Hunter’s Captive, Cassandra Bella. Memory of Love, JJ Keller

Hunter’s Captive, Cassandra Bella

Hunter's Captive by [Bella, Cassandra]

Genre:  Romance, Mystery and thrillers

I enjoyed this story, but parts were a little hard to take, and though they moved the tale to where it needed to be they lacked real credibility.

Paxton, rich girl, daddy’s girl, trust fund baby, shared a beautiful summer with Hunter ten years ago. Then it all went wrong, and he’s been bitter about it ever since.

He’s focused on his career, and the boy from the poor side of the town has done well, is a top agent and he thinks he’s moved on.
Then the case he’s on involves Paxton. He can’t bear to think of her locked up just because its her wedding day to the jerk who’s finally being brought in. So….he kidnaps her.
That part one of the hard to take bit. Would a professional really do that? and get away with it with his boss and colleagues? Still, they’re on the run now and it seems her fiancee has sent killers after them.

Paxton is so angry at Hunter and thinks he’s just doing this out of revenge. Her fiancee a wanted man? Please ( roll eyes), he’s not like that she says, he’s a good man, her father admires him, he’s a solid businessman.
She won’t believe Hunter until the others track them down and they’re running ( well driving) for their lives, at breakneck speed down the mountain side. How did they find them?
Well, that’s the second hard to take part. She’s an intelligent woman and would she really do that? I can see the first part, out of concern and worry but the second thing she lets out, perleease…she’d have more sense surely. Or maybe she is just a dumb blonde…

Anyway, there they are running out of danger and the tensions are high. The attraction between them that each thought was gone is clearly still there, and before long they’re talking about the past, have become close again, very close and are into some erotic and sensual sex. Can they have a future?

Well, first thing is to escape the danger they’re in..

Its a fun read, some hot and heavy sensuality, some danger and excitement and made for a decent read to pass away a coupe of hours.

Its not one I’d re-read, but I did enjoy it despite those couple of irritations in inconceivability factor.

Stars: four, a decent but one off read for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Memory of Love, The Valkyrie Series, JJ Keller

Memory of Love (The Valkyrie Series) by [Keller, JJ]

 

Genre:  Romance,

I was so taken with the synopsis that I didn’t do my usual checks so missed that this was thrid in a series, and also its a novella. My bad.

Lots of readers love them, but for me they just don’t work, I don’t feel they have the space I need to understand the story, the characters or really get to feel for them.

Its a good read if you are following the series, and of course, if you like novellas.

I was able to keep up with the story OK, but it would have worked better for me if I’d read the first two books, as the characters and plots follow – or I assume they do – from things that happened back then. It meant I had to guess at parts, and how each person was connected.

Its a fun read, I liked the Viking legend part, something not often seen in fantasy sadly, as its very interesting and can create some great stories.

If you’re happy with shorter reads this could be a great series for you. For me it’s just not in-depth enough, even if I had read the first two novels.

Stars: three, interesting premise, and a good series if you like shorter novels.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

CHASING WICKED, KATHYRN L. JAMES. The Lie of the Land, Amanda Craig

CHASING WICKED, THE MITCHELL BROTHERS,- WICKED SERIES BOOK 1, KATHYRN L. JAMES

Chasing Wicked (The Mitchell Brothers - Wicked Series Book 1) by [James, Kathryn L]

Genre:  Romance, erotica

Well, a good start to a new series if you like a hot and steamy read. I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it.
For me I felt the story was a little weak, a wonderful story-line but in practice I felt Stone and Avery had little in common after all those years, and needed to focus a bit more on their lives rather than the hot sex.
Still, its erotica as well as romance, and for many readers heat and sensuality is what they want. Its what I love too but I need to feel the story, the characters are real.

I felt for Avery, what an awful thing to happen and understood her actions.
Stone, when he found out what happened after, is back in her life and they’ve both had a huge life change to take in. Not the best time then to leap into sex…but that doesn’t stop them.
I did feel she was a bit of a doormat for Stone, letting him dictate terms, when she knew that kind of relationship wasn’t for her and would break her eventually. As she keeps saying, she’s got Savannah to think of.
Stone had been through a lot too, and I wondered how he’d ended up owning all those hotels, 54, given what had happened to him in the intervening 6 years.
That’s a heck of a business to grow, when its not the family one he was born into. Even if they funded it initially, it takes time to build sucess like that.
He was so adamant about a sex only relationship, a friends with benefits was all he could offer and then – well, I found his about turn very hard to take. That quick, after all that stone walling (oops, unintended pun there..) earlier, all those proclamations about what he couldn’t do?
There’s some drama at the end and maybe that kind of fright would have felt right for me to change his mind, but it wasn’t that which did it.

