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The Last Duke, 1797 Club, Jess Michaels

The Last Duke, 1797 Club,  Jess Michaels

The Last Duke (The 1797 Club Book 10) by [Michaels, Jess]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

I’m an eclectic reader, and sometimes I lie to dip back to gentler times – well, real life wasn’t gentler but historical romance tends to be. I was really hoping I’d Like this story because Jess has written so many novels and I’d not read any of them. There’s nothing like the discovery of a new-to-you author who has loads of novels you can then devour. Sadly though this was an easy read, it wasn’t one that gripped me.
The characters are pleasant, the storyline pretty simple, lady goes down in station when fortunes fall, becomes governess and falls in love with a duke. I liked meeting the other dukes and duchesses, and maybe if I’;d read their stories I’d have got more from this. Maybe…

I tend to want a bit more drama and angst, even in historical reads, more tension and problems that I can’t see how to work out. This was just a well written, simple, easy tale full of gentle problems, a developing romance and a sweet ending. I could see from the start how it was going to end and while I don’t mind that – after all I constantly re-read favourites while knowing exactly what will happen – in this instance I just felt it was all too light and cute for me.

As always though the reminder, what I like and what you like aren’t necessarily the same. What doesn’t work for me about this story could be just what makes it perfect for you. I’ve devoured many novels others have rated one and two stars because they hate what I love. Horses for courses and all that.

Stars:Three, A well written story but one that just doesn’t excite me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

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Pirate’s Passion, Lisa Kessler

Pirate’s Passion,  Lisa Kessler

Pirate's Passion (Sentinels of Savannah Book 2) by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:Sci-fi and Fantasy

I loved Lisa’s Moon series so was keen to start this new one. I didn’t realise there was a short first book, but as each story is stand-alone I don’t think I missed anything.

As usual its well written, cleverly paced and has some great characters yet despite all the it failed to really pull me in. the story sounded right up my street, paranormal with a bit of rock-star romance thrown in but somehow the events unfolded and I just felt a bit flat at it. Usually with Lisa’s books I find them hard to put aside but this one, I kept putting down and restarting. Eventually I got through it but I can’t say I really enjoyed it. Parts seemed just too unlikely, I know we’re talking fantasy here, but I still need to feel that if events were real this and that could happen. Not so here, I just felt the connections were just too convenient and the clock and dagger stuff seemed too OTT and easily explained to those not involved in the supernatural world.
Maybe its just this book, maybe its the series. I would try another before deciding its not a series for me, but right now I’m not convinced. As ever though readers all want different things and this could be just what you’re looking to read, everyone’s views are very subjective.

Stars:Two and a half, well written but I didn’t connect with this novel, maybe just this story, maybe this isn’t a series for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Silk and Thorne, Olivia Rayne

 

Silk and Thorne, Olivia Rayne

Silk and Thorne by [Rayne, L. K.]

Genre: Romance

** since reading/reviewing this the size info has been added. Its 53 pages. We’re also told next instalment due early 2019. I’d still like to know how many installments to expect, and a rough timetable, along with pricing. Series written this way work well for many readers, I like to get a story all in one though, not bite size pieces, and to know roughly how much the story is going to cost me **.

Well, first point is Nowhere in the blurb does it say this is a part novel, a very short part in fact. The description is almost as long as the novel it felt 😉 I was reading away and glanced down to see I was at 48%. I was sure that was an error – I’d been reading maybe 15/20 minutes, but no, it really is that short.
Total kindle locations 870. Average full length novel locations are between 3,500 and 5,000.
There’s no info on how many more parts, when they’re out, how much they’ll be. TBH I was pretty resentful of time wasted reading this not knowing more information.

Still, the story was a little slow to start but excellent writing, and I really enjoyed what there was of it, kept me wondering what was going to happen next. There’s a lot promised in this short sample, hopefully the rest will deliver and it will be an excellent read. The characters were interesting, the premise very mysterious and I want to know more….

As I said, I need Much more information though before I can decide whether to continue. I’ve been caught before on novels that are part one and never get any further, novels that do get further but take a year or more before part two comes out, with remaining parts still to come at unspecified prices. Readers deserve that info, money is tight for most of us and deciding where to spend isn’t easy.
I’m still waiting for part three of a series which started well in 2012, second part came out not long after and since then its just been all promises. If it did continue now I’d have to think hard before deciding if I wanted to read more and risk waiting another few years for more.
Like lots of others I also got caught up in the Crossfire fiasco where a trilogy became a five book series but readers weren’t told until release day of what they thought was final part. Having pre-ordered I had what should have been the ending delivered to my kindle only to have to decide did I want to wait for more, again time and price unspecified, or waste my time and hard earned money spent on books one and two….( I sent back part three and abandoned the series on principle)
Readers deserve better than to be treated this way.

