Who’s beast?

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The Beast J.R. Ward Black Dagger Brotherhood #14

JR Ward’s sublime skills are on show again as she not only keeps this series going but makes it fresh, funny, new, compelling – urgh should I keep going?!  Quite simply I adore this series.

The Beast returns to book two and the story of Mary and Rhage.  Whilst most of us struggle to some extent with our inner demon, he is cursed to grapple with a real beast when he loses control.

Is Rhage’s purple scaly dragon his only beast?

For me this is the story of the inner beast, that demon that can roar in even the most seemingly gentle souls reigniting the issues buried inside.  JR Ward uses Rhage’s cursed dragon to shed light on the struggle with the inner beast.

Despite his deep love for Mary, the book opens with Rhage’s death wish. Why? Could it be that the couple’s infertility looms large?  He wants children when illness means Mary is infertile. Can he voice his needs and desires when he knows the pain it will cause? And should he? They are both aware that she doesn’t feel she lives up to his sheer beauty. Can she deal with his disappointment in her in this most female of ways?

Whilst, the beast is Rhage’s curse from the Scribe Virgin we see Mary’s own curse.  As she is immortal, she alone will choose her time to go into the Fade. Clearly, Rhage assumes and expects she’ll immediately follow him. But what if she has a pressing need, could and should she delay?  Can she confront the issue with Rhage?

How difficult must it be for both of them to see Layla pregnant with twins, knowing that she and Qhuinn don’t share a mate’s connection.

The demons facing the other characters we’re fascinating. As always JR Ward totally nails the cast of characters. This time Assail tries to steal the show, perhaps if Rhage wasn’t my all time fave he’d have done it.  What are the demons that drive him and have him imprisoned to his substance abuse?  Does he have the strength to confront his demons?

As the book draws to a close a new character who will no doubt have his own inflicted demons to deal with, brings up Zadist’s own demons. Does he have them under control? Can he control his own rage to offer support?  And can Assail use this abused male’s example to overcome?

All this, and we’ve yet to touch on Layla and how she’ll confront what she’s done.  And not to forget Havers, what set him on this path and can he be rehabilitated?  Does he even want to?

All kudos to Ms Ward, another fantastic book, she continues to add layer upon layer to a wonderfully rich and intricate story arc.  Yet, at its heart is the simplicity of love both romantic and through the various ways her characters have bonded.

Yummy beach thinking

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On the Brink Kate Willoughby out June 28th

I finished this book a little while ago. I should have written my reviews then, it would have been a simpler review: ‘Kate Willoughby’s latest has been written for hockey fans to hit the beach with, it’s a yummy, sweet, fun and easy read’.

However, a few weeks later I’m kind of rethinking.

Yep, it’s yummy, sweet and fun. And it was easy to read – that’s the author’s trademark after all. But maybe I got her trademark wrong. Maybe Ms Willoughby gives us sweet and easy whilst she grabs you when you’re not expecting it. Bit naughty hey?

I should have known, she did it with Tim and Joe!  Because I’m still thinking about Hart and Jeremy.

The essence of the story is whether Hart can accept himself as gay and if he can, should he hide it? This is especially difficult given his potential partner’s open nature (think poster boy!).

What is the impact of having a hidden life?  Hart isn’t an idiot, as a top athlete he knows the potential impact of keeping such a secret on his athletic performance.  Can the hidden you, be the best you?

There will be plenty of people who feel that none of this should matter, Hart should join Jeremy’s poster boy status.  Yet, an athlete’s life is very finite. It also takes a level of complete dedication that most of us can’t comprehend. The story is set in the past but today we have nutters in the U.S. worrying what bathroom you use. So, must you be the poster boy just because you want to play hockey? It’s your dream. Is it anyone else’s business? What would you do?!

My only criticism is that if you read the series you’ll get more Hart including his family interactions and the ending of his story. I would have loved to have this woven in here for a longer novel. But on the plus side we’ll get another Barracuda book sooner. Silver linings and all that!

Go grab the latest Barracuda book, hit the beach and enjoy!  Thinking allowed but not essential!

I received an ARC in return for an honest review.

Scrambled brains with breadcrumbs

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Blood Instinct by Lindsay J. Pryor out May 5th

This series just went through the roof.  Ms. Pryor has kept her Blackthorn series dark, gritty and romantic, only now it’s also an action packed thriller.

The previous books had readers swimming in Lindsay J. Pryor’s world, this time Blackthorn completely submerges you.  Where her last book had my heart pounding and made me all sweaty, Blood Instinct is brain scrambling and gut wrenching.  A week later, I’m still looking for the factory reset button.

Ms Pryor is a seriously brave author in many ways.  There’s a scene where I knew how it would play out. When it didn’t my jaw hurt from hitting the floor.  I had to immediately re-read it to make sure. It was gasp inducing.

And then there’s the way she shows the ugly sides of her heroes.  I found one scene somewhat distasteful, but it was a necessary element for the story to move on.  As much as I love contemporaries like Nalini Singh or J.R. Ward, I can’t see them confronting an issue so graphically.

