Backlist Read 2023: All About Ella by Meredith Appleyard

This is the first book to mark off of my backlist reads for 2023, I wish I’d read it back when I got it because it was so good that it’s kept me up late reading it for the past few nights.

All About Ella does what Meredith Appleyard is so good at and gives us characters we grow to love, people, places and circumstances we can relate to and shows how complicated relationships can be.

Ella was an incredibly strong character, from the moment I was introduced to her I knew I was going to love her. I was angry for the way her family treated her, especially her awful daughter-in-law, what a piece of work she was, I was hoping karma would throw something terrible at her, but alas…
As I learned more about Ella and her late husband Sam’s life and the way he treated her and the children, I was awed by Ella’s way of looking at things, I liked that she was able to look back and see how things weren’t so great, but still, be positive about it all too. Sometimes it isn’t until we lose someone that we really take a look at who they were.

All of Ella’s children were extremely selfish individuals whose pretence at looking out for Ella was only driven by their own desire for her money. I’m sure this happens a lot more in real life than we can imagine, why shouldn’t older people make their own choices and spend their money the way they wish, they shouldn’t need to put their life on hold just so as their children will have something to inherit.

Meredith does a wonderful job of describing the town of Cutlers Bay, I’ve only been to Streaky Bay which is further along the coast than where Cutlers Bay is supposed to be based (I think), but I could imagine myself there, I could imagine the house that Ella fell in love with, I think I would like it there myself. I loved meeting the whole cast of characters from Cutlers Bay who rounded out the small-town feel beautifully.

What Ella finds when she runs away from her family is more than she could have imagined, she finds herself, she says something in the book about this and I felt for Ella, that it had taken her until she was 70 and had lost her husband to really find out who she was and how much she was capable of. Sam had pretty much ruled her life from the moment they got married and then her children had tried to do the same, running away saved her and allowed her to finally live life on her own terms.

Angie was another wonderful character that I grew to love, I felt a lot of compassion for her nomadic way of life, one she’d chosen not so much because she liked to travel and keep moving but because she was afraid to let herself get close to other people. Her family life was dysfunctional at best and her mother was certainly not the mother she (or anyone) needed. At 40 she knows nothing but this way of life, but meeting Ella turns her life on its head and starts her on her own journey of discovery.

Zach came a long way from the taciturn police officer who first met Ella and Angie and wanted them both to leave his town ASAP. Ella really was the catalyst for lots of changes in Angie and Zach, and even in Claire who had become lonely in her older age living by herself.

One of the things that Ella and Angie learn is that family doesn’t need to be blood-related and that sometimes our found families can be more important to us than those we call relatives. This was a beautifully written story about connecting with others and finding the things that make up happy in life and standing our ground against the people who say we can’t have them.

Thank you to Harlequin Australia for a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

Book Review: The Women and the Girls by Laura Bloom

I was surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this novel. I had previously tried reading it several times but never got past page 40 something. I initially found it hard to get my head around who the three women were, and which children and husbands went with them and I didn’t really connect with any of them to start with. I put this forward as one of my choices for my book club to read in an attempt to get at least one backlist book off of my TBR list (this has been on my shelf for nearly 2 years) and this was the one chosen, I’ll be interested to see what the other women thought. Taking this down the beach I was determined to give it a final shot and I am so glad I did because the fourth time saw me completely change my mind about this book.

After getting past that pesky page 40 something, I started to get my head around who was who and slowly began to, if not like, at least feel some understanding for each of the women.

Set in the 70s, Libby, Carol and Anna seem to have nothing in common other than their children are friends (sort of). They barely know each other at the start of the book, but an ABBA concert and one life-changing decision by Carol to leave her abusive husband sets in motion big changes for all three women and their families as both Libby and Anna are motivated to leave their own unhappy/unfulfilled marriages.

I grew to care about each of these women and their husbands, except for Carol’s husband, he was beyond any sort of redemption even by the end of the book. Each woman and their respective husband are forced to take a good look at their lives, who they are, what they want and what they need to be happy.

