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Royal Affair, Parker Swift

Royal Affair,  Parker Swift

Royal Affair (Royal Scandal Book 1) by [Swift, Parker]

Genre:  romance, erotica

So, a debut book I think, can’t find any more by Parker anyway.
Its always a gamble not knowing what writing style you’ll get in a debut book, could be perfect for you or could be something you hate – I got lucky here, I love it.
Actually I’ve had several really good, well written and fun debut reads this year.

Inevitably this will get Fifty comparison. That trilogy has spawned so many others, some good, but far too many more that are really dire IMO.
Reading is subjective, and everyone wants different things. When I read an erotic romance I want sensuality, heat, and steamy sex but I need the  simmering tensions and dramas that make up the balance for me and a read I can enjoy. royal does that.
In fact rather than Fifty it reminded me much more of another favourite, Pippa Croft’s Oxford Blue trilogy. Both feature US females, UK titled males, and have a perfect for me balance of sex to story.
That’s really important, for me too much sex is just off-putting, I want story first backed up by the steamy parts, not dominated by them.

I’m pleased too that plans are for the next two books to be released fairly soon, later this year. I really, really hate waiting for further parts of a story.
I hate the trend into splitting romances up, they used to be either stand alone, or a series such as fantasy paranormals reads, but after Fifty though its all trilogies, some with very long gaps between releases, some that turn trilogies into five book series 😦 ( As the Crossfire one did. I got the “final” release delivered to my kindle after pre ordering, to find I needed to buy two more, unspecified price and date – returned it and gave up on that one. In my opinion its taking readers for a ride, abusing them)

Anyway, having got that off my chest more about this book.
I really really liked the story. Lots of steam, well written and fun, some proper dramas, perfect storylines, it all felt very real. I loved the UK setting, as a UK resident, though I think maybe we’re less hung up on titles than US readers 😉
It is an odd world though, duty and tradition do still reign in so many titled families, so Dylan’s family pressures didn’t feel wrong.
He’s an intelligent, successful man in his own right, has turned his life around but parental/family pressure is hard, and add on the media invasions….Yep, sadly the UK press laps up every little bit of “news” that helps them sell papers. Truth doesn’t really matter to them so long as they’re first to break a story, and they’ll go to scurrilous lengths, legalities get cast aside, anything to crack that first bit of news, without any thought for their actions on the people concerned.
Yep – you can tell what I think of UK media outlets, papers, TV, magazines – they’re all awful, and I don’t buy papers or magazines and only read news online where I can stay away from, the stuff that hurts people involved. That part of the story added real authenticity though, as a UK reader I can confirm its horribly true.

I loved Dylan and Lydia, they were perfect together, and the secondary  characters, Lydia’s best friend, her work colleagues and boss, Dylan’s family and friends all felt genuine. I need that, need to feel people and situations could be real or I just don’t enjoy it. I really want things to work out for them as characters I like, but of course as a story I really want fireworks along the way!! Lots of in depth, solid drama, blocks that seem imsurmountable, the stuff that makes me feel emotional for them.

There were some partsthat niggled me, but thankfully only cropped up in the early pages….Chapter 2, loc 178, she claps eyes on him and instantly is rambling on about the wonders of his hair, how she imagines running her hands through it, then a couple of paragraphs later she’s looking at his hands, imagining them grabbing her hair, holding her…I thought it was going to turn into one of those novels where the girl had wet knickers every time she looks at him, but I was wrong. Thankfully. I always think that must be horribly uncomfortable 😉

So its a great start, fun but solid story, sexy without being OTT, plenty of potential dramas and I’m looking forward to more.
Bonus points too for avoiding the – to me – dreaded cliff-hanger. I HATE  those, fiercely hate them, and I know many other readers do too. In fact I rarely buy romance trilogies until all parts are released (see my earlier rant…) so I can read straight through – far better experience for me that way.
This time we’ve a proper ending, but a sneaky set up for book two promising some fireworks without leaving the readers hanging in limbo.

