Cold, Hard & Heartless, M.V. Ellis
well, in book one it was London’s looonng metal monologues that I found off-putting and now its Arlo’s….that’s just me though, its a niggle that I find irritating, but that others may be indifferent to or even enjoy. I do enjoy a bit of introspection, it lets me feel and understand a characters actions, work out why they do things a certain way. From the outside Arlo could look like a man-whore jerk, but from his thoughts I can see he’s more. I loved him in book one, and I’m glad I read that first as he doesn’t seem quite a likable here, somehow his actions come across as very selfish here, certainly his past with Marnie, even when Luke warns him he’s being a jerk and unfair, whereas I don’t remember feeling that way in book one.
This story really just covers the ground of book one, but from Arlo’s POV, there’s nothing I noticed that was new there, and I think if the two books had been combined into one it would have worked better for me. Maybe one of those alternating POV stories? So that though I’d be reading stuff I knew already it would still be fresh, and I could meld each POV and see the actions from both sides as it happens.
I love the way he realised he was in love with London, though somehow although the period was covering several weeks/months somehow that didn’t translate as well as in book one. It felt they went from meeting and the chaos of that to a kiss, then nothing until suddenly its weeks later and he’s planning how to continue with her in his life. It feels like there’s a gap in the middle were she keeps house but they don’t seem to interact much, and then he’s In Love…..
Book three should be interesting, hopefully they’ll be a bit more action as they’re on tour. I hope 😉 I love Tour books, with all the mayhem, bustle, music, traveling, groupies and chaos they bring. It would be good to get to know the other band members too.
Stars: Three and a half, didn’t quite like it as much as book one but it is a good read, though quite short. Melded together, so I got both sides at the same time they would have made a perfect five star, single book for me.
ARC supplied by Author
In Too deep, Dani Collins
I haven’t read book one ( but will sometime), really enjoyed book two and we got a hint about Trigg and Wren there. I was hoping they were next, and it proved to be a fun read, with some very real characters and situations.
I really felt for Wren, she’s been a parent to Sky since she was little more than a child herself, and her parents were not any help. They dealt badly with the death of Wren’s brother when he was a child, and her father became an awful, violent man. Wren now hates confrontation, has mental scars from the beatings she took. Yet all that, plus the loss of her loved sister Mandy, Sky’s mum, and she’s still a lovely person, and has given so much up for Sky.
Sky’s an obnoxious pre-teen, but TBH many of them are. It’s like a rite of passage for some, my own daughter made a calendar when she was 12 listing the days til she was 16 and could move out, and religiously crossed off each day. Of course poor Wren gets the “if my mother was alive…” jibes, and harassment about Sky’s father, with Sky desperate to meet him. When they up sticks and do just that though its not all fairytales.
Trigg is a household name in snowboarding circles, and a rich playboy to boot. Having a 12 year old daughter has come as a shock, he was just 17 and Mandy had said she was having an abortion. Now he meets Sky and she’s not some sweet, adoring kid, but a bundle of confusion, irritation and resentment.
All that was so real, and the way the other characters reacted to Sky’s moods and rudeness felt very genuine. Its easy to say “she’s a teen, ignore it, she’s been through a lot”, but harder to actually do just that when she seems to be going out of her way to be difficult. Of course poor Wren feels guilty for that too. She moved there as Sky wanted to get to know her father, and now she’s wondering if it was the right course to take.
There’s a slow turnaround, some really funny moments, some issues that were very emotional, and of course the characters’ stories from earlier books continue. I loved the way there’s not a moment when I can pinpoint Sky’s mood change, but that its a natural progression, that Trigg slowly became a caring parent, loved Sky and was key to understanding her.
Trigg wasn’t the greatest to start, knows nothing of bringing up kids and this rude ball of fury comes as a shock. He’s inclined to blame Wren for everything, and she already does enough of that herself. Slowly things change, he begins to feel like a dad, and of course the attraction that’s always been there between him and Wren simmers.
As well as the romance there’s the story of the Lodge, the characters that live and work there, and the issues they’ve been having with accidents that are beginning to seem like deliberate sabotage. Someone doesn’t want the lodge to succeed but who? And what can they do about it? It comes to an explosive climax, with some sharp edged actions, and made this story have that edge over just a simple romance. I really enjoyed it.
