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The Clover Chapel, Devney Perry

The Clover Chapel, Devney Perry

The Clover Chapel (Jamison Valley Book 2) by [Perry, Devney]

Genre: Romance

I loved the sound of this read, and was eager to get started, and what a great beginning. It unfolded into a story I enjoyed but wasn’t gripped by though. A one off read, I felt some events were a little overdone, didn’t feel completely real.

There were some great characters here, and some humour to lighten some of the darker moments. I loved Emmeline and Nick and was rooting for them, but though most people seemed keen for their reunion to succeed there were a few who weren’t.
Emmy needs an explanation from Nick as to why he left as he did, and I wasn’t entirely convinced by either his and her actions now chasing that explanation, or that it was actually a strong enough reason. Still, I guess Nick’s past meant he was a little more on edge about it than others may have been.

Its not just a story of a second chance romance though but one tied up with some past and present issues and injustices that bring Emmy into danger more than once.

There’s some nail biting suspense towards the end, and the perpetrator was someone I really didn’t expect.

Stars: Three. Its a story I enjoyed but definitely a one off read for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1, Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones, A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1,  Luanne Bennett

Crossroads of Bones (A Katie Bishop Novel Book 1) by [Bennett, Luanne]

Genre:, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this, Luanne is a new-to-me author, but its a story I really enjoyed.

There are some terrific characters here, and that’s really important for me. I loved Katie, a strong and independent lady, not a whiny TSSL heroine. She’s got a mysterious past, is making a new life for herself in her tattoo shop. Her employees are a mixed bunch but really interesting, and as the story unfolds some of them have valuable info for her. I loved her friend Sugar too, a great secondary character who proved very important and was such a treat to read. I really enjoy reading about people who are different in some way, individuals in the fullest sense and Sugar was perfect.
The adventure, the story, the bit that’s the focus of the book was cleverly done, and kept me reading avidly and this book set me up to look forward for the next. I like that there are characters other than the usual vampire/shooters, I love those but I love stories which take things a bit further too. This one was very vivid in the way it played out and even though we’re talking about fiction, specifically fantasy, it all felt so very real to me. The touches of root/voodoo/voudun magic were good and added so much to the atmosphere, and blended perfectly with the setting.
That ending, not a cliffhanger but a terrific, tantalising glimpse of what’s in story for Katie next. I look forward to reading that.

Stars: Four and a half, almost the magic five, and a terrific series opener.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

 

 

Double Down, Alessandra Torre

Double Down, Alessandra Torre

Double Down (All In Duet Book 2) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Erotica, romance

Having just finished book one I dived quickly into this. The last ended on a real cliffhanger, but everything changes when we start book two.
I wondered how Alessandra was going to work things out to give Dario and Bell a HEA, and just couldn’t see how they could avoid either the killer, Gwen’s father or the police. Its one of those stories where We know they didn’t do it but will that matter to the cops, will one of them get blamed for Gwen’s death? After all we know her father has half the local force in his pay.

Its a roller-coaster follow-up, where I wanted to scream at them for what looked a bit like complacency at one point. We know the danger is still there, and Dario is still heavy on the security but Bell is chafing at the restrictions. It brings a question up for Bell, can she live like this, Dario is always going to be vulnerable now people know how he feels about Bell, and she isn’t sure she can live with a constant shadow. Still, for them sex heals, sex talks, sex bridges all the gaps and there are plenty of Alessandra’s trademark erotic encounters.

I love the way they talk through their feelings of guilt. Its understandable, we all think “if only I…” when things go wrong but neither of them are to blame, its the person with the gun that’s wrong, not them, they aren’t accountable for another’s actions. Thankfully Dario has deep pockets as they need it in this book to avoid getting caught unfairly.

Fantastic read, had me wondering “how will/why don’t they/what about….?” and struggling for answers. I was surprised, and then surprised again and of course like most of Alessandra’s reads its not just a one plot book, but has a solid second strand that becomes joined to the first, and gave me lots to try to work out.
Fantastic ending but….I can’t help wondering about that one loose end 😉

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. Some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up and give Dario and Bell a HEA. Thankfully they do get one.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Even Money, Alessandra Torre

Even Money,  Alessandra Torre

Even Money (All In Duet Book 1) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Erotica, romance

Alessandra’s writing is perfect for me, solid plots and excitement, real feeling people I can like – or dislike, books need those too, plenty of drama, angst, steamy, erotic encounters and loads of emotions.

