Tag Archive | contemporary

Double Down, Alessandra Torre

Double Down, Alessandra Torre

Double Down (All In Duet Book 2) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Erotica, romance

Having just finished book one I dived quickly into this. The last ended on a real cliffhanger, but everything changes when we start book two.
I wondered how Alessandra was going to work things out to give Dario and Bell a HEA, and just couldn’t see how they could avoid either the killer, Gwen’s father or the police. Its one of those stories where We know they didn’t do it but will that matter to the cops, will one of them get blamed for Gwen’s death? After all we know her father has half the local force in his pay.

Its a roller-coaster follow-up, where I wanted to scream at them for what looked a bit like complacency at one point. We know the danger is still there, and Dario is still heavy on the security but Bell is chafing at the restrictions. It brings a question up for Bell, can she live like this, Dario is always going to be vulnerable now people know how he feels about Bell, and she isn’t sure she can live with a constant shadow. Still, for them sex heals, sex talks, sex bridges all the gaps and there are plenty of Alessandra’s trademark erotic encounters.

I love the way they talk through their feelings of guilt. Its understandable, we all think “if only I…” when things go wrong but neither of them are to blame, its the person with the gun that’s wrong, not them, they aren’t accountable for another’s actions. Thankfully Dario has deep pockets as they need it in this book to avoid getting caught unfairly.

Fantastic read, had me wondering “how will/why don’t they/what about….?” and struggling for answers. I was surprised, and then surprised again and of course like most of Alessandra’s reads its not just a one plot book, but has a solid second strand that becomes joined to the first, and gave me lots to try to work out.
Fantastic ending but….I can’t help wondering about that one loose end 😉

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. Some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up and give Dario and Bell a HEA. Thankfully they do get one.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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Even Money, Alessandra Torre

Even Money,  Alessandra Torre

Even Money (All In Duet Book 1) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Erotica, romance

Alessandra’s writing is perfect for me, solid plots and excitement, real feeling people I can like – or dislike, books need those too, plenty of drama, angst, steamy, erotic encounters and loads of emotions.

So I went into this one eagerly and wasn’t disappointed, its got all of that and more. What I hate in a book though is a cliffhanger and this is a real doozy….BUT thankfully book two is only a week or two away. I can live with that, its when it happens in a book and the next isn’t due for 12 or 18 months, or even longer….( of course I’m lucky enough to have got an ARC for that on my kindle, but I’m writing there as a standard reader, about how frustrating it can be when the next book is so far away)

Bell’s a cocktail waitress in a “neutral zone “ casino, one where the other casino owners come to play. Its owned by two men who have become really good friends of hers, the kind who will – as the saying goes – help you hide a body without asking questions.
I like Bell, just wants to get through school, enjoy life and live and do her best to be independent. She’s had a tough background, some awful events in it and yet is strong, determined to live a better life.
Dario – I wasn’t sure of him at first, he seemed arrogant and one of those snap his fingers and demand instant obedience types. As we get to know him though I liked him more, he’s like Bell in that he too comes from a non moneyed background, but he’s talented, worked hard and married well financially, and is now in a strong position. Despite all that his hands are still tied in a way, his wife’s father, what an awful man, totally immoral, money is God type, and Dario and Gwen are tied tightly to him. Independence is close but they’re not there yet.
Gwen, Dario’s wife, is mostly a background figure. They married for complex reasons, live separate lives in many ways though they live together, and have a close respect and friendship with each other. So when he tells Bell Gwen knows and is OK with him having other women, he is actually telling the truth, not spinning a well worn line.

Of course life isn’t smooth, even though her bosses warn her about Dario, even though she knows he takes and drops women when the next comes along, even though she promised herself she’d never get entangled with a man like him she’s drawn to him, some undeniable thread pulling them together. Dario can feel it too, this connection that keeps him coming back when he Never chases, Never pursues women. There are too many ready and willing for him to have to do that.

Of course true love never runs smooth, and despite all the signs and self imposed blocks they do get together, then the fireworks start, ending with that astonishing cliffhanger.

I was desperate to read book two, and have it on my kindle so I did just have to take a sneak at the start to see how that cliffhanger moved forward….but didn’t let myself read more until I’d written this.

Its hard for me to write a review if I’ve read both books, trying to recall what was in book two not book one so I was disciplined! I was almost tempted to get up in the early hours and write though.

Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. This book is a perfect read for those who want a solid romance with some real adventure. No sweet and cute folk here, no fluffy feeling scenes, no “heart warming” sections, heart rending maybe 😉 I will be eagerly reading book two today!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Secret Lives of Royals, Shalini Dua

The Secret Lives of Royals,  Shalini Dua

The Secret Lives of Royals by [Dua, Shalini]

Genre: General fiction (adult), New Adult.

I was intrigued by this, and really wanted to like it. It seems to be a debut book, at least I can’t find any others by this author so I wanted to be able to write a positive review. Writing is darn hard work, so I admire those who go on to actually publish. Sadly for me this book just didn’t work though 😦 I’m sure others will love it but for me its a fail.
I didn’t really like Olivia much, she veered from over confident to cautious, all about the wrong (IMO) things. She dropped her long time friends like a hot brick and seemed to just accept this strange job, one she dreamed of but was totally unqualified for without any worries of why it just fell into her lap. Tells her long time friends she’s too tired to go out, but jumps up and happily goes off with her new friends when they call.

The story itself was so intriguing, a society within society that’s really running the world, calling the shots. If that were so though they would never let some un-briefed, unsigned new girl be party to all the facts.
I felt when they were having meetings, especially with the King that there were lots of heavy words put together to make what they were doing sound good, but in fact there was little or no detail about what they were actually doing and how. “Beets need promoting Olivia, trundle off and talk to Gordon Ramsey, push it in the top mags, get it talked about on TV”. “OK then, super, jolly good sir”. Well, it wasn’t quite like that but it ran along those lines. I couldn’t really believe that this society with few rules, very lax on details was capable of running the world, and that was a disappointment because I really wanted to be convinced. I needed to know how things were arranged, how all this lush lifestyle was financed, how they got and kept control of information, checked fats, actually did things. I’m not convinced the royal tags were correct either, we in the UK have some strange ways about titles and they don’t always run as simple as it seemed here. TBH I felt that the Royal stuff, the details of how the Society ran were too thin, too poorly researched and it showed. It could be a great novel, its a terrific idea, secret bloodlines, people behind the scenes forcing changed, and running things for the greater good, but in my view it needed a lot more work on the details.

I think maybe the New Adult tag is correct and the General fiction (Adult) is over optimistic, and maybe teens will take this as its meanr, while older readers like me are too much a cynic to believe in this without more detail of the how, why, when stuff.

Stars: Two, a story with lots of potential but which I struggled to believe, didn’t feel real to me. Maybe will have greater appeal for younger readers.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon, (Mated by Fate 1), Kari Cole

Hunt the Moon (Mated by Fate) by [Cole, Kari]

Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I enjoy paranormal romances, so this appealed. I did feel at first as if I’d made a mistake as it seemed to be rather cliché ridden and I thought it was going to be one of those where frankly the romances are more or less the same and only the characters and settings change. As the story continued though I found I was wrong, it took its own path, and was a decent read.

I did find Izzy’s conversion to meat eating a little weird, and also the fact that she’d managed to control her wolf and sustain herself ( though not healthily) on a vegetarian diet. Its find for humans but wolves?? The thread that usually goes through all shapeshifter books is a hungry wold is a dangerous one, and Izzy’s career choice took her into stressful, dangerous and blood filled areas.
Still, an interesting read, even if I did want to smack Luke a few times for his alpha posturing in front of Izzy. He just about stopped short of calling her Little Woman, but somehow I got the impression barefoot and pregnant in his kitchen was how he saw her ideal future with him, when she’s go so much more to offer. He did grow to see just how strong she was and respect it but those early scenes were irritating for me.
I did struggle with how was who and where they fitted in the story. For a long while it felt as if I was reading a spin off series and should know who all these folk where and how the pack arrived at the position it was in. I can’t find any other books though so I guess I’m wrong there.

Stars: Three, slow start, a bit confusing at times but overall a decent read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Start of Something Good, Stay Book 1, Jennifer Probst

The Start of Something Good, Stay Book 1, Jennifer Probst

The Start of Something Good (Stay Book 1) by [Probst, Jennifer]

Genre:  General Fiction ( adult), Romance

I’ve read and enjoyed several of Jennifer’s stories now, had one that didn’t fit and sadly this one makes two. I just didn’t like Mia right from the start. Her ideals are solid and to be admired but her nature, well, she came over as arrogant, obsessed over appearances, self important, impatient of others, a totally dislikeable, unsympathetic character and for me that’s a huge problem. I got to 35% and ended skim reading the rest as I was just so cross with her.

