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!

Christa and her men

Tempting Christa and Avenging Christa by Tracie Delaney and M.A. Comley

What a cracking and totally absorbing read this duet is. The authors have created two engaging characters and a wonderful story. I loved how both characters developed over the course of the two books. Christa demonstrates real strength, the kind that in her shoes we would all want.

No matter how much you like Christa this is really a story of two men. Dayton was particularly interesting. I enjoyed his transformation from typical billionaire as slowly his many layers began to be peeled away. I really liked him. The villain is bloody awful, what a real classic he is! I wanted to throttle him myself, urgh! He will make your blood boil.

The story reels you in and it’s very believable. There’s a lot of legal drama in this, which was so well done and made for a good read.

Whilst I love a series, I’m not a fan of books that don’t finish with a complete ending. But now both books have been published, so there’s no need to wait. I totally recommend you get both books at once and read away! If you love romance, complex characters, hot action and a great story – this is for you! You will love Christa and her billionaire man.

Dogs and Dragons

Animal Attraction by Kate Willoughby

I adore Ms Willoughby’s quirky set ups, time and time again she creates cute but believable scenarios. My face hurts from smiling so much. And I’m not a dog person, at all!

I really warmed to both characters, Maggie in particular was that combination of ordinary and extraordinary that we all want to be besties with. I kept imagining that I was Jade and got to hang out with her. Fun, fun, fun!

I’m not sure why I love an ice hockey story so much, I’ve never seen a game live and only one on tv. But I love how Ms Willoughby’s passion for hockey shines. She’s super generous with her knowledge, I learned quite a bit about the game.

I hope for the next book we get some glimpse of San Francisco, we got a few insights but I need more. As for these San Francisco Dragons, what a team! I’m loving this journey with them, I’m already seriously invested in the Dragons winning that Stanley Cup! I’m willing to pay to be in their locker room, I may even remember about the team logo, then again a big hockey boy telling me off wouldn’t be all that bad would it?!

This is a great easy stand alone read. Go for it!

cars, ethics & such drama

The Passengers by John Marrs

In the not too distant future our beloved government has implemented a highly innovative new transport strategy. One in which Britain is going to lead the world and make a fortune. Yep, you already know it’s going to be messy and leave you shaking your head.

I need to acknowledge the crazy in me. A book about government transport policy which I willingly downloaded and read? My excuse – it’s a John Marrs book.

Mr Marrs once again crashes technological advances and societal ethics together, to come up with a corking read. The author effortlessly shoves his readers into the shoes of his characters. And it feels so good. He has you asking what would you do. Could you choose who should die? Could you live with your decision?

The research is outstanding. It’s hard to differentiate between what’s real and what’s the result of a brilliant imagination. The more you engage with the book’s core theme, the more you forget that this is cracking fiction. An absolutely outstanding read.

I love how John Marrs tells the human story in both the minute details and the sweeping big story. Combine that with a fantastic story line, a hot topic and sparkling writing – what a winner!

Government transport policy, political ambitions, robotics, ethics, prejudices, personal dramas, social media, mob rule and romance. Jeez what else could you want? Maybe some cake?! Or maybe some super hot action in the back of an automated car? Sign me up!


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.

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.