So I went into this one eagerly and wasn’t disappointed, its got all of that and more. What I hate in a book though is a cliffhanger and this is a real doozy….BUT thankfully book two is only a week or two away. I can live with that, its when it happens in a book and the next isn’t due for 12 or 18 months, or even longer….( of course I’m lucky enough to have got an ARC for that on my kindle, but I’m writing there as a standard reader, about how frustrating it can be when the next book is so far away)

Bell’s a cocktail waitress in a “neutral zone “ casino, one where the other casino owners come to play. Its owned by two men who have become really good friends of hers, the kind who will – as the saying goes – help you hide a body without asking questions.
I like Bell, just wants to get through school, enjoy life and live and do her best to be independent. She’s had a tough background, some awful events in it and yet is strong, determined to live a better life.
Dario – I wasn’t sure of him at first, he seemed arrogant and one of those snap his fingers and demand instant obedience types. As we get to know him though I liked him more, he’s like Bell in that he too comes from a non moneyed background, but he’s talented, worked hard and married well financially, and is now in a strong position. Despite all that his hands are still tied in a way, his wife’s father, what an awful man, totally immoral, money is God type, and Dario and Gwen are tied tightly to him. Independence is close but they’re not there yet.
Gwen, Dario’s wife, is mostly a background figure. They married for complex reasons, live separate lives in many ways though they live together, and have a close respect and friendship with each other. So when he tells Bell Gwen knows and is OK with him having other women, he is actually telling the truth, not spinning a well worn line.

Of course life isn’t smooth, even though her bosses warn her about Dario, even though she knows he takes and drops women when the next comes along, even though she promised herself she’d never get entangled with a man like him she’s drawn to him, some undeniable thread pulling them together. Dario can feel it too, this connection that keeps him coming back when he Never chases, Never pursues women. There are too many ready and willing for him to have to do that.

Of course true love never runs smooth, and despite all the signs and self imposed blocks they do get together, then the fireworks start, ending with that astonishing cliffhanger.

I was desperate to read book two, and have it on my kindle so I did just have to take a sneak at the start to see how that cliffhanger moved forward….but didn’t let myself read more until I’d written this.

Its hard for me to write a review if I’ve read both books, trying to recall what was in book two not book one so I was disciplined! I was almost tempted to get up in the early hours and write though.

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. This book is a perfect read for those who want a solid romance with some real adventure. No sweet and cute folk here, no fluffy feeling scenes, no “heart warming” sections, heart rending maybe 😉 I will be eagerly reading book two today!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon (Mated by Fate) by [Cole, Kari]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I enjoy paranormal romances, so this appealed. I did feel at first as if I’d made a mistake as it seemed to be rather cliché ridden and I thought it was going to be one of those where frankly the romances are more or less the same and only the characters and settings change. As the story continued though I found I was wrong, it took its own path, and was a decent read.

I did find Izzy’s conversion to meat eating a little weird, and also the fact that she’d managed to control her wolf and sustain herself ( though not healthily) on a vegetarian diet. Its find for humans but wolves?? The thread that usually goes through all shapeshifter books is a hungry wold is a dangerous one, and Izzy’s career choice took her into stressful, dangerous and blood filled areas.
Still, an interesting read, even if I did want to smack Luke a few times for his alpha posturing in front of Izzy. He just about stopped short of calling her Little Woman, but somehow I got the impression barefoot and pregnant in his kitchen was how he saw her ideal future with him, when she’s go so much more to offer. He did grow to see just how strong she was and respect it but those early scenes were irritating for me.
I did struggle with how was who and where they fitted in the story. For a long while it felt as if I was reading a spin off series and should know who all these folk where and how the pack arrived at the position it was in. I can’t find any other books though so I guess I’m wrong there.

Stars: Three, slow start, a bit confusing at times but overall a decent read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller, Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller,  Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau: An Erotic Thriller (The Original Sinners) by [Reisz, Tiffany]

Genre:  Mystery and Thrillers, Romance

I love the Sinners series ( and the side stories), adore Kingsley so was expecting to love this. Sadly though I didn’t.

Its the same hot and sensual writing, King is a gorgeous young man here and we see echoes of the man he will grow into. There’s lots of memories of Soren here, him and King, that weird but very symbiotic relationship they have and I thought I’d love the way how some of the gaps in the stories were filled. I just didn’t connect with the book though, felt it was just stretching the series too far for me. As ever though I can see others love it and that’s how it goes. Not all books suit all readers.
I really enjoyed the way the sensual and erotic sex was blended so perfectly with the stories in the Sinners series, up to this one. Here it seemed as though the sex took the place of the story, that lovely balance that’s been so perfect for me was lost with Story taking a back-seat. That never works for me, I need a solid story to hang the sex on, or it just becomes meaningless.
I think its time for me to part with this series, stick to re-reading the first eight books and enjoying the shorter side stories as they come out.

.

Stars: Two, sadly a fail for me but of course others feel very differently. Subjective taste books…we’ll never all agree.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

The Perfect Husband, Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband,  Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband by [Andrews, Buffy]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Writer K.J. Charles wrote a blog post recently about what is and isn’t a romance novel. She says romance needs to have that happy ending, a HEA or at least a HFN between the two (or more) main characters and that’s exactly how I feel. This ISN’T romance, its a great read, I really enjoyed it but romance it is not. I’ll skip my usual moan about women’s fiction 🙂 For me this book is better categorised as General Fiction, Drama/Dark fiction.

It starts well, that careful meeting when adults are thrown back into the dating field, after death, divorce, break-ups. Shelley meets Eric and her best friend Jackie and her workmates all agree he’s the perfect man. Even at this early stage we can see one of two red flags but Shelley, blissfully immersed in Love Land misses them.
How easy that is, how we make excuses, tell ourselves “he/she didn’t mean it that way./its understandable, I shouldn’t have…/well he/she had past issues that make that reaction normal for them.

Eric’s like a whirlwind, and Shelley is so in love, feels so treasured, so taken care of, even though she is perfectly OK at taking care of herself. Everyone loves a bit of pampering, a little special treatment and I could see so much why Eric appealed, such a contrast to her ex.
And before she knows it they’re moving in together, and of course it doesn’t make sense to keep her stuff when Eric’s is so nice, and he says he’d rather not have things from her life with Scott. Some of the things were hers alone though, and he’s all “well, of course if you really want to keep them we can change things round, make room somewhere…” sounding like he’s doing her a favour almost. She knows he doesn’t really want anything of her past in their new home, and she loves him, she wants what he wants.
Suddenly she’s married, and the cracks start to appear. Sadly this is real life for so many people, men and women, and it’s so easy to say “just leave” but by the tome things are that bad all confidence in the victim, in Shelley, has been lost. Life becomes just a constant struggle to watch out for anything that might make Eric angry, and then after pretending she accepts his remorse, his words of “you need to try harder Shelley, I don’t like having to get angry at you” That’s a classic, turn the blame around, and something abusers are so good at.

The real kicker is can she escape, will she find the strength, will he let go? The drama parts of this novel were superb, so carefully done its easy to see how outgoing, attractive, confident Shelley becomes a shadow of that person, and yet all the while presenting a front of the perfect marriage. I was so rooting for her.

I moaned about genre classification, and if I was a solely romance reader I’d have been so disappointed. Happily though I’m an eclectic reader. Its a fabulous read, not romance by a long shot but an incredible dark, ( not as in horror dark thankfully) psychological suspense, mirroring what is real life for many people, sucking us in to Eric and Shelley’s world, wondering how it can all end.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, breathtaking in places with superb pacing, slowly revealing the real Eric.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval 2) by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

I was so looking forward to this, I adored Caraval, and amazingly I think Legendary is even better. It’s another magical book, full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible. And the “is it a game or are things real this time “ conundrum. Poor Tella, she has a series of really difficult choices to make and she doesn’t know, and the consequences are so very different if its real this time.

As with Caraval its has that YA feel to it, and yet its one that will appeal to all ages, there’s nothing childish about the story, and its so full of changing consequences, riddles, pure magic or possibly illusion – how can Tella know whats real. As an adult I certainly couldn’t!
This story is told from Tella’s POV, I liked seeing Scarlett and the mysterious Julian again, along with of course Dante and some of the other minor characters. There’s some fabulous new people too, and as before knowing if what they say is true or not is important but incredibly hard to tell. Tella has struck a bargain with Jacks, but as she gets closer the consequences become more clear and she doesn’t know whats the best thing to do, whichever way she jumps people will be hurt but doing nothing isn’t an option either.

I’m still full of questions, who, how, why and what about….I could go on for ages, it seems like when one question gets answered there’s always the chance that it may not be the Correct Answer, just An Answer 😉 and trying to work it out is like herding cats, simply impossible. Just let it flow and enjoy the magic.

Stars: Five, a read to take you away for a few hours, though That ending was incredibly frustrating for me. I understand more of Caraval having read this, and would up my rate for that to a five now

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

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

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