Tag Archive | love story

Cherish Hard, Nalini Singh

Cherish Hard, Nalini Singh

Cherish Hard (Hard Play Book 1) by [Singh, Nalini]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

I love Nalini’s writing, both contemporary and paranormal – just finished the latest Guildhunter novel – fabulous.

Anyway, I wanted to read this soon as I saw it was available but to my surprise I found it was one where though all the elements for a good book was there, great characters, solid story somehow it just didn’t work for me 😦

I love Sailor, love his confidence, and his innate Goodness, that sense of right he has – and cheered him when he did what was needed to Cory!!
I hadn’t connected him to Gabriel until about a third of the way in when the light bulb moment hit me and I was “oh yes, he’s Gabe’s brother” Gabe is still playing rugby professionally here, its a pre Rock Hard read – I loved that book.
There are clear parallels in the writing, with the Dragon – Jacqueline having characteristics that reminded me of Gabe – T-Rex. The humour and style are very similar.

I don’t really know why it was just a Good read for me and not a Great one, its difficult to pin down but somehow though I really enjoyed the characters I didn’t feel the magic sizzle between Sailor and Isa, lust yes, but Love? not so certain about that.

Stars:Three, a fun read but not a good as I expected.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Cuffed by His Charm, A Dirty Little Secrets Novel, Stacey Kennedy

Cuffed by His Charm, A Dirty Little Secrets Novel, Stacey Kennedy

Cuffed by His Charm: A Dirty Little Secrets Novel by [Kennedy, Stacey]

Genre:Women’s fiction, Romance

I loved the premise of this, rich, hot guy, and lovely employee who we know we never betray him but…
I felt there wasn’t really much actual romance here, they have been flirting around it for ages, Gabe thinks she’s betrayed him but still can’t keep his hands off her.

They get together very quickly, and from there its more suspense novel, who’s behind the stories, paying her brother off, he hasn’t the wit to do something like this on his own. Then the suspense ramps up, Gabe’s freinds get involved and its a trip over to the Dark Side, the place most people stay away from.

I loved Gabe, though was pretty shocked by his first actions!! When he knows he’s wrong though he bends over backwards to help McKenna. Get’s his friends involved, really pulls out all the stops for her.
Is she grateful? Does she show it? Well, to begin I felt she rolled over too quickly after the awful accusations and the way Gabe treated her – I wanted her to have more backbone.
Then when it came to her brother she was the same, a few apologies, a promise not to do it again, or again or again….he’s a history of lying, she enables him and still she keeps on doing it. She’s not being the good sister she thinks she is, sometimes in trying to protect someone we’re making the problems worse, and by always bailing him out, paying for things when he has no money she’s just letting him carry on guilt free.
When it came to a choice between him and Gabe she chose him, yet she could have met Gabe halfway at least, he’s done and risked so much for her. She irritated me, I felt Gabe was too good for her.

I want the romance to be longer, the push/pull, will they/won’t they part, where you’re wondering just how the author is going to get these two character together.
Here though that seems to have been all “before” and almost from the first few pages they are together…and I wasn’t expecting that. It doesn’t really work for me that way unless at some point its building up to a serious split and I didn’t feel that happened.

Its a well written, fast paced novel, but I felt the romance for me just didn’t work, and the suspense part of the story overtook it.
Stars: Three, great if you love suspense, not so great if its romance you want.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Meander Scar, Lisa J. Lickel

Meander Scar, Lisa J. Lickel

Meander Scar by [Lickel, Lisa J.]

Genre:  Romance

This was a strange read for me, I enjoyed the story but at times it dragged a little.
The romance between Mark and Ann seemed to go from being a faint possibility to full on togetherness. Given all the things against it I expected a bit more conflict.

I did get a bit worried when God and Faith crept in…I’m not anti-christian, not against religion in books, but in so many it goes from being a facet of a character to a book that takes preachy, judgmental overtones. Happily Lisa didn’t do that, the religious part of the story fitted the characters and their beliefs perfectly, without overtaking the story or evangelizing to the reader.
Reading back through my review you might get the impression religion/God plays a big part, but in fact its only small sections of the novel but it did have a big impact on how real the characters felt to me, and gave me questions to mull over.
I usually stay away from books where religion or God look to be a huge part, and if that’s what you do too, don’t let it stop you from reading this one, it really is a minor but very important part of the novel.

