Dandelion Clocks is an absolutely stunning debut novel from new British talent Rebecca Westcott. It is a beautifully moving book that touches on some...moreDandelion Clocks is an absolutely stunning debut novel from new British talent Rebecca Westcott. It is a beautifully moving book that touches on some very difficult subjects - everything from grief and loss through to finding your identity and even living with a family member with Asperger's Syndrome. This is the kind of story that tugs on your heartstrings, it will break your heart and make you cry but it will also leave you feeling warm and fuzzy inside and with a huge smile on your face.
Liv is an eleven year old girl with a lot on her plate, she may be the younger sibling but having an older brother with Asperger's means she is usually the one who has to be in control. She loves Isaac and they have a fantastic bond but that doesn't make it any less frustrating having to live her life by all kinds of rules just so that Isaac feels comfortable. I had to admire Liv for how patient she is towards her brother, she is very protective of him and she does her best to help him understand the world around him. Liv's story starts several months before her mother's death and we follow her journey as she tries to come to terms with what is going to happen right through the grieving process until a few months after her mother is gone when Liv is struggling to cope with the aftermath.
This isn't always an easy story to read, it is painful and heartbreaking but at the same time it shows that life does go on. Things don't always turn out the way you want or expect them too but you have to find a way to cope and keep moving forward. Liv finds comfort in reading her mother's diaries, they make her feel less alone and give her a sense of connection even after her mother is no longer there. She also has to help her brother understand what has happened and along with their father they have to make new rules that will comfort and reassure Isaac now that their world has turned upside down. There are some incredibly poignant moments between all of the family members throughout the book and it's a story I'm not going to forget any time soon.
Dandelion Clocks is heartbreaking, emotional, devastating and sad but it is also thought provoking, funny, uplifting and hopeful. It's a powerful book and one I can't recommend highly enough. I can't wait to see what Rebecca Westcott writes in the future!(less)
I have to confess I don't read much horror these days so I was a bit nervous before I picked up Donners of the Dead in case I didn't like it. I'm a hu...moreI have to confess I don't read much horror these days so I was a bit nervous before I picked up Donners of the Dead in case I didn't like it. I'm a huge fan of Karina Halle's Artists trilogy though and I've even been enjoying her Experiment in Terror series so I figured if anyone could get me to enjoy a horror romance then it would be her. As it turns out I actually loved how scary it was! I think this was even more creepy than the EIT books (although I've only read the first 2 books so far and I have heard they get scarier as the series continues) and it's definitely more gory. Karina Halle is actually managing to get me to enjoy horror again so I have to give her extra kudos for that.
I think the thing that intrigued me most about this novel and that really made me want to read it was the setting. As a Brit there is a lot I don't know about American history but hearing that this is loosely based on the true story of the Donner Party had me itching to learn more, in fact I'm going to have to do a little research on that group now I've finished the book! I haven't read many stories set in this era so it was a refreshing change to read something so different. I actually think that's something Karina Halle is really good at, she always comes up with such unusual story ideas so you know going in you'll get something other than the norm when you pick up one of her books.
Eve is a young mixed race girl in an era where racism is highly prevalent and since the disappearance of her Native American father she has lived her mother's very white family. She is definitely seen as a second class citizen by her family members and is treated only slightly better than a slave by her uncle and aunt. When a group of men come through town looking for a tracker to help them on their expedition into the mountains Eve's uncle is more than happy to volunteer her for the job - especially when he finds out how much they will pay for her skills. Eve is reluctant to go but doesn't really have much of a choice in the matter and at least her close friend Avery will be going along with her and she'll have a local village girl as a chaperone. What was supposed to be a relatively simple expedition to find the missing Donner Party turns much more sinister when they find themselves being attacked but just who, or what, is coming after them?
I really liked Eve as a character and thought she came across as very realistic for her age and the era she was born in. She is a very innocent and naive young woman who has led a sheltered life and isn't used to being around a group of rough and ready men. It didn't surprise me too much that she developed an immediate fascination with Jake, the way he was described made him come across as ruggedly handsome and he certainly had physical appeal. Unfortunately he also acted like an ass, he comes across as incredibly racist and seems to take great pleasure in making nasty comments to Eve. Again I'd have to say his actions felt quite realistic considering the era and his background, I'm not trying to excuse his actions but I didn't feel they were out of character for a man of his experiences. What I didn't like was the way Eve was still drawn to him even when he was being so mean to her. I had a bit of an issue with how quickly they went from him constantly needling her to him suddenly flirting and attempting to kiss her. It had been obvious from very early on that she was drawn to him (even when I was struggling to see why!) but I hadn't felt that the attraction went both ways which kind of spoilt the romance for me, especially in the beginning.
Once Jake had a change of heart and started treating Eve nicer I actually really started to like him and he has some incredibly sweet lines that I'll happily admit made me swoon a bit. From the start of their flirting together the romance moves at a nice pace and I didn't feel it took away from the rest of the plot but it did seem to come a little out of nowhere in the beginning. I guess I wanted him to be a little more apologetic for the way he had treated her and to have seen him try to make amends for being so mean - I wanted Eve to expect more from him and for him to give it to her. I understand things have to move a little faster in a stand alone story though and I enjoyed their banter and flirting so much that I ended up forgiving him for his initial attitude.
Donners of the Dead was a really enjoyable story which I thought had the perfect mix of scary horror and sexy romance. Considering I'm not much of a horror fan I'm still surprised at how much I loved the creepy scenes even when they had me wanting to hide behind a cushion in fear! I loved the historical setting too and it's definitely left me in the mood to read more stories about American pioneers.(less)
Bladed Magic is a short story prequel to the Colbana Files series by J.C. Daniels so you can start with this story even if you're new to the series. I...moreBladed Magic is a short story prequel to the Colbana Files series by J.C. Daniels so you can start with this story even if you're new to the series. If you're a series reading order nut like me then it technically fits into the timeline after A Stroke of Dumb Luck (another short story) and the first book Blade Song.
For people who are new to the series this is a nice introduction to the main character Kit Colbana, you'll learn a little about her history and discover some of her magical abilities but obviously as this is a short story it won't go into a huge amount of detail. I think it does a good job of showing what a kickass character she can be though and this is a great way to test the waters if you're not sure whether to start the series or not. I do think it's worth pointing out that Justin isn't the love interest for these books so even though he and Kit have some chemistry you shouldn't read too much into that - I'd hate for anyone to be disappointed when they go on to read Blade Song.
If, like me, you're up to date with the series then I'm sure you'll love this chance to see how Kit met her ex Justin. This story shows just how Kit was persuaded out of her hiding place in TJ's bar and how she ended up working as a private investigator. It was Justin's encouragement that helped her get past her anxiety to start taking control of her life again and I enjoyed seeing how instrumental he is in helping her discover more about her abilities.
The Colbana Files has quickly become one of my favourite urban fantasy series since I discovered it so it's one I'd highly recommend. If you're a fan of Patricia Briggs or Ilona Andrews then I'm sure you'll enjoy J.C. Daniels just as much!(less)
This series has just been getting better with every instalment and Tessa Bailey ends it on a high note with Staking His Claim which is my new favourit...moreThis series has just been getting better with every instalment and Tessa Bailey ends it on a high note with Staking His Claim which is my new favourite. All of these books have been scorching hot but I think Matt would have to be the sexiest hero yet, he's one dominant alpha male who knows exactly what he wants in the bedroom and Lucy has no problem helping him fulfil his wildest fantasies!