Stars:Three, What there is was excellent, but there was way to little to make a proper judgment and I want to know more about when and how much the rest will cost.

ARC supplied by author

Until the Last Star Fades, Jacquelyn Middleton

Until the Last Star Fades, Jacquelyn Middleton

Until The Last Star Fades by [Middleton, Jacquelyn]

Genre: Romance

Well, I loved London Can You Wait, not so much London Belongs To Me, and this book falls in between.
I guess I was spoiled with LCYW, its a hard book to live up to, I loved it so, so much. We get cameos of characters from the other books here, but its a story in its own right, and you can read it without having read the other two.

Riley seems to have everything, mother who loves and supports her, dashing boyfriend, who’s set to break into the big time, and her own career plans going well.
Like always though its what’s under the surface that counts. Riley’s mum is very ill, Josh isn’t quite the wonderful man he seems and Riley is struggling financially. And then Ben crashes into her life.
Its a slow burn romance, there is no cheating, and for a long time Ben and Riley are just very good friends. You can feel there’s that simmering attraction, but they both know where to draw the line. I like that, hate the “we just fell in love” excuse so often used. Here they hold back on feelings, wait til relationships are sorted. Thats’ so much better than the cheating we often see, that leads to heartbreak all round.

I loved Ben, a fabulous character, very unassuming, very natural in a world where everyone is presenting a false face. That’s the nature of acting, its difficult to see the real person behind the facade. He’s a long way from fame yet though, struggling as so many do, holding down other jobs to make the rent.
Riley is a great lead too, so genuine, she’d do anything for her friends and adores her mum. Her mum’s illness hits her hard, but with the support of Ben and her friends she’s managing.

I loved how tBen and Riley interacted, how her friends were so supportive, listening when needed, but pushing her when that was essential too. Those are the best sort of friends to have, those who don’t just sit back, but give you that shove into the scary zone when you need it.
I mentioned in another review recently I am getting a little tired of the gay best friend thing…..it seems every romance has to include one now, and they all seem born from the same mould 😦 very stereotyped. What about a gay best friend who’s 6ft4, and a big, burly rugby player? Think there’s not one ? Think again, my eldest son works with a guy just like this.

Its a great story but doesn’t quite have the magic of LCYW, but has all the drama and sad bits that I love. Its got lots of side plots too, and for me that really adds to a story, makes it feel more rounded, and of course they too have their own dramas and tensions, and I’m all about that!
There’s a section that really surprised me, something Ben did that was so wonderful and unexpected. How many of us would do that? Then when more secrets come out I understood a little more about why he felt drawn to do this. It just made me love him more.

Stars: Four, a story I really enjoyed, not quite up to LCYW for me, but well worth reading if you enjoy a romance with real people, genuine plots, not ladies that make the most idiotic decisions and monosyllabic lead males….Sadly the romance trope is dominated by them, when real stories, well written ones like this, that feel as if they could happen need more attention and applause.

ARC supplied by author.

Awakening, Shadow-walkers Book 1, Kelley Heckart

Awakening, Shadow-walkers Book 1, Kelley Heckart

Awakening: Shadow-walkers Book 1 by [Heckart, Kelley]

Genre: Paranormal Romance

I love a good rock star read, ditto film stars, adore romance and of course a good paranormal and this book promised all of those….trouble was it didn’t stop there , but brought in so much more. The paranormal, well there are ghosts, and the shadow walker elements (which Tbh I still can’t quite understand – but then I feel Kate doesn’t either so I’m not alone) The romance, well that brings in rock star Kate and film star Kane, but not just them, there’s Kate’s ex, manager of the band she was in, and the traumatic ending of that, and the ghosts, where its not a simple uncomplicated story either. Oh and Kate is also a writer, now involved in changing her story for film, which is how Kane fits in. I didn’t understand wholely though why Kane was involved in the rewrite? There had to be something though to get him and Kate alone in the cabin.