Stars: Five, a great fun read, terrific real characters, and the story of the Lodge and the sabotage added such a lot.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Bad Reputation, Stefanie London
I hadn’t read the first book, in fact haven’t read any of Stefanie’s novels, however this series is connected via characters and theme but each are stand alone reads and easy to follow, even if like me you haven’t read book one.
Remi, oh I loved her. Let down so very badly by her former lover and employers she’s given up her dream, moved to a new country, seems content tutoring dance where she used to love ballet, always striving for top place.
She is still incredibly talented and when Wes catches her dancing alone one day he knows she’s the star her needs for his new off-off Broadway production. Its very non traditional, a gamble really and goes against his very traditional style of ballet his parents teach in their school, where he formerly worked.
Persuading her isn’t easy, and added to that there’s a white hot spark of attraction she says must stay closed if she agrees.
Wes is a fabulous man, so very fair, so full of dreams for his show, so caring about his team of dancers. He really wants the best for everyone, wants his show to be a success, and wants the dancers to enjoy in it.
Its so unfair when against all the hard work he’s done, against all the striving for fairness and equality the bad bachelors reviews are doing such harm. Its not that they criticise him, far from it, he’s praised, has a reputation as caring and a real gentleman, its just…well…size that gets attention, and given his family’s fame the media jump on the story, potentially scaring off his backers.
Its a great story, fabulous characters, good guys, fence sitters and bad ones, just as in real life.
There’s a mix of plots, from Remi’s cautious return to the world of dance, from the fabulous and innovative show Wes is producing, the harm the media and websites can do to reputations, secrets and -well, not lies but omissions of truth, romance of course, and the trials of friendship.
It makes for a multi-layered story and towards the end I just couldn’t see how things could work out for people. Rock and hard place for Wes in the decisions he needed to make, love or heart break for Remi, and of course the whole Bad Bachelors thing and the devastating secrets revealed.
Whichever way I worked I just couldn’t make everyone happy, but Stefanie does, wraps it up perfectly and in a believable way that made a terrific ending.
Stars: Five, a one off read but one which was great fun with some real surprises for me.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Rock Legend, (Nothing But Trouble 2), Tara Leigh
I love a good rock star/film star romance, but though there are thousands of them on amazon most just don’t work for me. I had Tara’s first book in this series Rock King, from Netgalley and really enjoyed it so I took the plunge and actually bought book two. Between netgalley, free reads and KU I don’t buy many books, only those I think I’ll re-read!
I really enjoyed this, wasn’t sure if I would as TBH I didn’t really take to Piper in book one. As always though good authors can turn that around and when I learned more about her past and upbringing I understood a bit more way she was the way she acted when she first met Delaney again.
Its a great read, very emotional in parts, and Landon and Piper have a lot to go through before they can be happy. I loved the inclusion of Adam too, he made a nice side touch and a believable sub plot.
Stars: Four, a fun read, not a simple rock star adoration, bland, smutfest, but a genuine plot and characters and sensual heat.
Hidden Hearts, An Alpha Project Psychic Romance, Eva Chase
Genre: Romance, Sci-fi and fantasy
I really liked the sound of this and saw that if I went to Eva’s website I could get the prequel novella Burning Hearts, free. Its also on amazon. That gave me an insight into alpha Project and Nicks family. Stupidly I missed there was another book before this one, but I was still able to follow this story easily and have borrowed the first book via KU.
Its a fabulous story, scary in that its all too believable, that some wealthy organisation is trapping and experimenting on those with psychic talents. The prequel sets pout the parents story and escape and this series seems to be about the brothers meeting people for themselves. Poor Nick has the misfortune to get feelings for Carina, who’s working for AP, using her talents to help track down Nicks family, having been told lies about how dangerous and murderous they are.
I really enjoyed the story, but what stops it being five stars is its brevity, just under 200 pages. That means even though I felt the plots and characters were excellent there wasn’t space to fully develop them, let the dangers and suspense really play out and for me that was a real shame. Other love shorter books, and this will be what makes it a five star for them. Horses for courses and all that…
Even though the story was short for me I still want to continue with what is going to be an excellent series, and as I said I’ve now borrowed book one so can catch up with whats gone before.