The 70s were certainly a different time to be a woman, a wife or a gay man and some of these differences made me very sympathetic to those they affected. For instance, Carol’s husband is able to cancel her passport so she can’t leave the country and she is unable to get a new one without his say-so, nor can she open a bank account or get a loan in her name without his signature. I mean seriously, this was the 70s, not the 1800s, it amazes me how little autonomy women had back then. And don’t get me started on male homosexuality being illegal until South Australia changed its laws in 1975 with other states following after. It wasn’t until 1994 it became a Commonwealth law. It is mind-boggling to me how long it is still taking for society to change its thinking on so many different aspects.

The children in the story play an important role in helping the women bond, but also in making them realise things about themselves and each child as an individual. While initially these women and girls (and one boy) are thrown together and seem to thrive in their new environment, there are many things to consider as time passes and they all have to deal with the fallout of their choices and their personalities and some cracks appear. They went from near strangers to living in a sharehouse in days and while the women created strong supportive and lasting friendships from this shared experience, the children (and their parents) learned that not everyone has to get along and like each other.

I really appreciated how these three women stepped up and supported each other and their children, each learned to roll with their strengths and ask for help with things they didn’t do well. They learned to look past the surface of what a person shows the world and understand each other’s journey so far while encouraging each other in their journeys forward. Communication was tantamount to making this new way of life work and also in holding onto the newly formed friendships. I liked seeing how Libby, Carol and Anna each took their new freedom from their marriage down different paths and how they dealt with the differences between them as they came up.

Each person involved in these three relationships had flaws, likeable and unlikeable character traits and good and bad decision-making skills, this kept things very real and allowed for growth on so many levels. It wasn’t all smooth sailing for any of them, as individuals and as a collective. And as with how it all started with one thing as the catalyst, it all starts to fall apart the same way.

I was happy with the ending for each woman and the choices they made for their futures, and the possibilities that lie ahead for them all.

New Release Book Review: East of Alice by Annie Seaton

This was a really great romantic suspense read by Annie Seaton, I loved journeying to Alice Springs and the East MacDonnell Ranges to Ruby Gap. When I travelled across Australia I made it to Alice and the West MacDonnell Ranges, I didn’t have the right car to go to the East, but I recognised the landscape and the feel of the land, luckily I didn’t come across any criminal goings-on while I was there like the characters in this novel.

The first part of the book is told in two timelines and while I really enjoyed the backstory from the 1800s, I felt it kept pulling me out of the present-day story which annoyed me a bit. I thought Rose was extremely courageous following her husband out to a wild Australia and learning to make a life in such harsh conditions as she encountered in outback Australia at the time. Her story though was a sad one but one she made the most of.

In the present day, we meet Gemma who has returned to The Alice to teach after leaving when her twin brother Ethan disappeared 6 years before. We get a few chapters from Ethan’s story 6 years before that help to uncover the mystery leading up to his disappearance. Also newly returned to The Alice is Saul, Gemma’s ex and Ethan’s best mate.

I enjoyed both the romance aspect and the suspense/mystery aspect of this novel, I liked seeing Gemma and Saul reconnect and Gemma lose her prickliness and let down the walls she’d kept up since her brother’s disappearance and I liked seeing Saul self-assured about his feelings for Gemma and being willing to put himself out there now he had a second chance.

The mystery surrounding Ethan’s disappearance, the rubies which may or may not have been real and the operation which was going on hidden in the remote bush kept me reading, dying to find out what had happened and how it would all play out. I had my suspicions about one of the mysteries and was pleased to know I was right in my thinking, but still unsure how it would play out in the end. Annie Seaton did a good job of melding all the storylines, past and present together and with the aid of a wonderful setting created an engaging story.

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

Blog Tour: Review & Giveaway: Shameless Puckboy by Eden Finley & Saxon James

SHAMELESS PUCKBOY Puckboys – Book Three

by Eden Finley & Saxon James


Review

Shameless Puckboy was another enjoyable read in the Puckboys series.

I can’t say I was a big fan of Oskar to start with, though he did give me a few laughs with his pouty childishness at times. I liked Lane straight up, but can’t imagine any PR guy going to the lengths he did to stop Oskar from being cut from the team for his behaviour. But since this is fiction, I enjoyed seeing how far he did go and how they both tried to outdo each other in their opposite goals.

There was some serious chemistry between them and while Lane knew it wasn’t a good idea to pursue anything if he wanted to keep his job and his reputation, it seemed Oskar’s charms were too much to resist.