Poor Ann, missing husband, no sign of him for years, a son who’s somewhat antagonistic to her, the mother-in-law from Hell, though thankfully she rarely sees her. She controls the family Trust though, and Ann sees little of it, reduced to still working for the same firm all these years, the one which administers the Trust, just to pay the bills.
She tried some years back to get her husband declared dead, at least she would have the insurance money then and maybe be free to move on but mother in law opposed that, and she is rich enough that what she wants happens.

I liked Mark, understood how he’d come to love Ann. He was strong, and given their age difference that was needed.
Why is it no-one bats an eyelid at younger women but if a lady dates someone younger she gets the Cougar tag, and regarded as somewhat suspect. Gah, something that always angers me.
His Faith is an integral part of him, and I could see his dilemma, especially when he’s talking to his church leader – Pastor I think he was referred to. Given the case of Ann still being married he advised Mark to not get involved but his heart was already there and the conflict he felt came over very real. Bit judgmental of the Pastor I though, condemning Ann to a life without love as her husband is missing. Its been years now, should she spend the rest of her life alone? Where’s the Christian tolerance and love, embracing everyone? It made for interesting reading though, giving me things to mull over.
Later on when things go downhill he asks the question most of us do when times are tough. why me, why xyz, why did God do this, is he really there if he can let this happen? Given how strong his belief was this made him feel very real for me.

When the truth comes out – wow what a shock!
Its kind of hard to believe and yet I could see that in those circumstances, with money, state boundaries being so distant, that it really could happen like this. I was angry, and sad too, how peoples lives can get pushed around at the whim of another.

I wasn’t keen on the ending, though thankfully there was that spark of hope that all would be well, and I would have liked a little more positivity given all that the characters had been through.

Stars: four and a half, a good read, gave me lots to think over. Its not one I’d re-read but one I am glad I chose.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Passion Unscripted, Anya Sharpe

Passion Unscripted, Anya Sharpe

Passion Unscripted by [Sharpe, Anya]

Genre:  Romance, erotica

As readers of my reviews know I have a weakness for film star romance so when i saw this it was “Hurrah”. I did enjoy it but…didn’t love it as I expected to.

The sex scenes are well written and hot, and as its an erotic novel I expected the book to contain plenty of them, but I did feel they made the romance take a little bit of backseat, that they overtook the main story a little. As I said, its in the Erotic genre though so for many readers that’s exactly what they want.

Carson, what a way to lose the love of your life, dumped by a Dear John( or Carson!) note, she didn’t even have the guts to face him. He’s kind of blaming all women though for her actions, turned into a love ’em and leave ’em guy. Lets face it, the ladies he picks are exactly relationship material anyway.
His friend Grey is concerned as he can see that Carson does respect one lady, seems to have feelings for her that he’s pushed down deeply and from his position he can see that Lara also has feelings for Carson – though at that point he’s such a manwhore I did wonder why?

When they do get together that reputation haunts them, with echoes of his past affecting the present and the future. There are secrets here too, from his ex and from Lara and they have the potential to derail the fledgling relationship.
Despite all that I did like Carson, he’s not respecting the ladies he sleeps with but they know the score, and he’s pleasant and polite to all of them including ones that are just freinds, acquaintances, work colleagues. I felt he was still grieving his breakup really – having told himself he judged her wrong he now doesn’t trust any lady or himself to see if they are genuine.
He does respect Lara though, initially pushing her towards Grey, til grey tells him no. And after looking at himself and his actions he finally takes the plunge with her, but wants to date her, take things slower.
That was sweet as were the gifts, but each time something crops up I was so angry at Lara for immediately thinking the worst, and running. Every Time. She knows how the press work, how rumours are created from nothing, how photos misconstrued and yet every time she rushes off, believes the worst.
I so felt for poor Carson and wondered if with so little trust they could make things work.
Its not just the romance though and the media issues, but there’s a snippet of suspense and danger creeps in towards the last quarter that added to the story and was fun to read.

