Ha, the marriage of convenience trope with a brooding hero and a bubby happy heroine…you certainly know where the story is going, but I still love to Ha, the marriage of convenience trope with a brooding hero and a bubby happy heroine…you certainly know where the story is going, but I still love to read these oldies from one of my favorite authors. It genuinely gives an idea of the change in perceptions for me as a reader and also visibly see the changes in the author’s style in the way they approach the storyline in current times.
I have always loved this author’s work and read most of her novels as Amanda Quick, not much as Jayne Castle and each of her personas have been impressive. Wildest Hearts was published way back in the ’90s and have probably nothing new to offer. The plotline of a cynical hero turned to a mushy lovable hero at the hands of the equally loveable and effervescent heroine has been done to death, but still holds good I believe with the theme being seen in countless contemporary romances in books as well as screens.
Oliver Rain and Annie make for an interesting couple, and Oliver’s stepfamily adds the necessary spice to this tale. The suspense in the story keeps the momentum but is not something that makes you sit up and take notice. Annie was all sweetness personified involving herself and making it a point to change Oliver to what she believes is the best. Oliver’s love for ferns was a nice touch, I haven’t read that quirk anywhere so in all, a light and quick couple of hours escape read.
I have read a couple of books by Lorna Cook and loved both of them, the dual time historical fiction being my favorite genre to indulge in. Expecting I have read a couple of books by Lorna Cook and loved both of them, the dual time historical fiction being my favorite genre to indulge in. Expecting The Hidden Letters to be of the same genre, I am pleasantly surprised that the author gave us a love story set during World War with a focus on the class divide that dooms it from the start.
Lorna Cook sweeps the reader with her writing. The first part reflecting the idyllic summer before the war begins has a slower pace immersing the reader in the leisurely life led by Cordelia in her estate in Cornwall, and her first impressions of the landscape architect Isaac Leigh who has come from London. Cordelia and Isaac capture the reader's attention immediately, the spark of attraction that both of them feel, and Isaac ever conscious of the improbability of the situation always on guard. Cordelia takes an interest in gardening initially to be near Isaac but then completely immerses herself in the process and loves it. There is so much the author has explored with Cordelia, her mother’s anger about unladylike behavior and her brother Edwin being pragmatic and declaring that when war is here, Cordy can hold the fort, and Cordy’s realization that what she feels for Issac is not just infatuation, that this is it and finally when the declaration comes on the eve of reporting for war duties, there is a sense of little too late.
The second part though comes alive with the magic that the author is excellent at. The letter correspondence between Isaac and Cordelia, and also with other characters like Edwin, Margaret and Tabitha, and then the heartbreak that soon follows, the emotional journey that the reader takes with Cordelia makes our heart heavy. It was such a beautiful piece of writing thru these letters giving glimpses of what life had been like, for the soldiers in the trenches and the women back home, the struggle of continued existence worrying about the casualty list always, The Hidden Letters conveys them poignantly. The subplot of Tabotha and the neglect from her parents was touching and heartfelt.
Another winner from Lorna Cook, The Hidden Letters is all about love and emotions.
Many thanks to Net Galley, Avon Books UK, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
In Darkness series by L. Diane Wolfe are novellas with paranormal and fantasy romances at their core. Each of them is good to be read as a standalone.In Darkness series by L. Diane Wolfe are novellas with paranormal and fantasy romances at their core. Each of them is good to be read as a standalone. The 1st book in the series had vampires in focus while this one focuses on a shapeshifter theme.
Jewels is comfortable around sea animals after having been cheated and lied to by her father and is wary of trusting people. While exploring the tidepools for aquatic life, she comes face to face with a shark who can talk. Naming the great white shark Clarence, getting to know him, and being comfortable in his presence becomes the highlight of her days. The friendship has been developed wonderfully by the author as Jewels struggle to let go of her mistrust and feel safe in the presence of a predator. Honestly, the ball throw game made me think of a dolphin rather than a shark.
After reading The Vampire, In Darkness-The Shark was a little disappointing. I wasn’t able to connect to Jewels’ as a character. The first book was more cohesive as a whole, maybe with the search for an elusive treasure providing the impetus, but here, there is no additional subplots and except for the minor tension of using the shark as a display showpiece in the aquarium, the story does not provide much stimulation. In all, an easy and quick entertaining read. I do believe though that the story deserves a better cover image.
Many thanks to Dancing Lemur Press, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
I am on a JANE EYRE trip…there is an abundance of gothic romances on my plate right now… Secluded mansions, hidden passages, never opened doors, a cluI am on a JANE EYRE trip…there is an abundance of gothic romances on my plate right now… Secluded mansions, hidden passages, never opened doors, a clueless female lead unable to trust her own eyes, and a romance in there adding the spice, the genre just plays with our nerves like no other and The Secrets of Hartwood Hall is an absolute treat to dive into.
The story begins with the arrival of Margaret Lennox to Hartwood Hall, to take charge of the 10-year old Louis, and the opening chapter is itself a perfect tribute to that gothic element so essential to feel the spookiness. The weather as she arrives in the village is bleak and the first person whose help is sought for directions to the hall is rude and harsh. The stage is set for the first impression of the gothic mansion and the author didn’t disappoint. In fact, I could imagine Margaret’s first impression of this house, so lonely beyond the woods with a handful of servants roaming the halls with candlelight and the creaks and the groans of the old woods. Honestly, the author serves the chills, no worries about that but what impressed me more is the story that unfolds thru Margaret. We plunge into Margaret’s life her disability in hearing with one ear, her encompassing love for the young boy in her charge, her worry for the secretive Mrs. Eversham, and above all, the subtle hint of a murder in her own past and her definite need to enjoy her freedom.
The author explores the problematic issues governing the era with respect to women and their rights, being controlled by husband or father, even forced to read what is dictated instead of what one wants, and being abused either physically or emotionally. The reader is made to emotionally connect with Margret and her decisions and even though I was not too happy about how she treats Paul in the end, it is easy to grasp her perspective. With that action, somehow Margaret came across as selfish without making the picture clear to Paul. YES, relatable from her viewpoint but not too likable scenario.
The author is talented, no doubt about it, the method with which she has captured the maid Susan, oh my just raised goosebumps on my skin each time she was shown. Without any overt attempts, the cunning and crafty ways she threatened Margaret by her simple presence was acutely felt and truth be told, I was thankful for that threat resolving in that way at least for the sake of my galloping heart.
Following the events in Shadow Guardians, the story moves forward thru Zach’s POV. Book #2 in the Blood Shadows trilogy, these books are best read in Following the events in Shadow Guardians, the story moves forward thru Zach’s POV. Book #2 in the Blood Shadows trilogy, these books are best read in order to understand the world of shadows created by the author and the central theme of an antagonist fighting to become the ruler of the world.
I am fascinated by this order of ‘number three’ that is a universally accepted fact. Irrespective of the culture or religion, ‘number 3’ holds a special significance. Here, we have a triad of guardians, Kay, James, and Zach each of them having been trained in the arts of fighting with some cool accessories, Kay with her knife, Zach with his shadow sword, and James with his shuriken. Book 1 had Kay along with Ethan as the primary focus whereas, in Shadow Seer, Zach and Emma become the central characters. And all the more interesting that the author has woven the story of their identities thru the abilities of their partners. Like Ethan in book 1, here Emma with her touch seer gift helps Zach to fight for his friends and family.
Zach and Emma have been childhood friends and therefore the soul connection felt genuine and gripping seeing that Emma has been hiding for so many years and they have not been in touch. Zach has a lot of growing up to do thru his journey of acceptance and forgiveness as he discovers that loving is not about torturing oneself by controlling one’s emotions, it is also about sacrifices and trusting your loved ones to be right beside you thru thick and thin. There is also the elder triad, Elizabeth, Kay’s grandmother, Brynn and David guiding the young thru their tribulations as Zach deals with the horrifying trauma of James’ actions. The writing is smooth, and the colors used to describe the shadows help the reader to imagine them in their minds and though there is an absence of an all-out action sequence in this, there is a surge in the intensity factor as the ticking time bomb draws closer.
The story progresses further with Gordon’s POV giving the readers an idea of the evil plans that are in store and I believe this will lead to a thrilling climax in the third and final book with James taking center stage and I can’t wait to grab my hands on that one.