Some of the story lines felt a little unfinished to me, there was a good ending, but it wasn’t really clear about reasons and the how and why’s of what happened. Maybe that doesn’t bother others but it left me thinking “how did that, why did he/she, what about…?”

Stars: Three, a hot, sensual and steamy read if you want just that but for me the story lines felt a little thin.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Lie of the Land, Amanda Craig

The Lie of the Land by [Craig, Amanda]

Genre: General Fiction

Usually novels I read have romance somewhere, but I like to read stories that stretch me a bit, make me think “what if” and some of them, as this one does, come under a General Fiction heading. What if Quentin hadn’t had affairs, what if there hadn’t been a recession, what if Xan had got into his chosen uni? As for down in Devon, there’s any number of What Ifs that would change things hugely.

I really, really didn’t like Quentin for at least the first half of the book. He’s like a big kid – its always someone else’ fault, he’s a man, can’t be expected to be faithful, he can’t help his straying ways etc. etc..
Ugh, I hate hearing that,  and it made me wonder what Lottie ever saw in him. Xan seems to hate him now, calls him Dud, which made me snigger. Yet from what we read he idolised him until recently, much his two younger hald sisters still do.

Poor Lottie, they can’t even afford a divorce. Quentin is moaning all the while but it seems she’s the one making sacrifices, getting things to work, dealing with day to day issues, the kids, the house, the lack of money, while he keeps swanning back to London in pursuit of another job, another story, another woman.
He’s acting like one of those awful men who still imagine they’re single and what they’re doing won’t hurt anyone….
When we look deeper into their backstories though its not quite so cut and dried. He still makes me angry, I still think he’s appalling as a husband and father, but do understand him and his actions a little better.

There’s a subtle danger in the so called peace of their retreat though, and they find out the countryside has claws, and its not all rural idyll, bohemian joy and rhapsody, but dreary, damp, dark and dangerous…and that danger comes knocking very, very close to home.
Some of it I’d guessed from the story but not all, there’s a really tangled web to unravel.

There are some great characters here, ones that felt so real, as if I could know them.
The descriptions of country life are spot on at times too, work in factories as grim as Humbles does abound, minimum wage, long hours, zero hours contracts, no regard for safety and no job security.
There are few other jobs in the countryside though. Work is mind numblingly boring, life is hard to cope with, and we see just how so many different families are doing that, most people simply struggling day to day, and a select few are thriving. It’s not just Lottie and Quentin that are having issues, both work and personal, but others that hide their struggles carefully behind a public face. The old UK Putting a Brave Face on, Stiff Upper Lip and all that.

Its not a story I’d reread, very uncomfortable at times, but one which I enjoyed as a one off, one that made me really think about the characters and situations.
What would I have done if I was Lottie? Not let him back home is my first thought, but then he’s a good dad to the girls, was good to Xan when they first got together, and of course she’s the memory of that man and the hope he’ll come back to her.
Will he though, or are the changes too much?

Stars: four, a fascinating read into what can happen to those affected by financial issues, marital issues, jealousy, unplanned pregnancies, lack of quality/well paid work…

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood, (The Dagger Chronicles 1), Janice Jones

In Her Blood by [Jones, Janice]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult
Edit: Its priced at over £10, $13 for an unknown author…Seriously?? I’m all about supporting writers but that price is way to much. I think twice about paying that for one of my favourite, well established authors.

Well, its termed Romance so I expected there to be some in the book, but apart from some heated action between Jason and Alex towards the end, that’s it for Romance.
Even that feels more like scratching an itch, sex for the sake of it, there’s no real closeness, nothing other than lust between them though there are hints Jason might be feeling more.

I felt there were too many people, too many plots, and there I’m saying that when I hate the simplified, one plot book that pervades the best seller list.
This though feels like Janice has taken every supernatural concept she ever could come up with, every possible connection and thrown it all together. the Blunderbuss effect, throw it all and hope some sticks. It makes for a messy novel though IMO.

