Tag Archive | erotic

The Stone Warriors: Kato, Book 2, Stone Warriors Series, D.B. Reynolds. Warrior of Fire, Shona Husk.

The Stone Warriors: Kato, Book Two of the Stone Warriors Series, D.B. Reynolds

The Stone Warriors: Kato by [Reynolds, D. B.]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, Wow. I think now I understand the overall plot and world building I really need to go back to book one, as I’m sure I’d rate it higher than I did on first read.
Some series are like that, it takes another book or two before the overall theme falls in to place for me, and this clearly is one such.
I think part of it too was over-expectation, I so love ViA, and was hooked from book one and expected this to be the same.

Its is the same great writing though, full of people who feel real, who I have strong mental images of, ladies who aren’t simpering kittens waiting for a big strong man to save them 😉
Grace is anything but one of those, though our and Kato’s first impressions could be forgiven for thinking that, because that’s the image she tries to project. she’s more than that though and a perfect lady for Kato.

He’s the second stone warrior, and I kept thinking how awful, to be trapped like that for thousands of years, seeing and hearing everything but unable to interact.
Sometimes books have things happening and I think “ how very convenient that he/she does that riiigght at this point”, and you could feel that about Kato coming out of imprisonment just in time to save grace from the Demon. D.B has the answer though, she’s made it so there’s a very real explanation why things are happening just now, and weaves every small thing into part of the larger overall plot that threads though the series.

Its another great read, a race against time to stop demons from being unleashed and creating mayhem. Another, well..brush with danger feels too subtle, its more than that, another solid drama where the characters face a horrible death over and over, but manage to scrape through, and without using any of that New Skills Gained Just at the Optimum Moment that I so hate. You know the sort, he or she has just learned of their place in the supernatural world, takes it in their stride, and by  the fourth page or so they’re killing the bad guys the others have been fighting and losing against for centuries, using some new skill that showed up just as the Demon or whatever is about to kill them! Gah, that really annoys me.
D.B doesn’t ever do that, and though here Grace saves the day a few times, it works because she’s the skills needed already, the training to keep calm and deal comes from her background. She gained her gun skills as a child, and as an adult she’s been involved in some dangerous and scary dramas. Add in how clever and analytical her mind is and she’s perfect for Kato.

I loved catching up with Damian and Cass, and yep, now want to re-read their story.
Two more warriors to go yet, and of course there’s also Nick, Nico, Nicademus…what a guy he is. When we first met him back in the early, the first book I think of the ViA series he was almost a throwaway guy, Cyn’s friend with benefits hot guy, but he grew in importance in later books, and then we learned he’s a powerful sorcerer.
I love how these two series interact, how we get snippets of other characters, even if only in conversation or thoughts.
I can’t help but wonder if there’s someone special in Nico’s life planned? The mysterious talented Lili maybe – or perhaps someone from the Via series? Loads of possibilities to pick from, and I look forward to D.B.s next book(s) of either series.

Stars: Five, a cracking, riveting, engrossing read and a great addition to D.B’s series.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Warrior of Fire, Shona Husk

Warrior of Fire (Blood & Silver) by [Husk, Shona]

Genre:  Sci-fi and Fantasy

I really enjoyed Lady of Silver, the intro book to this series. that featured Saba, an Albah lady and Dale a human cop.
This book is about Liera. Saba’s sister, who we met in book one as a secondary character, and Julian who’s a son of cop Quinn, who is also the Albah’s “King”. Its a title that’s really name only, they don’t meet or live closely as its too dangerous.

There’s a faction called Guardians, who are out to kill Albah, though supposedly there’s been a truce for the last 200 years. Strange though how so many Albah die in accidents. That’s what happened to Julian’s mum, she died in a car crash when he and his younger brother were in the car. Its affected them both, as traumatic events do to young children, and they’re not a close family. In fact Julian has been away for the last 12 years and only returned six months ago.

He’s been working at a local hospital, somewhere he can put his healing skills to use without creating attention.
See that’s the thing the Guardians won’t recognize, that most Albah just want to be responsible, to do good and work in fields where their talents are best use to humankind. As far as Guardians are concerned the only good Albah is a dead one.
Its that potential to turn into an immortal blood sucking murdering Alabanex that worries them so they think killing all Albah means humans are safe. Shame they don’t focus on how humans can become murdering vicious killers too, or even look at their own behaviour, murdering parents, children, wiping out whole families proudly and bringing up their kids to believe in the same.
Hate rhetoric is so pervasive when instilled from a young age and that’s what’s happened here.