We've already met Matt through his friendship with Brent and Daniel but he's always been a bit of a closed book, very much the strong and silent type, so we didn't know a great deal about him before now and I was looking forward to learning more. It's obvious that he has inner demons and he's very ashamed of his sexual desires believing that his tastes are too dark for any nice girl to be interested in a relationship with him. Considering what had happened in his past I could understand why he felt that way but in actual fact he isn't the darkest hero I've read about by a long shot! He likes to include a little spanking and bondage in his sex life but I didn't find his desires particularly dark or scary and Lucy certainly wasn't turned off by them. I think I'd actually have enjoyed seeing him and Lucy explore this side of their relationship even further but that isn't to say that their sex scenes were disappointing because they were some of the hottest we've had in the series so far.
Lucy is very different to Matt, she's very carefree, adventurous and more than a little wild, She has hidden her impulsive side throughout college but now she wants to have a little fun while she looks for a full time job. When she meets Matt she is instantly attracted to him but from everything she knows about her brother's best friend she understands he'd never look twice at her thanks to the man code. Determined to get a taste of him she pretends to be someone else and sets out to seduce him without any real idea of what she's about to get into. This pair don't have an easy start to their relationship, starting off on lies and then keeping things secret from Brent adds a lot of pressure on them but thankfully they are able to work things out eventually.
I don't want to say too much more so I'll just say that fans of this series are going to love this latest instalment. It has all the steam and dirty talk of the earlier books plus a little extra spice and ends the series on a real high note. Tessa Bailey is definitely on my must read authors list and I'm looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.(less)
Echo Boy is a futuristic novel set in a world where global warming has caused drastic changes to the landscape as we know it now. Technology...more3.5 stars
Echo Boy is a futuristic novel set in a world where global warming has caused drastic changes to the landscape as we know it now. Technology has come far enough that people can travel anywhere in the world in under an hour and that nearly every home has it's own echo (an android) to carry out chores. The echoes are designed to look human and come covered in real flesh, the only way to tell them apart is that they are slightly too perfect to be real.
Audrey's father is strongly against the use of echoes, he believes that technology is making us lose our humanity and he worries that the echoes could pose a danger to us. He has raised Audrey to have the same beliefs but it is only after the worst possible tragedy occurs that she really starts to understand why he had so many reservations. Now Audrey is terrified, she has lost everything she ever cared about and has been forced to leave home and seek safety with her uncle but everywhere she looks there are echoes going about their daily chores. It would be bad enough if they would just say out of her sight but one echo in particular seems determined to seek her out.
Daniel is an echo but he's different from the others, he has thoughts and feelings that the other echoes don't understand and can't relate to. He knows that Audrey is in danger and he wants to help her but she won't even talk to him let alone trust him to help her. Can Audrey get past her prejudice to see that Daniel is different and can they figure out what caused the terrifying events that turned Audrey's life upside down?
Echo Boy is a fab read and one I thoroughly enjoyed, the future that Matt Haig has envisioned seems scarily believable and isn't one I'd want to find myself living in. This is a story about finding out who you really are, it's about finding your path in life and learning to trust your instincts. It's about love, loss, grief, hope and everything in between - what does it really mean to be human? Audrey will come to realise that sometimes the machines aren't the monsters and it's people that she needs to be wary of but she'll have to learn how to tell who deserves her trust. This is a fast paced story that will have you on the edge of your seat and leave you desperate for more. Thankfully there isn't a cliffhanger ending but I was still left wanting to know what would happen next so I was very grateful to discover there will be a sequel. YA sci-fi fans will love this one & it's definitely a book I'm going to be recommending.(less)
Sheridan swore off men when she found out her husband had been cheating on her - while she was busy looking after their seven month old twins. Her who...moreSheridan swore off men when she found out her husband had been cheating on her - while she was busy looking after their seven month old twins. Her whole life has been spent around controlling military men, from her father and brothers right through to her dirt bag ex and she has had enough. She'd rather focus on her sons and rebuilding her life, starting with her new job, but before that she's going to need to find herself a nanny she can trust. Sheridan's brother, Mac, is worried that her ex is going to cause trouble and he wants to keep his sister and nephews safe so he calls in a favour with his friend and fellow Marine, Sam. Since Sheridan is dead set against the idea of a bodyguard Sam is forced to go in undercover as her new nanny. As the attraction between them grows will Sam be able to keep his secret and what will happen when she finds out who he really is?
I'm a huge fan of the Brazen line, these stories always hit the spot when you want a cute and sexy romance and Marine for Hire fits that bill perfectly. While it wasn't my favourite story from this imprint it was still a fun read and I'm curious enough to want to continue reading the series. I think the reason that I didn't enjoy it as much as I'd hoped is because everything happens so quickly between Sam and Sheridan, I got the instant attraction and didn't have a problem with that but I didn't believe they had fallen in love so fast. I found it hard to believe that Sheridan would be so willing to jump into a new relationship only seven months after giving birth to her children, especially bearing in mind how badly her ex-husband had treated her. Considering she was a single mother with such young babies AND a full time job I just thought romance would probably be the last thing on her mind. I also struggled to understand why she didn't spot that Sam was a military guy, there were so many clues that should have given him away that I had to roll my eyes at how stupid she was not to see it which in turn made me angry with Sam for lying to her.
If I put my irritations to one side and just went with the flow then I did enjoy the interactions between Sam and Sheridan. They had fantastic chemistry but what I actually enjoyed most was seeing them having fun together and spending time as a family with the children. Sam's interactions with the boys were adorable & I think he would make most women's hearts melt! I really liked Sheridan's best friend Kelli and the way she was so supportive of her friend and I'm also very curious to learn more about Sheridan's brother Mac. I have a feeling that the next book might feature Kelli and Mac as the main characters and I really hope I'm right about that. Marine for Hire is a fun, light hearted read and a great way to pass a lazy afternoon on the beach, the Hawaii setting makes it even more perfect summer reading.(less)
I'm a huge fan of author Diane Alberts and I love Entangled's Brazen imprint so of course I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of Temporarily You...moreI'm a huge fan of author Diane Alberts and I love Entangled's Brazen imprint so of course I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of Temporarily Yours. This story is everything you'd expect from this author - hot and steamy with great characters and a believable romance and I absolutely devoured it.
When Kayla and Cooper meet at an airport lounge their attraction is instant even though neither of them is looking for anything serious. Kayla is a nervous flyer and Cooper has a bit of a thing for damsels in distress so he sets out to distract her on their flight, one thing leads to another and before either of them really know what is happening they're getting hot and heavy at in a rental car at the airport. Kayla is flying home to attend her sister's wedding and she is dreading the comments that she is bound to get from family members asking why she is still single. The last thing Kayla wants is the complication of a man in her life but she made up a fake boyfriend to get her parents off her back and now they're expecting him to accompany her to the wedding. After a night of incredible sex Cooper offers to accompany her and pretend to be her boyfriend hoping that a few extra days will help him work her out of his system. There is only one rule - no matter how hot things get between them it is just a fling and they both have to keep their feelings out of it.
I just loved this couple, Kayla is a geek who is obsessed with probabilities and percentages. She can tell you exactly how many relationships fail within the first 2 years or how long most marriages will last and she is determined not to become another statistic. She's an independent woman who is happy with her life, all that she wants is for her family to butt out and leave her in peace and for her sister to be the centre of attention on her wedding day like she deserves. Kayla's obsession with statistics is hilarious, she can quote figures for pretty much any occasion and it was incredibly amusing watching her interactions with Cooper where she throws numbers at him as a self defence mechanism.
Cooper is an ex Marine who is about to start work for a private security firm and is shipping back to Afghanistan in a couple of days. He swore he would never start a relationship and leave a woman at home waiting for him just in case he didn't make it back, he's seen first hand the devastation that can cause and would hate to have someone's heart broken on his account. He has never fully recovered from events that occurred when he was a Marine and has taken the security job because he is trying to make amends for things that were really out of his control. Cooper is the kind of guy who always does what he thinks is right, he puts other people first which I liked about him but he also has a tendency to make decisions for other people without consulting them which does cause a few issues with him and Kayla.
