Tag Archive | sensual

recent reading

I’ve been reading some non netgalley stories, a couple i was asked to review by authors, some I borrowed on KU, and a couple I bought.

The Ex Factor,  Debbie Viggiano 

The Ex Factor by [Viggiano, Debbie]

Genre: general fiction

I’ve read several of Debbie’s books, and this is a departure from the usual but still with her excellent solid writing style.

Its a hard subject, one that strikes close to home for many readers. When a marriage breaks up some fathers drift off, happy to abandon their family, others though are like Sam, desperately want to be a father, to have as much access as possible but get thwarted at every step by the mother. Sadly apart from expensive court proceedings, and not everyone has the thousands that can cost, there’s nothing else they can do. Even then having a court order doesn’t help when the mother say the child is ill, asleep, at a friends, doesn’t want to come and refuses access. The father can go back to court as Sam does, but that takes time and the months away from his daughter take a toll on him, on his new family and of course on Ruby. The only happy one is the mother, Annie, such a vindictive character. It would be nice to think parents always wanted the best for their child/children but like Annie many only want control, revenge for what they see as slights. Annie was the one to leave, yet tells Ruby Sam was at fault, forced her into an affair. Of course her poison is all lies but kids naturally believe what parents tell them and Annie has Ruby for the majority of the time, been drip feeding her malicious words into her ears. Its cruel, and yet it goes on day after day for many families. My lovely brother is going through the same process, so far he’s been unable to see his daughter for almost two years, despite spending several thousands on court fees. The court agreed he’d done nothing wrong, was a good father, but the mother was so vindictive she has kept his daughter away and all he can do it seek more legal proceedings. Meanwhile his little girl probably is being told daddy didn’t want her…..
Its an incredibly sad, very realistic story of what pressures a family breakdown can put on the absent parent, spilling over into other family members. Thankfully the end shows there is a glimmer of light, and I’m hoping that same thing happens for my brother in time.

A KU purchase

Royal Love, (Last Royals Book 1),  Cristiane Serruya 

Royal Love (Last Royals Book 1) by [Serruya, Cristiane]

a KU purchase
This was a fun read, though it took me some time to warm to Angus, he was alpha male but on the OTT side, and there were times when I wanted Siobhan to just tell him where to go. She veers between wanting him and wanting independence and I did feel the whole getting together part was a bit rushed. I felt both acted out of characters and one thing that really annoyed me was the lack of condoms. That’s just not a good message to send out in this day and age!
There’s a little suspense, I’d kind of worked out what had happened and who was behind it, but it was still a good addition to the story and gave it a little extra edge.
I loved Angus mum and aunt, perfect snobbish b itchy characters – they really add to a story for me, make a contrast to all the sweet stuff.
Its not a story I’d re-read, a little too light and sweet for me, I need a bit more drama but its a fun read for when you want something easy to relax with.
Stars: Three, a little light but a fun story.

Rockstar Daddy, (Wilder Rock 1), Taryn Quin

Rockstar Daddy (Wilder Rock Book 1) by [Quinn, Taryn]

Genre: Romance,
a side spin from the Oblivion series. I usually loved Taryn’s stories, especially when she writes with Cari Quinn but this one was a little simple. Its got plenty of heat, lots of erotic encounters but for me they became the story, and there was little else to it – just a series of very hot sex scenes tied in with a tin backstory. For many people that’s perfect, for me it needs to be story first.

Another KU purchase

Lifeline,  Amelia Lawrence 

Lifeline by [Lawrence, Amelia]

Genre: Romance, M/M
A good read, very real with scenes that happen far too often. Alex was heartbroken after his romance with Jack went badly wrong, and feeling rejected he’s a prime candidate for manipulative bully Cole.

Like so many of these characters Cole starts off well and then the crack drift in, by which time Alex had lost his self confidence and was constantly striving to be someone who wouldn’t anger Cole. Its easy to say “why not just leave?” but much harder for anyone to do it. Bullied sap at self confidence, convince people no-one else will want them and of course the threats that Leaving will have drastic Consequences is enough to put most folk off, and Alex is just working and returning home, all the joy has been sucked out of life.
Jack – well, Jack was wonderful, regretted the past very much and wanted a second chance with Alex. The way the story played out was really well done. Its not one I’d re-read but was a very enjoyable story, a realistic portrayal of an unpleasant subject.

