Gifted Gifted is a novella by Kelley Armstrong and gives us two short stories. One from her Cainsville series and one is a pack story from her Women oGifted Gifted is a novella by Kelley Armstrong and gives us two short stories. One from her Cainsville series and one is a pack story from her Women of the Otherwold series. Both are centred around giving that perfect gift for Christmas.
The first story is told from a young boy called Gabriel’s point of view. I have yet to read the Cainsville series, although it is sitting very temptingly on my kindle! So the characters and setting were entirely new to me, although I understand Gabriel is one of the main characters in the books. And we are given an excerpt at the end of the novella from the series that gave me an idea of the man he becomes.
Gabriel’s story is quite a sad one, he is a young boy, the son of a drug addict, poor, hungry and neglected. But there is one saving grace his regular visits to stay with his aunt in Cainsville. Gabriel lives for these visits, the normality, the town and its inhabitants, but more importantly the love he feels for his aunt. This story is about Gabriel’s quest to get her the perfect Christmas present.
This could have been a very sad story, if hadn’t have been for Gabriel. He has guts, steely determination and intelligence. It is this intelligence that allows him to survive, but also propels him to strive for something better outside of the life he has. It’s also very interesting to see the contrast of a Gabriel when he is at home surviving and there is a ruthless streak in him, for a child. To the Gabriel is Cainsville who is allowed to be a child once more.
In many ways this story did exactly what I am sure Armstrong hoped that it would do and has completely wetted my appetite and made me want to start the Cainsville series. I really enjoyed it.
The Puppy Plan
Book two is a pack novel, my favourite of Armstrong’s writing. It is told from the point of view of Elena and Clay’s twin son Logan, who is 9 years old. This book is very sweet and is about family. It’s lovely to see Clay and Elena as parents and also to see this parenting from a 9 year old’s point of view.
Both of the twins Kate and Logan want a puppy. For various reasons, their parents have told them the timing is not right and they cannot have one. What enfolds is a sweet story as Logan finds an abandoned puppy in a sack in the woods and wants to keep it as the perfect present for his twin and hides it away. But he also faces the moral dilemma of not wanting to put his parents in a difficult position.
This is just a cute story that will put a smile on your face, with a charming little twist at the end. Armstrong has created strong characters for Kate and Logan already, it was great to see flashes of Clay and Elena. We also get a guest appearance from Jeremy. There’s hints at another story to come from the pack featuring Logan and Kate and I very much look forward to getting my hands on it.
A fab little Christmas novella for Armstrong fans. Neither of the stories are complicated or anything more than little festive short stories that are little treat for Christmas. My favourite (as always) was the pack story, but of course I am yet to read any of the Cainsville series.
While not specifically a Christmas novel, Walking on Air is set at Christmas time and would make a great Christmas read. Our hero is gunslinger and loWhile not specifically a Christmas novel, Walking on Air is set at Christmas time and would make a great Christmas read. Our hero is gunslinger and loner Gabe, who gets caught out one Christmas Day and gets shot and dies. His soul in the balance, the Angels give him a chance to redeem himself. He must chose one of three lost souls and save them in time for Christmas. Choosing between a hungry, orphaned boy, a lonely, bitter old man who lost his entire family, or a beautiful woman who escaped with her sister from her abusive father, he inevitably choses the beautiful woman, he is a man after all! But the catch is he’s got thirty days to do it. Agreeing to their terms, Gabe finds himself flashed back in time, to re-live the last 30 days of his life.
Hat maker Nancy fled from her father’s cruel clutches with her younger sister many years ago after a particularly cruel and brutal act. Raising her sister as her own daughter, she also believes that in the process of escaping she has a murder charge hanging over her head. She’s slowly built up her business and independence and along comes Gabe with a terrifying ultimatum. Marry him or he will reveal her secret.
This is a book of love, redemption and the spirit of Christmas. At first I wasn’t sure of Gabe’s methods, enforced marriage is not the best course of action in order to gain someone’s trust! But the wholesome and caring way he went about helping Nancy soon endeared me to him. While he does go about it like a bull in a china shop, Gabe’s mission to save Nan is warm, funny and lovely. The romance was paced in a way that made it believable, even in 30 days. But the journey from enforced marriage to love needed to be paced correctly otherwise it wouldn’t given credibility to the story.
This book obviously has a supernatural twist as a lot of Anderson’s new releases seem to have, but it also has a very strong religious undertone. I don’t mind this, this is after all Christmas. But there were occasions when I felt it could have just been toned down ever so slightly, it was just a bit too strong. I think because of this it might not be to some reader’s taste.
I enjoyed watched Gabe’s journey of self discovery as much as the romance unfold, he transforms from a man who in life was detached from societym to a man that understands the true meaning of giving and selflessness. Nan also blossoms from a woman surviving to a woman invested in life. Nan’s sister Laney makes for a fab side character, I liked her spirit and cheekiness. There are also a couple of other great side character who I can’t mention for fear of giving away spoilers.
I have said this in my review of Anderson books before and I will say it again, I just don’t think her historicals are as good as her contemporary romances. I just can’t quite put my finger on why, I just prefer them.
The ending is sweet, you’re left guessing all through the novel just how that happy ending is possibly going to be delivered. Don’t worry, I couldn’t possibly even leave you with a little hint, but it is a story set at Christmas after all, everyone needs a little miracle ;-). I also liked the introduction of a new character at the end hinting as to where things might go in the next book in the series.
A heart warming romance that makes you believe in Christmas miracles and redemption. Some of the religious aspects needed toning down just ever so slightly, but overall I enjoyed this story and Gabe made for a handsome, ex-gunslinging gentleman of a hero.
Book 3 in the Stage Dive series and this time the story centres around lead singer Jimmy. Jimmy is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with a check Book 3 in the Stage Dive series and this time the story centres around lead singer Jimmy. Jimmy is a recovering alcoholic and drug addict with a checkered past, he’s got a lot to recover from and past sins to atone for. He’s moody, reclusive and a complete fitness fanatic. He’s also arrogant and very used to getting his own way.
Determined to see him success in his recovery, the band hire Jimmy a sobriety assistant, to shadow him and keep him sober. But Jimmy cannot find one he likes or doesn’t quit due to his moodiness. Then enter Lena. Lena is professional and doesn’t take any nonsense from Jimmy. They banter, they spark and Jimmy finds despite himself that he really quite enjoys her company.
Firstly, I had no idea sobriety assistants existed! But I guess it kind of makes sense in the world of rock and roll, it’s got to be pretty tricky to stay sober. We’ve seen Lena and Jimmy in Play (book 2) and the electric sparks and bickering already had me more than intrigued.
In Play, Lena came across as slightly waspish and stern in her manner towards Jimmy, not in a bad way, I was completely bemused by the way she took absolutely no nonsense from him. But she wasn’t quite the way I expected her to be in Lead. She’s much more vulnerable and soft really, she still doesn’t take any nonsense from Jimmy, I just expected her to be a little tougher.
Jimmy is how I expected him to be. Self absorbed, brooding and very intense. I thought his journey through recovery was well written. There is a real sense of selfishness about him, but not so much that you dislike him as a character.
The bickering and bantering between Lena and Jimmy is amusing and outright laugh-out-loud funny on occasion. As Lena decides the position is no longer right for her, while Jimmy decides she most definitely has to stay as he doesn’t want to break in another assistant. Jimmy’s attempts to keep her are great, particularly when he follows the advice of a woman’s magazine. There are also some quite gentle and warm scenes between them just running together or watching movies, which I really enjoyed and balanced off against the bickering.
Lena falls for Jimmy pretty fast, but doesn’t want to be in love because she’s been desperately hurt in her past – her boyfriend ran off with and is now marrying her sister, so when she knows she’s falling she wants to run away as fast as she can. Jimmy on the other hand is in complete denial, but there is also part of him that doesn’t believe he deserves it.
