T-Rex v Abe

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Rock Wedding Nalini Singh

First up I have to admit it – I’m totally a Gabe/T-Rex fan.  I’m smitten, after all handsome, billionaire ex-rugby players with that Kiwi thing going on are hard to beat. So for me Rock Hard is the stand out book in this terrific series.

But Abe Bellamy gives T-Rex a serious run for his money. And some serious money they both have!

This is a second chance romance which they both really needed.  A lot of hurt and pain has happened, both to them as a couple and as individuals. I wasn’t sure I could get over some of it and see them back together. In fact, I wasn’t too sure they were right for each other.

I was wrong they’re perfect together. The journey back from where they were to where they needed to be was perfect in its simplicity.  And of course it would be, this is a Nalini Singh. The diva of romance never disappoints, even whilst she walks to the beat of her own drum!  This is one author that never does quite what you expect or want, but delivers so much more!

Abe’s journey is painful, but it’s Sarah’s very real pain that gives the story it’s soul.

Warning this book contains more than one wedding.  I love a good wedding, shoes, handbags, dresses, veils and confetti not to mention the groomsmen! So, I loved the weddings, but maybe that will be a little too neat for some.

 

thankyou to netgalley for an arc in return for an honest review.

 

A howler of a journey

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When I Lost You Kelly Rimmer released April 21st

Clearly Kelly Rimmer can tell a great story. But this isn’t a great story, it’s an immense journey. And I walked every step with Molly and Leo. I was desperate to get to the end and yet, I slowly re-read bits of it, trying to make it last longer.  I was devastated when it ended.

Leo and Molly consumed me.  It’s a painful book, at times it actually hurt to read parts of it.  I felt the passion, the honesty, the love and the grit of it consuming me.

Yet, for all the incredible emotion it’s an absolute celebration of love.  Seeing Molly and Leo fall in love twice over was uplifting and touchingly romantic.  It would be nice to see this as confirmation that love conquers all. Maybe I’m a little jaded, but I saw the message as real love is a work in progress.

As for the characters, Molly had more depth than you might expect but it’s Leo who is the revelation. You simply don’t hear about Aboriginal Australian men and if you do it’s sad and depressing. I worried it might dominate the story. But Leo’s ethnicity was just one aspect of a very complex man, it enriched and challenged but never dominated the story.  I know I’ll be thinking about Leo for months to come.

This is a book for everyone who has ever been in love or aspires to be.  I howled and howled when I finished it. It’s been so long since I properly cried at a book, and I feel somehow it’s profoundly changed me.

 

Thankyou to netgalley and bookoutre for an ARC in return for an honest review.

Always possible

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Rooftoppers Katherine Rundell

“It was what her mother had always been. A place to put down her heart. A resting stop to recover her breath. A set of stars and maps.”

Given its British Mother’s Day, I thought this book was a perfect recommendation.  And I adore a book that’s so quotable.

It’s the story of Sophie who may or may not be an orphan. Her journey commences in a cello case in the English Channel and continues in a most unorthodox fashion – especially for the time.

As Sophie journeys to find the mother she has never met and who probably doesn’t think Sophie survived, we meet a cast of quirky and occasionally eccentric characters. We travel with Sophie and the adorable Charles from London to Paris.  And then the adventure begins over the Parisian rooftops, ingrained with a truly beautiful soundtrack.

A gloriously uplifting and enchanting book, it’s a novel but with a poetic tempo.

This is a children’s book, yet it has a universal message. ‘Never ignore a possible’ says Sophie’s guardian Charles.  It’s just the most endearing and optimistic message, and I love how beautifully open to interpretation it is. Everyone will see “a possible” as something different. Well it doesn’t matter, if it’s possible for you don’t ignore it!

In a time when an overpaid, over exposed and horrendously in debt musician feels it’s okay to tell the world he never reads, Ms Rundell sums it up for me “books crowbar the world open for you.”  If only Mr Kardashian West had realised that, he might not be looking for his lost $50million!

 

Life lessons and squealing

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Blood Kiss by J R Ward Black Dagger Legacy

Picture it – Saturday afternoon I’m on the sofa with my kindle, the rest of the family are relaxing, when I squeal. Loudly. ‘What’s wrong?’. How do you answer when you’re giggling and hyperventilating? Oh and shocked and excited too!

I’m 22% in to Blood Kiss. So why was I squealing? Hollywood had just made an appearance. Butch, Lassiter, V and now Rhage. And if you don’t understand my passion for a fave returning character then quite frankly you are reading the wrong books.

My reaction reflects the genius of JR Ward. Not only has created a series of amazing characters who’ve become life long crushes, she’s reinvented the series where other authors have ended up in a cold dark alley.  Yes people the Brothers are back!

So, this is apparently Paradise and Craeg’s story – shhhh don’t tell them but they’re just the backdrop to Marissa and Butch’s drama. Wow was that unexpected.  The legacy series is about going back via new recruits to those Brothers we love.  What romance author revisits the ongoing relationship with her past characters?  Most romance stories don’t lay bare the post HEA moment. I wasn’t even sure I wanted to know until I got it and then I gobbled it up.

Butch’s unravelling was tender and heartbreaking. It was proper gritty, unpleasant and fragile relationship stuff.  At the core of their issues are what all relationships thrive (or not) on – communication. What a powerful and simple reminder. Gorgeous and sexy too.

Oh and the littlest person is still laughing about Mummy squealing at her book! Another good life lesson.

 

Fabulous History

The Incidental Spy Libby Fischer Hellman

For me historical fiction only has relevance if I know enough about the time period.  My two favourites are Tudor England and the atomic era during WWII.  Actually saying they are my favourites is a misnomer – the only other period I know anything about is Victorian England!  Perhaps, its my preference for romance but I’ve yet to read a story about the American atomic era, so this was my first!

Ms Hellman’s love of history and thirst for knowledge shines through.  Its a fabulously researched and beautifully told story.  I loved how she totally captured the mood of the populace and the scientific community.  Yes, its a fictional account but if you want to know how this hugely significant historical event felt to the average people living it read this book!

On the surface its hard to understand how the McCarthy era witch hunts came to pass, yet the way Ms Hellman portrays the paranoia, intrigue and political confusion of the time you can see the door that McCarthy pushed open.  Fascinating.

I thought the overall story and characterisation was good.  I liked Lena although I found the storyline with her son a little simplistic.  Its a fast paced thriller and I didn’t see the ending coming!

Its a short story, I would probably have liked a bit more!

Thank you to TBC on FB for a copy in return for an honest review.

Challenging my views

Zack #3 Cold Fury Sawyer Bennett   (possible spoilers!)

I downloaded Zack’s book whilst I was reading Garrett’s.  But the scene for Zack’s story was revealed in Garrett’s book, and its not a story theme I’m comfortable with, at all.  In fact, I decided not to read it.

Its a personal thing, but I have an issue with men who seem to move quickly through their mourning to their next relationship.  I find it disrespectful to their dead partner and difficult to read.  The problem was that Ryker’s book is looming, so I decided to motor through Zack’s book so I’d have enough of the basics to enjoy Ryker’s book (like who the hell is he?!).

But damn that Sawyer Bennett she wasn’t going to make it easy for me!  As usual I was suckered in by Ms Bennett’s fabulous characterisation and story telling.  I felt for Zack, even though I knew what was coming and I didn’t feel it was quite right.  Is five months a respectful mourning period?  Should we advocate dressing in black forever more?  Who knows?

In a way that’s the point – who knows what’s right and what’s right is different for everyone.  What was challenging was Gina was a young mother and it was an accident, Zack had no prep for what he should do.  Should you sell the house you shared?  Is that right for her child? What about her clothes?  How many photos are respectful? and how many are creepy?

The fact that Zack and Gina weren’t married was the kicker for me and a genius move from the author.  He struggled with it.  So did I.  I would have liked to have understood how much Gina’s death impacted his view of marriage.  Did it make him more open for marriage?  More likely to commit?  Or was it simply a different person?   What does that say about his relationship with his child’s mother?  He didn’t go there, and I wonder if he didn’t think about it or didn’t realise it.

Twenty-four hours later I’m still thinking about it.   For me, this is the quality of Sawyer Bennett’s writing.  We all know the way romance is rubbished – hell, I’m even guilty of it “need a trashy romance for my holiday”.  Sure this is a romance, but when you’re still thinking about it a day later, its certainly not throwaway rubbish.  There are so few writers who can do what she’s done with the first three of the Cold Fury books.  Roll on Ryker…

Again like with Garrett, to be really honest it was the epilogue that I wanted to change.  It was all going so well, until Zack articulated aloud his views on marriage to Kate.  I just wish he’d kept them to himself, it still would have been a HEA, but I would have felt that Zack got it right.  No doubt, most people will disagree?  Either way she’s fast becoming one of my fave writers.

Here’s what I said about Garrett’s epilogue:  http://biglittlesister.com/?p=333

Calling all cat girls

Taming the Billionaire Jessica Clare

If I have to choose an animal its always going to be a cat, so Jessica Clare’s new heroine had me at “come here kitty..” A feline behaviorist  – love it!