Temporarily Yours is a hot romance, I'll admit that things move very quickly between this couple but in spite of that it never felt rushed. They have such fabulous chemistry (this story really is sizzling!) and I believed they had a strong enough connection to make a relationship work. Both of them are prepared to make compromises and neither of them tries to back the other into a corner. I'm excited that this is the start of a new series and I'll definitely be putting any future releases right at the top of my wish list!(less)
Cupcakes and Ink is a prequel short story for Helena Hunting's new Clipped Wings series. Considering it has less than 40 pages you can't expect too mu...moreCupcakes and Ink is a prequel short story for Helena Hunting's new Clipped Wings series. Considering it has less than 40 pages you can't expect too much of a story from this prequel but it is a great taster of the series and a really nice introduction to the characters that has definitely left me wanting more.
We meet Tenley as she arrives in a new town where she has moved to escape something from her past, we don't yet know what happened to her but we do know that it has left her damaged and wanting to start afresh. She doesn't know anyone in Chicago but she's found a reasonably cheap apartment and a part time job in the antique shop downstairs to tide her over until she starts college. She comes across as very shy and she seems to want to keep to herself but she is also incredibly intrigued by Hayden, the tattoo artist who works in the shop opposite her and who happens to be the nephew of her new boss and landlady.
We know even less about Hayden than we do about Tenley, it is hinted at that he is hiding something about his past but we don't know much more than that and I'm looking forward to getting to know him better as the series continues. I can't resist a guy with tattoos and I definitely have a thing for tattoo artists so I have a feeling I'm going to love him! Cupcakes and Ink shows their hesitant first encounters where Tenley is desperately trying to keep her distance while Hayden pushes to get to know her. There is a strong attraction on both sides and it will be interesting to see how long it takes Hayden to persuade Tenley to have a proper conversation with him.
Overall I really enjoyed this short story but I have to say I think it's incredibly expensive for what it is and I would have been disappointed if I'd paid the current price of £1.99. This is the kind of taster that is often offered for free as a way of hooking a reader and making them want to read a series and I'd say if it is offered as a freebie or at a very discounted price then it's definitely worth giving it a try but at the current price I'd be hesitant to recommend it. I'm definitely looking forward to reading Clipped Wings though because I want to know more about these characters.(less)
Between Us by Jen McLaughlin is part of the Sex on the Beach multi-author series, the stories are linked by three main characters who have al...more3.5 stars
Between Us by Jen McLaughlin is part of the Sex on the Beach multi-author series, the stories are linked by three main characters who have all gone on holiday together for spring break and who are looking for a little romance to go along with their sun, sand and cocktails. The characters spend most of their time apart going off and having their own adventures but they do meet up occasionally so you'll get glimpses of all three of them in each story. The books can be read in any order and they each work fine as a stand alone story so you can choose whether you want to read one, two or all three of them.
Mackenzie is a country superstar, she has lived most of her life under a spotlight and has been betrayed time and time again by people who are only interested in her for what she can give them. If they're not trying to use her to boost their music career then they're selling fake stories about her to the press just to earn a quick buck and she is sick of it. All she wants is one week away with her two best friends Quinn and Cassie, a week where she can kick back and relax somewhere that nobody will know who she is and where she'll just be a normal girl out having fun. Perhaps she can even have a fling and finally lose her virginity. It isn't easy going under the radar when you're America's sweetheart though and trouble has a way of catching up with her.
Austin is a bartender in Key West, he has enough responsibilities on his plate without adding a girl into the mix - especially one who could bring him all the wrong kind of attention - but Mackenzie is very hard to resist. He has no interest in her fame or fortune, in fact Austin wants nothing to do with her career and would rather stay out of the spotlight, he knows that dating her will probably end in disaster but he just can't help himself. The pair have fantastic chemistry but life is never easy if you're in the public eye. Can they manage to keep their fling secret or is Mackenzie's clean cut image about to come crashing down around her ears?
Between Us is a really sweet and enjoyable story and Mackenzie was nothing like I expected her to be - instead of being a spoilt and pampered princess she is really down to earth and generous. She's the kind of girl you can imagine being friends with and I enjoyed seeing the connection between her, Quinn and Cassie. Having read all three pf the novellas it was fun to see each girl's opinions about the others and it really gives you an extra insight into the characters. If I had one complaint it was that the relationship between Mackenzie and Austin developed a little too quickly. Considering this is a fairly short novel and that the time line for their holiday in Key West is only a week I understand why things had to happen that way but I think I'd have enjoyed it even more if it had taken longer for them to fall completely in love. That's a minor irritation though because this was a great story and one I'd happily recommend. I think the whole series is perfect holiday reading material & I'd have really enjoyed reading it sitting on a beach somewhere drinking the series signature cocktail!(less)
Jae Hwa may be from a Korean family but she was raised in America and the last thing she really wants is to move from her home in L.A to Seoul leaving...moreJae Hwa may be from a Korean family but she was raised in America and the last thing she really wants is to move from her home in L.A to Seoul leaving all her friends behind. She had absolutely no idea she is a distant descendant of the princess who refused to marry demi-god Haemosu and that ever since that day he has stolen the oldest female from each generation and forced her to be his bride. Returning to Korea puts Jae firmly on Haemosu's radar but can she find a way to save herself from his clutches?
Gilded is the first book in a new fantasy series that is jam packed with Korean mythology which I found really interesting. I have to admit I know practically nothing about Korean legends so learning about the demi-god Haemosu and his princess bride was great fun and something I really enjoyed. I also loved the setting and the descriptions of Seoul, you can tell the author has done her research on this. If anything I'd have liked a little more detail and could happily have read much more about Korean traditions and the Korean people.
Jae Hwa is a character full of contradictions, she is a Tae Kwan Do black belt and an expert at Korean archery but she could be incredibly clumsy and unaware of her body which seemed a little strange. She is also highly intelligent and in all of the top classes at a well respected international school but could make the most ridiculously stupid decisions that made me want to shake her. I know she is young but I really expected better of her and she is constantly going against the advice she is given and doing the complete opposite. It made it hard for me to have any respect for her character which was a shame because she had a lot of potential. I think she came across as much younger than 16 most of the time so she has a lot of growing up to do.
The other issue I had was with the amount of normal teenage high school angst, I wanted a badass girl who was going to be out fighting demons or monsters but I ended up with a lot of homework problems and swooning over the hot boy. I struggled to see the connection between Jae and Marc, their interest in each other felt forced and was very much a case of instant attraction for no apparent reason. I think there was a little too much focus on the high school and relationship side of the story when the time would have been better spent having Jae find out more about her family history with Haemosu and learning ways to fight him. The second half of the book had a lot more action packed and that's where things really picked up for me, the story flowed better and was much more interesting to read. This is the first book in a new series so hopefully we'll learn more about Jae's heritage and see her mature as a character as the story continues.(less)
After reading and loving Christine Bell's novel Dirty Tricks I jumped at the chance of reading Guardian for Hire when I saw it come up on Netgalley fo...moreAfter reading and loving Christine Bell's novel Dirty Tricks I jumped at the chance of reading Guardian for Hire when I saw it come up on Netgalley for review. I'm a bit annoyed with myself for not realising it was the second book in a series though because I wish I could go back in time and read the books in order. Although both stories feature a different main couple this book does give away who the bad guy was in the previous one as there is a continuing plot across the series. The fact I haven't read Wife for Hire didn't dampen my enjoyment for this book but I think I'd have loved the first one too so I'm upset that I spoiled the ending for myself and now don't want to read it.
