Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series, Katie Reus
I’d only read book three in this series, each are advertised as stand alone and that one I loved, didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading first two books.
I haven’t read book four but when I saw this I expected to feel the same as I did with book three, that it would be complete on its own. It is….and yet I think I’d have got far more from it if I understood more about the whole group of characters, their dynamics and interaction. As it was, apart from Brooks and Darcy they were just names and I didn’t feel the connection between the characters that I know would be there.
Its billed as romance, and it is but for me the romance fell second place to the suspense. Its a tightly written novel, well paced, well set out, but the romance side takes a while to warm up – its very much each likes the other but hides it, and seems as though that’s been going on a long time. Now they’re thrown together, in danger, and emotions run hot at a time like this. Its a question of what happens once that cools down, when they’re thinking with clear heads once more.
Its an interesting story but I felt a bit disconnected from it, as I said I think even though its a stand alone it would work better if I’d read all of the others.
I do occasionally get tired of the “quick computer hack” that takes care of everything, tells where folk are, what they’re doing, spies on them remotely – even when there hasn’t been time to set up cameras…and of course knocks out those cameras who see what we don’t want them to.
Its not just in this book, but a growing trend in many suspense reads. PCs can do lots, are a huge asset but they are machines, not miracle cures and I felt here that it was something a little over-used.
Stars: Three, a good read but would have been a great one if perhaps I’d read all the earlier books.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
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
Stripped, Zoey Castile
Its one of those conundrums isn’t it? That ladies and gents love to go to stripper shows, love to look ( and touch!) and yet date one of those strippers? Reminds me of the old Fools and horses episode where Del finds out Raquel is a stripper….but its a job, they are people just like us.
Anyway poor Robyn gets a shock at her friends party when her new hot neighbour, who she’s just shared a meal with and hopes for more, is one of the stars in front of her. She doesn’t react well. Still, there’s something between them neither can deny.
Its a sensual read, some real steam between the two, problems to the romance, sub plots involving others, and side issues that rounded the story and made it more than just a boy meets girl standard tale. I like that, when stories have an extra interest to them. Life is like that, full of tangled threads that connect and knot us up.
I loved Zac, wasn’t so sure about Robyn at first, but as the story unfolded I got to really like her and understand her more. Its a fun read, some real humour, some genuine issues we all face, and a couple of characters I just knew were more than they seemed 😉 The secondary characters were interesting too, and added a lot to the story. The only thing I didn’t like was the short time span of the events, its barely a month from when they first meet to the Big Decisions at the end. I struggle a bit with characters that can make such huge changes when they barely know people. Had it been six months or so I’d have been more convinced.
Stars: Four, a fun story, some spicy steam and an unusual slant with the male stripper theme, which brought up some thoughts for me about how hypocritical we can be over jobs like that.
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
Lightning Boy, (A Taboo Love Story 2), Amy J. Heart
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance
So I’d read the prequel and really enjoyed that, an brief insight into L’s background, and heartbreaking in that what happens to him happens to so many kids. I was keen to read this story and see what transpired for him and Eden.
Eden, Eden, what an amazing girl. She’s young in years yet through her life experiences she old too. Yet not jaded, still believes there’s a way out, still believes she can get her happy. Then she meets L. Its not an auspicious meeting, she’s on one her her awful jobs for dirty ex cop Coop, being watched, voyeur style by three creepy guys and L, well he’s Angry, Seriously Angry. Its clear he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t want to be with her, and I kept wondering why he was there, it clearly wasn’t money motivation him.
Eden was tasked with what seemed impossible, make L want her, the wrong sex to turn him on so Coop and the others think, convinced he’s gay. It takes a turn none of them expect when she tries gentling L, and he, shocked that its the girl he saw years before, lets him.
In short-story-land that would be it, but here its like real life, forward one step and back two. There’s a long way for them both to go yet.
