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Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy, Meg Benjamin

Away, Book 1 of the Folk Trilogy,  Meg Benjamin

Away (The Folk Trilogy Book 1) by [Benjamin, Meg]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy.

I’ve never read any of Meg’s books before so I didn’t know what to expect. I really enjoyed this story, and look forward to reading more in the series.
I did get a little confused in the beginning by who was who and how they fitted into the story, there are a lot of different supernatural groups, and they integrate differently. It took me a while to work out just how they all fit together. Maybe a glossary of characters would be helpful? Explaining things like the difference between the Ward and the Guard when at first they both seemed to me to be doing the same thing. I certainly didn’t guess who was behind things, and I love a story that catches me out like that.
I found the characters pretty realistic, even fantasy folk have to feel real to me. I liked Grim, liked his determination to do what was right, when it was needed, to find out the truth, not just do a supernatural cover-up from the humans thing. Annie was great too, and her story very plausible.
First books in a series have a difficult task, introducing a new world and characters while delivering an interesting story. This book does that pretty well I feel, could have had a little more depth and drama but that’s me…I love drama. Its not heart stopping romance, nor edge of seat scariness, but a fun read, and a world I want to read more from.

Stars: Four, an excellent start and I’ll look out for book two.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Give Love a Chance, Darla Jones

Give Love a Chance,  Darla Jones

Give Love a Chance by [Jones, Darla]

Genre: Romance, Woman’s Fiction.

Gah, Woman’s Fiction – I hate when we dismiss a whole sector of readers. Why do that? Why shouldn’t men read this? Ah well, rant over.

Well, I saw this book had lots of five star reviews, but having finished it clearly I’m not on the same wavelength as those people as its a good read for me, could have been a really great one, but there were some irritating, hard to ignore niggles that for me really brought it down.

Evan, the man is gorgeous one moment, a true gent and then a real jerk. He reacted badly to the pregnancy news, but that could be passed off as shock, and sadly, family/friends experience. There are unfortunately women who will try those kind of tricks and he didn’t know Kim.
Once the background checks came in though, added to his experience of her at close quarters once she was living with him there was no reason for him to be so up and down, keep referring to the baby as “her baby” – the man admitted he’d had unprotected sex with her, the checks showed she hadn’t been dating others, c’mon on, own it your jerk! He was all over her one moment and then cold the next.
Kim, she let him get away with so much. Why didn’t she question about Amy, why did she just accept his cold times, why was she so grateful for the attention he gave her that she let the other times slide. I was kind of puzzled by money too, she’s skint and yet when not working, home and possessions gone, car wrecked, she still seems to have enough cash, “just pick me up a new phone Evan” – or words to that effect, and takes treats to a favourite patient and his family?
The way she and her daughter integrated so quickly with Evan and his son was weird, kids just aren’t like that, and though there was a little jealousy to begin they were soon just one unit. Real life is a bit more problematical .

I didn’t really relate to any of the characters, felt they were a little one dimensional. They were potentially great but just felt kind of stilted, unreal to me. There were things that had a lot of plot time that were not (IMO) worthy of it while others could have been expanded, gave flesh to the characters.
Evan’s pregnancy symptoms, amusing at first and second mention, by the Nth time I was rolling my eyes and irritated.
Likewise the suspense, it was such a great line, played out so well, and I really was shocked at who was behind events but somehow they way the story went it was very underdone in parts and overdone in others. It had the potential to be really breath catching the danger that was there but it got an almost lighthearted treatment until the climax.

I have to say this to finish -Evan and his undies….I cannot mentally envision the male lead wearing “fire engine red bikini briefs” and his underwear gets more mention when we read several times about his “scanty underwear”. Nope, that’s just wrong!! Back when I was reading Charlene Harris Sookie series I had a hard time getting past Alpha Hunk Eric wearing red bikini briefs…is it some US thing? Is it that UK readers simply don’t understand the attraction of skimpy red underwear on men?
I’d happily try another read by Darla, this one wasn’t great for me but it was a good read, and she clearly has great plot ideas, and maybe its just this book where the characters were a bit flat for me.

