Wild, absolutely wild

Archangel’s Prophecy by Nalini Singh (book 11 Guild Hunter)

This book has driven the fans wild, absolutely wild.  And I’m not going to tell you why. #spoilers

If you want a new series to read, do you want one that’s rock steady and you get what you expect?  Or do you want one where the author embraces her vision for the characters and leaves her readers at 2 in the morning throwing the kindle against the wall with tears streaming down their faces and fury in their hearts? I know what I’m choosing.  Drive the fans wild I say.

Elena and Raphael are the alpha couple of paranormal romance.  Their story is so intricate and absorbing that time after time Ms Singh revisits them.  I’m usually a one and done girl, once I’ve had the HEA, I’m moving on.  Not with these two, never with Elena and Raphael.

All the Nalini Singh trademarks are in evidence – superb characterisation, outrageous story telling, unparalleled world building, true humour and painful emotion.

After eleven full novels and a whole load of novellas all of which I’ve read several times searching for clues I now have absolutely no idea what will happen next.  And it’s killing me.  Think on that.  How many authors run out of steam about book 7 or 8?  With book 11 in her guild hunter series Ms Singh has thrown everything we know up in the air. Perhaps under a bus might say it better.  Pure bloody genius.

Given everyone else is ‘telling’ the author what should I happen next, I will too!  I need Aodhan to get his book, then conclude Elena and Raphael’s story with Bluebell’s accession. Yes, definitely that.  Oh no that means that Titus might not meet Tasha. I need Titus settled.  And what about Caliane, perhaps with Alexander? Or Kier?  I’ve forgotten new character Andreas needs a story.  But will Astaad decide on Mele alone?  Eek! Now I’ve started I can’t stop.  Like I said superlative characterisation and world building.

Beating Casanova?

Her Last Move by John Marrs

I’m told that this new one by John Marrs comes under the genre of “police procedural”.  I’ve never tried one of those before, so why not?!

Well, the problem with popping your cherry with Mr Marrs is that its a bit like being a virgin and meeting Casanova.  How the hell do you go back to the ordinary police procedural when you start with one so good?!  I’ll forever be comparing.  Oh well, its done now.

I adored the whole idea of the facial recognition specialist, what a compelling concept that is.  It felt really spooky yet not.  Imagine having that kind of skill (or is it a gift?) what would you do with it?  And how would you run your daily life?  Just fascinating, and with such great research.

As we’ve come to expect with Mr Marrs the writing is at breakneck speed, the characterisation is brilliant, the story gripping and the insight into human behaviour spot on!

There are a number of moments when you think – an author is not supposed to do that.  My heart kept saying “its not the way it works” but my brain kept going.  Thankfully no one seems to have told the author some of the rules about heroes and heroines!  As this book is just superb for that, I do wonder though how loudly his editor gasped as they read it?!

Another great book in what’s becoming a real body of work for this fantastic British author.

 

 

Reader’s Revenge

Against all Odds (Brook Brothers #2) by Tracie Delaney out 10th Oct

The second of Ms Delaney’s Brook Brothers novels is a bit of a corker.

The scene for Calum Brook (the definitely not new sales director) was perfectly set up thanks to the first book.  So, enter the first of Jax’s brothers, the arrogant one. Suffice to say I loved him, and I loved how he fell at Laurella’s Italian feet.  The Earth shook as he thumped back to ground.  Music to female ears.

I could wax lyrical about Calum’s attributes, and Calum is definitely attribute rich.  However, I have a small issue. Well actually given it involves Calum, it’s probably a big issue. Maybe a very big issue. Umm definitely.

If you’re looking for a new book boyfriend, Calum is the one.  The mix of arrogance, intelligence, loyalty and an inner sweetness shown just to his lady is a killer.  But…..

The author has claimed him, and she has refused to share.  She is willing to share her other characters, and she has quite a few including a couple of billionaires and a tennis super star.  But I want Calum and on social media she’s banned Calum from acting on his feelings for me.  Selfish author!

So, I’m using my blog to let her know I kidnapped him for this past weekend. And I’m undecided as to whether or not to return him.  Selfish reader.  But very happy selfish reader!

I might return him to be launched to the world on October 10th.  Might.

Ooooh I’m a bit busy, gotta go…..

Culture clashes and modern love

Rebel Hard by Nalini Singh (Hard Play #2)

Rebel Hard is probably Nalini Singh’s most important contemporary romance.  It’s the story of an arranged marriage, a modern arranged marriage.

Ms Singh has thrown caution to the wind.  And it’s wow!

It’s a fascinating story. But what I found most fascinating was my own reaction to it.

Truthfully, I only read this as it’s a Nalini Singh.  Why would I be interested in a book about an arranged marriage?  I tried to be open minded, but truly my prejudices about a woman being forced into an arranged marriage were leaking out.  Eek!