Julian has been having a “casual” relationship with a woman for the last few months. He doesn’t know much about her, that’s what he likes, physical only stuff, no need for pleasantries and socialsing, not knowing she’s a Guardian and a killer.
She’s come to do a job, make her first kill and become a real Guardian, a role she’s trained hard for, encouraged by her Guardian mother and family.
She’s finding it hard though, she’s become attracted to Julian even though both agreed upfront this was simply a casual fling, and now she’s becoming clingy Julian is thinking the time has come to part ways. she won’t like that!

Liera has always known she’s meet the love of her life on a train, she and Saba are very good at seeing into the future, though its not fixed but depends on paths taken by individuals.
She doesn’t know who her future is with though, and so is astonished when she feels a visceral reaction to Julian at a meeting of the local Albah. It’s where they connect via the internet with others to discuss recent events. Julian feels the attraction too but its a kind of muted pull for them both, not a huge insta-lust kind of thing. Jut that feeling of rightness when they connect with each other.
Liera is puzzled. What about the future she and Saba had seen?
Julian isn’t sure he’s ready yet either, he’s always felt he would marry an Albah. His people need the males that come from only Alabah pairings, but he thought that was way in the future, loads of time yet. Until now he’s been content with simple casual relationships, like the current one with Emily. This has thrown him though,made him question that, and he decides Emily’s been getting clingy lately, not what they agreed and its time to let go.

She is Not Happy though. Pressure from home about why she hasn’t killed him yet and the excuse she’s given, he could lead her to more is wearing thin. Now he’s dumped her, and as she’s been spying on him she sees him meet Leira and just knows it’s all down to her. the knives come out, Liera is in the way, time to move her. She knows now Leira is an Albah so has no worries about killing her, she’s been brought up to beleive thats the right thing to do.

It all leads to a cracking story, brings danger to the Albah, not just here but across the globe, makes them think about the future of the race, brings the Guardians into the series in a big way and is a hugely entertaining read. One that flows easily, has that element of suspense I love, the wondering what if, and how will they…?
The romance too, I enjoyed that, the doubts both had, it makes a change from the one-look-and-they-are-in-love scenario we see so often. Instead they both talk, tread carefully, think about how they feel inside.

There’s no simply quick fix solution for the future of the Albah. It needs some decision if they aren’t to die out, and the way they’ve lived for the past few hundred years needs to change. Using the internet they can conference, avoiding the dangers when large groups get together, and hhopefully make changes to their lifestyles the majority agree to while keeping safe.
Maybe the time for Quinn as king has become the era for change, for the role to become more than the lip-service one its been. He’s certainly a decisive enough character to generate momentum for change.

I really enjoyed this installment, loved meeting Dale and Saba again, was intrigued as to how things were going to work between Julian and Liera, whether the change of place of their first meeting meant their future had changes in a big way, and of course the drama with Emily was pretty solid and full on.

I found it easy to believe in Emily, that she’d been brought up and trained to kill Albah, but in her greed to kill more by finding Julian’s family she actually came to like him, to see the good he did. Somewhere deep in her psyche she had to rationalise why she hadn’t killed him yet, rather than admit she was falling for him. She was a twisted individual but also a product of a very dark upbringing, brainwashed that Albah were all bad, potential killers.

Its an easy read, well paced, solid writing. Its not as in depth as many fantasy reads, but a fun story that made me look at the characters as individual, see them as real people, and wonder just where the story is going next.
I’m really hoping Quinn gets some happy, right now he gets all the flak and doesn’t really seem to have anyone close to support him when it goes bad.

Stars: five, a great story, building on the first one and expanding the world.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Savaged Dreams, Jennifer Lyon

Savaged Dreams, Jennifer Lyon

Savaged Dreams: Savaged Illusions Trilogy Book 1 by [Lyon, Jennifer]

Genre:  Romance,

This is part one of a trilogy, and has quite a dramatic ending but books tow and three are scheduled for July and September this year so not too long to wait 😉
I can live with that, its waiting a year of more that I hate! Forgotten half the story by then, and lost the impetus that kept me reading. a few months means its still reasonably fresh.
I’d still like trilogies like this to be all three parts out simultaneously – but that’s not going to happen.

