One More Kiss, (Band on the Run 1), Samantha Chase

One More Kiss,  (Band on the Run 1), Samantha Chase

One More Kiss (Shaughnessy: Band on the Run) by [Chase, Samantha]

Genre:  Romance,

Well, Band on the Run – its going to be a rock star band book isn’t it?
That’s what I was hoping, but sadly its a rock star in hiding book, and for most of the book its just Matt and Viv, having endless conversations about food. Yes that’s right, food.
She’s a food blogger and magazine writer, and I read far, far too much about food. I love food, love recipe books, and am all for the little details in a story that make it real, but there was much more about food in this story than there was about the band/fame/music.

I wasn’t really invested in either character, and although they were the main stay of at least the first half of the story I didn’t really feel I knew them – other than what they liked to eat 🙂
I didn’t really understand why Matt was hiding, for a couple of weeks; maybe a month or so, but news is a hot thing when its celebs, and out of the public eye he’d soon be forgotten.
I thought as a musician he’d be doing more about that while staying with Aaron, Viv’s brother and his long time friend, but mostly he just seemed to be drifting, stopping in to talk about and eat food with Viv.
I just didn’t really feel that I knew either of them well, and I need that to be invested in what happens to the characters.

The kiss: the blurb has it as if he’d never forgotten it or Viv, but though there’s a neat explanation about it to me that didn’t feel genuine, it felt more likely that he’d kissed her while drunk and then it was gone from his mind, though not from hers.
He really was a jerk back then, and I’m not really sure why Viv is so attracted to him, as she hasn’t seen him in years and he was her brothers friend not hers, so she doesn’t know anything other than his public persona. The attraction just felt contrived, forced and I couldn’t see it being real.

They both had family issues too, that could have made for a great bit of drama but…it kind of fizzled out. I wasn’t convinced by the convenient solutions to those issues, they just didn’t feel real, after all the things we’d read about them.
There were a few things like that which I thought were going to lead up to some dramatic reveals, surprises, issues but they didn’t. I guess at least I can’t say the story was predictable!!

Its my second Samantha Chase novel, the first was a sweet story which I sort of enjoyed  but wasn’t really pulled into, and I felt it was a little predictable. After reading this one I think maybe she’s an author who writes books that many, many readers love, but whose writing style doesn’t mix with what I want to read.
That’s how it goes, not all books suit all readers, no matter how well the story is written, some love them some don’t.
Its not a reflection of how good or bad a story is, simply that it didn’t work for me personally.

Stars: Two, one of those well written reads that others will love but which didn’t work for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Retribution, Shana Figueroa

Retribution,  Shana Figueroa

Retribution (Valentine Shepherd Book 2) by [Figueroa, Shana]

Genre:  romance,

This is classed as Romance by genre but it’s also paranormal and fantasy as both Val and Max have visions of the future, and have found there are others like them, with a group known as Alpha seeking to control them.
Somehow I missed book one of this trilogy, but read the amazon sample, which gave me enough to understand the characters, and most important, their visions and the Alpha group, who seem to have far reaching tentacles.

In Vengeance they went through a harsh time, got close, came together and then parted. Val felt Max deserved more, someone better than her, that being together would give in to the Alpha group who want them to have a child so they can take and control it….she wanted him to be happy, and it seems like he is, he’s to be married in two months to Abby.
All is not how it seems though, Max is trying to have a normal life, but however hard he tries he can’t forget Val and what they had, can’t let go of his anger that she wouldn’t fight for them.
Abby seems to know something is wrong but is taking an ostrich approach, ignore issues and all will come right – except they don’t. Max is abusing medication to deal with his issues, and hiding it, telling himself he’ll stop soon.
Even though I missed book one I can still feel that Max and Val belong together, there’s a pull whenever they meet, a feeling that they are two halves of a whole, something that’s missing when he’s with Abby or Val with Sten, her Ex, currently not a friend but not a total enemy either.

Val gets a new case for her and PI partner Stacey. A local young lady, Margaret, has gone missing. As soon as her mum shows Val a picture she recognises her from a recent vision, murdered and washed up on a local beach. She knows it hasn’t happened yet but there’s only a short window before it does, so she needs to move fast. She does a bit of enquiring and finds she needs to attend a rich mans secret club, and calls on Max to help her get entry.
Abby isn’t happy to find out Max met with Val when she asked for his help, but he tells her Val just wanted money, and as usual she turns a blind eye to anything else.
Of course being Max he checks things out first and that brings him into real danger again.

I’m not sure about Abby, whether she really loves Max, or just wants the position as his wife, and the prestige. She comes from a wealthy family so doesn’t seem like its money, but she just seems blind to the turmoil and unhappiness Max is in. Maybe he just hides it well, maybe she just doesn’t know him well enough?
Val of course thinks he’s found the nirvana she hoped he would but can’t help being jealous, wishing he was still with her, she still loves him. Meanwhile she’s in an odd sort of sex only relationship with Sten, a crooked cop who may be working for the people who want to control Max and Val. Strange eh?
Many of the characters in this book all seem to have weird connections, Val was in a relationship with Stacey for a while in their youth, before deciding she preferred men, though Stacey is still into women, and Max hasn’t told Abby he’s been with a man before.
There’s lots of quirks like this is the book, so you can never guess just quite what’s going to happen, with whom, what will come out about the past, and where the story is going next.
People have the oddest of connections, and they key players here have more than one between them.

Its a tough and gritty read at times, sex without love, without Like even at times, people dying who are integral to the story I thought, and then they’re gone. Shana isn’t afraid to kill off people, so even the “good” guys die here.
Its a scary read, the lust for power is a very human thing and its what makes books like this so realistic, there are people who will happily do anything to be at the top, to have control.

I enjoyed the way the story played out, the twists and turns, the weaving together people who seemed not to have a connection and then….
There’s lots of dangers to almost all the major characters, and Val’s visions of both her and Max keep having different endings, though sadly ultimately not happy ones, and she wonders how she is affecting the future. She’s unsure if it is possible to change bad events to happy ones, especially the ones involving her and Max. She can’t sit back and do nothing though, and once more she and Max are involved in a dangerous scenario, risking their lives.
.
Stars: Five, a great read, and sometime I want to read book one, but for now am waiting 🙂 for the final part!

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1, Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse, Disrupted Magic: Book 1,  Melissa F. Olson

Midnight Curse (Disrupted Magic Book 1) by [Olson, Melissa F.]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, general fiction (adult).

I found Melissa’s books by way of the Boundary Magic reads on KU – I love KU!! Risk free way of trying books for a small sum each month. Melissa’s novels tend to be in trilogies with some side ones in novella form.
I think if I’d come to this one without having read any of the others maybe I’d have struggled a bit more, as it is I missed the last Scarlett novel – it’s on my kindle for reading now 🙂 – and there were things I didn’t wholly follow.
Its a stand alone read though, even though part of a trilogy. this particular story wraps up but its clear there’s more to come.

I love the characters in this series, vampires and werewolves, witches – with a very, very few boundary witches who specialise in death magic, and Scarlett, a null – someone who temporarily wipes out paranormal elements whenshe is close to them, so vampires and werewolves are human when next to her, and witches unable to use their powers. Evens out the field a bit!

Scarlett has been involved with the supernatural world for sometime, and lives with werewolf Eli. She gets a strange message from Molly, a good friend some time ago but they’ve not seen each other for years. She takes Shadow, her Bargest ( sort of supernatural dog) and goes to see what’s wrong. Scarlett is like that, when someone needs help she wants to give it if she can. She gets a horrible surprise though when she finds Molly blood soaked and her 12 housemates dead….

Of course the Vampire Trials are coming up next day, a two day event held every three years where the three supernatural leaders gather with their members and decide over grievances. Scarlett knows the punishment for killing like this is death, but Molly doesn’t know why she did it, its not her nature, nor really any vampire, to kill and feed this way.
She wants to prove Molly was set up, but time is short. the other leaders aren’t looking beyond the obvious, and the perpetrator behind events seems determined to get Molly killed at the trials.

Its another riveting, exciting read. Scarlett has changed a lot from last time I read about her, and she’s grown in confidence and ability.
She likes her job, feels she’s doing something useful, and even though it brings her into danger again and again, she thrives in the planning and doing of making things right. Eli isn’t so happy, they love each other but he can’t understand why she persists in doing this job that risks her life again and again, and she can’t seem to make him understand its what makes her happy. Rock and hard place, and I felt for them both.

Jesse is back in a big way in this book. I love Jesse, but the poor guy is in a rough place, taken for a ride by his ex wife, who wanted his fame and money more than him. Tough stuff. When Scarlett seeks his help he’s not keen at first but soon the deadly duo are back in action. They really do work well together, trusting each other and knowing what each can and can’t do.
With Shadow’s help they’ve a huge task ahead, find the perpetrators and bring them in quickly or Molly dies. Vampires – actually all Supernaturals, have a harsh but much needed rule, risking humans knowing about them means death. Its too big a thing to do half measures, there are rarely excuses accepted, so Scarlett and Jesse need to find out what’s going on ASAP.

Once more I loved the story, loved the characters and the way it all played out. There are no hated “quick fix” solutions here, those where someone gets a new, unheard of so unpractised power just at the crucial moment. I hate those, I want what happens here, where the solutions come from attributes we already know about, from skills practiced, from accepted traits of the characters.
Its got a kind of bittersweet ending, one that made me sad but also made me think maybe what I wanted from very early in these books might finally happen…..