Stars: Four, a really interesting series, just wish it was a bit ;longer and I could see characters and plots in more depth.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Faithless, Elle Charles
I hadn’t read the first three books, saw this was a stand alone and thought I could read it without the others. That was a mistake, there are so many references to events from first three books, and so many different characters that I was lost for a good part of the beginning. I did work out whop connected where and how but it took much of the joy out of the story for me and I think I’d have got along much better with this if I’d read those earlier books. My fault for misunderstanding the description.
Its a packed book, and a good length. Usually I’m all for that but maybe because I didn’t know all the backstories at times it was a slog for me to get through and thinking of all those pages to come was so daunting that I nearly DNF it.
I did stick with it though, and its an interesting story, packed with the kind of drama I’d usually adore but which felt a bit OTT here, probably again because I just didn’t know the whole story.
I did like the characters, they felt very realistic even if I did want to slap them a time or too…..
Stars: Three, an interesting read and I think IF I’d read those earlier books I’d have got far more from it.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Girlfriend, Interrupted, Patricia Caliskan
Genre: Romance, Humour.
I hate it when book blurbs promise “you will cry with laughter/hilarious/laugh out loud” etc. Too often I find its forced comedy at best.
This book though is different, the humour was perfect, typical British understated, so carefully tucked in I almost missed parts 😉 and that’s what I love. Subtle humour, words and actions that make me smile, while still delivering a story that’s interesting.
Its a slice of modern day life, “blended families” as the self help books and Sunday supplements so often say. What they mean is that part where families break up, parents meet new loves, kids are caught between two homes, two sets of parents, and can play the emotions to their best effects sometimes. Its tough, my mum used to have a saying “you can’t do right for doing wrong” and I guess that fits these scenes. Whatever you do is wrong with someone.
I loved the characters, so very real, not perfect despite first impressions, and I could see this story happening easily.
I so felt for poor Ella, she loves Dan, is trying so hard to be what the family need, to help the kids, to push her career at work, to be a good friend and sometimes it seems there just aren’t enough hours. Among all that where’s the time for Ella?
Pippa, Dan’s mum, delights in encouraging the kids memories of idyllic times with perfect Bryony, pulls out perfect family photos, refers to the home as Bryony’s still, but time sneaks in the truth. Perfect Bryony though is struggling in her new marriage. Then Ella’s mum and the wonderful Jeremiah, I want to be her….and maybe have a toyboy like him 😉 The kids, Ethan is a great lad, so loving and accepting while like so many kids his sister, Grace, is struggling. Of course she wants Bryony and Dan back together, most kids want their parents together, and its beyond their understanding why that can’t happen. She’s awful to Ella, who tries valiantly to step forward, to help her, to hold the kids weekends as something precious. Ella however spends so much of her time flying round, mending events, picking up pieces, arranging things others have dropped, forgotten, ignored, and runs herself ragged trying to be all things to all (wo)men.
Then there’s Dan. Oh how I wanted to slap in at times, he loves Ella, loves his kids but seemed blindly ignorant to just how hard it was for her. The chaotic party was so illustrative of everything she was fighting. It made me wonder how often scenes like these play out every weekend.
Its a fabulous story, subtle, perfect humour, so much emotion, a feeling of real love between Dan and Ella in danger of being broken by the pressures of step parenting and fractured families. The only part that stops this from being a five is the end, its too quick, too rushed and for a romance I need, if not a HEA, then at least a very, very solid HFN. This ending suggests things will work out but I need it to be written in stone 😉
Stars: Four, a little more on the ending and this would be a five.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Tap – A Love Story, Tracy Ewens
Well, I didn’t realise this was a series of connected reads, and though it is a stand alone romance, I think I’d have got more from it if I’d read the others, knew the back story. The Melissa thing especially, I don’t know if that’s covered in earlier books, but I was so puzzled, what was it that Sistine ( and all I can think of is Sistine Chapel each time I read her name…) was doing for Melissa for all that dosh, and why did they fall out years ago.
I loved the characters but I didn’t feel the connections between them, did really understand the little nuances and side jokes that I suspect I would have if I’d read the other books.
Cade is a gem, but apart from idealising what his family and friends have I wasn’t really sure why he was all out for his own family. Do guys suddenly get that instinct for family? It just seemed such a sea change in behaviours and thoughts. Why hadn’t he noticed Sistine before, can he really be so attracted now he’s noticed her when she’s been there all the time. Its easier on her part, he’s a hot guy and she’s a long held secret attraction for him.