Jessica Clare is queen of the billionaire romance, she sets a standard that few even aspire to.

For me, this probably didn’t hit quite the heights of her other books.  Its about the hero for me.  I needed to know him more, I needed to have that absolute moment when he fell for Edie.  Perhaps my challenge was that he was just a tad more crude than I expected and a lot less geeky than felt right to me.  Oh and his brother was a douche! (then so was her sister!)

However, I got Edie’s moment when she knew that pushing him had worked.  Of course, she was surrounded by cats.  Perfect!

If you love the alpha rich man, the heroine who finds her balls and animals this is a winner.  And even better Gretchen and Hunter appear.  I love that girl, she’s so damn honest!  Bring on her wedding!

Definitely recommend this 4 solid stars.

Was it the mob?

Today, I’m featuring an interview I did with Alyssa Richards author of The Fine Art of Deception.  Given her paranormal romance takes place in the art world, we’re talking all things art –  theft, sculpture and more!

It seems that we share a love of outdoor sculpture (check out her pics!).  I have to thank Alyssa for my current fascination – the Isabella Gardner art heist, which is the backdrop to Alyssa’s story.  I didn’t know much about it before I read her book but I’m fascinated by it now.  I love how a book can open up a whole new world for me.

And look out there’s a competition for a $20.00 book voucher (Amazon or Barnes & Noble).

What research did you do to understand the art world & art galleries?

I’ve loved art, art history and museums for as long as I can remember. Every vacation is usually built around a museum and a bit of history. I did have to research the Gardner heist in detail and now I’m obsessed with that crime — as everyone seems to become once they read about it.

Can you share your favourite art galleries to visit? 

Museums are my favourite haunt. I’m hoping that one of them will let me move in one day.
The Louvre in Paris, (as well as Musee d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie ) Tate Gallery in London, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC, The British Museum in London, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, The High in Atlanta, Los Angeles County Museum of Art…
I remember the art I’ve seen in these museums the way sports fans remember the plays of a game.

I love sculpture especially outdoor like the Cass Sculpture Park in Goodwood UK.  What’s your favourite form of art?

I love sculpture as well! I went to Musée Rodin over the summer in Paris and just could not get enough of his work. Many of his pieces are spread throughout his gardens, which are an exhibit in and of themselves…  https://instagram.com/p/r32PswTZBr/?taken-by=alyssaauthor   I think the opportunity to appreciate sculpture outside, in nature, allows a more uninhibited appreciation of the piece. We feel unhurried and less aware of others appreciating the art near us https://instagram.com/p/r31DKPTZA4/?taken-by=alyssaauthor

I also love portraiture as created by the masters. It’s fascinating to me to think about the how Picasso or Matisse or Renoir might observe the same person.

Is there a piece of art with a potential story that you think would make a great book?  I’m thinking along the lines of a girl with the pearl earring… 

Ohh, I saw Girl with a Pearl Earring not too long ago. They had just restored it and it’s exquisite! Every piece of art has a story, as Addie Montgomery shows us in The Fine Art of Deception …  Right now I’m researching several well known artefacts as potential story centres. I love to look at an artist’s intent, why they might create such a piece, and the life it takes on once appreciated by so many.

What’s your theory about the Isabella Stewart Gardner art? 

I think it was a hack job by the mob – not a very well planned out heist on a soft target. When you look at how the thieves navigated the museum and what they took, it’s easy to think that they hadn’t planned ahead of time what they would take.
The Gardner Museum, was not unlike many others, in that they did not maintain solid security systems in an effort to cut costs.  Terribly short sighted decision at an extraordinary cost.  Art is sold along the black market at roughly 10% of its value. It’s thought that dealers in the black market hold and sell the art against other types of debts.
It hurts my heart to say this, but I doubt we ever see those pieces again.

What artist would you have liked to hang out in his/her studio?  For me it would be Matisse or Pollock.

I would love to travel back to 1920 and live in Montemartre among the expats who lived, wrote and painted in that era. (Stay tuned for future books along this theme…!) I’ve read so many books on those characters I would probably have to repeat the decade several times to get my fill!

What’s your favourite period in art history?

That’s hard for me to answer since I have such a voracious appetite for art history. I’m not much on modern installations and such, though I do try to appreciate them. I much prefer the more classical works.

One for the girls – do you have a favourite female artist?