I didn’t really like Alex, didn’t dislike her, but there’s nothing special that I can say I like about her personality. I felt for her, but I didn’t understand how she went from A, working as the Dagger for her “father” to B, famous successful business owner. That just doesn’t happen without an awful lot of clout.
Then there’s all her very useful contacts and people owing her favours. how did that happen, so many powerful people knowing her, owing her?
She spent from 13 to 21 as far as I can see locked away underground unless out on a mission with the rest of the team. After that she’s building a base in the human world for her clothing line I assume, so how did she become so close to all these powerful supernaturals. What did she use for funding to build her business?
There’s too many unanswered questions for me to believe this could happen that way.

Jason seemed intriguing when I read the synopsis but I’ve a horrible feeling he’s going to be one of those soft in love types, that become almost emasculated vampires when it comes to their lover ( Think JC from Anita Blake…)
I do wonder how these centuries old vampires survive when a pretty face can make them lose all sense.

There are irritations too, at one point Jason and Coop are talking and “Jason sat back with a grin and took Amy’s water…” Who’s Amy? Its only the two of them meeting.
Then later we’re told Jason was born 115 years ago. OK – so how come later he’s talking to himself “after three centuries of being what I am” – is he 115 or over 300.
The bit about Someone – won’t mention a name ( though if you’re as confused as me it probably wouldn’t matter!) who’s recovering and needs…how shall i put it…a certain type of blood, was a step too far for me, really made me feel uncomfortable.
I just don’t like reading things like that and it wasn’t necessary. shock value writing and not good IMO.

I’ve got all the way through and I’m still confused, so many double deals, blackmails, bait and switch, so many hidden agendas, and those playing both sides that I really aren’t any wiser now I’ve finished.
I really, really wanted to like this book but for me its a fail.

Stars: Two, sorry one that I won’t be continuing with. I tried, I did finish it but am still lost as to whats actually going on.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter, City of Crows 3, Clara Coulson

Wraith Hunter (City of Crows Book 3) by [Coulson, Clara]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, sci-fi and Fantasy

This is turning out to be a cracking series, seems to be full of drama, action, puzzles, danger and each day seems to bring Cal and the crew into more of it. It’s not quite like that though, when this story opens its some months after that action of the last book, the gang have taken time to heal from the incredible injuries they incurred back then and that’s as it should be.
When a book is day after day of non stop action it makes me think” who dealt with all this before?” and “who will do xyz when this gang are gone?”
Spaced out over time feels much more fluid and natural than the one-drama-on-top-of-another story lines too many books have.

 

The last two books have proved to be openers for more action, and I love that the vampire who was the catalyst for Cal joining the DSI is in this book, and of course wonder about him and his actions. Are they as cut and dried as they seemed? Or is he just as much a victim of circumstance. Or maybe its just his job, that’s going to make him p iss off a lot of people, maybe it is all about the money for him. Who knows? He’s an intriguing character and I want to read more of him.

I love Cal, he’s a great lead, talented and yet flawed too, he knows he doesn’t have all the answers, knows his limitations but throws himself in wholeheartedly when he believes its needed regardless of the cost to himself.
Erica, oh I hated that bit, what she needed to do, and why she felt she had no alternative. fingers crossed that all works out well.
Cooper – a surprise there? Or not, maybe its another red herring – though book one made me wonder if that might happen. I love storylines that make me wonder what if, and how come, and maybe this will….you know the sort, where you get so involved with characters you think of them as real.
The rest of the gang are there, with a few new guys ( and ladies) joining in and it was great seeing them all again. Like meeting old friends, and making new ones.

Its a fabulous read once more, things to puzzle out, drama and action, dangers, and speaking of which, those elevating zombies – what fun they were. The sly humour that had them dressed up in long coats and carrying scythes.
Its little touches like that which lift this novel up, give some levity to the dark dramas surrounding some of the main plots. There are other little touches worked in too, moments of humour, things that make these characters feel real. We all crack jokes at inappropriate times, that’s the kind of human way of dealing with stress and fright and it works so well here. Thats what separate a good book from the crowd, the little extras that keep us reading.

The plots in this part wrap up well, but open up the wider one that’s been building, and I really want to read more right now!!

Stars: five, another rivetting instalment, whetting my appitite for more. I know when this series is ended its going to be one I reread right through, in a back-to-back reading fest. I love to read series like that, get fully immersed in another world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Idea of You, Robinne Lee

The Idea of You, Robinne Lee

The Idea of You: A Novel by [Lee, Robinne]

Genre:  Women’s fiction,

Well, what an amazing book, and how hard it is to write a review.