Stars: Three, a good read, but not up to that slew of five stars for me. But clearly its perfect for others. You choose 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Things We Need to Say, Rachel Burton

The Things We Need to Say, An emotional, uplifting story of grief and hope , Rachel Burton

The Things We Need to Say: An emotional, uplifting story of grief and hope from bestselling author Rachel Burton by [Burton, Rachel]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Gah, there’s just one thing I didn’t like about this story – the category Women’s Fiction! Why do that? Why exclude men who could love this story? I Really Hate seeing books categorised in that genre. Rant over.

I wasn’t sure about this book, but reviews looked good and it is, its a perfect read for those who want a novel that will make them think “what would I do?” Make them wonder about the characters, the morality of events, how people react in different situations.

I loved both Will and Fran, and was desperately hoping they could find a way through the sticky morass they found themselves in. They’ve been through so much, look perfect from the outside but inside they are both a seething mass of grief, hurt, not knowing what to do, whether they could recover.
Just when Fran feels she does want to try again she gets another awful shock. Can they get past it?

Well, everyone reacts differently and for some that last hurt would be the one that breaks, but while away in Spain Fran gets a chance to think, to work out what went wrong, to wonder of they’ve just been papering over the cracks these last few years, desperate to do what others find effortless.
I so felt for them both, and the title is perfect -they do need to talk, to clear the air, discuss how they feel, what went wrong before they can decide if they want to go forward together or if things have gone too far.

Fran’s yoga group and the people she met in Spain helped her gain perspective, while for Will its his brother, and unexpectedly his father who help, along with a couple of Fran’s friends who know him.

I loved their story, was moved to tears at parts and heart-broken for each of them. I thought I’d be angry at Will and yet…he was so lost, and so in love still with Fran and she with him that I just couldn’t find it in me.
Its a perfect five star read for me, but not one I think I’d re-read.

Stars: five, a real solid story for readers who want more then the widely available fluff stories.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Burning Chambers, Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers,  Kate Mosse

The Burning Chambers by [Mosse, Kate]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Historical fiction

I remember reading Kate’s Labyrinth years ago, but haven’t read any of her books since then but I enjoy historical fiction and was keen to read this.

I don’t know much about the religious divides of this time in France, I know more about UK history for this time and thought I’d enjoy reading about it. As in UK when there were religious controversies and changes, its a particularly gruesome time, where people were taken for spurious reasons and tortured at will. Its weird isn’t it how we think torturing someone for a confession will bring out the truth….
Sadly though I found the book incredibly slow starting, and though the pace did pick up I never got really engrossed in the story. I felt kind of bogged down by detail at times and had to put the book aside. That’s unusual for me, I love details, I love the little nitty-gritty intricacies of people’s lives, but in this book I felt that it just didn’t work for me.

If you’ve an interest in french/religious history this may appeal to you, I certainly expected I’d love it but…It’s well written and has all the elements for a good read for me but was one of those where the story and I just didn’t gel. I’m not really sure why, just that I found it a struggle to keep reading and eventually I was just pleased to have finished.
I won’t be reading further books in this series but would happily pick up another of Kate’s stories, even when you usually adore an authors work there’s always the chance some won’t suit.