Many thanks to Book Sirens and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
My umpteenth trial of an audiobook bearing fruit…Mariah Stewart’s Hard Truth narrated by Anna Fields did work for me and I am breathing a sigh of reliMy umpteenth trial of an audiobook bearing fruit…Mariah Stewart’s Hard Truth narrated by Anna Fields did work for me and I am breathing a sigh of relief. Thank God, this genre somehow is working to retain my interest in sticking to an audiobook instead of going in search of the printed version coz of the lack of patience to know how it is all going to unfold. Well, having said that I am sure I am gonna revert to myself and ditch audiobooks after 2 days of trying and then search for the ebook and finish the story in a day. Me, *sigh*…
Hard Truth is book #2 in the Truth series and I'm sure that it can safely be read as a stand-alone and other than characters being repeated, the story is focussed on a new couple in each book. Lorna has returned to her family home after losing her mother to cancer and is planning to sell the property and return to her life. Her arrival though coincides with the discovery of bones in her backyard and soon the case of her missing best friend Melinda Eagan pummel back to the forefront. Believed to have been harmed by her brother and his vanishing act soon after asserting the fact, the missing case has been lying dormant all these years. But the discovery of the bones is just the beginning as Lorna unearths the chilling and horrifying reality hidden in her grounds.
I haven’t read any other book by the author so had no particular expectations going in. The mystery of the bones being discovered and the romance that blossoms between investigator TJ and Lorna was wonderfully done. I loved Lorna’s relationship with her siblings, battling her sister's sentimental attitude towards the house though refusing to take responsibility for it, her brother’s vehement denial to return there for whatever reasons, being expected to handle everything on her own, the author lovingly embodies the sibling frustrations and makes it pretty convincing. The murderer when revealed didn’t surprise me much as I had a fair inkling as to where it was being led to but the author manages to keep the reader hooked to the reveal of it all brilliantly.
The narration was top-notch, the voice matching my imagination of Lorna’s in my head and thereby making it perfectly compelling.
An easily read story in the romantic suspense genre!
Tricia Levenseller had impressed me with her writing in The Shadows Between Us and I was waiting to grab a copy of her successful Daughter of the PiraTricia Levenseller had impressed me with her writing in The Shadows Between Us and I was waiting to grab a copy of her successful Daughter of the Pirate King series. Thankfully I was not disappointed, for having grown up with Jack Sparrow, who wouldn’t wanna read a love story of pirates and all that swashbuckling? Well, I did get cheated on by the lack of a hero’s flamboyance a la Jack Sparrow but was more than compensated for it as Daughter of The Pirate King was all about Princess Alosa and her sassy kick ass attitude.
The plotline of the search for a part of a map which is to be joined together for the discovery of untold treasures on an island and Alosa forcing herself to be captured so as to explore the ship Night Farer was beyond exciting and of course what a characterization for Alosa. Author Tricia Levenseller deserves a pat on her back simply for the balance of the fine thread she manages to weave for her heroine. Alosa is at times cruel ready to slit the throat of her captors to make her point, she is a warrior in her own right and has no qualms about getting dirty to achieve what she wants. She is equal parts a fighter and a seductress. But the author carefully keeps the dry sarcastic and witty side of her behavior for the readers to connect with her human side. There is so much about Alosa that one learns with her interactions with Riden, though I did wish the chemistry between them had more spark. ’coz all the focus was on Alosa and her various activities somehow Riden’s character fails to garner much attention. The moral dilemma he suffers from being a kidnapper and interrogator never gets conveyed believably.
Hoping that the next book in the series does rectify this shortcoming and we get to see Riden as more of a force to reckon with against Alosa. The romance between them is kept to the minimum as Alosa forces herself to focus on her task of finding the map but I loved how she feels like a fool when the truth comes to light about her nocturnal activities. The background story of Alosa and the torture she endures under her father does give a sense of the steel in her backbone and again the author balances that with her empathy and love for her crew.
Looking forward to catching up with the Daughter of the Siren Queen at the earliest.
There I have given it 5 stars already. C'mon Sandra Brown, no one else has been able to take your place for me in this genre, let's keep it rolling foThere I have given it 5 stars already. C'mon Sandra Brown, no one else has been able to take your place for me in this genre, let's keep it rolling for decades to come....more
Shadow Guardian was a random selection out of the ARCs available and I must say I am glad I found this particular shadow world created by author JenniShadow Guardian was a random selection out of the ARCs available and I must say I am glad I found this particular shadow world created by author Jennie Lynn Roberts. Book #1 in the Blood Shadows trilogy, each part focuses on a different couple but with a connected storyline so advise to read them in order.
Shadow Guardian introduces Kay and Ethan, one who has been trained in her world but the other completely clueless as to his origins and the source of his powers. An accidental meeting between Kay and Ethan gets Ethan to understand the secret Shadow world he has been unawaringly a part of. The story is action-filled and fast-paced, the love between the leads is instant and even though am a huge fan of that soul recognizing soul love connection and all that, here I did think that a little more detail would have worked wonders for their relationship story. It just felt a bit rushed especially when the angst follows soon after with a mini break up. Kay’s pain of not being trusted wholly and Ethan’s misconception of being cheated again after his first love went to hell never really evoked any reaction from me. It just felt like part of the story when I wanted to feel the yearning, loss, and guilt of misunderstandings.
The dark shadows and the fights involving them were fantastic, I loved Kay’s kick ass attitude and her constant strive to do the right unable to trust her own circle of friends, the warmth shared between Kay and her grandmother was wonderful and the climax scenes with everyone involved and Ethan learning about his abilities was a treat. The shadow world is still developing in the story and I am sure this will be an immersive alter world by the next book in the series.
Looking forward to the next.
Many thanks to BookSirens and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
What a cracker of a thriller! One where you begin reading imagining a story that would unravel this way and that way and all of a sudden, you are readWhat a cracker of a thriller! One where you begin reading imagining a story that would unravel this way and that way and all of a sudden, you are reading the climax with the stunning realization that you have been duped spectacularly.
Ziva is the quintessential unreliable narrator of the story, she is more or less like the same character that seems to be the staple for psychological thrillers, a woman drowning in sorrows, keeping herself sane with alcohol, and her only excitement that of being a peeping tom to her neighbor’s life. Of course, I have had my share of psychological thrillers with a similar opening scene all pointing to this loving couple across the window and an incident that might trigger the rosy hues to turn all black and grey. And more fool me, I kept expecting the same, Yeah, I know where this is going but soon the author is yanking my chain showing Ziva as just not a freelance designer suffering from grief and trauma but as someone with deep passions and hidden depths.
Ziva’s thought process divulges her layered characterization unfurling with each revelation as each chapter takes us thru the present events centered around a murder that occurs in the neighbor’s house and the past that led to her separation from her husband, Om.
Girish Dutt Shukla crafts a cunning and beguiling thriller playing havoc with the reader's mind, getting them to focus on the happenings of life across the window when the placid water is churning underneath creating a whirlpool waiting to explode in this window. The exploration of emotions that drive a human being was captured wonderfully and also there is this nuanced manoeuvring by the author revealing bits and pieces of Ziva’s life that I recognized but had in no way prepared me for that final denouement.
There are scene changes in the story that I felt could have been smoother like one scene where Ovya visits Ziva in her home and the next line is bout the locality of the house and it took me a second or two to grasp that the story has moved to another scene. A minor point in an otherwise brilliant thriller.
Many thanks to Rupa Publications and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
That intriguing cover image. Phew just suckered me in and got me to request the book from Net Galley.
Dual timelines with witches and an evil demon werThat intriguing cover image. Phew just suckered me in and got me to request the book from Net Galley.
Dual timelines with witches and an evil demon were enough to get me excited to get into the book. And for the most part, the author has done excellent work, taking the reader thru a fictional town called Tin Mountain and the curse that exists in the land from the burning of a witch called Annaliese. The journey then takes us thru two timelines, Dierdre in 1881 and Gracelynn in 1931 where the women in both eras must fight against more than poverty to live life on their terms.
Paulette Kennedy captures the imagination of the reader with some flawless writing. Tin Mountain was a picture in my eyes easy to imagine with its set of small minded people and their prejudices, asking for help from the witches but afraid to declare to the world. The spooky atmosphere of the hollow and the paranormal elements with visions adds to the chilling scenario even though the author carefully controls her tale without veering towards horror.
Dierdre is characterized as wilful and headstrong initially and I loved how the author showed her growth as she learns from her mistakes and takes on the demon to save her granddaughter. Gracelynn is however kinder as she has seen the darkness hidden inside a man from a young age and knows to be wary of all men. There are elements of LGBTQ romances in both timelines and a considerable number of characters and subplots in the story that tend to confuse the reader a bit. And even though the overlapping becomes clearer towards the end, I wish there was a clear demarcation of Gracelynn and Diedre’s thought process that would have helped to keep the timeline separate. Sometimes the emotions conveyed by both women are so similar that I had to return and check if I am reading about Deidre or Gracelynn and the only reason why I am going with 3.5 stars.