Its not classed as romance, but the blurb suggests its a romantic tale and it is – and yet it isn’t.
If you want the HEA its not for you, but it is a beautifully bittersweet story that’s worth reading for itself, not for the ending grab this book now.
It’s a romantic story but not a Romance novel, featuring a 39 year old polished, confident, successful lady, mother of 13 yr old Isabelle, and Hayes, 20 year old pop star sensation.
You read that and think “no way, what will they have in common?” and that’s my unrealised perceptions and bias coming in because if Hayes was 39 and Solene 20 who’d take notice?
Its accepted for men to have vastly younger girlfriends and yet for women? Nope, that’s just Not On. Why though? If they’re in love should age matter?
Hayes isn’t like the average 20 year old, in fact all the lads in the band act older than their age. Is it their upbringing? Education? Or what they’ve been through to get so far with the band?
It means though that for me the romance is believable, Solene and Hayes really do feel in love.

I enjoyed Solene’s character, beautiful but not Barbie model style, she loves her daughter, gets on OK with her ex – who does have a younger girlfriend – and of course that’s easily accepted.
When the ex is criticising her about Hayes I wanted to say “look at yourself first before throwing stones”, but its back to that unfair divide between the sexes.
Its like when men have lots of sexual partners they’re Playboys, eternal bachelors, and no one thinks anything of it, but when it’s the women they’re with, they’re described its shameless, sluts, tarts etc. All the derogatory comments get thrown at them, but never at men for doing exactly the same thing. And that’s my rant over 😉

What I love about stories like this is how the characters get together.
Hayes is always open about what he wants, but Solene? She knows how it’ll be seen even while she’s feeling the pull of attraction to him, kids herself its just lunch, then a little more and so on, until they’re deeply in the throes of passion, fallen hard for each other.
The age gap honestly doesn’t seem to matter. Hayes is mature enough to know what he wants and go for it, and Solene’s able to enjoy time with him, in and out of bed.
He’s intelligent, a good conversationalist, educated, interested in so many things.
I loved that Solene was successful in her own right, that she and her partner ran a flourishing art gallery. The way the art, the exhibitions, promotions and artists are talked about suggests its either a field Robinne is familiar with, or has researched very well.
Its things like that which lift a novel and make it stand out from the hundreds of thousands of similar works. A novel for the Thinking reader 😉

The media: once their story was out, the way Solene was savaged in print and on the net, the way it over spilled into her personal and business life, all embody just what I hate about the media.
Truth isn’t important, only the sales that come with a story, the more scurrilous the better. Destroy a family, pushing someone to suicide, ending someone’s career, all become unimportant casualties in the quest for sensationalism.
I hate it – please don’t buy/read those kind of stories, without readers there would be no adverts, without adverts and the income they bring there will be no life breaking untruthful or deceptive stories.

What I hated – really, really hated – was the ending. I just didn’t expect that, didn’t like it, and find it hard to accept. I’ve mentally decided there’s another book 🙂 giving me the ending I wanted.
As I said its not billed as Romance, but the way the story unfolds lulled me into thinking it was going to be one…

Its an incredibly believable tale, even if like me you think “20?? what will they talk about?” Its written so cleverly that you very soon forget their ages, and get caught up in their lives. There are times it hits with a bang, when the band do something, someone says something, that reminds the reader of the gap, but those moments seem to serve as a harsh reminder of people’s perception, of Solene’s fear of where it will end, what the future holds.

Stars: five, a fabulous story, and if the ending had been different its would be one I’d happily reread – but its not, and I won’t!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

I Knew You Were Trouble, An Oxford Novel, Lauren Layne

I Knew You Were Trouble, An Oxford Novel, Lauren Layne

I Knew You Were Trouble: Oxford 4 by [Layne, Lauren]

Genre:  Romance, Humour

I’m always wary when a book is classed as Humour, too often I find its overdone and forced, but Lauren’s books aren’t like that, they’re perfect for me with lots of humour but of the more subdued type. The sort where words and undercurrents provide the laughs, where its what’s left unsaid that is often the part that makes me smile.
Its often clever, subtle snark, not in-your-face, dumbed down comedy.  Its not laugh your head off humour but the gentle sort that makes me smile, feels so satisfying and provides a counterpart to the the emotions floating round the story.

This one was typical, full of drama and action, people with real issues, hard backgrounds, sad stories, who just knuckle down and get on with life and don’t give up, don’t turn it into drudge and bitterness, where the humour shows us they can still smile, can still appreciate the lighter side of life.