L is confused, he’d convinced himself sex could only be via pain and hurt with men, keeping his emotions back, just going with strong control, giving pain and abuse, and getting that brief physical release. I so felt for him, he’s still young and yet been through so much. I love how he got his nickname, its so perfect, he owns what he’s doing by that, sticks it to his abusers by his actions.
Could he make things work with Eden? Would he try?
For a while its back and forth with him being a complete jerk in between torrid, sensual encounters with her.
Coop, dirty ex cop Cop. How many lost kids are caught by guys like him, how many guys a( and ladies) are like him too I wonder – too many I guess. I really wanted to know what he held over them both.
I was a little bewildered by Eden’s reasons, wanting her farm back didn’t really seem strong enough to do what she was to me. But then the farm held a special significance to her, a memory of happier times and maybe getting it back was a kind of lifeline to her.
Sex: yep, there’s a lot here, and some of it is violent, abusive, what was done to him and by him by other men, and yet the tender moments with Eden balance it , keep the book firmly in Romance Land.
Great characters, and hurray, a bit more of the wonderful Ariana, oh I want to be her! I was gripped by the story, alternated between feeling so sad for L and then berating him for being a jerk to Eden. She was so patient, so incredibly careful of him, so forgiving, I really felt their connection was meant to be, transcended ordinary love. L too, I so felt for him, that sad kid, taken from happy to horror to nightmare. No wonder he was such a jerk, only way to protect himself.
And Coop, a man I loved to hate. Oh I love it when authors create characters like that, bad through and through, pulling the strings of others, such a contrast from all the sweet and cute, strong but lovable people. We need these bad characters too to keep things interesting!
Its all put together so well, drawing the reader in, bringing us down, lifting up and then crashing again. I went through so many cycles reading it. Will things work out for them? How? What about Coop? How will they get away from him? What about the hold he has on L? I had so many metal questions while reading and at times felt I was racing through to find answers….I’m not known for patience.
I’d have liked it to be just a little longer, there’s an awful lot happens in a short space at the end of the book. A perfect wrap up but could have done with being spread out just a little more IMO. Its intense and a lot to take in, but of course that’s just my feelings. I need a HEA in romance, and this was perfect.
I’ve read too many “romance” novels recently where the only romance is in the last tow chapters and the HEA doesn’t exist expect in some future with maybe someone else. That’s not what I want, I need these characters I’ve come to love to get what I think they deserve.
Stars: Five, A great read, and now my occasional misunderstandings and confusion in the first book don’t mean so much, I can understand more the reasons its written the way it was.
This story, especially when both books read together, really pulls at heartstrings, and is incredibly emotional.
ARC supplied by author
#Moonstruck, A #Lovestruck Novel Book 2, Sariah Wilson
Genre: General Fiction (adult), romance
I enjoyed book one and was pleased to see a fleeting appearance of Chase and Zoe here 😉 I love when that happens.
So, Maisy has a dilemma, she’s a Rule, No Musicians – Ever….and yet now she and her brothers are on tour with Ryan de Luna she’s struggling.
It was pretty easy at first, he has a reputation as a man-whore and jerk, she knows his type and it wasn’t hard to brush off his advances. That seemed to shock him, usually he only has to glance and the Pleeches ( Maisy’s term for the type of groupies that follow him) are desperate to shed their (minimal) clothes, do whatever he wants so he’s a bit intrigued by Maisy and her indifference.
To start with I thought he was a jerk too. In a way when everyone around is pandering to you, telling you what they think you want to hear, not whet you need to hear it must be difficult to be “normal”. Ryan’s trying to change though, tired of that rep, tired of doing the same music just because it sells, but his label love it because it brings in the money.
He loves the way Maisy treats him just the same as anyone else, no special treatment, not afraid to call him out, tell him he’s wrong.
As she gets to know him she can see beyond the face he presents and when he asks for her help she agrees. By then she’s pretty much been sucked in by his charm and just wants to help him achieve what he wants with his music.