I didn’t really connect with this story, found myself skimming parts trying to work out what was behind events and actions, overall it was just an OK read for me. As always though others love it, we all enjoy different things in our reading.
Stars:Three, a story I never really connected well with.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
The Nothing Girl, (Frogmorton Farm 1), Jodi Taylor
Genre:, Romance, paranormal
Well, an innocuous title for what proved to be an incredible read for me.
I wasn’t sure about this book, but its free, so if I didn’t like it I didn’t need to read/review it. I’ve not read any of Jodi’s other stories, having taken a quick look I’m not sure they’re my kind of read but then this one surprised me so maybe someday..
There is a follow up but this book feels like it ends well enough for me and I’m not keen on sequels when I don’t need them to feel story is complete.
Poor Jenny, brought up by her aunt and uncle after her parents die she’s quiet, hidden away, “Jenny can’t cope with/Jenny needs to be protected/Jenny will be upset and unable to speak”…. Its as if her relatives want the best for her, as if they’re over protective and yet from the inside they don’t really make her welcome, and seem to be happiest when she’s tucked away in her room.
She’s 13 ( I think) when we first meet her and decided to end her life. No one will miss her she thinks, and she’s mulling over the tidiest way to do it, to leave the least mess when along comes Thomas.
Thomas is wonderful, and he feels so real, I adored him. I love all things equestrian anyway and Thomas just felt so very unique, and I had no problem believing in him. I loved when he referred to her as a foal, when he interpreted her snorts of laughter as swear works!
Only Jenny can see him, he’s always with her, speaks and advises her and really helps her to cope with life. She’s still quietly tucked away but with Thomas help has persuaded her aunt to let her have the whole of the attic where she and Thomas can make hot chocolate, watch TV and relax in their own private, happy space.
That’s enough for many years then Thomas seems to decide its time for her to see more people, get more of a life. She doesn’t need to work, has money from her parents and he seems to see that she’s just becoming totally introverted. She’s 29 now and still has to ask her aunt and uncle for permission for things, still believes them when they say she’s “special” and can’t be allowed freedoms others have, and allude that if she doesn’t live quietly with them then she could end up somewhere with far more restrictions…..
And into this quiet, sombre life falls Russell, totally opposite, outwardly chaotic, charms everyone, a golden boy, talented artist whose fallen when he lost his muse. Said muse just happens to be Jenny’s cousin Francesca, spoiled, rude, thinks life revolves around her and who had a fling with Russell where he painted her continuously, was at the top of the art tree, and she adored the adulation he gave her, along with his fame of course. Then the next victim comes along and she leaves him for someone who can further her ambitions. You can tell I don’t like her 😉 and I was so angry at Russell’s fixation, infatuation even when he’s trying to help Jenny. And himself, of course, but he has good in him and sees Jenny for who she is, not who her relatives want everyone to think she is.
Jenny and Russell marry, and her life changes so much. She grows fast away from all the restrictions. Of course her relatives aren’t happy and make many concerted attempts to bring her back, but Russell is determined, even when he’s being a total ass over Francesca. He’s truthful with Jenny, tells her how he feels but its an escape for her, the best chance of a life of her own and Thomas encourages her to take the risk.
Its a madcap book in many ways, chaotic at times and yet quietly poignant too, and we see Jenny growing slowly in confidence, finding she can live a life of her own, that there’s no reason she needed to be hidden away.
And I kept thinking why did they do it? Were they just ultra protective, was there some reason I’m missing, did they just want their daughter Francesca to shine away from Jenny’s light, maybe it was just easier to be a dutiful relative if they didn’t have to actually interact much with Jenny.
There are some surprises and twists in store for Russell and Jenny, and some serious drama towards the end..
I went into this thinking it might be a YA, twee kind of read, but soon found myself immersed in Russell and Jenny’s world, getting so cross that Russell couldn’t see through the b itch Francesca, mentally shouting at his actions, feeling for Jenny and encouraging her to carry on, make plans, and hoping they’d both soon see what was obvious to everyone else.