So they’re snowed in and the ghosties begin, not just one though….weirdly in the middle of being scared half to death but events Kane and Kate keep creaking off for hot baths and even hotter sex….that just didn’t feel credible to me. I’m assuming somehow the fire heated the water as the power was off but they existed on water and PBJ sandwiches, and energy bars. Why not use the fire to heat water for coffee, heat some of the tins, cook something hot?
The story was interesting but just too much going on which meant the major plots had to be condensed to fit everything in and for me I felt that it wasn’t the best way of delivering. It meant they were in blizzard in cabin, ghost appear and hey presto Kate has the answer, but wait…there’s a puzzle to unravel but….its all in the magazines left lying in the cabin. Once they’re out of the cabin too it was problem meet solution – all very slick and neat and I want characters to have to work for answers.
The romance, well it was hot, very sensual but I didn’t really like either character, didn’t feel the love, just some hot and sensual lust. Long term? Well, I think they’ve a lot to do yet.

The band members; well, by the time we’d met them my brain was saturated, so much had been going on that I just couldn’t deal with even more past problems and current supernatural events. I kind of switched off.
As always though reviews and reading are very subjective. Kelley has written lots of very well received books so although this style of writing didn’t work for me clearly it works well for others.

Stars: hard one….the idea is a five, the way it plays out for me though just didn’t work as explained so I guess overall its a three

Book via KU.

Fall ,(VIP Book 3), Kristen Callihan

Fall ,(VIP Book 3), Kristen Callihan

Fall (VIP Book 3) by [Callihan, Kristen]

Genre: Romance

I love a good rock star romance, but though there are thousands in that genre good ones are few and far between. Trawling though some time back I came across the first in this series and fell in love with this band. Bought that, and book two – which is still my favourite- and now bought book three. In between review copies, KU and the loads of free books offered its pretty rare I actually spend money on a book, but this series are ones to read and re-read and well worth twice the price.

So this time its Jax, or John as he introduces himself to Stella. Poor John keeps things deep inside, plays the happy, light and fun guy, hiding his sadness, but just before the start of this series he tried to kill himself and it brought the band to their knees.
They’re slowly recovering but John is a work in progress, still carefully finding his way forward and feeling so guilty for what he sees as letting his friends down.
The depression factors in this story are really well handled, I understood John and his feelings so well, and of course seeing the impact potential suicide has, it changes everyone in the vicinity. Its hard to imagine being that much in despair but when you feel so down that everything seems pointless its looks like a way out, if you’re just tired of the struggle getting through each day becomes. Thankfully John was found in time and has been getting some excellent help. What made it feel very real though was despite that he’s still struggling, some books make counselling a miracle cure and its not, it gives people tools but the change has to come from them and it takes a lot of time and support.

You’d think a book with the MC going through this would be grim, but its not, its full of humour, sharp one liners, ongoing jokes and the Chlamydia incident gave rise to some wonderful humour. Gabriel threatening Sex Ed for them all, the Gritty Kitty phrase, John’s horror at having Brenna know about it. It was humour within a serious issue and one so sadly ignored often. I’ve read thousands of books, and this is only the second time I’ve heard dental dams mentioned….its a very important topic.

Its a story full of vitality, shows what a support good friends are, and of course I loved seeing the gang again, ( Whip and Brenna, that mystery really tweaks at me, it gets hinted at more and more and I so hope we find out soon). It was great seeing the softer side of Gabriel, baby Felix, Killian’s pets, all the little everyday fun parts that lifted this book. Of course there’s a good deal of steam here, the sexual tension between them can be felt right from the Mint Ice-cream Incident. ( You may take my Oreos but you’ll never get my mint choc chip) They’re not down and dirty straight off though, but a gradual simmering build up, so that when they do finally get there its incredible, shocks them both just how good they are together. I like that, books which have MCs in bed within the first few pages sometimes work, but more often have me skipping pages and chunks of text, bored with the repetitive sex scenes. Here that didn’t happen, everything was so perfectly paced.

Johns past and current issues are so serious, but though they guide the direction of the book they don’t make it dull, sad reading, but just give a balance to it, make the characters feel more real. I can imagine these people, their actions, mistakes, words, feel so genuine.
That kind of thing makes a book work for me. Intelligent characters, not grunting, monosyllabic alpha males, ladies that are inspiring, work hard to overcome difficult circumstances, not just flutter eyelids at said Alpha males and expect to be taken care of.
Stella, she really was a star, a fabulous character. She was the perfect foil to John, they were each what the other needed, someone each could depend on, not someone watching John’s every move expecting him to regress, but a friends, someone who saw beyond his issues, and she didn’t need him to support her financially, she’d do that herself, but to just Be there when she needed someone, though it took a while before he could believe in himself enough to be that man.