I liked Maisie – and her brothers. They’ve had a tough life, work hard with their band to create and play the music they love, and all have other jobs to support the family, keep their home, and pay their mothers health costs. This gig is the chance of a lifetime for them, pays really well and hopefully could lead to financial security, so they’re a little worried about what happens if Maisy and Ryan split. Will they lose the gig, can they afford that risk? They can see that both have feelings for each other so the “fake” girlfriend thing isn’t going to stay that way for long.
Its got some great drama in, and like book one has a nice twist at the end. I thought I’d guessed that – I was wrong, it wasn’t who I thought but someone I’d never imagined. Like I said before I love to be surprised.
I did think Maisy over-reacted a bit but the story needed that to create the drama, and given the type of person she was and her fear of Ryan being like her father, it wasn’t that much of a stretch to believe she would have done that.
Stars:Four, another fun and real feeling read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
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
To Be or Not To Be: The Actors, The New York Artists, Cathrine Goldstein
Genre: Women’s Fiction, romance
*Sigh * Women’s fiction once more – why write off half the population, who says men don’t read romance? They do, and write it too!
So I read Cathrine’s first book in this series, The Rock Star, and liked it but wasn’t swept away by the story, found it a bit sweet and simple, but decided I’d try this one and see if it was maybe that story and not Cathrine’s writing style that didn’t suit me well.
I really enjoyed this, almost to the five star loved it, just a little short of that. Its got a fun story line, lots of emotion, though I so hoped Maggie was going to be a lot nastier….I do love the b itch characters, but it wasn’t to be 😦
Trevor was lovely, very genuine, great with his fans even though he tires of the series that’s made him a Name and lots of £££. He needs that, his sister does anyway, as her husband skipped out when their son was seriously ill, and Trevor supports all the expensive medical bills. I loved his sister and nephew, not that we saw much of them but they added a feel of reality to the story. Ill health hits many of us, changing lives, meaning many are in Trevor’s position, though not such a monied career usually….
When Trevor sees Jenna he’s swept away, not just by her acting talent but also the attraction he feels to her. That shocks him, he’s not felt this way, and of course he’s in a relationship with Maggie, and that’s also connected to his career….
Jenna made me feel two ways. I admired her determination to act, her sheer talent that she’d honed through hard work, her care for her family and friends, she was so giving to them. And yet she irritated me with her “I am right” stance, she was almost rude, actually at times she Was rude, to those she felt were out of step, didn’t agree with her. For a young actress in a position few find themselves she’s full of opinions, and seems to have little respect for others at times, even though they’ve been at the trade far longer. I know youth and enthusiasm go hand in hand, but it was the way she waded in, spouted her opinions at times without thinking how it affected others. There are different ways of doing that, and for me she chose the wrong way.
She feels attracted to Trevor too, and yet has reasons why she won’t act on them, not just the fact he’s with Maggie, but reasons that are personal to her and which she won’t reveal. When they did come out I was shocked, not seen that plot-line before, though its something that’s very real, in fact for many people very needed. Could I do it? I don’t know, she felt it was her only option but I think its a tough thing to do, and did understand her reason for avoiding relationships, even while I didn’t agree with it.
Its a fun read, a very real feeling romance, with barriers on both sides, and yet they can’t seem to keep away. I could feel that magic pull between them and love that. It wasn’t a clothes off, sex on in second chapter romance, but a slow burn one where for much they are nothing more than friends secretly attracted to each other, and then friends who admit attraction but understand it can’t go further….til it does 😉
Stars:Four and a half, not quite the magic five and TBH I’m not sure its a re-reader but its a story I really enjoyed as a one off.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Double Down, Alessandra Torre
Genre: Erotica, romance
Having just finished book one I dived quickly into this. The last ended on a real cliffhanger, but everything changes when we start book two.
I wondered how Alessandra was going to work things out to give Dario and Bell a HEA, and just couldn’t see how they could avoid either the killer, Gwen’s father or the police. Its one of those stories where We know they didn’t do it but will that matter to the cops, will one of them get blamed for Gwen’s death? After all we know her father has half the local force in his pay.
