Crayons, puzzles and slow cookers


Luna and the Lie by Mariana Zapata

I wonder what Mariana Zapata was like as a toddler with her paints and crayons? I’m thinking she was a messy little thing, because no one does messy quite like Ms Zapata. There’s a whole load of ruder words, but Luna and Rip are seriously messy.

It’s not just their relationship that’s messy, it’s their families, their backgrounds and the decisions they’ve made. He really should not even be likeable, yet I was swooning. Maybe it wasn’t crayons and paints, maybe it was the jigsaw pieces that the little Mariana scattered all around.

I swear to God, you’re a fucking puzzle I thought was all in the box, but every damn day I find a piece or two hidden all over the place.”

The imagery that Ms Zapata brings to mind it’s just damn near perfect.

If she was a messy toddler, as an adult this author undoubtedly loves her slow cooker, because she nails the slow burn. Even for a master of the slow burn this one simmers at a low heat threatening to boil over at any moment, so you simply can’t take your eye off it, or put it down easily. Delicious!

And then there’s the melt….

“You want someone to be your best friend and your fucking partner? I’m right fucking here, baby girl.”

Who wouldn’t want to be Rip’s best friend and fucking partner (pun definitely intended)?!

Any fan of Ms Zapata is going to compare everything she writes to The Wall of Winnipeg, I guess it probably drives her insane. This comes close to Winnipeg, but I do love a sports romance so I’m sticking with Winnie as my fave but only just.

Brains, hearts and funny bones

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I imagine this book has the potential to alienate a lot of people, after all it does play to stereotypes around women, autism, middle aged men, academics…

So, I didn’t have high expectations, at all. And yet, even with all it’s stereotypes this book charmed me, absolutely and totally. It’s amusing, touching and thought provoking. Truly wonderful.

As a romance fan and habitual reader, I love to find new book boyfriends. Who would think I’d have an uni professor with Asperger’s on my list! But Don was adorable. I felt if he’d only shared his project widely he would have had a queue of eligible ladies!

As I read, Don became more and more eligible and less odd. In fact, I found myself wondering if it really was Don who didn’t understand how to behave or if in fact it was others who were problematic. This was clear where Don gave a guest lecture. The audience’s response clearly called into question the parents as the ones with a problem not their so called autistic kids.

The relationship between his friends Gene and Claudia, was a great contrast to what Don was looking for. Gene may be normal and operate within society’s rules, but he’s a dreadful human being. His wife Claudia has agreed to his behaviour but it’s clear she wishes she hadn’t. Don would never behave like that. He might break every social norm, but he’d never treat someone like Gene does his wife. And nor would he agree to being treated like that. So, who’s the normal one then?!

This book grabs your funny bone and tickles it hard, squeezes your heart and gets your brain whirring. It really is a gem of a novel.

Ice cubes and firemen

Web of Lies by Tracey Delaney Brook Brothers #4

Phew! Let me grab an ice bucket or at least a fire extinguisher! I guarantee after reading this book you’ll be thinking the same! I didn’t burst into flames, more the pity a fireman coming in to rescue me might have been useful – very useful.

Ms Delaney’s last in this series has all her usual hallmarks – fast paced, great characterisation, cracking story and fabulous dialogue. The words don’t fly off the page here, it’s steam coming off the page. Hot, hot, hot. Saying Nate and Dex are well matched is an understatement, they were made for each other!

I think what adds to the heat is the clever and completely endearing way that Ms Delaney unravels the mystery of Nate. His redemption is just delicious. You know it’s coming, but oh it gets you so badly.

I loved how this book was so the perfect final piece in the puzzle. And not just in the way that the stories are crafted together, but more the feeling of completion in the family. It’s a really gorgeous read, written by burgeoning powerhouse in this genre.

Thanks to the author for an ARC, in return for an honest review.

Ovary ache

His to Protect by Tracie Delaney (Brook Brothers)

In the last 18 months Tracie Delaney has joined the list of my few absolute go to authors, those that I just buy the book and read straight away. I don’t care about blurbs or reviews. It’s a pretty short list headed up by the Queen – Nalini Singh, so you get the quality of writing I’m talking about.

This book is Cole’s story, the quiet brother. There is something about his self contained intense nature, that sings to me. The need to protect, the need to put his lady love first – Cole made my ovaries ache. An unexpected ache. Ooh!

The underlying story about losing yourself and finding your way again was so heartfelt and endearing. It’s a great new year message. Both Millie and Cole needed to let go of the past, find their future and go forward, it’s an exciting path for two really interesting characters.

Truth be told I’m always going to prefer books about sports stars. So, her Winning Ace series is more my thing, but Ms Delaney once again proves her talent and diversity. I can’t wait to read what Tracie Delaney writes next.

Friends with benefits?

Break Point by Tracie Delaney (Winning Ace novella)

When you read a lot of romance it’s easy to focus only on the romantic love between a couple.  Tracie Delaney’s latest in her Winning Ace series is a case in point.

Ms Delaney delivers her trademark sexy romance.  The love between each of the three couples shines, absolute credit to the author here for creating such rich characters that stay true to themselves time after time.

What stood out however, was the love between the friends.  Rupe completely endeared himself to me, not just because of how sweet he was with Jayne but also with Em.  I loved how the relationship between Em and Cash has developed.  So so gorgeous, with just enough snark!

Now let’s talk about the real love affair here.  Em and Tally.

These two made me smile, cry and hold my breath.  There’s a scene almost at the end, where Em realises the depth of the connection.  I wanted to howl happy tears.  What a complete treasure for both of them to have this absolute connection and to understand it.  That really is friendship with benefits!  Hats off Ms Delaney!

I was given an ARC in return for an honest review, I confirm this is my honest view, over which the author has had no influence!

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!