Tag Archive | love story

Aqua Follies, Liv Rancourt

Aqua Follies,  Liv Rancourt

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I loved this story, a great read, bringing in a very real feel of life in the fifties.
I was born at the very tail end of the fifties, but from my parents conversations about what they’d done this tale felt perfectly suited to the era.
Even in the sixties there was an emphasis on going out for entertainment. TV was limited, we didn’t have one like many families until i was maybe 9 or 10, and even then it was limited- no 24 hr TV, only two channels, definitely no daytime TV so we had to do things, not sit indoors. Carnivals, festivals etc all took place in the tiniest of villages even, with everyone turning out for what was a break from the usual work, home, sleep routine. As kids we were involved too so a festival like Aqua Follies which wouldn’t get off the ground now would have been high profile for many people. Liv does a terrific job or bringing that era to light.

Of course that makes it all sound like utopia, sunbeams and rainbows when it was anything but. Some of us lurked outside events, lacking the entry fee, trying to soak up a bit of atmosphere from the distance. There wasn’t parental leave, childcare etc in jobs so we were bundled off to others or left to roam when parents were working. It was work or starve, pay the rent or out, and Human Rights Act was a far off dream…
Life was tough if you were ordinary, toed the line, conformed, but if you dared to want a same sex relationship – woe is you….Still illegal back then. ( I’m not really sure when that changed, need to have a look at that) It was awful and guys like Russel didn’t even want to admit to themsleves they liked other men.
Its so sad, that pressure to conform, to stay safe and legal led to many marrying when there was no way they’d be fully happy. Russel certainly wouldn’t be and poor Susie, having a husband that doesn’t really love her. Sooner or later she’d realise that, and that’s what happened to so many couples, marrying to hide they really wanted a same sex relationship, but brought up to think it was perverted, against the Church, and risking prison if caught.
We’re a weird, judgmental group us humans.

I loved Russel and Skip. Skip’s sure in his desires for men, has found a group and places where he’s reasonably safe, but of course the police were given a pretty free rein then and he’s got one that keeps a close eye on him, never missing a chance to nip, berate, harass him.
Police brutality and harassment wasn’t recognised then so Skip had to just try to keep out of his way.
I loved Skip’s mum, in a sanitorium with TB, as happened to many then. The Fresh Air stance is very true, there was one near where I live and the huts were left open on one side all year round believing that it helped the lungs. Must have been pretty cold in winter!
When Skip is worried about being convicted, even if its a fine and caution he rightly says he’ll find it hard to get work. Who wants someone with a sex caution teaching music to their kids, joining their orchestra, working in their firm and of course without income he wouldn’t have anywhere to live, even if he could get a landlord to rent to someone with that on their record.
The world was a different place then, though some things seem good, there were things like this that made it a hard place for so many.

Russel, he sort of thinks he’s happy with Susie, there’s no grand passion but he has nothing to contrast with how he feels so he think that’s normal.
He knows his mum has been withdrawn after his brother died in Service, and he thinks it will make her happy if he gets married,so he’s planning to ask Susie to marry him – til he sees Skip. One look and he’s hooked, one word and he knows what he has with Susie isn’t Love.

What happens now though? What will they do, can they do living so far apart, when men cannot live openly with, be in a relationship with other men.
Is there a way through or are they a doomed, never to be together couple. And can he settle for Susie if that’s so?

Reading through the blurb I saw this was edited by KJ Charles, one of my favourite M/M authors – actually The favourite, she’s my number one for that genre, and it made me wonder if she had much influence over this book.
At the end reading through Liv’s explanations of how this book came to be she’s had the input of many people and it reminded me of the “it takes a village to raise a child” phrase. Maybe it takes a Team to raise a successful book.
Certainly its worked well this time, and its a great author who listens to critics, and shapes the story while still keeping it essentially the one they had in mind. You can please some readers some of the time and all that….

Stars: five, an enjoyable read, taking me back to a time when homosexuality was still illegal, still seen as perverted.

