Her Frozen Heart, Lulu Taylor

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Her Frozen Heart, Lulu Taylor

Her Frozen Heart by [Taylor, Lulu]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

My first read from Lulu Taylor and though the writing style was perfect for me I did think to begin that I wasn’t going to enjoy this story.
It seemed each time I got into what was happening in the life of Caitlyn or Tommy the chapter would leave them and go to the other one. It took a while before the two stories seemed to gel for me, I couldn’t see the connection and frustrated myself trying to work it out.

Once I really got into it though I loved it and slowly I found myself drawn into the main characters lives.
Loved Caitlyn, and so felt for her when her so called friend Sara began to stir up her memories of the past. she really was a first class bitch, and she was very true to type – I’ve met people like her, emotional vampires, always desperate for approbation and attention from their freinds, but never really happy, ready to use, discard, seduce anyone who can get them on the next rung of what they see as their right, regardless of who gets hurt.
Poor Tommy found someone like that intruding in her life, not by choice but foisted upon her, when her good nature made it impossible to say No.
I loved Tommy, she’d been through so much. I wanted to know Why was her mother so sniping, so sneering of Tommy’s past.
I admired her so much for her determination, her hard work in protecting those she saw as hers, her family and close freinds, she had a very hard job keeping things run during the war when everyone was facing shortages.

Its like another world reading about how they lived during the war and yet it happened, and that’s exactly how people managed to get by.
Talking to my grandkids recently we touched on the 3 day week, electricity rationing, petrol rationing during the 70s and they were astonished. Seems incredible to think of it now but that’s how it was, and like Tommy and family we just got on with life, managed as best we can.
I think its hard for those who haven’t experienced that kind of mass shortages, the time when flicking a switch doesn’t bring lights on, TV on etc.

Its a great read, not a heart stopping must-keep-reading book, but one where you can put it to one side, pick up a day later and within a few lines you’re back immersed in the world of the characters within the book. Now I know the story I don’t think its one I’d reread but its definately a five star read.
I loved the way the stories got closer to the end and then the surprises revealed when everything comes to a head.

Stars: five, a really enjoyable, satisfying read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross, Lisa Tuttle

The Curious Affair of the Witch of Wayside Cross, Lisa Tuttle

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers,Sci Fi & Fantasy

This caught my eye as its set in Norfolk, my home county. I love a dip into a historical novel sometimes so asked for this.
It proved to be a fun read, fascinating mystery involving local legends.
What surprised me further was the main action takes place in a little village just outside Cromer, called Aylmerton.
Why the surprise? Well, I live in that village and so much of it is exactly as it is now, the shrieking pit legends, the Lions Mouth, the local church. It’s clearly an area the author is familiar with and that reality made it really fun to read.
There are lots of local legends here, the village is set on an area when the Romans used to stay – called of course – Roman Camp, and the whole Holt – Cromer ridge was formed during the ice age, so fascinating fossils and artifacts frequently turn up in fields and on the beaches. The West Runton mammoth was found here a few years back, its the largest almost complete skeleton found.
I’ve often wondered about the Shrieking pits, I’ve a few old books about Norfolk and they’re mentioned. I love Lisa’s explanation.
I love too the Jesperson and Lane duo, a great pair who complement each other well. I do think that maybe Miss Lane might have found life a tad more restrictive though….and I so wish the trains run as well now as they did then. Post too. I’ve a few old family letters and postcards, one always fascinated me, its from a great aunt telling my gran she’ll visit that afternoon. Can you imagine doing that now 🙂
On the whole though the historical setting worked really well, made me feel as though I was with them back in time. The little details really make a difference to the feeling of history found in novels.
I enjoyed the way what seem like disparate plots end up being linked, tied up neatly in an ending I didn’t foresee. I love being surprised like that! Its a gentle read, but very cleverly done, very accurate historically and well researched. The plants and poisons section was very interesting, I’m very interested in plants and natural remedies, and again this showed that Lisa had done her homework.
I think that’s what give novels an edge, when its clear that the details have been checked, not simply invented or left to chance as to accuracy.

It’s a story I really enjoyed, not a heart stopping suspense but a more gentle meander through history with a fascinating couple.

Stars: four, an interesting and fun read, with a special connection for me with where I live.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

A Crazy Kind of Love, Mary Ann Marlowe. Van, A Cold Fury Hockey Novel, Sawyer Bennett

A Crazy Kind of Love, Mary Ann Marlowe

A Crazy Kind of Love (Flirting with Fame) by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s fiction.