It really is a fabulous series, and for me on a par with the fabulous Kylie Scott and the Stage Dive guys and ladies.

Stars: Its a five, as are all three books for me. A welcome rock star read that has intelligent characters.

Book purchase

Crisis,  Felix Francis

Crisis,  Felix Francis

Crisis by [Francis, Felix]

Genre:, General Fiction (Adult)

Like many young girls I was a horse obsessed kid, but where other dropped off in their teens I kept on, much to the surprise and probably dismay of my very non horsey family. Kids intervened for a while, and I got my horse fix by reading Dick Francis novels until I was able to finally get my own horse….
I still love to read, though my tastes have changed and broadened considerably. I’d read pretty much all the Dick Francis novels when he died, and a few by other former jockeys, but for me they didn’t have the DF magic. I had a read a couple of the collaboration novels but TBH I didn’t think of Felix as being the writer, I assumed he was more the researcher…then I saw this on Netgalley and thought “why not”.

Well, Felix, I did you a grave disservice, reading this was like the old Francis magic, a gripping tale wrapped up and tangled in numerous little side issues, with some wonderful characters. I am so sorry I didn’t recognise that earlier.
Of course in suspense novels, in PI investigations and the like there has to be a little artistic licence, and I suspect that Harry’s crack “researchers” wouldn’t have been able to pull out all that info…but it makes for a fun and interesting story.

I really enjoyed reading this, was engrossed in trying to work out who-dunn-it so to speak, and was way off course as usual. There’s a reason I can’t write, and especially not anything involving mystery, my brain just isn’t wired that way. Thankfully others are 😉
I loved the characters we meet here, poor Harry, barely knowing one end of a horse from another, up against a family dynasty in horse racing.
I enjoyed the snippets of racing info, enough to keep the reader interested in the story but not so much we switch off.
Harry’s specially is in sorting things out, minimising crises and sorting out wheat from chaff, and here the poor guy has a lot of chaff to sort through. It seems every turn, every hour almost at some points, bring in new people, new potential motives, and new events.

I did feel the falling in love bit felt a little out of character for Harry, he seemed the cautious type, rather than an all in from the off sort, but one of the things I missed in the DF novels was an element of romance. As a reader I tend to focus on romance plus …. those novels, those where the romance is backed by a good story, or the other way round, a good story with a romantic element. It just seems to make the story feel more real to me rather than just words on a page, so I was pleased Felix includes romance.

I’ll certainly look out for more from him, and as with the DF books, his will become ones I re-read, even knowing how the story ends because the content is well worth another read.

Stars: Five, a perfect escapist read, with both drama and romance, and a cracking mystery.

ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers

Promise Me You, Marina Adair

Promise Me You, Marina Adair

Promise Me You by [Adair, Marina]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Romance

I love second chance romances, love books about film stars, music stars so I really expected to love this book. It was an OK read, but missed out on that magic spark that makes a book unmissable for me.

I felt for Mackenzie, she’s had a tough life and now its got a lot worse. I wouldn’t say its a second chance romance though, as first time round it was all unrequited love on her side with Hunter being blindly oblivious I thought. Now he’s back, single again and shocked to find his one time best friend in the situation she is. He’s not seen or heard from her since she fled his wedding celebrations, and feels betrayed in a way by her leaving and that his cousin, manager and close friend Brody has known about her all along.
I got the impression Hunter didn’t know how she felt from the story and yet he comes back and apparently felt the same? I found that strange, he married someone else. Maybe it was just hindsight that allowed him to see his feelings and understand how Mackenzie felt?
Its a story that’s not just Hunter and Mackenzie’s romance but also covers her other issues. I wasn’t entirely convinced by those, thought she’d have to have more adaptions, more help, more training but it could have been this way I guess? Just didn’t seem convincing for me, and I would have though Mackenzie’s family history would have made her prepare more. I don’t know though, I’m guessing along the lines of what if it were me….
Hunter and his band are at the peak of their career, and he has the arrogance about his music that comes with knowing you’re the best. He’s desperate to write his next make or break album with a writing duo that have made hits for him before, he feels a special connection to their songs, and is shocked when he learns who is behind the names.