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

Back to Us, Phlox Beauty Series Book 2, Julia Gabriel

Back to Us, Phlox Beauty Series Book 2, Julia Gabriel
Back to Us (The Phlox Beauty Series) by [Julia Gabriel]

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

I loved Julia’s DRawing Lessons and Chiarascuro, but somehow I missed the first book in this series, featuring Jared and Phlox. They appear in this book too as secondary but important characters and I worked out much of their backstory from that but its a book I’d like to read. sometimes. when the TBR list drops a bit….

So even though this is a second in sereis its a stand alone, and it didn’t matter I hadn’t read book one.
I really enjoyed this story, felt so much for both characters and as before Julia doesn’t just stick to a standard romance of man meets woman, they fall in love, have a hiccup and then a HEA. No, Julia adds more and that’s what makes it perfect for me.
Its not just that Colt and Zee were in love four years ago, not that they are perfect for each other, but that they somehow lost their way, had a big breakup but after being captured and tortured Colt had lost huge chunks of his memory, including the fact he doesn’t live with Zee now….

Poor Zee comes home after a busy day, crawls into bed, only to find Colt in it. Colt who she’s not heard from in four years after living with him for a while and he left!
What a huge shock..and then he explains and she feels for him, but won’t open her heart again, it took her too long to recover the first time.
Since then she’s had more issues with her love life, when her lover who worked for the company she and best friend Phlox own sabotaged it, and nearly brought it to collapse. Its taken hard work and money to keep things going, and somehow Zee feels all the blame, has lost confidence in her judgement so has sworn off men.
And then Colt comes back, and she can feel him all over again, feel how right for her he is. Still, the reasons the broke up were solid, she can’t let herself go that route again.

Colt goes to stay with Max, her grandfather and the man who inadvertently brought them together.
He was Max’ writing professor, and there’s still a lot of respect between them. Colt has literally just left hospital and doesn’t know where he lives, doesn’t have access to his bank, which was emptied by his captors, so is in a really hard postition. As well as the memory loss, he’s physically weak from being beaten and starved and having a badly broken leg.
The trauma has left him with nightmares and he keeps losing bits of the present, such as forgetting where he is, right now. Its clear he can’t live alone so Max takes him in, although he’s away for a few days.
The first night he has a terrible nightmare, and in desparation somehow phones Zee, who collects him, takes him home and he ends up staying there for a few days til everything is sorted.
Of course Zee can’t stay in bed when she can hear him screaming in terror – who could, and slowly he works his way back into her heart.

She won’t tell him why they split up though, still trying to keep him at arms length and like Colt I was desperate to know. And when we did find out I was heartbroken for her, even though knowing Colt’s background I can see why he made the decision he did.
We all think time is limitless when we’re young, that there’s another chance, another time. Carpe Diem is a good motto, who knows what’s round the corner?
Trouble is when its two people who have different priorities for right now, different things they want to seize on the day.

Poor Zee, still working long days, trying to assuage her guilt over the sabotage, trying to put things right even though it wasn’t her fault, and now she’s more pressure with Colt back in her orbit.
He’s determined to wear her down, to get her back. he knows that for him she’s it,. and now he’s a better sense of life priorities.
Zee can’t trust he’s changed though, and she’s her own background issues to contend with. her mother is famous, an award winning actress and for much of Zee’s life she was dragged around, tutored privately and following her mother as she worked on yet another film. Her only stability came from her grandparents and after her grandmother died Max is the closest person in her life.

Its a book full of love, full of small and bigger dramas and one I loved. I was so wanting Zee to let Colt in, so understood why she didn’t though and was engrossed in seeing how on earth Julia could resolve things for them. And she did, in a perfect way.