Stars: Five, a fabulous start to the trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

For 100 Nights, A 100 Series Novel, Lara Adrian. Breaking The Girl, by M.C. Webb

For 100 Nights, A 100 Series Novel,  Lara Adrian

For 100 Nights: A 100 Series Novel by [Adrian, Lara]

Genre:  romance, General Fiction (adult)

Well, I looked back to my review of book one on getting this – as usual its quite a time and many, many other stories since I read that. I couldn’t remember the minor details, just the very basic facts.
That’s the main reason I prefer to read trilogies/duos etc back-to-back, so the story stays fresh in my mind. It just loses impact for me when its months or more between parts.

So, moan over, what about this part? Well, I loved it once more.
Once the story started filtering back into my brain I was able to pick up connections, though possibly missed some – I’ve found with trilogies that when I do a back-to-back read there’s always things I’d missed, little hints and snippets that I passed over unnoticed.

Avery, I really like her but…sometimes I get irritated when she takes the least logical course of action. She has to, to let the plots advance that way they do but there are times when I feel an action could have been written differently, so as to make her not such a berk…to not let her do things I feel she wouldn’t have.
I do like the art snippets – as an artist myself I appreciate seeing just how hard it is to get work seen and sold. So many books make someone pick up a brush, and from that first picture they get fame and fortune really quickly. real life isn’t like that, there’s many, many artists like me who have a shed full of unsold paintings 😉
And the food…mmmm….got my mouth watering! Food scenes can be very raunchy and erotic and thats shown well here.
I love the way her secrets finally came out in part one, but got the feeling – especially after that ending – that there’s more to come. And there is, something huge, though looking back perhaps not quite so unexpected…

Dominic, another rich, I-don’t-do-commitment guy. Seems the romance genre is full of those, and usually they fall in the end. Will Nick though or can he hold out?
Looking at his past he’s cut loose as soon as there’s any kind of real emotion hits a relationship. Will he do it this time, or does he feel more for Avery? Its clear she’s in love with him, and she’s told him so, and thats been the thanks for a good time, and on-your-way message from him before. She’s still here though.

Its a great story, more secrets from both characters coming out, lots of searing sensual sex, and a solid plotline backing it.
Regular readers of my reviews will know that’s a must-have for me, sex without story is just boring, bland, dull. I know there are a couple of books made up purely of sex scenes from different books – to me they’re pointless, and I just can’t see why they sell so well – takes all sorts though 😉

I’d kind of half guessed at one of the secrets, but not the whole thing, and that played out very well. Katherine is here again, and I actually managed to feel sorry for her, when after book one I really disliked her. I still don’t actually like her, but can understand her a little better now.

The ending – wow – didn’t see that coming, and gah…cliff-hanger. Hate those, but fingers crossed next book due out very soon. Its middle of Feb now and it’s due this spring so on the way I hope!

Stars: Five, another hot and sensual instalment with lots of surprises and story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Breaking The Girl, by M.C. Webb

Breaking the Girl by [Webb, M.C.]

Genre:  romance,General Fiction

A new-to-me author so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the premise sounded interesting. What does happen when a porn star gets tired of his/her work? Why do people get into this line anyway?What happens when they fall in love?

So, I was looking forward to what would unfold, but sadly this book was a huge fail for me.
I found the characters flat and dull, and the situations veered from boring and bland to start, then going from ludicrous to simply unbelievable. As usual though what doesn’t work for me is just what makes a story perfect for others, and this book has lots of 5star reviews. I’ve often bought books that garner one and two star reviews as what others hate is just what I love. Its all down to that personal choice issue, just because I don’t like it doesn’t mean that You won’t.

At the start we learn Payton was homeless when picked up, desperate and I understood why she’d maybe go for something like this. She’s naive, gullible, but it was too hard to take that this innocent, untouched, precious girl would see Axel and fall in love, right from the off. She’s seen some of his vids and “jumped at the chance” Really? Reluctance as its her last option I can understand, but being excited at having sex with a porn star, being trained for porn films? I thought it was the money she wanted, but she seems to want the experience too, even looking forward to it. She says she can’t wait to get close up to certain parts of him..She talks about him as if she knows him, and yet she’s just seen his vids ( not sure where when she was homeless, don’t expect shelters go in for pay per view porn 😉 and doesn’t actually know him. She’s no idea what kind of person he is, kind or cruel, helpful or grasping, caring or just ready to beat her into shape. He could have been more like Travis, a sadistic, cruel, sex fiend.

