Tag Archive | mystery

Starlight Nights, Stacey Kade

Starlight Nights, Stacey Kade

Starlight Nights by [Kade, Stacey]

Genre:  Romance

My first Stacey Kade read – and wow – a story that was perfect for me. I’d love to read the first book 738 days, but its not on kindle 😦
You don’t need to read that though to enjoy this one, the books are connected by characters but each stand alone.

I love the rock/film star trope, and poor Callie and Eric (and Chase, who has minor appearances) have a past in the Film world.
Callie has been pushed by her mother from a very young age into performing, she’s essentially the family cash cow, until everything went wrong and her world collapsed. Now she’s at college pursuing a career in accountancy.
Eric was very close to Callie, they starred in the same series and along with Chase from 738 days they were a little unit, almost a family. Until they weren’t.
Now Eric is trying to make his own way, to escape from his acting past, to stand on his own and not be overshadowed by his awful-but-famous producer father.

Callie and Eric both have the most awful parents, Callie’s mother tries to micromanage her career for financial gain, Eric’s father tries everything he can to derail Eric’s career. No wonder they’re such confused people.

Callie’s finding it hard to escape her past, making friends isn’t easy, she can’t seem to escape the jealousy others have, even though they have no idea how her life was, that she’s not some rich ex-star playing at college.
I really like Callie, she made some awful mistakes but her heart is good, she loved Eric, was close to Chase, adores and is so protective of her younger sisters, even worries about her mum and stepdad.
Its the way her mum is now pushing them, controlling every facet of their lives that has her taking part in Eric’s latest film, a web based series set around what was her favourite novel. She doesn’t want to go back to acting, but wants to save her sister from the pressure their mother will use to push her if Callie doesn’t go back to restart the money flow.
Eric, well, he’s one confused guy. I liked him, could see that he had strong feelings for Callie even though he just wouldn’t admit them to himself.
And then a good way into the book we learn more about the events of the night that separated the three and it was heartbreaking, gutting, really made me feel the emotions…..

Its the perfect read for me though was a little slow to get going. that’s my only real criticism, that its a magical tale but took a while for me to get to know and feel for the characters.
It’s got great characters, a terrific story with some people I can really get behind to dislike. I need those unpleasant characters as a foil for the ones I love, else for me the story becomes just too sweet, too sickly. I want angst too and got it, in spades, perfectly balanced with highs, to stop the story being a misery-fest 😉 I demand a lot from stories…
The final tick box for me is the HEA – or at least a solid happy for now,and here’s its perfect, a great epilogue that shows us a glimpse of the future for the trio.

Stars: five, a story I loved and will definitely re-read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Mischance, Carla Susan Smith (Corsets and Carriages 1)

Mischance, Carla Susan Smith (Corsets and Carriages 1)

Mischance (Corsets and Carriages) by [Smith, Carla Susan]

Genre:  Romance, Historical.

I love Susan’s Vampire’s Promise series, and when I saw this I thought I’d like to read these books.

A historical trilogy its a very big departure from the supernatural world!

I’ve really enjoyed the first part and I’m looking forward to reading the next ones. Luckily there’s not too long to wait, book one is Jan 9th, book two Jan 31st and book three is scheduled for Feb 18, so not one of those where by the time the end part is released you’ve forgotten how it started.

I did find the beginning a bit slow, but it becomes relevant later and made sense once I got to that section, and TBH I can’t see any other way it could have been done 😉

Some great characters here, Rian makes a terrific lead, just that bit of tragedy and mystique about his past, and he’s a real swoon Hero. Charming, good looking ladies man but with honour and ethics, rich, courteous and polite and its clear he’s taken with Catherine from the start.

Catherine has been through such a lot, lost her father in a tragedy, which left her homeless, passed off to a cousin who was horrific to her. That kind of thing was very real in the past, when ladies were considered property of the nearest male relative. Short of actual murder most treatment was accepted, everyone turned a blind eye. Men were never in the wrong, always the ladies. Gah!! She hits lucky being found by Rian, it could so easily have ended another way.

Rian’s housekeeper ( who’s name I’ve forgotten ) and Tilly, one of the maids are good characters and fit well in the story.