Anyway lets get back to get back to my review of Guardian for Hire! I'll admit that I didn't think I was going to like Sarabeth at first, she comes across as quite stuck up in the beginning but it doesn't take long for you to see a nicer side to her. She was raised by her rich grandparents but they didn't really want her and she was never shown any love or affection. She has spent her whole life trying to win their approval but no matter what she does it has never been enough and they always see her as an embarrassment to the family. In a lot of ways she has lived a life of privilege but all the money in the world isn't worth the cold upbringing she had. As you get to know her you realise that she has worked hard to become independent and stand on her own two feet, she refuses to live her life by her grandparent's rules even though she does want them to love her. Sarabeth is a strong woman who is prepared to fight for what she wants and I liked that about her. She can also be incredibly naive in some ways and I had to laugh at the situations she manages to get herself into.
Gavin was a great hero who it was easy to like, he is strong, protective and incredibly sexy. His upbringing couldn't be more different to Sarabeth's and he has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the fact that she comes from money. Gavin is a self made man who has worked his butt off to get where he is and is proud of what he has achieved, he takes great pleasure in showing Sarabeth that there is more to him than meets the eye. He also enjoys teaching her to protect herself and seeing how independent she is. The chemistry between them was fantastic and I loved their banter but I think I really fell for him when he forced down the horrific dinner that Sarabeth cooked him. She was certainly no gourmet chef but he could see how hard she had tried and he appreciated that enough to attempt to eat it with a smile on his face.
I said in my review of Dirty Tricks that I wanted to start working my way through Christine Bell's back list and reading this story has just confirmed to me that I need to do that. She has a knack for writing great characters who have smoking hot chemistry but she also excels at witty banter and had me laughing out loud all the way through this book. If you're looking for a quick, light hearted read that will make you smile, swoon and fall for a rugged Scottish hero then you can't go wrong with this book.(less)
Beyond Me by Jennifer Probst is part of the Sex on the Beach multi-author series, the stories are linked by three main characters who have all gone on...moreBeyond Me by Jennifer Probst is part of the Sex on the Beach multi-author series, the stories are linked by three main characters who have all gone on holiday together for spring break and who are looking for a little romance to go along with their sun, sand and cocktails. The characters spend most of their time apart going off and having their own adventures but they do meet up occasionally so you'll get glimpses of all three of them in each story. The books can be read in any order and they each work fine as a stand alone story so you can choose whether you want to read one, two or all three of them.
Quinn has had to work hard to get where she wants to be but she is willing to put the effort in if it means achieving her goals. She is quite shy and geeky so she feels a little lost when she is separated from her friends so they can all go on the hunt for a spring break fling but she's independent and determined to find her own fun so it doesn't hold her back for long. The sparks start flying the moment she meets James and she's pretty sure he'll be the perfect distraction to make her holiday one to remember. She thinks he's just a normal boy so she's not quite sure what to think when she discovers that he's actually a rich party boy who has spent the last few years wasting money and doing whatever he feels like. On the surface the two of them have nothing in common but the heat between them is impossible to resist and she's only in it for a fling after all. As it turns out they have a lot more in common that she ever could have imagined but James still has one major secret, one that could destroy their fledgling relationship if Quinn ever uncovers it.
I have to say that Beyond Me was my favourite story in the trilogy, I absolutely loved the chemistry between Quinn and James - they have more than a few smoking hot scenes! - but what I loved most was seeing them spend time together outside of the bedroom. They take the time to get to know each other and they both open up about not just their pasts but also about their dreams for the future. James isn't just the rich, arrogant playboy that he first appears to be and there is a lot more to his character than meets the eye. He is actually a really nice and genuine guy once you get to know him, he is sick of the party lifestyle that he's been living but hasn't figured out a way to change his life for the better. Quinn makes him want to turn things around but he doesn't do it just for her, he does it because she shows him that he is someone who deserves to find happiness and live his dreams.
I found their relationship developed really naturally and although the timeline was just as fast as the other two novellas I felt the outcome of things between them was much more believable. This was probably helped by the way things played out at the end of their week together (I can't say more here without giving spoilers so I apologise for being vague!) and by the fact that the epilogue to their story is set several weeks later. Beyond Me is another fabulous story from Jennifer Probst and it's a must read for contemporary romance fans.(less)
I really enjoyed Kissed by a Dark Prince and have been looking forward to reading this sequel ever since, Felicity Heaton has certainly got a hit on h...moreI really enjoyed Kissed by a Dark Prince and have been looking forward to reading this sequel ever since, Felicity Heaton has certainly got a hit on her hands with her Eternal Mates series and Claimed by a Demon King was just as good as I thought it would be. We already met both Sable and Thorn in the previous book but I really enjoyed getting to know them both better here.
Sable is a demon hunter for Archangel, she has spent years training with the single goal of becoming one of their commanders and now is her chance to prove herself. She has been put in charge of leading a team of hunters to the underworld where they have agreed to help the demon king Thorn protect the Third Realm and win the war against his enemies. She will do whatever it takes to make sure her mission is a success, especially as it almost guarantees her a promotion when she returns home at the end. Thorn's realm has been at war for centuries but with the help of the elves, vampires, werewolves and hunters he hopes to finally bring peace to his people. The first time he saw Sable he knew she was his eternal mate but as much as he wishes to claim her he doesn't want to force her into something she isn't comfortable with, as the danger increases he must decide what is more important though - claiming Sable or protecting his people.
We had already seen Thorn's attraction to Sable in the first book so it was no surprise to discover that he had recognised her as his mate. What did surprise me was that he was so willing to go slowly with Sable and let her take the lead in their relationship. He recognised how special she was and he knew that forcing her into something that she wasn't ready for would just break things between them beyond repair. Sable is a warrior, someone who is fierce and proud and she wouldn't take kindly to being pushed too far. I loved how she is prepared to stand up for herself and for those she cares about, once she realises that she has feelings for Thorn she wants to prove that she is strong enough to be his queen and that she will fight for him just as much as he fights for her. What I love about this series is that although you have soul mates who recognise each other immediately the couples still take time to get to know each other and you get to see them gradually fall in love. There may be instant attraction because of their bond but the respect, friendship and love takes time to grow. Sable and Thorn are both strong characters, they are both fighters and they both like to be in control so it isn't easy for either of them to hand the reins to someone else but in spite of that they learn to trust in each other so they can build something special together.
I said in my review of Kissed by a Dark Prince that I wanted to see more of Loren's right hand elf Bleu and I was granted my wish in this one. He is determined to fight Thorn for Sable's affections and he takes great pleasure in pushing things which drives Thorn crazy. I have to admit that Bleu's attitude had started to annoy me a little here though. I would have respected him more if I'd thought he was crazy in love with Sable but I never felt they were anything more than friends, in fact it was seemed seemed more like Bleu thought she was a challenge than that he wanted to be with her forever. Luckily once Sable has made it perfectly clear she isn't interested in him he backs off a bit and was more like is usual self which made me like him again. I do really hope that we'll get to see his story at some point in the series but I have a feeling it won't be any time soon. It hasn't been announced yet who will be the next couple in the series but I have picked up on at least 2 couples who I think might get their own books and I'm looking forward to seeing if I'm right or not.
Alongside the fabulous romance this story also contains a lot of action and some great battle scenes. While the first book focuses on the elves this one is all about the demons but it also introduces us to other new species who I think we'll be seeing a lot more of in the future (I REALLY want to see more of the dragons!!). We get to catch up with characters from the previous book (there are some lovely scenes with Loren and Olivia along with a reappearance of a wounded warrior who I'm already crazy about!) and if you've read Felicity Heaton's Vampire Erotic Theatre series you'll see some cameos from your favourite old characters too. I can't wait to see where this series goes next and I'm looking forward to seeing if any of my couple predictions come true.(less)
Clean Sweep was originally published as a free serialised novel on the Ilona Andrews website, I hated the idea of...moreBuddy read with Ange, Aly & Cory
Clean Sweep was originally published as a free serialised novel on the Ilona Andrews website, I hated the idea of having to wait between instalments so I decided to hold off until the story was complete before reading it. When the authors were looking for beta readers to help edit the story before it was published I jumped at the chance of helping and I feel it's only fair to point that out even though I've tried very hard not to let that effect the way my review has been written. If you look closely you'll spot my name in the acknowledgements but even though I received a free ebook from the author I loved it so much that I also purchased a print copy to sit on my bookshelves.