I loved Mary Ann’s first book, and this one covers Eden’s brother Micah, who we met in book one.
That book was such a treat to read, humour that wasn’t forced, drama, real emotions and scenes I felt actually could play out in real life. I was really looking forward to this second book, and it was another terrific read.

Poor Jo, curious family background that’s left her feeling a little bit chip-on-the-shoulder about herself, and means she second guesses so much of what goes on around her. That comes over really well in this book where she’s wondering does Micah want her for herself, or just her publicity contacts.
Micah is also a great lead, funny, kind, caring and so very open. He appears to court publicity but is it because he wants fame at any price, or as he says, if he doesn’t hide anything there’s no story. He’s not sure if Jo wants to be with him for himself or to give her career a leg up…..poor confused couple, and as a reader its so easy to see how actions from both of them can be taken either way.
Throw in Jo’s best friend Zion ( loved him), her awful boss, Micah’s sister Eden, Adam her fiancee and Micah’s friend, and a few others and its a novel that’s a real treat to read. Its one I’ll definitely re-read and it may be time for a repeat look at Eden and Adam’s story 😉

Its chic lit – but with that bit extra, a little seriousness that grounds the story at times, doesn’t have the sheer silliness that has me eye rolling at so many of this genre.
Its a story for those of us who don’t need every facet of humour force fed to us, who want to read and work out where the story is going ourselves.
It seems to be well-researched too as regards Diabetes type 1. I only know a little of that, more about type 2, but it was good to see someone with this condition having to work it into their daily lives, good to see just how frightening hypos can be for others. My late husband had one at around 2a.m. once, I thought he’d had a stroke, he got up, collapsed flat out and could only speak in slurs. Very very frightening, and I can see how others may think someone is drunk…Mary Ann brought that part to life really well.
I love it when an author takes care over little details like this.

Stars: five, another fabulous read from a talented author. I look forward to more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Van, A Cold Fury Hockey Novel, Sawyer Bennett

Van: A Cold Fury Hockey Novel (Carolina Cold Fury Hockey) by [Bennett, Sawyer]

Genre:  Romance, sports

I’ve read lots of Sawyers novels, and enjoyed most very much, but a few haven’t quite cut it for me, and this is one of them.

Poor Van, what a horrific past and no wonder he’s as emotionally fragile and seems an ar se. That’s his way of protecting himself from the world, of dealing with his anger. Hockey is a great outlet for that rage, lets him release his feelings on the ice, and he’s done well in the sport. women though….absoloutely no-one, male or female, except his aunt, gets close to him.
Simone, urgh. I just did not like her and its my main reason for disliking the story. there’s an attraction in a woman with self confidence, Simone though was simply arrogant, rude, uncaring of what anyone else wanted, her feelings were all that counted and I really disliked her.
I think what got me is we’re always saying “no means no” and that’s a great message, but it applies to both sexes and she just didn’t respect Van when he said no. There’s one scene that if it was the other way round people would be outraged, horrified, claiming it borders on rape/abuse and just because its a female doing the pushing doesn’t mean its right 😦

She really coloured my whole view of the book, my dislike of her meant I couldn’t enjoy the story, I wanted to shout at her to have respect for Van’s feelings, stop just steamrollering her way through because she wanted something.
Its a sex overtakes the story novel too – and for me that isn’t good.

Stars: 2.5/3. Sorry Sawyer, there were bits I liked but overall this one’s a fail for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Infamous, Jenny Holiday

Infamous, Jenny Holiday

Infamous by [Holiday, Jenny]

Genre:  Romance, LBGTQIA

I really enjoyed this read, I love romances which have the issue of fame to contend with.
It has to be hard, trying to meet someone when the media are out to catch every possible hint of scandal, and happy to make up what isn’t happening, to put a spin on an innocent photo.

Jesse got caught in just that when his band was starting out, and promised their new manager he’d take more care in future.
The band has risen to heights they only dreamed of since then and Jesse has done everything his manager asked, dated whoever he was told, made up and broken up on demand.
Its a shallow life though, he doesn’t think he’s unhappy, thinks he has what he dreamed of until he meets Hunter….

Hunter has just come out of a relationship where he had to play room-mate not partner to his lover. He finally realised that contrary to what was promised when they met, that’s all he’ll ever be. He’s heartbroken but determined not to live in someone’s shadow, not to hide who he is.

