Staged, Olivia Cunning.
Way back when I got my first kindle I found a free book I liked the sound of. It was Brian and Myra’s story, the first Sinners book. I loved it and went on to buy the rest. I wasn’t so taken with the Sole Regret novels, liked them but as one off reads. I was so keen to read Exodus End books, having met Dare several times in Sinners novels. I’m still keen to read his story, he’s a solid, quiet, unassuming guy, and I think his novel will be special.
Still, we’re book three into Exodus End, and I’d expected to devour this story. I’ll be honest, Steve wasn’t one of my favourite characters, but we see some suprising depth to him here. At first though I really disliked him, sulky and sullen, whining because his best friend’s band has been replaced as opener, and the way he treats ladies….yep, he was misogynistic. Speaking of his best friend, Zach is a great character, and though he’s not involved in any of the bands so far, I think he has a great story in him.
I really wanted to like this story, but it took a while before events of last two books came to me, its been a while and several hundred novels since I read them. As well as the characters we already know, there are quite a few new ones. I did find this and some of the plot-lines a bit confusing, and at times the story was hard to believe, mainly the Tamara/Bianca/Susan aspect.
I felt too, that in this book the sex became the story – its fine for many readers but not me. In other novels the sex has always been to the fore, these are very erotic novels after all, but balanced with solid plots. Here the main plot seemed pretty thin, much of it only developing in last part of the book, and at a pace that felt rushed. I felt there were pages and pages and pages of sex, interspersed with a little bit of story and then yet more sex. To be honest after a while its gets boring, there’s only so many times I want to read about sex, only so many ways to write it without it becoming repetitive. Here it became just mechanics rather then sensual. There were several times when I felt the sex and the conversations about sex became OTT, frankly reading about Roux not being hungry any more because she’d had too much come, ( no I just can’t use the US expression…) and whether it was vegetarian or not was more than I wanted to read. Likewise his request for her to text him everything – even when she was “having a dump”. Really, that’s a good line – or lines, it came up more than once- for the story??
Then there’s That event, which I felt was incredibly serious, sadly happens too often, but between brushing it off or demanding it be reported I felt it wasn’t really given enough time, not the treatment it deserved. When copious pages have been devoted to sex surely a few more could have been spared for this. Its a horrific thing to happen, would it have been treated this way if it happened to a female? I felt it really let down its importance that it was just added almost as a quick filler plot.
Stars: Two. Overall this book wasn’t a success for me. I still love the others and want to read Dare’s story, but this one just didn’t cut it.
ARC via Netgalley and publishers
Discovering You, Indigo Book 1, Kate McBrien
Genre: erotica, romance
I loved this book, and am looking forward to books two and three. Book two is actually out now and three due soon. It amazed me that this is a debut novel, its very easy to read where debuts can feel disjointed and run out of steam at times. Everyone has to begin somewhere and writing is like any other skill, improves with practice. Reading this though, I would have believed Kate has been writing for years.
I love and hate trilogies, love that they really allow the reader to get to know the characters, that the length allows for plots to be fully explored. Hate because here I am engrossed in a story and it ends….and I’ve ages to wait for more. Some authors take 12-18 months between episodes and I’ve lost that impetus, that enjoyment by the time I pick up the story again. I usually wait til all three parts are out so I can read right through and avoid that, but fortunately book two in this trilogy is out now and book three should be along very soon.
I loved Lucy, hated her mum and thought her dad was weak. I love characters I can feel strongly about, really love/hate and there’s lots in this book. Sleazy Edward, I can see he’s got a big part to come- well, feels that way to me. I think Justin’s manager has something suspicious about him too, and of course there’s Rachel, Justin’s ex-without-dating, kind of fling when it suits them relationship, hot sex and nothing more. On his side anyway, though I think Rachel was looking for more. Not love, but the fame attached to being with him. All those promise some great fireworks to come.
When I saw the past present connection I thought maybe it was going to be along the lines of Susanna Kearsely’s stories. I’ve read loads of those, but so far the past is kept to a few small snippets at the beginning and end, and of course odd feelings and dreams both the leads have. I have the feeling the next book might show us more of the past, so far the connection is quite tenuous, but that doesn’t detract from a great story.
