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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

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Captive Lies, Victoria Paige

Captive Lies,  Victoria Paige

Captive Lies by [Paige, Victoria]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance

I really liked the sound of this story, and to begin I was enjoying it but….the the Russian Mafia slant came into play, and though I know there are readers who love stories with a Mafia bent I’m not one. Fortunately the Mafia were the bad guys, I really can’t take it when they’re passed of as good guys really, just misunderstood…

I loved Blaire, she was in the situation she was through her birth, nothing she could have done about it, unless she was prepared to knuckle down and have her life run by the Russians. Liam, her friend and protector was a great guy too, and he gave her the training to protect herself. I so like that, when a main character doesn’t have to depend on a man to save her but can hold her own in a fight. Grant, alpha male in the extreme and for me he was at times too pushy, too overly controlling, bordering on abusive in his need to control. Blaire is a tough girl, she’s survived despite having some bad people out to get her and though he wants to protect her he shouldn’t expect her to hand over all control to him and sit back and …well, what? Shop? Watch daytime TV? That’s just not Blaire, she paints but can’t spend all day every day doing that.

I was doing OK with the story, Grant’s obsessive personality and tendency to act like a jerk aside, but it got slowly more overly complex, with distrust everywhere, and threats from all quarters. That can be fun, keeping readers on their toes but can also mean a story gets overly complex. I had guessed one person who was not who they seemed, I wasn’t totally sure but looking back all the clues were there, I just wasn’t sure I was reading them properly – that’s good, I like to be surprised. Then the mafia and political threats began to overlap, technology that seemed improbable crept in and was used to make scenes work that wouldn’t otherwise, and it seemed a little too far fetched for me. I do need to believe in a story, and though technology has advanced hugely, and of course this is fiction I felt that some parts were a little hard for me to believe in. It seemed if you’d got money – and Grant had – then anything could be had for a price.

I wasn’t convinced by Cal, I kind of thought something along those lines would happen, there’s hints thrown in all along but I was disappointed that it worked that way – more of that improbable technology for me. I want to believe things could happen that way if this were a true story and that…nope, I can’t fall for it.

It sounds like I hated the story, and that’s just not true, these were just niggles, big niggles, for me and overall I enjoyed reading this novel. It was my first read by this author and I think if I’d read the Guardians novels maybe I’d have got more from it and understood better what they were capable of.

Stars: Three and a half, a good suspense and romance but both had too many niggles for me.

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

A River of Silence, Susan Clayton-Goldner

Sorry for the lack of reviews this week, a vicious D&V bug hit me, unable to eat, to keep even water down at one point I haven’t turned on pc since Monday morning….

 

A River of Silence,  Susan Clayton-Goldner

A River of Silence: A Winston Radhauser Mystery: #3 by [Clayton-Goldner, Susan]

Genre: Romance, Suspense,

My third story from Susan, and for me each gets better and better, and this one is definitely my favourite. It reminds me a bit of Jodi Picolt’s writing, in the way that reading the synopsis makes me feel one thing, and as the book continues my opinions get changed. I look at incidences from different viewpoints and feel sympathy for people that I may have disliked to begin with.

I love Bryce, such a kind man, but with his own past tragedies. He’s trying to rebuild his live and adores Dana’s two boys.

Radhauser too is a man with a tragic past, and I really enjoyed seeing so much of him and his family here. I love the way Susan links up Bryce past, Radhauser past to the present incidences, and shows how what happens to us does affect how we think, behave, perceive things and other people.

Radhauser sees Bryce and like many immediately think he’s been drinking, but when he finds out Bryce is hearing impaired, sees just how deep his love is for the children he feels he can’t be guilty.

The media as ever though is baying for blood and Radhauser’s boss demands a suspect to keep them quiet. Sadly I think that happens far too often, that media publicity means the police are looking for someone to blame, not necessarily that actual guilty person. Gah, that’s my soapbox for today!

Kendra, girl of famous legal father, rich family but wants to blaze her own trail, and Bryce is her first public defender job. Radhauser has had to arrest him, though he made his views clear that Bryce is innocent and someone else to blame, but as far as the police are concerned its case closed. Radhauser continues to dig in his own time though, and to help Kendra where he can.

Its a tragic story, full of suspense, and one of those where we feel out the story, look for who’s to blame from the clues we’re given. I was convinced it was XXXXX but was wrong, 😉 and loved that. Once the full story comes out it’s so logical, so easy to see how it happened.

I love that its not a one plot story, but multi layered, there’s Bryce and the death of Skylar, and the tragedy from Bryce past, Skylar’s and Scott’s mum Dana, she’s just 20 and struggles with being a parent, her relationship with Reggie, her ex now her present once more. Then we have Bryce’s neighbour, the wonderful Miss Tilly, Bear from the diner and his son Henry and the issues they have, Kendra and her battle to become someone other than her father’s daughter, and of course Radhauser, his past loss and his current family and the problems they have. It makes for a really satisfying read, one well written and researched, one that I loved and will reread.