What became clear is that the clash that’s central to the story is Nayna’s own internal struggle.  She and Raj both want to make their own choices, yet for different reasons choosing the traditional route was also important to each of them.  Their journey is emotional and filled my heart with love.

Their initial meeting was madcap and full of attraction. But their hopes and dreams were not aligned.  I loved how they weaved their way around each other, with each step they were a little closer each time.  Simply gorgeous.

The characters are wildly different (wait for grandma!), yet almost all were of Indian descent.  The insights into their culture were fantastic.  If you want a sweet, sassy and sexy romance this has your name on it!

My love for the TRex is well known and until now unwavering. I haven’t abandoned The Bishop (Rock Hard), but well Raj gave him a real run for his money.

Thank you Ms Singh for opening my eyes, never would I have considered arranged marriage had a place in today’s society.

driving Back

Drive by Kate Stewart 

Good God where do I start?!  I loved this book sooooo much.

I read it by the pool, and as I looked left and right I was gobsmacked to see that people were reading other books.  What was wrong with these people? It was as if life was going on outside of this book.  How was this possible?!

‘Drive’ is the story of Stella’s journey.  After a bit of unexpected news she gets in her car and drives.  But that’s not really the journey she takes the reader on.  It’s the exploration of how she moves from young adulthood into womanhood and the people who make that journey with her.  It’s their journey too.

This is the past told purely from Stella’s perspective, looking at the choices she made, the good, the bad and the really ugly.  It’s about how life happens to you, how you can’t control so much and sometimes no matter what, destiny is out to get you. Or is it?

It reminded me of the John Lennon quote:  “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans”.

It’s kind of appropriate to make a music quote, as music is the backdrop to Stella’s life.  Ms Stewart totally nails the playlist.

‘Drive’ messed with my emotions.  Even writing this review has me in tears.  He was far from a rockstar but I had my own Reid, and Ms Stewart’s writing twisted my heart and stomach as I fought to focus on Stella and not wallow in my own history.

As you travel back through Stella’s past you not only question her choices but you’ll find your past seeping into your conscience.  What could or should you have done differently?!

An emotional, challenging and intriguing read. Bravo Ms Stewart!

Angry puppy love

Bane by L.J. Shen

“Falling in love is when you lose yourself slowly, piece by piece. Infatuation is when you lose yourself all at once. Love is like ivy. It wraps around you, chokes every part of you quietly. It is not patient, or kind, or gentle. It is needy, cunning, and suffocating.’

Well, this was a read and a half.  It was raw, angry, claustrophobic and mean.  And I bloody loved it.

I adored how the author took all this gritty angry’ness and turned it into a sweet almost puppy love story.  God only knows how she did that!

This is a masterclass in how you redeem the unredeemable character.  Many have tried, few have done it with half this style.  Read and learn peeps!

Apparently it’s part of a series, I can only say it’s completely stand alone. I’ve never heard of this author before, I only bought this book because of an Amazon sale as I’m looking for new authors. It didn’t just fulfil my expectations, it blew me away.

The cover has it

Ocean Light by Nalini Singh (Psy-Changeling Trinity #2)

Bowen Knight the de facto leader of the Human Alliance gets his book.   We left Bowen clinging to life following a catastrophic shooting and with a failing chip in his brain.  We find him in the care of the BlackSea changeling group and meet Kaia.

Given time is of the essence, I expected a fast paced romance with breakneck speed and passion.  Ms. Singh however, delivers a slow burner, that’s sweet, touching and totally endearing.  With absolutely no time to spare we find two people who above all become friends.  All around them is a freneticness (including the pregnant doctor), yet there’s something almost logical about their connection against the ticking timebomb in Bowen’s brain. It made my heart ache and was simply beautiful.

Whilst the romance might be a slow burner, the story is a cracker with dynamite on board.  If the romance made my heart swoon, the twists and turns made my head spin and my blood rush.  And don’t forget those glimpses of the enigmatic BlackSea.  A whole book based with them and quite honestly I’m still not sure!

Please indulge me what I talk about the international cover.  Clearly, it’s divine but that’s not the point.  This cover is important.  So many romance readers are lucky enough to see people who look like us on book covers all the time.  I was so disappointed that the cover for probably my fave Nalini Singh book ‘Mine to Possess’ didn’t reflect Clay’s darker Egyptian heritage.  Diversity in romance is like anything else, the more diversity the more innovation, connections, learnings we all benefit from.  Romance and diversity bring love and richness – they go together.

If you’re interested in diversity in romance have a look at this report https://www.therippedbodicela.com/sites/therippedbodicela.com/files/2017%20diversity%20study%20%281%29.pdf

 

Meandering intent on a knife edge

The Box by C.C. Mono (#2 Eagle Kings Academy)

Without a doubt this is one of THE reads of the year.  Imagine Harry Potter and James T. Kirk set up a school for their future selves and Darth Vader invested in it. That’s it!

