Final Serenade, The Encore: Book 1, N.N. Britt
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction.
Gah, women’s fiction again…men write romance, men read romance, lets get with the 21st century.
Anyway, rock romance, I love it, and this features characters a little older, which is great for me. Teen angst can be fun, but its much nicer to find characters that have a little more depth.
I loved this book, loved it. So much in this genre features ( as above) teens, lead females that swoon as soon as they are looked at, forget all their principles when the MC approaches them, or MCs that are little more than monosyllabic, shallow males, who demand everyone falls at their feet.
Frank(ie) came as a real treat, and of course Cassy isn’t one to fall over, legs akimbo just because her teen crush looks her way!
I loved that it wasn’t just Cassy meets Frankie, but that both had a lot of other things going on in their lives. That made them feel real, made the story so much more interesting. Cassy was great, determined to stay professional even when faced with her teen dreams. I loved that she tries to help her mum and little brother, even though he’s a typical at times obnoxious teen….That is mirrored in so many people’s families, we love our parents and siblings even when it feels like they are going to drive us mad.
Frankie, Cassy ( and I) had so many questions about his return. Why now? Is he touring? And When? Why has it taken so long? Is he well enough or hiding something?
Then there’s his band-mate Dante, who at first seemed a decent guy underneath the rock star ego, but then we learn more and he’s not quite like that.
I understood why Frankie worked so hard to keep their relationship secret, the media are relentless, and Cassy’s career will be shot to pieces, so while they’re seeing what’s between them he tries to keep things covered. And yet I also felt for Cassy, she knows this is for the best, but at times her imagination runs away…I think most of us would be like that.
And that ending, Gah, I hate those, but luckily for me I’ve been approved book two, the conclusion of their story. I hope we get to hear more from the band, from the other members, its such a treat to get characters in their thirties 😉 This duet is on KU right now too.
Stars: Five, terrific read, a rock star romance, with so much extra in the story. One I’ll happily re-read.
Arc via netgalley and publishers
Fall ,(VIP Book 3), Kristen Callihan
I love a good rock star romance, but though there are thousands in that genre good ones are few and far between. Trawling though some time back I came across the first in this series and fell in love with this band. Bought that, and book two – which is still my favourite- and now bought book three. In between review copies, KU and the loads of free books offered its pretty rare I actually spend money on a book, but this series are ones to read and re-read and well worth twice the price.
So this time its Jax, or John as he introduces himself to Stella. Poor John keeps things deep inside, plays the happy, light and fun guy, hiding his sadness, but just before the start of this series he tried to kill himself and it brought the band to their knees.
They’re slowly recovering but John is a work in progress, still carefully finding his way forward and feeling so guilty for what he sees as letting his friends down.
The depression factors in this story are really well handled, I understood John and his feelings so well, and of course seeing the impact potential suicide has, it changes everyone in the vicinity. Its hard to imagine being that much in despair but when you feel so down that everything seems pointless its looks like a way out, if you’re just tired of the struggle getting through each day becomes. Thankfully John was found in time and has been getting some excellent help. What made it feel very real though was despite that he’s still struggling, some books make counselling a miracle cure and its not, it gives people tools but the change has to come from them and it takes a lot of time and support.
You’d think a book with the MC going through this would be grim, but its not, its full of humour, sharp one liners, ongoing jokes and the Chlamydia incident gave rise to some wonderful humour. Gabriel threatening Sex Ed for them all, the Gritty Kitty phrase, John’s horror at having Brenna know about it. It was humour within a serious issue and one so sadly ignored often. I’ve read thousands of books, and this is only the second time I’ve heard dental dams mentioned….its a very important topic.
Its a story full of vitality, shows what a support good friends are, and of course I loved seeing the gang again, ( Whip and Brenna, that mystery really tweaks at me, it gets hinted at more and more and I so hope we find out soon). It was great seeing the softer side of Gabriel, baby Felix, Killian’s pets, all the little everyday fun parts that lifted this book. Of course there’s a good deal of steam here, the sexual tension between them can be felt right from the Mint Ice-cream Incident. ( You may take my Oreos but you’ll never get my mint choc chip) They’re not down and dirty straight off though, but a gradual simmering build up, so that when they do finally get there its incredible, shocks them both just how good they are together. I like that, books which have MCs in bed within the first few pages sometimes work, but more often have me skipping pages and chunks of text, bored with the repetitive sex scenes. Here that didn’t happen, everything was so perfectly paced.