Stars: four, a fun read but I wanted to shake Lara, ask her to have more trust.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Michael’s Wings, An Original Sinners Collection, Tiffany Reisz

Michael’s Wings, An Original Sinners Collection, Tiffany Reisz

Michael's Wings (The Original Sinners) by [Reisz, Tiffany]

Genre: LGBTQIA,  Romance

Well, if you love the Original Sinners series you’ll want to read this. I don’t usually read shorts/novellas unless like this they are about characters I already know, so can understand and follow easily something that doesn’t need space to tell me who everyone is and all about them.
The new novella covers 30% of the total, the rest being previously published shorts. I’d read all them before, but love this world and characters even though I find the concept of loving multiple people difficult to understand. then I guess we love all our children so in a way why should multiple lovers be an issue? something to ponder I guess….

Of course Michael needs time to answer That Question – griffin knows this and yet its hard (!!) waiting, an anxious time for him. Nora help Michael sift through his fears, he loves Griffin, they all know that but he’s has such insecurity about himself, and such a difficult past he needs to deal with this, work through it and a beating or three from Nora concentrates his mind!

A fun read, usual TR sensuality and spice, a bit of sass, a lot of sex and sensuality and a side of submission helps Michael understand himself.

Stars: 5, great value if you haven’t read the rest of the stories, but still good to have them in one collection at a decent price.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Hooking Up, Helena Hunting

Hooking Up, Helena Hunting

Hooking Up by [Hunting, Helena]

Genre:  Romance

This was a fun, spicy read, but not my favourite of Helena’s books. I really enjoyed reading it, its a worthy 4 stars for me but not the spark that makes a five.

One of the reasons for that I guess is that its a very sensual read, and much of that spice covers a huge chunk of the story but only a couple of weeks in time, meaning the rest of the story tended to get a bit crammed. It’d be hot car encounter – very steamy and then…its several weeks later.
Though those gaps were covered it left me thinking did they really have no contact? what else went on? It just left me feeling a bit disconnected.

The characters were great, Amie, perfect girl, but her past has lead her to try to save her family any more embarrassment and take the safe route.
She thinks Armstrong loves her, they will be happy and if he doesn’t set her on fire, well, his respectability makes up for that.And then at the wedding reception all that goes so very wrong, and she faces what she knew in her heart, Armstrong isn’t the good guy, the one for her, she deserves better.
She knew it really but wanted to please her family, and ignored all the little clues, started moulding herself with Armstrong’s not so subtle hints into a stepford wife type lady.

Armstrong, he really was a prig, so self assured, so much belief that his way was the only way. He doesn’t regard blow jobs as cheating, tries to spin it that he was doing it for Amie, so that he could last longer with her later…WTF, the man’s incapable of seeing his actions are ever wrong.He even says in their sphere its accepted that a man have a couple of mistresses and they don’t count, that Amie is making a fuss over nothing, bringing bad publicity to the family. she’s had a lucky escape.

Hottie hook-up – I think that’s what Amie’s best friend Ruby calls him, ( as requested by author I’m avoiding naming him!!) – is gorgeous, a great man but there are things he’s keeping quiet about for reasons that are clear later . I loved him, so kind, genuinely so, and so sensual. He knows what he’s doing when it comes to sex, and he’s happy to explore further, to have fun. He was perfect for Amie, but she needed to get rid of Armstrong first and that guy’s not going easily….

There are some funny moments here, bits that made me smile, ( the luggage inspection) and some sad ones too.
The sex, wow, hot and steamy and fitted the story so well, its just that at times it took the place of possible plot expansion, filled the time when the story could have been moving forward.
Its not a hugely long book, 4373 kindle locations – and the sex does take up a disproportionate amount of time I feel, making that actual story a bit rushed. I would have liked parts to be more expanded. Still, that’s just me, others are happy to have less story and more sex…you can’t please everyone.