Like many characters, Oskar had underlying issues and a hidden personality that once he allowed Lane and others to see showed just what a nice guy he was and could be if he had the right inclination and support to do so.

I really enjoyed his group of friends who I’d met in previous books by these authors, and loved how they were so supportive of him and let him know he was part of their family and they wanted to know the ‘real’ him.

I’m a sucker for a HEA and enjoyed Lane and Oskar’s, I liked that Lane came out of the whole incident with Oskar with a better deal than he could have imagined and that they both proved how much they loved each other.


Synopsis

OSKAR

After a little mishap in an alleyway with CCTV, my public image needs fixing. Oops?
It might have been a stunt to get the attention of Lane Pierce, San Jose’s new PR manager, but I didn’t realize what the consequences would be when I did it. I’ve got Lane’s sole focus now in all the wrong ways.
He has designated himself as my babysitter, and while it’s fun messing with him, being bound by curfews and rules has never worked for me.
The more I push back, the more I realize what’s really on the line. My career, my future, and maybe even my heart.


LANE

Being appointed head of San Jose’s PR department was a dream come true … until I met Oskar Voyjik.
He may be San Jose royalty, but with the stunts Oskar’s been pulling, the team owner is down to his last thread of patience. Which puts me in the firing line. If I can’t turn Oskar’s entitled party boy image around, we’ll both be shown the door.
I have free rein to do whatever it takes, and it turns out whatever it takes is Oskar.
Only, the more entangled our lives become, the more I see the Oskar he’s buried deep down. The one who hurts, the one who’s sensitive and kind, the one … the one I think I’m falling for.
I can’t have him and my career, and if rumors of the professional lines I’ve crossed get out, it’s not only my dream job I can kiss goodbye; I’ll be disgraced from professional sports completely.

To read an excerpt go here


Cover Design: Story Styling Cover Designs
Photographer: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: Camden

Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Trope: Forbidden love


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Purchase Link

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Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card

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Other Titles Within this Series



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PURCHASE


About the Author

Eden Finley is an Amazon bestselling author who writes steamy contemporary romances that are full of snark and light-hearted fluff.

She doesn’t take anything too seriously and lives to create an escape from real life for her readers. The ideas always begin with a wackadoodle premise, and she does her best to turn them into romances with heart.

With a short attention span that rivals her son’s, she writes multiple different pairings: MM, MMF, and MF.

She’s also an Australian girl and apologises for her Australianisms that sometimes don’t make sense to anyone else.


Connect with Eden

Website

Newsletter Sign Up

Facebook Author Page 

Facebook Reader Group

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Instagram

Tiktok

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub Author Page


About the Author

Saxon James unapologetically writes happy endings for LGBT+ characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.


Connect with Saxon

Website

Newsletter Sign Up

Facebook Author Page 

Facebook Reader Group

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Instagram

Tiktok

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub Author Page


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Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway: Budding Attraction by Saxon James

BUDDING ATTRACTIONDivorced Men’s Club – Book Three by Saxon James


Synopsis

Ford

I’ve never thought much about Orson Naples.

He’s a cute guy who I’d seen around town a few times, but then one day he up and left and didn’t reappear until a few years later. No one knows where he went or what he was doing, all this gossipy town knows is that he’s a widower, owns the florist, and is friends with that divorced group that hang out at the Killer Brew all the time.

But then one day I step into his flower shop and go from rarely thinking about him, to him constantly being on my mind.

There’s a restlessness to him that I’m dying to unlock answers to.

And his eyes linger on me a little too long for a straight man …


Orson

Ford Thomas is a pest. A delightful one. A tempting one. But I’m too old for games.

The ones I’ve played in the past have always led me to trouble which is why I vowed to settle down and live a quiet life.

So when Ford walks into my shop all uncontained energy and flirty quips in a pair of heavy work boots, I know I should show him the door.

I don’t need fun. I don’t need experiences.

Especially when those experiences have me questioning things I thought I knew about myself.


Release Date: November 16, 2022

Cover Design: Story Styling Cover Designs

Photo: Wander Aguiar Photography

Model: Rodiney Santiago

Genre: M/M Later-in-Life Romance
Trope: Bi-awakening, small-town


Add to your TBR List!

