peace she brings. They’re only there a few weeks though so what happens then?

I love this story, its got the Love part I need so much, and its tangled, hard, full of drama and doesn’t follow a neat pathway. I just couldn’t see what the future would hold for them, and they both seemed to be avoiding even thinking of it. They weren’t in a relationship exactly, and yet both had such a strong need for the other.
When it went wrong, I could feel pain on both of them. I understood Ava’s stance though, she had to protect herself. I also understood Bran though, looking from the outside its easy to see why he has issues.

There’s sex here, not just Bran and Ava, but the usual one off encounters that seem to follow band life.
It amazes me how girls ( and guys) want to have sex with someone just because of fame, and if the first choice isn’t around they’ll move down the line quite happily….
There’s alchohol and drug use here too, and even though its something I don’t like I know that its common in that industry, that people seek chemical help to deal with the pressures they are under and it fits the story.
The execs hand out drugs as an easy solution  here and I’m sure that’s how it works in reality. Who cares if they’re unhealthy, lead to addiction, lifelong issues, and death sometimes so long as the stars can keep on churning out the performances that bring in the cash.
That’s the not so nice side of the music industry, and one not often seen in romances. I like that its included here, not in an OTT drama infused way, but as just another part of band life, and every day way of  dealing. Paracetamol for a headache for most of us, in this life though its a headache caused by stress and pressure, and its heroin and coke that gets handed out.

Its a great read, not a light and fluffy story, skimming the fame and music side, but one showing how hard it is for up and coming bands, what kind of pressures they face, the realities of touring and recording. Bran and Ava’s love story is just perfect set against that.
A romance that isn’t smooth, that struggles, that has lots of drama and theatrics, supported by a great cast of characters and a very real feeling backstory.

Stars: Five. A fabulous novel, one with drama and details, edge and emotion, love and lust but with a story that unfolds so very different from so many Rock band romances.

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

The Discipline, Jade A. Waters. America’s Next Reality Star, Laura Heffernan

The Discipline,  Jade A. Waters

The Discipline (Lessons in Control) by [Waters, Jade A.]

Genre:  romance, erotica

I hadn’t read book one, just the amazon sample, but thought this sounded fun and I’d be ok without the full story.
Well, I found I could follow the story easily, but there are clearly things there that build up to this book, and really I think you need to read both to fully enjoy this.

I never really got a sense of “knowing” Maya or Dean, that I knew them as people apart from their sexual inclinations. Maybe if I’d read book one?
I don’t think it would have made much difference in that the book seems to concentrate on the erotic aspects rather than them as people with outside lives.
The plots are really build ups to the next erotic section.  Those are written very well, but for me I need that sense of empathy for the characters to make them feel more that just a sensual sex scene.
That’s just me though, clearly others want the erotic parts more than the story as evidenced by the sale of books now that are just excerpts of sex scenes from popular novels.
I needed to really understand Maya and Dean, to feel for them, to want them to work things through and…I just wasn’t that invested in them.

When the secrets start to come out it makes clear some of the earlier issues they had, but when the big stumbling block hits I felt Maya was being very obtuse, it was very, very clear that they weren’t both happy at what was happening, and I think she only saw what she wanted to. A bit of thought for Dean and his actions might have made a huge difference – that would have changed to story though 😉 so it needed to unfold that way of course, but for me I needed it to be done a little differently.

Its a good book, five star on the erotic part, but I felt the romance side fell down and I didn’t really get that feeling of understanding the characters, feeling as though I could “know” them and as if I was there in the story.
For me that’s important, but not necessarily for everyone. That’s why it only gets three stars rather than the five the erotic section would get. I want eroticism AND romance, but felt I really just got erotic storyline line here.

Stars: Three, good sex scenes but bland romance IMO.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

America’s Next Reality Star,  Laura Heffernan

America's Next Reality Star by [Heffernan, Laura]

Genre:  romance,

I don’t watch TV now, give me a good book, but even when I did “reality” TV wasn’t my thing. Its so scripted, the title Reality is a real misnomer….Still, it makes for some great stories, I’ve read some real crackers – and some huge fails too 🙂

So where does this one fit? Well, to begin I thought it was going to be great. I loved Jen, love the way the build-up brought her to the point of the show.
Some great characters in the mix of the 12 people selected, a real cross section with – hurrah – someone to dislike intensely. Those characters always add such interest. the games were good too, and we got to see just how some people can manipulate things to get their way.

I did get a bit irritated at the relationship drama, the does he/doesn’t he, did they /didn’t they stuff. It seemed very high school/teen thing, not the 21-25 age group, but I guess when you’re stuck in that intense, focussed, hot house environment with people no doubt chosen to provide friction and good TV, then it’s kind of inevitable.
As a fun read it was great, as a romance not so for me, it was more speculation than actual happening most of the while, so the ending felt a bit strange. I couldn’t see it working like that.
In fact I felt the ending was very rushed, at about 85% we still seemed to be only halfway through the show, still very much into the games and the voting, then suddenly it was all ended.
Very abrupt and unexpected. I had flipped to the end at the 85% mark just to see if maybe there was a second book, it seemed so far off being completed, so for me that part spoiled it. I wanted the drama, the tensions etc to play out more, but its was like wow, x happens, y happens and suddenly its z and we’re finished.