Stars: four, a fun and sensual read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Homecoming in Christmas Falls, Ciara Knight

Homecoming in Christmas Falls, Ciara Knight

Homecoming in Christmas Falls (Return to Christmas Falls Book 1) by [Knight, Ciara]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s fiction

I’d not read any of Ciara’s novels before but liked the sound of this, I love second chance romances.
I should have checked though as Goodreads bio says this series is ” sweet romance series, Sweetwater County (rated PG), is a small town romance full of family trials, friendly competition, and community love.” It is all that, sweet, easy to read, heart warming – but for me drama free, no angst and that’s what I look for. My bad, I could have guessed from the description had i searched further.

The characters are pleasant, not heart-stopping in any way, not full of drama. the most drama seems to be reminiscing over Ashley’s schoolgirl pranks. Brent, a charmer in a nice way, a gentleman and product of a wealthy family. He and Ashley reconnect when she retunrs to town.

Its an easy read, but so cute and sweet it almost made my teeth ache. If you want sweet HEA that’s drama free this is perfect, but for me the downs, the angst, the drama and what make the highs, the happy bits so much better. without that contrast I just don’t enjoy a story.
Its a shortish read at 159 pages, and perfect for those who want quick and easy, happy all the way. Sadly that’s not me. A series I’ll pass on.

Stars: 2.5/3. A good read, just not my sort of read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Relentless, D.B. Reynolds. The Trouble with Twelfth Grave, Darynda Jones

Relentless, Vampires in America, A Cyn and Raphael Novella Book 11.5, D.B. Reynolds

Relentless: A Cyn and Raphael Novella (Vampires in America 11.5) by [Reynolds, D. B.]

Genre: sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

I’ve been following this series since the start, and where some get stale after a while this one keeps fresh and exciting.
The main stories about individual characters mainly focus on romance, within a tight and suspenseful story, building on the overall theme for the series. these novellas tend to either show insights into characters, give us a bit of a lighter adventure with them, or push the ever present threat from others forward. this one focuses on the threat from Europe and the backlash from killing Mathilde.
I don’t often read novellas, except when like this one they are part of an existing series, this way  the reader knows the characters, there’s no backstory needed so the words are solely focused on delivering an new adventure.

While the past main books have focused on America, there’s been a threat from Europe from early on. America being vast compared to Europe, and the European vampires feeling pressed for space, they’ve been looking at American with envy, and a few have planned inroads into the territory.
Raphael saw that coming a long way back, and thus began his unheard of in Vampire world collaborations with neighbours. He saw that to protect themselves they needed strong Lords holding each area, and that if they were allies that would protect them better. He began working towards that, encouraging some of his Children, and other vampires he knew were strong enough to take over weaker areas.

He’s not a power hungry guy, he is a power in his own right, but uses that to protect his people, and where he’d be happy left to his own area the threats from weaker lords, and posed by Europe have determined that he take action. Of course that hasn’t gone unnoticed, or without jealous and offended eyes. He’s always going to attract envy, always going to be under threat and he feels the best defence is to take the action to the detractors.

That leads us to this book, where we meet Quinn, catch up with some of the other Lords, with Raphael  and Cyn of course, and his key team. Its another exciting adventure, packed into a short but solid novel and I’m hoping it means we get a Quinn story next 😉

Stars: five, short but packed read, and a great addition to the overall story arc.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Trouble with Twelfth Grave, Darynda Jones

The Trouble With Twelfth Grave (Charley Davidson Book 12) by [Jones, Darynda]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers

If you haven’t begun this series yet then get book one now! Its an amazing story, and from the first book Charley’s world has so changed. Yet the original key characters are still all there, having grown along with Charley.

Its a story that’s gripping, at times graphic but never gory, searingly sensual but never overly sexual, its one of those rare books where what isn’t written is as important as what is.
The murders stack up yet are a tiny part of the story, the steam between Charley and Reyes is off-the-page erotic, always memorable ( shower scene back in the early books – I bet all readers member that!!)  and yet is only ever a fraction of the story.