Stars: Two and a half, I enjoyed parts but overall it wasn’t a hit with me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Forbidden, Elisabeth Naughton

Forbidden, Elisabeth Naughton

Forbidden (House of Sin Book 1) by [Naughton, Elisabeth]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Romance

Well, this was quite a dark read, told in alternating viewpoints from Natalie and Luc. It was uncomfortable reading in parts, though I’m OK with BDSM in stories, in this book it takes a much sharper edge, with the liberal use of alcohol and drugs, and the possibility of not all sex being consensual.
In fact that’s almost certainly where Natalie’s friend Elena met her end. She supposedly died from a drug overdose but Natalie doesn’t believe that and is on a quest for the truth.
I fond myself struggling with this story, it wasn’t the writing but the story itself. I just found so much of it hard to believe, and for me I need that reality. I kept putting this aside and picking it up later.
I found it hard to believe in Elena and Natalie, they’d been friends since young kids, but for the last four years they haven’t met, just corresponded. Yet now she’s dead Natalie can take off as much time as she likes in her quest. If they really were best friends surely they’d have made time to meet up somehow?
Natalie has a kind of naiveness about her and yet is very astute in others. She very determined and yet falls for some rookie mistakes, one of which brings her into real danger, that she escapes from only by the fact that Luc suspects what’s happening. Surely the “don’t drink unless you see it poured from the bottle” is a mantra for everyone when with strangers? It was things like that which irritated me.
It ends on a massive cliffhanger, and I hate those, really, really hate them. Its a well written story, its just that it didn’t hook me in. Though there were parts of the story I really enjoyed I don’t think I’ll be continuing with the trilogy. I just find parts of it difficult to believe in and when I’m reading I need to be convinced everything could happen.

Stars: Two and a half, a story I struggled to believe in, didn’t feel real to me.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

recent reading

I’ve been reading some non netgalley stories, a couple i was asked to review by authors, some I borrowed on KU, and a couple I bought.

The Ex Factor,  Debbie Viggiano 

The Ex Factor by [Viggiano, Debbie]

Genre: general fiction

I’ve read several of Debbie’s books, and this is a departure from the usual but still with her excellent solid writing style.

Its a hard subject, one that strikes close to home for many readers. When a marriage breaks up some fathers drift off, happy to abandon their family, others though are like Sam, desperately want to be a father, to have as much access as possible but get thwarted at every step by the mother. Sadly apart from expensive court proceedings, and not everyone has the thousands that can cost, there’s nothing else they can do. Even then having a court order doesn’t help when the mother say the child is ill, asleep, at a friends, doesn’t want to come and refuses access. The father can go back to court as Sam does, but that takes time and the months away from his daughter take a toll on him, on his new family and of course on Ruby. The only happy one is the mother, Annie, such a vindictive character. It would be nice to think parents always wanted the best for their child/children but like Annie many only want control, revenge for what they see as slights. Annie was the one to leave, yet tells Ruby Sam was at fault, forced her into an affair. Of course her poison is all lies but kids naturally believe what parents tell them and Annie has Ruby for the majority of the time, been drip feeding her malicious words into her ears. Its cruel, and yet it goes on day after day for many families. My lovely brother is going through the same process, so far he’s been unable to see his daughter for almost two years, despite spending several thousands on court fees. The court agreed he’d done nothing wrong, was a good father, but the mother was so vindictive she has kept his daughter away and all he can do it seek more legal proceedings. Meanwhile his little girl probably is being told daddy didn’t want her…..
Its an incredibly sad, very realistic story of what pressures a family breakdown can put on the absent parent, spilling over into other family members. Thankfully the end shows there is a glimmer of light, and I’m hoping that same thing happens for my brother in time.

A KU purchase

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya 

Royal Love (Last Royals Book 1) by [Serruya, Cristiane]

a KU purchase
This was a fun read, though it took me some time to warm to Angus, he was alpha male but on the OTT side, and there were times when I wanted Siobhan to just tell him where to go. She veers between wanting him and wanting independence and I did feel the whole getting together part was a bit rushed. I felt both acted out of characters and one thing that really annoyed me was the lack of condoms. That’s just not a good message to send out in this day and age!
There’s a little suspense, I’d kind of worked out what had happened and who was behind it, but it was still a good addition to the story and gave it a little extra edge.
I loved Angus mum and aunt, perfect snobbish b itchy characters – they really add to a story for me, make a contrast to all the sweet stuff.
Its not a story I’d re-read, a little too light and sweet for me, I need a bit more drama but its a fun read for when you want something easy to relax with.
Stars: Three, a little light but a fun story.