Its got all the elements I should love but somehow the story just didn’t gel with me. Its well written, paced to deliver surprises just right but I just wasn’t feeling the romance, the barriers ( and those were huge), and when it all came to a head I wasn’t convinced by the ending. Ah well, its perfect for others, everyone wants different things and what I didn’t like could be what makes it perfect for you.

Stars:Three, a well written book, but a story that just didn’t connect closely with me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Brand New Ending, Stay Book 2, Jennifer Probst

A Brand New Ending, Stay Book 2, Jennifer Probst

A Brand New Ending (Stay Book 2) by [Probst, Jennifer]

Genre:General fiction (adult), Romance

Stupidly I was drawn to the blurb, knew I’d enjoyed some of Jennifer’s stories before and didn’t check. This series isn’t going to be for me, I didn’t like the first book, and didn’t enjoy this one. My bad, its a good story for many readers, just doesn’t suit my taste.

I just didn’t really understand why these two split, why Ophelia just left, why he didn’t seek her out before, and what had changed. She still didn’t want the life he led, he still didn’t want hers. I know Love conquers all, but when two people have such wildly differing ambitions can they ever be happy. One of them is going to have to fold, and in the long term will that work? I wasn’t convinced by the ending. Maybe if I’d liked either character a bit more, or even felt that they were truly suited, but if so why didn’t they work at getting back together before, why wait? The timing now seemed a little too convenient, if I was Ophelia I’d be thinking, Now he’s got time, why not before and equally if I was Kyle I’d be thinking Is she just going to spook and disappear again? There needed to be some serious love between them for it to work, and if there was how could they just stay away all those years. Maybe I’m too much the cynic.

Stars:Two and a half, I liked it a little more than book one, but wasn’t convinced by the story. I’ll still look for Jennifer’s books but make a note that this particular series isn’t for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Lionheart, Thea Harrison

Lionheart, Thea Harrison

Lionheart (Moonshadow Book 3) by [Harrison, Thea]

Genre: Romance,

I was wondering what to read next recently, I love to re-read good novels and this trilogy flicked in my mind as one I’d really enjoyed, and then only a couple of days later the final book appeared on Netgalley 😉 Yay!
Sadly though I loved the first two books in this series this one, well, not so much 😦 and just have to say here, I hate that cover. That guy just doesn’t do it for me. I get that Oberon is tough and growly, not a slight, pretty boy type, but that guy just looks hairy and – dare I say it – a little chubby rather than muscly……and that ‘tache!! Still, I’m sure he’s a hit for others 😉

Where books one and two were very people orientated and we had lots of action, drawing in so many different characters, it felt like the bulk of this book was just Oberon and Katherine, and I didn’t really enjoy that part. I’m glad he wasn’t a sap when he saw Katherine, that he was his own abrupt, arrogant, imperious self, even when they did fall for each other. Equally I love that Thea has strong women as heroines, no simpering misses, no-one that can be described as “his little….” that always infuriates me. Just strong, confident ladies. They often have issues, but that’s a world away from being weak and easily impressed. I did enjoy their battles, where neither backed down.

I love Puck, and I’m glad we saw more of him, he’s a strange character, I so feel for his past and the effects it had on him, and that makes him very unpredictable. His heart is for Oberon ( and Sophie) and he’s ultra protective, giving nothing for convention, politeness, politics, just takes the course of action that feels right to him. That gives Thea a freedom to introduce all sorts of events….

I missed seeing the characters we’d met in the earlier books, they were there but so briefly considering the size of the book, and that affected how I enjoyed it. It just didn’t feel properly connected to those earlier ones. I do like the link with the elder Races but you don’t need to have read them to enjoy this trilogy.
The battle with Isabeau, when it finally came, felt anti-climatic, there had been so much build up through previous books and then it seemed to be over in a trice. It made it feel a bit of a non event for me. I’d guessed a way back what was going to happen, not quite how but the seeds for the event were pretty generously sown.

Stars:Three and a half, fabulously written as always with Thea – that parts a solid five stars, but the rest just didn’t live up to books one and two for me. I really missed meeting all the others, missed the actual world connections, Lyonesse v the world we know, the magic that connects it, and they way Oberon’s people have been fighting so hard for Lyonesse and him on both sides of the divide. I felt so much of this book was just Katherine and Oberon and they took over too much of the story for me. I also felt the ending was a little anti-climatic somehow, all that build up and then…..

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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