One Last Verse, The Encore: Book 2, 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.
So, book two. I loved the first book, but if anything, this was even better. The issues facing Frank and Cassy aren’t just the publicity, the media and her job, but the way Frank is coping with his injuries.
When they finally go public, the timing is bad, because within a short time Frank’s problems have them at odds once more. Poor Cassy, it feels like she’s always struggling, trying so hard to help Frank, and when he’s not drinking he’s wonderful. Caring, thoughtful, generous and the perfect man, but then – as anyone who’s had dealings with an alcoholic knows – the reverse side of this person is bitter, angry, cruel, and when the hangover is worn off, they’re sorry, won’t do it again. Its a continuous cycle.
Cassy saw all that with her dad, how her poor mum was ground under by it, and always vowed she wouldn’t be like that. She loves Frank though, she feels for him, understands some of why he’s so angry, upset, and in this book the bad parts get really heaped on Frank driving him t the edge. It was superbly written, having lived with an alcoholic I can vouch that part was spot on. The ups and downs, the highs when everything is wonderful, and then the sudden crash, often over the most trivial things.
I did feel for Frank, but as Cassy tried to tell him, he still has so much, but all he could see was what he had lost. His career was his life, and he’s lost if he can’t perform so he’s pushing himself, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain so he can continue. He can’t see any other future, won’t admit he simply can’t do it. Its turning him into someone Cassy can’t continue with though, she loves him but can’t accept the person he is in the bad times.
I loved the drama in this, so intense, so perfect for me. Drama in a book is what I adore, proper drama, not the angsty, pseudo drama that many romances feature, but real, gritty, relatable stuff. I loved that Frank struggled, let people down, pushed Cassy away. His anger was palpable, I could feel his despair, even while I was so angry with him for letting others down, for his awful behaviour to Cassy. I loved that the drama lasted, wasn’t over in a few pages, but took a good chunk of the book to resolve. That made it feel real, I couldn’t get behind someone who claimed to be past the problems if they hadn’t used time to actually change their life. I so felt for Cassy, she was such a hard worker, looked after her family, tried to help Frank, and even Dante at times. She’s one of those folk that are good at heart, won’t hesitate to step up when its needed.
I loved her brother too, he was a typical teen, and really grew through this book. And of course Levi, her work partner for the past seven years.
Its not a rock star on the road type read, thankfully its not an alpha male, grunting, monosyllabic read, those ones that run “ you feel me?” “ I feel you” and that’s about the extent of a conversation. Its not a Kylie Scott or Kristen Callihan humour filled rock star read, they’re both Queens of Rock for me, but it is a superb book about fame, drama, human frailties, and lets N.N. Britt join that precious group, Queen of Rock Reads, for me. Its one that I know, along with the first book, will become one of my re-read staples. Right now, along with N.N. Brits other two books, they are on KU so a great time to read them.
Stars: Five, terrific read, a rock star romance, with so much extra in the story, full or drama and reality.
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Just My Luck, Adele Parks
Genre: Mystery and thrillers, women’s fiction.
Sigh…women’s fiction. C’mon, its 2020 not 1920.
Anyway, what a read this was, full of the very worst in people. Until the win the six have been friends for 15 years, though there are cracks at times, and Lexi has discovered something about one of them that she finds difficult to deal with. I would too. The characters are very real, warts and all, but TBH I only liked Lexi and Toma, the rest were selfish, vain, money obsessed. Toma had gone from being a hardworking family man to the depths of depression after his loss, and Lexi helps him crawl out, start living again. I rally liked him.
Jake her husband was not the man she saw, not the guy she fell in love with. I guess we all change along the way but while Lexi is all about helping others – hence her work in citizens advice – Jake is just money and self orientated.
The friends have fallen out, and then soon after their long held winning numbers come up. Jake and Lexi insist they’d dropped out, they insist it was just a tiff and they were still in. Who’s right? Who knows.