Many thanks to Net Galley, Lake Union Publishing, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
Ok well, me, hankering for a cowboy and there u go a historical western romance from one of my favorite authors Johanna Lindsey.
Mistaken Identities dOk well, me, hankering for a cowboy and there u go a historical western romance from one of my favorite authors Johanna Lindsey.
Mistaken Identities do carry the main segment of the story but glad that the author had sort of a happy and easygoing charmer as the hero rather than the antagonistic alphas we are normally subjected to. Maybe not the best from Johanna Lindsey coz I have read many of her books and know that she usually manages to make me enthralled with her storytelling. One Heart to Win did not give the same high but had fun and enjoyed it easily.
Tiffany has some growing up to do and realizes that what she has believed in all these years is by no means the complete truth and the past has a role in the current circumstances. The romance was lovely though I did expect more burning fire between Tiffany and Hunter. Misunderstandings and a goofy villain in the mix add to the necessary drama before all is cleared and happy ever after is achieved. What I absolutely loved is the curious case of the Warrens and Callahans picking up fights just coz they have to do it and not really bothered about hurting each other badly.
One Heart To Win is an easy entertaining read with a heroine who is determined to prove everyone wrong but ends up proven wrong thru her journey to love.
The sheer joy of blindly going into a book on the basis of the cover image and a title and finding it exciting beyond words, now that is what I would The sheer joy of blindly going into a book on the basis of the cover image and a title and finding it exciting beyond words, now that is what I would call a blessing.
An American In Scotland by Lucy Connelly is a dream of a book. A murder mystery set in Scotland and a lovely set of women characters to die for, this story had everything and more going for it. Sea Isle has never had any serious crimes in its history, but Dr. Emilia McRoy’s arrival is kind of the spark that ignites the powder keg bringing about a murder and a body missing even before her jet lag is cleared.
The investigation into the death of the crooked Mr. Smithy leads Em into unexpected dangers even escaping attempts on her own life. The author has sketched Sea Isle as this cozy idyllic town so charming that I wish I were living there, ok, maybe not in the winter thou. But the quirky residents in the town with all their loving characteristics come alive in the reader’s mind. Mara, Angie, and the more than capable Abigail forming the band of girls around Em and protecting her was, sigh, the stuff of dreams. The slight inkling of a developing romance between Ewan Campbell and Emilia was another beautiful touch. I loved how the author focused more on the angle of friendship in the story and Em’s settling into Sea Isle rather than any romance.
Well that said, the romance-craving soul in me is keeping my fingers crossed that Ewan Campell, the multi-millionaire, laird, mayor, and constable all rolled into one Ewan Campbell and Em have a change in their relationship status. I know I am all in for a bit of suspension of disbelief but a full fledged hospital set up with an MRI, all kinds of testing apparatus, and an assistant who knows everything including suturing was kinda over the top, and the only reason why I am going for 4.5 stars rather than the full 5 star this deserves.
This is the first book in the Scottish Isle Mystery and I hope Em and her gang have a lot more mysteries to solve.
Many thanks to Net Galley, Crooked Lane Books, and the author for a chance to read and review this book. All opinions are expressed voluntarily.
What does it say about an author who uses the ‘done to death plotline’ into something so soul-touching and heart warming that all I wanna do is to conWhat does it say about an author who uses the ‘done to death plotline’ into something so soul-touching and heart warming that all I wanna do is to consider the book as a teddy bear and sleep with hugged tight!
Adorable and freakishly charming, The Bodyguard was an absolute delight to sink myself into after a hard day. The rom-com is complete with a fake girlfriend and a forced proximity plot with a hilarious ex-boyfriend that gets kicked in the balls and roasted to hell. Hannah Brooks the bodyguard or glamorously referred to as the Executive protection agent is given a new task to protect movie star, Jack Stapleton. Hannah and Jack both had my heart, they are both scarred in many ways and the situation of the fake dating for the happiness of the cancer-stricken mother was used to the maximum potential by the author. And hats off to her, cracking us up with a scene that included even cows.
The romance is feel good and the chemistry between Hannah and Jack was just off the charts. In fact, there was nothing not to love in this latest release by Katherine Center and honestly, she is my favorite go-to author for some stress-buster relief.
For all those who love to read at least one book, go ahead and pick this one up, not for the swoon-worthy hero or the kick-ass heroine or their antics, but for the sheer joy of laughing out loud for the predicament of the ex and for the humor that reigns supreme in this story.