Rockstar Daddy, (Wilder Rock 1), Taryn Quin

Rockstar Daddy (Wilder Rock Book 1) by [Quinn, Taryn]

Genre: Romance,
a side spin from the Oblivion series. I usually loved Taryn’s stories, especially when she writes with Cari Quinn but this one was a little simple. Its got plenty of heat, lots of erotic encounters but for me they became the story, and there was little else to it – just a series of very hot sex scenes tied in with a tin backstory. For many people that’s perfect, for me it needs to be story first.

Another KU purchase

Lifeline,  Amelia Lawrence 

Lifeline by [Lawrence, Amelia]

Genre: Romance, M/M
A good read, very real with scenes that happen far too often. Alex was heartbroken after his romance with Jack went badly wrong, and feeling rejected he’s a prime candidate for manipulative bully Cole.

Like so many of these characters Cole starts off well and then the crack drift in, by which time Alex had lost his self confidence and was constantly striving to be someone who wouldn’t anger Cole. Its easy to say “why not just leave?” but much harder for anyone to do it. Bullied sap at self confidence, convince people no-one else will want them and of course the threats that Leaving will have drastic Consequences is enough to put most folk off, and Alex is just working and returning home, all the joy has been sucked out of life.
Jack – well, Jack was wonderful, regretted the past very much and wanted a second chance with Alex. The way the story played out was really well done. Its not one I’d re-read but was a very enjoyable story, a realistic portrayal of an unpleasant subject.

One I bought, was only 99p

The Taste of Air, Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air,  Gail Cleare

The Taste of Air by [Cleare, Gail]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction.

Bah, my usual moan…Women’s fiction – why? Why assume men won’t want to read this, why cut off a group of customers.

Got that over with and this is a fabulous read. I wasn’t sure at first if I’d like it and it does have the potential to get confusing, told from POV of Nell, Bridget and Mary, and told in past and present. Yet somehow it all works and I wasn’t left feeling lost, wrapped up in the past and sharply brought up to present. This isn’t my preferred way of reading a story yet it worked so well, letting me see events as they unfolded naturally.
I liked that the characters had faults, weren’t just sweet and light, lovely and loving but displayed elements of reality, dissatisfaction with life, partners, family. That’s all of us at some points, we don’t live in a happy vacuum, real life has issues that affect us, problems that need to be sorted and we don’t always deal with things the way we should.
I did wonder why Nell’s husband wasn’t more questioning of what had happened, why Mary was so far from home, why Nell was staying. Mine would have wanted every little detail, David just seems to be “OK, see you sometime”. Maybe its part of why Nell is dissatisfied with her life, though it may look perfect to others, and I liked the way the author brought about changes to them.

I did find a few things a bit hard to believe, would it really be possible to hide that alternate life, and of course the Mary, Ginnie, Jake triangle. Its not a cheating story, per se, but does have some pretty strong deceptions going on and I wasn’t convinced that everything would have stayed secret for so long.

Stars: Four, an interesting and absorbing read, but I did feel it stretched credulity a little in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya  

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya  

Royal Love (Last Royals Book 1) by [Serruya, Cristiane]

Genre: Romance

This was a fun read, though it took me some time to warm to Angus, he was alpha male but on the OTT side, and there were times when I wanted Siobhan to just tell him where to go. She veers between wanting him and wanting independence and I did feel the whole getting together part was a bit rushed. I felt both acted out of characters and one thing that really annoyed me was the lack of condoms. That’s just not a good message to send out in this day and age!

There’s a little suspense, I’d kind of worked out what had happened and who was behind it, but it was still a good addition to the story and gave it a little extra edge.

I loved Angus mum and aunt, perfect snobbish b itchy characters – they really add to a story for me, make a contrast to all the sweet stuff.