Complicating matters are their kids. Jake and Lexis daughter Emily is best friends with the Heathcote’s daughter, Megan, and the Pearson’s son Ridley is her boyfriend. We see much of the events after the win through Emily’s eyes, and she is a typical teen, spend, spend on big brands. Their son Logan is a bit younger, happy that he can have some new games.
Jake also can’t wait to get his hands on the cash and start spending. His greed shows right from the start when they ring in and one of his first questions is how soon can they get the cash. He seems to mostly want others to see how rich he is, to show off his new Lamborghini, throw a huge party, buy expensive new clothes, he’s all about flashing the cash.
We see quickly how the money brings problems, not just with their friends but themselves, it affects Lexi’s job as the CA office is inundated with people wanting help – or help in the form of money. Emily gets problems at school as Logan and Megan turn against her. The trio have been friends since childhood, don’t have other friends and it hits her hard.
Things get worse, trust is shattered and events quickly go downhill, showing how different Lexi and Jake have become. For me Jake was an awful man, I guess he must have been different when they met, Lexi is such a lovely person its hard to see what they have in common. Then the action ramps up, and the twist at the end has me rethinking things once more. I guess no-one is quite who we think they are.
Stars: Four, a gripping story, a bit predictable at times but then throwing in some curve-balls that had me rethinking.
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Dear Child, Romy Hausmann
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers,
Well, I didn’t know what to expect but was seduced in by the description. I just had to know how things played out.
It was one of those reads where just as I thought I’d got things worked out another facet was thrown in to the mix. It was very complex, very multi dimensional.
It felt very real, I could feel Lena’s horror, feel the anguish Lena’s parents felt, understand why her dad was so angry. Yet I also got annoyed at him when he kept charging in, on an “ I know best, somebody needs to do something” I guess any loving parent in their situation would get frustrated at what they see as lack of progress.
I could feel Lena’s terror, both in the cabin, when she realised just how dire her situation was, and when she escaped. You’d think relief would come from being home, but of course she’s got some real PTSD issues going on. She really was in a bad place.
Then there’s the children – how on earth do kids ever recover from something like this? On the face of it Hannah seems to have adjusted better, although she’s a little strange she is very intelligent, and that caught me out. At the end we could see just how programmed to ignore horror she had become, even when it was right in front of her.
I just wondered what would happen to her, would she ever get past the things she’d seen? I loved seeing so much from her POV, her thoughts, her complex explanations for every little thing, the way she cited statistics and facts so thoroughly, the way everything is black and white to her, her complete obedience, devotion and acceptance of everything Papa said. I felt she’d woven a world in her head that overlapped the real world and she genuinely found it hard to tell what was real. I loved when she talked about whispers – how she described her speech and mouse voice, or when she’s really insistent, the Lion voice. I could visualise her doing that. I felt Lena did so much to try to make these poor kids lives happy. I’d say normal, but that was impossible.
I guess what I had in my mind was that terrible story a few years back where some poor girl had been kept like that for 24 years, and she and the kids she had were living underground all that while. I remember then thinking how on earth can anyone pick up life after that? The characters in this book felt real to me and made me have the same feelings, wondering what kind of life they would/could lead after their escape.
Stars: five, a fantastic read, riveting and gave me much to think about.
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On Common Ground, Book 1 in the Grounded Series, Jansen Schmidt
Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Romance
I really like the sound of this, its ages since I read a western themed romance, and I really liked how this sounded.
Sadly I find I’m out of step with the majority of reviewers who loved this book. I’ve got to 40% and I just can’t continue. There’s a fine line between being a sexy alpha male and a man who isn’t listening to what a woman wants and is just imposing his own wants on her and for me that’s what Trevor is doing. Right from the start his old friend Rocky warns him off Ketra, and from what he sees she’s very skittish, very wary around men. So what does he do? Well, he fancies her so he pushes, and pushes even when its clear his attentions are unwanted. To me he was no better than another person who does a similar thing but as Trevor is the MC, handsome, sexy etc he gets a free pass. Not from me. There’s one part where she’s sick, raging temperature, vomit splattered hair but as he helps her to the bathroom her robe slips and he’s almost salivating at the sight of her nipple. That just doesn’t cut it for me, sick not sexy.
