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Cuckoo in the Coven, Saskia Walker.

Cuckoo in the Coven, Saskia Walker.

Cuckoo in the Coven (Witches of Raven's Landing Book 2) by [Saskia Walker]

Like the first in this series the story is fun, light and at times very steamy. Its an easy read story, not one that’s dark and dense, but a kind of sexy, supernatural M&B read 😉

I liked Rowena, felt for her when she thought she’d been let down by Caleb. She’s somehow they type of person you feel protective of, but she actually has a lot of inner strength.
I wasn’t sure about Caleb, I understood his need to know more of his origins, but using someone to get information isn’t really something that sits well with me. The woman holding the story of his background over his head is deliciously horrible. I do like characters of that type in a story, it adds a sharper edge. Knowing that though, and Caleb does, I wanted him to think a bit more about what she was going to do with the information he found for her. It wasn’t going to be anything good, and I needed him to recognise that but he didn’t want to.
She had connections with people from Raven’s Landing that I didn’t expect, and of course everything comes to a head, both groups meeting, magic being thrown out hard and fast, and a brief appearance of sorts by Fox. I do feel that magic is a little bit of a quick fix solution in this and the previous novel, but that’s a personal issue. I like it best when characters have spent time honing skills, not when they instinctively know what to do. Its a small irritation though.
Stars: Three, its a fun read, quite light but easy to follow, no intense concentration needed.
ARC supplied via author.

A Coven of her own, Saskia Walker.

A Coven of her own, Saskia Walker.

A Coven of Her Own (Witches of Raven's Landing Book 1) by [Saskia Walker]

I liked Sunny, incredibly trusting of her gran’s friend Celeste. I wasn’t entirely happy about Celeste’s actions, she was quite manipulative even though she though she was acting in everyones best interests.

The story is fun, light and at times very steamy. Cullen settled really well, accepted everything Sunny told him. I’d like to have known more about the coven wars than we had, about others in the coven, and the whole story was quite light on details.

Things happened, Sunny gets to grips with the supernatural world really quickly, and for me I would have liked a bit more info, a bit more depth on that. Much though I like hot sex I’d have happily sacrificed some of that for more solid background and day to day stuff. Likewise Sunny’s parents visit – and the “humour “ there – it wasn’t needed, the story was fine without, it didn’t add. IMO of course 😉

It feels like its all critisism here, and its not, there was much to enjoy. The journey back to the 1800s, the story behind Cullen, why Sunny was dreaming of him and of course the magic itself. I love magic in books, and really liked how these folk connected it to nature. Nature is important to me, and much of their magic resounded with me that way.

The big bad, Fox. I wanted more of how he changed, why, the connection between him and Celeste. I do like a “good” bad chantacter in a story, and Fox had the potential but I didn’t feel he quite lived up to it.
I’m hoping we meet these folk again in later stories, assuming they are all connected through characters that is – I haven’t looked yet. Hang on, I’ll be back…..Right, it doesn’t say, but it must be so, surely the coven is their common connection? The next books centre around it, so hopefully we will meet these characters and maybe learn more about them.
The ending was neat, but did feel a little rushed to me. I wasn’t quite ready for it.

Stars: Three, its a fun read, quite light but easy to go along with. Especially right now, mid covid and with a brain thats finding concentration hard…
ARC supplied via author.

Stable Hand, The Braided Crop Ranch Book One, AE Lister

Stable Hand, The Braided Crop Ranch Book One, AE Lister

Stable Hand (The Braided Crop Ranch Book 1) by [AE Lister]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

Well, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but TBH whats in the description is pretty much the whole plot. Its fun kink erotica, not deep, sensual romance.
Jensen, that interview. That made the whole book worth it, somehow I could just see this slightly naive cowboy expecting some fancy horses, “ Arabians? No? Maybe you have Lusitanos?”…or something like that while poor Adam and Connor are barely able to hold back sniggers…..