There’s a scene at a ball in Venice, it’s bursting with intrigue, costumes, opaque conversations and dastardly players.  I was so lost in plotting who I’d take on, I forgot I was reading.  It is one of the most finely crafted fanasty/magical scenes I’ve ever read.  J.K. Rowling wants a peak!

I loved the first book but this is on another level.  There’s a richness of detail and a meandering intent.  I choose the word intent deliberately.  Because it feels like C.C. Mono is teasing us with his true purpose.  It’s as if you are in a Middle Eastern bazaar getting just a hint of an elusive fragrant, as you chase it there’s veil after veil obscuring your vision.  You want to pull it all down and breathe in, but the trail is cold now.  However, you know it will be back, you know it’s hidden waiting to pounce. And you delight in it.

The Eagle Kings Academy is all about leadership, selecting, crafting and setting up our future leaders.  But how do we define true leaders?  Are they unique innovative wild cards?  People who choose their own paths? Or are they people who learn, who absorb the very best and lead swathes of people to an agreed outcome?  Is there room for both?  Is the first too risky? But with the second can we progress?  These are the tantalising glimpses we get into Mono’s thoughts on the matter.  I seriously need more on this.

As for the story, it’s beautifully plotted, Mono’s ingenious story leads to plenty of gasps and shakes of the head.  He has left me hanging on a knife edge and it’s so damn cruel.

PS I used the term setting up deliberately because there’s plenty of that going on. But by who? And why?

Thank you to Helen at TBConFB for encouraging me to read this series. Her passion for it was infectious.

 

 

Counting stars

Marek by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury #11)

Sawyer Bennett doesn’t just tell stories, she makes you question what you think. Every damn time!

As a total romance junkie I’m all about the hero, especially a bad boy.  But when the hero despite his gorgeousness and bad boy ways, isn’t redeemable and actually isn’t even a decent guy, what do you do?  Is it a bad book because the hero isn’t hiding a heart of gold or misunderstood or suffered a dreadful childhood?  Usually, there’s plenty of angst to overcome and the journey cements the hero in your heart, not so here.  Regular guy, fantastic life, just pretty much zero emotional intelligence and pretty selfish.

And then, there’s our heroine.  All will be forgiven, she’s going to be our star. Nope.  She’s as awful and dim witted as him.  And for all the comments about her parenting skills, she’s a pretty rubbish mother. We learn in the previous book that she hid his child from him and his family.  And for no good reason at all, plain spite.  How nasty.

What was she planning to say when her child asked about her father?  And when her child realised that the financial difficulties they faced were unnecessary how would she explain it?  The epilogue makes it clear that all along she knew that his was an open door.

So, do you judge a book by how much you love the hero and heroine?  Well, this book shows me that with Sawyer Bennett it’s all about purpose. Don’t be fooled by the ice rink, Ms Bennett always writes purposeful dynamic fiction. This is one of her better books – an excellent farewell to the Cold Fury.

I might not have loved the story, but I couldn’t put it down.  Neither character are ingrained on my heart, but they’ve got my brain buzzing.  If you’re still thinking about a book well after you’ve finished it – you know it’s a cracker.

Nice guys and gals arent actually the most compelling characters.  We all know that.  But us romance fans, maybe we like it too simple.  Usually a great hero gets 5 shiny stars from me, and the ones I don’t like are heading towards the one star. But this one is a 4 and a half from me.

And for me that’s a big deal. How would you have rated it?

PS this isn’t stand alone you have to read the fantastic Reed first.  Ms Bennett is now leaving Cold Fury, those Arizona boys need to up their game!

Krill or meaning?

Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman

“He had noticed that events were cowards: they didn’t occur singly, but instead they would run in packs and leap out at him all at once

I like to think that my blogs help authors promote their books, and of course give me a creative outlet.  Mr Gaiman kills that.  When the author writes something as simply perfect as this what’s the point?!  You don’t need blogs to promote this kind of genius, a couple of quotes will do.

This is urban fantasy that sets out to delight, bewitch and scare you.  It succeeds.  It’s a kind of gender inversed Alice in Wonderland for jaded grown ups.   If you love London then it’s for you. And if you’ve never ventured here, then you’ll see things the Londoner misses.

“Young man,” he said, “understand this: there are two Londons. There’s London Above – that’s where you lived – and then there’s London Below – the Underside – inhabited by the people who fell through the cracks in the world. Now you’re one of them. Good night

For all the fabulous characters what sung to me was the perfection of London for an urban fantasy.  I won’t look at Harrods quite the same again or Earl’s Court.

When fantasy is this fantastic do you worry about the “meaning” or do you just enjoy?  I decided to wallow in it.  Completely, I was like huge whale feasting on a swarm of krill.  Even at the end I could have had more. What’s it really all about?  I’m not actually sure, but when it’s this well written who cares?!

The other issue with Neil Gaiman’s writing is you realise you’ve not read enough of it.  So, less with the blogs and more with the reading.