Ketra annoyed me too, she was just plain rude to Trevor even when she didn’t know him, wasn’t the subject of his unwanted attentions. On one hand we have a traumatised women, scared of men – but working in a ranch as what seems to be the only woman there – and yet one look at Trevor and she has the hots for him? Its been two years, and she’s been working among men all that while, I’m sure she’d have learned some bit of being able to get along with most men by now. I know abuse can leave traumas that take years to accept, and one never actually gets over it, but learns to live with it. I’m just suggesting that in the environment she’s in I would have thought Ketra would have been able to deal better. I struggled with the inconsistency.
I did stop about 20% in, but decided I needed to give it more chance but I just can’t finish it, I am too angry about Trevor’s behaviour and Ketra’s flipping back an forth, scared female to has-the-hots-for-Trevor…..
As I said, clearly I’m in a minority and these things don’t spoil the story for other readers. That’s fine, we’re all different, want different things. Maybe you’ll be able to ignore or excuse the bits I can’t and love this book too, as other reviewers have, maybe like me you’ll feel Trevor’s behaviour borders on his own wants and needs, rather than looking for what Ketra wants. Horses for courses really is an apt saying in this case. Its not a bad book, just characters that don’t suit me personally, you need to asses if its your style.
Stars: Two, DNF, only got to 40%. I found the characters behaviour not what I cold accept. My issues though, others love it.
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The Wives, Tarryn Fisher
Genre: Mystery & Thrillers, Women’s Fiction
Moan: women’s fiction – why alienate potential readers? Men write books enjoyed by women and men alike, and they read the same.
Wow, this book taught be a lot about myself. Am I just gullible? Or are the story lines that good? I like to think its option two 😉
I never realised how easily I accept what I’m told, and as the story expanded, as Thursday discovered more about the other wives, I finally began to question all the things I’d accepted as fact. It wasn’t until then I realised I had just believed every word I’d been told. When the cracks in the story appear it was hard to know who was telling the truth, and it devolves into quite a dark and twisted story. It made me think of that phrase “its only paranoia if they’re not out to get you”
Its hard to say much without spoilers so I’ll try to keep it simple. I don’t understand that multiple marriage thing, the way Thursday is so blindly accepting of crumbs of Seth’s time, and when the reason for the third wife came out, given their own past I was so angry. And then of course the story gets more complex and I’m wondering, was it really like that, did things really happen that way.
Even when the story gets to the point where you’re wondering just who is telling the truth, there are still more revelations and secrets to come out, things get ever more complex right up to the end. I kept thinking – its getting late, I’ll just read a bit more, and a little more, and finding myself getting closer to the end, so then it was – may as well finish now 😉 That’s a hallmark of a good story for me, when I’m so absorbed by the characters and actions I just don’t want to put it down until I know whats going to happen.
Its a gripping read, had me totally hooked into the story. Its also incredibly sad in a way, with innocent people getting caught up in the actions of (imo) a selfish person. Was the family situation to blame? I tend to say no, lots of folk have difficult childhoods, but who really knows.
I found the ending sad in a way for all of them and yet curiously satisfying in what happened. My two least liked people got a form of punishment for their actions – IMO – of course. Karma.
Stars: five, a cracking read, had me hooked, but in a way also incredibly sad that peoples lives could get changed by the actions of another person.
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Deadly Surrender, Katie Reus
I hadn’t read the earlier books, but each are stand alone and it wasn’t an issue.
I’ve read several of Katie’s stories now, and while this wasn’t my favourite it was a fun easy read.