Johns past and current issues are so serious, but though they guide the direction of the book they don’t make it dull, sad reading, but just give a balance to it, make the characters feel more real. I can imagine these people, their actions, mistakes, words, feel so genuine.
That kind of thing makes a book work for me. Intelligent characters, not grunting, monosyllabic alpha males, ladies that are inspiring, work hard to overcome difficult circumstances, not just flutter eyelids at said Alpha males and expect to be taken care of.
Stella, she really was a star, a fabulous character. She was the perfect foil to John, they were each what the other needed, someone each could depend on, not someone watching John’s every move expecting him to regress, but a friends, someone who saw beyond his issues, and she didn’t need him to support her financially, she’d do that herself, but to just Be there when she needed someone, though it took a while before he could believe in himself enough to be that man.
It really is a fabulous series, and for me on a par with the fabulous Kylie Scott and the Stage Dive guys and ladies.
Stars: Its a five, as are all three books for me. A welcome rock star read that has intelligent characters.
Pushing Arlo M.V. Ellis
I’ve just read back my reviews of parts one and two of this series, and what stands out is I love Arlo, he’s thoughtless with Marnie, selfish at times, very focused when it comes to music and business, and thinks he’s always right. There’s no room for doubt in his life. Then he meets London…
London. I felt for her in book one, she had a tough backstory, and was one of those work through it folk, determined to get there however hard it was. Arlo was a wrench in her plans, and she so annoyed me on books one and two with her back and forth feelings. Poor Arlo must have had whiplash.
Finally they’re on the cusp of agreement, finally Arlo has broken through London’s tough barriers, and then – the proverbial sh it hits the fan and its back to basics, actually worse than that, Arlo really does have a fight on his hands if he wants London.
I got really annoyed at her in this book. She holds Arlo to blame for events that happened before they met, clinging to this idea he’s in control of his fame, she wants him but not the notoriety he brings. She’s kidding herself though, he’s falling over backwards to do his best, but he can’t change the past, and Fame – well, that’s part of who he is, what makes him the man she loves and I was so angry at her knee jerk reactions. Well, I guess to begin I understood, it was a shock, but she holds onto anger like some kind of puritan. I just kept thinking “hasn’t she ever done things she regrets? Is she really going to throw everything away – or threaten to anyway – yet again” There’s only so many times someone can say sorry, try to make things better and Arlo really was a saint here IMO. London behaves in a really callous way a couple of times here and I so felt for Arlo. Usually I’d be the other way, all for the girl, angry at the heart-breaker rocker, but he’s really trying his best and he just gets rammed back every time. Gah, was I annoyed at the woman. Arlo must feel dealing with her is like walking on eggshells.
I really struggled at times with how Arlo felt about her because she was so horrible to him, judgmental, callous, blaming him for his fame, when she’s known all along who he is…
Stars: Four. I think London’s attitude is one of the things that stopped this being a five star for me. The other is the lack of real band connection, the touring, the mayhem, the groupies, the concerts. All those make a rock star book special and TBH Arlo could be any rich famous guy here, as all those trappings were missing. Overall though its been an exciting trio, and Arlo was just perfect.
ARC supplied by Author
A debut novel and a great start for M.V.Ellis. There were things that niggled, but overall it was a terrific first book, and I look forward to more.
Arlo, he’s brash, self opinionated, incredibly confident and a total rock star cliché, and yet under that there’s a real guy, who’s got some genuine emotions, who does care about his people, who has a strong sense of what’s right and wrong. When he meets London – and what a meeting – he knows she’s special and goes all out to get her in a position where he can see more of her, get to know her and let her know him. Lucky for him she’s a talented photographer, which fits in with his plans perfectly.