He and Jesse get closer through his work and Jesse’s charity meetings at the hospital, and a friendship develops. Hunter thinks Jesse is straight, but one night…well, leads to some changes. He tells Jesse though he’s not hiding who he is, not ever again.
Jesse is stuck, be with the man he’s come to love and lose his career, let his bandmates down or keep his career and lose Hunter.
Tough one and the way it played out was wonderful. No two page drama but chapters of it, lots of angst, lots of wondering”can they? Will they? How can…?” and I adore books that make me feel like that.

Stars: Five, great read, real situation, not a one plot story but one with some real substance to it.

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

 

The Baby Bargain, Jennifer Apocada

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The Baby Bargain, Jennifer Apocada

The Baby Bargain: A Once a Marine Series Book by [Apodaca, Jennifer]

Genre: general Fiction (adult), Romance

Well, TBH this book is nothing like the title suggests, in fact after reading I came back to check that it was the correct title. Even the last suggestion of a blackmail bargain in the description is, IMO, way off….However it was a fun read despite all that 🙂

I loved Megan. Should she have told Adam about Cole? Could she even?
Given he’d left no contact details, left her for the second time somewhat abruptly, stating he’d never return, and knowing how he felt about family I think her reasons for keeping quite were valid.
Of course her own experience of fathering coloured her views and she’s doing what she honestly believes is best for Cole, not for her or Adam. Whether that’s the right decision who knows, but its what loving parents do, make the decision they think best for their children, regardless of personal sacrifice.
She’s worked hard at her fledgling veterinary practice, long hours, taking on extra jobs, and finally just as things are looking up there’s a crisis. Someone with a grudge is setting her up.

Adam never expected to return, but once he sees Megan those old feelings he suppressed return.
I have to say I found him a bit of a jerk at first, talk about have your cake and eat it. He expected everything to be done his way. When I knew more about him I understood why, but it still made me angry at him.

Its a fun read despite what I feel is that oddness in the title and description.
It’s a little predictable at times, but that got lifted by the suspense angle which added something extra, making it more than a sweet, bog standard romance.
There are so many good stories around that to get seen authors have to deliver something extra and IMO Jennifer succeeded here.

Stars: four, a fun read, lifted above so many of the standard romances available. Not a five star read, but a solid four for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Maid of Ice, Shona Husk plus black friday audible offers.

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Maid of Ice, Shona Husk

Maid of Ice (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I hate the title of this book, its horribly “twee”, sounds more like a 70’s M&B title than a contemporary fantasy.
Don’t let that put you off though becuase under that awful title is the third novel in a fun and unusual fantasy world.

Each book is slowly building on this world, where supernaturals who can do magic live unnoticed among humans. Barely noticed actually, though there’s a group called Guardians who want to rid the world of all of them.
The battle between Albah and Guardians has been one from centuries back, and currently there’s supposedly a truce, though its looking more and more that the Guardians have been killing off Alba in what were first thought of as accidents.
The Guardians main grump is that the Albah can make vampires, Albanex, and those can create mayhem in their search for human blood.

There’s more to the story, the Albah are concerned that their race is dying out. They’ve kept themselves isolated and hidden for so long, but the threat of the Guardians has made many of them drop out of the group, go their own way. The fracturing of the group like this, and the actions of the Guardians have made them a weakened society, and there are those that think its time to be proactive, make changes.
Its a tough time for them right now, Finlay’s dad is the Albah King, leader of all, and that’s part of why Finlay doesn’t join in, share with the group. He was conceived as a kind of duty baby in his eyes, brought up by his father when his mother left to go on to have another family with the man she loved, and to do her job protecting Keepers.

Keepers, they’re a third arm – centuries in sleep, they’re the people who hold all the old secrets, and people like Archie, Findlay’s mother, protect their hidden sleep places. Finlay has always felt abandoned by her, his stepmum died when he was young, and he’s regarded her as his mum. He just doesn’t want to join in on Albah stuff, wants to stay alive and live his life, believing that maybe it is time they died out as a society. Then he meets Alina, and gets a taste of what that could be like and its not the way he envisaged.

Alina has no idea what she is, her mother has kept them on the move, away from her family and done her best to keep Alina’s water magic hidden. When she meets Finlay circumstances bring her heritage to light, and place both of them in extreme danger.

Its an entertaining read, not as good IMO as the last story but still very interesting. I wasn’t quite convinced of the love between Alina and Finlay, that’s the main issue for me. Their romance seemed to go from nothing to full pelt with little in between. What did work well here though was the story-line that advanced the overall novel arc, leading up to what looks to be at some point a gripping fight involving all of the factions, and before that happens Finlay and those like him need to decide what they want from the group. Do they see a future for them or not, will they fight or give in?
Finlay makes his choice here, but with others having broken off from the main group, tracing them is going to be a hard challenge and time is running out fast.

