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The Aurora Affair, Carolyn Haley

The Aurora Affair, Carolyn Haley

The Aurora Affair by [Haley, Carolyn]

Genre:  Romance,Sci-fi and fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

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

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

 

Genre:  Romance,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

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

The Discipline,  Jade A. Waters

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

Genre:  romance, erotica

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

America’s Next Reality Star,  Laura Heffernan

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

Genre:  romance,

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Every Little Thing, Samantha Young. Souljacker, Yasmine Galenorn

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

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

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

And a couple of reviews today

Every Little Thing,  Samantha Young

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

Genre:  romance, erotica

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Souljacker, A Lily Bound Novel,  Yasmine Galenorn

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

Genre:  paranormal and fantasy

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

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

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

Genre:  romance,

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

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

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

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

Stars: Five, another fabulous read featuring the band.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Bastard Billionaire, Jessica Lemmon

The Bastard Billionaire,  Jessica Lemmon

The Bastard Billionaire (Billionaire Bad Boys Book 3) by [Lemmon, Jessica]

Genre:  Romance

I’d missed book one of this series, enjoyed book two and was keen, as an amputee myself, to read Eli’s story. He was in book two for short periods and for once his medical issues were very realistic.
I hate books that clearly don’t understand or research amputee limitations. Very frustrating reading about people who are doing what I know isn’t possible.
Eli is a below knee amputee, clearly had a lot of knee surgery but having that joint makes a huge difference to what amputees can do. I’m missing most of my left leg, so we have different experiences but where they crossed over, the pain etc they were very real.

I really liked Eli, understood his issues, but he feels to blame for his two colleagues that were killed in the explosion that injured him.
I think that “survivors guilt” is sadly very common and though he’s worked hard to recover physically, mentally he’s not in a good place.
He doesn’t feel right for the COO position of the family business, his brothers disagree and have been sending him assistants to encourage him to find the time for the position. Eli has become adept at getting them to leave – quickly!

Isabella (Isa/Sable) has her own business, and has been supplying those assistants, with no success so far. She needs that to change, her business needs it to succeed.
She’s got her own issues, with her wealthy family wanting her to marry someone who suits them and their business, and they can’t/won’t understand why she wants to leave all that to run her own one.
She goes in as assistant number 11, determined to best this impossible man.

Of course nether of them expected the attraction, the sheer lust for each other.
Eli still tries to be his usual, grumpy person, and fires her repeatedly. But Isa doesn’t go, tells him its his brother who hired her and she’s staying. She doesn’t tell him she’s the owner of the business, wants to keep that quiet.
Soon things are going well, and when the lust between them finally comes to a head it’s explosive and  they’re quickly in a hot and heavy relationship.
That seems to really help Eli look at things differently, but he’s still very careful to guard his inner feelings. He’s been burned before, doesn’t think he deserves Isa and isn’t up for full time, picket fence future, just a fun-for-now relationship.
Of course things go wrong – as they always do – and there’s a huge leap for them both to take, lots to look at in each other and in themselves.

Its a fun read, some sensual and very real sex. Yes, that’s one place where amputations do make a difference, though its somewhat changeable for males than females as to what the issues and barriers are.
I’m really glad that was brought up though, along with things like the dread a flight of stairs brings. Something I can relate to all too well.

I enjoyed this, very well put together story, and very genuine feeling people and situations. It didn’t quite have the depth and drama for a five for me but a great four star read.

Stars: Four , a very genuine feeling story, with realistic characters.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Reverie, Reverie Book 1, Lauren E. Rico

Reverie, Reverie Book 1, Lauren E. Rico

Reverie: Reverie Book 1 by [Rico, Lauren]

Genre: Romance, Mystery and thrillers.

I loved the sound of this, and most important, parts one and two are out now and three very soon. I hate, absolutely hate, waiting for rest of a story, and it seems that trilogies dominate the romance genre now. I love the way they give a solid extended story, but hate those that keep readers waiting months, years even for subsequent parts. By then I’ve lost the momentum, lost the magic of the story and have to recap just to remember what had happened.

So, its Julia, Jeremy and Matthew that dominate this story. Julia and Matthew share a flat, having been brought up in the same children’s home since they were around ten years old. Luckily Matthew has money inherited from his parents so they don’t have worries on that front.
Its just as well as both are devoted to their music, Matthew having already graduated from the prestigious conservatory, and Julia in her last year. they spend all their free time rehearsing, practice, practice, practice, so they wouldn’t have time for jobs.
I’m assuming Julia gets some form of student loan or something, she pays rent to Matthew for her room, though nowhere near what such a premium apartments would cost. There’s never any mention of where the money comes from.
Odd how two kids from a children’s’ home just happen to both get in to the conservatory, how she’s able to pay for all the private tuition too.

Likewise Jeremy, he shares with his older brother Brett, again both talented musicians, but there’s never any mention of where they get their money? Given what comes later Jeremy must have some generous source somewhere to allow him to pursue his research, allow him to follow his inclinations.
There’s a brief mention of their childhood, but never anything current as regards other family members, there just seems to be the two of them, no other relatives.

What I liked about this story was the passion for music that shows through. I know very little about classical music and orchestras, other than that I ejoy much of it but that didn’t matter, the story from that part flowed easily and I was kept into the way the music was such a way of life for the orchestra members.

What didn’t work so well – I felt at times I was being spoon fed the mystery, pointed to where I should look next. The bad guy almost has a huge X over his head from the first meeting, likewise the good guy was marked with a large heart round him…well, that’s how it felt for me.
I needed a bit more mystery, needed to see how the story built up, to have things kept in the dark so I could work it out myself.
It seemed right from the start it was clear that things were not going to go smoothly, for me I need to be persuaded into thinking they will, until they go wrong, but it was so clear here what was going to happen.
It meant that some of the more clever manipulations in the story were just too obvious,  whereas written differently they would have kept me guessing til later in the novel. That takes the Mystery out of a mystery read.

I felt Julia went from being best friends with Matthew, taking his advice and sharing support with him, to making him her enemy in a very short span given the years they’d been everything to each other.
I was astonished at how easily Julia was duped, how quickly she changed to Matthew when she began a relationship with Jeremy.
The things that made up the dark side cost serious money, there seemed to be unlimited contacts and influence, but I needed to know how and where the funding came from.
I’m not entirely sure of the motivation for what went on either, apart from the obvious. Maybe there wasn’t more than that?
I need that kind of stuff to be clearer, while the build up and bring down to be more subtle.
Ah well, I can see others are happy, love it as is so its one of those “its me not the book” moments. I’m uncertain whether I want to read more – book 2 is on KU, so maybe if I’ve time I might take a look. Maybe the story will work more my way in that part.

Stars: Three.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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.

J.A. Hazel

Author of Siren's Wave, a rock romance novel

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