Squidgies and heart rubbing

Van by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury #9)

Five very shiny stars for this one.

Why the shiny? Well, this is the story of two people who have kind of lost their shininess or gloss.  She’s made some not so good decisions and has ended up lost in life, with her family’s disappointment ringing in her ears.

For him, he feels the weight of his family’s history.  And it’s certainly not shiny.  He saw others judge him as a child and found him lacking, through no fault of his own.  Not only is he distrustful of opening up to others, he actually doesn’t know how.  The simplest social interaction is hard work.  I found him to be a heart breaker, even though he isn’t trying to be.

Van gave me the squidgies right in the middle of my chest.  I rubbed my heart pretty constantly as I read.  He’s a hero you want to fix, you want to wrap up in your arms or even cook roast chicken for.

Sawyer Bennett is at her cracking best when she not only tells a story but has something to say that she’s passionate about.  Here she reminds us that we aren’t our parents, that we can’t judge someone by their DNA.  You don’t have to walk the road your parents did, but boy does it take strength to confront that.  Ms Bennett tells it so so well.

There’s also a wonderful reminder about secrecy. Of course, we all want to keep hidden our shame secret, but does that give it power? Or does keeping it secret enable you to be who you really are?  If no one knows your past they can’t judge you.

As for the romance, totally there and totally unconventional.  Here’s one of my favourite bits:

“That’s right. Don’t assume,” I tell her. “Ask if you’re confused. But Simone . . . you know the worst about me. You took my cock bare. I’m man enough to admit that I’ve got my feelings tied up now too. I sure as fuck don’t know what any of it means, and I’m totally out of my element here. I don’t know what we are, but you are anything but a lay to me”

Brave, ballsy and beautiful that sums Van up both book and man.

A gentleman snake

Archangel’s Viper Nalini Singh (Guildhunter #10)

Ooh an old fashioned gent who cooks – did I mention I was in love?!

In the past 18 months some of my fave PNR series have gone off the boil. With Nalini Singh being my fave, I admit I started this with a little trepidation. Motto to self – have more faith.  It is Nalini Singh after all!

Raphael’s mother talks about his closest friends (his seven) as being like a menagerie or zoo. I’m not sure Caliane even knows how right she is.  In that vein Venom is a bit like that the cherry on the cake!  He’s not just different, but snake different and sexy with it.

Venom rivals Dmitri for sexiness, and post Harry Potter only a truly talented author can make an actual snake sexy.  I’m not talking Shakira and boa constrictors here.  I loved his sexy side of course, but more so the way he melded his traditional side as a Raj peasant with a twenty first century lethal operative.

Talking of Dmitri, what insights we get into the vampire extraordinaire!  With Holly he’s a father dealing with a petulant but adored daughter, but with Venom he races the streets of New York like a naughty teenage gang leader. As a series fan you want – maybe need – these moments into the other characters.  As always Ms Singh delivers.

I loved Holly’s strength. I’m not sure why or how but Holly seemed so unique in her strength and this in a series jam packed with strong heroines.

Beautifully written, with a complex story, fun dialogue and a simmering romance this latest Guildhunter episode is fabulous.

Sweet, funny & brittle

Game On Victoria Denault (Hometown Players #6)

First up, I absolutely loved this book. The shades of light and dark are so powerful. It’s a masterclass in romance writing.

It was nothing I was expecting and thank god for that! I read it in one sitting, I could not leave it alone

As the hero Alex is simply wonderful. At times he’s sweet, funny and easy going and you can see why he is everyone’s best friend. And then he’s brittle, hurt, childlike. I hurt for him, I wanted to take care of him. Yet, it was obvious that wasn’t what was needed, and you had to like Brie for knowing that.

I liked how both Brie and Alex had their own prejudices about each other that slowly dissolved, and the way Brie convinced him to take a chance had my heart thumping! And their first meeting was so super cute!

Often I don’t like writing from the two different POVs but this was so well done it felt real. It’s so biographical in detail, it’s hard to remember that Alex is a fictional character.

I really hope that people will pick this up, it doesn’t matter if you’ve read the other books in the series or not. It’s such a lovely read that it will completely devour you.

Tears, questions & judgements

Grand Slam Tracie Delaney #3 Winning Ace

A sky high ending for a fantastic trilogy, and I’m gutted to say goodbye to our hero Cash Gallagher.

I’m still shocked it’s by a debut author – it’s so good.  Best book so far and that’s saying something!

I couldn’t sleep for thinking about this book.  It will thrill and warm you as you read it. But be warned when you put it down it’s going to say with you.

Clearly, I don’t want to give the game away (see what I did there?!) but there’s a real dilemma here I needed to explore.

One character is redeemed.  And it has me thinking about the nature of betrayal.  Would you forgive a friend’s betrayal? And if so, how far would you go?  Can you forgive and forget? Should unrelated circumstances dictate your forgiveness?  It’s a tough one, and had me questioning my own judgement a week later. I’ve decided, I’m no Tally.

Ms Delaney’s burgeoning skill is obvious, her characterisation is absolutely superb.  Regardless of what you think about the choices her characters make, you’ll be cursing Ms Delaney as you sob your heart out.  And I dare you not to cry. I sat on a plane full of strangers with tears flowing making odd little sob noises. Thank you to the stewardess on Aegean who bought me tissues. I wasn’t brave enough to tell her ‘it’s just a book’.  And maybe it’s not just a book, but a chance to reflect.  Easy five stars.

 

Duelling Romance

The Duke of Danger Darcy Burke (#6 The Untouchables)

I love this fun, cheeky and quirky series, it’s just terrific.  Everything you’d expect from Darcy Burke – great characterisation, cracking pace and historical understanding.

The premise of this story is that the hero has killed someone in a duel.  I have to admit I struggled with this aspect, I can’t find guns and duelling honourable.  And even more so the flimsy excuses for such deplorable actions.

Having said that once I got into the story, I really loved it. Axminster was a flawed but quite gorgeous hero, and Emmaline was complex but ultimately likeable.  I really liked how she focussed on making herself independent. This really gave him a chance to shine.  So sweet and believable.

And then the romance – yummy!  The cover kind of says it all. Hot and bothered!!!

I loved all the glimpses of characters from the other books in the series only I kept forgetting who was who. So, I really wish the author would add in a who’s who at the end of the book.

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