I’m reviewing one book from this series, Alyssa Richard’s Chasing Secrets. Anthologies are a terrific way to try out new-to- you authors for a small price, 21 stories here for under four quid.
Chasing Secrets, Alyssa Richards
Genre: fantasy and paranormal, romance
I’ve loved Alyssa’s other stories but this one didn’t seem to work well for me. Its well written as usual, its one of those “just not the right fit” times, not that there’s anything wrong with the story. It could be personal circumstances, I’m a bit stressed, having sold my house and the one I’m buying has been delayed, so I’m staying with daughter, living in her conservatory, and its not best place for getting lost in a story.
Anyway, Barbara has an unusual gift – she’s able to “read” people from their name, doesn’t need to meet them, just needs their first name. She can tell one Steven from another, doesn’t need any extra info but is able to tap into the right person.
She’s married to David, who adores her, and they’re expecting their first child. David’s been a little stressed though, and suddenly he’s gone, murdered in front of her. In the resulting chaos she miscarries, and its taken her time to try to move forward.
She’s beginning to make a new life, albeit very staid, when the past rushes up to her with David’s killers attacking her, demanding she return stolen diamonds. She knows nothing about them, but they aren’t convinced and it becomes dangerous for her and her family.
Hiding out from them she meets Griffin, an archaeologist, and there’s a spark between them they can’t ignore. As always though romance comes with problems and Griffin is due to start an new search through history far away from Barbara.
Barbara’s gift was interesting and Griffin’s project and reasons for moving to Greece very real. Its the kind of thing that happens in real life, couples meet but one is about to move, and its a question of move and abandon possible relationship or try long distance one, or stay and possibly regret lost opportunities. Hard choice either way.
There were some excellent characters in the book, and a very real plot but….overall its wasn’t a story I was gripped by. I’d guessed early on one big “secret”, and the way the killers tracked her seemed like something I’d have expected police to check. There were clues that seemed so unfathomable, and yet Barbara and Griffin found the meanings behind them so easily. Then there’s the way they were able to just walk up to someone’s home, and chip a brick out of the front in their search! They were spotted and had to run, but who does that, damages a strangers home in broad daylight? I’d have expected them to come prepared at night, when unlikely to be seen.
I just felt the problems were tough, but the way they found solutions just too slick, too easy.
Stars: Three, a well written story but one that didn’t work for me right now.
Arc via author
A Murder at Alcott ManorBook 2 The Alcott Manor Trilogy, Alyssa Richards
Genre: Romance, suspense, sci-fi and fantasy
Second book in a trilogy but each are complete and can be read alone, though knowing the house history and events will make it easier to follow.
I love Layla, she was married to an awful man, pushed into it really by a combination of guilt and her awful mother. Asher never loved her, but wanted her share and her voting rights in the Manor, with ambitious plans to make himself rich. Now he’s dead, and Layla finds out she’s penniless, and discovers he had unsavoury plans for her too. She knew he didn’t love her, his treatment was clear of that, but this new development comes as a shock. Still, she’s got kids to feed and a home to find.
Mason’s finally back, guilt after leaving Layla all those years ago. I liked him, and then again I didn’t. I got so cross with his intransigence about his mothers experiences with the supernatural, its as if he knows its real, but after they were hounded because of it when he was young he just won’t accept anything other than science. So when Layla tells him whats been going on he just doesn’t want to acknowledge it just at the time when she really needs his support.
Its a gentle romance, a pick up from the past but the suspense is seriously action packed, lots of ghostly goings on…but thankfully not the sort that gives me nightmares. I have to avoid anything that could even loosely be described as horror, I’m a real wimp, couldn’t even manage some of the kids films without getting nightmares. This was fine though, intriguing, thought provoking – the “what if” scenario, just because we cant prove it does that mean it can’t exist. When billions believe in God – or a God, or multiple gods that can’t be proved we accept it but mention haunting and its tagged crackpot. Is it really so hard to think some people don’t quite want t leave, that places and buildings could soak up strong emotions? Lots to make me ponder there even though its a fiction read, and that was fun.