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Excerpt

My tongue swipes over my lips as we head for the truck, and I know I shouldn’t steer the conversation to where I want to steer it, but fuck, I can’t help myself. “You’re straight, but you want to go to a gay bar? You really wouldn’t care about men touching you? A sweaty dude pressed up against you who wants to suck your cock. You … you wouldn’t give a shit?”

“Nope. Been there, done that.”

“But a guy paying for a lap dance is clinical, transactional. Someone doing it because they want to is another thing.”

Orson’s jaw ticks, and then he pushes off the truck. “Prove it.”

“Huh?”

He turns us and backs me into the door, arms boxing me in but not touching. He’s grinning, playful, biting his bottom lip against a laugh. “Touch me because you want to, and I’ll let you know if it’s weird.”

“It’s already weird.”

“Shit. Sorry.” He steps back, but I grab him and flip us, slamming his back into Momma T as I step in closer than he was before. The top of his head reaches my eye level, and I have to look down at him. The familiar curious expression stares back at me.

“You really inviting me to touch you?”

“Do you want to?”

I sneer. “That’s like asking a thirsty man if he wants water.”

Orson blinks up at me, a sweetness shining from his eyes. “Only if you’re comfortable. You’re, uh, I enjoy spending time with you, and I wouldn’t want things to get … you know.”

“’Preciate it, but a sexy guy is offering to let me feel him up, and you will never hear me complain about that.”

“If you’re cool, I’m cool. Just maybe no between the legs action.”

“Ass?”

“It’d be groped on the dance floor, right?”

“Constantly.” “Then go for it.”

I watch him, trying to read if this is for real or if he’s about to freak the fuck out, but he just watches me back, waiting. Looking completely at ease that I’m about to paw him until I have my fill of every one of those muscles his clothes have been hiding from me. I wasn’t lying when I said I’d never complain about touching him.

I swallow roughly and settle my hands on his shoulders.

Orson rolls his lips to hold in his amusement. “Are we going to a club in the 1800s? I didn’t realize gay bars were so polite.”

“Fine, smart-ass.” I let my hands drift from his round shoulders, over his impressive pecs, and along every groove I can feel on his stomach.

“Comfortable now?”

Some of the teasing leaves his face, but he nods. “Totally fine.”

“And now?” My fingers duck beneath the bottom of his T-shirt, and it’s like having pure fucking heat in my hands. Smooth abs, no body hair that I can feel, and skin that’s like silk.

Hoo.” Orson lets out a shaky breath that my cock takes note of. “Wasn’t expecting that. All good though.”

And maybe I should have expected more resilience from someone who used to make a living from showing off his body, but I’m completely fucking gobsmacked that he’s letting me stand here and grope him. My biggest worry right now is that he’ll regret it, or it’ll mess shit up between us, but then his hands cover where mine are resting under his shirt, the thin material separating us. He guides my hands up to his pecs, and I can’t help my thumb flicking over the small bump of his nipple.

I let out a long, slow exhale, trying to ignore the way my cock is thickening.

He swallows, and I swear it’s heavier than usual. “Totally fine.”

“Hmm …” I step in so my body is pressed to his. Toe to toe, thighs pressed close, stomach flush with his abs. My hands are trapped between us, fingers exploring the light hair on his chest. “It’s not only the touch though, is it?”

“What do you mean?” His smooth voice has dropped deeper.

“I mean, physical touch is one thing, but it’s also your mind. It’s knowing the guy with his hands on you wants more.”

“That’s nothing new.”

“It’s knowing his blood is rushing south. His pulse has kicked up a notch. His cock is rock hard in his pants.”

Orson smirks. “Think you’re making me uncomfortable, Ford?”

I lock eyes with him. “It’s knowing the guy’s gut is flipping out with want and excitement. The expectation of where things are heading next.”

“What else?”

Damn, that question almost makes me groan. “It’s knowing that even though you’re together now, he’s already picturing later.” I slide one hand out from under his shirt to run my fingers over his lips. “He’s picturing you on your knees, these pretty lips stretched wide around his cock.”

Air rushes past my fingers as he sucks in a breath.

“He’s picturing you stripped naked, maybe gripping his hair as you drill into his mouth. Maybe he’s bent over for you. Or maybe … maybe he’s got you bent over, sexy ass in the air while he fucks the life out of you.”

