Tag Archive | deception

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 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

 

 

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

 

Queen of the North, Anne O’Brien

Queen of the North,  Anne O’Brien

Queen of the North by [O'Brien, Anne]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Historical

I love historical novels such as this which take real events, real people and weave a story of how things may have unfolded. History was a tough time for females, regarded as first fathers property, then belonging to husband, and for those like Elizabeth, with Royal blood, and connected to the current monarch they were his property too.
Politics back then was ever changing, those who supported the king could be traitor soon as the next contender the the throne wins through. It was a time when ambition ruled, when the house name was all and Elizabeth has been brought up strong in the sense of the Mortimer claim to the throne, and genuinely believes her nephew(s) has the right to be king now that Richard is dead. Henry is her cousin, and she believed his claim that he just wanted to reclaim his lands, taken by Richard, and is shocked when he breaks his sworn vows and deposes Richard. For a while the Percy star is high with Harry and his father being supporters of Henry. Slowly though the usual cracks break through, Henry admires what Harry has done, commands him into battles, and yet the financing…well, the royal coffers have other calls.
I adored Harry ( Hotspur as he’s fervently known) – he inspired such love and loyalty in his people, was very honest in what he believed, didn’t thrown in his lot and change with the wind as so many did back then. He and Elizabeth were a great couple, both strong headed, both ready to put their views forward, both brought up since babies with a certain destiny in mind, and supporting the family names. They clashed, heatedly, repeatedly, but the making up showed how truly they were in love, how much they respected each other even when they didn’t agree. When Hotspur finally fell in battle I cried, even knowing it was coming, even though he died centuries ago. These characters felt so real to me, and their stories played out making me feel as if I was there with them, wondering what course of action was best next, what they could do to move things towards the destiny they believed was right.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, transporting me back in time. Its my second Anne O’Brien novel, and I’m looking forward to catching up on some of the others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Part-Time Husband, Trophy Husbands Book 1, Noelle Adams

Part-Time Husband, Trophy Husbands Book 1,  Noelle Adams

Part-Time Husband (Trophy Husbands Book 1) by [Adams, Noelle]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

Once more, Women’s fiction. Why? Why do we try to cut out a whole section of readers, who says men don’t read romance 😦

So, this was a fun read, predicable but that’s fine. Sometimes its the actions, the characters that count and it doesn’t matter you can see where the story is going.
I liked Trevor, he is very sure of himself but not in an obnoxious way IMO, just very, very confident of himself and his abilities.
Melissa is a sweet woman, but I felt her determination to stay in the job she has partly because she loves it, has worked for it and of course loves her grandfather was understandable but to marry someone? Somehow that was a step to far for me. Still, she did it and it wasn’t long before feelings – on both sides – crept in.

Her grandfather, she says he loves them, he’s brought her and her sisters up but I found him to be an overbearing, misogynistic old man. I really can’t see how anyone who loved his family could take the decisions he did.

The story is sweet, plays out as expected, and was an easy read. No great dramas, just some hot and steamy sex, strong personalities, and an ending we can see coming….

Stars: Three and a half, its better than just a three/good read but not quite up to a four for me. If you can put aside a grandfather who pushes his family round like pawns, then its a cute, sweet romance, with some serious sensual scenes to liven it up, and an easy one to take on holiday to relax with.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary,  Stephanie Garber

Legendary (Caraval 2) by [Garber, Stephanie]

Genre:  Sci fi and fantasy

I was so looking forward to this, I adored Caraval, and amazingly I think Legendary is even better. It’s another magical book, full of secrets, of things that are not as they seem, of twists and turns that predicting who is who and what will happen just isn’t possible. And the “is it a game or are things real this time “ conundrum. Poor Tella, she has a series of really difficult choices to make and she doesn’t know, and the consequences are so very different if its real this time.

As with Caraval its has that YA feel to it, and yet its one that will appeal to all ages, there’s nothing childish about the story, and its so full of changing consequences, riddles, pure magic or possibly illusion – how can Tella know whats real. As an adult I certainly couldn’t!
This story is told from Tella’s POV, I liked seeing Scarlett and the mysterious Julian again, along with of course Dante and some of the other minor characters. There’s some fabulous new people too, and as before knowing if what they say is true or not is important but incredibly hard to tell. Tella has struck a bargain with Jacks, but as she gets closer the consequences become more clear and she doesn’t know whats the best thing to do, whichever way she jumps people will be hurt but doing nothing isn’t an option either.

I’m still full of questions, who, how, why and what about….I could go on for ages, it seems like when one question gets answered there’s always the chance that it may not be the Correct Answer, just An Answer 😉 and trying to work it out is like herding cats, simply impossible. Just let it flow and enjoy the magic.

Stars: Five, a read to take you away for a few hours, though That ending was incredibly frustrating for me. I understand more of Caraval having read this, and would up my rate for that to a five now

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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