Stars: Five, a great start to another trilogy 🙂 I’m looking forward to more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hard Rhythm, Cecilia Tan

Hard Rhythm,  Cecilia Tan

Hard Rhythm (Secrets of a Rock Star) by [Tan, Cecilia]

Genre:   Erotica

I’ve liked a few of Cecilia’s stories and looked forward to this one especially and its got my favourite band trope connection! Its a hot and sensual novel, and one I enjoyed reading.
I was a little puzzled at first, it seemed as if I should know more about certain characters, events and places and then about 25% I decided to check and …yes, this is the third in a series and I’d missed the first two.
That would have made things clearer, I enjoyed and could follow the story without reading those early ones, but I think it’s more likely to have been a five star read for me if I’d read them first.
Still it’s a good read and didn’t “lose” me with details, just would have been easier to pick up some incidents and see their relevance earlier.

I liked the characters, we’re mainly with Maddie and Chino but what we see of the others is promising, some from earlier books and maybe some in the future ones?
Maddie’s been and done it all it seems, and she feels kind of jaded about everything, nothings really exiting her now, really enticing her to take part, and  then Chino makes his move.
There’s been a subtle undercurrent between them for months, nothing you could really point to, no obvious tensions, but its clear they both are strongly attracted to each other. Maddie thinks its a one night only and she’s happy with that, she’s been wanting him for a while and they have a great time, but that one night stretches and soon they’re in a solid sensual relationship.

I loved Maddie’s sex toy blog, and the way Chino was so enthusiastically helping her with it 😉
I liked Maddie, she’s one of those people who project confidence and self security even when she’s struggling inside. She’s worked hard to get where she is even without parental backing, and she’s not actually upfront about what it is she does to them. Understandable, not everyone can accept that kind of life and job.

Chino and the band connection…well, that was it for Band trope stuff, that he was in a band and the novel includes his band-mates. There’s no huge band dramas, no touring life-on-the-road stuff, just that they are band members. A little disappointing for me in truth, but it was still a good read.
I loved his backstory, can see that as so true, there are people like his deeply religious family, who see his lifestyle as wrong. The resulting parts of that section of the story surprised me! And I do like to be caught out, to get a touch of the unexpected even when its not part of the main plot.
I loved Chino himself, the thought he put into sex, the way he planned hard, organised what he wanted rather than just leaving it to chance, the way he played Maddie, knew what she wanted, needed, even when she didn’t realise it.
They may not have been together long, but he’d been watching her and planning long before they got together.
I did love his stance on p-i-v sex, that there are alternatives, that waiting can make it special. That was a treat to read when so many stories have the male balls deep by page five it seems. It makes me thing what can come next when they’ve reached the main part so quickly.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable read, and I think if I’d read books one and two then this may have been a five for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death, Kim Harrison

The Turn, The Hollows Begins with Death,  Kim Harrison

The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death (Hollows Prequel) by [Harrison, Kim]

Genre:  Sci-fi and fantasy

I’d just been thinking it was maybe time for a reread of Kim’s Hollows, a fab series, one of the first I bought when I got Kindle number 1.
Its not a light, fluffy, romance + alpha hero tale, but one with some dark moments, demons that aren’t all romantic underneath, vampires who’re out only for themselves, and will kill without a second thought if they think they need to, werewolves, witches, pixies and fairies, and ley line magic, lots of that. And yet wrapped up in that IS a romance, the story isn’t some dark, macabre horror as it sounds, and there’s so much fun, so much mystery as to what can and will happen. Great characters and it’s a series you can read over and over.

So seeing a prequel I was excited, its several years since I first read it but I can remember feeling confused about parts of The Turn, what exactly happened, and how and why, so this is just perfect for both folk new to the Hollows, and for those of us who’ve read it but got questions.
We meet mainly Trent’s parents, see how they got together and I’m ashamed to say I can barely remember anything of them from the main series. They’re both clever scientists, leaders in their field and have a fierce rivalry.
Trent’s dad Kal is a total jerk, viciously cruel, totally amoral, made me see a bit where Trent got his initial prejudice from. He’s always done his best to knock down Trisk from when they were kids, his jealousy knowing no bounds. I did feel for him a bit when we read about how much of his childhood was spent in pain, knew about the constant surgeries and tweaks to his genetic code he’d had. That’s tough on any child.
Doesn’t excuse the way he was so cruel to Trisk though, always reminding her she was an upstart Dark Elf, not like the Kalamacks with their long heritage keeping them pure. Trouble is though those Pure Elves, the bloodlines they were so proud of, was what was helping them die out, they were having huge issues reproducing.
Poor Trisk is hampered too by the 60’s view of females, little women that should be chained to the kitchen popping out babies, certainly not leading scientific advancements, that should be left to the men. If by chance they did make a break through, well they should be pleased a man would take over and get it published and maybe let their name be credited as one of many helpers….Gah! that was so spot on, I was just a kid then but is so how life was! I love Trisk, one of the good people, who wants to do what’s right, regardless of personal cost.
Her human colleague Daniel is another like her, and he was a terrific addition. Made it easy to see how the whole coming out to humans part was decided. There were people for and against, but with Daniel in front of them, the way he’d dealt with such a lot in a short time and still helped those not human as well as the humans helped sway the decision.
Along with Orchid of course, who was a great character and help fill the missing shoes of Jenks. I can’t write his name without thinking “Tink’s little red panties” – he had a phrase for every occasion, and Orchid has a similar curse ridden mouth!
We meet Quen too, a young Quen and maybe an explanation for why he’s always been so loyal to Trent. I love Quen, always the man in the background, always there protecting, overseeing and yet unseen much of the time.
Alongside that there’s Al the demon of course, Piscary, Rhynn, and a few others from the main series.
Another reviewer mentioned Rachel’s dad, and I can’t recall much about him, and missed that – I need to go back and look…I’m sure there’s other nods to the main series I’ve missed.

Stars: Five, a fabulous story, well worth reading before or after the main series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers, Common Law 2, Kate Sherwood

Embers (Common Law Book 2) by [Sherwood, Kate]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

This is my fourth Kate Sherwood read, two were five stars, one was three – that’s how it goes for me, liking an authors writing style doesn’t mean I’ll love all their novels 😉 Still, Long Shadows, Common Law 1, was a five and I was keen to see where Wade and Jericho (Jay) would go next.

This is one of those excellent slow burn romances that I love, where we can feel just how attracted each person is, feel the sizzle, the heat, the tension whenever they are together. Right now though they’re not together, not even close to that, still feeling their way round each other, but though everything seems stacked against them I just can’t help but feel them being together is something that’s almost predestined, fated, just has to happen at some point. But when, where and how still isn’t clear!
Wade and Jay had a relationship 15 years ago and then Jay left…didn’t stay in touch, didn’t contact anyone, and now he’s back. He and Wade are on opposing sides of the Law though, with Jay being undersheriff, his also close friend Kayla is sheriff, and Wade has a rep as a criminal.
Although he’s never been caught doing anything wrong, whenever there’s trouble somehow he seems to have a connection. This book shows that once more, with people believing Wade’s hand is in the mix of murders/drug smuggling and biker wars.

Its not as clear cut as Wade not being caught though, everything that makes the locals ( and the out of town Feds) think he’s guilty is circumstantial, and how much is jealousy from the locals and frustration from the feds?
Wade doesn’t not cooperate, on the surface he’s friendly, calm and helpful, but we all know that what he isn’t saying is far more important than what he is telling them.
Jay struggles to concentrate when he’s with him, the Wade of now is wrapped up with his memories of past Wade and both have the tendency to make him forget everything, and that doesn’t bode well for a man of the Law.

All the old team are back, Jay, Wade, Kayla, Nikki – Jay’s fathers wife and her two kids, the feds who still seem to distrust Jay and shut him out as much as they can, and there’s a few new people, with the bikers being a main thread of this story.
It starts with the burning of Wade’s bar, and a text from him to Jay that no-one is there.
Jay was terrified Wade was inside, panicking over all the things he wanted to say and hadn’t, and then Wade texts him back this brief, ambiguous reply in response to Jay’s question over where he was. Does that mean he knew the bar was burning as he was involved? Jay hadn’t told him, and once more he’s left with the dilemma, does he show Kayla the text as he should as her deputy, knowing he’ll drop Wade into trouble if he does, or should he keep quiet?
Its typical Wade, laconic information, words that can have more than one inference, and poor Jay, I so felt for him. The more he gets caught up with the town the more he feels for Wade.

I love these guys, the friction between them, Jay trying to do what’s right morally, but struggling when it comes to Wade, Wade and his manipulations. I feel Wade knows Jay better than he knows himself, I think he’s a good guy, they both are but Wade hides it.
I haven’t worked out whether he’s just running his town the way he thinks benefits it, skirting the law deliberately or whether he’s maybe part of something bigger on the legal side. Who knows? Maybe I’m totally off tangent thinking that, but Wade is so closed, so careful and so manipulative that everything he says and does can be taken in many different ways. Is he using Jay for his own purposes, giving him info he knows Jay will feel he has to pass on to Kayla and the feds, or is he just trying to keep Jay safe?
Kayla, she asked Jay to stay, to take a huge pay cut from his city posting and help her keep the town safe, but she doesn’t seem to fully trust him when it comes to Wade and TBH its easy to see why. Sometimes Jay doesn’t trust himself. So far its all worked out well, but is that because Wade was directing it that way or purely coincidence?
What about the feds, first they don’t trust Jay but do trust Kayla, now it seems to have turned around, so what’s really going on there?
What about the murders, how can Jay keep his town safe when the feds aren’t giving him info over such serious things as that?