Stars:Five, a fabulous, escapist read and one I know I’ll return to.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
Honourable Lies, Fran Connor
This novel is set in the 1860’s, so my comments about divorce are not strictly correct, what I had read was in the process of changing at the time this novel was set, and it wouldn’t have been as difficult as before to obtain a divorce, so please read my original comments with that in mind. Apologies for my incorrect facts, and I’d like to add the following info to correct things.
Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857 divorce was taken away from the Ecclesiastical Court and parliament jurisdiction. Under the Act it was possible for a man to divorce his wife for adultery, but a wife could not divorce her husband for adultery ‘only’. She had to have ‘aggravated’ cause to go with it such as serious assault or being abandoned. The civil court could then grant the divorce without recourse to parliament or the Church.
So, sometimes I just want to dip back into history, with a simple romance. Sadly though this was too sweet and simple for me. Victoria is a historical Pollyanna…. whatever happens to her she’s something good around every corner. Ditto for anyone that crosses her path.
She gets thrown out of the orphanage at 16, gets attacked while out and her little money stolen, but she’s well read and educated, and gets a job living in, with no references, no belongings, and probably looking pretty grubby, as companion/tutor to a 14 yr old. That quickly falls through but no worries, she just happens to meet and do Queen Victoria a favour….and the whole book feels like that, any mishap brings good things Every Time. She really is a charmed girl and everyone in her orbit benefits, everyone loves her. Its little things that were so unreal for me, she starts growing carrots, cabbages and potatoes with no knowledge of how, and within a couple of years has graduated to a huge flock of sheep, employing people to help her.
Then of course there’s Richard and his wife – who’s name I can’t recall. She loves another and so – hey, they get divorced. Now even I with my scant historical knowledge know it wasn’t that easy, so had a quick look on google “A couple could only be divorced by the passage of a private act through Parliament–remedy available only to the very wealthy. According to Feminism, Marriage and the Law in Victorian England, 1850-1895, about ten private acts for divorce were passed in Parliament each year.” It certainly wasn’t the easy option.
So, I know I’m reading fiction, I’m happy for authors to bend the facts and use them to their advantage but this was just too unreal for me. Life doesn’t work like that, I can accept one good thing happening, people do get lucky breaks, but for Victoria every cloud had a silver lining. There’s no way she’d have been taken on in her first job, no way she’d have met the queen, got that position, grown enough veg to buy sheep in such a short space of time…it was all too slick for me. I have to say here that from about 40 to 80 % I just skim read, bored with the story but wanting to see the end.
If you can suspend any semblance of reality and like a sweet and cute read you’ll love this, but sadly I want more real life, more angst, more blocks to happiness, though I need a HEA and was glad that came through.
Stars:Two, too far from reality for me 😦
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher
A Boy Called L, (A Taboo Love Story 1), Amy J. Heart
Genre: Erotic Fiction, Romance
this is a novella prequel, around 14K words. I’m not a novella fan usually as I find they’re just too short for me to deliver a story, but of course as a prequel or a side to a main series its something entirely different. It doesn’t need to give the whole story, just the background.
So this starts of with a bang, or rather a BJ! L avoids the bangs if he can….
It alternates from L’s POV to Eden’s POV. It does feel a bit disjointed at times but I think that’s because of what it is, trying to deliver background without giving away the full story. I loved the restaurant scene and – I’ve forgotten her name – but the lady who opens his way out of the awful position he’s in, she is just wonderful! Really drawn well as a character, I could just see her, all smart, out with friends at top restaurant when in walks L, bedraggled, dirty, and yet she sees under that to his striking looks, the potential for big money in him – for both of them.
Eden, she’s in a bad situation, though I’m not wholly sure of just why Coop holds her strings, and I really really want to know what the connection is between L and Coop too.
There are some pretty graphic scenes here, they fit the story perfectly, but if you don’t like things like that then stay away. Personally I was really moved at one scene towards the end which could have gone disastrously wrong for the characters, could have been written in a sleazy way but which was really well handled IMO.
My only criticism is that slightly disjointed feeling, where its L then Eden, now then a couple of years in the future, and I couldn’t really get a clear sense of what was happening and how. All very mysterious and I’m the impatient sort! Book two should sort all that out though, and I’m really looking forward to that.
Stars: Four, an interesting and tantalising preview of what’s coming for Lightening Boy
ARC supplied by author