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The Mercury Travel Club, Helen Bridgett

The Mercury Travel Club, Helen Bridgett

The Mercury Travel Club: Getting your life back on track has never been more funny! by [Bridgett, Helen]

Genre:  General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction.

Usual moan…Woman’s Fiction. Again….* sigh* Why do we have a category aimed at excluding those who might want to read this. Men read – and write- romance and I can think of many that would love this. Don’t do it authors and publishers.

Its a wonderful read, I wasn’t sure when I requested it and it languished on my kindle for a week or so while I read other novels, but once I did pick it up it was perfect. I’m a little older than Angie, not much, a few years, and reading it I empathised with her, shared her reminiscing and laughed so much. I could see me doing all the things she and Patty did!

I tagged a few parts that really made me smile – the Spanx…I always imagine The Great Seduction falling apart when the Spanx come off.
Picture it, soft music, sweet nothings being murmured, clothing being slipped off…all’s going well until it comes to the Spanx. Ping, heave, tug, roll them down, acres of confined flesh spill out, red and sweaty, full of compression lines and itching. Cos when you take tight clothes of skin always itches doesn’t it? Not really the scene you had in mind. And going to the loo? Yep, men have no idea.
Mothering Sunday, yep, I’ve had the toast that is bizarrely soggy white in places, black in others, and the egg box daffodils.
The red wine dilemma, how come TV characters never have those gruesome teeth when they smile and never, never get drunk?
Poor Angie’s sponge cake, which knocks over the bird table, falls like lead. My cakes are like that, she mentions putting jam and custard on them a serving for dessert, and when my kids were little it was one they loved, the failed cake dessert. “Mum, mum, make a microwave cake today.”
Getting mistaken for a hooker, well, that’s one which has missed me but made me snigger.

Its a great read, uplifting for those of us a bit older, reminding us we Have Value, we have lots to give, and Angie and Pattie had a wonderful year.
There so much to smile at and yet its not just humour but some fabulous ideas encouraging us to continue having fun, its not a prerogative of the young. When she was going off for a bike ride with Ed and his Chapter I was so envious, never been on a bike and it sounded wonderful. Hmnn, wonder if someone has a bike and would take me for a spin…. 😉

I wanted Alan and Amanda to get theirs, so unfair cheating – its one thing I really, really hate, so cruel, so devastating. Sort your marriage/relationship out before straying. I wanted them to see Angie was doing so well, and they did but not quite as I hoped. I guess I’m the vengeful sort, I want the cheater to see what they’ve lost and regret it, for the third person to get the elbow and the cheatee to move on, to better and braver life, leaving the others regretful. There’s something of that in this book, but much more subtle!

Stars: Five, The characters were fabulous, from Angie and Patty, Angie’s mum and dad, her daughter, Charlie and Josie from the travel shop, Caroline, Peter, Ed, the Granny-Oks….so many fantastic people who all played a solid part in the novel

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Living in the Past, Jane Lovering

Living in the Past,  Jane Lovering

Living in the Past (Choc Lit) by [Lovering, Jane]

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Well, I’ll start with that genre category, women’s fiction. Why? I so hate that we alienate men from stories that they could well enjoy, splitting books into Women’s and Men’s is so dated, harks back to the fifties or so and has no place in literacy today. Well, that’s my take.

Anyway, to the book. I love Jane Lovering’s stories, find ChocLit delivers books I almost always love, and this one was another perfect read. A story that’s got that bit extra, not a cut and paste romance but one where there’s a fascinating story line running through.
I’m kind of open minded about time travel, just because we don’t understand it, if its possible, doesn’t mean it isn’t. After all years back what’s common place now was thought impossible, but science and technology brings leaping progress in what was thought impossible. I think of it as sort of parallel worlds, existing at the same time and maybe parts are thinner, maybe its some bloodlines, maybe time of year etc that allow people to pass through.

I love Grace, she’s been a widow for two years, and talks still to Jamie. I talk daily to my late husband to, so her feelings resonated with me. She has some great friends and they have been a solid support and as part of that Grace gets dragged off on an archaeology dig.
Duncan, the dig leader is a terrific character. He appears abrupt, abrasive and grumpy, yet his colleagues and students follow him avidly, knowing he’s very skilled at his career. This dig is personal for him though, and through it Grace discovers some of why he appears so unapproachable. I so felt for him, what an awful thing to happen, and the repercussions have shadowed his whole life.