Stars: Three, a fun one off read for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Every Little Thing, Samantha Young. Souljacker, Yasmine Galenorn

Today I’m planning to read the latest Mercy Thompson novel,  Silence Fallen, Patricia Briggshttp://amzn.to/2mkqZJd That’s my all time favourite series, and author, and I’ve got another great book to read from a couple of days back, Jeanine Frost’s Into the fire, the final Night Prince novel

http://amzn.to/2mWvZoW I loved this series when it started, but unlike the Briggs one its an ongoing story rather than each book having one main theme that’s part of an ongoing story. TBH its taken so long I’ve kind of lost the impetus that made me love it. Maybe I’ll start from first book and pick it up that way. Then I log in to netgalley and see I’ve been approved for three more reads, among them one from the Queen of rock band reads, Kylie Scott for Twist, the latest Dive Bar novel, a spin off from the wonderful Stage Dive books

http://amzn.to/2m10cin So, housework? Tidying ready for selling house? Gardening – well that’s an easy out, its raining….

And a couple of reviews today

Every Little Thing,  Samantha Young

Every Little Thing (Hart's Boardwalk Book 2) by [Young, Samantha]

Genre:  romance, erotica

Like thousands of readers I got sucked in to the magic of Samantha’s romances by way of the wonderful Joss and Braden, in On Dublin street, and their book is still one of my all time favourites.
I’ve read several from that series and enjoyed them and have been looking forward to this new series. Tjis one is tagged Erotica, but to me its more eotic romance, a great romance but withsome hot and steamy sex rather than just erotica,

I enjoyed the first book, The One real Thing, but wasn’t blown away by it. First books do have  a hard job though, and few achieve the great start that Dublin Street did.
The couple that intrigued me the most in book one were Bailey and Vaughn – the ST between those two jumps of the page! They had sparks jumping between them at every meeting, and the caustic wit the two share had me smiling widely.

Bailey is so bright and bubbly, always out to help others, see that everyone is happy, so running her Inn is perfect for her. Still, the awful Devlin family are trying to find a way to oust her, they want to own as much of the town as they can and have used some very dirty tricks in the past. I love the way Bailey not only stands up to them but uses her sharp wit against them.
She’s been with boyfriend Tom now for ten years, hoping that they will marry and have a family soon. She’s in for a big shock though….and it changes things between her and Vaughn.
They’ve always hate a hate hate relationship, but underneath that everyone feels that its defensive on both sides, and it really seems to have started with Vaughn rebuffing the open friendship Bailey offered him when he arrived, the same as she does to everyone. He wasn’t impressed at her initial opposition to his plans for his new hotel, and things went downhill from there.

Its clear Vaughn is attracted to her, and just as clear he doesn’t want to be. He’s always been Mr No Commitment and it suits him, but he knows that Bailey spells danger to that, and seems to use his acerbic wit as a defence even as he cringes inside at what he’s saying. Bailey responds likewise, they both bring out the worst in each other, but that gives some terrific scenes for the reader.

Its a real romance here, but a long time coming, with many forward and back journeys that had me inwardly screaming at them! Of course that’s perfect for me as it brings bucket loads of angst and emotion.

As with all Samantha’s romances its not just a two person story, but brings in many others, some from book one, some who look set to become future books. Story seeds, those hints of what/who might be next. Its always fun to try to spot them, and I think I’ve got a couple here, there are some individuals who really intrigue me. Quiet, shy Emory, what’s her story? Why is she so reserved, so closed off? Dahlia, she seems to have lots of things to reveal, and we’ve only seen her as a very secondary character. Jack Devlin, met him in book one, and he’s here too, and still as much a puzzle as ever. I can’t believe he’s really such a bad guy, and yet the things he’s done, and does here too seem to point in that direction, then he does a couple that point the other way. Even Vaughn’s dad has potential, not as a main character IMO, but maybe a secondary romance thread in a book? He’s certainly got the heart and character for it.

Its a great read, I loved it, was entranced by Bailey and Vaughn, loved the puzzle of their relationship. I did wonder about a few characters in here, Vanessa, will she make a return later, Jack, how can Cooper’s former best friend change so much, do what he does, and of course Vaughn’s awful friend Oliver. What on earth did those two ever have in common?
There’s a couple of surprises towards the end that I didn’t see coming ( and one I did!) and it makes me wonder if they’re future plots in later books?
.
Stars: Five, a great read, perfect blend of sensual romance and solid story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Souljacker, A Lily Bound Novel,  Yasmine Galenorn

Souljacker: A Lily Bound Novel by [Galenorn, Yasmine]

Genre:  paranormal and fantasy

Hmnnn, succubus – they’re not characters that really feel empathetic are they? I put off reading Richelle Mead’s wonderful Georgia Kinkaid series for ages simply because I could not see how an author could make a succubus into a person I’d understand, feel I want them to be happy, and yet I was so, so wrong. Add in Jill Myles terrific Succubus reads and you can see just how very wrong my first thoughts were.
So if you’re like me, take a deep breath and prepare to be surprised.
I’ve enjoyed some of Yasmine’s other reads, so I was familiar with her writing style. the story jumps right in with a death at Lily’s house, one of her top clients has been murdered. Not good for business, nor is the fact her clients wife is on the warpath and as a powerful and influential were she can – and does – do immense damage to Lily’s business. So far its worked giving her an income, keeping her alive through sex with Supernaturals, she’s found in the past humans are just far too fragile, and wants to avoid killing people.