Axel sees her and says she’s got “full, not-too-big breasts on an hour glass figure”. Fair enough so why does he then say in the next sentence that she’s long and lean, but a bit on the thin side?
Still, he’s being paid good money so back to his place they go. Its downhill from then on for me basically, nothing much happens really, they’re in his home, talking about sex and porn, why, how and when…and then bam – and its all action, violence and a totally unbelievable last third. No way to explain to the Law – which his friend Reece is part of – what went on, and as the story continued it just lost what little credibility remained for me.

** Warning: there’s a pretty nasty rape scene towards the end (not Axel) Those who’re affected by such scenes may wanr to avoid that **

This is probably one of the harshest reviews I’ve ever written and I hate doing that, authors work hard on a story, and bad reviews must hurt, but if reviewers aren’t honest about how they feel then reviews become pointless. Two stars from me simply means that I personally didn’t like it, NOT that its a bad book. No-one can make that decision, only how we feel as individuals.

I’ve not read other books of Ms Webb, and maybe they are great, they do seem to be a different genre, and perhaps I’d love them but just not this one. who knows?
I can see on Goodreads that there are some 5* love it reviews, so I felt I had to put in full all the things I really didn’t like about it for balance.
Ultimately its up to each reader to make their own choice, maybe the things that irritated me here you won’t bother about and can ignore.
I’ve loved some stories others have one and two starred, that illustrates just how subjective reading choice is, though I hated this you may love it for all the reasons I don’t.

Stars: Two, sadly I just did not get along with this story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dirty Like Me, A Dirty Rockstar Romance, (Dirty – Book 1), Jaine Diamond

Dirty Like Me, A Dirty Rockstar Romance, (Dirty – Book 1),  Jaine Diamond

Dirty Like Me: A Dirty Rockstar Romance (Dirty, Book 1) by [Diamond, Jaine]

Genre:  romance,

Well, I love rock star romance, and am always looking for new reads. KU has hundreds – sadly most are meh, varying from awful, dire, copycat reads, with a few decent-ish reads and the occasional gem tucked in, so I wasn’t really expecting much from this.
The beauty of KU though is that once you’ve paid your fee its a free way to try out lots of new to you authors – and some that are simply completely new as Jaine is. She’s two books, the other isn’t really one for me but this was a good fun read.

So, Katie, I liked her, loved the way she got plunged into the video by default almost and under the eye of Jesse Mayes.
So its stretching credulity – but its fiction and sometimes truth is odd, things like this do happen.
Its written in a very real way with all the questions readers have answered, not left hanging in the wind. Reading it you’re never thinking “how did she get there/why did /what about/ when will???”. Stuff like that, plots that get started and fizzle out of just left hanging really annoy me and are seen in so many Rock star reads I’ve found.
So she’s on tour with Jesse, determined to take the money and enjoy the six weeks, having got his word that if she doesn’t want to sex isn’t part of their agreement, and she thinks she can hold out despite the sparking sensual attraction each time their together. Of course the inevitable happens, and hearts just aren’t made to stand up to such feelings. We think we’re in control and we are…til we aren’t.

I love that Katie thinks about taking the money, thinks about the impact it will have on her life, whether she can fulfil what Jesse wants, act like the devoted girlfriend while keeping her heart free. She doesn’t just think “yay, lots of dosh” and throw herself in but searches her conscience, talks to her friend about what she should do. She loves her art but after a huge setback she just has student debts and has lost her mojo. Maybe this money will allow her to resume her love for her art.

Jesse is gorgeous, and he’s loyal too, to his friends, to his family and to his band, old and new. He’s a very genuine person, and I just couldn’t help but like him. He wants the best for everyone, not just fame for himslef, but to bring his music out to aothers, to provide jobs to the people who make it happen, to have fun with both bands, to deliver what he feels the fans deserve. He hasn’t let the fame go to his head, isn’t one of those I Am God types…

I really wanted a little jealousy from the females towards Katie, there’s a few minor incidents but a book such as this is made perfect for me by a nice meddling bitch 😉 Still, its an unexpected gem of a read, almost a five star for me and I’m hoping for more from the band soon, maybe I’ll get my jealous bitch then!