Our faces are closer now, his eyes wide, lips wet and parted. “Is that what you’re thinking?”

Holy shit. An exhale bounces from me. My cock is making it hard to think, but I do know that question wasn’t curiosity. I do know the way he’s looking at me is inviting more. But I also know that Orson wasn’t prepared for whatever this situation is doing to us both.

So I give him honesty. “No.” My jaw tightens at his surprise. “Because I won’t fucking let myself.”

I shove away from him, leaving Orson’s shirt askew, a sliver of those delicious abs on display as he reorients himself.

He gives his head a shake and focuses back on me. Then he smiles. “See? Told you I don’t scare easy.”

I’m torn on whether to laugh or cry because no, he certainly doesn’t. And I don’t know whether that’s a good thing or not. I give his ass a solid slap. “Get in the truck. We’ve had enough playtime for tonight.”



Pre-order Link

~ Amazon Universal


Giveaway

One of Five eARC’s for Budding Attraction

a Rafflecopter Giveaway

ENTER HERE


Other Titles Within this Series



PURCHASE



PURCHASE


About the Author

Saxon James unapologetically writes happy endings for LGBT+ characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.


Connect with Saxon

Facebook Group / Facebook Page / Newsletter / Amazon / Bookbub / Instagram

Tiktok / Goodreads Author Page / Twitter / Website


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Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway: Shameless Puckboy by Eden Finley & Saxon James

SHAMELESS PUCKBOY: Puckboys – Book Three by Eden Finley & Saxon James


Synopsis

OSKAR

After a little mishap in an alleyway with CCTV, my public image needs fixing. Oops?
It might have been a stunt to get the attention of Lane Pierce, San Jose’s new PR manager, but I didn’t realize what the consequences would be when I did it. I’ve got Lane’s sole focus now in all the wrong ways.
He has designated himself as my babysitter, and while it’s fun messing with him, being bound by curfews and rules has never worked for me.
The more I push back, the more I realize what’s really on the line. My career, my future, and maybe even my heart.

LANE

Being appointed head of San Jose’s PR department was a dream come true … until I met Oskar Voyjik.
He may be San Jose royalty, but with the stunts Oskar’s been pulling, the team owner is down to his last thread of patience. Which puts me in the firing line. If I can’t turn Oskar’s entitled party boy image around, we’ll both be shown the door.
I have free rein to do whatever it takes, and it turns out whatever it takes is Oskar.
Only, the more entangled our lives become, the more I see the Oskar he’s buried deep down. The one who hurts, the one who’s sensitive and kind, the one … the one I think I’m falling for.
I can’t have him and my career, and if rumors of the professional lines I’ve crossed get out, it’s not only my dream job I can kiss goodbye; I’ll be disgraced from professional sports completely.


Release Date: October 27, 2022

Cover Design: Story Styling Cover Designs
Photographer: Wander Aguiar Photography
Model: Camden

Genre: M/M Sports Romance
Trope: Forbidden love


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Add to your TBR List!

GOODREADS LINK


Excerpt

It’s not my fault I was left unsupervised. Or that Lane’s guys trusted me to do as I was told. Everyone from the PR department has been really slow to learn their lesson.

But Lane’s certainly figured it out. Or figured me out. I’m not sure which it is yet, but living with him is going to be fun. So fun.

Starting now.

When my doorbell rings, I drop my sweats to the floor so I’m completely naked and then run a hand through my hair to make it look messy in that I’ve been fucked six ways till Sunday kind of way.

Yet, when I answer the door, I don’t get the reaction I expect. Or want.

There’s no exasperation, no large sigh. In fact, Lane’s not even looking at me.

He’s looking up at the house, which is only a few years old. It’s boxy and modern but lacks all the frills of what people expect a professional hockey player to have. I’m only renting because I’m not dumb enough to think my antics will be tolerated forever; I assume San Jose is only a short stop on the ever-changing trades the NHL like to do. I’ve been with San Jose for almost three years now; before that, I was in Texas, and before that, I was with Columbus. I get passed around more times than a bottom in a gang bang. And hey, I will never complain about being that guy.

I don’t want to lay down roots. It’s not me. I get antsy if I’m in one place for too long. My talent as a hockey player keeps getting me contracts, but my PR nightmares are what get me traded.