Its kind of not hard to see where the story goes, but that didn’t matter, its delivered in such a fascinating way. I really felt there with Grace, out in the mud of the 21st century with the dig, and then back with Lady Hen. I love the way the two stories worked seamlessly, how they fitted together, and how we gained insights of the characters, saw how events can shape us. Life happens and we react to it, and what happens to us affects us as people.

Stars:Five, another great read from Jane, one I was really absorbed in and enjoyed thoroughly.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Watching You, (Hollywood Heat 1),  Leslie A. Kelly

Watching You, (Hollywood Heat 1),  Leslie A. Kelly

Watching You (Hollywood Heat Book 1) by [Kelly, Leslie A.]

Genre: Romance

My first read by this author, so I didn’t know her writing style. It proved to be a fun read and one I enjoyed but…there were a few things that made it fall short of a five star read for me.

The way Reece obsesses about Jessica after only viewing her from a security camera and then sets up their meeting, weird. Then when he gets her alone knowing what he does about the room…well, it made me feel uncomfortable about him and full marks for Jessica for being strong enough to stand up to him, to call him out on his actions. It made him look again at what has become almost an unnoticed habit, viewing real life and acting as though he’s filming all the while and he does apologise. It was a bit weird though.

I wasn’t convinced of the romance between them, they didn’t really have enough interactions in the book for me to feel it developing, she was interning and working with him, but most of that was related “off book” so to speak and meant I didn’t get that build up from initial attraction and lust to real feelings and love.

Then there’s the mystery….s. It was hard working out was was connected and what wasn’t, whether there was one person doing multiple things or multiple people doing one or more events. Confusing and given the length of the book ( fairly average at 4500 kindle locations) it meant there was a lot of characters and detailed that didn’t really get explained properly. I did wonder as I approached the end whether all the incidences would tie up or if they would carry over into the next book, because time was running out. As it happens they did all tie up but in a way that was far to brief, lacked real detail for me. It felt a bit rushed.

It’s billed as romantic suspense, but for me the romance side fell a bit short, though I did love the Hollywood B itches – I love characters like that, and the suspense angle was overly complicated. I felt like people were put in place purely to throw in another possible suspect when the story didn’t need it and the time and words would have been better spent on fleshing out more the romance and the story-line as it was without them. ( Johnny, Alan, Steve for example, who all had stories that gave them plausible reasons to be connected to events, but which I felt were just muddying the waters rather than adding to the story overall)

Its a good start though to a trilogy and as we now know the brothers back story the next books will at least not need to repeat that, and be able to concentrate on more current events.

Stars: Three, I liked parts but felt others made things feel overdone.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Darkest Night, (Sons of Broad 1), Tara Thomas