I love Camille Claudel’s work. There is such an innocence and a life, a soul to her pieces,  especially when she sculpted female figures, that I’ve not seen anywhere else.  https://instagram.com/p/r2DX8kzZCy/?taken-by=alyssaauthor   Look at the difference between her work here, as it sits next to Rodin’s: http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en/rodin/educational-files/rodin-and-camille-claudel#artiste  There is a sensitivity to her work that doesn’t appear in Rodin’s piece.

So, have you had any spooky or romantic moments in art gallery?

No romantic moments, but there was a portrait I saw once — the energy of the woman in the painting was so strong, it was unnerving. It was as if the artist captured her in that work and it was dying to get out… Fodder for another book, perhaps….

Thanks Alyssa – especially thankyou for getting me hooked on that art heist!

Here’s the link to the competition for the gift voucher so you can go shopping for Alyssa’s book. And meet Adeline & Blake, the connection between them is old and fascinating.

 http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b050ef2985/?

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Want to be a winner?

Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh

Dominated by a triumvirate of three competing races – psy, changeling and human, Nalini Singh has created pretty much the perfect fictional universe.

Unusually for me this was a re-read.  Given how full Amazon’s shelves are I’m not much of a re-reader.  What’s the point when I know what will happen?  However, with the 14th book in the series out June 4th and a new cover reveal there’s a bit of buzz about it and I’ve been swept along.

In actual fact I didn’t re-read it, I savoured it.  This time there was no rush to the end to see what happened.  Ooh what a delight!

Two things struck me this time round.

The concept of sensation.  Like the rest of her race psy Sascha Duncan has been programmed to shun all emotion.  An emotionless state isn’t totally unique, but the psy live in an airtight vacuum.

When I first met the psy I thought they couldn’t feel but I needed to expand my understanding of feeling – its also touch, smell, taste.  Sascha’s world isn’t just devoid of emotion but anything that might appeal to the senses.

Think about it – no silk dresses, no freshly laundered sheets, no sand between toes, no sloppy kisses, no hazelnut lattes, no chocolate, no smell of home.  Certainly, no gorgeous male like Lucas Hunter to inflame all your senses!

But the real shocker was Ms Singh’s genius.  In this first story she put out the tentacles of a story still coming together fourteen books later.  Its an intricate universe, carefully balanced and wonderfully crafted.  Now, I know where she takes the story I am in awe.

If you want a HEA romance with passion, you’ll enjoy it.  But if you want romance plus – something that takes you to another world and lays down the possibility of so much more you’ll love it!

First time round I gave it a solid 5 stars, this time round I’m annoyed there isn’t a 5 star plus.

Want to see what all the fuss is about?  To celebrate the new cover for Slave to Sensation and introduce new readers to this fab series ahead of her 14th book, Nalini is offering the chance to win the first 5 books in the psy/changeling series.  Its open to readers everywhere – so no excuses for not entering!

https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/984c05ae22/?

And here’s the new cover – I liked the old rather intense paperback image better but maybe this one captures Lucas a lot more?

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bags of potential

Propositions Tanya Joyce

This was an enjoyable and easy read – perfect for sitting on the sofa with a coffee for a couple of hours.

The main characters were lively and likeable, with passionate chemistry and just the right amount of sizzle.  Jess’ high stakes fashion spiced it up just a bit – I want they necklace!  Nate’s behaviour towards the end was so abhorrent. But I guess that’s story telling for you, when it annoys you its a good sign you’re hooked!

Given I’ve just finished Nalini Singh’s Rock Hard – I did miss the humour, pace and oomph of character that she delivers.

However, I got stuck on a few things that bothered me.

First up – the best friend doesn’t know about the son’s father, especially after the divorce?  Rubbish.  Not much more to say on that.

And there were some things that just felt rushed or muddy.

– having lived in both countries, I can confirm that British men don’t wear jocks (in fact so far my test audience have all confirmed that a jock is an American athlete). Maybe Aussie men wear trunks but it just didn’t read right. In both countries men say boxers – wouldn’t that work?
– there was a lot about how short notice the launch was – 6 months right? As I know a lot about this industry it annoyed me – if only 6 months to organise huge gala like that, was the norm – usually its so much less. Nate seemed to have nothing to do but meet Jess and her team all week – not really what you get from the CEO! And no social media?
– the dates surrounding Jess’ age, Connor’s birth, Troy’s disappearance/wife’s death, her marriage to Graeme just didn’t seem to add up. Not overly sure why.

Tanya Joyce demonstrates lots of potential – she’s definitely got the ability to craft a good tale, create some interesting characters and describe her setting well.  One to watch definitely.

Thank you to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review