Its a book that’s perfect for me, sizzling romance, great characters, small mysteries to puzzle out and lots of false trails. By the end we can see what has happened but we still don’t really know why, whether it worked that way by default or by clever planning. Jay’s getting to know the way Wade works, but still struggles with the morality of having such strong feelings for someone who may well be a murderer, drug smaller, involved in some serious crimes. Poor Jay. He wants to think the best of Wade but he’s hampered by that tricky stuff, evidence that seems to point Wade as guilty but doesn’t quite fit, can be seen in different ways.
Wade I just love, such a clever, sexy man and for me he’s not a murderer but has perahps found ways to skirt round the constraints of legalities to get the results that are best for the town and its inhabitants.
There’s some real steam coming off the pages in this book, although its mostly touches, glances and words, very little real action, but that makes it so much hotter, so that when they do kiss, one touch and bam….its explosive.

A fabulous story once more, carefully paced, flowing easily and taking the reader along a will they wont they/is he guilty or isn’t he/how can they ever actually make it as a couple journey?
Eternal optimist that I am I know Kate will work it out for them eventually but how, when and why…well, thankfully there’s more books to enjoy to read about that!

Stars: Five, perfect second book, advancing the story and opening up the plots for lots more.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Mark of the Moon, Beth Dranoff, Wolf Moon, Lisa Kessler, The Demigod’s Legacy, Masters of Maria – Book 1, Holley Trent

Mark of the Moon, Beth Dranoff

Mark of the Moon by [Dranoff, Beth]

Genre:  romance, Sci-fi and fantasy

Looks as if this is a debut book, I can’t find anything else Beth has written and its a really good start.

I loved the idea of this series, and from the beginning I was quickly brought into the action.
There’s a few issues though that stopped it being a five star read for me, though I think it has that potential. Maybe if it is a debut book, and Beth learns more as she writes –practice makes perfect and all that – hopefully later books will grow and evolve into the kind of reads they could be.
Think of some of the early books of now well known authors, some have really polished their craft as they get more used to the world of creating stories from nothing, and making us readers believe in them.

The biggest issue for me is that Dana spends so much time “in her head” mulling things over, rambling to herself, that the story becomes tell-not-show and that format really doesn’t work for me.
There’s also a lot of action, so much so that at times it becomes hard to sort out who’s doing what and why, what’s really going on, and I ended up seeing Dana escape yet again but uncertain of how, or why it happened. That’s possibly because I found myself skimming some of her meanderings, and some of the what felt like repeated attacks.
I’m the kind of reader that needs answers, needs to know that the protagonist gets free using skills I know she or someone else already has. I don’t like new-skills-discovered-at-the-critical-time kind of read, the quick fix answer where they are in a scrape that looks inescapable and then someone comes in, does something hitherto unknown, and everything is perfect once more.

That said I love the characters, the mystery of the seven moon pack – or whatever they were called, wondering who Ansell is, the triangle (or quad?) of Jon, Dana and Sam, with jealous Claude making up an unwilling fourth!! I’m kind of confused over that, as Jon tells her after the first crisis she finds herself in that Claude is an ex, that there’s nothing between them. However Claude doesn’t seem to feel he’s an ex, more a current, and the interaction between him and Jon seems to back that up – so what is the truth?
I like Jon, can feel he genuinely cares for and about Dana, but his relationship with Claude is odd, and i didn’t see how he could let go the things Claude did and said when he cares so much for Dana.
I liked Sam too, but he’s more complex that he first appeared, and did things that made me feel somewhat differently about him.

There’s some serious heat in the scenes in this, with some very sensual sex going on but…I could have done with a bit more attraction between them, not just sexual, lust, physical but emotional, actually liking each other, wanting to support and help.
Jon seems to do a bit of that, but in an understated way, and it’s really hard to tell if he’s doing it because he likes Dana, or whether he just feels its the right thing to do, kind of old school traditional behaviour that many vamps show.

I think – and I really hate to say this as usually I’m banging on about stories being too simplified – this series will work better as it grows, as Beth works out what she wants her characters to be, where she wants them to go and how. Once they know who they are, then maybe their actions will become more simpler, more understandable instead of the random we see curretntly,, and we won’t need this constant rescue from unnamed sources with untold skills.

Its a great idea, and by the end I can see that its going to get more complex, so something needs to go, or to get more slick and polished or the plot(s) along with non stop, over-complex and over-explained action is going to spoil what could be for me a terrific 5* series.

Stars: Three and a half. A really good start to a series that has the potential to become a favourite for me, but still needs some fine-tuning IMO.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Wolf Moon,  Lisa Kessler

Wolf Moon by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:  romance,

I’d read and enjoyed the first five books in this series, but somehow missed book six…still, these can be read as standalone stories so that didn’t matter.

There is an overall story arc to the series with the Nero connection, but that seems to have taken a real backseat in this book.There are references to Nero and the people within it, but its a very minor part of the book. I’d have liked to see more Nero involvement, without it this becomes just a shifter romance, and there’s a deluge of them on the market.
Lisa’s writing is always very good, but the Nero connection gave this series the edge IMO.