Part of the Clean Sweep Acknowledgements
Anyway, to get back to my review I have to tell you that I'm a huge fan of Ilona Andrews and their Kate Daniels series, they have become an auto buy author for me and Clean Sweep just helped to confirm the reason for that. They really do create such fantastic and unique worlds and I adore all of their characters, the fact that they treat us to strong heroines and alpha heroes who respect women and never step over the line into a-hole territory just seals the deal.
This story may have vampires and werewolves but it's far from your normal paranormal affair and you will also be treated to alien worlds and unusual races - the scope for future adventures in this world is just astounding! Dina is an Innkeeper, part of a magical race who offers safe haven to intergalactic travellers who are visiting foreign realms. She has an almost symbiotic relationship with the Inn she runs, the house protects her and she is able to draw from it's strength but without her keeping the Inn would wither away and die. Innkeepers have a duty of care to their guests and will do anything in their power to keep them safe but they are supposed to remain neutral when it comes to anything outside of their territory. Dina finds herself unable to sit back and do nothing when something starts attacking people in her neighbourhood though and she soon finds herself in a whole heap of trouble.
I don't want to say too much about Dina's relationship with the Inn so I'm just going to say I loved it, the Inn is almost like an additional character in the story and I really enjoyed getting to see how they were able to work together against their enemies. Dina has certain abilities on her own but she is stronger by far when she is in her own territory and has the Inn's power to back her up. She really is a great main character, someone who is honourable and determined to do the right thing even if it puts her life at risk, in fact Dina is the kind of person you'd want at your back if you were in trouble. There has been tragedy in her past but that has just made her all the more determined to make a success of her Inn and to build a legacy that she can be proud of.
The romance takes a back seat in this story which is a good thing because the authors spend more time focusing on their world building and introducing the characters but we are treated to a couple of alpha hotties who I'm looking forward to getting to know better. Normally even a hint of a love triangle would have me running in the opposite direction but I'm glad to say that isn't the case here and I'm actually really intrigued by both of the potential love interests. First you have Sean, an alpha werewolf who knows very little about the supernatural world and where he came from, he has his eyes opened in a big way but although it comes as quite a shock he takes most things in his stride. The scenes between him and Dina had me laughing out loud on several occasions and I loved seeing her put him in his place rather than going stupid around him just because he's a sexy man. They have great chemistry and I want to see them spending more time together as the series continues.
Alpha werewolf Sean
The other guy Arland is a vampire from a powerful family, he is noble and proud but very respectful when it comes to Dina. He understands her abilities so knows just what she is capable of but he still wants to help keep her safe. Both guys are protective and they can be quite growly towards each other but Dina won't accept any of their crap and she is more than capable of standing up to them. We don't get to know Arland quite as well but there are some great scenes with him and I found myself really liking him too. I'm not going to say who I think Dina will end up with because although I have picked a team I don't think it would take a lot to make me switch sides!
I could go on and on about the things I loved about this book but I really think you should just read it for yourself rather than have me spoil it for you. The special edition print version contains beautiful images of the main characters (these could only be improved if they were in colour) and I believe these illustrations are included in the ebook too. I'm excited that this is the first book in a new series and any new books will automatically go to the top of my to buy list the second they are released! If you're looking for a new urban fantasy series that is unique and memorable then Clean Sweep is a must read, as is anything else Ilona Andrews has ever written!(less)
Evie has always been the black sheep of her family, she was the wild child who wanted to go off and do her own thing while her brother and sisters were happy to tow the family line and get a good education and find a good career or at the very least marry someone who fitted the family's idea of successful. Having spent 10 years away from home travelling with her ex boyfriend and his band she hates the idea of coming home with her tail between her legs now that things have all gone wrong. Wes has been her brother's best friend since childhood, he fits her parent's idea of the perfect guy - rich, successful and the CEO of his own company - so that automatically means that Evie shouldn't be interested in him. He couldn't be more different than any guy she has dated before but in spite of that she has always felt a surprising attraction to him. When they bump into each other on the way home sparks fly and they are both forced to reconsider what they want from life.
This was another enjoyable story, Evie was terrified of flying so she gets herself into quite a state by drinking too much on the plane. Watching her proposition Wes was really funny but he found her incredibly hard to resist. When she has had time to sober up Wes takes great enjoyment at teasing her about the things she said but she turns the tables on him when she sets out to seduce him. Because the couple have known each other for so long and we get to see things from both of their points of view it was much easier to believe how quickly things progress between them. The attraction between them is intense and the way Evie sets out to get her man was great fun to watch.(less)
Tamara is sick of men who are only interested in one thing, she is determined that...moreI read this novella as part of the Baby, It's Cold Outside anthology
Tamara is sick of men who are only interested in one thing, she is determined that she will no longer sleep with someone unless they have at least a chance of building a future together. She's not looking for guarantees but she wants someone who is looking for the same things from life as she is so has instigated a new rule - she won't even kiss a guy until their 10th date. To escape the New Year celebrations she is spending time alone in her friend's family cabin but the last thing she expects is for her very sexy, much younger brother to arrive. Luke has recently arrived home from Afghanistan and is planning on surprising his sister, it turns out the surprise is on him when he meets her drunk but adorable friend.
Without a doubt this was my favourite story in the anthology, I had so much fun reading it and as soon as I finished I wanted to go back to the beginning and start it all over again! Tamara is the kind of girl I think most women can relate to and she had me laughing out loud at the way she drunkenly propositions Luke. Now Luke, what can I say about Luke? I guess the main thing is he was absolutely delicious! Not only is he a returning hero with an incredibly chiselled body but he is also a genuinely nice, caring guy. I want to know where I can find a Luke of my very own please. I loved the connection between Tamara and Luke, they are so obviously attracted to each other but she is determined to resist him. I really enjoyed seeing him slowly break through her defences, the way he manages to fit their first 10 dates into the space of a day was hilarious but surprisingly romantic and I'm never going to look at a game of scrabble in quite the same way again! When they finally give in to their passion it was explosive and my only disappointment was that I wasn't ready for the story to end.(less)
I read this novella as part of the Baby, It's Cold Outside anthology (This story was called 'Tis the Season to Love Shopping in the anthology & ha...moreI read this novella as part of the Baby, It's Cold Outside anthology (This story was called 'Tis the Season to Love Shopping in the anthology & has been re-named before being released as an individual novella)
Kate moved from London to New York for her dream job but she left her boyfriend behind and their attempts at a long distance relationship were a disaster. Lonely and miserable she decides she might as well make the most of the Christmas day quiet to catch up on her work. When she ends up getting stuck in the department store with her boss's son thanks to a sudden blizzard things quickly start to heat up between them but can she trust a playboy with her heart?
I really enjoyed this story and would love to see more of Kate and Ryder in a future book. This story really does show that you shouldn't judge people by your first impressions or rumours that you hear about them. Both Kate and Ryder completely misjudge each other but as they get to know each other better they realise how wrong they were and how much they actually have in common. I loved the idea of being trapped in a department store and just being able to wander around and take whatever you needed to make it through the night, it sounded like a lot of fun and would be even better of you had someone as hot as Ryder to pass the time with. This story had everything I look for in a romance - great chemistry, fun banter, a sexy, protective hero and a likeable heroine.
For the last five years Becca has volunteered with the police department every Christ...moreI read this novella as part of the Season of Seduction anthology.
