Found: one amazing read

Cement Heart by Beth Ehemann

This is my find of the year.

I was looking for a quick easy read between ARCs. I found Viper. Some days you get lucky, maybe I need to hit Vegas or at least lotto!

Ms Ehemann has the most incredible voice. It’s clear, non judgemental and so visual. It’s an extraordinary read.

Her connection to Viper is so true that even when he hits rock bottom you don’t pity him, because he wouldn’t want it. He is so unlikeably likeable, he hides his gorgeousness but it peaks out. Around him the author has created a wonderfully endearing cast, so he’s not the only star.

You might need a kleenex or a whole box.

Normally when I love a book I can’t wait to talk about it. I like to rabbit on about why I loved the characters or how true the story is. I’m not going to do that here.

Why? Because the less you know about this story, the better this read will be. Luckily the author is smart enough not to give the game away in her blurb. And believe me this is not about low expectations.

It’s made me really question the value or point of a book blurb, especially in the romance genre. You already know you’re going to get a HEA, so what’s the value of knowing so much more going in? Not thought about it before. Now I cannot stop.

Don’t be put off if you see this in the sports romance or even typical romance genre – it’s nothing of the sort.

Oh and then there’s the cover!

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.

Hitting that G spot

          

My Gift to You  by Tracie Delaney 

I wasn’t looking forward to reading this one.  Not sure why really, the blurb, the title, the cover just didn’t do it for me.  But when one of your fave authors offers an ARC – what’s a girl to do?  Say yes of course, and then cross your fingers.

(Updated to say that the author has recently redone the cover, with this gorgeous new image I’d have been pushing to the front of the queue to read  it.)

Well half a page in I’d uncrossed those fingers and then I hit the sweet spot.  Now, I read something the other day that said the female g-spot was a myth. Well, I’m not going to comment on that (you didn’t really think I would did you?), but I can confirm that the reading g-spot exists.  I know, because Tracie Delaney’s latest hits that reading g-spot, grabs hold of you and kind of blows your mind!  And then there’s the after glow – yep, it gave me the warm squidgies all over.

I must mention Gabe.  He’s a hero so hot and so nice that he must have bruises from all those signed pre-nups women throw at him!  He’s just that yummy!  What a departure from all those mean, moody types who find their inner nice guy only with the right lady.  Gabe was born lovely.

As for Livvy, she’s going to grab your heart and squeeze hard.  These two will have your emotions roaring in your ears and tears running down your face. And you’ll love it.  It will warm you up better than tomato soup.

Ms Delaney has certainly hit the sweet spot with her writing style, her Winning Ace series was fab, but this new stand alone book is her best yet.

Thank you to the author for an ARC.  Obviously I wasn’t influenced by being offered an ARC as this is my honest opinion.

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.