After an insulting amount of time, Lane looks at me, and there’s the reaction I wanted: a loud sigh, a set jaw that’s unshaven and has speckles of gray filtered through the dark scruff, and his intense brown gaze locked on my face. As if he’s picked that one tiny, singular freckle I have on my cheek to stare at so he’s not tempted to look anywhere near my junk. Or my full chest of tattoos that’s a fucking work of art.

“Your house is unexpected,” he says.

“My house or my dick?”

“Definitely the house. The dick is … typical.”

I act offended. “Excuse me, there is nothing typical about my dick at all. It’s a phenomenal specimen of masculinity and pleasure.”

“Uh-huh, sure. Is that why you had to tattoo a phrase that translates to orgasm above it? To remind your partners of what they’re supposed to do?”

“I didn’t realize you’d taken that much notice of my tattoos.”

He does the grown-up version of rolling his eyes—directing a derisive, unimpressed look my way, gaze still firmly set on my face. “I’m your PR manager. You don’t think I had to approve those naked shots you did at the beginning of the season? We actually had issues finding one that hid that specific tattoo.”

“What’s wrong with my tattoo? It’s advertising what to expect.”

Outside, a neighbor walks by and glances up as Lane follows my gaze and turns. His shifting means I’m no longer blocked from view and ends up giving them an eyeful.

I wave. “Hi, Mrs Huxley!”

“You might want to put some clothes on for once, Oskar. It’s a bit cold out here.”

My mouth drops, and I ask Lane, “Did she just say my dick is small? She obviously needs glasses. Poor old bat can’t see properly.”

“I can’t believe she didn’t even blink at you being naked.”

“Oh, they’re used to it. There’s one rule in my house, and that’s no clothes allowed. Welcome.” I step aside to let him in. “You may enter once you get rid of that awful sweater and suit pants.”

“Not going to happen.” Lane pushes past me. “And while I’m here, your rules are void. I make the rules from now on.”

“Okay, Daddy.”

“Rule number one: no calling me daddy.”

“Yes, Daddy.”

He already looks like he wants to kill me.

“Okay, fine, I won’t call you daddy. But I’m not calling you Mr Pierce either.”

“Lane is fine. If you put some goddamn clothes on.”



Pre-order Link

~ Amazon Universal ~


Giveaway

One of Five eARC’s for Shameless Puckboy

a Rafflecopter Giveaway

ENTER HERE


Other Titles Within this Series

PURCHASE


PURCHASE



About the Author

Eden Finley is an Amazon bestselling author who writes steamy contemporary romances that are full of snark and light-hearted fluff.

She doesn’t take anything too seriously and lives to create an escape from real life for her readers. The ideas always begin with a wackadoodle premise, and she does her best to turn them into romances with heart.

With a short attention span that rivals her son’s, she writes multiple different pairings: MM, MMF, and MF.

She’s also an Australian girl and apologises for her Australianisms that sometimes don’t make sense to anyone else.


Connect with Eden

Website

Newsletter Sign Up

Facebook Author Page 

Facebook Reader Group

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Instagram

Tiktok

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub Author Page


About the Author

Saxon James unapologetically writes happy endings for LGBT+ characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.


Connect with Saxon

Website

Newsletter Sign Up

Facebook Author Page 

Facebook Reader Group

Goodreads Author Page

Twitter

Instagram

Tiktok

Amazon Author Page

Bookbub Author Page


New Release Book Review: A Family’s Trust by Louise Guy

Domestic Noir/thriller/drama isn’t a genre I read a lot of, years ago I did, but these days I limit my reading to just a few select authors. Louise Guy’s newest novel had me completely hooked whilst also being scared to read on because I was so anxious about what was going on for the characters and what would happen next.

Louise Guy has written characters who seemed so real to me that I was drawn into their dramas, their relationships and their emotions as if I actually knew these people, especially Jess and Reeve. It took me a bit longer to relate to Reeve than Jess, but once caught I was horrified at what she was going through with her possible early onset dementia and the repercussions of things she had no knowledge of doing or saying. Jess’s past trauma within the foster system was terrible and it doesn’t help to know that these sorts of things still occur, I liked that Jess as an adult was working in the foster system in order to try to make things better for those going through now. As things in Jess’s past come to light both good and bad secrets are uncovered.