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, and a terrific start for Jaine’s writing career IMO.

Saints of Denver (3), Riveted, Crownover, Jay

Saints of Denver (3), Riveted,  Crownover, Jay

Riveted (Saints of Denver, Book 3) by [Crownover, Jay]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve read quite a few of Jay’s novels now, some I love, some are still good but not quite such a hit with me. Riveted falls into that category, and its really difficult to pinpoint why.

I love the characters, the settings, the realism of it all. There is irrational bigotry around, those who see skin colour and not the person, and when that happens to Dash and his brother  it felt so very genuine. I’m naturally fairly dark-skinned/tanned looking, though English through and through, and used to get bullied at school back in the sixties for my appearance, so I understand that affects people though I only had a small taster.
Its sad but a fact of life, people that are in any way different get picked on by ignorant bullies.

Poor Dash, what a tragic background and I kind of understood why he joined the Army as a teen, and how the awful things he’s seen since affected him. I still wasn’t quite convinced though of his reasons for a) not going home and b) feeling he wasn’t good enough for Dixie, that something would happen to her. Thank goodness that girl has some real sticking power!

Dixie – well, we need more like her in the world. she’s everyone’s friend, works hard, always has something nice to say, and always there ready to help.
She’s like a Pollyanna type but without the cringing sweetness, there’s something real about Dixie, something that makes her beautiful in spirit without feeling sickly sweet.

The sexual tension between those two – off the wall, and wow when Dixie finally wore him down – or maybe it was just that he stopped telling himself he wasn’t good enough, sparks flew.
They’re perfect together, but that HEA has a few barriers on the way.

There’s some terrific secondary characters here too, who really caught my eye. Its a lovely story, a beautiful romance, with genuine feeling people and places. I could feel the sunshine, and here on a murky February morning in the UK just remembering that feel cheers me up.
Given all that why haven’t I gone for five stars? Well, its hard to say, I did enjoy it but…sometimes I found myself drifting, not concentrating on the story, and other times I just had to put it aside for a while, and that doesn’t happen with five star reads. I just can’t work out exactly why though.
It’s clear its a five star read for many and that’s great to see. I just wish it had been that for me, but it fell marginally short.

Stars: Four and a half, just short of the magic five, maybe if I’d read all the former stories it would have hit that? Who knows?

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Retribution, Shana Figueroa

Retribution,  Shana Figueroa

Retribution (Valentine Shepherd Book 2) by [Figueroa, Shana]

Genre:  romance,

This is classed as Romance by genre but it’s also paranormal and fantasy as both Val and Max have visions of the future, and have found there are others like them, with a group known as Alpha seeking to control them.
Somehow I missed book one of this trilogy, but read the amazon sample, which gave me enough to understand the characters, and most important, their visions and the Alpha group, who seem to have far reaching tentacles.

In Vengeance they went through a harsh time, got close, came together and then parted. Val felt Max deserved more, someone better than her, that being together would give in to the Alpha group who want them to have a child so they can take and control it….she wanted him to be happy, and it seems like he is, he’s to be married in two months to Abby.
All is not how it seems though, Max is trying to have a normal life, but however hard he tries he can’t forget Val and what they had, can’t let go of his anger that she wouldn’t fight for them.
Abby seems to know something is wrong but is taking an ostrich approach, ignore issues and all will come right – except they don’t. Max is abusing medication to deal with his issues, and hiding it, telling himself he’ll stop soon.
Even though I missed book one I can still feel that Max and Val belong together, there’s a pull whenever they meet, a feeling that they are two halves of a whole, something that’s missing when he’s with Abby or Val with Sten, her Ex, currently not a friend but not a total enemy either.

Val gets a new case for her and PI partner Stacey. A local young lady, Margaret, has gone missing. As soon as her mum shows Val a picture she recognises her from a recent vision, murdered and washed up on a local beach. She knows it hasn’t happened yet but there’s only a short window before it does, so she needs to move fast. She does a bit of enquiring and finds she needs to attend a rich mans secret club, and calls on Max to help her get entry.
Abby isn’t happy to find out Max met with Val when she asked for his help, but he tells her Val just wanted money, and as usual she turns a blind eye to anything else.
Of course being Max he checks things out first and that brings him into real danger again.

I’m not sure about Abby, whether she really loves Max, or just wants the position as his wife, and the prestige. She comes from a wealthy family so doesn’t seem like its money, but she just seems blind to the turmoil and unhappiness Max is in. Maybe he just hides it well, maybe she just doesn’t know him well enough?
Val of course thinks he’s found the nirvana she hoped he would but can’t help being jealous, wishing he was still with her, she still loves him. Meanwhile she’s in an odd sort of sex only relationship with Sten, a crooked cop who may be working for the people who want to control Max and Val. Strange eh?
Many of the characters in this book all seem to have weird connections, Val was in a relationship with Stacey for a while in their youth, before deciding she preferred men, though Stacey is still into women, and Max hasn’t told Abby he’s been with a man before.
There’s lots of quirks like this is the book, so you can never guess just quite what’s going to happen, with whom, what will come out about the past, and where the story is going next.
People have the oddest of connections, and they key players here have more than one between them.

Its a tough and gritty read at times, sex without love, without Like even at times, people dying who are integral to the story I thought, and then they’re gone. Shana isn’t afraid to kill off people, so even the “good” guys die here.
Its a scary read, the lust for power is a very human thing and its what makes books like this so realistic, there are people who will happily do anything to be at the top, to have control.

I enjoyed the way the story played out, the twists and turns, the weaving together people who seemed not to have a connection and then….
There’s lots of dangers to almost all the major characters, and Val’s visions of both her and Max keep having different endings, though sadly ultimately not happy ones, and she wonders how she is affecting the future. She’s unsure if it is possible to change bad events to happy ones, especially the ones involving her and Max. She can’t sit back and do nothing though, and once more she and Max are involved in a dangerous scenario, risking their lives.
.
Stars: Five, a great read, and sometime I want to read book one, but for now am waiting 🙂 for the final part!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hard Rhythm, Cecilia Tan

Hard Rhythm,  Cecilia Tan

Hard Rhythm (Secrets of a Rock Star) by [Tan, Cecilia]

Genre:   Erotica

I’ve liked a few of Cecilia’s stories and looked forward to this one especially and its got my favourite band trope connection! Its a hot and sensual novel, and one I enjoyed reading.
I was a little puzzled at first, it seemed as if I should know more about certain characters, events and places and then about 25% I decided to check and …yes, this is the third in a series and I’d missed the first two.
That would have made things clearer, I enjoyed and could follow the story without reading those early ones, but I think it’s more likely to have been a five star read for me if I’d read them first.
Still it’s a good read and didn’t “lose” me with details, just would have been easier to pick up some incidents and see their relevance earlier.

I liked the characters, we’re mainly with Maddie and Chino but what we see of the others is promising, some from earlier books and maybe some in the future ones?
Maddie’s been and done it all it seems, and she feels kind of jaded about everything, nothings really exiting her now, really enticing her to take part, and  then Chino makes his move.
There’s been a subtle undercurrent between them for months, nothing you could really point to, no obvious tensions, but its clear they both are strongly attracted to each other. Maddie thinks its a one night only and she’s happy with that, she’s been wanting him for a while and they have a great time, but that one night stretches and soon they’re in a solid sensual relationship.

I loved Maddie’s sex toy blog, and the way Chino was so enthusiastically helping her with it 😉
I liked Maddie, she’s one of those people who project confidence and self security even when she’s struggling inside. She’s worked hard to get where she is even without parental backing, and she’s not actually upfront about what it is she does to them. Understandable, not everyone can accept that kind of life and job.

Chino and the band connection…well, that was it for Band trope stuff, that he was in a band and the novel includes his band-mates. There’s no huge band dramas, no touring life-on-the-road stuff, just that they are band members. A little disappointing for me in truth, but it was still a good read.
I loved his backstory, can see that as so true, there are people like his deeply religious family, who see his lifestyle as wrong. The resulting parts of that section of the story surprised me! And I do like to be caught out, to get a touch of the unexpected even when its not part of the main plot.
I loved Chino himself, the thought he put into sex, the way he planned hard, organised what he wanted rather than just leaving it to chance, the way he played Maddie, knew what she wanted, needed, even when she didn’t realise it.
They may not have been together long, but he’d been watching her and planning long before they got together.
I did love his stance on p-i-v sex, that there are alternatives, that waiting can make it special. That was a treat to read when so many stories have the male balls deep by page five it seems. It makes me thing what can come next when they’ve reached the main part so quickly.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable read, and I think if I’d read books one and two then this may have been a five for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Special pre-release price 99p, Million Baller Baby, (Bad Boy Ballers 1), Rie Warren

I’ve not read this yet, but just been notified its on a pre-release special price of 99p. Rie’s reads are always hot and steamy and have a strong thread of sharp humour running through, with a solid story backing up all that heat. Regular readers of my reviews will know that’s Essential for me, sex without a decent story is just Meh, and Rie’s books are never that 😉
If you enjoy hot and steamy reads, solid stories, realistic characters and sports romance take a look and grab it now while price is still low.

Click either image for amazon link

Million Baller Baby, (Bad Boy Ballers 1),  Rie Warren

million-baller-baby-teaser-2-rie-warren

She’s NFL royalty. He’s the star quarterback of a tanking team. When she takes ownership, balls will roll . . . and the truth will out.

Rafe Macintyre—the rocket-armed Carolina Crush quarterback—has nothing to lose and everything to prove. All because of one woman . . . Miss Peyton Fox. When the tough-as-nails chick takes over as team owner, Rafe is ready to turn the epic-fail season into a Super Bowl championship. But the winning has to start with Peyton’s love.

No stranger to playas on and off the field, Peyton Fox is born and bred NFL royalty. Been there, done him, and called the plays even before she took up the Carolina Crush crown. She has zero time for a love life and even less time for games unless they happen between the endzones. Unfortunately, Rafe Macintyre has one hell of an arm, and he’s full of hot southern charm. He’s not too bad to drool over either, but it’s been five years since she tangled with him—a mistake she doesn’t plan on repeating.

The consequences of one night of rebellion will last a lifetime. It’s all fun and games until someone gets knocked up

million-baller-baby-teaser-1-rie-warren

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir, J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate, (The Dark Choir 3), Book THREE of The Dark Choir,  J.P. Sloan

The Curse Mandate (The Dark Choir Book 3) by [Sloan, J.P.]

Genre:  Horror, Sci-fi and fantasy

Currently on KU

I NEVER read horror, and if I’d seen that I wouldn’t have come to this series. Its not a gory, blood-fest read though, and for me the horror is more of the “could this happen” type and I can deal with that. I really enjoyed books one and two, and was keen to get on to this.

Poor Dorian, you really can’t help but like him. He’s a very moral person in so many ways, just wants to live his life, earn a living and have fun, but he’s a magnet for trouble and sometimes his sense of morality leads him to tread very close to the permitted lines in magic.
He’s still searching for his soul, lost in book one, well – more he was tricked out of it than he lost it. Once more his need to help others got him into danger.
Alongside that though he’s got other problems, he’s got a new pupil, her brother needs help as he’s been cursed, there’s some wierd Chaos magic targeting people and places, and he’s trying to get to the root of that, trying to stop more people being hurt, and on top of that he’s a bar to run as part owner! Just another day for Dorian then..He feels like he’s always trying to catch up, and the next huge crisis is just aroubnd the corner.

As before the story is packed with magical terms, spells, curses, hexes and explanations of how different historic (genuine – they did/do exist) factions fit into this story. He’s an amazing man with incredible knowledge of his craft and its history, and I found myself constantly flicking the paperwhite Look-up function 🙂
The fact there is so much of this book based on genuine societies gives it a very realistic feel.
I love the detective (Hunter?), assigned to help him, a sceptic who by the end had changed his tune and looks to become a future ally.
One issue I did have is the cast of characters has grown huge, and I found it hard to recall who connected where, why, to which group, which section of magic they practiced or whether they were of the innocent of magic group, normal humans who’ve no idea what really goes on in their world. Lots of backtracking for me, and I’d have appreciated an index to keep them straight.

As always the plots are fast and furious, Dorian is racing against time, chasing clues and help, trying to sort out who are the good guys and what the others are up to, and still trying to help his friends and track down his soul.
There some really sad parts here too, both in his personal life and for me having grown fond of a certain person 😦 but sometimes that just makes it all the more real, when the unexpected happens, when the good guys don’t always come out on top.

Its a great read once more and the reason its four and not five is that I spent so long looking back at who did what, and how they fitted in to the story, plus checking out the many different terms and groups that it affected the flow of the story.
Actually that’s a bit unfair to drop a whole star, maybe just a half, as the idea and plots are excellent.
I loved the way the little side issues ended connected to the larger picture, and the detailed explanations of what the curses and spells could do, how they were constructed and at what cost. I enjoyed being completely off course in who was behind things, I like the unpredictable!

Stars: Four and a half, another action packed adventure, spell binding (!) saga, full of  power filled plots.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Bend in the Willow, Susan Clayton-Goldner, Flawed, Tracy Wolff

A Bend in the Willow,  Susan Clayton-Goldner

A Bend in the Willow by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

Genre:  General Fiction

I’d not read any of Susan’s books before but this sounded intriguing.
I love romance reads, been finding concentration difficult this year so light ones have been the mainstay. Sometimes I want something that’s got a bit more depth to it, and I’ll go outside my usual zone into one like this, a non romance or ones with just a touch of it.
I wouldn’t want to read books like this exclusively, but love to mix and match reads to my moods.

So, I loved this story, loved the way it slowly built up, that it was clear Catherine was holding back a huge secret, loved the way we only found out snippets as the story unfolded.
Then things went really wrong, a huge crisis came and she was forced to reveal all, well part anyway, she was prepared to tell Ben everything but…. He was so shocked – well, who wouldn’t be – and his reaction was just what Catherine had feared.

She had to go back to her past, to reveal who she is to people who don’t know what happened to her, but she needs the help of her family to see if one of them can be a donor to Michael.
That means telling people who haven’t seen her for twenty years, who didn’t know what happened to her, finding out if her brother was still alive, seeking out Ryan, and all the upset that would bring to their lives. Michael needed her and she wasn’t going to let him down.

Its was emotionally gutting, brought me to tears a few times and I understood exactly why she had acted that way, and yet I also understood why Ben was shocked.
When someone is hiding something so huge from you it must make you question everything. Ben was a good man, loved his wife and son but in shock, and reacted badly. The more secrets came out the more I felt for Catherine and him.

Michael was wonderful, a real sweetheart, and his illness is all too real for many kids. I felt that part of the story was really well done, and could feel for the poor kid, especially when he’s facing death.
In hospital people die, you can’t avoid it, the guy in the bed opposite died one morning when I was having chemo, its tough but happens, even in kids wards.

The other characters were great, Kyle and his family, the people who knew Robin Lee, Ben’s secretary Helen, and his dad. They added to the feeling of reality, the emotions that built up, and how desperate Catherine was both as a teen when she disappeared, and now when her carefully constructed world collapses.
I felt so sad for her, she was trying so hard and yet the whole thing wasn’t her fault, she was just a scared teen.
Of course once lies are told, they build up and grow and she had to carry on with them even though she didn’t want to. Experience had taught her that she needed to keep quiet.

Its a fabulous read, a story that so full of drama and emotion, made me cry, and the characters felt like people I knew.
I’d intended reading part way and then back to a lighter read, as I’d just come off a similar great but heavy story. However I was so engrossed, so caught up in Catherine’s world that I couldn’t leave it until I knew how things were going to work out, hoping Ben would understand, hoping of course that Michael would get his transplant and recover, hoping Catherine’s family would forgive her.
Its a book I felt really sad to leave but was  happy at the ending, a positive note even if there was still lots to sort out and move forward.

Stars: Five, a wonderfully realistic, emotional, drama filled story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Flawed,  Tracy Wolff

Flawed: An Ethan Frost Novel by [Wolff, Tracy]

Genre:   Romance

I love Tracey’s writing, she’s got a way of creating real characters, flawed ones, that I can identify with. then of course she brings out some drop dead gergeous hero for them, but its never they meet and a quick HEA. Oh no, she really puts them through the wringer ( thakfully!!) and this book was no different.