Couple all of this with Jimmy’s addiction issues, his past including his vile alcoholic mother and of course the whole fame, rock star thing and once again Scott has delivered another cracker of a rock star romance. I loved every minute of it and found myself looking forward to the next spare moment I had to read.
The ending was surprising in many ways, I just didn’t expect Jimmy to do what he did. Don’t worry, I loved it, but it was just unexpected.
If you love rock star romances, then you really must read this series, no excuses! Jimmy is a moody, selfish hero, but not in a way that doesn’t make him likeable. Lena is not what I expected her to be, but I really enjoyed her as a heroine and the romance between them was quite frankly great. Go read it …
Santa's secretSanta’s Secret is a warm and sexy Christmas novella that will definitely get you in the festive spirit. Set in Finland in a Christmas hoSanta's secretSanta’s Secret is a warm and sexy Christmas novella that will definitely get you in the festive spirit. Set in Finland in a Christmas holiday village (I so want to go there!), you’ve got Santa, reindeer and the Northern Lights. There is a slight cheesiness go it, for example our heroine is called Eva, and is regularly referred to by the hero as his ‘Christmas Eva’ and wait for it… the hero is called Rudolph, yes Rudolph. Rudi (thankfully) for short.
Our hero and heroine are both single parents, both needing to move on in different ways and different reasons. Eva our heroine, mother to 3 year old Oscar is on holiday to try and give her and son a lovely Christmas following the death of her husband and his father. Rudi and his daughter Isabel are trying to reconnect and bond following Rudi’s divorce from his wife.
This is a warm and cosy romance. It had a real sense of family and as a mother of a 3 year old myself it was fun reading about a single mother of one and how she handled it. Of course it was a somewhat idealistic view, but this is after all a Christmas romance.
As I mentioned before there are some slightly tongue-in-cheek aspects of the story. The names of course, when we first meet Rudi he is in Rudolph slippers, but it was toned down enough to make you smile without slipping into the super cheesy zone.
The chemistry is instantaneous, but the author really managed to create a sense of anticipation as the relationship blossomed between Eva and Rudi. The nervousness and excitement and the trepidation, it felt realistic like how you would feel after embarking on a relationship after a divorce or being widowed.
I liked the children in the mix of the story, it added to the Christmassy theme. Got to love excited children and Santa and presents. But it gave depth to Eva and Rudi’s characters watching how they interacted and cared for their children. I enjoyed experiencing the Santa’s Village attractions through the characters.
I’m not sure what ‘Santa’s Secret’ was, not sure the title quite worked. Perhaps it’s just his secret that miracles can happen at Christmas? It didn’t seem to really make sense with the story. But that’s a minor comment.
If you want a quick, easy and cosy Christmas read then this is a fun way to fill a peaceful festive afternoon. Christmas, surprisingly sexy, cheer with a much needed happy ending.
Lick was one of my favourite books of last year and rapidly made it onto my list of favourite rock star romances. After reading Play, this series willLick was one of my favourite books of last year and rapidly made it onto my list of favourite rock star romances. After reading Play, this series will undoubtedly sit on list of all time favourite series. This story follows that of Stage Dive’s crazy and somewhat eccentric drummer Mal. The heroine comes in the shame of Ev’s (the heroine from Lick) next door neighbour Anne.
The plot is as crazy as the hero, with Anne left in serious financial trouble after her best friend betrays her, a strange conversation with a rock star at a party and the next day she discovers she has a new and extremely famous room mate. Mal’s kooky solution to Anne’s problems and his own is light, funny and the chemistry between them instantly buzzes.
What I particularly enjoyed about Play, was that Mal wasn’t just the same character as Dave (Lick) with a different plot. Scott has written a very different hero, Mal is unique. He’s funny, sexy and totally off the wall. Which inevitably means the book is funny too. But while he definitely has the sexy, funny thing going on, you want to peel beneath the surface and see who the real Mal is. And trust me, he does have hidden depths.
Anne kind of rolls with the Mal train, she doesn’t really have a choice, but grows with the book and gives as good as she gets. I like that fact she’s not perfect either, Mal mentions early on the gap between her front teeth. She’s a normal woman (almost the girl next door) who falls for a rock star, and I like this romance trope far more than famous people falling in love with other famous people.