For the last five years Becca has volunteered with the police department every Christmas and Easter and over that time she has become good friends with Jeremy. There has always been a spark between them but until recently Becca was married and unable to take things further. Jeremy has had feelings for Becca for a long time and now that he knows she is single he is hoping to show her how good they could be together. However, when he realises her husband abused her he worries that she will be put off by the fact that he is a Dom. He is sure he has seen signs of her submissive side but doesn't want to push her too hard and scare her away forever.
I'm going to come straight out with it and tell you Jeremy is HOT, I completely fell for his character and I'm sure a lot of other people will too. I will admit to feeling that the relationship development moves a little too quickly in this novella but I enjoyed the story so much I was happy to forgive that. I think one of the things I liked most about Matzoh and Mistletoe is that it goes to great lengths to show the differences between a D/s relationship and an abusive one. It is one thing to give control to someone voluntarily and another thing entirely for someone to take your control away by force. Jeremy is very patient with Becca when he explains the difference and I appreciated that about him, I also loved the way he was so gentle with her and talked through her fears because of the things her ex had done.
Becca has always had desires that her husband wasn't willing to fulfil, he made her feel dirty and wrong because she wanted to experiment in the bedroom so she has learnt to push her needs to one side. Jeremy encourages her to express herself, he wants her to feel free to tell him her deepest, darkest fantasies and assures her that nothing she comes up with will shock him. It was nice to see Becca start to come out of her shell and realise that there is nothing wrong with her because of her kinks. I also really loved how she realised that there is a big difference between being weak and being submissive. This was my first story by Jodie Griffin but I really enjoyed it and will definitely be reading more by her in the future.(less)
Kat and Liam have a happy marriage but they both love to add a third partner...moreI read this novella as part of the Season of Seduction anthology.
Kat and Liam have a happy marriage but they both love to add a third partner into the mix occasionally. There is only one man that they would ever consider anything permanent with but Hunter couldn't deal with his feelings for them and left 10 years ago to join the Marines. Now that Hunter is back in the area Liam and Kat are determined to show him just how good the three of them could be together.
I have to admit that Ménage on 34th Street was my least favourite story in the anthology, I usually really enjoy ménage stories but this one missed the spot for me. I feel like the authors were trying to do too many things in a fairly short novella and this would have been much better as a full length novel. There was an author's note to say that there will be a further story about these characters but at the moment I'm not sure if I'm invested enough to want to carry on reading about them. There were things I enjoyed about the story - the sex was HOT! - but I never felt that the three of them would be able to make things work. Kat and Liam are obviously in love and very happy together but I didn't feel enough of a connection between them and Hunter. I believed that they had all been in love at one point but after 10 years with absolutely no contact I thought they needed to spend time getting to know each other again.
I spent a lot of the story feeling like Kat and Liam were trying to force Hunter into something he wasn't comfortable with. You could tell he was interested in them both but he's spent so long denying the fact he is bisexual I don't think he'd be able to accept things happening quite so fast. I also felt that Kat and Liam didn't take his concerns about his military career seriously enough, every time he tried to raise the issue they just pushed it to one side and tried to use sex to try and make him forget about it. When I pick up a novella, especially a Christmas one, I'm expecting a hot, sexy story. When it comes to ménage stories I'm not usually expecting a happy ever after but I do want a believable happy for now and I don't feel like I got that here. There seemed to be way too much talking which I started to find boring, especially since the more they talked the less I felt like they would work as a permanent threesome! The story also missed out on the Christmas feel good factor which was a real disappointment.(less)
Tilda's plans to spend the holidays alone on an exclusive resort in Mexico are turned...moreI read this novella as part of the Season of Seduction anthology.
Tilda's plans to spend the holidays alone on an exclusive resort in Mexico are turned upside down when she meets sexy, dominant lawyer Miguel on the plane. Miguel is visiting his family's resort to sort out a legal problem for them but when Tilda catches his eye he makes her an offer she can't refuse. If Tilda agrees to follow Miguel's orders he promises her pleasure like she's never even dreamed of before. Tilda is a successful business woman who is used to being in control but the idea of giving herself over to Miguel both intrigues her and turns her on and she's more than up for a little holiday fun.
Five Golden Rings was my favourite novella in the Season of Seduction anthology and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from Jeffe Kennedy in the future. I love the fact that Tilda knew what she wanted and was willing to go out and get it, she doesn't hide from her sexuality and is happy to embrace her desires and jump into the world that Miguel introduces her to. I think one of my favourite things about this story was the fact that Tilda is a rich and successful woman in her own right, she doesn't need a man to take care of her and she submits to Miguel purely because she wants to not because he pushes her into it. She is new to the BDSM lifestyle but finds it incredibly freeing to let someone else take control for a change. After reading so many stories where you have a rich billionaire businessman and a naive and innocent young woman it is so refreshing to read about a woman who is the complete opposite!
Miguel is sexy as sin and I loved his creativity when it came to the gifts he presented Tilda with, they were such a fun take on the twelve days of Christmas song and I couldn't wait to see what new idea he came up with each day. He introduces Tilda to a completely new lifestyle and turns her world upside down but at the same time he completely underestimates her and I loved how she turned that around on him. My only complaint about Five Golden Rings is that I wanted more, not because anything was missing but because I was enjoying it so much I didn't want it to end!(less)
Wild on You is the first full length story in Tina Wainscott's Justiss Alliance series, we have previously met Risk and the other members of his elite...moreWild on You is the first full length story in Tina Wainscott's Justiss Alliance series, we have previously met Risk and the other members of his elite SEAL team in the prequel novella Wild Hearts but this gives us a chance to get to know Risk and some of the others a little better. This is such a fun story, one that is full of humour, plenty of action and some great chemistry between the main characters. We get to see Risk starting to settle into life as a civilian and he gets much more than he bargained for in his first job for the Justiss Alliance.
When he finds out his assignment is to protect a young woman Risk thinks it'll be a piece of cake, OK so she has already had attempts made on her life but how many enemies can one girl have? It doesn't take him long to discover that Addie is going to cause him plenty of problems though, a fierce believer in animal rights Addie is willing to go to whatever lengths it takes to protect innocent animals, even if it does mean breaking a few laws to save a life. She has upset plenty of people along the way and has a list of enemies a mile long. Add that to the fact that she isn't willing to spend her time sitting quietly somewhere safe - not when there are animals that still need to be rescued - and Risk has a big task on his hands. It doesn't help that he's having trouble keeping his hands to himself either, everything about Addie draws him in, her lust for life and the way she is so willing to fight for what she believes in leaves him desperate to know if she is as passionate in the bedroom as she is out of it.
Addie is a fabulous heroine, she is the kind of woman who fights for what she believes in. She has strong principles and she stands by them. There were a few times when I found her ridiculously naive around Risk but thankfully their interactions were just so funny that it didn't spoil the story. Risk got his nickname because he is an adrenaline junkie, he lives life in the fast lane and loves adventure. He and Addie tended to feed off of each other as they come up with more and more crazy plans but I felt that their personalities really complimented each other and they were a well matched couple. They have great banter, fabulous chemistry and a believable connection so although their relationship develops quite quickly it didn't seem implausible.