I loved Nick back in Lincoln and Daisy’s story, and here we get the full-on Nick experience.
Part time Oxford worker, part time fiction writer and part time bartender, he’s a busy man and yet still finds time to help others, appreciate his freinds. I felt he and Taylor were just perfect together.
If only they could see that…Taylor is prickly though and something about Nick rubs her the wrong way, she snarks at him and he’s reciprocates in a similar vein. Methinks the lady – and the gent – doth protest too much. Its kind of how their freinds feel too.

Taylor though is about to move to a new apartment with the love of her life…until she finds a note at the flat in place of Bradley. The jerk dumps her by a note on moving day. What a first class burke he was, gone back to his old love.

Taylor has a sad past, orphaned young, brought up by a career driven aunt and now she’s no-one left.
She very focused on her career, knocked hard by Bradley’s actions, and feels lost. Lucky she’s got her good friends who can see the attraction between her and Nick, and are on hand with some advice!

Its a fun story, lots going on, great characters that are very believable. You can feel this story, these people could be real, imagine it happening to people you know.
Life is a b itch sometimes, we do get cut back just when it looks like things are going well, and that’s where good friends come in.

I love the whole Oxford crew, Lincoln has a special place in my heart, he and Daisy are my favourite couple, but Nick comes close to Linc, he’s such a lovely man, can see under Taylor’s act, supports her even when he thinks she hates him.
His actions towards the end were hard to take but I understood how he felt, loved the way that played out, the deep emotions that plot engendered.
Have to mention Twinkle (Twinkie?) I adored her, a great character, fitted the story really well 😉

Its another great read, and I know it Should be the last…but Lauren, what about Hunter and Brit? I’m sure there’s loads of us rooting for them too.

Stars: five, a fabulous story, not quite up to Lincoln and Daisy, but very close.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

Back to You, Chris Scully

Back to You, Chris Scully

Back to You by [Scully, Chris]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved this story. a beautiful slowly unfolding romance, a tantalising mystery, and a look at just how much childhood influences our lives.

Alex seemed pretty selfish when we first met him and I didn’t really like him. It seemed pretty straightforward, alcoholic father loses job, or could have been jobless father becomes alcoholic….depends on your view, and then parents separate and mum moves away with kids and remarries.
Alex loves his mum and stepfather but carries a real resentment that his own father didn’t make more effort to see him and sister Janet, didn’t even phone them.
Janet’s older so her view of the past is not the same, she recalls more of their parents being happy. She leaves home and ends up back in the same town as their dad, and now Alex is back as their father is dying he can see that she’s got issues too, another alcoholic, though a functioning one who covers it well.

We only see things from Alex POV which is a shame, as I’d have loved in insight into Ben’s mind.
He’s stayed in the same town, made a life for himself quietly, and clearly the event that had impact on him back then is still affecting him. His sister Misty, Janet’s best friend, went missing while Alex and his family were still living there. In fact he and Ben were the last people to see her.
Her mum, Angela, was like many parents, wrapped up in day to day stuff, the slog and grind of working, running a home, looking after teens, didn’t really make time for the kids, let them roam freely without much checking. Now she’s thrown the last 20 years into finding out what happened to Misty, as if she blames herself for not being there so much of the while.
She’s turned Misty into some kind of a saint, and rewritten the past to give them a close, devoted almost, relationship when it simply wasn’t that way, and Misty was a pretty mean, malicious individual.
She’s really no time for Ben, kind of dismisses him as doing OK, and just doesn’t appreciate that she still has one child, albeit grown now, living near her.
Ben looks after her, helping out when she’s in trouble yet again in her search for answers. She’s very single  minded.

Somehow Alex gets caught up in her search, partly because he feels there’s a good story in it, partly because he wants something, anything, to give him an excuse to spend as little time as he can with his dying dad…

This book is a really close look at families, childhood, mistakes, the things that happen, that we can’t evade but which have so much impact on us as adults.
Its clear that Alex thinks he’s left the past behind but inside he’s still seeking his dad’s approval, but knowing its never coming, so everything he does is tinged with that sense of failure in his view of dad’s eyes even before he starts it. My view of him changed as the story unfolded and I grew to really like him.