And the real gem of the story, the deliciously immoral, selfish, ambitious Lady Isobel. A widow determined to be the next Mrs Connor, she’s not going to let someone stand in her way. She doesn’t care about Catherine, doesn’t give thought to Rian’s feelings, she’s just determined to get her own way. She’s got the funds through her marriage to do plenty of harm too.
Oh part two, come on, I really want to see what she’s planning!! Catherine has already shown she’s got backbone but Isobel is one determined lady. Let battle commence.

I’m not a great historical reader but I do love to occasionally dip into the genre, and this was one perfect read for me.

Stars: Five, some fabulous characters, and the promise of lots of drama to come. I adore books with lots of jealousy and dramatics.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

A Murder at Alcott Manor Book 2, The Alcott Manor Trilogy, Alyssa Richards

A Murder at Alcott ManorBook 2 The Alcott Manor Trilogy,  Alyssa Richards

A Murder at Alcott Manor: A Thrilling Romantic Suspense Series, Book 2, The Alcott Manor Trilogy by [Richards, Alyssa]

Genre: Romance, suspense, sci-fi and fantasy

Second book in a trilogy but each are complete and can be read alone, though knowing the house history and events will make it easier to follow.

I love Layla, she was married to an awful man, pushed into it really by a combination of guilt and her awful mother. Asher never loved her, but wanted her share and her voting rights in the Manor, with ambitious plans to make himself rich. Now he’s dead, and Layla finds out she’s penniless, and discovers he had unsavoury plans for her too. She knew he didn’t love her, his treatment was clear of that, but this new development comes as a shock. Still, she’s got kids to feed and a home to find.
Mason’s finally back, guilt after leaving Layla all those years ago. I liked him, and then again I didn’t. I got so cross with his intransigence about his mothers experiences with the supernatural, its as if he knows its real, but after they were hounded because of it when he was young he just won’t accept anything other than science. So when Layla tells him whats been going on he just doesn’t want to acknowledge it just at the time when she really needs his support.
Its a gentle romance, a pick up from the past but the suspense is seriously action packed, lots of ghostly goings on…but thankfully not the sort that gives me nightmares. I have to avoid anything that could even loosely be described as horror, I’m a real wimp, couldn’t even manage some of the kids films without getting nightmares. This was fine though, intriguing, thought provoking – the “what if” scenario, just because we cant prove it does that mean it can’t exist. When billions believe in God – or a God, or multiple gods that can’t be proved we accept it but mention haunting and its tagged crackpot. Is it really so hard to think some people don’t quite want t leave, that places and buildings could soak up strong emotions? Lots to make me ponder there even though its a fiction read, and that was fun.
And I’ve rambled, but if you want a suspense of the supernatural type with a rewarding romance this is perfect.

Stars: Four, a great second story from Alcott Manor, and book three sounds another fun read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by author

The Wife – Part Three: In Sickness and In Health, (The Wife series), M.L. Roberts

The Wife – Part Three: In Sickness and In Health (The Wife series)

by M.L. Roberts

The Wife - Part Three: In Sickness and In Health (The Wife series) by [Roberts, ML]

Genre: general fiction (adult)

**Spoilers here for part one and two**

It was kind of obvious what was going to happen with Liam, and I don’t see how Ellie rationalises it to herself. I know her thoughts, just find it skewed. As for Liam, well, with friends like that who needs enemies as the saying goes.
Michael I still find really cold. He’s warm and charming to everyone in public but when they’re alone he just seems to shut her down. They went through a horrific experience, and he seems to feel Ellie should just be able to move on. I can’t help wondering if perhaps he talked to her earlier whether she might have been able to but she’s now in the throes of full obsession and paranoid. Or is she? After all its only paranoia if they’re not out to get you, as the saying goes….
Its a little moved on finally, Michael seems to see Ellie has issues, but his solution? Well, weird…unless he really is hiding something and it certainly looks like it. Appearances can be deceiving though but that ending, well, can it be what it looks like or is there another explanation? I have the feeling book four is going to exonerate Michael in some way, explain all his mysterious activities innocently but Ellie’s actions subsequently will affect them. Or not 😉 . I’m not good at predicting what will happen in a story…..