If you#’re not an erotica fan don’t be put off by the genre classification, there is plenty of heat, of steam here but its perfect within the story, nothing off-putting. So many “erotica” reads are just pages and pages of repetitive sex held together by a thin plot. This book is very far from that so I’d class it as a steamy romance rather than erotica.
Stars: five, a cracking debut read and I look forward to next two books.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
Silk and Thorne, Olivia Rayne
** since reading/reviewing this the size info has been added. Its 53 pages. We’re also told next instalment due early 2019. I’d still like to know how many installments to expect, and a rough timetable, along with pricing. Series written this way work well for many readers, I like to get a story all in one though, not bite size pieces, and to know roughly how much the story is going to cost me **.
Well, first point is Nowhere in the blurb does it say this is a part novel, a very short part in fact. The description is almost as long as the novel it felt 😉 I was reading away and glanced down to see I was at 48%. I was sure that was an error – I’d been reading maybe 15/20 minutes, but no, it really is that short.
Total kindle locations 870. Average full length novel locations are between 3,500 and 5,000.
There’s no info on how many more parts, when they’re out, how much they’ll be. TBH I was pretty resentful of time wasted reading this not knowing more information.
Still, the story was a little slow to start but excellent writing, and I really enjoyed what there was of it, kept me wondering what was going to happen next. There’s a lot promised in this short sample, hopefully the rest will deliver and it will be an excellent read. The characters were interesting, the premise very mysterious and I want to know more….
As I said, I need Much more information though before I can decide whether to continue. I’ve been caught before on novels that are part one and never get any further, novels that do get further but take a year or more before part two comes out, with remaining parts still to come at unspecified prices. Readers deserve that info, money is tight for most of us and deciding where to spend isn’t easy.
I’m still waiting for part three of a series which started well in 2012, second part came out not long after and since then its just been all promises. If it did continue now I’d have to think hard before deciding if I wanted to read more and risk waiting another few years for more.
Like lots of others I also got caught up in the Crossfire fiasco where a trilogy became a five book series but readers weren’t told until release day of what they thought was final part. Having pre-ordered I had what should have been the ending delivered to my kindle only to have to decide did I want to wait for more, again time and price unspecified, or waste my time and hard earned money spent on books one and two….( I sent back part three and abandoned the series on principle)
Readers deserve better than to be treated this way.
Stars:Three, What there is was excellent, but there was way to little to make a proper judgment and I want to know more about when and how much the rest will cost.
ARC supplied by author
Awakening, Shadow-walkers Book 1, Kelley Heckart
Genre: Paranormal Romance
I love a good rock star read, ditto film stars, adore romance and of course a good paranormal and this book promised all of those….trouble was it didn’t stop there , but brought in so much more. The paranormal, well there are ghosts, and the shadow walker elements (which Tbh I still can’t quite understand – but then I feel Kate doesn’t either so I’m not alone) The romance, well that brings in rock star Kate and film star Kane, but not just them, there’s Kate’s ex, manager of the band she was in, and the traumatic ending of that, and the ghosts, where its not a simple uncomplicated story either. Oh and Kate is also a writer, now involved in changing her story for film, which is how Kane fits in. I didn’t understand wholely though why Kane was involved in the rewrite? There had to be something though to get him and Kate alone in the cabin.
So they’re snowed in and the ghosties begin, not just one though….weirdly in the middle of being scared half to death but events Kane and Kate keep creaking off for hot baths and even hotter sex….that just didn’t feel credible to me. I’m assuming somehow the fire heated the water as the power was off but they existed on water and PBJ sandwiches, and energy bars. Why not use the fire to heat water for coffee, heat some of the tins, cook something hot?
The story was interesting but just too much going on which meant the major plots had to be condensed to fit everything in and for me I felt that it wasn’t the best way of delivering. It meant they were in blizzard in cabin, ghost appear and hey presto Kate has the answer, but wait…there’s a puzzle to unravel but….its all in the magazines left lying in the cabin. Once they’re out of the cabin too it was problem meet solution – all very slick and neat and I want characters to have to work for answers.