The suspense side of the story was good and I liked the fact that Addie wasn't a completely hopeless damsel in distress, she makes a couple of mistakes but I felt they were understandable ones and she always learns from them and goes on to make more sensible choices. I loved that Risk respected Addie's need to take action and that he took charge of her safety without forcing her to stop living her dream. He was willing to support her in her animal rights activities but insisted on her letting him help her and make sure she was safe while she was doing her thing. Working together they were able to accomplish much more than she would have done alone and she was smart enough to realise that. We get a chance to see some of the other guys from the Justiss Alliance again and I enjoyed the banter between all of the guys, they were obviously a very tight team in the SEALs and that hasn't changed even though they are now out of the military. I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time with the group as the series continues. If you're looking for a fun and fairly light hearted romantic suspense then I'd definitely recommend giving this one a try, I would say it's probably a good idea to read the prequel novella (Wild Hearts) first though because it is a great introduction to the characters and explains exactly why the whole team was forced out of the SEALs.(less)
When Samuel escaped the Archives five years ago the only thing he regretted was leaving his best friend Piper be...moreBuddy read with Amanda, Ange & Aly
When Samuel escaped the Archives five years ago the only thing he regretted was leaving his best friend Piper behind. He has made a new life for himself though and has worked his way up to Sergeant in the King's Sentry. When his work on a series of grizzly murders brings him back into contact with Piper he realises his friend has grown into a strong and beautiful woman and he is desperate to find a way to make her leave the Archivists Guild to be with him. Piper never forgave Samuel for leaving her, she couldn't understand his desperate need to escape and since he left she has thrown herself into her training to become an archivist. She knows that using her abilities will cost her greatly but with Jack the Ripper on a killing spree she has to do whatever she can to stop him taking more victims. Can the two of them work together to catch a killer before he strikes again and what will they do when their past catches up with them both?
I'm a huge fan of Christine d'Abo's erotic romances so when I found out that she was writing a steampunk series I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy of Gilded Hearts. I loved the concept of the world she has created and I found the idea of the archivists very intriguing. They use their abilities to collect the memories of people who have died - usually only murder victims or important members of society - but when channelling the memories they also live through the experiences themselves. I can't imagine a job where you constantly have to relive horrific murders as if you were inside the victim while it happened so it's no wonder the archivists would go crazy if the memories weren't later removed. The memory extraction process was deliciously creepy and the story as a whole was a lot darker than I expected it to be. I liked the fact that the removal process wasn't completely accurate and often cost the archivist some of their personal memories too because it felt more realistic. It was hard to believe that anyone would choose to be an archivist but as you get to learn more about how the apprentices came to join the guild you discover that they were never really given much choice in the matter.
I found the world a really interesting one but unfortunately I struggled to understand the set up, there were a lot of times when I was left wondering why things happened a certain way or where I wanted a more detailed explanation. Although I found the way memories played a part in the story was really cleverly done I didn't like the fact that we got to see so many intimate memories belonging to complete strangers - those moments didn't seem to add anything to the story and just made me feel incredibly uncomfortable. I think it was partly my difficulties with the world building and those memories in particular that made it so hard to connect with either of the main characters. It took a long time for me to really start to care about them and become invested in the outcome of their story. I'm happy to say that things really started to fall into place for me in the last third of the book though and now that I'm getting comfortable with the world I'm more excited about reading the next book in the series. I think this series has a lot of potential and I'm hoping that things will continue to improve in Quicksilver Soul.(less)
James is a 13 year old boy who is struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother. He doesn't have the best home life and is stuck living wit...moreJames is a 13 year old boy who is struggling to come to terms with the death of his mother. He doesn't have the best home life and is stuck living with a step-father who drinks too much and can become violent. Everything changes for James when he meets Webster, a homeless man who is staying in an abandoned house that James spends time in when he needs an escape. Webster is running from something and claims to have a dark curse hanging over him but can James help him find a cure?
I have to admit I wasn't too sure what to expect from The Dark Inside, it's not the kind of book I would usually pick up but after hearing a reading by Rupert Wallis at a Simon & Schuster blogger event I just had to try it and I'm glad that I did. Sometimes it's nice to step out of your comfort zone - especially when you find a gem like this book! If I had any fears that I wouldn't be able to relate to a 13 year old boy they were quickly proved unfounded and within the space of a couple of chapters I was fully invested in James's story. He is such a sweet boy and he reminded me of my younger brother at that age, they have the same curiosity about the world and eagerness to find adventure. Even though James has been through a lot and has been let down by the people who should protect him he is still the kind of boy who sees the good in people, he wants to help Webster even if he isn't sure what to believe about Webster's curse.
One of the things that is done particularly well in this novel is the paranormal element. Nothing is ever completely laid out so although you are given strong hints about what happened there is enough ambiguity for the reader to be able to make up their own mind about things. You can choose to take the paranormal events at face value or you can decide that they are the product of an incredibly over-active imagination. I'm not going to tell you my decision though - you'll just have to read the book and make up your own mind.
I loved the characters in The Dark Inside, both James and Webster are both well developed and have intriguing backgrounds that make you want to spend time getting to know them but we also meet some other interesting people along the way. I don't want to say too much about them for fear of giving spoilers so I'll just tell you that Ma was one of the creepiest old ladies I've ever come across! The story touches on some difficult subjects dealing with James's grief and his sense of loneliness and Webster's anguish about things that happened in his past but there is also plenty of action and danger from more than one direction. This is the kind of book that it is easy to get lost in and the short chapters make it an incredibly quick read - I kept telling myself I'd read just one more chapter and before I knew it I was at the end of the story. This is a fantastic debut from a new British author and I'm looking forward to seeing what Rupert Wallis comes up with next!(less)
I was really looking forward to reading Heart of Stone, I haven't come across many paranormal romances where gargoyles...moreBuddy read with Ange & Cory
I was really looking forward to reading Heart of Stone, I haven't come across many paranormal romances where gargoyles are the main supernatural character but I've enjoyed the ones I have read so I had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately there were so many inconsistencies and things that bugged me about the story that I struggled just to finish it and I'm not sure it's a series I will be continuing with. It's hard to explain what I didn't like about the story without talking about what happens so, although I'll try to keep the spoilers to a minimum, you might not want to continue reading this review if you haven't read the book yet unless you don't mind being told part of the plot.
I thought I was going to like Ella at first, she is shy and keeps herself to herself but she was amusing and I was looking forward to seeing her come into her own as the story progressed. Unfortunately fairly early on she is attacked by a real creep who seems quite determined to rape her and her reaction really annoyed me. After passively accepting what is happening for ages Ella finally slaps her attacker and I started to think that she was going to stand up for herself (hooray!) but it isn't long before she starts to feel guilty and regret the fact that she might have hurt him (what?!). I was further irritated when her boss interrupts them, it is quite obvious that something untoward is going on but they all agree that it's probably best not to discuss what happened and agree to go on their merry way. At this point Ella starts wishing that someone had been there to protect her - even though she apparently has these special abilities that she could have used to defend herself but for some unknown reason she would rather be raped than use them!
While Ella is standing around complaining to the gargoyle statue that he didn't rescue her she is so oblivious to her surroundings that a second attacker is able to sneak up behind her with a knife. Luckily this time the gargoyle decides it's time to step in and he comes to life and saves her. OK, I get that it would be a shock if a statue came to life in front of you but considering he just saved her life you might think that Ella would be grateful. Well, unfortunately you'd be wrong - in fact she starts screaming, calls him a monster and uses her super special ability to attack him. So she can't use her power to defend herself from the guy who is trying to rape her but she can use it to go after the gargoyle that just saved her from a knife attack? I'm sorry but I'm struggling to see the logic there!
Gargoyle, Kees, is actually surprisingly patient with her. He lets her get away with attacking him and he waits for her to calm down before questioning her to find out what has woken him up. I have to warn you there are quite a few plot holes when it comes to the gargoyles, they are supposed to be defenders of humanity who can only be woken up by their guardians when they are needed to protect the world from demons but unfortunately someone has been killing off the guardians and now most of the gargoyles have been lost. When Kees is in his statue form he is aware enough of his surroundings to keep fairly up to date with the latest technology and fashions, he even talks in a modern way in spite of the fact that he's been asleep for centuries, but he isn't aware of his current location and why he is no longer with his guardian. That just didn't make sense to me - either he's watching what is going on around him or he isn't, why would his knowledge be so selective? Surely he would at least have been aware of his location change even if he hadn't been able to wake himself up to do anything about it?