Its a sexy romance, Logan is drop dead gorgeous, and unknown to each other they’ve felt more that either have admitted. Then they have one hot, sex fueled night after a few drinks and…well, Logan knows he wants more but doesn’t want to frighten her off, Grace wants more but thinks it was just alcohol, that Logan isn’t the settling type. Then the bullets start coming, and they don’t know if someone is after one or both of them. The suspects pile up too, and its hard trying to keep one step ahead, but it does throw them together where things move on.
Its a quick, easy tale, an enjoyable story but not one that I’d reread.
Stars: Three, a simple romance with bullets and danger.
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Midnight Desire, Shari Nichols
Genre: Sci fi and Fantasy. romance
I enjoy books in the fantasy genre and where there’s romance too, that’s me happy. I enjoyed this book but didn’t love it as I’d thought. To be fair, as with other reviewers I’m writing this, reading this in the midst of the Covid19 crisis and my mind isn’t where it usually is so that could affect my enjoyment.
I loved the characters, the story flowed well and was a quick, steamy read. What I had a really hard time with is Alex being a – well, rabid witch hater wouldn’t be too strong, and yet within the first meeting he’s attracted to Willow and they’re quickly hot and heavy. I couldn’t see how he could put his years of hatred behind him, and how Willow could be with someone who’s held those views for so long. Lust only goes so far. Then there’s the way Willow was assimilated back into the coven with very few questions asked and apart form the initial snarky, hurtful comments its almost like a girls bonding party.
Get past those issues though and its an easy to read novel, a neat story, wrapped up properly, a little magic, a lot of mystery, and plenty of heat.
Stars: I’m hovering between three and four, I liked the story a lot, but the things I had issues with were for me pretty big. Three and a half.
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Killing Beauties, Pete Langman
Genre: Historical Fiction
I liked the sound of this, fiction but about real people, and in a period that intrigues me, but which I know little of. Sadly the story just wasn’t a great fit for me.
I’m not sure why, perhaps its because I failed to really connect with the characters, perhaps its just that events seemed muddled at times. I need to empathise with someone in a story, but though the setting felt real the characters just didn’t ,and I wasn’t really concerned with what happened to them.
Kudos to Pete for taking on bringing female spies into the public eye, sadly historically women were treated badly, as secondary to men, and even now the word Spy evokes a man, rarely do we think of female spies. They existed, though, did a hard and dangerous job, even more dangerous because women then were really regarded as unimportant, disposable.
I might come back to this another time, its a well written book, and I’m guessing well researched, certain historically it feels accurate. We’re in the throes of Covid19 when I’m reading this, and it may well be my issues, the unsettledness we’re all feeling that have affected how I felt about this story. Possibly in a different time I’ll get more from it?
Stars: Two, a good story for others but I failed to connect with it.
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Pivotal Decisions, (Moonlight and Murder 2), Reily Garrett
Genre: Romantic suspense
Murder and bodies, swamps and alligators, guns and bang sticks ( never heard of them – I want one !!), drones and tech, none of which I know much about but it didn’t matter for the story as it was kept loose enough for me to keep up and enjoy. Some suspense novels get very heavy on the detail and I end up skipping pages, this had just enough to interest me and let me follow how the story fit together.
I loved Sabine – and Heath. That dog was the real star of the book 😉 Coyote too was great, it was hard seeing little Sabine all grown up, and he was struggling to keep his hands to himself. Of course Sabine had always been attracted to him so she wasn’t worried when he didn’t…. The secondary characters too, Augie, Sabine’s bestie and Coyote’s work partner and GF and sister were fabulous. Poor Nolan, Keiki was one determined lady.
The girls together brought some much needed humour among the seriousness of the story. The guys were all macho protection, Augie warning Coyote not to hurt Sabine, Coyote determined to keep her back from the danger, Nolan all het up in defence of his little sister and his girlfriend, and the girls all running rings around them equally determined to not be kept out of the action. Lucky they did, it needed all of them.
I understood the potential financially of what poor Jinx had been working on, and could see so easily for many the murders to get their hands on it would be nothing. Sadly that’s the way of the world, dominated by money and the desire for more of it.