The romance, well it was hot, very sensual but I didn’t really like either character, didn’t feel the love, just some hot and sensual lust. Long term? Well, I think they’ve a lot to do yet.
The band members; well, by the time we’d met them my brain was saturated, so much had been going on that I just couldn’t deal with even more past problems and current supernatural events. I kind of switched off.
As always though reviews and reading are very subjective. Kelley has written lots of very well received books so although this style of writing didn’t work for me clearly it works well for others.
Stars: hard one….the idea is a five, the way it plays out for me though just didn’t work as explained so I guess overall its a three
Book via KU.
Fall ,(VIP Book 3), Kristen Callihan
I love a good rock star romance, but though there are thousands in that genre good ones are few and far between. Trawling though some time back I came across the first in this series and fell in love with this band. Bought that, and book two – which is still my favourite- and now bought book three. In between review copies, KU and the loads of free books offered its pretty rare I actually spend money on a book, but this series are ones to read and re-read and well worth twice the price.
So this time its Jax, or John as he introduces himself to Stella. Poor John keeps things deep inside, plays the happy, light and fun guy, hiding his sadness, but just before the start of this series he tried to kill himself and it brought the band to their knees.
They’re slowly recovering but John is a work in progress, still carefully finding his way forward and feeling so guilty for what he sees as letting his friends down.
The depression factors in this story are really well handled, I understood John and his feelings so well, and of course seeing the impact potential suicide has, it changes everyone in the vicinity. Its hard to imagine being that much in despair but when you feel so down that everything seems pointless its looks like a way out, if you’re just tired of the struggle getting through each day becomes. Thankfully John was found in time and has been getting some excellent help. What made it feel very real though was despite that he’s still struggling, some books make counselling a miracle cure and its not, it gives people tools but the change has to come from them and it takes a lot of time and support.
You’d think a book with the MC going through this would be grim, but its not, its full of humour, sharp one liners, ongoing jokes and the Chlamydia incident gave rise to some wonderful humour. Gabriel threatening Sex Ed for them all, the Gritty Kitty phrase, John’s horror at having Brenna know about it. It was humour within a serious issue and one so sadly ignored often. I’ve read thousands of books, and this is only the second time I’ve heard dental dams mentioned….its a very important topic.
Its a story full of vitality, shows what a support good friends are, and of course I loved seeing the gang again, ( Whip and Brenna, that mystery really tweaks at me, it gets hinted at more and more and I so hope we find out soon). It was great seeing the softer side of Gabriel, baby Felix, Killian’s pets, all the little everyday fun parts that lifted this book. Of course there’s a good deal of steam here, the sexual tension between them can be felt right from the Mint Ice-cream Incident. ( You may take my Oreos but you’ll never get my mint choc chip) They’re not down and dirty straight off though, but a gradual simmering build up, so that when they do finally get there its incredible, shocks them both just how good they are together. I like that, books which have MCs in bed within the first few pages sometimes work, but more often have me skipping pages and chunks of text, bored with the repetitive sex scenes. Here that didn’t happen, everything was so perfectly paced.
Johns past and current issues are so serious, but though they guide the direction of the book they don’t make it dull, sad reading, but just give a balance to it, make the characters feel more real. I can imagine these people, their actions, mistakes, words, feel so genuine.
That kind of thing makes a book work for me. Intelligent characters, not grunting, monosyllabic alpha males, ladies that are inspiring, work hard to overcome difficult circumstances, not just flutter eyelids at said Alpha males and expect to be taken care of.
Stella, she really was a star, a fabulous character. She was the perfect foil to John, they were each what the other needed, someone each could depend on, not someone watching John’s every move expecting him to regress, but a friends, someone who saw beyond his issues, and she didn’t need him to support her financially, she’d do that herself, but to just Be there when she needed someone, though it took a while before he could believe in himself enough to be that man.
It really is a fabulous series, and for me on a par with the fabulous Kylie Scott and the Stage Dive guys and ladies.
Stars: Its a five, as are all three books for me. A welcome rock star read that has intelligent characters.
Fight or Flight, Samantha Young
Well, I’ve read lots of Samantha’s stories now, On Dublin Street is still my favourite, she does the Scot guys so well. Usually. This one, Caleb, well, he’s a shallow jerk. I was infuriated at his arrogance, his lack of manners, his overall high handed, judgmental self. I almost stopped reading, he was so obnoxious.
Luckily Ava kept me going….I loved Ava, she seemed like a typical “blonde” stereotype, pretty, always well dressed, full make-up, perfect hair, and yet she’s so much more. Awful parents, betrayed by her two childhood best friends, yet she’s got herself a good job, her own home, and a few good friends. Harper, her best friend, is wonderful and I hope we see more of her in a later book. There seems to be an opening later in the book with someone….
So, I ploughed on and slowly began to understand Caleb, but though he has a past that made me understand why she initially judged Ava, he’s human, we all fail and make mistake, he seems to continue to judge her in little ways even when he knows her better.
I did warm to him but I can’t say he’s my favorite person in Sam’s writing. I enjoyed the story but again its not one to really tug at the heart, I felt sad about what had happened to Ava, was sad for Harp when things went wrong for her but it didn’t have the huge drama I’ve come to expect from Sam. Having said that when things did go wrong it was really well done, drawn out over a period of time, lots of angst and wondering, lots of will they make it through ( yes, I know they will but I still need to feel as if the possibility is there that they won’t). so many books wrap the break-up and getting back in just 2 or 3 pages and for me that just doesn’t cut it. I want my characters to really feel devastated, to really hit the bottom and here both Ava and Caleb do. Ava is so brave when she faces her fears and tells Caleb how she feels, and then gets That reaction, but by now I understood Caleb more and it made me angry but not as furious as it would when I started the book. Even Ava understands why he has that reaction, but she’s grown so much in confidence, she’s heartbroken but knows that its not her fault, compared to how guilty she felt over Nick and Gem.
Some reviews mention the Scots accent. I hate written dialects for just this reason, done badly they can ruin a novel. I’ve seen too many Doona, dinna, nay lassie, och the noo etc….and so often they use language that would have been common a couple of centuries back but now, no way. I’m from Norfolk (UK) and we know that when a TV series features folk from here they all speak in some kind of generic Summerzet accent.
If I’m reading a novel and I don’t notice the accent, except that it reinforces a characters background, then I know the author has it right. Sam’s a Scot, she does that accent well in her writing IMO, it adds to and not detracts from the story.
I’m finding it hard here to put a rating, it started badly for me, but the drama of the ending really was perfect.
I still think the actual story holding things together was a bit flimsy, I felt it wasn’t really strong enough to hold the whole novel. Maybe if we[‘d seen it a bit more in a past time-frame, from Ava’s POV it would have more impact, but I felt for her but with the “ horrible folk, awful thing to do but move on now Ava”, rather than being so upset I understood why it coloured her life so much. Sometimes it is tiny things from the past that impact on us, but we need to see just how awful an effect those words or actions were to understand properly.
Stars: Well, hmmnnn…tough one. I think its going to have to be a three, not my favourite of Sam’s books.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Lawbreaker, Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion
Genre:, New Adult , Romance
I got caught out by this book, I’ve loved every other one in both series, adore the characters and usually get quickly sucked into the story and settings. This time though it didn’t work like that.
It started well, that antagonistic confrontation, that stand off, battle of wills between Ben and Shay promised so much. After that though I just felt a bit lost, not really convinced by the story that was unfolding in front of me. Somehow it seemed to be more about what wasn’t said than what was, that I needed to read between the plot lines, and I just felt I was drifting through the story confused.
It was great to catch up with the earlier characters, and see how their lives were progressing. I loved Ben, full on but not afraid to say when he’s wrong. I wanted so much to like Shay, I felt so sad for her, so sorry that she had a childhood like that. I just didn’t feel her story was plausible though, to be a runaway at such a young age, and in truth I admired her but didn’t really like her.