Stars: Five, a really satisfying read, plots that wrapped up well, that were seen from all sides and which let me make my own decisions. My favourite so far from Susan Clayton-Goldner

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

The Wife – Part Three: In Sickness and In Health, (The Wife series), M.L. Roberts

The Wife – Part Three: In Sickness and In Health (The Wife series)

by M.L. Roberts

The Wife - Part Three: In Sickness and In Health (The Wife series) by [Roberts, ML]

Genre: general fiction (adult)

**Spoilers here for part one and two**

It was kind of obvious what was going to happen with Liam, and I don’t see how Ellie rationalises it to herself. I know her thoughts, just find it skewed. As for Liam, well, with friends like that who needs enemies as the saying goes.
Michael I still find really cold. He’s warm and charming to everyone in public but when they’re alone he just seems to shut her down. They went through a horrific experience, and he seems to feel Ellie should just be able to move on. I can’t help wondering if perhaps he talked to her earlier whether she might have been able to but she’s now in the throes of full obsession and paranoid. Or is she? After all its only paranoia if they’re not out to get you, as the saying goes….
Its a little moved on finally, Michael seems to see Ellie has issues, but his solution? Well, weird…unless he really is hiding something and it certainly looks like it. Appearances can be deceiving though but that ending, well, can it be what it looks like or is there another explanation? I have the feeling book four is going to exonerate Michael in some way, explain all his mysterious activities innocently but Ellie’s actions subsequently will affect them. Or not 😉 . I’m not good at predicting what will happen in a story…..

As I’ve said before, I hate is that this is a four part book that could easily have been a stand alone, a each part is only around 100 pages, for me waiting breaks the tension, the story loses impact.
Sometimes it seems authors do this to maximise income, but that doesn’t seem to be the case and all four parts at current price total £2.97, which is very reasonable. I think its done modeled on TV specials which is fine for many readers, but one of the reason I don’t watch TV. I want ALL the story, not just teases.
Still, looking at reviews this works fine for other readers, the old horses for courses stuff again.

Stars: Four, some progress but is all as it seems? Just wish book four was out now!
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

What Happens at Christmas, Evonne Wareham

What Happens at Christmas,  Evonne Wareham

What Happens at Christmas (Choc Lit) by [Wareham, Evonne]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

A mixed read here, it being a Choc-lit read I didn’t notice the genre, ( I adore Cho-lit romances) and was expecting more romance. There is some, but its tied up in the mystery, kind of equal parts.

It was a fun read, and I loved the section where Lori, Misty and Drew were having Christmas in the barn. That was just magical, and felt so right for this time of year, had me hankering for some snow and crisp, bright days. That was my favourite part of the story, I felt “there” with them, sharing their Christmas. Sometimes its so commercialised we forget how simplicity can make it special.

Misty was a real star, poor kid had a flake of a mother, Lori’s actress sister, and was just dropped off with random friends while her mum swanned off being Actress and Film Star….thank goodness for Lori, and for Misty’s dad Dan, also a film star but not so concerned about image, aging and having a growing daughter.
I loved Lori, a real heart of gold person, ready to help anyone, wanting to be a writer but lacking in self confidence, so determined though that if she was a success it was going to be on her own merits and not by way of her famous family.
Drew, what a sad tale, and even sadder when he reveals the full details. Twenty years of carrying that around, what a burden. I was so glad he found Lori, and the fact they kept things secret and then he was tied up with work, and couldn’t trace her fitted perfectly. Fate though brought them together again, but the mystery of how they met and the repercussions weren’t over, and we got a gripping action finale.
I hadn’t guessed who was behind things, and the motive and that was a perfect surprise. I had a slight idea but couldn’t see how it would fit, so it was satisfying finding out how everything joined together.

Stars: Four, a little slow to pull me in, but once they found drew and had those magic days in the barn I was hooked.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond. A Winter’s Wish Come True, Lynsey James

The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond

Genre:  Women’s fiction, Mystery and Thrillers

My first book by this author so I didn’t really know what to expect. Its a curious novel, if I’d read the sample I’m not sure I’d have requested it.
It does drag at times, with so much inner thinking from Jake. There was lots of detail too about his various patients ,and stats and data connected with his job. I found that part was interesting in very small doses but in great detail it made me skip sections, unable to face more of it….