Anyway, great start. Liza is young, but not one of those lightweight main characters, she’s solidly ambitious, she’s got a dark past and a big secret.
She needs the intern position that comes if her band wins the competition, but they’re one of three in the finals and they’re all out to win.

Justice, band leader isn’t happy they’ve a college student for their PR. He expected someone with experience, but as he and the band are learning, the contracts they signed are tough and there’s lots of things were hidden carefully in the wording.

From that rocky start though they soon are into a hot and heavy romance, and while he’s focused on leading his band to win, she’s also dealing with things as they crop up. Some of the band have secrets too, dark pasts, things that can damage their reputation, and its her job to ensure they don’t.
There’s a fierce and vindictive rivalry with one of the other bands that’s above usual issues, and brings them into danger and dirty tricks.

There’s lots going on in this read, a fun and real feeling romance, dark secrets, dramatics, and of course the band stuff, songs and music making, the TV show that’s strongly skewed to ensure top viewing more than letting the band and their music show through.
The fireworks really light up, with the TV guys positioning things to let the sparks fly, regardless of the damage it causes to people, reputations and the bands as a whole.
Its the whole viewers attract ads, ads bring in money and money is God that rules reality TV ( and why I never watch it).
Its done really well in this book, shows exactly how badly people can get hurt in the quest for maximum viewers.

I really enjoyed this story and though it ends on a cliffhanger its also a natural break point. Not one of those reads where you’re expecting the story to continue and just run out of pages.
Roll on parts two and three, I’ll be waiting to read the rest of the story. Its for me a perfect blend of great characters that feel real, problems and issues that many people face and which make for a good story, and its balanced out by sex that adds heat but doesn’t dominate. Great read.

Stars: five, a great story, lots going on with main and secondary plots that feel genuine and lots of drama and excitement, plus of course some very sensual heat.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

New Moon, Lisa Kessler. Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

New Moon, Lisa Kessler

New Moon (Moon Series Book 8) by [Kessler, Lisa]

Genre:  Romance, sci-fi and fantasy

We’ve reaches the end and I’m always feeling conflicted when that happens. In part because I love a good series and its hard to say goodbye, but set against that is the feeling of satisfaction when the little clues throughout the series are finally wrapped up, when we know who was behind things and why, how it all worked out.
With a good series we’re left feeling hope for the future, that these people we’ve got to know so well are facing a time when they can finally relax, live a normal life, enjoy their friends and family. Still, I love rereading series so from me its not really Goodbye but See you later 😉

The back to back reads through a whole series work best for me too, when each book is still fresh in my mind, so its easier to follow the story, recall which character fits in where. Sometimes after months and lots of other reads its hard to recall exactly who belongs with whom, and how they fit in the overall story.

I remember Sebastian from the first book, and he’s changed. Or has he? Maybe its just my perception of him, as looking back the seeds of his discontent were clear even back then, but i just didn’t see it.
Its a great author who can turn around a character so the callous, murdering, immoral man we met becomes someone we love, who we want to have that HEA…but Lisa does it for Sebastian.
I found he was a terrific man, that he had been trying to put things right as much as he could for a long time, and with a father like his no wonder he grew up to be the man he was. Thank god for his mother’s influence, its whats kept that core of humanity in him.
Sebastian and Isabelle don’t have the best start, with her trying to kill him….well, until her wolf tells her she Just Can’t Kill Him! That’s a bit of an eye opener and changes everything. Isabelle is shocked.

Its another fabulous adventure, when plans get made, and changed and remade all the time. Nero has really hit bottom in its actions here, kidnapping a child for Antonio Severino’s cruel crusade, but it proves the catalyst for some unheard of co-operation.
Things quickly change in the story as the plots unfold, and this final book brings in many of the characters we’ve met in the preceding books. It opens up the Packs even more than they have been. It was a struggle getting Lana accepted into the pack, as she was a jaguar shifter back in the early books but since then they’ve become more accepting, less Wolf only insular and that’s given them an edge they needed for this final battle.
They’re not just a wolf pack now but have Jaguars, Psychics and humans among them and that’s given them strength, and maybe what Fate intended, that supernaturals work together, find power in collectivety.

I’ve enjoyed the series as a whole, and love this last book. Looking back to some of the books that weren’t quite top whack I can see the gaps that bothered me back then filled in now and I understand why things played out certain ways.
Despite not all the books being five star reads for me, the series as a whole deserves a solid five stars, it all adds up now.