So we meet Luke and Raven. We do hear from others in his pack, but in this book they’re very much in name only, its mainly just Luke and Raven and the Sedona Pack.
Poor Raven, turned against her will and against werewolf rules, is trapped in the Sedona pack. I really felt for her and her sister, stuck there with her.
The pack Alpha is in league with Nero, and is growing his pack quickly, against werewolf law and tradition, mating the females up with whoever he wants to reward to breed more werewolves. He wants a strong and loyal pack, and is searching out and turning people with abilities to help him achieve that, if they don’t have close family and won’t be missed.
Forget the fated Mate connection, he’s not interested in that, just in rewarding those men loyal to him with females, and the ladies don’t have any say in the matter.

What an awful life. Raven is determined to escape with her sister, and when she meets Luke and they touch, the need grows stronger and they discover they are mates.
Luke hates the thought of her going back to the pack, but she must, to save her sister and to prevent war on Luke’s pack. That looks inevitable though when they learn of the Sedona Alpha’s plans and the Nero connection.

I loved Luke and Raven, but the story felt a little slick, everything fell into place too well, even when there were issues they were dealt with quickly.
Compared to earlier reads this one did feel very simplistic, maybe I just needed more Nero connection, a bit more angst and anger.
I’m kind of confused about the Nero crew too, as to which way the major players are swinging, what side are they really one, are they playing bluff or double bluff? I like that kind of thing, trying to work out what people really have in mind.
Compared to that intrigue the Sedona stuff just seemed to flip by too easily, issues sorted too simply.

Its still a fun read, still a great addition to the series but looking back at my past reviews the ones I’ve enjoyed the most have been the ones where Nero takes a stronger part.

Stars: Four, a good read, but I needed a bit more Nero to make it a five.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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The Demigod’s Legacy, Masters of Maria – Book 1,  Holley Trent

The Demigod's Legacy by [Trent, Holley]

Genre:  romance, paranormal and fantasy

I didn’t realise this was a spin off series, and of course I’d not read the Desert Guards. Didn’t matter though, there’s enough info given for me to follow the story, but I do want to read the other books at some point, they sound fun.

I’ve read a few of Holley’s contemporary romance reads a while back, but none of her very very many paranormals….she has an easy to follow writing style, with some sharp humour which keeps the feeling of light-heartedness in the story.
Its a kind of easy, relaxing read rather than deep dark drama. I like both, very much depends on my mood which I want to read.

So this book – a fun read, made me smile at some of the things that happened. I loved the main characters of Dee, Cruz and Tito, and they all felt very real. Cruz especially – five going on fifteen. she was a real sweetie kid.

I really felt for poor Dee, dumped like that, Tito promising he’ll be back and then she’s stuck, pregnant and alone, with only her sister for support. That must have made the early days very tough, especially as she’s no way of contacting Tito, other than trying many times to send a message via his cousin.
She never hears back but now she’s found out where he is and has driven her and Cruz to see him. I’d have been pretty riled at him too.

I started off really disliking Tito, hated what he’d done, and his reaction when he first sees Dee isn’t great, nor did he take the news he’s a father very well. If I’d been Dee I think I’d have got in the car and gone…but somehow his family and friends sort of bamboozle Dee into staying, and his Godess mother tells him to pull himself together basically.
Of course once I knew his past I understood why he’d left Dee, and really felt for him, he was just trying to do the right thing even though it hurt him.
He’s still allowing that to impact the current situation though, and Dee just isn’t sure whether he really wants her now, or just wants his daughter,Cruz, and her by default as Cruz’ mother, as he can’t really explain what he is without sounding crazy…

Of course the tale gets more tangled with endless Foley friends and cousins in every corner it seems, and poor Dee was as confused as i was, especially before she knew the truth about them.
They were trying to make excuses for Tito’s behaviour, and persuade her to stay without being able to explain so much of what was going on.

Where I struggled was the ending, it got to a point where I felt it was kind of rushed, overly complicated at times and at other it was just Problem, wham – problem gone, far too quick and simplistic. I needed something between the two, to be able to see what was going to happen, how it was resolved and how they kept humans from finding out what they’d done.
It seemed to me a magical clean sweep was done very quickly every time there was a fight and/or a death, but it wouldn’t really have been as simple as that surely? There would have been times when other eyes were around, when they didn’t clean up quick enough?

I wasn’t really sure why her parents and other relatives were involved, that wasn’t really needed IMO and the way that plotline played out was certainly unreal and felt unnecessary.
I couldn’t see they could have covered things up so slickly, that everyone would have been so accepting of what had been happening and the consequences. I’d rather things there were left as we first knew them.
Though I’d really enjoyed the novel til the end section, those issues were what made it a four star not a five. Again had I read Desert Guards maybe I’d have followed it better – who knows?

One thing I did like was the historic references, Aztec names etc – I kept looking them up each time I came across one and learned a little more interesting facts about ancient Aztec culture and Gods. That was fun and gave an edge of reality to the story.

Stars: four, a fun supernatural read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Flowers On The Wall, Mary J. Williams. Working It, Christine d’Abo

Flowers On The Wall
Hart Of Rock And Roll – Book 1,  Mary J. Williams

Flowers On The Wall (Hart Of Rock And Roll Book 1) by [Williams, Mary J.]

Genre:  romance,

Hmnn…this has all five star reviews currently – and though I enjoyed it, a lot, its not a  five star for me. Maybe I’m just hypercritical? I hate when I’m out of step with others but – it happens.

So, Ryder and Quinn, both great characters, self confident, strong willed and when they meet there’s a real pull between them.

I like self confident female leads, but at times I felt Quinn was a little too assertive, a bit too confident. In males that comes over as cocky but appealing – so it ought to be the same with her, and yet I found she was almost brash and irritating at times.

Ryder, he’s been through a lot and come out on top, but not without some mental demons. That’s understandable and what makes him the man he is.
He sees Quinn – loved that first meeting BTW – and is attracted, and she feels the same but isn’t going to just jump because he says so. There’s a real sexual attraction here which grew stronger, but somehow I wasn’t convinced that it was more, that it was love rather than lust.

I would have liked to see more of the other band members, they stayed pretty much in the background except for Zoe.
I thought the suggestion of more from the manager would have developed, would have been an interesting storyline, but it seemed to be put in and then left. That could have made for some intriguing subplots, but as it never developed it made me wonder why it was started?

Its a good read, felt very real at times, with characters I liked. I really needed someone/something unpleasant though, some drama that was very down, to take from all the good/sweet/happy parts in this read.
For me a bit of unpleasantness, jealousy, a tinge of malice in action, makes the happy parts so much brighter. Without that contrast they just feel Good but not Great, and that’s kind of how I feel here. It was a good novel, but lacked the contrast, the dark side, the emotional context for me that would have made it a great one.
Others love it as it is though, so its not all of us who enjoy more in stories, need the dramas, the angst, the sorrow, ones like this are perfect for many readers, you’ll have to assess which side you fall 😉

Stars: Four, a good read but I wanted more drama for a five.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

****************************************************************************

Working It,  Christine d’Abo

Working It (Ringside Romance Book 1) by [d'Abo, Christine]

Genre:   Romance, LGBTQIA

My first Christine d’Abo read – and I’m going to take a look at more of her books as I now know I enjoy her writing style.

I really liked the sound of this, a fairly straightforward romance, no suspense dramas, no deep dark relatives, no hidden motives, just two people that fall in love, but where each have their own issues.
I enjoy all those other types of read but sometimes you just want an easy read, uncomplicated where its the two leads that are the main focus and thats what I was in the mood for when I picked out this one to read yesterday.

I loved Nolan, understood so well his issues, its hard picking up life after an accident like his which left him with life changing injuries. We can heal the body, though that takes time and Nolan is still healing even two years later, but the mind – well, that’s harder.
Nolan has learned coping strategies but its tough, and he still struggles sometimes.
I have to mention one thing though that irritated me. Nolan is musing “Phantom pain was no myth. the moment he started to thing about…” Well, that true BUT – Nolan Does Not Have phantom pain. That’s the pain amputees get, where the missing limb still feels pain, and as someone with no left leg, but who often gets severe pain from it 21 years later I can say wholeheartedly Nolan is right, it isn’t a myth but he’s not an amputee, he has severe pain, probably serve nerve pain from damage there, but he does not have phantom pain.
Right, got that off my chest * blush *. sorry, but some things just yank my chain and that’s one.
I really understood Nolan’s difficulties trying to get his life back on track, trying to be independent, having faced them myself after my amputation and that part was so well written that I found myself nodding with his thoughts and experiences.
When he worried about Zack seeing his scars – such a familiar feeling, when he didn’t want pity or sympathy – been there done that, and he felt so real for me. I just wanted everything to go perfectly for him.

Then there’s Zack, a real pain in the ar se boss. Yet as we get to know him we can see much of that comes from him wanting things done properly, without having to chase up assistants who should be able to deal with his requests.
Some people are good at that, some are not and Zack just wants to delegate and get on with his own work, he’s got a lot of it to do. Underneath all that tough guy, bluff and bluster is a geniune caring man.

The gym, what a great idea and goodreads had this book sub-titled (Ringside Romance #1)  so I hope we get to see more of the characters involved, and maybe catch up with Zack and Nolan.
Kids need places like this and its great when those who’ve benefitted in the past come forward to make it available to kids now who need it, as Zack and his friends do.
Those teen years are make or break time for many, get a record then and it stays with you for life, shaping what jobs you get, what direction your life can take, so its important to do everything possible to make them good years for those who are struggling. And lets face it, many teens do struggle, and if they’re Different in some way, race, religion, sexuality, disability etc then they feel all the more marginalised.
Provides a great background to this series of novels though 😉

Its a fun romance, fairly low on drama, and when things do go wrong its soon over. I liked the proportion of sex v story, so often the sex dominates and for me I want it to be more balanced.  I loved the setting, the characters and the gym but the story itself was a bit drama light for me, I do need a bit more angst for a 5 star re-reader, but its still a good four star read for me.