Darkest Night, (Sons of Broad 1), Tara Thomas

Genre: Romance

I didn’t realise Tara Thomas was also writer Tara Sue Me, I’ve enjoyed some of her early Submissive series. Its a good idea to have two names for different genres because this ( these) feel a very different sort of read, and readers who auto buy when they see a name could be disappointed.
Having said that I like all sorts of genres, but no author is auto buy for me, I have to see book description first, unless its an essential series I’m reading.
So – This book….well, the romance was OK, but I did feel it went from 0 to 100 very quickly given the way they parted and the length of time since they seen each other, but then again the situations, the dangers, kind of pushed that forward. Tilly was in a tough place, had been for so long but…it always amazes me how in books these rich people go from having everything to having nothing. I know her dad was framed but surely they had money put aside. Do these people always spend every penny they have? Because they always end up as almost trailer trash, having lived as kings for so long, and I can’t help thinking, what happened to all that money they had? It crops up so often in novels…still, it left Tilly in the place she needed to be for this story.
I liked Keaton, didn’t really understand the family dynamics though. Maybe if I’d read the prequel novellas that would have been clearer although from descriptions I’m not sure how they fit this story.
I love a character like Elise, self entitled, indulged princess, but I did think the brothers let her get away with far too much, and I’d like to know just why she was so fixated on Keaton, other than family expectations. Her actions didn’t really add up to the person she seemed to me.
Then there’s the suspense angle with The Gentleman, and Jade/Kada. Its pretty clear – I think – who Jade is, though that could just be a clever red herring, but I’ve no idea who the Gentleman is. I have no idea what his motives are either, money seems to be coming from his illegal enterprises but he’s fixated on the Benedicts, and seems to want revenge on them for something.
Somehow for me this mix of romance and suspense didn’t work very well, didn’t fit together properly. It felt like two separate stories which had a tenuous connection, and intersected occasionally. Then throw in Elise and its like – how many things can happen to one family within a few weeks….In a way for me it would have been better to have left Elise out and concentrate on the Gentleman/Jade or leave them out and concentrate on Elise. It just didn’t seem believable to have both in one story.
Maybe as the series progresses they’ll connect more or possibly if I’d read the prequels but I’m not really a fan of books which have an indefinite number of parts and which can end up being very expensive to get to the end of the story. Its a personal thing, others don’t mind it, and devour ever extending series like this so it depends on how you personally feel about it. It works for Lisa Renee Jones, her fans seem to adore books written this way so maybe its just me out of step 😉

Stars: Two and a half, will be perfect for others but just not right for me

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

From the Top, Dani Collins

From the Top,  Dani Collins

From the Top (Blue Spruce Lodge Book 2) by [Collins, Dani ]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction( Adult)

I read the sample of book one and felt I enjoyed the authors writing style, so requested this. Really enjoyed it, might buy book one too when my TBR pile goes down.

It started well, and I thought I knew what was going to happen but…I was wrong. It took a different direction, and I really enjoyed being surprised. I loved Nate, such a great father to Aiden, but his reactions to Ilke’s news wasn’t great. Then again it was a shock, and Ilke’s ideas about what to do were a bit different! I wasn’t so sure I liked Ilke at first, she seemed very closed, very cold, but when I knew more about her upbringing my heart ached for her. What an awful thing for a child to have to deal with, and no-one to help her. Its not surprising she has the view that getting close to people hurts,m that you can’t rely on anyone else.
Her and Nate are so opposite in so many ways and yet the chemistry between them sizzled, and slowly they were drawn together on a level about just the physical. Once more though the story held lots of surprises, plots took unexpected directions, things cropped up that I just didn’t foresee. I love a story that does that, keeps me guessing what is coming next, keeps me reading to see if I’m right.
It wasn’t quite a five star read, I’m not sure why, but it wasn’t a can’t-put-down read, more one that was interesting but still easy to pick up and put aside for later. Still an excellent story though, and the next one – if its Trigg’s story – looks fantastic.

Stars: Four and a half, excellent read but not quite the magic five. Trigg next I hope 😉 as that looks to be really fun!
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lakota Moon Rising, Constance Gillam

Lakota Moon Rising, Constance Gillam

Lakota Moon Rising by [Gillam, Constance]
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

I don’t read a lot of historical fiction, I’m fairly selective but this is the sort I really enjoy, a romance, wrapped up in a very real period realistic story about the people involved, the day to day issues and events that they undertake.
Julia has a sad back story but one that was very real for the time, that affected so many people. Horrible times when people of colour were regraded as less, who had no rights, whose children could be sold like possessions. She’s determined not to give in to the under-seer, who routinely uses women for his pleasure, but knows the only way out is to run, and that if she’s caught the consequences will be horrific.
She is captured by Comanche Indians, and at that point I almost stopped reading as what happened was pretty gruesome….but I skipped some of it and then when she was traded to Trades with Horses the story really began for me. He’s a very foresighted warrior but battling not only the whites, who he knows will deceive the Indians, go back on their word, but his own people who simply don’t believe them. He’s fighting for their way of life but tragically he doesn’t stand a chance. When he sees Julia something in her sparks to him and he determines she will be his wife. Convincing her though takes time 😉 She’s set her heart on Canada and freedom. Will she give up that dream, or chose to stay with him. They undertake some perilous events, antagonism from white men and his own people in their quest to be together and its a story that I really enjoyed. It’s a shortish read, a 0.5 in a series but packs a lot in to the book.