And I’ve rambled, but if you want a suspense of the supernatural type with a rewarding romance this is perfect.
Stars: Four, a great second story from Alcott Manor, and book three sounds another fun read.
ARC supplied for review purposes by author
The Fine Art of Deception Series, Boxed Set- A Time Travel Romance Book Series,
I loved this trilogy, have reviewed the three books individually, and now there’s the chance for readers to get all three at once. That’s always my preferred way of reading trilogies and series, where I can indulge in a reading fest, immerse myself in another world for ages, and really “feel” the story, be there with the characters. Sometimes its a shame to come back to the real world!
I love romance that has something extra, and though the genre selection didn’t suggest anything other than straight romance, it’s far more IMO, a beautiful romance with elements of paranormal and suspense.
Adeline comes from a family with extra talents, her sister can mentally “push” people to do what she wants, and Adeline has an ability to see the history from touching an object, and find out more about the people connected with it. Its not a gift that’s brought her family happiness though,family, friends and her job have all been affected and not in a good way.
She’s decided that she’s going to ignore her gift, and look for something normal, a straightforward job, and try to live as everyone else does.
I loved Addie, felt for her when the job she enjoys turns out to bring her into real danger. Then there’s Blake and what a guy he is. The connection between them sizzles, steams and feels intense, but of course Addie knows he’s hiding things, not least because she suspects he has abilities similar to her sister, and the things of his she touches are blank. That just doesn’t happen, has been done deliberately to hide things….so she tries to avoid him but he keeps on asking, and somehow she finds herself wrapped up in a relationship with him.
Though they’re the main two characters there are many others, each with their own important place in the story, and adding to the cohesivness and reality of the novels.
It’s a fabulous read, something so very different in the Fantasy/Paranormal genre which is dominated by stories that are just a couple of hundred pages or less, too often of a Vampire or Were hundreds of years old finding his Mate, in a simplistic, sickly thin story * roll eyes * so its a real treat to get a book I can really get stuck into, lost in the magic (!) of the story.
The Haunting of Alcott Manor, Alyssa Richards
Genre: Fantasy and paranormal, Romance
I loved Alyssa’s trilogy The Fine Art of Deception, and this book is another paranormal read but very different to the trilogy.
When I first started reading I was taken back to my teens/early twenties when I read many mysteries, especially those by Victoria Holt, and this book gave me that same kind of feeling, though I don’t remember the romance being a major part of those reads 🙂
So, Gemma loves her parents, but has had some strange childhood experiences that are suggested through the book, seem to have given her kind of PTSD/OCD issues. Its clear she struggled with things of the supernatural world, but equally clear she shares her mum’s talent for solving issues of that sort.
Sadly her mum has died, and now her dad needs her help. She really doesn’t want to get involved, but loves her dad and knows if he’s asking for her help, knowing her problems with the supernatural he really does need it.
She agrees to meet him and do what she can for the land, but isn’t intending to step into the house. She thinks using her gift by clearing the land of spirits will help.
Tragedy isn’t finished with her though, and her dad is involved in an accident that leaves her to take over the restoration, against her wishes but she owes him much, and can’t see him lose everything.
From there on it a race to finish the first stage of the renovation before the court deadline, or lose the house to those who want it demolished and new homes put up.
Its a beautiful old building and when she meets Henry she can see its special to him. He’s on a mission though, knowing that the past owner Benjamin Alcott was convicted of killing his wife, he wants to free him from haunting the property, as Benjamin is destroying much of it in his search for something that would prove his assertion he was innocent.
Its a great read, I loved hearing about the house, sharing the memories that played out and wondering if Benjamin really was innocent as Henry thinks, and if so what really happened that night. Was he really responsible for the deaths of people involved with the house since then?
Henry is really worried that past people have become trapped in the house memories, and cautions Gemma to take absolute care not to interact with any scenes she sees, however lifelike they feel. That sounded weird at first, but its soon clear the house really does have a life of its own.
It’s a gently paced novel, not a race through to the finish, with events playing out slowly, scenes from past and present there, and clues that could mean very different things happened. The evidence for the full story is still missing and seems to be the key to Benjamin’s destructive actions, and there are some fun twists to the story in the search.
It all wraps up neatly, the loose ends tidied away, all the answers given, which was great as I hate to be left wondering “but what about??What happened to??” I was totally surprised by the ending, I simply didn’t see it coming, and that’s good – I love a novel that does that 😉
I’m still a romance reader more than a mystery one but this was a nice bridge between the two, and an enjoyable read. Sometimes its good to step away from a favoured genre and dip into something different.
Stars: four, an escapist read, full of secrets and suprises that caught me out completely!
ARC supplied for review purposes by author
Lost in Time, (The Fine Art of Deception 3), Alyssa Richards
Genre: Romance, fantasy and paranormal
Well, the home stretch 🙂 I’m in two minds – always am at this point. I love to see how the trilogy/series ends and yet its hard saying goodbye to characters that feel so real, that I’ve worried about. How authors must feel I can’t imagine.
Still, I love to reread good books, and this is one series that’s so unusual, so different from anything else, that I think a back to back reading will be even more enjoyable than this piecemeal reading of instalments.
I had to reread the last couple of chapters of book two to remind myself where we were up to as its such a complex novel.
SO, by now after books one and two ( and don’t try jumping into book three without reading those, you’ll get hopelessly lost) we are well informed about the background and characters, though its been so intense and so very different to the usual fantasy/paranormal reads, that I have trouble recalling exactly how it all started and some of the connections. That’s where a back to back session will make this trilogy even more enjoyable!
This picks up from the end of book two, where Blake and Addie have journeyed back through a Wentworth painting to 1920’s. They’re hoping they can find Addie’s dad and grandfather, find and deal with Otto, and bring back Blake’s mother who went with Otto under duress, knowing it was the only way to keep Blake and Addie safe. Simple then, should only take a short while….!
Note that term “deal with”. They’re all shying away from what they really mean, haven’t quite faced up to what they have to do to stop him permanently.
Otto’s such a mad man now, so unpredictable, unable to be reasoned with that everyone is shying away from what Deal means…there’s little grounds to imprison him in the present time, he’s done some awful things, committed murder, but there’s no proof. Likewise the 1920’s, even if they could manage to get him imprisoned he’s bound to find a way out, or be there for just a short time. With his abilities to “push” people, and his manipulating but convincing nature he’d find a way.
He’s a really clever man, if only he’d stuck to his first intentions and not let the power go to his head, want more and more and become obsessed over keeping Blake’s mum. She loved him once, til he became obsessed with power and control.
Addie’s worried about Blake, its been two years now back in time. They went as partners, taking Blake’s half brother and her cousin, Phillipe, with them, but as time goes on Blake disappears for days at a time without telling her where or why he’s gone. He’s become more and more distant, obsessed with the twin aims of finding his mum, and keeping her and Addie safe from Otto. He’s becoming a control freak, and even though Addie understands his fears its pushing her away.
Phillipe, who she’s known since a child, has become much closer to her too, and Blake is jealous of that. Even though he can see what Addie needs from him, see that he’s risking their relationship by his actions, he still can’t seem to change, just getting vaguely irritated when she brings it up, saying he’ll try harder but still going on the same way, convinced he and only he can keep her safe, make the decisions needed, shutting her out physically and emotionally. Phillipe loves Addie, will keep aside if Blake is who she wants, but can see the breach happening and is ready…he even warns Blake but nothing changes.
I loved the 1920’s part, which covers most of the book. There are snippets to what’s going on in the current time via the books that send messages. As the action moves from America to Paris though they need to find a third book so they can continue to communicate with Addie’s family. That’s not easy, Addie’s dad and granddad know where one was earlier, but of course nothing is static and things change all the time so they have to hope its still there….
Throw in that Jack and Sarah, who are Blake and Addie in a previous incarnation, are alive here, that Blake is becoming more like Otto in the way he sees Addie, that Addie’s dad and granddad have made a life for themselves back in time after 20 years there, and the story becomes ever more complex.
Addie’s dad and granddad try to impress on Blake, Addie and Philippe how important it is not to interfere in the past, but with so much going on and being in the same place as their past selves its very difficult, and then things really come to a head!
Everything seems to happen at once, the past looks to be changing, they don’t know why or how to put it right, can only guess, they catch up with Otto but it doesn’t go well, Blake and Addie are still struggling. Philippe’s feelings are getting more intense and Blake’s jealousy stronger than ever, but he’s still staying with ultimate control even though he can see what he’s risking. Its as if he can’t actually believe it, that the Soul Mates part that’s brought them back together in this incarnation can’t change – but it can, especially if the past changes…
I was desperate for them to make it, I love Philippe, but it’s Blake and Addie that make the magic for me, they belong together, and I wanted that for them with Phillipe getting his own lady at some point. Would it happen though or would it all go wrong?
Its riveting story, full of surprises. I really felt I was back in the Twenties with them, loved the descriptions of the clothes, the day to day life, and the week it took them to sail to Paris. Travel wasn’t quick and simple then. Of course they had money and that makes things easier, and it was because of the first two books, where we saw how they’d amassed what they needed that made this part feel so genuine.
I hate books where things come up for convenience, and they get funds by the equivalent of some kind of lottery win, unknown relative leaving a fortune or something. Done this way, where we know where the money has come from, can see the trail and it makes sense, then I’m happy.
The last quarter is non stop action it feels, with things looking positive, then its all turned around. There’s several different plotlines all coming to a head at the same time, and its almost breathless the way I was speed reading through full of excitement, happy one moment and then down when it all went wrong once more.
I really couldn’t guess how things would get resolved, what would happen, and its clever writing like this that kept me wondering if, how, why and when….
A fabulous read, something so very different in the Fantasy/Paranormal genre where it’s dominated by stories are just a couple of hundred pages or less of a Vampire or Were hundreds of years old finding his Mate, in a simplistic, sickly thin story * roll eyes * so its a real treat to get a book I can really get stuck into, lost in the magic (!) of the story.
I’m hoping that maybe there’s more to come from this world, perhaps Phillipe or some other relatives have inherited some of the reading/pushing talents that allow the story to continue but focus on them, and keeping Addie and Blake happy, just showing us them in cameo roles.
Stars: Five, one to keep, to savour rereading the whole trilogy back to back.
ARC supplied by author
Addison Montgomery has finally found love with the man of her dreams, Blake Greenwood, and is ready
to live another lifetime of happiness with him. But the morning they’re supposed to bring closure to
their dark, violent past, all chances of a happily-ever-after turn as dead as the ghosts she sees on a daily
Now Addie must team up with her greatest enemy, embracing her not-quite-perfect gift of reading art
psychically. If she succeeds, she will finally learn the truth behind her father’s and grandfather’s
disappearances. If she fails, every chance at love she’s ever hoped for will be destroyed. But one thing is
clear: she has to choose between saving Blake or her family, and there’s no way she can ever have bot
Genre: Romance, Mystery & Thrillers
Well, book one was a real treat and I’ve been looking forward to book two – now having read it I want book three ASAP!!
This is an amazing series, with a mix of romance and risk, happiness and heart break, adventure and agonies….Alyssa has taken the Psychometry angle and extended it to make it her own and give us an incredible story spanning generations, encompassing past and present loves, art thefts of priceless works, and all wrapped up with the ever present danger contact with Otto brings. Yet he’s so wrapped up in the lives and families of both Blake and Addie that its seems impossible to get away from him. The more he learns about Addie’s gifts the more determined he is to use them for his own criminal purposes.
Addie wants nothing to do with him, but as she’s already learned he doesn’t take no for an answer and he seems to have contacts in the highest of places. He’s slippery like a snake and slithers through all the nets cast for him so far, escaping always by his contacts influences, which seem to pervade even the highest of official places. It really looks like the Law can’t help, however much factions of it want to. Once more she and Blake are plunged into danger, into running for their lives, trying to keep two steps ahead of Otto. He’s determined to get Addie for himslef and he’s got some unpleasant surprises in store for them in this book though, which could part Blake and Addie forever.
Its a book full of mysteries, where each time one is opened out, more than we could have imagined is revealed. Addie is so shocked and upset at some of the secrets her family have been holding for a very long time. It leads on to a story arc that looks set to play a large part in the next book, and was a fascinating read. Its quite easy for me to lose myself in a novel, however fantastic and unreal if the story is good and the writer makes everything feel plausible. Alyssa does just that, and I had no trouble in believing the new information that Blake and Addie discover their families have been keeping secret. Its a journey to the unknown though, and at great risk. Still, there are things they feel they have to do, and one way or another Otto just has to be stopped or his hold on the family will never be broken.
Stars: Five a fantastic story I found myself lost in for hours yesterday
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers
The Fine Art of Deception; Undoing Time, Alyssa Richards
Genre: Romance, paranormal
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Seems as though this is Alyssa’s debut book – and what a fantastic start. I love romance that has something extra, and though the genre selection didn’t suggest anything other than straight romance, it’s far more IMO, a beautiful romance with elements of paranormal and suspense.
Adeline comes from a family with extra talents, her sister can mentally “push” people to do what she wants, and Adeline has an ability to see the history from touching an object, and find out more about the people connected with it. Its not a gift that’s brought her family happiness though, her father and grandfather disappeared mysteriously, and when she told her best friend about it she lost both the friendship of her and others, her job, and then her boyfriend ditched her for the best friend too. She’s decided that she’s going to ignore her gift, and look for something normal, a straightforward job, and try to live as everyone else does. Its hard though, some touches happen by accident, and sometimes she just can’t resist a dip into the history of something. She’s learned so much about artists and art that way, being able to tell real from fake when they reveal their stories to her touch. Of course she can’t tell anyone other than family about it but its been both a joy and sometimes traumatic to her.
I love the idea that things can keep essences of people connected to them. I love old buildings and artefacts, and like to think about people connected with them – to have Addie’s gift would be wonderful – but then seeing what you don’t want, or actually being partially pulled into past could be not so good…. still, I’m open minded about things like that, and don’t find it hard to believe that this could happen to some people ( or maybe I’m just naive and gullible !!) Anyway I loved Addie, felt for her when the job she enjoys turns out to bring her into real danger. Then there’s Blake and what a guy he is. The connection between them sizzles, steams and feels intense, but of course Addie knows he’s hiding things, not least because she suspects he has abilities similar to her sister, and the things of his she touches are blank. That just doesn’t happen, has been done deliberately to hide things….so she tries to avoid him but he keeps on asking, and somehow she finds herself wrapped up in a relationship with him. There’s some real heartbreak though when her “touches” show her things she doesn’t want to see, and after her last disaster of a romance she’s wary…
I really enjoyed this read, full of sensuality, beautiful settings and stories, and people that felt real. When the dangers heated up they felt genuine, and like Addie I wasn’t sure who was to be trusted and what was the truth. Its a great novel, one I really enjoyed and I’d happily read anything Alyssa writes next.
Stars: Five, a great read.
ARC provided by netgalley and publisher