One I bought, was only 99p

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Limits,  Susie Tate

Limits,  Susie Tate

Limits by [Tate, Susie]

Genre: Romance

I loved book one in this series and Millie and Pav both feature there as secondary characters. Rosie, Jamie and Libby from that book are secondary characters here along with the vivacious Kira.

Millie is painfully isolated, has a real social issue among her other problems. Seems she was a child genius, pushed by ambitious political parents into schooling way ahead of her years and peers. She never learned to mix with others as a result. Her parents were bullies in other ways too, sapping at her fragile self esteem and now she’s an incredible medical personnel trapped in a job way below her skills officially but where they are recognised and valued so unofficially she does all the work a consultant would do. She’s been having therapy but is a long way from being who she wants to be. She’s trapped in her own self limits.

Pav is her total opposite but by a series of incidences begins to see Millie isn’t the person he nicknamed Nuclear Winter. Millie envies him, is attracted to him but knows he, like the rest of the staff apart from Libby and her colleague Don, would never want to even be friends with her, let alone more. And then things change. To begin Pav does have an ulterior motive, but he very soon sees Millie isn’t stand offish, isn’t looking down on others but plain terrified. After an incident leads to her totally falling apart in front of other staff he sees beyond her facade, and tries to help. Libby too and the irrepressible Rosie, work on bring Millie forward, helping her get past those limits.

I so felt for Millie. Social anxiety is genuine, many of us have issues where the thought of meeting others has us in a sweat, hearts racing, blood pulsing, just knowing that we don’t have that easy connection, that simple conversation is anything but, that trying to talk to someone unknown will result in the usual brain jelly and lack of speech. Millie’s reactions are way beyond most though, and the way Susie gradually brings her forward, showing us how the CBT, the people she depends on, the gradual widening of those she can trust bring her forward is wonderful to read and felt so very real.
I loved Pav, he saw beyond the obvious to the gem that was Millie, and its was a treat to read this romance. When he spoke to Millie’s parents I was cheering him. Its a great read, I loved seeing the familiar characters from book one, loved seeing just how difficult Millie found things others breeze past, loved how Pav’s family changed when they got to know the real Millie.

The epilogue too was just perfect. Just enough to let us see how things would work out, but not enough to feel the story gets past the interesting part.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, and a terrific follow up.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Captive Lies, Victoria Paige

Captive Lies,  Victoria Paige

Captive Lies by [Paige, Victoria]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Romance

I really liked the sound of this story, and to begin I was enjoying it but….the the Russian Mafia slant came into play, and though I know there are readers who love stories with a Mafia bent I’m not one. Fortunately the Mafia were the bad guys, I really can’t take it when they’re passed of as good guys really, just misunderstood…

I loved Blaire, she was in the situation she was through her birth, nothing she could have done about it, unless she was prepared to knuckle down and have her life run by the Russians. Liam, her friend and protector was a great guy too, and he gave her the training to protect herself. I so like that, when a main character doesn’t have to depend on a man to save her but can hold her own in a fight. Grant, alpha male in the extreme and for me he was at times too pushy, too overly controlling, bordering on abusive in his need to control. Blaire is a tough girl, she’s survived despite having some bad people out to get her and though he wants to protect her he shouldn’t expect her to hand over all control to him and sit back and …well, what? Shop? Watch daytime TV? That’s just not Blaire, she paints but can’t spend all day every day doing that.

I was doing OK with the story, Grant’s obsessive personality and tendency to act like a jerk aside, but it got slowly more overly complex, with distrust everywhere, and threats from all quarters. That can be fun, keeping readers on their toes but can also mean a story gets overly complex. I had guessed one person who was not who they seemed, I wasn’t totally sure but looking back all the clues were there, I just wasn’t sure I was reading them properly – that’s good, I like to be surprised. Then the mafia and political threats began to overlap, technology that seemed improbable crept in and was used to make scenes work that wouldn’t otherwise, and it seemed a little too far fetched for me. I do need to believe in a story, and though technology has advanced hugely, and of course this is fiction I felt that some parts were a little hard for me to believe in. It seemed if you’d got money – and Grant had – then anything could be had for a price.