Its not a story I’d re-read, a little too light and sweet for me, I need a bit more drama but its a fun read for when you want something easy to relax with.

Stars: Three, a little light but a fun story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The War Widow, Lorna Gray

The War Widow,  Lorna Gray

The War Widow by [Gray, Lorna]

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

WW2 isn’t my favourite time setting for reading, but the amazon sample of this intrigued me, very mysterious, had me wanting to know what happens next.
Sadly I carried on wanting to know what came next, as for most of the book it seemed to me to be hinting at various events and revelations that didn’t come out until the very end, and even then I’m still unsure of just how all the connections tied in.
Its – for me, not for everyone clearly – a novel that was well written, had a fabulous use of language and yet was incredibly confusing. For much of the novel we know that Kate has experienced so many bad things, its her voice telling the story, but then the hints are there that maybe its all in her head, trauma from the suicide of her ex husband, trauma from the accident she head, so what she tells us may just be what she believes and not what actually happened.
I didn’t really like her, but of course she’s very true to the time, recent history it maybe but still a period when Men Ruled, and the ladies were expected to defer always.
I did like Adam, though sometimes he appeared brusque.
The other hotel residents were a mixed bunch and I just loved the way Mary’s sister was so determined to see Mary in the running for Adam’s affections, and the way she tried to discredit Kate constantly.
Overall it was an OK read, I did keep putting it aside as I was so confused at what was happening and incredibly frustrated not to know what was the big secret, what the guys after her wanted, what the police were really doing etc. It works perfectly that way for many readers, thus the five stars of course, but we’re all different and it didn’t suit me.
It does all tie up neatly, though even then the bluffs and obfuscation and constantly in presence, and getting to the end I had to re-read some parts to see exactly what had happened. I still can’t say I fully followed all of it 🙂

Stars: Three, its not a story I’d reread, and one I did struggle with, but that’s more a case of me not the book. Not all books suit all readers, that doesn’t make them bad books, just ones that will be loved by some and disregarded by others.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hard Line, (The Woodbury Boys 2), Sidney Bell

Hard Line, (The Woodbury Boys 2), Sidney Bell

Hard Line (Woodbury Boys) by [Bell, Sidney]

Genre: LBGTQIA, Romance

I hadn’t read book one, and maybe I’d have got more from this if I had. I liked it, but it wasn’t a book I loved.

I struggled a bit with the romance, I could feel the change from antagonistic dislike to lust, and after all you can feel lust while still actively disliking someone. I didn’t feel any real romance though and I wanted that.
I did like Sullivan, he seemed a very genuine guy, with just that right amount of quirk to make him intriguing. I really felt for him when his kink desires lost him his best friends and it such a nasty way. I understood why he was so careful with Tobias when he realised he was a natural sub and Sullivan felt his Dom instincts stir. Just needed to feel real romance developing and TBH I didn’t. That’s me though, doesn’t bother everyone but I need to feel that connection.
The kink part was intriguing, linking Tobias emotional/mental issues with sexual desires, and its something that always amazes me. I can’t imagine enjoying sex linking to having someone determining everything, even down to orgasm timing, and the wanting to be hurt, partly for himself, partly to please Sullivan is something I can’t imagine ever feeling. What I find intriguing is the whys, why do people need this, is it ingrained or is it a product of upbringing? In Tobias case it did seem to be linked with his need to please everyone, which was putting intense pressure on him.
I didn’t feel he acted 24, and his parents certainly didn’t treat him as an adult of several years – I’d have been equally furious at their actions.
It’s a story I liked parts of, but the connection to book one, the Russians, the murders, the kidnapping, all kind of overtook those parts and left me floundering a bit.
Again, maybe I’d have understood more if I’d read book one but as it was I found myself putting this aside, picking up a couple of days later, then dropping it again for something else.

Stars: Three, I liked parts but felt overall it was a bit of a muddled book for me. .

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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