As I’ve said before, I hate is that this is a four part book that could easily have been a stand alone, a each part is only around 100 pages, for me waiting breaks the tension, the story loses impact.
Sometimes it seems authors do this to maximise income, but that doesn’t seem to be the case and all four parts at current price total £2.97, which is very reasonable. I think its done modeled on TV specials which is fine for many readers, but one of the reason I don’t watch TV. I want ALL the story, not just teases.
Still, looking at reviews this works fine for other readers, the old horses for courses stuff again.

Stars: Four, some progress but is all as it seems? Just wish book four was out now!
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire, Amanda Bouchet

Heart on Fire (The Kingmaker Trilogy Book 3) by [Bouchet, Amanda]

Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy, Romance

The final stretch, and what a fantastic trilogy this has been. A mesh of traditional legends, Gods, Goddesses, fantastical creatures and imagined kingdoms. Amanda has taken bits of stories we all grew up with and shaped them into an amazing story that had me gripped right from the start.

The characters, a real mix, and finding out some of the ones Cat has known for years were actually more then just magical humans came as a shock to her. Griffins family, she wishes she’d been brought up that way, secure in her parents love, but her upbringing was very far from that. Griffin and his siblings and parents support each other at every turn, Cat’s siblings were forced to fight each other and their mother for their lives, and killing her sister scarred Cat’s psyche in unimaginable ways.
When she ran, aided by Thanos, and found the circus they became her family for many years, but she kept secret inside her talents, her magical skills. Then Griffin came into her life.

Griffin has been incredible, he’s ambitious, but not for power, for peace. He wants to reunite the fractured kindoms and stop all the fighting, the abouse by those in power, the cruelty and murders, but he’s happy to stand behind Cat, to take second place as he knows she’s meant to be the figurehead.
Turns out much of what he feels is real, that he and Cat were shaped for each other, given the skills to get this done but that doesn’t mean its plain sailing. They’ve come so far but still have a big battle in store, Cat’s mother won’t give up her kingdom easily, and Cat knows just how powerful she is.

I love the way this plays out, as with the other two books there are battles, both on a large scale, and small with just Cat, Griffin and sometimes some of the others from Elpis team.
There’s a backstabbing betrayal that comes as a shock, there are multiple times they face death and scrape by aided by one of the Gods, or by a talent they’ve gifted them in the past – nothing was ever free though, they had to prove they had the skills, they were right to hold that gift.

I love the way Amanda has dealt with my pet hate, when characters are right on the edge of losing and one of them gets a new power and miraculously is skilled and wins the day. Mostly she has them use powers we already know they have, having worked hard to refine the use of them. There are times when they are almost in the situation I’ve described, but they have to really think about, understand the consequences of using what they have, and often it doesn’t go right first time, or even fourth time, and they need a quick Godly rescue 😉
I want my characters to have to work to win, to have to make tough choices, to really understand what it is their asking, doing, wanting.
I need them to practice to get the skills they need, not just whip them out of a hat at the tough moment, and Griffin ensures Cat and the rest of the team do all that.
There’s lots to understand to about him and Cat, why and how they are who they are, the consequences of their actions, their pasts and how that has affected them.

Of course it culminates in an amazing battle bringing in so much of whats gone down earlier in this book, and in the previous two.
I love stories that do that, build on events and characters, let them play a full role in how the story ends, not just a bit part along the way.

Way back when I read the first part of Charlie N. Holmberg’s  Magician trilogy, I wrote that I thought it would make a fantastic family film – and a couple of years later Disney picked it up.
I really think this trilogy would be a terrific film too, but more for new adults upwards. There are scenes between Cat and Griffin that are very sensual, which belong to the story, show their connection, but which would probably get toned down too much or disappear if this became a family film, and that would be a real loss IMO.

Stars: five, a fantastic trilogy, gripping, entertaining and one to keep.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Ones Who Got Away, Roni Loren

The Ones Who Got Away, Roni Loren

The Ones Who Got Away by [Loren, Roni]

Genre:  Romance

This novel  is sort of romance, but of the thinking type, not the wham, clothes off/dicks in sort. There’s a place for those of course, but so often in romance the sex becomes the story and not an adjunct to it – fine if that’s what you want but many of us want that bit more. This book delivers that perfectly.

Thankfully we don’t get the drama, the horror of events as they happen, but delivered in flashbacks, letting us see how each characters has dealt with events over the years. Or have they? When the four girls get together and open the time capsule they made shortly after the shooting we see that actually they’ve put much of their ambitions on hold, taken the safe route.
After events like that its easy to see why they opted that way, what we can’t know is would they have taken that route anyway. When I look back at my teen ambitions I’m far from doing any of them, and I’d guess that’s true for many of us.

Liv though is at a crisis period at work, and looking at teen Liv’s ideals makes her look closer at what she’s doing.
Meeting Finn again too, she is still full of the same incredible attraction and he feels the same for her. Back then she was the girl from the wrong side and he was son of parents who wouldn’t approve of their relationship, so they kept it secret. No-one else knows, not the three other ladies here for the show, one of whom was actually on a date with Finn at the shooting….
They weren’t close freinds before but the girls sought each other out after, its an event that makes only those involved able to understand, and that kept them close. Since then they’ve drifted into their own lives but each seems to have been shadowed by the tragedy. Finn, he’s especially focused, having built his life around the events, and now meeting Liv again he’s at a crossroads.

It was a great read, interesting looking at the same event through different perspectives, seeing what effect it had on each of them, seeing how they became “famous” even though that’s the last thing they wanted. The bit where the hotel receptionist is trying to take pics of them to sell, making cash from what should be private is sadly so real, something that seems to happen all too often, and was a small section that brought more of the novel to life. It was the little touches like that which made it feel so real. We all hope never to get caught up in anything like that but for some people it becomes real, and the effects live on so long after the tragedy as passed.
The romance was muted, but still very hot, very real and posed that perfect “what happens now? ” moment – I really didn’t know how Roni would end things, it could have gone a number of ways but for me was the perfect ending 😉

Stars: five, interesting, very real read.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Rose in Winter, Sarah Harrison

The Rose in Winter, Sarah Harrison

Genre: Romance

I remember reading Sarah’s Flowers of the Field maybe 35 years ago. I had three children under four and reading was a welcome escape from toddler-world.
It was my favourite book for a long while and got very dog eared from rereading.
I’ve read a couple more from Sarah since then, but not for a long while, and when i saw this is took me back to Flowers.

In many ways this story feels like my memories of that book, a story told in both past and present, Barbara reminds me of Thea, Molly of Thea’s sister – can’t recall her name, and Johnny feels so much like Jack, charismatic, always on the edge of excitement and danger.
Its a story that’s solid, dense, not a light, fluffy tale but one that’s full of intensity, full of characters that we’ve all met in life.
Its not fast paced, but moves forward slowly, bringing the reader along with the characters as we see events unfold.

I loved Barbara but at times wanted to say “take a chance, go for it”, and yet she’s a product of a different age, a time when choices were not so rich for women as they are now.
Johnny, well, I do so love the bad boys….and he’s a terrific one. you just know that behind the easy smile there’s so much going on, that he’s full of secrets. Its seems simple at first, Barbara likes him he likes her and they begin a romance, but of course things happen, and it made me wonder why? What was the reason behind the actions? Habit? Fear? Self sabotage?
Just when I thought the story was winding to a gentle happy close Sarah threw in a few more revelations, secrets long held, and an ending that – well, it’s not what I expected but given the way the story played out perhaps I should have.

Its not going to be a Flowers, constant re-reader for me, but it was a story I really enjoyed even if I would have liked some parts to go differently!
Its a book to lose yourself in a different age.

Stars: five, a solid story that I really enjoyed reading, but I’d have liked a slightly different ending 😉

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Sunset at Lake Crane, Casey Hagen

Sunset at Lake Crane, Casey Hagen

Sunset at Lake Crane (A Livingston Valley Novel Book 1) by [Hagen, Casey]

Genre: Romance,
This sounded fun, sometimes I want a straightforward romance, but it still needs to have some fireworks and drama! From the description I thought this would fit the bill.

I found it one of those reads though that I can best describe as there’s a lot going on but nothing happening….so much of the day to day stuff just didn’t seem relevant to the main story.

Erynn annoyed me so much. I understood her actions at the time, she was young, in love, no close family to seek guidance from and she did what she thought was best. Now though she’s older so why the heck is she still worrying what everyone will think? Why worry about Grant’s job when he has a lucrative second career? Surely now its time to speak to him, especially now she knows just how hurt he was, and let him decide for himself if he’s worried what others think, about his career.

To be honest this was going to be an OK read, a three star but there are some revelations in the last quarter that led to lots of drama and angst, right up my street so its jumped a star to a four. I hadn’t guessed who was behind the note, so that was a good suprise. I still was annoyed at Erynn though, even then….but Grant loves her and he was a terrific guy so I’ll let it pass 😉

Stars: Four, the drama in the last quarter made the book for me, but Erynn, whiny woman, needed a shake up!

Arc supplied for review by Netgalley and publishers

 

The Wife – Part Two: For Better, For Worse (The Wife series) by M.L. Roberts

The Wife – Part Two: For Better, For Worse (The Wife series)
by M.L. Roberts

The Wife - Part Two: For Better, For Worse (The Wife series) by [Roberts, ML]

Genre: general fiction (adult)

Well, part one had me gripped, and part two keeps up the “what is really going on” drama. Is Ellie paranoid, is Michael having an affair or is it all in her head.? I’m not sure I like either of them, she certainly needs help and he comes over as cold, and I just wonder why won’t he talk to her? What happened to two people so in love? She steps up her actions to find evidence. I’m thinking one moment yes, he’s acting as if he’s hiding something and then I’m thinking, what the heck is this woman doing, does she really think that will help?
Now we know what happened I do feel sorry for both, but we still only know barest details. Was it really just an obsessive student out of the blue or had Micheal given her reason to think he felt more for her. Then there’s Michael and Ellie’s best friend Liam. What does he know? What’s his motivation.

There’s really not much more revealed, a story line comes in that was pretty clear from book one it was going to be there but other than that its more of the same. And yet its curiously addictive. Lucky I have book three on my kindle….

What I hate though is that this is a four part book that could easily have been a stand alone, and for me waiting breaks the tension, the story loses impact. I had to go back and take a look at part one to recall what had happened. Each part is only around 100 pages, modeled I guess on TV specials which is fine for many readers, but one of the reason I don’t watch TV. I want ALL the story, not just teases.

Stars: Four, curiously addicting even though not much actually happens.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Tell me no Secrets, Lynda Stacey

Tell me no Secrets,  Lynda Stacey

Tell Me No Secrets: a gripping thriller you won't want to put down by [Stacey, Lynda]

Genre: women’s fiction, Romance

Gah, women’s Fiction, I won’t rant…too much..but why women’s fiction? Why assume men won’t like this? Aren’t we being as sexist as men are when they exclude women? Horrible category title.

Its a Choc Lit book, and usually I love those so I looked forward to this. I didn’t dislike it, but TBH was a bit indifferent to it.

The characters were very “just so”, almost caricatures, the grieving widower, the nerdish employee, the sister in the wheelchair, the scarred sister, the wicked boyfriend and the parents with issues….it was almost like the author had a tick list of characters to include. They were OK, but none of them really stood out to me, they weren’t in any way special, and I guess that’s why I fixed on their type instead of who they are.

The plots too were a little cut and dried, I felt I was being spoon fed them. The problem would be mentioned and hey, Kate’s in the hairdressers, and just happens to hear some info which sounds really vague, but Eric the nerd manages to dredge out time, place, transport from it. Then the bad guys just happen to leave out a handy map with everything noted on it for Kate to photograph. I almost expected a pirate style X to be marked on it 😉
Maybe for other readers that works, perhaps they like to be given results, but I prefer to try to work it out myself from some more subtle clues.

Its horses for courses, everyone wants different things, and just because I don’t like this way of delivering the story doesn’t mean its not a good way, doesn’t mean others won’t love it, just that its not right for me.

Stars: Two and a half, will be perfect for others but too slick, too quick with answers for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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