In this society Vampires aren’t the Romance kind, but irrational, dangerous killers. Once turned little of the human remains, and they simply lust for blood, sex and power, and have become so dangerous that vampire kills aren’t even investigated by the police any more. That leaves Lily and her friends on their own, as a Vampire Execution the police simple pass on the murder, but she does get given the name of a chaos demon who might help. And Lily and her friends need that help when they learn the killer wants them dead too….

I like Lily, she’s just trying to live, trying to keep her friends safe, enjoy life and she’s found a way that avoids killing humans, something that happened in the past to her and hurts her conscience.
She has some good friends, witch Dani, human Nate, Marsh the…Ghost? spirit? whatever, he’s someone from Lily’s past who’s returned out of the blue, and of course Whiskas the cat – who’s more than a cat, though decidedly not a shifter.
Lily herself belong to the dark Fae court, and we meet the Queen, Wynter in this book. Scary woman, and she’s very powerful. You don’t live for thousands of years without learning a few things.
Archer the chaos demon turns out to be not the type Lily feared, Demons don’t get great press, but in fact he’s a true gentleman, luckily attracted to Lily, and they’re in the throes of him helping her with sex feeding, and maybe they’re developing something more. I didn’t get a great feeling of romance here, its pretty clear one is meant to be starting but I wasn’t really convinced of anything more than a bit of lust between them. Maybe that just takes time, sometimes its better that way.

Its a fun read, a story with elements of many types of creatures thrown in, Vampires, demons, ghosts,witches,  Fae and of course Lily and Whiskas.
In a way that kind of affected the story for me, there were so many different types of character, so much going on that the murders almost took second place. When the climax (Hah!!) came it was almost missing for me, they’d had so many scrapes already that it seemed like it was just one more.

I enjoyed this but I’m waiting for book two to see how the series develops, it didn’t keep me gripped as I’d expected. At times it just felt a little muddled as there was so much happening in a relatively short space of time and pages (GR has it at 292 pages) or 3552 kindle locations.

Stars: Three. Maybe as this continues I’ll feel more for it, its tough for first books in a new series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Kept from You, Tear Asunder, Book 4, Nashoda Rose

Kept from You, Tear Asunder, Book 4, Nashoda Rose

Kept from You (Tear Asunder Book 4) by [Rose, Nashoda]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve loved this series so far, and this latest keeps up the drama and excitement.
When I read the first book Nashoda was an author new to me, and I really wasn’t sure I’d like her style, that first one was pretty dark. The excitement though, the edge of seat drama, the so-real romance and the way she turns everything around, pulled me through and sucked me in to the rest of the novels.
I don’t mind an edge of darkness, so long as there’s a solid and real feeling romance with it. This one is probably the least “dark” though its still got that undercurrent of violence running though.

It was great too to catch up with the rest of the band and families, to see how they’ve changed over the years.
Killian was a terrific lead, I adored him. His feelings for Saavy(Orchid as he calls her) are incredibly intense, but not in that overdone macho way so many reads have. I could just feel how he struggled with his feelings, with his need to protect her, against letting her have her freedom to do what she wanted, find her way, and his background was heart breaking.
Saavy, loved her. Fiercely independent, one of those rare people who see good in others, who will stand up against bullies even though she’s scared.
Now after eleven years she’s put herself back in Killian’s orbit, she needs a favour from him. She’s been let down by her boss/lover and is now jobless, moneyless and soon to be homeless, she needs the dancing job she’s after, but to get a chance she needs Killian’s intro to the owner.
She thinks a quick recommendation if she’s lucky, after all, though she’s nervous she really is at the bottom and got nothing to lose only her pride.

Killian’s never forgotten her and now she’s back in front of him he can’t let go. Wow, the feelings and emotions between these two, the contrast of such contained violence and the gentle man he is with Saavy is amazing.
I loved them, loved the story, the little sub plots running through that slowly joined up, and all made sense as they connected.
The band stuff is there in the background but its not one of those guys on tour reads, more a book about characters that are in a band together.

Its another wonderful read, and just taking a look at what else Nashoda has written I’ve seen the Unyielding series. That starts with Deck and Georgie, important secondary characters that appear throughout the novels, and whom I’ve always wondered about. There’s something about their on but not quite on relationship that is so intriguing, and throughout the books I’ve always wondered just what their story is. So now when the time allows I’m up for reading their story too

Stars: Five, another fabulous read featuring the band.

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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