The only issue I had with it was that it covers such a short period of time, 90% covers just a few days, and somehow I enjoy novels better when there’s a longer timespan. That makes the issues and the dramas more intense, feel more real.
Here Miles and Tori have been sniping at each other for the past year, getting quite acrimonious, and maybe that could be taken as  the start of the story. I’d really have liked that and the events that followed to have covered several weeks, preferably severable months though. That way the highs and lows really hit and feel real.
Its kind of hard for me to believe they could go from hating each other to so-in-love in just a few days.That’s why its a four star read and not a five.

I loved Tori, she’s got a wicked sharp tongue, one of those on-the-outside confident people, accused of being shallow and brash, and yet inside there’s someone who’s not confident at all, and is surprisingly deep in personality. She uses that front to hide her fears, hide the way she’s upset at how her family have always acted towards her, ridiculing any attempts she makes, belittling her at every turn.
Even now she’s grown up they still treat her as if she’s hopeless, irresponsible, a let down to them. Its the “if I get in first with the joke about myself” kind of thing that makes her act this way, she controls the situation, people laugh with her, not at her…and yet inside it hurts, she’s crying.

Miles is a typical Geek, can’t focus on anything except his current situation – that’s what led him to miss the things that happened to his sister Chloe, and he just can’t get past that, is doing all he can to make up for it to her. So when her BFF turns up bedraggled and hurting he tries to help – even though they hate each other.

I love that enemies to lovers trope, and here it works so well, its just that I find it hard to believe in hate turning to love quite so quickly, lust yes but love? They didn’t really know each other that well…
Still, the encounters they have are typical Tracey ones,  tempting, tantalising, seductive and incredibly steamy. Some authors excel at those scenes and Tracey is one, no cringe making phrases, just intense, believable and sexy heat.
I got a bit cross at Tori at times when Miles was trying to help – I got what he was doing, but then again I understand as I’ve read his thoughts, understand his motives, but when Tori stops and thinks it through I can see where she’s coming from too. Clever writing when an author can do that, write two diametric views and yet each is valid and justifiable. Its the circumstances that surround the actions, the context and motives that really make the difference.

Once more Tracey has given us an erotic story, full of great characters, full of emotion, dramas, depth, covering some sadly all-too-real events. Wish they could all play out that way, that all perpetrators of such things as happen here could get what’s coming for them in the same way. Sadly life’s tougher than fiction and too many get away.

You can read this without reading the first few books, but you’ll get more from it if you read those – and they’re a great trio so why not?

Stars: Four, a fantastic read, just that the events happened a bit too quickly for a five.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and publisher

Claiming the Billionaire, JM Stewart

Claiming the Billionaire,  JM Stewart

Claiming the Billionaire (Seattle Bachelors Book 4) by [Stewart, JM]

Genre:   Romance,

I was looking forward to this, sometimes I love a simple straightforward romance, one that’s easy to read, simple and full of fantasy, not in the paranormal sense but in the characters, the rich/famous/powerful guy/girl falling in love with the one without money/job/prestige etc.
I thought with the “billionaire” tag that’s what this would be, but in fact that could have been left out of the title as it really wasn’t relevant, only really featured in the billionaire bachelorette auction and was a really tenuous connection.

So its a cute story, but didn’t feel genuine to me. I kind of understood why they split, why Cassandra was scared of commitment, but it was a little odd. Would she really have had such an extreme reaction, just before he’s being deployed again? Was it really such a  surprise? Hadn’t they talked about where the relationship was going?
For an intelligent lady Cassandra is also very blinkered about recognising Tyler’s issues, and I felt she would have picked up on his problems sooner.

I didn’t understand why he went to the lengths of the auction – and all that money he hadn’t actually got – for a date. Why not just try speaking to her first? Why wait a week before crashing in her world. He surely could see that wasn’t going to go down well, after what had gone down between them.

Its just felt very light and fluffy, filled with sex that simply overtook that actual story, and had me skimming through to see what was going to happen.
I love sex in books when it feel right, feels relevant to the story, feels as though its inevitable between the characters, where there’s been so much build up that it just has to happen. Here though? Just felt forced, and padded out a – for me – thin  storyline.

It’ll be perfect for others, thankfully we all enjoy different types of stories but for me it was a fail 😦

Stars: Two, perfect for others but sadly not for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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