I wasn’t entirely convinced over the capture and rescue of Augie’s lady, it seemed a bit too simple and why leave the VR goggles? Maybe its just me missed some essential connection but I really struggled with the relevance of that bit.
Where the story fell down a bit for me was the last section, the end, and the reasons for all the murders seemed to just almost fizzle off. Somewhere I even missed what happened to one of the bad guys, one moment there was still one accounted for, and then it was the end and clearly I missed how he got caught. There were times when the actions stretched credulity but not too much and after all this is fictionland 😉
Stars: Four, a fun read, humour to offset the murders and a great bunch of characters.
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Red Hatchet Falls, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 7), Susan Clayton-Goldner
Genre: Mystery and thrillers
Each time I finish a Radhauser novel I’m in awe of how Susan manages to pull together a story, including so many side plots full of interest, taking me on a journey to find who’s responsible for the awful things in that book. She makes me think its one person, then doubt myself, as Radhauser does so often.
This book is the perfect example of when there seems like a straightforward murderer, all the clues and evidence point to that person, and yet Radhauser feels its too easy. As usual his gut feeling should have been listened to, although hopefully here that mistake will lead to future good.
I really didn’t suspect who the person was, Susan hides them with only the most subtle of clues that only make sense when we reach the conclusion.
It was good to catch up with not only Radhauser and his family, but also his work colleagues, characters from other books ( yay for Rodney!) and meet new ones.
In among the main crime there are plots about bullying, racism, domestic violence, and of course we see just how pervasive racism is, how easy it is to prejudge someone purely on looks. That happens here to an Islamic family, who have made America their home. Of course even now the fall out from 9-11 hits them, they are hated by some people, feared by others, simply because of their religion, which a few extremists used as an excuse for horrific actions. Y’know, Christians have done that too, in history and probably recent times too.
Poor Ahmeed, Daria, and their little son Kareem go through things no family should have to, and I have the feeling that this happens in real life too, from those supposed to protect them. Racism reaches all occupations, being in a “responsible” profession doesn’t stop bigots from using that position for their own ends and I could see the results of Ahmeed’s shooting ending just as Radhauser suspected it would. And that made me sad – no-one ever learns when actions get hidden.
I think In the same way as Radhauser is learning from Heron, the ME, I’m learning the way Radhauser’s mind works ( or Susan’s!). I start looking for evidence, mulling over actions, wondering what comes next. Of course its not all crime all the way, there’s Radhauser taking Lizzie to sports, talking to Gracie ( I love her), fussing his beloved horses.
I felt so sad for the kids in this book, some bullied by adults, some by kids following adults examples, but they were hurt by those actions, and of course that impacts on the adults they become. Its well known that abusers were often abused themselves. That doesn’t excuse it but does sometimes explain it, the anger comes out in odd ways, they don’t have that loving family role model. Its something I get so angry about, children missing out on the fun, secure, loving childhood they should all have. Sadly a percentage never get it and others only part of it. Horrible reflection on us as adults. I remember my own son at five being told by his then best friend he couldn’t play with him any more because he was “ a black’un”. Jay had dark skin, dark hair and big brown eyes, and clearly his friends parents had looked at him, looked at the name Zelos and decided we were foreign. We’re not, but it gave me an insight into how cruel adults can be, how easily they influence children. He was five, didn’t understand what his friend meant, and it was tough explaining bigotry in a way he’d understand.
And as usual I’ve rambled here, but the gist it, once more Susan has knocked out a five star read. Meticulously researched, everything makes sense, there are no lose ends, no stretching of credulity but a story that could so easily be real. Sometimes as series continue they get tired, feel stale but Radhauser has a long way to go yet. Each story feels fresh even though the characters feel like old friends. I was looking back after finishing this at the early books, I started with book two, maybe its time I read book one, see how it all started.
Stars: five, long may Radhauser continue his investigations. Each book feels like the best yet, and then along comes the next which is even better.
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