I wasn’t convinced by Cal, I kind of thought something along those lines would happen, there’s hints thrown in all along but I was disappointed that it worked that way – more of that improbable technology for me. I want to believe things could happen that way if this were a true story and that…nope, I can’t fall for it.

It sounds like I hated the story, and that’s just not true, these were just niggles, big niggles, for me and overall I enjoyed reading this novel. It was my first read by this author and I think if I’d read the Guardians novels maybe I’d have got more from it and understood better what they were capable of.

Stars: Three and a half, a good suspense and romance but both had too many niggles for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Catching London, M.V.Ellis.

Catching London, M.V.Ellis.
Catching London by [Ellis, MV]

Genre: Romance

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

Hidden Seams, Alessandra Torre

Hidden Seams,  Alessandra Torre

Hidden Seams (Unzipped Book 2) by [Torre, Alessandra]

Genre: Romance, Erotica
I’ve read quiet a few AT stories now and love her writing style. She doesn’t dumb down novels, but has a rich linguistic style and plots that are at times quite complex. That makes for an absorbing story for me, and the type I love to get lost in, taken away to someone else’s life!

I wasn’t sure what it was Avery was doing for work at first. I get the idea of how she is providing work for the girls, helping them build a new life without getting sucked into the underbelly of crime that their position often brings, but the logistics of it, the money laundering etc I just didn’t understand…but that didn’t matter, it provided a plausible framework for what she was doing. I felt for her childhood, a difficult situation and one that’s left a lasting effect on her.

Then there’s Marco, lived a very open, very public, very deliberate lie for a decade, now everything is coming to him but Avery threatens that. He was a jerk to her, but then she’d caught him unexpectedly and I could see why he distrusted her. He wanted to protect Vince’s memory too, and Avery’s appearance could tarnish that indelibly so I did see why he was so awful to her.

The sensuality between them though was incredible, tangible right from the first meet. The encounters were perfect examples of Alessandra’s ability to write hot and erotic sex, without subjecting the reader to page after page after page of the same words and actions. So many “erotic” novels do that, constant bland and repetitive sex scenes held together by the thinnest of story-lines, but Alessandra’s stories are not like that. She has the perfect solid, intense stories, plots that hold hidden surprises, with carefully spaced sensual sex scenes. That works so much better for me, makes for a far more interesting read. I like reading well written sex, but for me the story always has to come first.

I didn’t foresee how this would all play out, just had the “whichever way it goes one of them loses” mentality, and couldn’t see how they could have a relationship. However it wraps up so perfectly in a way I simply hadn’t considered, ties in all the loose ends and makes everything going forward work so well.

The only failure for me in this story, which drops the half star is that I have a love for angst, for that point towards the end when the couple fall apart, when its all lost, and looks like the romance is off. There were a couple of shaky moments, but no real pressing issues to cause that and for me it makes the story just that little bit less.

Stars: Four and a half, excellent read, erotic sex without being overdone, and a solid story-line backing it.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Dangerous Witness, Redemption Harbor Series, Katie Reus

Dangerous Witness, Redemption Harbor Series,  Katie Reus

Dangerous Witness (Redemption Harbor Series Book 3) by [Reus, Katie]

Genre: Romance

I do love Katie Reus writing, and this was another fun read. Its book three in the series, but its a stand alone so if like me you haven’t read books one and two you’ll still be able to keep up easily.

Its a classic case of the guy having been bitten once being determined not to get caught again. He should have known Darcy better though….
I love Darcy, got some great friends and she was so in love with Brooks, and he with her, so she thought. So how, just how, could he believe she’d take the money?That hurts and makes her think she didn’t know him after all. She got on with her wedding planning business in the succeeding months, and tried to move on but the hurt is there, feelings just can’t be switched off like that. I can understand how she’d feel, she must have been devastated at being thought a gold digger.
Brooks could kick himself now he knows the truth – and realises just how badly he effed up. Will Darcy forgive him? He still loves her, she’s the only one for him but can they get past his betrayal and lack of trust? It was a stupid mistake but a huge one, and one that he should never have made.
He’s got a chance now though to try yo get her to forgive him, when her business puts her in danger, very serious danger. Of course his primary motive is her safety, and with him and his friends being in the security business they’re the people to see to it, but it does give him an excuse to spend time with her without her telling him to get lost. Lets face it, that’s the reaction most of us would have at first if we were in her circumstances. We might want him back but the hurt….its not easy to get past, and a simple “sorry I got it wrong” just won’t cut it.
From then on its solid suspense, lots of action, played out in a realistic way, ( to someone who doesn’t know the realities of the security business of course!) and with some serious heat in the romance side too.

Stars: Five, a fun and rewarding romance, with some interesting suspense.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Unraveled, Whiskey Sharp 1, Lauren Dane

Whiskey Sharp: Unraveled (Whiskey Sharp, Book 1) by [Dane, Lauren]

Genre: Romance


I love Lauren’s writing, both contemporary and paranormal. This book though has left me with mixed feelings. I really enjoyed it but there are parts I’m a little confused about.

 

It felt for much of the start that I was reading about maybe a spin off book ( and hey, I did that completely unintentionally!) It seemed to me that the characters should have felt familiar to me, that if I’d read another series I’d know them – you know, how in connected books its like reading about old friends, except I didn’t know these guys, hadn’t met them before so the mix of who was who and how they connected was a bit weird til I got to grips with it. 

I loved the setting, the barbershop/bar and Alexsei’s family living next door to Maybe and Rachel. It grounded the characters, gave them a base where they acted naturally and felt very real to me. I was hoping Rada would be more of a b itch…but that’s me, love a “good” bad character…

I enjoyed how Alexsei and Maybe sparked of each other, the tension between them, Maybe’s unashamed confidence in asking for what she wants, whether its a job, food, a date. Yet when it came to Rachel she was trying to support her but actually hiding things from her, almost taking away choices in her determination to be a good sister, a solid help. There were times when i felt Maybe was a little too abrupt, a bit too in-your-face, but I guess that’s a reaction to her past, a need to assert herself. Its either knuckle under or take charge, and she’s take charge.
Alexsei was pretty controlling but not to the point he didn’t consider what others needed, what their own wants were, he had a great balance, though I understood why Maybe needed to ensure he wasn’t like her father. 

Its an interesting, steamy story, some quite dark issues with Rachel’s past attack, and the awful upbringing Maybe had, and the treatment she still got from their parents. I couldn’t help wondering – just where did that start and why? Why treat them so differently? I felt for that poor kid Maybe was.
I didn’t really see either why Rachel was considered “disabled”. Yes, she had a horrific encounter, and its left her with some kind of PTSD, but physically she seems fine, its been three years and though I understood her security fears – I think anyone would, and the lasting mental effects it seemed her parents were still considering her as just out of hospital. Why? 


It was a big, slow built to the end drama, but for me that was over far too quickly, a kind of it’s-OK-for-now feeling, but we know there’s going to be so much more. I guess that’s for book two, and hopefully we’ll see more of Alexsei and Maybe there.
I felt a bit underwhelmed though, wanted a little more concrete action for an ending even though there’s two more books to come. Its not a cliffhanger, just felt very unresolved. I was even trying to “turn” the page on my kindle seeing if I was missing some pages it felt that unfinished. 

Stars: four, almost a five, a few parts where I was a little confused at the beginning but mainly that ending stopped it 

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

My Last Love Story, Falguni Kothari. Dare to Live, The Maxwell Series, S.B. Alexander

My Last Love Story, Falguni Kothari

My Last Love Story by [Kothari, Falguni]

Genre: Women’s fiction

Gosh what a book this was. Its a romance…and yet it isn’t. Its full of sadness, and yet a core of happiness persists. The characters are like-able and yet possess some very dislike-able traits, and vice versa, even those I dislike had redeeming facets. Its a real conundrum of a story and its very hard to review.
Did I like it? Yes, and yet there were parts I felt really dragged, times when I just wanted Something, Anything to actually Happen.

I felt for Nirvaan, dying far too young after a years long struggle with cancer. That’s tough for anyone to face, and yet he does it with dignity. However he’s also pretty controlling, pulling everyone’s strings to make what he wants happen. Is he being selfish? Or is he just doing what he believes is the best for those he loves? There’s no doubt for me that he loves Simi and Zayaan, but does that mean he knows what’s best for them?
Simi loves him, and yet despite the way she so obviously pushes him away now we know she also still really has strong feelings for Zayaan, perhaps still loves him too. She’s had a difficult time since her parents were killed, and still carries a heavy secret that affects all three major characters.
Zayaan, he’s something of an enigma, I can feel he loves Nirvaan, and it seems he still has feelings, strong feelings for Simi. and why not? They were going to marry at one time, until they all went in different directions.