Jask fans will relish that this is his book, but this time the ensemble cast steal the show. The POVs from the wider cast were ingenious. Whilst each twist is a complete shocker, yet on reflection you see the author’s trail of breadcrumbs. It’s a trail that goes back six books, now that’s clever!

Apparently it’s bad etiquette to reveal if there’s a twist mid way through a book or even at the end.  That’s ok.  I’ll tell you that there isn’t a twist here. The damn book is full of twists, with a relentless pace.  I wanted to rush through it, I needed to know what would happen. Yet, some of it was so unexpected I had to stop to re-read.  Over a week later I’m still connecting the dots – a sign of a truly great book.

I feel I must say something about Ms. Pryor’s fantastic characterisation. All the main characters get decent airplay as the story moves to the penultimate book. But what stands out is the growth of her diverse bunch of characters, this is especially true of Phia, Jask and Eden. Phia’s struggle was so real to me that I wanted to google for solutions.  And Eden has really stepped up in a way I could only hope, my little heart sang to see him totally comfortable in his own skin.  Just wow!

Starting this sixth book in Lindsay J. Pryor’s blackthorn made me really quite nervous. The last book Blood Dark, was so good and you don’t want to be disappointed. And when you get an ARC from a fave author you don’t want to let them down. The truth is this is the hardest review I’ve ever written, I don’t think I can do justice to the nuances and brilliance of Blood Instinct.

On the 5th May go submerge yourself in Blackthorn – see you on the other side!

Thank you to the author and publisher bookouture for an ARC in return for an honest review.

 

More than a second chance

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Hawke by Sawyer Bennett out March 15th

First up, I adore Sawyer Bennett’s writing, she’s so much more than my go to sports romance writer – she sets the standard. And Sawyer’s standard is damn high.  As for the Cold Fury boys and gals, well she can’t write them quickly enough for me!

The blurb will tell you that this is a second chance romance. Yep, it is. But it’s a hell of a lot more.

As young lovers, there was no doubt about how much Hawke loved Vale. Ms Bennett made sure his feelings oozed from the pages and yearned to be a young Vale.

Then wham – it was over. So, it’s a second chance romance and the story of how they are reunited.

I wasn’t the same.  She wasn’t the same.  What we had was different now…”

Yet, the real story isn’t how they get back together (as cute as that is) but the impact their first love had on their journey from teens to adults. It’s kind of heartbreaking. You can see how the pain they suffered led to choices they might not have made. Equally, as adults learning about their own history leads to real personal development.

I’m falling in love all over again, and it’s just beautiful to me

It was beautiful to me too.  Thank you Ms. Bennett for capturing the essence of a second chance like I’ve not read before.

She must have dated a real lot, because Sawyer Bennett writes men like few romance writers.  For me Hawke is probably along with Zach my least favourite of her men, yet thanks to her wonderful writing I loved the book. Watching him struggle with all these emotions and a new understanding was simply gorgeous!

As for the cast members great to see Captain Alex and Ryker in their new roles. Loved Vale’s dad and when is it Max’s turn?!

Oh and about that cover, I’m not into bearded blue eyed men but I couldn’t stop staring. Wow!

 

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

Not so Forbidden

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The Forbidden Duke Darcy Burke out 15th March

I’m struggling to say anything beyond this is absolutely and totally adorable.

The best kind of read – simple, charming and engaging. You won’t put it down to the end and even then you’ll be looking for more.

Two gorgeous characters get a second chance at life, love and happiness. And for once there’s no dilly dallying – “does she or doesn’t she?” “Would he or wouldn’t he?” – whole chapters can be devoted to the inability to communicate. Not here. Thank goodness.

Bring on The Duke of Daring – let’s hope he’s half as gorgeous!

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

 

Well Jell!

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Everealm by JD Wright

I love it when a book plays with my senses.  Well, I think I do. Maybe I’m re-thinking that.

The problem is this book didn’t play with my senses. Nope not at all.  Everealm took my senses and dangled them out the castle window.

The banquets… I don’t eat red meat but I was hungry for venison. And the scene when Bre and co chose the dresses for the winter ball? Even Kim Kardashian would have been jealous, I was beyond green.  Is there even colour beyond green?

Oh, and then she walked into the ball and Rowan was kitted out to meet her.  I want her stylist if not her whole style. Not that I can nip out for milk dressed as a Queen, but a girl can dream right?!

If you’ve not yet twigged Everealm is dominated by such superb world building that this first book sets a new standard in historical fantasy. Rich, lush and so detailed that at times I could smell the candles burning. Gorgeous.

As for the story, the author certainly didn’t disappoint. Bre’s story flows easily, with so many different characters there are story lines galore!

The only thing I struggled with is it wasn’t really YA yet it was a little tame. But that may well enhance it’s appeal.  I’m just off to finish Wildfire (book two).