I love Ben, so quiet, so internal, and so helpful in an unobtrusive way to others in the town. He sees people for what they are, what they need, what he can do to help, not what problems they have.
He’s always loved Alex, that’s clear, even though they were only 13 when he left, and I get the feeling his life without Alex, with his mum there but in a way absent from his life in her search, means he’s kind of lonely. Its a small town, everyone knows everything, or thinks they do – or so it seems, and towns like that aren’t likely to have too many openly gay people.
Still, he’s made himself a quietly successful life as an artist, and in his unique way gives so much back to helping others.
I just couldn’t help wanting things to work out, was really worried he’d get his heart broken again. I could understand why he wasn’t overjoyed to see Alex again.

Alex changes a lot over the course of the story. Forced to look at himself he finally learns he doesn’t like what he sees, what he’s been doing, kidding himself he’s happy, but knowing and ignoring that his childhood issues were still driving him.
Was his attempt to find Misty altruistic, an attempt at atonement or a cynical plot for the next big news story?
For me it starts as one and ends as the other, he and I learned a lot about him over the course of the book.

Its not an overly sexual read, the parts where they do come together are very erotic and sensual but not frequent, and it takes a long while before they even touch each other, let alone do more. That was perfect for this story though, there was so much to tell, so much to learn that too much sex, them getting together quickly despite their pasts would have felt wrong. This way the balance felt perfect for me.
I used to read a lot of thrillers/suspense, but found their focus on thriller action first and romance second didn’t really work for me, I need the romance to be quite a strong, solid part of the story even if kept in the background.
This book, putting the suspense angle into a mystery, a story to be worked out that involves so many characters we’ve already met works better for me than an out and out thriller type read, bringing in lost of external characters.

Stars: five, a great read, perfect blend of romance ans suspense for me, and one I simply devoured in one sitting.
Riptide novels tend to be like that for me, stories that engross me, seduce me into another world, and let me escape from this one for a few hours. I was there with Ben, Alex, Janet and Angela, wondering just what was coming out next.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lip Action by Virna DePaul, Played! A Shamwell Tales novel, JL Merrow


Played!, A Shamwell Tales novel, JL Merrow
Played! (Shamwell Tales Book 2) by [Merrow, JL]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I’ve read and loved Shamwell 1, 3 and 4, so was pleased to fill the gap.
This was another great read, very village life feel, subtle humour as always in JL’s books, and a decent story.

Its a story more than sex book here, the bulk of the novel is Tristan’s thwarted attempts to woo Con. They are so funny when Tristan declaims some quote from a play and Con’s like …err..OK then. Sometimes he’s lost and others he’s on script, can quote back, having spent so much time building sets for the Sham Drams.

Tristan is a product of his background, posh school, moneyed parents and it shows at first in his entitled arrogance. Slowly though the village wears off some of that brittle shine, and his real nature comes through, we see he’s actually quite a caring guy.
Him and Con though, seem to be talking two different conversations at first, especially before Con’s dyslexia and reading issues come out. Con’s ready to assume Tristan’s taking the mick, when really he’s just being his slightly OTT self.

Its a gentle romance, builds slowly but with the usual pressures. Tristan is there for the summer only, Con doesn’t do short term romance, he’s been burned before and isn’t going there.
Then the spectre of New York hangs over Tristan’s head like the Sword of Damocles. He’s going to work there in finance in the family firm, use that expensive education his father’s always complaining about, but his heart dreads it, he loves performing even if it is ting stages in little towns, staying in some pretty dire B&Bs. He loves the actors life, its part of him and he hates giving it up.

I loved meeting the other guys too, the little stories that come out that aren’t attached to the romance and make for a well rounded story.
I really didn’t think I’d like Tristan when we first met him, but as more of his nature came out I found myself sympathetic to his position and wanting things to work between him and Con. Loved the stage setting, even though I’m not a great Shakespeare fan ( all that analyzing of the plays at school took the fun out of his work for me..).

One comment, I liked the old cover so much better, this new one just isn’t the Tristan I have in my head.

Stars: five, a great addition to Shamwell stories

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lip Action, Virna DePaul

Lip Action (Kiss Talent Agency Book 1) by [DePaul, Virna]

Genre:  Romance,

I’ve mixed feelings about this. parts I liked and other bits not so much.
I loved Marissa but what an awful family she had, especially her mum. What parent wants her daughter to marry a cheating jerk.
Her dad kept quiet, but that’s a cop out IMO, he should have spoken out.