Stars: Four, a realistic read and one I enjoyed. I shall look for more from Christine.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Transfixed, Maddie Jane

Transfixed,  Maddie Jane

Transfixed (Fixed Up Book 2) by [Jane, Maddie]

Genre:  romance, general fiction (adult)

This sounded fun, sometimes I want an absorbing in-depth read, sometimes something more easy and relaxing and this sounded perfect for that.

I liked the characters, starched, uptight professor Grayson and flighty, flirty Annie. In an ideal world people are judged on who they are as people, not on what they look like, but I’ve had this conversation with someone recently, and we decided that in fact first appearances DO matter, that everyone takes a snapshot of what they see and categorises accordingly.
Sometimes though that front we project is carefully cultivated, either consciously or unconsciously, and that seems to be so with both these leads.

Dom moved to England to take up a professorship and put himself in what he thought was professor mode, it brought him the ideal fiancée, wife in training, someone perfect for that role, but he wasn’t really just Professor Grayson, but a much more layered persona. Luckily, though he doesn’t think so at the time, his fiancée sees sense and flees at the last minute. He’s back home with his family for the summer.
Annie is like a Barbie on steroids ( here in the UK we have Sindy, much more reserved….). She’s gorgeous and has come to play up to her appearnace, come to use that as a way of getting things done, always lived in the shadow of her intelligent sister. She seems to put herself down before anyone else can, and has come to use her appearance as a way of avoiding the need for that.

Underneath though, both these characters are very different people, and the six weeks they are together brings out their inner person, makes them happier.
Sadly it all falls apart with a bang. I so felt for both of them, wanted to smack Dom for being such a berk, but applauded how Annie coped. she really has got such a genuine heart and a real talent, but not in the direction her sister is taking her. She’s learned more than just Biz Ad though over those weeks, learned about herself and her actions, learned to see what she wants is important, she doesn’t have to take second place, try to fit a role that isn’t for her.
She’s also fallen in love with Dom though….and he’s off back to UK soon, after they way they parted it seems unlikely she’ll see him again.
Dom’s also learned a lot about himself over the summer, but will he put it into practice, or run scared back to UK?

Its a fun read, a little too light for a five for me, but I enjoyed it and there were times I empathised with Annie, knowing just how she feels. I’m a lot like her, not the beauty sadly, but the feeling “lesser”, always wondering if I’m really in the right place, deserve to be there etc. I even went as far as Assertiveness Classes in my 30’s to see if I could learn to say No 😦 Fail, I couldn’t, well not there anyway. Time has taught me a bit more and I’m not quite such a pushover, people pleaser now though its a constant battle. Like Annie I don’t want to upset others, like everyone to be happy.
While writing this I realised here I am at 58, been driving since I was 30 and I’ve never changed a tyre either…always had a lovely man come along, pleased to do it for me….I have tried but soon as I started someone has always appeared before I’ve really got started and finished the job.

Its got a good ending, but that did feel a bit sudden and rushed to me, I wasn’t quite convinced they had reached that point but…its a story that I had fun reading, but not a keeper for rereading.

Stars: three and a half, a fun story but a one off read for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Special pre-release price 99p, Million Baller Baby, (Bad Boy Ballers 1), Rie Warren

I’ve not read this yet, but just been notified its on a pre-release special price of 99p. Rie’s reads are always hot and steamy and have a strong thread of sharp humour running through, with a solid story backing up all that heat. Regular readers of my reviews will know that’s Essential for me, sex without a decent story is just Meh, and Rie’s books are never that 😉
If you enjoy hot and steamy reads, solid stories, realistic characters and sports romance take a look and grab it now while price is still low.

Click either image for amazon link

Million Baller Baby, (Bad Boy Ballers 1),  Rie Warren

million-baller-baby-teaser-2-rie-warren

She’s NFL royalty. He’s the star quarterback of a tanking team. When she takes ownership, balls will roll . . . and the truth will out.

Rafe Macintyre—the rocket-armed Carolina Crush quarterback—has nothing to lose and everything to prove. All because of one woman . . . Miss Peyton Fox. When the tough-as-nails chick takes over as team owner, Rafe is ready to turn the epic-fail season into a Super Bowl championship. But the winning has to start with Peyton’s love.

No stranger to playas on and off the field, Peyton Fox is born and bred NFL royalty. Been there, done him, and called the plays even before she took up the Carolina Crush crown. She has zero time for a love life and even less time for games unless they happen between the endzones. Unfortunately, Rafe Macintyre has one hell of an arm, and he’s full of hot southern charm. He’s not too bad to drool over either, but it’s been five years since she tangled with him—a mistake she doesn’t plan on repeating.

The consequences of one night of rebellion will last a lifetime. It’s all fun and games until someone gets knocked up

million-baller-baby-teaser-1-rie-warren

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