Once we got on to the big con, well, I was lost, hadn’t a clue how they did it, even the why was a bit out of reach. Was it really a good thing, the right thing? How could they be sure they had the right people? I couldn’t really see that working out in real life, couldn’t see hacking skills getting into that kind of security, and along with Shay’s implausible teen years I felt this book was just a story that wasn’t right for me. I’m sure others will love it, I was shocked that I didn’t , given how much I’ve enjoyed the others in the series.
Stars: Three, parts I really enjoyed, but as a whole it wasn’t a book that worked for me.
ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers
Pushing Arlo M.V. Ellis
I’ve just read back my reviews of parts one and two of this series, and what stands out is I love Arlo, he’s thoughtless with Marnie, selfish at times, very focused when it comes to music and business, and thinks he’s always right. There’s no room for doubt in his life. Then he meets London…
London. I felt for her in book one, she had a tough backstory, and was one of those work through it folk, determined to get there however hard it was. Arlo was a wrench in her plans, and she so annoyed me on books one and two with her back and forth feelings. Poor Arlo must have had whiplash.
Finally they’re on the cusp of agreement, finally Arlo has broken through London’s tough barriers, and then – the proverbial sh it hits the fan and its back to basics, actually worse than that, Arlo really does have a fight on his hands if he wants London.
I got really annoyed at her in this book. She holds Arlo to blame for events that happened before they met, clinging to this idea he’s in control of his fame, she wants him but not the notoriety he brings. She’s kidding herself though, he’s falling over backwards to do his best, but he can’t change the past, and Fame – well, that’s part of who he is, what makes him the man she loves and I was so angry at her knee jerk reactions. Well, I guess to begin I understood, it was a shock, but she holds onto anger like some kind of puritan. I just kept thinking “hasn’t she ever done things she regrets? Is she really going to throw everything away – or threaten to anyway – yet again” There’s only so many times someone can say sorry, try to make things better and Arlo really was a saint here IMO. London behaves in a really callous way a couple of times here and I so felt for Arlo. Usually I’d be the other way, all for the girl, angry at the heart-breaker rocker, but he’s really trying his best and he just gets rammed back every time. Gah, was I annoyed at the woman. Arlo must feel dealing with her is like walking on eggshells.
I really struggled at times with how Arlo felt about her because she was so horrible to him, judgmental, callous, blaming him for his fame, when she’s known all along who he is…
Stars: Four. I think London’s attitude is one of the things that stopped this being a five star for me. The other is the lack of real band connection, the touring, the mayhem, the groupies, the concerts. All those make a rock star book special and TBH Arlo could be any rich famous guy here, as all those trappings were missing. Overall though its been an exciting trio, and Arlo was just perfect.
ARC supplied by Author
Cold, Hard & Heartless, M.V. Ellis
well, in book one it was London’s looonng metal monologues that I found off-putting and now its Arlo’s….that’s just me though, its a niggle that I find irritating, but that others may be indifferent to or even enjoy. I do enjoy a bit of introspection, it lets me feel and understand a characters actions, work out why they do things a certain way. From the outside Arlo could look like a man-whore jerk, but from his thoughts I can see he’s more. I loved him in book one, and I’m glad I read that first as he doesn’t seem quite a likable here, somehow his actions come across as very selfish here, certainly his past with Marnie, even when Luke warns him he’s being a jerk and unfair, whereas I don’t remember feeling that way in book one.
This story really just covers the ground of book one, but from Arlo’s POV, there’s nothing I noticed that was new there, and I think if the two books had been combined into one it would have worked better for me. Maybe one of those alternating POV stories? So that though I’d be reading stuff I knew already it would still be fresh, and I could meld each POV and see the actions from both sides as it happens.
I love the way he realised he was in love with London, though somehow although the period was covering several weeks/months somehow that didn’t translate as well as in book one. It felt they went from meeting and the chaos of that to a kiss, then nothing until suddenly its weeks later and he’s planning how to continue with her in his life. It feels like there’s a gap in the middle were she keeps house but they don’t seem to interact much, and then he’s In Love…..