Stars: five,a great read to finish a fantastic series

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Chief’s Mess, L.A. Witt

Chief's Mess (Anchor Point) by [Witt, L.A.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved the first book in this series, but the second did nothing for me.
Still,  LA Witt is one of my favourite m/m authors so I thought I’d try book three.

It wasn’t a great read for me, I just didn’t feel I Knew the characters, just a surface opinion of them, and I really want to feel book characters can be people I know. I need them to feel real for me to get invested in what happens to them.
Here I just didn’t, they were just two anonymous guying hooking up for hot sex.

They were very alike in many way, and TBH I kept getting confused, right up to the end, about which was which.
Not a good thing, and when characters are well fleshed and distinct not something that happens. I think maybe there could have been – for me, not for everyone of course, a little less sex in the first half and a bit more character and plot building.

I mention the plot, and that really is pretty simple, Noah ( and see? I almost wrote Anthony there – had to check it) is a functioning alcoholic, and like many others doesn’t recognise he has a problem.
Of course for Anthony that’s a bigger trigger than it maybe would be for others, his ex brother-in-law was an alcoholic, and that caused great distress for his sister and their kids.
I liked the build up, though it was pretty muted and did make Noah come over as judgmental rather than sympathetic, but the way things played out felt very simplistic, and its rarely as easy as that.
I guess there wasn’t space to go into any depth, but in reality it would have been far, far harder.

Stars: three, it was just an OK read for me, and maybe I need to look carefully before accepting any more Anchor Point novels.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Exclusive, A VIP Desire Agency Romance, Mel Teshco

Exclusive, A VIP Desire Agency Romance, Mel Teshco
Exclusive (The VIP Desire Agency  Book 3) by [Teshco, Mel ]

Genre:  Romance, Erotica

Ping, Rock-star romance and erotica? Yes please 😉 I was keen to read this, sneaked it up the TBR list but its wasn’t a must-keep-reading book. I enjoyed it but its not a keeper/re-reader for me.
Its quite a short read at 125 pages, and I hadn’t realised that. Maybe if I’d read books one and two I would, but I hadn’t, simply noticed they were there but that each novel was a stand alone but connected one.

I felt that Amos, the definitely no-relationships Amos, fell in love and changed his mind about that far too quickly for me.
Likewise that Tiffany was ready to give up everything for a man she’d known a few days when she has a serious and compelling reason for working in the VIP Agency.
I guess the books brevity meant that was inevitable, but its why I so rarely read novellas, they just don’t have enough detail and timescale to make the stories feel real.

There’s some sensual, erotic heat here, really well written, not just the same scene churned out ad-nauseum as often happens, and that fitted the story perfectly.
There was a secondary thread, an issue that was one of the reasons Amos didn’t do romance, that if the book was longer would have been a really great addition, but it was simplified and soon over 😦 Tiffany’s issues too with the man she thought she was in love with would have been good if expanded but…

As a full length book I think I’d have loved this, the writing is good, the background plausible and the characters great, but it just felt too abbreviated, plots over almost before they start and with the romance full pelt from the off, that it didn’t make for a great read for me.  Others love novellas though, perfect length for them so you choose.

Stars: Three, at full length this would probably be a five, but its just too short and condensed for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

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

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

Genre:  Romance, erotica

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Lie of the Land, Amanda Craig

The Lie of the Land by [Craig, Amanda]

Genre: General Fiction

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

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

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

Genre:  Romance, Humour

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
 

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


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

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stars: five, a great addition to Shamwell stories

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Lip Action, Virna DePaul

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

Genre:  Romance,

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Royal Treatment, Parker Swift, Train Wreck, Elise Faber

Royal Treatment, Parker Swift

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

Genre:  Romance,

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Train Wreck, Elise Faber

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

Genre:  Romance,women’s fiction

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

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

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

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

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

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Muse, Marie Martine. Cougar Bait, Evangeline Anderson

Muse, Marie Martine

Muse by [Marie Martine]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult.

Well, this was a fun read. an  author, writing about an erotic reads author, whose writing a new romance, but in a historical setting….
Its an enjoyable romp, a fun sneak of history and what might have been going on under all those straight laced appearances. Don’t expect historical accuracy, though there’s a few fun snippets tucked in, just take it in the spirit its written, fun and a little bit frivolous.