Thank you netgalley for a copy of this book in return for an honest review

 

Car crash reading

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Untamed by S C Stephens out November 3rd

Delicious cover?  One of my recent favourites.  It has hidden depths and gets better the more you look at it, bit like the book itself. Never judge a book by it’s cover?  Umm, well when they look this good I’m happy to!

I wasn’t wild about it to start with. In fact if netgalley hadn’t given me a copy I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  Griffin was a bore, totally full of himself and with zero self awareness.  And Anna? She was a typical rock star wife – gorgeous but bland.

And then it twigged forget TV (a la Geordie Shore) this was car crash reading.  Slowly disaster loomed.  I knew I should look away, yet how could I? I kept on reading and it kept getting worse.  How dim can one man be?! Now I know – seriously dim! Yet, it was so obviously real. We’ve all made something worse by trying to fix it.  Poor Griffin is just the world champion.

So, having struggled for a couple of days to get into it, this morning at 2.11am, I finally finished it!  By the end I was gripped by Griffin and Anna’s story.  I couldn’t put it down. So thanks Ms Stephens for making me a zombie today!

The storyline is a refreshing change from the endless focus on childhood misery.  Griffin has only himself to blame and he is most definitely the master of his own destiny. He might start off a complete bore but he ends up a proper hero and totally gorgeous. I just might be in love!

As for Anna, she isn’t the girl she first seems. She has steel or perhaps balls of steel. Seeing the dynamic of their relationship was compelling and a brave move by the author.

As for the ending with Liam – I didn’t see that coming. Fab!

So, my only issue with this book was how badly I struggled with it at first. That might be because this is a series and having not read any of the earlier books I simply didn’t get it to start with.  Whilst it’s definitely stand alone, I think I would have loved it more easily had I read the rest of the series. No matter, I got there in the end.

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

 

What’s for dinner Pia?

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Dragos goes to Washington by Thea Harrison

You gotta love Dragos, who else taunts potential dinner guests with putting them on the menu?  And leaves them wondering if he would  (he wouldn’t? would he?!).  Not only that he survives a maelstrom in Washington and doesn’t kill a soul!  This time it’s Pia who has blood on her hands.

If that doesn’t make sense to you – then this latest novella in the Elder Races series isn’t for you.  The author has written this one for fans of Dragos and Pia.

There’s plenty of sex (maybe plenty is a bit mean – there’s loads!), intrigue, politics, and a bit of a drama.  Dragos is the rock star in this series and this is just a gentle reminder, in case you needed it!

There’s also a very cute line up for the next novella which has to be Pia’s trip to Hollywood.  Longer term there is another development that fans will also welcome.

All up just want fans want.  As a fan I really needed this as I felt that Midnight’s Kiss just didn’t do it for me.

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

More Ryker please!

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Ryker  by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury series)

Ryker is loveable – bit fragile but loveable.  What was his idiotic wife thinking?!  (no spoiler as that’s in Zack’s book!)

Its taken me until book 4 to realise that Sawyer Bennett is all about the big picture – she’s got a message to share and this is her medium.  And boy does she do it well!

Its a great romance, all the typical fare you expect and want from a sports romance.  The hockey scenes are fab.  I could fill any number of paragraphs about Ms Bennett’s great writing and her story telling, she’d deserve it of course.

But what steals the whole book is Ryker himself and his attitude as a single dad to two little girls when faced with a  career dilemma for him and Gray.  Quite simply we need more Rykers.

It was moving but refreshingly not overly sentimental.  I hope that every girl/woman reading this takes his message on board and thinks about it.  There are Rykers out there – just not enough and few are recognised.

Thanks Sawyer – we need more from you too!

It’s all about the girl


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Rock Redemption by Nalini Singh out Oct 6th

This is Kit’s story. Sure the blurb will tell you its Noah’s story, but its not.  It’s all about Kit and wow is she a heroine and a half!

I didn’t immediately love this series.  Fox and Molly’s chemistry didn’t quite do it for me. David and Thea were cute and sweet but it was only a novella. Then I got T-Rex’d and I loved it!  I’m watching Sonny Bill Williams play in the rugby world cup and dreaming of Gabriel (its the shirt story!).

I’ve read Rock Hard four times now.  Three on the first weekend.  So, perhaps its not surprising that this didn’t quite reach those dizzy heights. Maybe I wouldn’t have cope if it had!  But its a great read and Kit kills it.  She’s strong but vulnerable.  She’s funny but serious.  She’s passionate but practical.  She’s simply my kind of girl, the fact that she’s a super amazing actress just endears her that much more.

Noah’s issues are difficult and I wasn’t always convinced about why he didn’t seek help before or indeed get help now.  But his desire to be a better man and friend to Kit are so heartfelt that you want him to succeed.  The line that Kit draws for him seemed to me insurmountable but yet not.  I kind of knew he’d do it. Or maybe i just hoped!

We get to see lots of David and Fox in this and the relationship between the four is genuine and gorgeous.  Fox and Noah are the ultimate bromance boys!  Divine!  So, we wait for Abe and Sarah’s story – that was very well trailed and I think its going to be a complicated roller coaster.  Can’t wait!

Thanks to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.