Stars: Five, a very genuine feeling story, heartbreaking at times but with a HEA – I do need those.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Rock King, by Tara Leigh

Rock King, by Tara Leigh

Rock King (Nothing but Trouble Book 1) by [Leigh, Tara]

Genre: Romance

I’m a sucker for rock/film star romance, and Kristen Callihan and Kylie Scott are top of the genre for me….so this was an easy request.
How did it stand up to those two paragons of fame books, the Queens of rock romance though?

Well, to begin I struggled. Its a great start in that Delaney is the kind of heroine I love, broke, hard working and honest – well, apart from that one big thing of course…..
She’s busy at work when someone comes in who she knew from their school days, not a friend but someone who recognised her, and she’s with her boss, who thinks Delaney is perfect for his latest brief. Find a “girlfriend” for his client, rock star Shane Hawthorne. He needs someone stable in his life while touting to keep him off the alcohol/drugs fiasco. So far a serious of temporary girlfriends, NDAs and cash/chance at fame for them have done the trick. It has to be the right person though, and Travis thinks Delaney is perfect.
I loved Delaney, understood why she did what she did, and why that decision haunted her. Its a hard thing to live with, and she’s desperate to make reparations, but of course with no money, in a poor paid job how can she?
Shane too, I thought he was great. He knew his weaknesses and wasn’t going back, and so far the paid girlfriend has worked out. Travis his manager has come through every time. Delaney isn’t the usual actress, would be singer though, hoping for some of his fame gloss to rub off on her, she’s very different. There’s something about her though that Shane can’t let go, something that calls to him, makes his life brighter.

There’s so much going on in the first half and yet it felt like nothing was happening once the initial story started. Its seemed to be Will She Stay or Will She Go….over and over. So many inner musings and monologues that I felt every bit of life in the story was being dragged out, chewed over, spit up and spoiled. A really danger of me not finishing this. That’s a personal view though of course, others love it as is.
Then we moved forward and…I was hooked. Some great drama, some very real scenes, some tears, heartache, secrets laid bare and wow – that point where it all falls apart, the drama that I love. That was superb, and had the whole book been like the second half it would have been a five for me, but that slow, dull start pulled it down. I needed more action, more of the day to day things actually happening and less musing, questioning decisions, less of the whole should I or not stuff.
I certainly enjoyed Tara’s writing style though once things moved forward, and I look forward to more from the series.

Stars: four, a really slow first half for me, but a fabulous finish.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Catching London, M.V.Ellis.

Catching London, M.V.Ellis.
Catching London by [Ellis, MV]

Genre: Romance

A debut novel and a great start for M.V.Ellis. There were things that niggled, but overall it was a terrific first book, and I look forward to more.

Arlo, he’s brash, self opinionated, incredibly confident and a total rock star cliché, and yet under that there’s a real guy, who’s got some genuine emotions, who does care about his people, who has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong. When he meets London – and what a meeting – he knows she’s special and goes all out to get her in a position where he can see more of her, get to know her and let her know him. Lucky for him she’s a talented photographer, which fits in with his plans perfectly.
I loved Arlo, who couldn’t? He really is a solid guy, and determined London will be his. He has the money and connections to make that happen but he wants her to want it so treads carefully.
London, had a sad past and was a sweet girl and I really felt for her and what she’d lost. Gah, the number of times I wanted to slap her though, blowing hot and cold, giving Arlo the OK and then changing her mind over nothing it seemed. Arlo could have got whiplash from the stop-start of their romance.

I would have liked to understand Arlo a bit better, that’s where I love dual POV as it lets me see what characters are thinking and feeling, but I got a pretty good sense of him from his actions.
London as I said irritated me so many times, I liked her but she was a bit too ready to pull the plug for no reason, and then in next breath all over Arlo.
I’d have enjoyed seeing more of the secondary characters, we did in the first half of the story but they seemed to mostly sort of fade out in second half.
I guess the thing that stops this from being five star for me is the long mental monologues London has going on, pages and pages and pages of them, and I felt the story was being told by this rather than shown by way of action and dialogue. Its me, I just like dialogue based books best. Not everyone does, but that’s what brought this down for me, too much telling and not enough showing the story in action.