Once more Charley’s in the thick of murder, mayhem, trying to put things right in a bumbling, almost chaotic way but she’s got such heart, such intelligence.
You love her, can’t help it, she’s never got a nasty side, whatever she’s facing. This time its literally end-of-the-world stuff after Reyes went in the God Glass and his other parts, the more unpleasant side of him came out.
I was gutted at that ending, have been waiting so eagerly for this book, and dammit, Darynda has done it again, given us another nail biting ending.

I can’t even begin to summarise what I love about this story, its much the same vein as the others, typical Charley snark, succinct and special humour ( love the names of Cookie’s girls BTW), plots and murders that seem totally disconnected and yet slowly gel together.
Charley is just so special, she Cares, so much about others, her family, her freinds, and just humanity in general. She’s come a long way since she discovered just who she is, and yet remains that slightly chaotic loving character we love.
The secondary characters are huge in their own right, and yet still supporting to the story of Charley and Reyes.
Reyes – well, even though he’s not quite Reyes as we know he’s still smouderingly sexy….but is he the killer? Would he really do the things everyone seems to think he has?
Charley can’t believe it and yet she needs to get Her Reyes back ASAP before Michael and the gang descend.
The secondary characters are huge in their own right, and yet still supporting to the story of Charley and Reyes, and most of them are here too. Cookie, oh how I love her, and Amber. Ubie, Charley’s lovely uncle, always so steadfast, always so supportive. Beep, fleeting appearance but so welcome. What a nightmare, to have to give up your child for her own safety…
Then there’s the “other” crew, Garret, human but more than that, Pari, also human with some great talents, but who can see Charley’s light. Angel – great investigator who’s a kid in body but been dead for so long he feels older, and who has a great line in flirting, Artemis – guard dog extrodinaire…oh I love that dog. Her existence is typical of the way key characters come into being, I remember she was way back in the early books, belonged to the biker gang that owned the asylum where Rocket, Blue and Strawberry reside.
That’s just a smattering of the cast that holds up these stories, building and extending them, bringing in threads from way back to tie up with current ones, and leading to what’s looking to be a Grande Finale. Part of me wants that Now, part wants the stories to go on forever….

I’ve had this one on my kindle for a week or so, promising myself I could read it as a reward when i’d finished a couple that I thought I’d like but which proved dull, boringly so, and I needed an incentive. Did that Sunday so had a glorious few hours in Charley’s wonderful world yesterday.

I’m going to need a couple of free weeks when this finally comes to an end so I can do a wonderful back-to-back reading fest of the whole series.

Stars: five – well, five hundred wouldn’t be enough. If you’re hooked on Charley’s world then this book is a must.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

London, Can You Wait?, Jacquelyn Middleton

London, Can You Wait?, Jacquelyn Middleton

London, Can You Wait? by [Middleton, Jacquelyn]

Genre: New Adult, Romance

When I was approved for this ARC I bought book one, London belongs to me.
I love the fame trope, the rock star, film, theatre settings and personalities so wanted to read Alex and Marks early story. TBH though I was underwhelmed, it was OK but not great for me, a bit …err…average, mundane. If this hadn’t been an ARC I wouldn’t have read it.
What a shame that would be though, its a Fabulous read, packed with drama, emotion, heartbreak, betrayals, love, lust and some incredible characters, all the things I love about this genre. I’d hate to have missed it and its definitely one for my keepers/re-reader files!

So we begin with Alex and Mark living together, both striving to build their respective careers, and finding it hard to make time for each other.
Mark has been successful in getting a TV role and now has become a household name, and the little bit of time they do get together gets broken into by fans, by his agent, by last minute opportunities he can’t turn down.
Alex feels like she’s last down the list but doesn’t want to be That Girl. You know, the one that can’t cope, gets needy, ruins his career. she knows how much this means to him, he’s been so supportive of her career, even when she was thinking of giving up she just can’t complain now his is taking off. things have to improve surely?
But they don’t and the time spent apart gets longer and longer, visits get put off, holidays cancelled and Alex panic attacks which had been pretty stable get worse.