Not only are Jess and Reeve going through their personal dramas but added to that is the passing of Martin and what this means to both women and the consequences of his life and his death.

As the story progressed I began to have a few theories about what was going on and my anxiety ramped up, I wondered if things were going to turn out well or not. While one of my theories was correct, there were many twists in the story that had me thinking ‘oh my god’ quite a few times.

This was a well-written novel with its secrets woven carefully together to create an engaging read that I recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre.


About the book

Family are the ones you can trust…aren’t they?

Reeve Elliot and Jessica Williams are polar opposites. In contrast to Reeve’s privileged upbringing, Jess suffered intense emotional trauma in the foster care system—trauma she’s tried to bury yet has recently come back to haunt her.

As Jess does her best to deal with her past, tragedy shakes the foundations of Reeve’s present. But heartbreak and grief come with a silver lining—the unexpected knowledge she has a half-sister, Jess.

Discovering their biological link, Reeve pushes to form a bond with her sister, a bond tested by Reeve’s unpredictable behaviour and fears she is following in her mother’s footsteps of early-onset-dementia.

But family is everything, and the sisters are committed to supporting each other. However, that’s easier said than done when a large inheritance is at stake, and the lines between greed and family and right and wrong begin to blur.

Someone is lying. Someone is manipulating the truth. But is it one of the sisters? And are they even sisters at all?

New Release Book Review: Outback Skies by Suzanne Cass

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, though, with the amount of crime and danger the people of Stormcloud Station deal with, I’m kind of glad I don’t work there. In this 6th and final novel in the series, more danger is afoot for one of Stormcloud’s own, Indy and undercover police officer Finn.

Finn and Indy have a connection from their first meeting, though where Finn is completely taken with Indy, Indy herself is a bit on and off about her feelings for Finn to start with. She also makes some decisions due to her being pretty headstrong that place her in unnecessary danger.

Once again Suzanne Cass has created some complex characters with issues they need to deal with and pasts that could come back to bite them. It’s a fast-paced read with plenty of suspense, action and romance. We meet some newcomers on the muster as well as the found family members of Stormcloud who get drawn into the drama of murder and drug running. Who among them can be trusted is the big question that puts some level of fear into them all. The answers show just how far some people will go for money, power or revenge.

I’m sad to say goodbye to the people of Stormcloud, but I enjoyed the epilogue which set the scene for a positive future for all.

Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Dating Disaster By Saxon James

The Dating Disaster (Franklin University Series, Book 2) by Saxon James


About the book

Felix

One date.

That’s how long it takes for Marshall Harrows to end up on my bad side.

Luckily I have no plans to see the giant teddy bear again. Except, when he shows up as my new housemate, I can’t escape him, and he’s just as irritating as I thought he’d be.

He leaves cupboards ajar and puts empty milk cartons back in the fridge. His bedroom door is always open, I find his underwear on the laundry floor, and he has this whole bashful sweetheart thing going on that I just … can’t … stand.

But the most completely, horribly irritating thing about him, is that he’s totally my type.

And my friends won’t stop setting us on blind dates.

Marshall

One date.

That’s how long it took for Felix Andrews to steal my heart.

The sparky little spitfire is everything I’m not. Confident, adorable, and completely outspoken.

He also wants nothing to do with me. Which is a real problem when I want to give him everything. Including my virginity.

But the more I try to gain his attention, the more I see the real him. The one who doesn’t feel worthy of being treated like anything other than a one-night stand. So I decide to take matters into my own hands.

A total do-over. One night. One date. Where hopefully I can steal his heart too.


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Excerpt

“Okay, then what about this”—I wave a hand over myself—“would you change to not be disappointing?”

“We are so not playing that game.”

“Why? You’ve never been worried about offending me before.”

He cocks his head in surprise, and then, as though making a split-second decision, he turns his chair to face me too. Our knees have an inch of space between them, and for some reason, I’m overly aware of the distance. “Fine. You shouldn’t have worn black because you’re basically screaming that you either want to cover sweat patches or are anxious about your body.”

He’s right about the sweat patches but not the rest. I might not be some jacked gym bro, but I’m happy with who I am. “Gotta keep them guessing about that six-pack,” I say dryly, patting my soft stomach.