Stars: 4, it was a fun read, I adored Arlo, and liked London but she did irritate me. For me it needed more dialogue though for a five, however not everyone does so you choose 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Hidden Seams, Alessandra Torre

Hidden Seams,  Alessandra Torre

Hidden Seams (Unzipped Book 2) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Romance, Erotica
I’ve read quiet a few AT stories now and love her writing style. She doesn’t dumb down novels, but has a rich linguistic style and plots that are at times quite complex. That makes for an absorbing story for me, and the type I love to get lost in, taken away to someone else’s life!

I wasn’t sure what it was Avery was doing for work at first. I get the idea of how she is providing work for the girls, helping them build a new life without getting sucked into the underbelly of crime that their position often brings, but the logistics of it, the money laundering etc I just didn’t understand…but that didn’t matter, it provided a plausible framework for what she was doing. I felt for her childhood, a difficult situation and one that’s left a lasting effect on her.

Then there’s Marco, lived a very open, very public, very deliberate lie for a decade, now everything is coming to him but Avery threatens that. He was a jerk to her, but then she’d caught him unexpectedly and I could see why he distrusted her. He wanted to protect Vince’s memory too, and Avery’s appearance could tarnish that indelibly so I did see why he was so awful to her.

The sensuality between them though was incredible, tangible right from the first meet. The encounters were perfect examples of Alessandra’s ability to write hot and erotic sex, without subjecting the reader to page after page after page of the same words and actions. So many “erotic” novels do that, constant bland and repetitive sex scenes held together by the thinnest of story-lines, but Alessandra’s stories are not like that. She has the perfect solid, intense stories, plots that hold hidden surprises, with carefully spaced sensual sex scenes. That works so much better for me, makes for a far more interesting read. I like reading well written sex, but for me the story always has to come first.

I didn’t foresee how this would all play out, just had the “whichever way it goes one of them loses” mentality, and couldn’t see how they could have a relationship. However it wraps up so perfectly in a way I simply hadn’t considered, ties in all the loose ends and makes everything going forward work so well.

The only failure for me in this story, which drops the half star is that I have a love for angst, for that point towards the end when the couple fall apart, when its all lost, and looks like the romance is off. There were a couple of shaky moments, but no real pressing issues to cause that and for me it makes the story just that little bit less.

Stars: Four and a half, excellent read, erotic sex without being overdone, and a solid story-line backing it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers


Reach for the Stars,  Kathy Jay 

Reach for the Stars,  Kathy Jay 
Reach for the Stars: A feel good, uplifting romantic comedy by [Jay, Kathy]

Genre:  General fiction (adult)

I bought book one when I saw this, that’s the story of Alex, Nick’s twin brother. Sounded the sort I love and was only 99p. Sadly though I liked it I wasn’t really convinced of the story, felt it was a bit meh, so almost wished I hadn’t asked for this. What a difference though, I love this story, full of drama and fun, laughter and heartbreak and with some very real feeling characters.

I really didn’t like Nick in book one but now I saw a different side to him, saw the reasons for his behaviour and it made sense. Layla is a great character, one of those people everyone depends on, but its leaving her no time to do what she wants, pit herself first. When Joe does the dirty ( hiss, boo, what an awful man he is) she’s distraught, they’ve been together and she was thinking marriage and family so it came as a shock. Then Nick comes along and she sees what passion really is.

It was great fun to see events play out, to see what starts as a no strings fling becomes more, to see Layla discover what real love is, let her see what she had with Joe was just a good friendship at best.
Paris, great at first then heartbreaking. But we’d kind of guessed that would happen. Then the events after that had me amazed, how Joe rationalised everything cemented in my mind just what a jerk he was. I did feel sorry for Lainy though, an innocent caught up in his selfishness.

Stars: 4.5, it was a really fun read, and I enjoyed it so much more than book one. I’m not sure I’d re-read, not for a very long time anyway but one I’m very glad to have chosen.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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