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.

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…..

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!

A beneficent cover

The Duchess Deal Tessa Dare

Yes, we all know that you mustn’t judge by its cover.  From my last review you’ll see I’m a bit guilty of this.  And yep I failed again.  I adore this cover and I just downloaded it.  The designer needs to be on Ms Dare’s Christmas card list for all time.

As for the book?  Well, it lives up to the cover. An absolutely gorgeous read.  I was hooked from the first page and giggled my way through the rest of the book – well, when my heart wasn’t pounding that is.

We’re often warned not to read a book on the tube as you don’t want fellow commuters seeing your tears or hearing you snort.  This isn’t a snorting book, it’s a very delicate witty humour.  Yep, you’ll be the Cheshire Cat grinning at all those stressed commuters.  So go on, read it on the tube – make someone’s day!

I hope I won’t give away too much by saying the book revolves around a proposal or rather a deal.  Ms Dare’s demonstrates her complete mastery of English wit and characterisation:

“If it’s a wife you want,” she said, “surely you could find many women—many well-bred ladies—who would be willing to marry you.”

“Yes, but I’d have to find them. This saves me so much effort.”

She threw him a sidelong glance. “Can you not hear yourself? Do you truly not know how insulting that sounds?”

“I should think it sounds beneficent. I’m offering you a title and fortune. All you have to do is lie back in the dark, then spend nine months swelling up like a tick. What could possibly deter any woman from accepting?”

What indeed? I’m still cackling!

Ash and Emma are simply wonderful, I fell hook, line and sinker for him.  And he’s so deserving.  As for the heat between these two – ooh you’re going to love it. Smoking!

I have to mention Ms Dare’s dedication, I won’t spoil it for you.  Let’s just say there are a few chapters that you might want to rush to read.  Don’t!  Read it properly!

 

Ooh something new Mrs Prowse!

 

    

Anna (out 8th March) and Theo (out 5th April) both by Amanda Prowse

I’m liking the sound of this.  Two new books by one of my real faves Amanda Prowse.

It’s being billed as one love two stories.  Or maybe one story two perspectives?  A matching his and hers set even?!

I think it’s kind of intriguing, I read a Nalini Singh where two books in a series overlapped but were different stories, so only little hints come through.  The only other example I can think of are they rather dire EL James books from his perspective. I know this will be fab.

Neither book is out til next year (boo!)   But I’m previewing the covers above, which look kind of cute!  A bit of a departure from her covers more recently.  Personally, Amanda Prowse is one of the few authors I’m happy to preorder without knowing much about the next story.

Here’s the thunderclap that Amanda and her team are sharing today so you can preorder.

Bestseller @MrsAmandaProwse presents One Love. Two Stories. First read #Anna http://bit.ly/_Anna__ a girl you’ll fall in love with then read #Theo http://bit.ly/_Theo__ a boy looking for someone to love. Two worlds, two lives, two novels that collide to create a masterpiece.