Felix snorts. “Six-packs are overrated.”

“You have one,” I point out. He’s not overly muscled, more thin and lean than anything, but I definitely noticed his abs when he was wearing that crop top last weekend.

“Barely, and only because it’s everyone else’s type, but it’s not mine.”

“You like big guys, right? You don’t want them ripped?” The guy he was with last weekend looked muscly.

“No.”

“Then you prefer …”

His eyes drop, slowly running over me, before he jerks them away. Interesting. If I didn’t know better, I’d think maybe I’m exactly Felix’s type. The way he kissed me supports that theory.

Before he can get up and leave—or go back to ignoring me—I ask, “So what color should I have worn, then?”

“Royal blue.” There’s no hesitation in his answer.

“I don’t think I own anything that color.”

“Yes, you do. That button-up with the subtle pineapple pri—” He cuts off, and I lift my eyebrows. That got specific.

“Pineapple shirt for my next date. Got it.”

He reluctantly meets my eyes.

“Anything else?” I ask. “To make sure my date shows up.”

“Yes, don’t slick your hair back like that. You remind me of my dad.”

I bark a loud laugh that sounds closer to my brother’s usual laugh than mine. “I look like a dad, got it.”

“And …”

“Yeah?” Might as well get it all out there.

“Well … maybe don’t shave. Possibly. Just my opinion.”

I reach up and run my hand over my smooth jaw. It’s not something I normally do, but it grows fast and looked too long for meeting someone for the first time. “I didn’t want to look like a mountain man.”

His exhale is short and shaky. “Some of us like mountain men.”



Enter the Giveaway

To celebrate the release of The Dating Disaster, Saxon is giving away an eBook of the Winner’s choice from her backlist!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

Giveaway Direct Link



About the Author

Saxon James is an author from Aus who’s obsessed with writing queer characters.

She has a range of books from YA to adult and they all have one thing in common: swoony, sweet love.

When not writing, Saxon exists on a diet of coffee and chocolate while putting her KU subscription to the test.

Connect with Saxon

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New Release Book Review: The Opal Miner’s Daughter by Fiona McArthur

Fiona McArthur has written another wonderful outback romance which encompasses an outback opal mining town full of wonderful Aussie characters.

In this opal mining town of Lightning Ridge, some people live in the hope they will find the perfect opal, some, like Riley’s mum Adelaide, have become hooked on the whole opal mining process and love the freedom digging their mine gives them. I loved that Adelaide after retiring found something that interested her and decided to follow her heart and do something completely out of character; buying a property in Lightning Ridge with a tin shack and an old opal mine. I liked that she didn’t let her husband’s lack of interest stop her, she knew what she needed and she did it, hoping her husband would join her, but unwilling to live a life of boredom to stay with him.

Riley, an obstetrician and fertility specialist decides she needs to talk sense into her mum on behalf of her dad (never a good idea) and takes up a locum position for a month in Lightning Ridge whilst also using it as an opportunity to run fertility clinics for the women in the community and surrounds. Just as there is a lack of medical care and mental health services in the outback, Riley and the local GP Konrad find out just how needed her clinics are and how many families there are who want to start a family, but can’t and have no easy access to a fertility specialist.

Mel, a young local lady who is struggling with PTSD and has been given a safe space to heal and live by Konrad as his medical receptionist, pulled at my heartstrings with her story and her lack of belief in herself. Big changes are underway for her with a surprise pregnancy and unexpected support from the ladies. Riley and Konrad also both play important roles in helping Mel come into her own.

I really like the way Fiona McArthur brings attention to the needs and struggles of these remote communities, I always learn something new when I read her novels.

I really liked local GP Konrad Grey and liked the way Riley and Konrad connected and how they both changed in the short time they knew each other, each allowing the other to see and experience things they had been missing.

The cast of side characters in Lightning Ridge was wonderful, from crusty old Cyrus, a man who seems to have forgotten what personal hygiene is, to Desiree who knows everything that is going on and the ladies of the Friday night get-togethers who are there to support each other and the rest of the community and Toby, a young man who is going through a lot and barely keeping it together. All of these people make for a great read, one I couldn’t put down until the early hours of the morning.

Thanks to Penguin Random House Australia for a copy of this book in return for an honest review.