When her mum is pressing her to take back the jerk, the cheater just because she’s 28 and not married….I could scream at her, and of course Marissa won’t but comes up with a fake boyfriend to hold her off for a bit. Coincidentally the guy she’s looking at right then needs a fake girlfriend…

Simon wants the lead in a film that could make him an A list actor, but his past rep lets him down. In a moment of insanity he tells the producers he has a girlfriend….So when he hears Marissa he knows exactly what to do.
OK its a bit of a stretch believing they could meet just like that – but truth is strange sometimes so I’ll go with it.
They then go back and forth, will she won’t she, with pressures on both from his agent and her mum til she finally decides yes. She’s such a nice girl she just can’t let Simon down. even though she hates deception and lies.
Its kind of predictable after that, fun to read but nothing greatly original.
The down side, the drama, the sad bit happens just as you’d expect, and though I love that side I hadn’t really got connected enough to this story and characters to really feel any great emotions.

Its a fun story, easy and lighthearted, some steamy sensuality, and a kind of easy beach read.

Stars:3, its a fun read but not characters or a story I really got involved with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Royal Treatment, Parker Swift, Train Wreck, Elise Faber

Royal Treatment, Parker Swift

Royal Treatment (Royal Scandal Book 3) by [Swift, Parker]

Genre:  Romance,

I loved the first two parts of this trilogy, a story with a domineering – but not in a bullying OTT way – British Duke and an American girl. She’s focused on her career, bright, intelligent and it’s so refreshing to read a heroine that’s not afraid to stand up for herself. Not that she needs to with Dylan, as he’s very proud of her work ethic, very supportive of her ambitions.
They’ve both got demons in their backgrounds though and this book lets the effects of them on them both run free.

I enjoyed the story, but felt after the dramas in the last two novels this was a little low key.
It does a very good wrapping up of past events, finishing off odd little loose ends. I hate when a book finishes and I’m thinking – but hey, what about ….?
I wasn’t convinced by the MI6 story-line, I just cant be persuaded that a top intelligence agency would let a civilian get involved to that degree. Then for all that’s it brought up through the book when it does happen it kind of is underwhelming…but that’s my only minor gripe about this book.

I love seeing things from alternating POV, lets me really get an insight into how the characters are feeling, what they really think.
I loved Dylan’s sister, and That was a surprise at the end 😉 Next book maybe?
His mum, I liked her opposition to Lydia, it felt very real, and given how some of these Lineages continue for hundreds of years back that importance parents stress of having the “right” person to marry is genuine, and I’m sure still goes in in many circles. That said I didn’t like that way things ended up between her and Lydia, just didn’t feel to me as if that would have happened.

This book takes the couple out of England to the US for part of the time and that worked really well, let Dylan see Lydia in her home setting. I loved meeting her dad’s old freinds, they felt like Lydia’s family.
A huge, massive thank you too, for Parker for releasing these books close enough together that the story remains fresh in the readers mind.
So often there’s a year or more between parts and I’ve simply forgotten exactly what happened. we readers who love books consume huge amounts of them and when trilogies have a similar story-line – and many romance ones do – then its easy to muddle them, forget exactly which one(s) belong to which books. Having to keep checking back to earlier ones t see what happened takes away a lot of the magic.
TBH my favourite way to read trilogies – and series – is to wait until all parts are released and have a total immersion, reading them back to back. That way I get the most from the story, feel the action and emotion as it happens.
Stars: four, a terrific, fresh trilogy with some great characters and plots but that MI6 storyline brings it down a bit for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Train Wreck, Elise Faber

Train Wreck (Life Sucks Book 1) by [Faber, Elise]

Genre:  Romance,women’s fiction

I’ve enjoyed some of Elise other books, especially the paranormal ones and was keen to read this. It didn’t really work for me though ;-( It was well written but I just didn’t engage with the characters, or really get into the story.

I found Pepper’s constant klutziness very OTT. I’m a klutz, can fall upstairs, leave cooker on, disasters happen here regularly. the most spectacular being when I broke my hip after a fall….out of my wheelchair.
I know how Pepper feels getting blamed when its just not her fault but the disasters happened so often and over such unlikely incidences that it didn’t feel real.
I hated her family, but liked her. I liked her neighbour too, and her sweet daughter, with a useless dad/husband. Just proves deadbeat dads aren’t all unemployed alcoholics!

Then there’s Derek, and somehow he wasn’t convincing, he’s a nice guy but focused on his future and I found it hard he was now all about Pepper when he’d ignored her in the past, and I didn’t really feel he’d give up years of trying to make his way for someone he knew from the past, but has only known as an adult a few weeks.