I'm not even going to keep writing about the things that didn't make sense because I'd be here all day so let's move on to the romance between Kees and Ella. You've probably already guessed by this point that I wasn't the biggest fan of Ella but for some reason I still had high hopes for Kees. I mean, here you have this protective alpha gargoyle who can not only fly but who can also transform into an incredibly sexy human - what's not to like about him? Well, his attitude for a start and unfortunately that was a major turn off for me. He is so determined to not show any emotions that he acts like, well, for want of a better word, stone. He is cold and hard and if I was Ella I'd have punched him on multiple occasions. They quickly give in to their attraction for each other and sleep together but since Kees is too scared to have any kind of feelings he then proceeds to pretty much ignore Ella and treat her like crap for the rest of the week. While he's busy being cold towards her she is for some strange reason busy falling in love with him - don't ask me why because I sure as hell couldn't figure it out. After a week of tension Kees finally decides that he really does want to be with her so they end up back in bed together, afterwards Ella confesses that she loves him and he doesn't respond which has her feeling like he's going to go back to giving her the cold shoulder and leaves her feeling devastated. So the next morning Ella leaves for work without before Kees wakes up and he has the gall to be annoyed with her because she left without saying goodbye. Seriously, are you kidding me?
You'd hope that since I didn't like either of the main characters and I didn't believe in the romance that at least there might be some decent fight scenes? After all, the gargoyles are supposed to protect the world from demons so that should lead to some pretty scary bad guys right? Unfortunately you'd be wrong again and not only are the bad guys pretty pathetic (and easy to guess!) but our hero and heroine are pretty damn stupid too. I'm not even sure how they survived to the end of the book if I'm honest. Does this series have potential? I'd have to say possibly, the fact that the next book features a different main couple does automatically makes me more interested in reading it. If there weren't so many holes in the world building then I would have loved the mythology but after being so disappointed with the first instalment I'm not sure I'll be able to bring myself to carry on reading this series.(less)
Every Christmas for the last three years Kim has helped Blake run Naughty Nicks, a se...moreI read this novella as part of the Season of Seduction anthology.
Every Christmas for the last three years Kim has helped Blake run Naughty Nicks, a seasonal company that provides the sexiest Santa strippers for Christmas parties. Apart from a one night stand when they first met Blake has always kept Kim at a distance but her attraction to him has continued to grow and she is determined to take things a step further this year. Blake has wanted Kim from the moment they met but a nasty divorce has left him wary of relationships, Kim is special though and he finally feels ready to take a risk.
I was already a fan of Christine d'Abo so I had high hopes for Naughty Nicks and I wasn't disappointed, it had everything I look for in a Christmas story - great characters, a cute romance and sexy stripping Santas! Kim and Blake have brilliant chemistry but Blake has several reasons to be wary of pursuing a romance with her, he worries about their age difference and the fact that he's her boss but the biggest block of all is the number his ex-wife did on him when she left him. He has so much fun with Kim but is scared of losing her as a friend if they try and fail at a relationship. It was so easy to tell how perfect these two were for each other and I really enjoyed Kim's attempts at seducing Blake. He was trying so hard to resist her but in the end it all became too much and he had to have her. I loved Blake's big gesture towards the end (no I'm not talking engagement rings but something much more fun!) and I completely believe that these two will get their happy ever after.
I really hope that this might turn into a series because I loved the concept of Naughty Nicks and we were introduced to a few of their strippers who I'd love to see get their own happy endings. If you've not read anything by Christine d'Abo before I'd also highly recommend her Long Shots series which is set in a BDSM club and is incredibly hot, she's become an auto-buy author for me and I'm still working my way through her back list.(less)
I have a huge amount of respect for Roz Savage and the things she has achieved - the thought of rowing single-handedly across an ocean completely alon...moreI have a huge amount of respect for Roz Savage and the things she has achieved - the thought of rowing single-handedly across an ocean completely alone blows my mind and she has done it not just once but 3 times now! I started following Roz's blog back in 2005 when she started the Atlantic rowing race and I followed the first couple of legs of her journey across the Pacific but for some reason life got in the way and I lost track of her blog before she made it all the way to Papua New Guinea. I haven't read her first book (about the Atlantic crossing) but I figured since I followed her blog throughout that journey it wouldn't be the end of the world to skip straight to this one so when I saw it come up on the Vine list I couldn't resist requesting it.
I'm not sure if it was partly down to my mood when I picked it up but I've found myself really struggling to read this. I normally read a book within 2 days and considering this is only 200 pages I should have been able to read it very quickly. Unfortunately I've been reading for a week now and I'm still only 70 pages in. It just isn't holding my attention and I have to force myself to pick it up and carry on reading. I remember Roz's blog as being full of humour and interesting insights into her adventures but I'm finding the book very dry and actually quite boring to read.
I have to admit that I was also irritated with her attitude to some events and the way she comes across as incredibly ungrateful to the US Coast Guard. I remember at the time of the event that she clarified on her blog that she hadn't asked for a rescue attempt to be made and that she actually felt pressured into giving up her first attempt at the Pacific crossing because of the interference of one of her blog followers so I can understand why she was upset but that doesn't excuse the way she comes across in a book written several years later. She makes several pointed little digs like "Their inspection could have been due to concern for my safety, while a cynic might suggest that it was inspired by the presence of a TV camera crew making a documentary about them - but out of respect, I would say no such thing" which really made me uncomfortable and ultimately put me off continuing to read the book.
I may come back to this book at some point in the future and give it another try in case I enjoy it more when I'm in a different mood but I don't think I'll be wanting to pick it up any time soon.(less)
Once again Tessa Bailey has written a fabulous romance and given me new favourite in the Line of Duty series. We had already met both Brent and Hayden...moreOnce again Tessa Bailey has written a fabulous romance and given me new favourite in the Line of Duty series. We had already met both Brent and Hayden in the previous book and having seen how much they love to hate each other I just knew that their chemistry would be off the charts! I'm glad I can say that I wasn't disappointed. In a lot of ways these characters are complete opposites but that is what makes them work so well together.
Hayden is a rich society daughter who seems to have it all, she spends her time planning parties to raise money for charity and it looks like she doesn't have a care in the world - that is what Brent thinks of her anyway. It doesn't take long for us to realise how much pressure she is under though, her mother has to be one of the most selfish characters I've come across in a while and I hated the way she treated Hayden and put pressure on her to marry a wealthy man who would invest in her father's failing business. From first glance you might think that Hayden is stuck up and has had everything handed to her but she actually works really hard at fundraising and she spends a lot of time volunteering with a charity that is very close to her heart. She has always dreamed of marrying for love but she feels that she owes it to her father to help him in his time of need.
Brent comes from a very different background to Hayden, his family has never had much money but he is a proud man who works two jobs to help support his siblings. He has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the fact that Hayden seems to have it so easy, he resents what he thinks she is and it takes him a while to realise that his opinion about her was completely wrong. As much as the two of them always manage to rub each other up the wrong way neither of them can deny the attraction that burns between them and when they've given in to that attraction once they just can't seem to stop themselves from going back for more. I loved the push and pull between them as they fought over who was more dominant. Hayden likes to take control in the bedroom but really you can tell that Brent is the one who is in charge. He encourages her to let her wild side out though and just like all of Tessa Bailey's heroes he excels at scorching hot dirty talk! I think these two have some of the hottest scenes from the series and trust me that's saying something.
Asking for Trouble really was a fantastic instalment in the series and it's left me eager to get started on the final book Staking His Claim which is about Brent's younger sister Lucy and his best friend Matt. I have a feeling that big brother isn't going to be happy about this match and I can't wait to see the sparks fly!(less)