Book three should be interesting, hopefully they’ll be a bit more action as they’re on tour. I hope 😉 I love Tour books, with all the mayhem, bustle, music, traveling, groupies and chaos they bring. It would be good to get to know the other band members too.
Stars: Three and a half, didn’t quite like it as much as book one but it is a good read, though quite short. Melded together, so I got both sides at the same time they would have made a perfect five star, single book for me.
ARC supplied by Author
Lightning Boy, (A Taboo Love Story 2), Amy J. Heart
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance
So I’d read the prequel and really enjoyed that, an brief insight into L’s background, and heartbreaking in that what happens to him happens to so many kids. I was keen to read this story and see what transpired for him and Eden.
Eden, Eden, what an amazing girl. She’s young in years yet through her life experiences she old too. Yet not jaded, still believes there’s a way out, still believes she can get her happy. Then she meets L. Its not an auspicious meeting, she’s on one her her awful jobs for dirty ex cop Coop, being watched, voyeur style by three creepy guys and L, well he’s Angry, Seriously Angry. Its clear he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t want to be with her, and I kept wondering why he was there, it clearly wasn’t money motivation him.
Eden was tasked with what seemed impossible, make L want her, the wrong sex to turn him on so Coop and the others think, convinced he’s gay. It takes a turn none of them expect when she tries gentling L, and he, shocked that its the girl he saw years before, lets him.
In short-story-land that would be it, but here its like real life, forward one step and back two. There’s a long way for them both to go yet.
L is confused, he’d convinced himself sex could only be via pain and hurt with men, keeping his emotions back, just going with strong control, giving pain and abuse, and getting that brief physical release. I so felt for him, he’s still young and yet been through so much. I love how he got his nickname, its so perfect, he owns what he’s doing by that, sticks it to his abusers by his actions.
Could he make things work with Eden? Would he try?
For a while its back and forth with him being a complete jerk in between torrid, sensual encounters with her.
Coop, dirty ex cop Cop. How many lost kids are caught by guys like him, how many guys a( and ladies) are like him too I wonder – too many I guess. I really wanted to know what he held over them both.
I was a little bewildered by Eden’s reasons, wanting her farm back didn’t really seem strong enough to do what she was to me. But then the farm held a special significance to her, a memory of happier times and maybe getting it back was a kind of lifeline to her.
Sex: yep, there’s a lot here, and some of it is violent, abusive, what was done to him and by him by other men, and yet the tender moments with Eden balance it , keep the book firmly in Romance Land.
Great characters, and hurray, a bit more of the wonderful Ariana, oh I want to be her! I was gripped by the story, alternated between feeling so sad for L and then berating him for being a jerk to Eden. She was so patient, so incredibly careful of him, so forgiving, I really felt their connection was meant to be, transcended ordinary love. L too, I so felt for him, that sad kid, taken from happy to horror to nightmare. No wonder he was such a jerk, only way to protect himself.
And Coop, a man I loved to hate. Oh I love it when authors create characters like that, bad through and through, pulling the strings of others, such a contrast from all the sweet and cute, strong but lovable people. We need these bad characters too to keep things interesting!
Its all put together so well, drawing the reader in, bringing us down, lifting up and then crashing again. I went through so many cycles reading it. Will things work out for them? How? What about Coop? How will they get away from him? What about the hold he has on L? I had so many metal questions while reading and at times felt I was racing through to find answers….I’m not known for patience.
I’d have liked it to be just a little longer, there’s an awful lot happens in a short space at the end of the book. A perfect wrap up but could have done with being spread out just a little more IMO. Its intense and a lot to take in, but of course that’s just my feelings. I need a HEA in romance, and this was perfect.
I’ve read too many “romance” novels recently where the only romance is in the last tow chapters and the HEA doesn’t exist expect in some future with maybe someone else. That’s not what I want, I need these characters I’ve come to love to get what I think they deserve.
Stars: Five, A great read, and now my occasional misunderstandings and confusion in the first book don’t mean so much, I can understand more the reasons its written the way it was.
This story, especially when both books read together, really pulls at heartstrings, and is incredibly emotional.
ARC supplied by author