There’s a sweet love story going on, with Alaric really being in love with the idea of his latest heroine Erica. He can’t seem to find a muse though, the person who’s just right to play her character out in front of him with his long time best friend and fellow writer Sim. His “research assistants” play a very hands on – and clothes off- role, acting out scenes with sim, while he watches, studies, takes notes and is inspired into the next scenes.
Behind that is part of the reason he writes romances…his cold, philandering father. He’s one full sister and a host, an unnamed number, of half brothers and sisters spawned from his dad’s days of cheating on his mother.
Finally she had enough and committed suicide and Alaric blames his dad, she was heart broken at his actions and couldn’t take any more. Their relationship has been cold ever since and rather than work in the family firm Alaric writes sexy stories. Brings him a very good living too.
Then life takes a very unexpected turn involving his latest find, his Erica, Caterine.

Caterine a cute girl, innocent but not a virgin, alone after her beloved mum died, except for her best freind Zoe. When she meets Alaric after another failed job interview he’s entranced. here out of the blue is the woman he’s looking for!
He Has to persuade her to work for him, he Needs her. No won’t be accepted.
Luckily for him she needs a job, the money’s excellent and Zoe is always telling her more sex is good, and she’s got the chance to dip out of her comfort zone, in a big way. hot sex with two gorgeous men….

I liked both her and Alaric ( and Sim, unreprentantly sex obsessed).
OK so its an unrealistic novel, (unless erotic authors really do use hands on research!!) but its got enough of a tale to tie together the steamy sex scenes, both in real time and the acted out historical ones, and lets the story flow through.
I can’t take books where its all sex and no story, even in an erotic read I need enough story to hold things together and this book does it.

Its not a huge pull at your emotions drama, though in fact it could have been, but a lightish, very sensual and tantalising read.
Its not one I’d reread, but I did enjoy it and I’d be interested in reading the next book, Sim and Zoe. There’s a sample of that and the end of this and having got to know both characters it looks another fun read.

Stars: Four, a fun and sensual read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Cougar Bait, Evangeline Anderson

Cougar Bait (Cougarville) by [Anderson, Evangeline]

Genre:  Romance, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was intrigued by this, hadn’t read book one but each seem to be stand alone reads within the same world. I didn’t really enjoy it though, found the premise a bit odd, the rejuvenation gene stuff was…strange.
Its not unknown, a kind of variant on how in some readers shifters and vampires etc. when turned revert to their prime age, usually mid twenties/thirties but this was just a female only thing and felt a little weird to me.

I hadn’t read the first book but I don’t think that mattered. I found it strange that Keller kidnapped Sammie and her sister mainly for her sister, to get her to be his mate, bear his children (book one).
Now in a matter of days ( I think – could be weeks, but I’m going by the battle between him and the deer shifter) he’s transferred that feeling to Sammie…nothing like making a lady feel second choice. It wouldn’t endear me to him.
Sammie’s having none of it, she’s had a world change in her views and accepts that things she thought weren’t real are, but Keller. Nope, he’s deluded, he’s too young, he wanted her sister first and she’s not interested. I’d feel like that too.
However he’s not deterred especially when she puts herself in the cross-hairs of some evil shifters.

There’s a lot of sex here and I’m always OK with that in a book if it fits the story. For me it doesn’t in this one, its just there to spice things up, add some heat and just felt wrong, not integral to the novel but an addition.
I just can’t see Sammie doing such an about change in view, and the further into the story I got the more detached I felt.
The events at the end were just the final; straw for me, so unreal, even for the supernatural where usual timelines don’t apply.

It’s one I thought would be great for me but which I just couldn’t get along with.
It’s very similar though to many of the current best sellers in the way the story plays out, so for many readers it will be perfect.
Sadly I don’t like most of those and didn’t enjoy this one ;-(

Stars: Two, not one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Called Out, Jen Doyle. Fraud Twice Felt, J.T. Hall

Called Out, Jen Doyle

Called Out by [Doyle, Jen]

Genre:  Romance,

Carina: what I love about Carina books is they have a happy ending, eiother a HEA or a HFN, and thats what I want in a romance, an escape from realisty into happy times, a way to leave todays probelms behind and disappear into a world where things go wrong but end well.

I’ve got to start this review with a gripe though 😦 One thing that really bothered me about this story.
We’re told Jack screwed over his best friend and work colleague, and has been given the cold shoulder by everyone since.
What he did was dreadful, a total no-go thing to do to your best mate but I kept thinking, maybe there’s something we’re missing? There are some details that mean what we think happened may not be quite that way perhaps? **see edit at end**
Equally there were complications, something results from that act that gets left open. That felt weird to me, I can’t understand why it wasn’t dealt with, why Jack would have not acted upon what resulted, or again maybe there’s something I’m missing. The Jack we know from this story would not have just done nothing, would have acted, stepped up, not just left things hanging.
Without giving it away its hard to say what happened, maybe it resolved spontaneously, but it felt very strange to me, and was hard to match with the Jack we came to know.

I love this kind of book, enemies to lovers, and there was some serious chemistry between Jack and Lola, some scorching sensual scenes that are page melting.
Lola, I so felt for her, devastated after her husbands death, left with four small boys, she’s kind of running through life on autopilot, and anything that affects that fine tuned organisation she has is disastrous. So she’s not in the best mood when she meets Jack. Her boys though – he’s one of their idols.
Jack’s actually a really good guy, though his background leads to him to deny that, to think he’s like his parenst and incapable of love. Yet the things he does for Lola show us otherwise and how he is with the boys, (one, two and three…and four the later addition!!) well, that’s heart melting.

We meet up with the gang again, I loved Dorie and Nate from the first book, somehow missed out on book two, but its the same great group of characters, who’ve known each other for years, who feel so real.
Its another story I loved, that pulled at the heart strings, made me laugh and feel tearful all within a few pages sometimes.
Its a great summer read, one for when you’re feeling a little down and want something to make you smile and feel really good at the end.

Stars: four and a half. I have to take off a half star for that huge, unresolved issue, the thing that’s such a catalyst for the story and yet gets left hanging. ( but may not be in final version)

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

** that may have been only in ARCs. Seems debut had her losing the baby. Hopefully thats clear in final version**

Fraud Twice Felt, J.T. Hall

Fraud Twice Felt (The Oddities Book 2) by [Hall, J.T.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I hadn’t read book one. Occasionally I have to restrict myself and catch up on the TBR list and must have missed it that way because its a series that’s got so much I love.
Still, looking at sample and reviews it was pretty easy to catch up.

Derwin and Elliot are finding a new life together. It seems strange to think they’ve only been together three weeks but I guess its been very intense so that’s why they feel as though they’ve known each other longer. They really are Jack Spratt and his wife with Derwin needing pain to feed, and Elliot getting enjoyment from being hurt. Makes them perfect for each other.

Now Elliott’s given up the rent boy gig and moved in with Derwin, he’s also working at Bob’s Bail Bonds. Just filing currently but hoping to learn more and be a bounty hunter himself. For now though he’s enjoying having some autonomy over his life, its not been that way for a very long while.
He’s still in danger though from the head of one of the local gangs who sees Elliot as his special plaything, his to hurt, his to keep. Derwin is determined not to let that happen and with most people his strength would do it, but Roy seems to have some abilities of his own, plus of course backing of a gang…

As well as the relationship issues, and the gangs there’s a supernatural bent to this series too with some people like Derwin and Elliot having extra abilities. That’s good – and not good. It helps keep them alive and in work but if the government gets to hear about it they’ll be whipped off to some science lab, no doubts there.
So they need to fly under the radar carefully. The last book put them in the eye of some of the local cops, so caution is needed.
Life isn’t like that though, and long time friend and colleague Connie’s son is missing. That leads them into an adventure that brings in more people, the cops, the underclass of homeless and prostitutes Elliot knows so well, Roy and his gang, along with another local gang, and of all things a sea serpent, a huge sea dwelling dragon…

Its a breathtaking adventure with a bit of everything thrown in, romance and esp m/m romance, the issues of homophobia, the police/government and the bias against Oddities, the danger from the local gangs, who of course don’t work together so cause issues everywhere, the bounty hunters, the sea dragon and in that mix they need to find and rescue Connie’s son and his girlfriend without getting caught in any of the competing dangers.
Well, there’s so much going on, so much action, planning, thinking on the fly when plans go wrong that its a solid read, and yet its not five stars for me as I expected.
I’m not sure why but maybe its just that there’s a bit too much of everything happening. That kind of diluted some of the effects, and the constant crisis to crisis action didn’t really leave much time for thinking, for seeing how the relationship between Elliot and Derwin was developing.
Its romance, but really more an action read than romance read IMO.

Its a good read, I enjoyed it but its not (yet) a series I’m in love with. time will tell I guess, there;s the potential from far more from this setting.

Stars: Four, an action packed read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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