Stars: five,a lovely story, sensual romance, with real issues and characters

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Faking It, Christine d’Abo

Faking It, Christine d’Abo

Faking It (Ringside Romance Book 2) by [d'Abo, Christine]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

I really enjoyed book one in this series, which was also a first read of Christine’s books. Book two is Max and Grady, Max being involved in Ringside as well as owning a busy nightclub.
I loved that we met Zack and Nolan from book one again too.
Grady kind of stumbles into Max life, escaping from his bullying father, his unwanted fame and now he discovers he’s not escaped.
Dad’s taking advantage of the Gay side of him, hoping to cash in on the Liberalist views, marry Grady off to the son of a wealthy connection and bring even more profit to his investments.
Poor little rich boy….and yet Grady’s likable, we can see that underneath his seeming to despise his father he really just wants his approval. But that’s not been forthcoming for a long while, and Grady isn’t prepared to marry a stranger just to get it.
Max seems like an honest guy, he didn’t try to rip him off when he had the chance, didn’t snap photos or tell stories to the press, and he wonders – would he pretend to be engaged if they agree a suitable recompense? It would only need to be for a few weeks.
Max’s first thought is no, he feels sorry for Grady, is of course strongly attracted and knows that’s reciprocated but no, just no, he can’t do it. Well, until something happens to change his mind on the spur of the moment.

Its a fun story, I liked Grady and Max, loved seeing updates on Zack and Nolan but overall it was a bit ..slow. There was lots going on but it was all very subdued, understated and when it came to the wrap up, I just couldn’t really see it happening that way. It was such a complete turnaround that it didn’t feel real, and that’s a kicker for me, situations need to feel that they could happen. This time I didn’t see how it could roll out that way.
Its still a good read, a well written story with the good sex v story balance that book one had for me. I hate when sex overtakes the story, for me that just doesn’t work, but this read had it just right.

Of course the lack of drama and the ending that didn’t work for me will be perfect for others. Such is life so make your own judgement, if you liked soft and understated romance this could be just right for you. I love drama and an element of realism, and that lack was what brought it down for me.

Stars:Three, a good story but I felt for me it needed more drama and a bit more realism in the ending.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Solo, Lauren E. Rico

Solo, Lauren E. Rico

Solo (Symphony Hall) by [Rico, Lauren E.]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult.

Well, I hesitated over reading this one. I read book one of Lauren’s music trilogy, and though there were parts I loved, such as the music, there were parts I found really hard to get along with, and haven’t yet decided if I’m going to read parts two and three. Eventually I took the plunge with Solo – and I’m So glad I did.

Its a wonderful story, perfectly written as far as my reading tastes go, mixing story, sex, drama and intrigue to make a tale I was gripped by. I’ve said often I hate when sex becomes the story, here its just right, sensual and erotic but fits within the book so very well.
I have to say though, that cover is just awful, really tacky and just doesn’t do the novel justice IMO. I’m one who rarely looks at covers, just reads the blurb, its only the brilliant or awful ones that catch my eye….

I loved Katherine, such a hard worker, so loyal to her father even when he’s acted so harshly, when she could make her life easier if she did things another way.
She doesn’t though, she’s strongly moral, and just keeps her head down, works hard, and struggles through whatever the personal cost.
I so felt for her all the awful things she had to endure. Drew’s hassling of her, he really picked on her, her advisor Tessa, wasn’t any help, she seemed to dislike Katherine so its no wonder she didn’t go to her for help, the other students were horrible to her.
She’s so alone, friendless, family less and just has learned the only person she can rely on is herself. Isn’t that horrible? When Drew asks her when was the last time someone gave her a present and its years, my heart cracked a bit, such a simple thing, a gift that shows someone cares about you and she’d had nothing from her father, had no freinds with whom she could exchange gifts, just this lonely, solitary life.

Drew, he was a real piece of work the way he singled her out, the way he picked on her for every imagined infraction. I did wonder how he got away with it, and I guess its only because Katherine avoided anything that might throw controversy on her father that she didn’t complain.
Then they get thrown together and he sees a different side to her, sees that he’s projected his anger at Cassie onto her. There are some really emotional moments when the penny drops as to just how awful he’s been to her over the last five years. We see a different side to him too.

Of course as student and professor anything between them is forbidden and they’re risking so much, and they do try to stay on the right side. Still, you know how it is, in the first throes of attraction we tend to think we’re being careful when it reality we’re anything but.

There’s drama here too with the press, in particular one sleazy guy, always sneaking round for a story, trailing her for months, asking everyone about her, trying to find dirt, especially now her father may announce his bid for presidency.
With their actions and they way they don’t see just how much they’re giving away its not long before it all goes wrong.