Its a roller-coaster follow-up, where I wanted to scream at them for what looked a bit like complacency at one point. We know the danger is still there, and Dario is still heavy on the security but Bell is chafing at the restrictions. It brings a question up for Bell, can she live like this, Dario is always going to be vulnerable now people know how he feels about Bell, and she isn’t sure she can live with a constant shadow. Still, for them sex heals, sex talks, sex bridges all the gaps and there are plenty of Alessandra’s trademark erotic encounters.
I love the way they talk through their feelings of guilt. Its understandable, we all think “if only I…” when things go wrong but neither of them are to blame, its the person with the gun that’s wrong, not them, they aren’t accountable for another’s actions. Thankfully Dario has deep pockets as they need it in this book to avoid getting caught unfairly.
Fantastic read, had me wondering “how will/why don’t they/what about….?” and struggling for answers. I was surprised, and then surprised again and of course like most of Alessandra’s reads its not just a one plot book, but has a solid second strand that becomes joined to the first, and gave me lots to try to work out.
Fantastic ending but….I can’t help wondering about that one loose end 😉
Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. Some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up and give Dario and Bell a HEA. Thankfully they do get one.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Even Money, Alessandra Torre
Genre: Erotica, romance
Alessandra’s writing is perfect for me, solid plots and excitement, real feeling people I can like – or dislike, books need those too, plenty of drama, angst, steamy, erotic encounters and loads of emotions.
So I went into this one eagerly and wasn’t disappointed, its got all of that and more. What I hate in a book though is a cliffhanger and this is a real doozy….BUT thankfully book two is only a week or two away. I can live with that, its when it happens in a book and the next isn’t due for 12 or 18 months, or even longer….( of course I’m lucky enough to have got an ARC for that on my kindle, but I’m writing there as a standard reader, about how frustrating it can be when the next book is so far away)
Bell’s a cocktail waitress in a “neutral zone “ casino, one where the other casino owners come to play. Its owned by two men who have become really good friends of hers, the kind who will – as the saying goes – help you hide a body without asking questions.
I like Bell, just wants to get through school, enjoy life and live and do her best to be independent. She’s had a tough background, some awful events in it and yet is strong, determined to live a better life.
Dario – I wasn’t sure of him at first, he seemed arrogant and one of those snap his fingers and demand instant obedience types. As we get to know him though I liked him more, he’s like Bell in that he too comes from a non moneyed background, but he’s talented, worked hard and married well financially, and is now in a strong position. Despite all that his hands are still tied in a way, his wife’s father, what an awful man, totally immoral, money is God type, and Dario and Gwen are tied tightly to him. Independence is close but they’re not there yet.
Gwen, Dario’s wife, is mostly a background figure. They married for complex reasons, live separate lives in many ways though they live together, and have a close respect and friendship with each other. So when he tells Bell Gwen knows and is OK with him having other women, he is actually telling the truth, not spinning a well worn line.
Of course life isn’t smooth, even though her bosses warn her about Dario, even though she knows he takes and drops women when the next comes along, even though she promised herself she’d never get entangled with a man like him she’s drawn to him, some undeniable thread pulling them together. Dario can feel it too, this connection that keeps him coming back when he Never chases, Never pursues women. There are too many ready and willing for him to have to do that.
Of course true love never runs smooth, and despite all the signs and self imposed blocks they do get together, then the fireworks start, ending with that astonishing cliffhanger.
I was desperate to read book two, and have it on my kindle so I did just have to take a sneak at the start to see how that cliffhanger moved forward….but didn’t let myself read more until I’d written this.
Its hard for me to write a review if I’ve read both books, trying to recall what was in book two not book one so I was disciplined! I was almost tempted to get up in the early hours and write though.
Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, hot and erotic encounters, great characters. This book is a perfect read for those who want a solid romance with some real adventure. No sweet and cute folk here, no fluffy feeling scenes, no “heart warming” sections, heart rending maybe 😉 I will be eagerly reading book two today!
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers