20Backlistin2020: Book Review: Devil’s Lair by Sarah Barrie

Devils LairThis book has been sitting on both my shelf and my kindle for over a year and after reading Sarah Barrie’s newest book Deadman’s Track, I was keen to finally get this one read.

This was an absolutely brilliant romantic suspense novel. Once again set in Tasmania, we get to meet the characters from Bloodtree River and Deadman’s Track again and this time it is Connor’s turn to find happiness. After what he went through in Bloodtree River, he is understandably in two minds about starting anything new. When he meets Callie, who is trying to fly under the radar after her own traumatic experiences, he finds it hard to stay away from her.

This novel had me reading well into the middle of the night, there was plenty of tension, secrets, and ritualistic murders, alongside romance, new friendships, and new beginnings.

There were so many twists and turns in this story that I just did not see coming, every time I thought I had things figured out, I would have that theory pulled out from under me.

Callie was a very strong character, for someone who had been through what she’d been through, losing her husband in a violent incident and a lengthy court case, the fact she came through it as sane as she did amplified that strength.

The cottage and house that Callie stays in thanks to her friend Paisley’s help, is both beautiful and very creepy, I don’t think I could have stayed there.

The character that creeped me out the most was Paisley’s brother Ned, talk about stalkerish and crazy, I’d have had a restraining order out on him from the start no matter how harmless people were telling me he was. There was something seriously wrong with Ned from the beginning and he was just one of the spine-chilling aspects of the story.

I loved the romance that blossomed between Connor and Callie and their relationship made me smile plenty even when they were having their disagreements.

This novel also deals with the important issue of mental health issues and how support or lack of support can affect people who suffer with these illnesses.

I highly recommend this novel and though it can easily be read as a standalone, I recommend reading them in order: Bloodtree River, Devil’s Lair, Deadman’s Track.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review : Deadman’s Track by Sarah Barrie

cover191048-mediumOMG what a roller-coaster of a terrifying ride this novel took me on.

With at least two bad guys on the loose, there was plenty for the characters in this book to be worried about.

Tess was a great character, full of spirit, brave and sure of herself for the most part.

Aaron was a truly horrible character right from the start and any scene that he was in had me wanting to put the book down, sure things were going to turn out badly. His behaviour was classic of an abusive partner and I hated the way he treated Tess.

I loved Jared, the local police officer, he had a big job to do trying to keep up with escalating burglaries.

When Tess lets herself get roped into taking a group of teens out on a trek for a week, I was perplexed at her change in behaviour, because she had been so adamant it wasn’t a good idea, and I knew it wasn’t going to end well, but even I had no idea just how badly things were going to go.

There are several different threads going on during this novel, all becoming tangled up together by the end and not in a good way.

This was a great read and despite the terrible things that happen throughout this novel, I’d love to go trekking in Tasmania at some point, I just hope the bad guys are busy elsewhere when I do.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin Australia for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Published date 8th July 2020

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Book Review: The Game of Love by Libby M Iriks

the game of loveThis was a really lovely second-chance romance novella by local West Australian author Libby M Iriks. Set in Rockingham a coastal suburb just south of Perth, Libby uses the local activities and environment to help her characters come together.

Alyssa has put her career on hold and returned home from living over East for the past 10 years. She is struggling with a not so hopeful medical issue that is going to require treatment and has returned so her family can support her. The very last thing she is thinking of is romance, especially with an old friend from her teenage years.

Dean is a happy-go-lucky guy who plays the field and has absolutely no intention of finding ‘the one’ of falling in love and settling down. When he literally bumps into Alyssa both of these characters will have their plans for the future knocked on their heads.

I loved these two characters and really enjoyed the friendship that formed between them, I loved all the experiences they did together, especially the skydiving, which is one of my favourite experiences ever, though I did mine in Jurien Bay, not Rockingham, I can still picture what it was like to be free-falling over the ocean like they did.

Both of these characters second-guess themselves and what they are doing more than once, and both need to learn to open up and talk to each other and share what they are thinking and feeling and what they have been through if they are ever to make a go of having a future together.

An enjoyable read for a lazy afternoon. You can get your copy for free by subscribing to Libby M Iriks newsletter here.

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New Release Book Review: Blazing Fear by Leisl Leighton

Blazing FearThe second book in the CoalCliff Stud series, book #1 Climbing Fear was a great introduction to the CoalCliff Stud and the extended family that live there, I enjoyed returning to CoalCliff Stud and it’s cast of characters along with some new ones including the new doctor in town Prita and her adopted son Carter.

Prita is a tough and capable doctor who is starting a new life in town whilst hiding from some personal issues she doesn’t want to deal with. She is being threatened and she thinks she knows who the culprits are, but when things escalate she has to start taking the threats more seriously.

Flynn from out at CoalCliff Stud lost his wife a few years before in a fire and is determined not to get emotionally entangled again. Unfortunately, his connection with Prita is stronger than his determination to stay away from her. I really liked the connection that was between Prita and Flynn and I liked the fact that when push came to shove they weren’t able to fight it.

As the secrets Prita has been running from catch up with her, they really highlighted the difference in the way people perceive things and how with communication, so many misunderstandings could be avoided. They also showed what a giving person Prita was and the sacrifices she had made for others. I liked that she was realising that it was time to focus on what she needed and wanted.

I really enjoy the friendships and family connections that this series contains and the way everyone is there to help when needed. There is definitely something to be said for small-town communities. There is plenty of suspense in this novel and while I thought I knew who one of the bad guys was, I wasn’t completely sure until the end.

Another great read in this series and I really hope there is more to come in this series.

Thanks to NetGalley and Escape Publishing for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: The Octopus and I by Erin Hortle

IMG_20200616_120841I’ve had a lot of trouble reading recently due to some stressful things going on, but on Monday it was all over, and although there are other stresses now to deal with, the big one which has been taking all my energy and brainpower is now finished and I was hopeful I might be able to pick up a book and also catch up on some reviews. I have been going for light romances to try and keep my mind off of everything, but on Tuesday I thought I’d try something different. Thanks to Allen & Unwin, I had a copy of The Octopus and I waiting to be read and I think its serious nature and beautiful language and metaphors, was just what I needed.

I became totally absorbed in this novel, I could feel and empathise with all the tumultuous feelings that Lucy, the main character was feeling and dealing with. Lucy has survived breast cancer, with her ‘fake’ new breasts, she feels she has lost who she is and what her body means to her now. While I thankfully haven’t had to deal with this myself, I could still understand and empathise with Lucy and her struggle to love her body again. 

I really slowed down to read this novel, it was beautifully written and the octopuses and the other sea life that play a part in telling the story were at times touching and beautiful and at other times quite violent and disturbing. There was one chapter about a seal that I found particularly hard to read.

I have a friend who had her breasts removed due to breast cancer and went down the same road is Lucy in choosing to cover the scars and skin with tattoos, I could imagine how Lucy felt as the tattoo emerged and she dealt with the changes that were going on both on the outside and on the inside as she allowed herself to heal.

There is a small cast of characters, Flo, Harry and Jeb, who play important roles in Lucy’s life after her breast cancer and then after an accident she has whilst trying to save a pregnant octopus. Flo, an older lady who she connects with initially over catching octopuses, becomes such an important support system for Lucy and she learns many lessons through the interactions she has with her. Life can be confusing and people can be enigmas and difficult to understand. Lucy’s relationship with Jeb is like this and as Lucy struggles to understand herself, her relationship with Jeb suffers and she has to take a good look at the both of them. Harry, Flo’s son is a quiet character who really ‘gets’ Lucy, he really sees who she is and seems to understand the journey she is on. I really liked Harry and the part he played in Lucy’s journey of self discovery.

A heartfelt and emotional read, it was exactly what I was looking for.

 

New Release Book Review: The Scottish Boy by Alex de Campi

The Scottish BoyI truly loved this novel, it had intrigue, romance, and sex galore as well as fighting and dirty politics as was consistent with the time of 1333.

This was another Pigeonhole read, one stave a day, and I so wanted to be able to read the whole thing in one hit, I woke each morning hoping that today’s stave had been delivered early and I could read it before work. There was a lot of discussion during the read, which I quite enjoy and the majority of us really enjoyed it. There were however a few who were not at all happy with the sex scenes, they felt they were far too graphic, and I wonder if this was just because they were between two males and if it had been a heterosexual couple whether they would have had the same complaint or not. I had no issue with the sex scenes and I thought they built the relationship between the two main characters perfectly, showing what an intense relationship they had in every aspect. But I will say that yes, the sex scenes are quite graphic, so if you don’t like this, then maybe this won’t be the book for you.

An LGBT historical novel set in the 1300s, a time I knew nothing about, and a time I am glad I didn’t live in. It was certainly a violent time with wars going on for land and titles continuously, as well as plots to take France or Scotland or for France to take England, so much scheming going on I don’t know how anyone, especially Edward III slept at night.

Harry is young and eager to become a knight, he has very little idea of what this truly entails only having fought and trained in tournaments. Turning up just after a fight he was hoping to be in, he is pulled into a scheme he has no understanding of, but which will change his life completely.

The first fight scenes were gruesome and disturbing, just as fighting would have been in that time, Harry is completely disturbed by this and I stood with him, watching the massacre that was going on with disbelief and horror. There was really no such thing as honour, especially among the men that Harry found himself teamed with. These men scheme throughout the novel, using their love of England as their reason, when really it is their love of power that drives them.

After this first Massacre, a prisoner is taken, Harry has no idea who this Scottish Boy is, but when he is given to him to be his squire, he finds his life entwined with Iain’s and both of their lives will eventually depend upon the other. Iain is a tortured soul who with the help of Harry learns who he wants to be and what truly matters. As much as he wants to be left alone, the secret of who he is won’t allow this to happen.

The book spans many years, many plots, and intrigues and Harry has to learn who he wants to be and who he can truly trust. There are some surprising alliances formed and I really enjoyed the way I was at times not sure where everything was leading and how it was going to end up. 

I have read comments that some of the histories in this novel are not totally accurate, but for me, not knowing the history anyway, it certainly didn’t detract from my enjoyment of this novel. 

20Backlistin2020 book review: Out of Luck by Kendall Talbot

Out of LuckOh my god, this book has sat on my digital shelf for 11 months, I am so glad I finally got to it because it was an action-packed read that kept me guessing until the end.

When Charlene’s father is murdered in front of her it is the catalyst that sets of a series of events that after a while she has no control over, as secrets and lies begin to come unravelled, Charlene throws herself into the path of danger.

While I couldn’t even begin to imagine running off to Cuba to hunt down my past, that is exactly what Charlene does. Her only saving grace is that she is lucky enough to have landed sexy ex-naval officer Marshall as her skipper to get her across from the US to Cuba, an illegal and potentially dangerous journey in itself.

These two have an instant connection, but both fight it as they have their own agendas and their own personal issues to deal with.

Charlene was one tough young woman, her father had given her lots of training over the years, and this is the only thing that kept her alive. While I thought some (most) of her decisions were really not the best idea, she was running completely on her emotions and to her, they seemed to be the only decisions to make.

While Marshall is determined not to care about Charlene, when she doesn’t make the rendezvous, he is, of course, determined to try and save her.

There is plenty of action, suspense, and chemistry in this fast-paced romantic suspense novel and I am going to try and hunt down the first book in the Maximum Exposure series. I remember reading and enjoying book 2 Out of Mind but it looks like these are being rereleased, so I might have to wait to read book 1 Out of Reach.

Thanks to NetGalley and Kensington Books for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: The Cake Maker’s Wish by Josephine Moon

IMG_20200531_120111I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump recently, flitting from one book to another without really being pulled into any of them. The Cake Maker’s Wish however ended that slump, hopefully for good. I had two extremely late nights reading this novel, I did not want to put it down, but sleep was calling at 2am.

Though I have a few Josephine Moon books on my bookshelves, I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet, but after this one, I’ll be making time to catch up on them.

I was pulled into Olivia and her son Darcy’s life as they arrive in the small village of Stoneden in the Cotswolds after leaving Tasmania for a new start as part of a Renaissance Project to bring life back to the dying village. What a massive step for her to have taken, to move to the other side of the world with her young son, knowing no one and not knowing if the project will work out, I thought Olivia was very brave to do this. But after her grandmother’s death, she needs a fresh start and an extra incentive is her son’s father, who lives in Norway. These two have never met and their whole relationship is based around skype videos, this is the chance for them to hopefully forge some kind of real relationship.

There are quite a few wonderful characters who have also moved to Stoneden for this project, all for different reasons and most having a past link to the village. For Olivia it is her grandmother who grew up there and then moved to Australia. Olivia would love to find out more about her life, but there are plenty of secrets in Stoneden and they won’t be shared easily.

Not everyone is happy about the newcomers to the village, for various reasons, and some make this felt more than others. There are some very underhanded events that occur to the newcomers’ businesses, making them feel unwelcome and even scared. I really felt for these people who are only trying to make a new start and help the village become alive again.

Olivia and Darcy make some wonderful friends, as well as there being a potential love interest in a dairy farmer. There’s also complications that arise with Darcy’s dad.

There’s so much to love about this novel, from misunderstandings about cake ownership, to stolen apples, friendship and secrets, hope for the future, and holding on to the past, this novel has it all.

Thanks to Better Reading Preview and Penguin Michael Joseph for my cpy of this book in return for an honest review.

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New Release Book Review: Bound by the Stars by Suzanne Cass

Bound by starsThis is the third book in the Island Bound series, and we finally get to meet Logan who has been off the grid for a couple of years, his sisters and their partners make it their mission to go and find him, and find him they do, and he’s in a whole world of trouble.

Logan is hiding from some pretty bad guys, he’s been flying under the radar for a while, he’s currently living on his boat in the Caribbean and working with a turtle rescue group. But his peaceful life has just gotten complicated.

Mia is a dancer and is paying off a debt to a particularly nasty businessman.

The chemistry between these two is immediate, but both are hiding so much and trouble has found them in a big way. This novel is action-packed from the start and as Logan and Mia try to find a way to escape the people who are after them, the hits just keep coming and they find themselves getting pulled deeper and deeper into trouble.

It’s a good thing Logan’s sisters and their partners turn up because after what they have been through themselves, they definitely aren’t going to let their brother fight this fight on his own.

I thoroughly enjoyed the third book in this series, this family sure does seem to be a magnet for trouble, but by the end, they are all closer than ever and there’s happy ever afters for them all.

Thanks to the author for a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Amazon AU

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New Release Book Review: Montana Son by Juanita Kees

Montana SonMontana Son is book #3 in the Calhouns of Montana series, #1 Montana Baby (Overdrive), and #2 Montana Daughter (Fast Lane) were really great reads about the first two of four siblings. In book #3 we get Mason’s story and his chance for redemption.

Mason has always been the bad boy who has struggled with his part in the death of his brother. He has never been able to forgive himself and his girlfriend, Paige, for the accident which took his life.

Paige left their hometown of Bigfork after the accident, running away, unable to cope with the guilt. Now she is back and Mason and Paige must work through their respective guilt and forgive themselves and each other in order to move on.

Paige has to deal with more than just Mason though, her mother and father are more than a little unsupportive and essentially have disowned her for her part in the accident as well as for her relationship with Mason. The Calhoun’s have always had problems with Paige’s dad, the Sheriff of Bigfork, and he continues to make their lives difficult.

Paige and Mason have great chemistry between them, even after their time apart and the guilt they both feel, and I enjoyed the struggle they both undertook to move on. I also enjoyed the way they stuck together to uncover what was going on with the sheriff’s grudge against the Calhoun’s and his determination to close the drag strip they had opened in the previous book.

In Montana Daughter we met 9-year-old Tyler who through a tragic car accident had lost his legs, we catch up with him again as Mason struggles to build a relationship with him due to his feelings about the accident he was involved in. It was wonderful to see Tyler begin to recover from his accident and the changes he and Mason work upon each other.

I read just yesterday that we might get the 4th sibling Grace’s story sometime in the near future, as well as Carter’s story. I could definitely read more about the Calhoun’s of Montana.

Thanks to the author for a copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

Published 2/6/2020

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