The characters as a whole didn’t feel real to me, very stereotypical, and false, from Ethan and his family to the people who stayed at the B&B. As for Chloe – she’s 19 for heavens sake, why isn’t she being made to take responsibility for her actions, why does she need Mia there as some kind of baby sitter. She’s an adult but acted like she was 13 and was treated that way, and it really irritated me. At 19 I was married and had my first child, and no way would I have expected my parents to act as Chloe’s dad did, I was treated as an adult and acted as one, that’s how it should be.
Sadly those issues overrode the whole romance for me and made the book a fail.

Stars: Two, sadly a fail for me but of course others feel very differently. Subjective taste books…we’ll never all agree.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller, Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau, An Erotic Thriller,  Tiffany Reisz

The Chateau: An Erotic Thriller (The Original Sinners) by [Reisz, Tiffany]

Genre:  Mystery and Thrillers, Romance

I love the Sinners series ( and the side stories), adore Kingsley so was expecting to love this. Sadly though I didn’t.

Its the same hot and sensual writing, King is a gorgeous young man here and we see echoes of the man he will grow into. There’s lots of memories of Soren here, him and King, that weird but very symbiotic relationship they have and I thought I’d love the way how some of the gaps in the stories were filled. I just didn’t connect with the book though, felt it was just stretching the series too far for me. As ever though I can see others love it and that’s how it goes. Not all books suit all readers.
I really enjoyed the way the sensual and erotic sex was blended so perfectly with the stories in the Sinners series, up to this one. Here it seemed as though the sex took the place of the story, that lovely balance that’s been so perfect for me was lost with Story taking a back-seat. That never works for me, I need a solid story to hang the sex on, or it just becomes meaningless.
I think its time for me to part with this series, stick to re-reading the first eight books and enjoying the shorter side stories as they come out.

.

Stars: Two, sadly a fail for me but of course others feel very differently. Subjective taste books…we’ll never all agree.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

Coming Home, P.E. Kavanagh

Coming Home,  P.E. Kavanagh

Coming Home (Friends & Lovers Book 2) by [Kavanagh, PE]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I hadn’t read book one, didn’t realise that these books were connected, I guess Lucas and Ramona were secondary characters in that. Maybe I’d have felt closer to them and the story if I had read the first.

I understood the sizzle when she first met Lucas again, but wished I knew if they’d ever been more than just Good Friends, as that seemed to get heated very quickly. Then once Ramona found out about the engagement I didn’t see why she was still with him, especially when he just refused to answer or even consider answering any of her questions. I’d be saying “right, I’m off” and the person I feel Ramona was would too. Yet she doesn’t, doesn’t ask questions even while telling herself she deserves answers, just carries on in the same way.
I didn’t really get why Lucas was with his fiancee. ( Annabelle? I’ve even forgotten her name and its only a day after reading…) the whole secrecy bit, reasons, excuses, nothing really added up IMO, and then at times it delves into what could be some deep drama but jumps out just as quickly without anything really happening.

I was irritated too at the fact Ramona hasn’t been back for ten years, and yet soon as she’s here its as if she has a monopoly on grief, she’s busy blaming her brother for not being around enough because of his career, even though he lives locally, while conveniently forgetting she’;s been away ten years!

Stars: Two, sadly a story that didn’t work for me. As ever though others love it, I guess its one of those reads that suit some readers, not others. You can’t please all of the people all of the time etc.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

More Than Us, Dawn Barker

More Than Us,  Dawn Barker

More Than Us by [Barker, Dawn]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Parenting and Families

This was a fascinating read. I started thinking I’d just read a few chapters, and many hours later…..
I love books that make me think “what would I do if…” and here I fell quickly into feeling with Emily, adores her family and just wants Cam to be happy- and its clear he’s not. Problems are rarely in isolation though and its family issues that can play a big part in them, Cam’s issues play on family and create friction, Paul’s career comes to an end with injuries finally spelling the end and he reacts by spiraling into addiction, creating even more problems for Emily and stressing the family structure further.

When it comes to a head I so felt for them all, Cam so unhappy, tilly reacting as many pre teens would by controlling one of the few things she could, Paul and Emily both just wanted the best for their family, for their children to be happy and healthy but found themselves in very opposing views.
Would I do what Emily did? I don’t know – I suspect I would. What about Paul, he seemed to be doing what was best fort the family but it took him down what could be a dangerous road – and its one that’s very real, one I’m very cautious about. I can’t say more without giving things away but I could see how what seemed like the answer to a prayer, a great help could easily take over lives.