It wasn’t one for me but others love it – that’s how reading is, one man’s meat is another man’s poison and all that! This wasn’t poison for me, but maybe just gave me a little indigestion 😉

Stars: 2.5/3 – not a bad read, just not a great one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

On Point, (Out of Uniform), Annabeth Albert. Broke Deep, A Porthkennack novel, Charlie Cochrane

On Point, Annabeth Albert

On Point (Out of Uniform) by [Albert, Annabeth]

Genre:  LGBTQIA

I didn’t realise this was a series, with two previous books, nor that it was a spin off from another series which I haven’t read. So many books, so little time and Annabeth is an author whose books I’ve only just begun to touch. Each of these are stand alone reads though, so I was abe to follow easily, though I’d have known more about all the characters if I’d read earlier books.

You know when you’re reading how some authors manage to describe a character and you can mentally “see” them? Well, here I had very clear pictures of Mad and Ben, not from physical descriptions so much as Annabeth’s way of describing what type of person they are. I need that, need to feel I know – and like – characters to get really engrossed in their stories.

Friends to lovers, always a fun read, and of course as always the potential for losing your best friend gets wrapped up in that. Who looks at logics though when the heart is involved?
Mad’s been in love with Ben for a long time now, but kept his feeling locked so tight inside Ben has no idea about them. Now serious injury to them both, re-enlistment time and relationship gaps coincide, and somehow they end up in a possibly-only-for-now relationship.
No end date put on, but one they agree to keep low key around others, and which if things don’t work out won’t spoil their friendship. Hah! As if!

Mad can’t quite believe whats happened, Ben is kind of shocked at how his feelings for Mad have become more than just good mates.
And while they’re both recuperating and hot, steamy sex is out there’s plenty more they can and do try.

Things look to be going well, Ben is determined to make Mad enjoy the dates he arranges, and he’s finding the change form his usual hook-ups only stance novel.
Still, even though on the surface he’s going all in he still denies Love is real, he’s been burned by that in his personal life when his last long term lover left him, and of course by seeing how devastated his dad was and how let down he felt when his mum left him at a young age.
He’s all about enjoy the moment, look forward to things but Love? He’s a real cynic about its existence.

Mad though takes the opposite view, even though his past hasn’t delivered he’s still got his parents happy marriage as a role model and he wants that for himself.
Tough though making a romance work when one wants a solid HEA and the other is convinced that HFN is as good as it gets.
Throw in a secret that affects them both and …can their romance survive? Are Mad’s dreams possible or destined to stay just a fantasy?

Stars: four, a really fun read, great characters and some very real situations between them.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Broke Deep, A Porthkennack novel, Charlie Cochrane
Broke Deep (Porthkennack Book 3) by [Cochrane, Charlie]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved the first two Porthkennack novels, they’re a group of stories by different authors about the small town of Porthkennack. Similar to Riptides Bluewater series which I love.
This series isn’t fixed on a time though so the books can be contemporary as this one is or historical. Great idea right?
Sadly though this one was just an OK read for me. Its a shame as I’ve loved some of Charlie’s other novels and went in to this with great expectations 😉 Maybe that’s the problem, the book just didn’t live up to my perhaps too high hopes.

I found Morgan to be a bit of a selfish jerk when it came to Dominic. He was good to his mother, and that’s tough, seeing a parent with dementia, but when it came to Dominic he was too ready to snap, to blame him, to push him aside. And Dominic’s such a sweet guy, very eager to please, very mild mannered and inoffensive.
To be fair they don’t start off well, Morgan getting a call from him on the day he receives his Dear John letter from his ex, who gave Dom Morgan’s number. Seems Dom knew he was an ex before Morgan…

Its such a slow burn romance that it feels to me that it never really starts. I can’t feel that sizzle, the magic connection between them, just a getting together almost out of convenience. There are moments when there’s something, when Morgan muses over Dom’s smile, when Dom feels Morgan’s eyes on him, but they’re fleeting.
The historical part was interesting, the way over the years tales get told, retold, embellished and the truth can become a thin thread in the story.

The dementia angle is very sad and felt very real, with his mum’s actions being so genuine, and his fears that he could have spotted it sooner very accurate. We do worry about things like that, wonder if we could have done more for a loved one.
Dementia is something that happens to too many people, and Morgan’s fears about it being inherited, about his nightmares, about what is or could happen to him are very real.
I expected more of an ending though, I just felt it kind of fizzled out, I was expecting another chapter, at least some kind of resolution about the dementia fears but suddenly it was then end and I wasn’t ready for it.

Stars: Three, an interesting story but fell a bit short for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

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