When it does,  well – boy – is Drew a first class jerk!
I kind of understood where he was coming from, understood that he hadn’t really let go of the past, and I’d guessed who was behind things and why – well, part of the why 😉
I loved the way it wasn’t all hate on one page all love again on the next. I like my drama dragged out, I like to wallow and poor Katherine really hit the depths.

I did find the way they fell headlong into romance despite the risks a little bit, teeny bit difficult to take, both had so much to lose, but I put that to one side as it made such a great read for me.
See, I like some realism in my novels, but this wasn’t too far off course, people do act in stupid ways when in love 😉

Stars:Five, a story I really enjoyed, Lauren’s love of music really comes through and gives a solid, realsitic background to the novel even to someone like me who knows little about orchestras, composing, conducting and the world of Classical music.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Other People’s Business , HJ Moat

Other People’s Business , HJ Moat

Other People's Business by [Moat, HJ]

Genre:  Romance

So, blush time here, I’m a book lover who’s never read Much Ado About Nothing.
In my defence we were force fed Shakespeare at school, never allowed to just enjoy a book but had to dissect it, analyse the life out of it, and for me that just spoiled it. Not just Shakespeare but other fiction too…..didn’t affect my love of books and stories but did put me off some Classics. So I can’t tell you how it stands up the the original, just how this appealed to me as a contemporary story.

Great characters here from Lawrence – who I hated as a supercilious rich boy, Will and Imogen who were both so sweet it almost hurt my teeth, and my favourites Ben and Bee. I loved those two, they had such perfect lines, such acid humour and though I understood why Bee was so hurt, I didn’t really understand Ben til we learned more of him towards the end.

Of course there’s also nasty John, Lawrence’s brother, who’s malicious through and through, Daniel and Barnaby who work for Lawrence and who he’s insisted are invited to the wedding. In his typical steamroller way Lawrence has commandeered the wedding as a kind of team building exercise, and Imogen is so in love with Will that she goes along with everything. I’d like to see him try that with Bee 🙂
Then there’s Len, Imogen’s father who’s such a great guy. He’s worked hard for his wealth but hasn’t forgotten his roots, and adores his daughters and Bee.
One more star, Frank ( I think was his name), the guy who looks after the grounds and pigs for Len. He was just perfect with his two cohorts when  things went awry!

So, the wedding of the century is on, or at least that’s how it feel to Bee, and she’s going to come face to face with Ben. And its not going to be pleasant.
True to form there are some acidly sharp, but very funny exchanges, but each leash their claws a little as its a wedding of their best freinds.
I loved the snappy humour, the way it was clear that love and hate are really two sides of the same coin. these two were perfect for each other. If only they could get past their pasts….

Everything’s going well, and then cracks seep in. Ben seems to get excluded from some secret mystery meetings between Will, Lawrence and John, and the three are acting very strangely.
When the bombshell hits Ben really comes into his own. I Hated the smugness of Will and Lawrence, hated their actions and poor Immy. what an awful thing.
From then its all about change, with relationships on and off, on and off before they all finally settle.

Its a fun read, a good romance, ( though I still feel Immy was too good for Will. His actions really were horrific, whatever he believed – but she loved him!)
Like I said, how it stands up to Shakespeare I can’t tell you, but I enjoyed it as a story in its own right.
I’ve read books based on other stories and films, and seen films of books and for me they work best when they take the ethos and run with it, but create a fresh new story rather than following step for step the original.
From reading synopsis of Shakespeare’s MAAN I think this one is one of those, the fresh story based on an original line.

If you’re looking for a romance read with lots of drama, some great humour and fabulous characters then give this a try, its a fun story.

Stars: Five, a book that made me smile, made me sad and at times made me angry. For me a great read.
ARC supplied for review purposes by author

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Beneath a Burning Sky, Jenny Ashcroft. Cask Strength, (Agents Irish and Whiskey), Layla Reyne

Beneath a Burning Sky, Jenny Ashcroft

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre:   Historical Fiction

This read reminded me very much of Dinah Jeffries – Before the Rains, a story I really enjoyed. Jenny writes the same vivid scenes of life in the past, in a searingly hot country, at the time of the British Empire.
Its an era when many of the men posted there from Britain saw themselves as of major importance, thought they were like little kings. So many treated the natives as simply lesser, disposable almost, and every time I read things like this I marvel at the arrogance that allowed this to happen.
But it did, its not fiction, things that happen in these stories really could have occurred then, events played out like this.

I so felt for Olivia, she’s had an awful childhood and now forced into marriage to a cruel and vindictive man. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with Edward, doesn’t expect to get embroiled in a dangerous mystery, a search for her abducted sister that has deep roots and from which the ripples flow out involving more and more people and putting her life in real danger.

Its a fabulous read, I could feel her despair, feel her anger, and the tenderness that grew between her and Edward – oh, I so wanted them to find a way to be together , they were just perfect for each other.

I thought I’d worked out a bit of what happened but it was far more involved and complex, and there’s no way I could have worked it all out. I did find the large cast of characters meant i had to keep checking back on exactly where each fitted in, and how they were placed in relation to others.
There were some parts where the mystery got so complex, involved so many characters, that I had to stop and work it all out. That spoiled the flow a bit but I can’t see any other way of writing it without dumbing it down, and I’d rather take time to recoup that that. So many books seem to be written for simplicity and speed reading 😦  so its a treat to get more convoluted ones that tax the brain, make me work for the story!

Stars: Four, a solid story, beautiful romance and a real feeling of history.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Cask Strength,  Layla Reyne

Cask Strength (Agents Irish and Whiskey) by [Reyne, Layla]

Genre:  romance, LGBTQIA

Well wow – I loved book one, and this second part was another fast moving, sensual read. There’s a couple of things that bothered me, I’ll get them out first, they didn’t affect how I feel about the book overall but need a mention.
Acronyms…Gah, I hate these and yet all books seem to be full of them. I’m not sure there’s a way round them, can’t write everything about each into a book or it’d get too unwiedly and dull, but mabye a glossary?
As a UK reader I’m not familiar with US legal systems and what the various alphabet agencies actually are, who does what, which takes precedence etc. and then dammit more acronyms crop up in the sports part of this book too.  Baseball/basketball/ice hockey all make up a huge part of US romance reads, and seemed to be filled with abbreviations that I’m unfamiliar with and don’t know what they mean.
Its bad enough trying to work out the plots, who’s who in the police dept, how the US college/uni system works, drafts, boosters and then for this read, betting systems. There are so many characters here its not easy to keep track. When everyone and every organisation ( or so it seems) are described with a mix of letters denoting who and what they are and do I tend to get just a wee bit confused 😉 Thankfully the paperwhite look up dictionary function can explain a lot!
Still, none of that stopped me loving this story, I could kind of guess many of them and got enough context to work most of it out. The storyline is strong enough to carry a few confusions without spoiling 😉

Aiden, he made me so angry last time, I understood very well his grief, but dating others, determined to keep Jamie as casual when the tension between them just sizzles off the page, when he’s furious when anyone else looks Jamie’s way. C’mon man, just give in!
Then there’s Jamie and boy, he is one hot man. I love his intellect, his passion, both for his job, for IT and for sport, and we get a good dose of all here. He’s so good at what he does, yet manages to be sort of self effacing so he doesn’t come over as a braggart, except in times of humour.
Its clear he’s head over heels for Aiden, and very hurt by being kept at arms length. He’s been through a bad breakup before, and yet he’s willing to try again. Now he and Aiden are back in his old stomping ground, back in the sport he loves, and there’s a surprise for both of them when an old ex turns up.

There’s a lot of technical stuff here which went over my head for the most part… but which I understood enough to get the essence of what was going on and why.
The plot from book one that was running through as a secondary carries on here, and dammit – that ending! Just when I thought it was safe to stop reading Layla drops in a couple of lines which have me all upside down in my thinking once more.

Terrific storylines, great characters, serious heat (oops, typo spelt out head there at first, real Freudian slip that one!!)  – its a story to love!

Stars: Five, a great suspense, and sensual romance. roll on book three.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend, K.M. Galvin and Interlude, FourMain 1, Kay Halliday.