I did like both Alice and Jake, but found, especially given their professions, it incredible they jumped right in without even checking what they were getting into, without questions, without reading what they signed.
Blithely they just thought it was a bit of fun and I guess I could see that in a way, they thought nothing unpleasant could happen, and they could leave if they didn’t like it. But the Pact has a long reach and that part was chilling. Its not too far fetched to see how it could happen.
Its a weird novel, I didn’t like what was happening, was so cross at Alice and Jake at times, and yet it was strangely compelling and I just had to keep reading.
I had to see how it ended despite not really enjoying the story…and TBH I felt the ending was anti-climatic, a cop out. I felt cheated, wanted something more concrete. I have a real dislike of ambiguous endings, where the reader has to decide what comes next – I’m a reader not a writer, I can’t make up stories, that’s why I read them and I Want Them to Finish Properly, not just fizzle out leaving me dumbfounded about what happens next.

Couple of things I felt were off. I felt given the long arms, the reach and the money the Pact clearly spent I’d have liked to know more about how it was funded, not just a couple of lines about top investment guys doing well. Even the best guys need money to invest with and I didn’t see where it came from.
I felt too that a membership of 12,000 wasn’t enough to sustain the kind of practices and close observation of members that was actually in place. It wasn’t just eyes on them but hidden cameras, audio, tech interference, they really were Stalked in a big way. That takes serious money and big manpower.

It’s a chilling novel, creeping forward from a bit of fun to something they were desperate to get out of but were stuck with.
Curiously compulsive reading but yet I can’t say I actually enjoyed it.

Stars: Three, an interesting book, lots of food for though, some scary possibilities but ultimately not one I actually enjoyed 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Winter’s Wish Come True, Lynsey James

A Winter's Wish Come True by [James, Lynsey]

Genre:  Romance, women’s fiction

A shortish, seasonal read, just under 2800 kindle locations. If light and fun, little sections such as the baby shopping with the two grandmothers, and the dinner from hell made me snigger even while feeling sad for Cleo and Scott, caught up in family issues and  granny rivalry.

I could see why they split but was sad that it came to that, that they didn’t try to make long distance work for them. they’re now two unhappy people. Scott is back now though – so what happens next?
Well, a brief hot re-union and…Cleo is pregnant. A shock at first but Scott is solidly there behind her, and its clear he wants a second chance, or in Cleo’s view after the way he decamped at their last encounter, maybe its a thrid one and she’s not sure her heart can take it.
I got a bit irritated at the way Cleo seems determined to see and think the worst of Scott. He admits he over-reacted when Australia came up – but then so did she, and he explains what happened the next time. I could see her hurt but the guy is doing his best and I was cross at her negativity.

The other character here were good supporting cast, the school bully who’s moved back, catalyst to Cleo body issues, but though her life seems perfect, is it really? Then there’s Natalie, Scott’s ex, willowy, gorgeous model, who’s back on the scene. Is she trying to get Scott back, how can pregnant, lumpy Cleo stand up against her looks? Well, that’s the way Cleo sees it, but is she right?
I did find it odd that both of Scott’s girlfriends had body issues though…

Its a fun read, but pretty light, and I felt for me its a bit too sweet’n’happy, lacked the drama that balances the sweetness.
I had high hopes for Natalie or Amanda in that direction, but they only provided subtle light distractions.

Stars: Three, a fun read, but a bit short and fluffy for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Snowcroft Restoration, Men of Snowcroft 4, Christi Snow

 

 

Snowcroft Restoration, Men of Snowcroft 4, Christi Snow

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:  Romance, LBGTQIA

I enjoyed the first book in this series, but having missed the next two and being over three years since book one, it was a bit like coming in cold and maybe it affected how I felt about this story.
I liked it, just didn’t love it, didn’t feel it was special.

I felt Law and Ian went from 0 to 100 without stopping, and that works in Lust but Love? I wasn’t feeling it.

I also had a hard time dealing with the unreality of the legal side, how Law was not FBI and yet still able to use his contacts, his aliases, hos cards, and how those were linked to his personal account so there was no financial restraints.

I felt the Nick/Ramirez story came too close to overshadowing the main one, found the change of ID from Bad Guy to Good Guy done Bad Things hard to take. Tell that to the guys he maimed, ordered killed… “oh, he’s really working for a greater good” Nope, doesn’t wash.

The story too got incredibly busy, with betrayals, double dealing, multiple good/bad guys, kidnapping, shootings, murders, bombs, it was at times somewhat chaotic, and rather than work to a final climatic end it felt kind of fuzzy, too much going on to appreciate just how each part worked.

Maybe if the gap between my first read and this had been shorter, not three and a half years, maybe if I’d read books two and three…I don’t know. It was a decent read but not one that excited me, and not one I’d reread.

In common with many LGBTQIA reads too there seems constant emphasis on the maleness, the rooms smell masculine, the décor is masculine, their clothes are masculine, the guys themselves smell masculine ( as opposed to what I’m not sure?), everyone is rugged and outdoorsy, or tall and well built, except for Nick and that poor dancer – Matt? – they seem to be totally the opposite, slight and effeminate, the husband and husband introductions get pulled up again and again. I get it, its a story about men, men with male partners, I don’t need reminding of it every few pages.

Stars: Three, an OK read but not a rereader.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk, The Norse Chronicles: Book 3, Karissa Laurel

Molten Dusk (The Norse Chronicles Book 3) by [Laurel, Karissa]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

A fabulous finish, with the tension and excitement ramped up right to the end.
This isn’t one of those reads where you can jump in part way through – you need to start at the beginning or you’ll have no idea whats happening. Its not a run-of-the-mill paranormal, but one which takes on Norse legends and weaves them and the characters into modern day life.
Its so different from most current paranormal offerings and a real treat to read. The romance part is very muted so if you don’t like romance in your reads don’t be put off, its a small part. Personally I love it so long as the story is strong, but I also like reads such as this where romance takes a back seat.
In fact although its clear how Solina and Thorin feel about each other she’s still fence sitting, worrying about that Immortal God v Human paradox. She’s a fiery Star though herself, literally, so not quite just a human….

Helen and Skoll are still a danger and threatening the second Ragnarok. Baldur now has Nina, but she’s struggling with trying to remember her previous incarnations and with his feelings.
He’s less of a wimp in this book – maybe unfair I titled him that in book two but he really did cop out of helping his freinds, saving the world stuff – then again seeing the person you love die time after time after time and trying to find them each re-incarnation must affect one’s mind and priorities.
Val and the Ravens are still a danger, with them knowing a Thought soon as it takes form and being on Helen’s side, but how can Solina and co plan anything without thinking – tough one but aid comes from an unexpected quarter. Can it be trusted though?
There’s still the doubts about the Valkyries Solina has too, she’s not sure if there’s loyalty there or whether they are playing some long game. She knows Skyla is true but doesn’t know about the others.
Helen seems to be one step ahead all the while and she’s making things pretty tough for them, trouble is they have to treat each threat as real even though they know that she’s possibly double bluffing them, and while they fight one threat she’s planning another.
Its real down to the wire stuff this time, and both sides are pretty equal.

I love the characters here, love that the women are all pretty strong. Thor – well, I adore him. I’ve a soft spot for the Ravens too. All these characters have been through so much over the long years, so many battles, so many tragedies.
When Thor talks about his life and family I found it very emotional, and I adore the way he is so in love with Solina, so protective and yet respects her and doesn’t try to stop her from venturing into danger when he knows she needs to do it.

It’s another fabulous read, and the ending is perfect.
Its a fantasy read for Thinking readers, those who want more than the weak story wrapped around a hot romance, that’s sadly so much of the current best sellers lists.
Its story you’ll want to re-read, certainly now I’m planning a back to back read of all three parts.

Stars: five, fantastic ending to an amazing trilogy.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Betrayals, The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017, Fiona Neill,

The Betrayals, The Richard & Judy Book Club thriller 2017, Fiona Neill,

The Betrayals: The Richard & Judy Book Club Pick 2017 by [Neill, Fiona]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, women’s fiction

I loved the idea of this book, and the writing style was perfect but….as I read it somehow it felt a bit flat. It seemed everyone was playing the blame game – except the two who I felt were actually at fault.
The way we saw events from each persons POV was fascinating, I’d be seeing it from one persons eyes and yet the same events from another person had a very different outlook.

I didn’t really like any of the characters. No-one is ever perfect of course but it was hard to find things in these guys to actually like, and without that my empathy is a bit missing.
There’s lots of to and fro where we see events played out as if now were in the past, and then see how they’ve affected people and how they act in the present. What happens to us does shape us, and its easy to link some of the traits of certain characters on what happened, but is it ever the sole cause? I don’t think so, but its human nature I guess for wanting to find a cause for every ailment, everything wrong in our lives.

There’s a bit where Nick says from his studies people change their memories of what happened unconsciously to reflect themsleves in the best light, and I can see that as true. Each time we were in one persons head I was trying to keep that in mind, but its hard not to get pulled in to what they beleive.

I was waiting for some grand climax, for a big reveal as all the way through I thought I kept getting hints of something huge to come out, a secret or something, and yet when I got to the end I felt nothing, it all felt very flat, and anticlimatic.
I wasn’t even sure if what I thought happened at the end did.

Its one of those reads where I can admire the writing style, admire how much research has gone into it, but where the actual story content just passed me by, where I could happily have done without ever picking it up.
Still, others love it and so you may too. I’d try another of Fiona’s books happily, it could well be its just This book that didn’t suit my taste.

Stars: well, two seems harsh but I really can’t give it a three, good book so its two and a half from me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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