Its a hard story, seeing Nirvaan face up to dying, being with him when he faces yet more treatment. Of course his family would give all their money – and they have lots – to have him healthy again, and try to persuade him to go to a very expensive private facility that promises a cure.
Sadly, having had cancer myself, I know too well how these ar sehole people prey on loved ones, persuade them that they can do the impossible, promise a cure that just isn’t possible. Cancer can behave weirdly, go into remission for no obvious reason and the odd occasion that happens they take credit, ignore the 99.9% of patients who haven’t been “cured”, blame their lack of commitment etc.
Gah, I’ll step off the soapbox now. It just makes me so angry that people get used when their at their lowest.

Among that sadness though their are moments of light, reminders of the happy life they all led as children,  snippets of humour, and wonderful sections like the camping/hiking trip with the seal pup. Those little touches of light lift what could be a dragging down, melancholy novel.
I enjoyed the cultural side too, where they talk about religious differences, where we learn about how they do and don’t stick with their heritage, where the food and habits are described. I love that feeling of India even though its set in US, and found this part really interesting.

Overall I’m kind of conflicted. I enjoyed reading this but didn’t love it, wasn’t gripped to the page desperate to know what happens next.
It gave me lots to think about. Would I have reacted as Simi did when faced with the same situation? Was what Nayaan did controlling, or was he just doing what he knew Simi wanted to do but wouldn’t left to herself? Was Zayaan sitting on the fence, here with his best friend and his wife, the girl he once intended to marry, when waiting back in UK were the rest of his family, and his girlfriend, who he knew his mother was expecting to become his bride? Was his mother really such a bad woman or was she just being what she felt was a good mother?
The questions raised for me spiraled long after I’d finished reading.

It’s not a book I’d reread, and there were sections that just draaagged, especially when we were seeing Simi’s thoughts. Usually I like that, gives me an idea of how a character is really feeling, but for me her internal musings became long dull monologues at times.

Stars: four, an interesting story, full of detail giving me lots to think about but at times it was so slow it was hard going, and that brought it down from a five for me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

Dare to Live, The Maxwell Series,  S.B. Alexander

Dare to Live (The Maxwell Series Book 5) by [Alexander, S.B.]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

*sigh* Women’s Fiction – just why? Why exclude men, why shouldn’t they enjoy romance too? Many of them even write romance so why do we cut them out like this?
Rant over….

I was sucked in by the description, and didn’t notice it was book five til too late. Still, each are stand alone reads so it wasn’t a huge issue. I think though if I’d read earlier books I’d probably have got more from this, as it is its a decent read but didn’t have any magic for me and I found myself putting it aside for something else several times. Given there’s a slew of reviews from people that adore the story clearly its one of those reads where its Me not the book that’s out of step ;-).

I hadn’t realised Kody was so young, just 21, and Mack too was similar age. Somehow I’d got the idea the characters were all late 20’s early 30’s. It only matters in that for me at 21 he/they just haven’t usually experienced enough of life to be so mature in outlook, to be so decided about family, kids etc. Most guys at that age are still finding their feet, deciding on priorities ( Beer!!) I’m using a very rough generalisation there of course.
Then there’s Jessie, a little older but wow – that girl has the trails of job. Still grieving her mum’s death, who has her older wheelchair bound brother for whom she feels responsible, the financials of their struggling business and the breast cancer gene scenario to deal with. On top of that she gets even more drama heaped on as the story flows, accident, obsessive behaviour from an ex one nighter, possible singing stardom….

In a way I felt there was so many things happening here that it was hard for any one of them to really form a solid part. The story seemed to be so packed. Even Kody’s parents were multi layered and had lots going on. I often whinge about too simple, one plot reads, but this almost went to other extreme. Again, if I’d been following the series I think it would have flowed naturally, instead all these events and characters seemed to overload the romance between Jessie and Kody for me. My bad for not being observant enough, and if you’re in a similar position I’d say start with book one.

Stars: A good story but which didn’t really make more than an OK read for me though.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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

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