The only real issue I have with the story is that the ending felt very, very rushed and I wasn’t really convinced things would be different. Paul’s thoughts seemed to have taken a 180 overnight. I just couldn’t see him letting go of something that had him gripped as the answer to his family. It is possible, but it felt a little like St Paul on the road to Damasacus. ( Oh – same name, maybe that’s some clever allusion that missed me?)

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, breathtaking in places with superb pacing, keeping me glued to see just what happened next, wondering if there was a way this lovely, loving family could stay together, get through the problems they had.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Perfect Husband, Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband,  Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband by [Andrews, Buffy]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Writer K.J. Charles wrote a blog post recently about what is and isn’t a romance novel. She says romance needs to have that happy ending, a HEA or at least a HFN between the two (or more) main characters and that’s exactly how I feel. This ISN’T romance, its a great read, I really enjoyed it but romance it is not. I’ll skip my usual moan about women’s fiction 🙂 For me this book is better categorised as General Fiction, Drama/Dark fiction.

It starts well, that careful meeting when adults are thrown back into the dating field, after death, divorce, break-ups. Shelley meets Eric and her best friend Jackie and her workmates all agree he’s the perfect man. Even at this early stage we can see one of two red flags but Shelley, blissfully immersed in Love Land misses them.
How easy that is, how we make excuses, tell ourselves “he/she didn’t mean it that way./its understandable, I shouldn’t have…/well he/she had past issues that make that reaction normal for them.

Eric’s like a whirlwind, and Shelley is so in love, feels so treasured, so taken care of, even though she is perfectly OK at taking care of herself. Everyone loves a bit of pampering, a little special treatment and I could see so much why Eric appealed, such a contrast to her ex.
And before she knows it they’re moving in together, and of course it doesn’t make sense to keep her stuff when Eric’s is so nice, and he says he’d rather not have things from her life with Scott. Some of the things were hers alone though, and he’s all “well, of course if you really want to keep them we can change things round, make room somewhere…” sounding like he’s doing her a favour almost. She knows he doesn’t really want anything of her past in their new home, and she loves him, she wants what he wants.
Suddenly she’s married, and the cracks start to appear. Sadly this is real life for so many people, men and women, and it’s so easy to say “just leave” but by the tome things are that bad all confidence in the victim, in Shelley, has been lost. Life becomes just a constant struggle to watch out for anything that might make Eric angry, and then after pretending she accepts his remorse, his words of “you need to try harder Shelley, I don’t like having to get angry at you” That’s a classic, turn the blame around, and something abusers are so good at.

The real kicker is can she escape, will she find the strength, will he let go? The drama parts of this novel were superb, so carefully done its easy to see how outgoing, attractive, confident Shelley becomes a shadow of that person, and yet all the while presenting a front of the perfect marriage. I was so rooting for her.

I moaned about genre classification, and if I was a solely romance reader I’d have been so disappointed. Happily though I’m an eclectic reader. Its a fabulous read, not romance by a long shot but an incredible dark, ( not as in horror dark thankfully) psychological suspense, mirroring what is real life for many people, sucking us in to Eric and Shelley’s world, wondering how it can all end.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, breathtaking in places with superb pacing, slowly revealing the real Eric.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Rock Star’s Heart, Kella Campbell

Rock Star’s Heart,  Kella Campbell

Rock Star's Heart by [Campbell, Kella]

Genre: Romance, New Adult

I wasn’t sure about this, I’m way past New Adult age, closer to Old Adult, and find many of these books are just too unbelievable, and for me the story has to feel a bit real. But I have a weakness for rock star reads so decided to try this.
I was a bit worried when it started with some of the weird, slightly cliché, sentences, and when I read a little later the lead singer is shouting out /2we are deee-lighted to be able….” all I could think of was “One hundred and eeeeiiigghty!” And you need to be Old Adult to understand that I guess 😉 Got past those first hiccups though and found a story that actually I really enjoyed. Great characters, loved the fact that there was touring and all that entails included, for me that really helps with band books. I did feel Blade’s addiction issues were treated a little lightly, we did see some real problems when he slipped and that felt very true but overall I can’t help feeling that for a new(ish) control over his addiction he got off pretty lightly.
I did get irritated too over a certain incident- when dealing with an addict or anyone likely to have been in unsafe sex practices condoms are essential even for oral sex, and as a new adult book I think that should have been made clear, been more responsible. Its not a subject to treat lightly, life altering for some and books should (IMO) take the chance of educating those who may not be aware of such things.
That’s a small crit though and overall I really enjoyed this read, felt very band orientated when so few actually do, and I look forward to reading more from Kella.

Stars: Four, a story that surprised me after a shaky start and had some very decent plots.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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