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend, K.M. Galvin

Beauty and the Book Boyfriend by [Galvin, K.M.]

Genre:  Romance, General fiction

A book about and author and her books….interesting I thought. Well, it was…and it wasn’t.

The idea was interesting, Bell and her friend/PA are on a tour promoting the final book in the series, and painfully self-conscious, publicity avoiding Bell has to dress up as the book heroine Mykala, while they bring in a model dressed as Max, along with his PA to accompany her.
Road tour with people who’ve never met but are spending the next two months in very close proximity, could be fun, could be a disaster.

I had issues with Bell, I get she’s self conscious but she doesn’t always act like it, appearing brash and over confident sometimes and at other times its causing her to have panic attacks.
She’s kind of rude too, to Caleb. Fair enough at first meeting he was a jerk and deserved it, but she continues even while they’ve formed a friendship.

I just wasn’t convinced of the enemies to freinds to lovers and maybe more in their story. I’m not really sure why though, I can’t quite work out what it is that stops me believing in them but something does. I think the real crux is that I wasn’t keen on any of the characters that much, I just didn’t really get a feel for them as real people, and that’s so important to me.

It’ll be a perfect read for others of course, and I’m glad for them. We all look for different things and though this one wasn’t for me it was well written and I’d be happy to try another by this author.

Stars: Two, sadly not one for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Interlude, FourMain 1, Kay Halliday.

Interlude (FourMain Book 1) by [Halliday, Kay]

Genre:  Romance, New Adult

I love the Rock Star genre, but this is a story about rock stars, not one set in the active touring/songwriting/recording world.
I can’t find any other books by Kay, so assume this is her debit novel and it’s very well done for a first novel.

I did find though at times it dragged, usually I love long novels, but sometimes this one seemed as though they were hashing and rehashing things out so much I switched off. The same things came out in just slightly different way it felt.
That’s my main criticism about the book, its an excellent story but could (IMO of course! not everyones) have been tightened up a bit, with some parts made clearer, strengthened.
I’m thinking of things such as exactly why Kendrick and Eliza were apart, when its clear they’re both still deeply in love, he’s visiting her and the kids most days.
There’s this undefinable “something” that’s caused it and I found it frustrating not knowing what the issue was. I felt I’d missed reading a section maybe and even skimmed back to check. that carries on throughout the book and I just couldn’t see why they were apart. Given its such a huge thing, a major plot in the story, I needed to know sooner, and when right near the end it finally comes out it felt wrong, very anti-climatic. Life just doesn’t work like that, we don’t know whats coming, how we’d react, we just have to roll with it.

The first half was a little slow for me, and I did skim a few scenes…*blush* wanting to get to the meat of the story.
The last third was so perfect though, really set up the scenes, provided lots of excitement and drama, right up my street.
I’m hoping in later books this part gets continued, its a potentially great story-line, providing lots of potentially vituperative and nasty scenes. This book has lots of good people in, and the label owner, a real unpleasant greedy controlling man, isn’t actually in this novel, we just hear about him.
I’d like to see some nasties – him or some like him – in later books to provide a balance to all the good characters in this one.

Overall an excellent first book and I look forward to more.

Stars: Four, a really interesting read, with lots of emotion and drama.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Good Gracie, Inés Saint

Good Gracie,  Inés Saint

Good Gracie (The Piper Sisters) by [Saint, Inés]

Genre:  romance,

I’ve not read any of Ines works before, and this one is set in the same place as the Spinning Hills books, but features three sisters.
I enjoyed it, a romance with a side of gentle-ish mystery and suspense. By that I mean that the romance is centre but the mystery and what evolves is very connected to it. Its not heart stopping drama type suspense, though brings the characters into very real danger when it comes to a head.

So, Gracie – poor girl, she’s been through what is a horrible reality for too many kids in this age of technology, when a private picture or video can get shared and seen by thousands, millions even, so easily when that trust is betrayed.
That happened to her at 17, she stood up for herself but at great personal cost. Nine years on and she still bears the scars of it in her behaviour. No longer is she the happy, outgoing “goof” as her family describe her, but someone determined to blend in at all times, to go unnoticed.
She’s worked hard on her career and its brought her back to Spinning Hills for a job that is the biggest she’s had and very important to her. Someone seems determined to stir up the past though, to cause trouble for her.