Another thing that really worked for me was while there was the usual tabloid and groupie plot moments you see in rock star romances, the story was essentially all about Mal and Anne and their problems and barriers to love. The fame thing just added an exciting backdrop to the story. Plus some cracking famous parties.
There are some awesome scenes in this book that made me laugh-out-loud, from bed breaking to bathroom floods. Then there are the sex scenes which are seriously hot with a capital H. The plot also has a sad undertone to it. I don’t want to give too much away as if will spoil things for you. But, it is written with compassion and adds to the story without trivialising it or bringing the happy tone of the romance down either.
Ms Scott has done it again, this is one super sexy, funny, page-turning, fabulous rock star romance. Mal is a hilariously funny, yet sexy hero. I put Play down and Stage-Dived ( see what I did there? Don’t groan… ;-) ) straight into book number three. If you love rock stars, then you need to read this series!
Draw is the start of a new series about 3 brothers, triplets in fact, this book was recommended to me on Amazon because I like MC romances. Firstly, lDraw is the start of a new series about 3 brothers, triplets in fact, this book was recommended to me on Amazon because I like MC romances. Firstly, let me state clearly this is not an MC romance, but it does kind of sit in that area as the heroes of this series are men who sit on the outskirts of society and the law. They are illegal street fighters. Having grown up in a hellish small prison town, the brothers were known as the ‘white-trash Gentry brothers’ and they have clawed their way to escape and survival since.
Saylor has every reason to hate Cord, in school he seduced her on a bet and then told everyone about it in a cruel and unkind game between the brothers. However, after making a frantic escape from an abusive relationship with nowhere to stay and in need of help, Saylor bumps into the last person she would ever want to ask to help from. With nowhere else to turn she accepts help from Cord who is inevitably much more mature and has regretted his actions in the years that have past since.
This book was so mixed for me. I liked the author’s writing style, I really enjoyed the chemistry between Cord and Saylor and also the relationship between the three brothers. But there was also so much that didn’t add up either. I have three big criticisms of the book and unfortunately they are biggies.
Firstly is just how easily Saylor forgives Cord, something that was such a huge deal for her, even years later she hasn’t got over how she was treated in school after what Cord did to her. Not only does she forgive really quickly, she jumps into bed with him, again really quickly. There are two things that were wrong with this for me. You’ve got the whole how quickly she forgave his betrayal and consequently had sex with him, but let’s not forget she has also just escaped from an abusive relationship too.
Of course as the reader you want her to forgive Cord and you can clearly see the chemistry between them as soon as they see each other again, but I just felt like it needed more time. I was really enjoying the build up to it all as they get to know each other as adults and then they were in bed, it was such a shame, because I felt it spoiled things.
Then, and I’m afraid this really, really irritated me. Is the fact they never, ever, use protection. They talk about it, make light hearted comments about maybe making a baby, despite the fact it’s a very new relationship, and neither is in any position to raise one, they just frivolously continue. It really bugged me. I can forgive one mistake in the heat of passion, but to continually never use anything in a fledgling relationship. Well, to be honest, they came across as a bit stupid and completely immature.
And finally, is how quickly they fall in love. They both have so much baggage, there is so much for them to get over from their pasts and it was said so quickly it simply wasn’t believable. I found myself rolling my eyes in frustration and disbelief. This is without even taking into consideration the life that Cord and his brothers lead and illegal fighters and all Saylor needs to come to terms with their style of life.
These three big things really brought the book down, the shame of it is that it had a potential to be an awesome book, I just couldn’t get over what for me were big flaws in the writing.
I’ve never read anything by Cora Brent before, I am torn on whether to continue with the series, I’ve also seen she has written a motorcycle romance series too (one of my current obsessions). She really had the chemistry between Saylor and Cord down, it was sparking, exciting and compelling. It’s what kept me reading despite my frustrations. But, at the same time there was a lot of things that really didn’t work. Even now the whole protection thing has me gritting my teeth!