Stars: four, not quite the five star read of the last novel for me, but an excellent installment moving forward the overall story.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By the Currawong’s Call, Welton B. Marsland

By The Currawong's Call by [Marsland, Welton B.]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I loved this book. Amazingly moving, so very realistic.
When I read a romance I want something different, not just a cookie cutter A loves B story but something that creates emotion in me. this book delivers that.

I love an occasional dip into a historical novel and it really suits this genre, with the draconian laws against homosexuality. ( Sadly in many areas laws like this still exist, and even when areas are more enlightened its still a battle against some people ).
The setting was perfect, had that small town feel, the way religion and priests were so respected. the snippet when one of the ladies mentions here suspicions about Jonah’s sexuality to Matthew, and then apologises for talking about such matters to a man of the faith…..In little towns back then, as now, everyone knows everybody and rumours and gossip are what keeps life flowing.

Jonah and Matthew are both such great characters, Matthew so very innocent, shamed of how he feels towards men so he’s subjugated it for so long, ignored anything he feels, wrapped himself up in his work and God. He really is a staunch Believer, not someone I felt was paying lip service to religion, but God totally shaped his life. I loved his naivety, it was part of the person he was.
Jonah too has a calling, he’s been a policeman for a long time, worked his way up from the bottom and is so well respected by all the locals. He’s a part of the community, not just the man who upholds the law.

For a small community they’ve had a few issues, Jonah was shot a few years back, and in this book he deals with a serious fire, assaults, runaway horse and a murder….a real Hero. And yet he can’t be openly with the man he wants, they have to hide so carefully. If caught they face loss of both jobs, loss of standing in the community and not just that but a long spell of imprisonment. The way homosexuals were treated then they’d probably both get killed. Serious stuff.
It amazes me how people can forget all the good others do in their judgmental views. Even if they didn’t do anything particularly good, so long as they’re not harming any one so what if they want to be together?

Its a book that made me so sad, so angry, but which was so tender in the way the romance grew out of the blue. Jonah had spent time with lots of ladies but never really considered men sexually, though he knew a few from his police work and had a view that he’d turn a blind eye where he could. He had a good argument about the Bible and how we understand what’s written. It IS very conflicting, it Is subjective and interpretive.
Meeting Matthew and how he felt towards him came as a shock, and the relationship grew at a very natural for the time rate.
Sometimes that’s more tender, more romantic, more erotic even, that the more contemporary reads where it’s lust at first sight, and they’re hot and heavy before even getting to know each others names. A tiny touch, a careful glance can be so very sensual written properly, and this book is full of that.

Stars: five, Its a story to savour, a book to re-read later and had an epilogue I loved.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Council of Souls Fated Eternals 2 by Jen Printy

Council of Souls, Fated Eternals 2, Jen Printy

Council of Souls (Fated Eternals Book 2) by [Printy, Jen]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, Romance

Well, I loved book one and was keen to crack on with the story but….its so different from other fantasy books, so many new immortals with different talents that I was lost. I went back and read last five or so chapters of book one to refresh my mind and fell back into the story.
Having finished this book I really think it would benefit from an index or something, so that we know how each person is connected, and the difference between the supernatural types. Now we’ve Souless, Timeless, Endless, Immortals, Soul Immortals, Death, the Fates, Shadow Death….you get the idea. I just kept forgetting who fitted where and the difference between them all.
Its a great read once more. The love between Jack and Leah is so perfect, and the lengths each will go to to save the other really emphasises that. I love Artagan too, he seems to know a lot more than he lets on. Kemsi, a puzzle that one. What does she really feel about Artagan and he her? Death? What’s his end game and why does he seem to let Domitilla get away with so much. How are people chosen for Gathering and why? So many questions and the end of this book sets things up nicely for the next.
Its a five star read, though I really would have benefited from an index of types and hope that maybe for the next book Jen does one. I did have to put this aside sometimes as I just got so lost between characters and connections. I needed to sit back from the story a bit and think about how that worked before I could continue and it spoiled the flow a bit for me. These kind of very different supernatural reads work best for me when all books are out and its one that I’ll definitely do a back to back read when that happens, immerse myself in the story and be able to read through remembering who’s who and where they fit in things. Currently with them being different from the fiction norms, and with a gap between books it means I need to refresh my mind on all that before starting next book.

Stars: five, a fabulous, fresh take on the supernatural world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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