Josh was her defender at the time, early in his career, and went against his very wealthy and influential family in taking her case. He’s still in the town, and now campaigning for the position of County Prosecutor. Those old rumours and misconceptions are muddying the waters for his campaign, and he doesn’t need the scandal.
He’s always admired Gracie though, and when he sees her now something about her really pulls to him. Its an attraction that Gracie feels too though neither will admit it for a long while.
With rumours and inferences of the past having been more than was revealed the anonymous person seems set to ruin their careers. Who is the target though ? Gracie or Josh? And why?

I enjoyed the pull between them, the way they were both so careful, so guarded. The family too, Gracie’s sisters, grand her her friends are a scatty bunch, and provided so levity to the story.
I didn’t work out who dunnit – though once its revealed there’s that “ah! Of course” moment. Its a story I enjoyed but not one I’d reread. I would like to see more when the other sisters stories come out.

Stars: Four, fun read with some light suspense.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Twist, A Dive Bar Novel, Kylie Scott

Twist, A Dive Bar Novel, Kylie Scott

Twist by [Scott, Kylie]

Genre:  Romance

I love well written rock star romance and Kylie is the Queen of the genre IMO.
This series isn’t rock band romance, more romance with cameos from rockers ;-), but its so well plotted and carried out, plays out the same magical way the Stage Dive books did and is perfect for me.
I’ve recently reread Dirty, the first Dive Bar story, so the characters were fresh in my mind. I enjoyed Vaughn and Lydia’s story even more the second time round, so was keen to see to the characters and where they’re going now. But beards….I don’t do beards. Face fungus. Yuk. Still each to their own 😉 I guess I can Just About live with a sharp neatly trimmed short beard….

Joe reminds me of Ben in description, bearded, huge, quiet, and Ben isn’t my favourite character so I wondered what I’d think of Joe.
I liked him, which surprised me. He’s a kind of gentle giant, and he’s a real people pleaser. I feel for him, I’m one of those, find it really hard to say no, and end up with too much on my plate.

Poor Alex, what an embarrassing situation she found herself in, and what a total jerk Eric was. He is anyway, but his reaction here really took the biscuit! She was crushed, (oh – crumbs…) gutted, destroyed. She’s really put herself out, traveled across the country when normally she is so stay-at-home she finds it hard to interact with people, and works from home much of the while.
She’s got one good friend, Val, who’d chosen her outfit. Val’s style of dress is perfect – for Val, not so for poor Alex. There she is dragging her suitcase, dressed in skintight LBD and sky high heels, feeling pretty uncomfortable and Eric hasn’t a clue who she is. She thinks he’s kidding, he thinks she’s a stripper or something hired by the family for his birthday. Then the truth comes out, she’s been emailing Joe, who used Eric’s photo and details….oops. Big shock.
I so felt for her, its like everyone’s worse nightmare, certainly hers. She’s taken herself out of her Comfort Zone, hoping the guy she’s been emailing, who seemed keen on meeting her when they started, will be delighted to meet her. Instead she’s humiliated. Not a good start to a relationship.

Through a catalogue of events Alex ends up staying longer than planned and becomes friends – and more – with Joe. He’s really taken by her but doesn’t do relationships after getting his heart broken years back, but freinds, he can do that. Friends with benefits when the friend is as hot as Alex, he’s in! They’re in a hot and steamy relationship, kidding themsleves they’re just friends, insisting to family and friends there’s nothing more when its plain to the others how it is.
Then tragedy strikes, everything gets changed, someone from the past creeps in – and I love characters like Star, fantastic the way Kylie does them.

Its a great read, so good to catch up with Eric – even though he’s a real self obsessed jerk, Pat, Andre, Nell, Rosie, Vaughn and Lydia. The Stage Dive guys and girls drop in too at the end and it was fun seeing them a couple of years after we left them.