I loved Arlo, who couldn’t? He really is a solid guy, and determined London will be his. He has the money and connections to make that happen but he wants her to want it so treads carefully.
London, had a sad past and was a sweet girl and I really felt for her and what she’d lost. Gah, the number of times I wanted to slap her though, blowing hot and cold, giving Arlo the OK and then changing her mind over nothing it seemed. Arlo could have got whiplash from the stop-start of their romance.
I would have liked to understand Arlo a bit better, that’s where I love dual POV as it lets me see what characters are thinking and feeling, but I got a pretty good sense of him from his actions.
London as I said irritated me so many times, I liked her but she was a bit too ready to pull the plug for no reason, and then in next breath all over Arlo.
I’d have enjoyed seeing more of the secondary characters, we did in the first half of the story but they seemed to mostly sort of fade out in second half.
I guess the thing that stops this from being five star for me is the long mental monologues London has going on, pages and pages and pages of them, and I felt the story was being told by this rather than shown by way of action and dialogue. Its me, I just like dialogue based books best. Not everyone does, but that’s what brought this down for me, too much telling and not enough showing the story in action.
Stars: 4, it was a fun read, I adored Arlo, and liked London but she did irritate me. For me it needed more dialogue though for a five, however not everyone does so you choose 😉
ARC supplied for review purposes by author
The Nanny Arrangement, Rachel Harris
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction
I saw the Rock star connection and clicked, well its an Entangled book and I know from past experience I enjoy those. What missed me was its a Bliss imprint, and though I enjoy those, I do find them a little sweet, cute, and short on the drama.
That’s how this book worked for me, great characters, interesting story but very low key, muted dramatics. I was hoping Krista might throw some fireworks in but….
Hannah’s lovely, a very genuine person with a great heart. Like any kid who’s a bit different she was bullied at school, and as I know from experience kids can be cruel and that does affect confidence long term. That’s how it was for Hannah, outwardly she’s fine but inside always waiting for the drop.
She’s been a great friend to Deacon, wanted for a long time to be more but he seems to have her firmly in the friendship zone. Now she’s determined to have one good try at getting his attention instead of always waiting and living with regrets.
Its a fun read, the toddlers are cute, the other band members great and Deke and Hannah? Well its clear they both feel for each other but neither really thinks the other is attracted, there’s lots of inward musings about what if, maybe, can I? Etc.
Deke’s worried about Max too, his little son who adores Hannah, and concerned that if he makes a move and it goes wrong Max will lose Hannah, and he doesn’t want to risk that. there’s times when I just wanted to shriek at each of them “go for it, can’t you see what he/she wants?” but of course that would end the book a lot sooner.
Its an enjoyable read, well written and perfect if you like a sweet, simple romance with a decent backstory. Me? I really like more fireworks, sparks, drama, and sadness I can wallow in.
I enjoyed this but as a one off read, but of course as always what I want isn’t necessarily what you want.
Stars: Three, good story, well written but a bit light for me.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Flowers On The Wall
Hart Of Rock And Roll – Book 1, Mary J. Williams
Hmnn…this has all five star reviews currently – and though I enjoyed it, a lot, its not a five star for me. Maybe I’m just hypercritical? I hate when I’m out of step with others but – it happens.
So, Ryder and Quinn, both great characters, self confident, strong willed and when they meet there’s a real pull between them.
I like self confident female leads, but at times I felt Quinn was a little too assertive, a bit too confident. In males that comes over as cocky but appealing – so it ought to be the same with her, and yet I found she was almost brash and irritating at times.
Ryder, he’s been through a lot and come out on top, but not without some mental demons. That’s understandable and what makes him the man he is.
He sees Quinn – loved that first meeting BTW – and is attracted, and she feels the same but isn’t going to just jump because he says so. There’s a real sexual attraction here which grew stronger, but somehow I wasn’t convinced that it was more, that it was love rather than lust.
I would have liked to see more of the other band members, they stayed pretty much in the background except for Zoe.
I thought the suggestion of more from the manager would have developed, would have been an interesting storyline, but it seemed to be put in and then left. That could have made for some intriguing subplots, but as it never developed it made me wonder why it was started?
Its a good read, felt very real at times, with characters I liked. I really needed someone/something unpleasant though, some drama that was very down, to take from all the good/sweet/happy parts in this read.
For me a bit of unpleasantness, jealousy, a tinge of malice in action, makes the happy parts so much brighter. Without that contrast they just feel Good but not Great, and that’s kind of how I feel here. It was a good novel, but lacked the contrast, the dark side, the emotional context for me that would have made it a great one.
Others love it as it is though, so its not all of us who enjoy more in stories, need the dramas, the angst, the sorrow, ones like this are perfect for many readers, you’ll have to assess which side you fall 😉
Stars: Four, a good read but I wanted more drama for a five.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Working It, Christine d’Abo
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
My first Christine d’Abo read – and I’m going to take a look at more of her books as I now know I enjoy her writing style.
I really liked the sound of this, a fairly straightforward romance, no suspense dramas, no deep dark relatives, no hidden motives, just two people that fall in love, but where each have their own issues.
I enjoy all those other types of read but sometimes you just want an easy read, uncomplicated where its the two leads that are the main focus and thats what I was in the mood for when I picked out this one to read yesterday.
I loved Nolan, understood so well his issues, its hard picking up life after an accident like his which left him with life changing injuries. We can heal the body, though that takes time and Nolan is still healing even two years later, but the mind – well, that’s harder.
Nolan has learned coping strategies but its tough, and he still struggles sometimes.
I have to mention one thing though that irritated me. Nolan is musing “Phantom pain was no myth. the moment he started to thing about…” Well, that true BUT – Nolan Does Not Have phantom pain. That’s the pain amputees get, where the missing limb still feels pain, and as someone with no left leg, but who often gets severe pain from it 21 years later I can say wholeheartedly Nolan is right, it isn’t a myth but he’s not an amputee, he has severe pain, probably serve nerve pain from damage there, but he does not have phantom pain.
Right, got that off my chest * blush *. sorry, but some things just yank my chain and that’s one.
I really understood Nolan’s difficulties trying to get his life back on track, trying to be independent, having faced them myself after my amputation and that part was so well written that I found myself nodding with his thoughts and experiences.
When he worried about Zack seeing his scars – such a familiar feeling, when he didn’t want pity or sympathy – been there done that, and he felt so real for me. I just wanted everything to go perfectly for him.
Then there’s Zack, a real pain in the ar se boss. Yet as we get to know him we can see much of that comes from him wanting things done properly, without having to chase up assistants who should be able to deal with his requests.
Some people are good at that, some are not and Zack just wants to delegate and get on with his own work, he’s got a lot of it to do. Underneath all that tough guy, bluff and bluster is a geniune caring man.
The gym, what a great idea and goodreads had this book sub-titled (Ringside Romance #1) so I hope we get to see more of the characters involved, and maybe catch up with Zack and Nolan.
Kids need places like this and its great when those who’ve benefitted in the past come forward to make it available to kids now who need it, as Zack and his friends do.
Those teen years are make or break time for many, get a record then and it stays with you for life, shaping what jobs you get, what direction your life can take, so its important to do everything possible to make them good years for those who are struggling. And lets face it, many teens do struggle, and if they’re Different in some way, race, religion, sexuality, disability etc then they feel all the more marginalised.
Provides a great background to this series of novels though 😉
Its a fun romance, fairly low on drama, and when things do go wrong its soon over. I liked the proportion of sex v story, so often the sex dominates and for me I want it to be more balanced. I loved the setting, the characters and the gym but the story itself was a bit drama light for me, I do need a bit more angst for a 5 star re-reader, but its still a good four star read for me.
Stars: Four, a realistic read and one I enjoyed. I shall look for more from Christine.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Believe, Katie Delahanty
Genre: New Adult, Romance
I loved Katie’s first two Brightside novels, and was so pleased to get this third one for review.
Its another great read, funny at times, tear-jerking at others – right up my street.