The rest is really Jensen’s journey into kink, and real “hands on” education. I’m not sure six weeks holiday is as realistic as the author makes it sound but hey, its fiction. Consent was the order of the day, all the time, not just in training, and that’s very important IMO. If both parties consent and its harming no one then that’s fine, if there’s no fully informed consent at all times then its a No Go for me. I was bothered that it was gloves and lube all the while, but a real lack of condoms for oral work, especially as Jensen can’t have been tested yet? A big hole there I think. Hopefully to be filled in later books. ( and her I am sniggering about holes and fillings. One day I’ll grow up!)

What I did like, though at times it was repeated a little too much, was the psychology of kink, that Adam was actually a qualified therapist, and oversaw all training plans. Playing, even just through kinky sex, with peoples different issues and backgrounds, can cause real harm, and needs careful thought.
I like that there wasn’t the typical stereotyping that often happens in erotic fiction, where the dominant folk always are obvious, always dominant, never have their own issues, and always have the answers. Luke was a complex personality, in that he was naturally dominant, yet also had the submissive need but that he seemed to fight. Noah was one of these folk who are happiest when able to let go and someone else make all the decisions. The others were somewhere in between these two. We’re all complex people, some like Noah, have more simple needs, while others take more work to see what they really want, what issues they have that may be causing problems.
I really like human and animal psychology, and that part of this book resonated with me, the explanations how animals are just into “now” unlike us who mull over the past constantly, and worry about tomorrow. If you don’t know animals well, and how they work you may not understand why some things are so freeing to people.
It covers a short space of time and the romance, such as it was, was more HFN rather than HEA and I felt that’s more realistic. It wasn’t heavy on romantic emotion and connection, more the physical side, where I’d like more emotion and romance. But I hate when there’s insta-love and all is well, even though they’ve only known each other a few days or weeks so given the time constraints this works better for me. Ideally I’d like more romance but for everything to cover a longer time-span, which simply isn’t possible given the immersion therapy type of set up here.

Stars: Three, it made me laugh so much at Jensen’s interview, but as I said its kind of light on the romance side even though I understand why. I thought there would be more romance though. Its a good book, hot smut and fun, some real issues but not wholly what I was expecting, that’s why its three.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

One Last Verse, The Encore: Book 2, N.N. Britt

One Last Verse, The Encore: Book 2, N.N. Britt

One Last Verse (The Encore Book 2) by [N. N. Britt]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction.

Gah, women’s fiction again…men write romance, men read romance, lets get with the 21st century.

So, book two. I loved the first book, but if anything, this was even better. The issues facing Frank and Cassy aren’t just the publicity, the media and her job, but the way Frank is coping with his injuries.
When they finally go public, the timing is bad, because within a short time Frank’s problems have them at odds once more. Poor Cassy, it feels like she’s always struggling, trying so hard to help Frank, and when he’s not drinking he’s wonderful. Caring, thoughtful, generous and the perfect man, but then – as anyone who’s had dealings with an alcoholic knows – the reverse side of this person is bitter, angry, cruel, and when the hangover is worn off, they’re sorry, won’t do it again. Its a continuous cycle.
Cassy saw all that with her dad, how her poor mum was ground under by it, and always vowed she wouldn’t be like that. She loves Frank though, she feels for him, understands some of why he’s so angry, upset, and in this book the bad parts get really heaped on Frank driving him t the edge. It was superbly written, having lived with an alcoholic I can vouch that part was spot on. The ups and downs, the highs when everything is wonderful, and then the sudden crash, often over the most trivial things.
I did feel for Frank, but as Cassy tried to tell him, he still has so much, but all he could see was what he had lost. His career was his life, and he’s lost if he can’t perform so he’s pushing himself, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain so he can continue. He can’t see any other future, won’t admit he simply can’t do it. Its turning him into someone Cassy can’t continue with though, she loves him but can’t accept the person he is in the bad times.

I loved the drama in this, so intense, so perfect for me. Drama in a book is what I adore, proper drama, not the angsty, pseudo drama that many romances feature, but real, gritty, relatable stuff. I loved that Frank struggled, let people down, pushed Cassy away. His anger was palpable, I could feel his despair, even while I was so angry with him for letting others down, for his awful behaviour to Cassy. I loved that the drama lasted, wasn’t over in a few pages, but took a good chunk of the book to resolve. That made it feel real, I couldn’t get behind someone who claimed to be past the problems if they hadn’t used time to actually change their life. I so felt for Cassy, she was such a hard worker, looked after her family, tried to help Frank, and even Dante at times. She’s one of those folk that are good at heart, won’t hesitate to step up when its needed.
I loved her brother too, he was a typical teen, and really grew through this book. And of course Levi, her work partner for the past seven years.
Its not a rock star on the road type read, thankfully its not an alpha male, grunting, monosyllabic read, those ones that run “ you feel me?” “ I feel you” and that’s about the extent of a conversation. Its not a Kylie Scott or Kristen Callihan humour filled rock star read, they’re both Queens of Rock for me, but it is a superb book about fame, drama, human frailties, and lets N.N. Britt join that precious group, Queen of Rock Reads, for me. Its one that I know, along with the first book, will become one of my re-read staples. Right now, along with N.N. Brits other two books, they are on KU so a great time to read them.

Stars: Five, terrific read, a rock star romance, with so much extra in the story, full or drama and reality.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen V2

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen V2

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

OK, start with my usual moan. Women’s Fiction – why? Men write romance, men read romance., ’nuff said…

So, this trope is a real favourite of mine and I really enjoyed Sian’s writing style. I had a few issues with the way the story was delivered in the first version. As Sian has continued the series, this book has been rewritten to make it fit the rest of the series better, and I’m pleased to say that past/present format that I struggled with has gone.
For me the new version reads SO much better, and I began to understand Ariana more. I think before all I could see was Gabriel’s heartache and it coloured me to Ariana’s feelings. Now I can see them clearer, with the heartbreak being kept to the later part of the book.
The ending now feels much more fitting to the book, not rushed or hurried but allowed to play out naturally. It was absolutely perfect, angst and heartbreak just as I love.

I didn’t notice in the first book, maybe I missed it or maybe its new but Ariana has taken steps while they are apart to deal with her issues. That was one of my complaints, that – and I see this over and over in romances – sadly Love Doesn’t Conquer All. If a couple have problems – and Ariana and Gabriel do – ones that separate them, they can’t get a HEA unless they take steps to address those issues. Just getting back together and proclaiming We’re In Love to the world doesn’t mean its all going to end well, chances are its not. I’m much happier when, as here, those issues have been addressed, and though Ariana is always going to feel scared of the fame I’m confident she can now deal with it.

Some great characters here, I haven’t mentioned the other band members but they are an interesting bunch, feel very real, and took Ariana to their hearts. Not only Gabriel was upset when she left, and its going to be interesting seeing how and if they accept her again. I Loved, Loved the mean girls, the b itchy groupies, I was hoping their manager would prove to be a bit difficult too- one of the reason I love this trope is the potential for jealousies, back stabbing and some real b itchy characters. I’m glad they stayed in the re-write.

Stars: Five, I rated this four when I read the original version, but now the issues I had have gone its five, five all the way.

Rewritten Arc via author

Midnight Desire, Shari Nichols

Midnight Desire, Shari Nichols

Midnight Desire (Ravens Hollow Coven Book 1) by [Nichols, Shari]

Genre: Sci fi and Fantasy. romance
I enjoy books in the fantasy genre and where there’s romance too, that’s me happy. I enjoyed this book but didn’t love it as I’d thought. To be fair, as with other reviewers I’m writing this, reading this in the midst of the Covid19 crisis and my mind isn’t where it usually is so that could affect my enjoyment.

I loved the characters, the story flowed well and was a quick, steamy read. What I had a really hard time with is Alex being a – well, rabid witch hater wouldn’t be too strong, and yet within the first meeting he’s attracted to Willow and they’re quickly hot and heavy. I couldn’t see how he could put his years of hatred behind him, and how Willow could be with someone who’s held those views for so long. Lust only goes so far. Then there’s the way Willow was assimilated back into the coven with very few questions asked and apart form the initial snarky, hurtful comments its almost like a girls bonding party.
Get past those issues though and its an easy to read novel, a neat story, wrapped up properly, a little magic, a lot of mystery, and plenty of heat.

Stars: I’m hovering between three and four, I liked the story a lot, but the things I had issues with were for me pretty big. Three and a half.

Arc via author

Reveal, K. Bromberg, Wicked Ways book two

Reveal, K. Bromberg, Wicked Ways book two

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

Genre: romance, general fiction (adult)

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

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

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

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

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series  Lindsey Fairleigh 

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series  Lindsey Fairleigh 

The Echo Trilogy Collection: The Complete Series (Echo World Book 1) by [Fairleigh, Lindsey]

 

I read this series as individual books as they came out, but it’s now available as a complete set, a massive 1143 pages for just £9.99 or free on KU.
I’ve just borrowed this on KU and reread them ( easier than digging them out individually on my kindle, I’ve almost 7K books there…. ) Each book has been renamed, maybe has been updated, from memory i didn’t notice anything different but it is several years since I’ve read them. Knowing the backstory and some of what would happen meant i feel I got more from the story this time round – that’s something i often find with complex reads such as this.
It’s set in modern times, but also there are periods when the story reverts to the past, from Ancient Egypt to current day and between. It’s a great read, totally absorbing, great characters that felt real to me, and some unusual world building. I love it, definitely a five star read, thought I can’t recall how I originally rated the stories individually.

I’ve added links to past reviews.
https://wp.me/p3gAhS-rQ

https://wp.me/p3gAhS-Q9

https://wp.me/p3gAhS-VZ

I’m about to read the fabulous Ink Witch series next, same world, a few years on and with secondary characters from this book playing the leads. Kat Dubois Chronicles (6 Book Series) by  Lindsey Fairleigh

Exquisitely Broken, A Sin City Tale 1, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Broken, A Sin City Tale 1, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Broken (A Sin City Tale Book 1) by [Granberry, M. Jay ]

Genre: Romance, multi-cultural interest

The story is told in three parts; today, four years in the past and ten years in the past. At times that was irritating, frustrating, there’d be something climatic happen then next page we’d be in a different time period. I don’t really see another way of telling the story though, other than giving it all away at once, and that wouldn’t make good reading 😉

I wanted to know what happened to split them up, after all six years together is a long time. I know he cheated, Sin tells us that, but I wanted to know exactly what happened, why, how long etc. When I did find out what went down I was a bit confused. Why? Was it a one off or ongoing? Was that the only time? There had to be a reason, was Jake just getting cold feet? Was he just arrogant thinking he could do it just because? I feel that part of the book needed more work, more fleshing out.
It was such a huge part of them and the story but kind of glossed over. “oh, he cheated, right, on to next plot.” It wasn’t treated with the awfulness cheating is, and Jake didn’t seem to appreciate just how his actions affected Sin, it was as if he felt it was in the past, she should forget it. I’d always worry though, if he could do it once, he could do it a second time. It made Jake into a person I didn’t really like, and it took a while for that to change.
Sin is so loyal to her friends, has worked hard for her success but her heart is still with Jake, she hasn’t really got over their break-up, and now she’s within his sphere again he wants her back. I was a bit undecided though, was her really worthy of her? I guess without knowing what went wrong I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t happen again. Sin though is stronger now, and not just going to roll over.

We meet Jake’s family too, his dad isn’t so bad but his mum, what a piece of work she is. That’s fine by me though, I just love a nasty character on a book, makes the story so much more interesting 😉 I did feel though that Jake needed to stand up to her more, to stand by Sin, to tackle his mum about her past actions and her current attitude.

There’s lots going on in this story, some terrific characters and its a great debut read, but for me it needed a bit more – I needed to feel that Jake really regretted what he’d done. I felt he was sorry for it only in that he lost Sin because of it, not that he actually saw anything wrong in his cheating. There’s an important difference there, and its the one that makes me certain it won’t happen again.
I needed him to stand up to his mum too, to tell her to not interfere in his life, for him to stand up for Sin, rather than just let things play out and – kind of – apologise foe his mum after she’s been her usual unpleasant self.
Stars: Four, a great debut read. A few parts that didn’t work so well for me but I’ll be looking out for M Jay’s next book.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Waiting for You, Indigo: Book 2, Kate McBrien

Waiting for You, Indigo: Book 2, Kate McBrien

Waiting for You (Indigo Book 2) by [McBrien, Kate]

Genre: romance

Well, at the end of book one Justin and Lucy were apart, the fame/media aspect scaring Lucy. Its one of those things that’s so hard, if she wants to be with Justin she has to accept that the fame and publicity are part of the package. Even if he gave up his music, he’d still be hounded by media for a significant time – and anyway, its part of him, part of the man she loves.
He understands her fears, blames himself for the awful events that separated him even though they aren’t really his fault and were done without his permission or knowledge. He’s left it up to Lucy to contact him, says he’ll be waiting.

Her parents though, they really don’t like him, and are determined to push Edward in her way. He’s got himself highly placed at her work too, so she’s really no way of escaping him. He is such a horrible sleaze and in this book we see more of that. I loved it, someone appearing so genuine, caring, respected outwardly, and yet behind the scenes, in the pursuit of what he wants he’s a horrible, manipulative bar- stard. That’s reality – we often see friends and family of people who’ve committed some awful crime saying it can’t be true, the person simply wouldn’t do that. But they can and do, manipulators are expert at presenting one face to the world while doing the opposite.
He arranges for Lucy to travel to London, with him of course, to deliver the Cross to its new buyer. As usual he’s moving events to suit his purpose but Justin is in London too, and Lucy is thinking its a chance, fate maybe, to reconnect. Once more though Justin’s fame comes between them with yet more horrific allegations against him. Its a time that’s testing Lucy to the fullest, and she needs to decide, trust her heart, her instincts or believe the media and of course the person behind things. I really wanted to shake her a couple of times, shout at her “c’mon Lucy, give the guy a break, he loves you, you love him” but she was so cautious.

I’ve seen criticism about the attack, that it wasn’t reported. In reality something like over 80% of attacks go unreported and given that only a small percent of those that are reported lead to conviction, its almost understandable why some women choose not to put themselves through the trauma of reporting and all it brings. I don’t agree with it, that’s what lets predators continue, but it’s reality and I can see why it went unreported.
In the same way the false allegations against Justin, that happens too, folk wanting revenge, wanting to cause harm, just making allegations for malicious purposes or attention. Sadly, things like that lead to the non reporting data, because people are afraid they won’t be believed.

The connection to the past, the supernatural element is very muted, only appears on a peripheral basis, it’s clear how events are linked re Justin and Lucy, but I’m not entirely sure if Edward is who I think he was, or if there’s some kind of turnabout coming….

Its another great installment, though I did get a bit cross at Lucy’s dithering. I adore Justin and none of what happened was his fault, sure he has a past, but he can’t change that, only change how he is in the future and Lucy needs to accept who is was, and who he is now. I did find it not quite as gripping to read as the first book, a bit slower paced, didn’t quite have me lost in the story the same way but its still a cracking read, especially from a new author.
Luckily I’ve book three on my kindle as an arc, but its out very soon, later this month, and the whole trilogy has been released within six months. I love that, hate waiting a year, eighteen months or more between episodes, its why when I’m buying I wait til story is complete before buying, so I can read all in one go, I find I enjoy the story best that way.

Stars: Four and a half, not quite as good as book one, the story lagged a little at times, but I really did like the reality of the attacks and how they were dealt with.

Arc via author and Netgally

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