Kylie does a great line in strong females, great drama that’s a mix of sadness, pathos and lively, fun action, men that can be jerks but also men that can be sensitive, thoughtful and gentle. The sex scenes are hot and sensual, the funny parts are perfect, the sadness nicely drawn out and the comic scenes off the wall quirky at times, snappy one liners that could be missed at others.
I found rereading the first book, and when I reread the stage dive ones that I’d missed some of the humour first time round, being too engrossed in seeing where the story took me next, so I’m already anticipating rereading this one.

I’m really looking forward to the next story, and at some point to what/how Kylie is going to do/deal with Eric. How can she make this overconfident, ar sehole, this selfish, immature guy into one we readers will like? But I have no doubt through her magical writing she’ll do it 😉

Stars: five, another cracking read, meeting old freinds and new. A great keeper book for rereading.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

For a Good Time, Call…, Anne Tenino, E.J. Russell

For a Good Time, Call…, Anne Tenino, E.J. Russell

For a Good Time, Call... (Bluewater Bay Book 17) by [Tenino, Anne, Russell, E.J.]

Genre:  Romance, LGBTQIA

Bluewater: I love this series, so many different authors bringing fresh story-lines and ideas keep it fresh even though its got loads of books in now.
It could get messy, could lose continuity but whoever checks overall management of that does it perfectly. each book has cameos but characters from other reads but even though they are characters created by someone else they always manage to keep their same “voice~” and personality, and that makes it feel so right to me. Like meeting old friends once more.
I don’t know much about characters that are not on the mainstream side sexually, and Grace (grey asexual) is a term I’d never heard of. Still, that’s the beauty of fiction, reading about so many different people, different issues and problems means its always new and interesting.

I like to imagine What would I do if placed where a character is having difficulties, and when they’re like this it means some deep thinking.
What “I” want isn’t what “they” want so I need to look sideways. Reminded me of Animal Welfare Law at uni, just because we enjoy being inside by the fire on a cold wet day doesn’t mean its the right thing for a fish, he/she doesn’t want to be inside by the fire but needs to be out in the water, regardless of weather and temperature.

I enjoyed too the way it wasn’t kind of preachy and prickly, as so many books are – not just about sexuality but any kind of discrimination, anyone who’s not quite on the middle section of “normal”. I know some disabled people who are very prickly and easily offended and that happens in life, but I don’t want to read it all the while, even though as a disabled person myself I understand it. After all reading is for many an escape from real life and its issues.
Still, that said things need to be handled realistically, I need to feel the characters and issues are real and that’s was so perfect here.

I learned a lot form Nate, from seeing what he felt. He was a lovely man, and his dog, Tarkus, well he was such a star!! #tarkusisastar.
Nate had been in two relationships before, both ended badly and he’s given up on finding a third one.
Then he meets Seth. That first meeting doesn’t go well…and was so understandable. I so felt for both when the penny dropped. Still, they become freinds, mainly via Seth’s search for history about his family, and Nate’s interest in genealogy.

We meet both sets of families, and poor Seth, lovely nan, on the fence dad and a viperous mother and uncle. The parents and uncle hold the purse strings, and while nan wants to sell up the family home and move to somewhere more suitable for her age, they don’t want it, won’t allow it.
Poor Seth draws the short string with them too, always being ridiculed for his bar-tending job, and they insinuate its by their good grace he gets his apartment over the garage free. Seem to forget that he’s been solely responsible for the upkeep of the whole building, for looking after nan and ensuring she’s well. Nice people…not!

After a while Nate’s astonished to discover he has real feelings for Seth. What to do though? Take the risk of more and  lose it, or lose the potential of more and settle for freinds. How will he feel if Seth moves on? What if Seth doesn’t return his feelings? What if he does!
So many questions and they lead us a lovely dance into a slowly growing romance.

Though I loved all that, I found the side issue, the house and all its history, the family issues where Nan was prevented from selling, were a bit confusing and kind of muddied the water. At times that felt like a totally different story, and though there was interest in it and what they found, it didn’t mesh well with the main story for me.

Stars: Four, a great read, sensitively done.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

J.A. Hazel

Author of Siren's Wave, a rock romance novel

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