And then, just over a third of the way in crisis hits – I really didn’t see that coming, and its heartbreaking, shocking, unbelievable.
Getting that so early made the story for me, I adore drama and heartbreak – so long as I know there’s a HEA of course! So often its there and done with in just a few pages, so to have it covering a huge section of the book was perfect for me.  I was wondering, nail biting, could they survive this, get past it? How would things work out?
The surprises just keep coming too. We were there as both Alex and Mark grew as a result of what happened, how they needed to change, needed to sort out their lives and both became stronger people for it. We’re all a product of our pasts, what happens to us shapes us, and there are some big secrets from the past here to come out.

Its not all Alex and Mark though, but Harry,Tom, Lucy, Freddie, Si, a great supporting cast who’s stories played their own part in building this wonderful second part of the novel.
It had everything part one lacked for me, and more. I’m so glad I didn’t stop at LBTM, and read more from these guys, it had me laughing, crying, heartbroken, angry, furious, well…you name the emotion and this book brought it out.
A terrific read and clearly writing LBTM has helped Jacquelyn hone her writing skills for this genre. I look forward to what she does next.

Stars: five, a fantastic second half, a story so much more than part one.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Beautiful Ones, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy

I really wasn’t sure what to expect with this book, but it sounded so intriguing I wanted to read it – and what a gorgeous treat it was.

Its kind of curious world setting, one that feels historical with its emphasis on The Season, Elegance and Society, but which also accepts that some people have magical powers, although its supposed to be scientifically explained…
I’m not sure if there are other types of magic in this world, we only meet her and Hector who also is telekinetic.
I’d have liked a little more background about the world setting and the magics within it.

Anyway, Antonina (Nina) is staying with her cousin and his wife for her first Season. Telekinesis is not something one does in polite society, and poor Nina struggles to control her telekinesis. She’s got no one to guide her, and back home was called names and ridiculed for it, but when she’s emotional it flames out of her control. She’s not really suited for society life anyway, she’s intelligent, asks questions where Ladies should be silent, doesn’t like frills and fripperies, dressing up, wasting time on tea parties when she could be out collecting beetles and butterflies, reading science papers etc.

Valerie, her cousins wife is quite the cold b itch. She’s very much a person of Society, very much admired as the most beautiful woman in the city. She likes being admired, being rich, likes the power it gives her, likes her position in society. She’s very calculating.
She’s bitter, acts the loving wife but secretly despises Gaelan having married him for money and position, she resents the close relationship he has with his family.
She’s not happy at Nina staying with them, at the money being spent on her, the attention paid to her and takes every opportunity to politely belittle her, under the guise of helping, instructing her in the ways of Society.

Then Nina meets Hector. She’s a sweet girl, he enjoys her company and conversation, and is teaching her about her telekinesis.
Nina of course assumes he’s someone that accepts her for what she is, and not like the rest of society who ridicule her, call her names, and aren’t lining up to marry her despite her rich dowry. Of course she can’t help falling in love, Hector is a good-looking, charming and a courteous man. She thinks her feelings may be reciprocated, as he’s happy to converse with her about nature, science, and of course the telekinesis that others want her to keep hidden, spends time with her and gives every appearance of being interested in her. There are other things at play though, things from the past she doesn’t know about and all is not as it seems.

I love Nina, such a genuine, kind and intelligent girl. When things went wrong between her and Hector I so felt for her, convinced they were a good match, that Hector felt more than he would admit, even to himself. I wanted them back together but then someone else comes into the picture…..has Hector left it too late?

Its a fun read, I would have likes to know more about the world setting and the magics in it. The supernatural part is very much Nina and Hector only, we don’t meet anyone else even though clearly there are more people. Do they all only have telekinesis or are there other types of magic? How do people get it? Is it some kind of genetic link or just random. There’s no talk of Nina’s family having anyone else who could do things ( that I recall) but Hector had been performing in a troupe as a child, presumably with his parents who must have had some abilities to work in the group. I’d like to have those sort of questions answered.

Stars: Four, its an enjoyable read, a little light escapism for a few hours. I don’t think its one I’ll reread, but is one that will appeal to younger and older readers. Some book suit all ages and this is one.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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