I remember Amanda ( Boots) from the first two books, she’s Liv’s cousin, and knows Liv’s friends Blair and Parker too. They pop up here and it was great to catch up with them. I’d love a Parker/Tux book 😉
Here we really get to know her, and I so understood her. She’s just like me in always lacking confidence, second guessing herself and what’s she’s done. Oh how many times I do that….especially when its something that needs a response from the other person, and then when it doesn’t come quickly, like Boots I’m thinking what did I do wrong, did i say the wrong thing? Indicate that? and why did I ever think to do that in the first place? Yep, her mind rambles were so so familiar and I loved her.
I’m almost ashamed to say I can’t really remember poor Mark though – what is that line keeps creeping in? Ah that’s it “no one takes any notice of the bass player” yep – sorry Mark, I missed you 😉
He’s a gorgeous guy though and I grew to love him, though I wanted to shake him a few times….He was a bit or a jerk a couple of times but when I knew more I understood why, and his reaction was reasonable given what he thought had happened.
Amanda is maid of honour at Liv’s wedding, one held in top secret to avoid all the publicity, Mark is Berkelely’s best man.
She’s got a short time before her career picks up on its next time sucking interlude to life. When she’s in Doc training everything else takes a backseat, its literally work – eat- nap-work- eat-nap-work-eat and maybe this time an actual sleep.
A little side rant here….What we put docs in training through is crazy, sleep deprived and making life changing decisions. When I was having my chemo years ago the doc on call all weekend was like Amanda, hoping to further her career, training for the next leg, and I met her Fri pm, by Sunday pm she was still working, giving me an unusual cocktail of chemo drugs after having been shown the routine in just a few quick minutes on Fri, she then had to remember it all ready for Sat. on little or no sleep, and again on Sunday….Sat she flushed through a litre of saline, usually they’d only do about 100-200ml, as the chemo nurse had stressed she wasn’t to let the two drugs mix at all, and she said to me “ good job you’re not an 80 yr old lady,doing that would have probably killed you “ 🙂 We were joking about it but she was really scared, really tired, really stressed and yet the only one there able to give me the drugs to save my life. #NotGood But it meant I really understood Boots and the pressure she was under, from her parents, her work, herself.
So a great couple of lead characters, snippets of all the old gang, loved Psychic mum 🙂 and was great to see them all brought into the story.
Its a very different feel read from Liv’s story, and Mark and Boots are more off that on. They get together in Africa, and its a steamingly sensual couple of days, but then Boots isn’t sure if she’s time for romance with her residency coming up, Mark isn’t sure he wants more, they’re both really scared in a way, and manage to part as friends when its clear to reader they could have much more.
Mark seems to me to be kind of uncertain of what he wants, in a way he wants what Berkeley and Liv have, but though he thinks Boots could be his Liv he’s not sure he’s ready for that yet – well, that’s how he feels to me. Others may put a different interpretation on his actions.
Boots has been so set on being a doc since she was 13 she’s not letting anything stand in her way, and though inside she wants more with Mark she’s scared it’ll take up too much of her life, and she’ll fail at the doc thing she’s so focussed on. Her parents don’t help, her doctor father clearly puts pressure on her, reminds her constantly it seems, not to let anything affect her focus.
She’s also telling herself what would a big star like Mark want with her, a plain, ordinary person, when he could have anyone? She thinks the only thing that makes her interesting is being a doc, and she just can’t see how much more to her there is, how special she is. When she looks at pics of Mark in the past with all the gorgeous, stunningly attractive ladies she feels unworthy, and she feels that there are ladies like that who fit in to his life so much better.
I really enjoyed that almost-together-and-then-another-setback feel that the middle section had.
I so understood Boots and how she felt, loved the secondary characters that played a strong part in the story ( mama Rosie – great lady), loved Mark – even when I wanted to slop him! and of course the snippets we got of Liv and Berkeley.
Its another great read, and so often with this sort of connected novel the subsequent ones really just mirror the first, become a sort of pastel facsimile, but Katie’s given this a really fresh feel, very different to Liv and Berkeley’s stories, and yet still kept the characters and humour true to those books.
Stars: Five, a lovely feel-good read, full of emotion.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher