New Release Book Review: Hard Ride by A.M. Arthur

Hard RideHard Ride: A Gay Cowboy Romance (Book 5 Clean Slate Ranch series) by A.M. Arthur had me up all night reading to see if our two main characters, Slate and Derrick could go from fake boyfriends to something real. I have enjoyed this whole series so far and this newest book was no exception.

This one takes us away from Clean Slate Ranch, though all the previous characters I’ve come to know and love, regularly make appearances. After Slate has an accident he makes a deal with Derrick, they will be fake boyfriends for the summer, so Derrick has a date for 5 family weddings he has to attend, and in return Slate can recuperate at his place in the city where he has access to medical facilities.

The fake boyfriend/girlfriend trope is not a new one, but I personally haven’t read many of them, and I really enjoyed this one, watching them fall for each other, they already knew they had the chemistry, but watching that chemistry turn to something more was really enjoyable even if they were both too stubborn to say anything to each other. Cue best friends who can help out.

I loved the new cast of supporting characters who live in Derrick’s house and who Slate also becomes good friends with. I especially liked Dez who’s sweet, quirky and an individual and made Slate’s time recovering more enjoyable and set him on a new and completely different path from his former interests.

Slate has kept a secret from everyone, a teenage daughter who he is desperate to form a proper relationship with. I liked the way this played out and I liked how open she was to Slate and Derrick’s relationship and how that made her look at her dad in a new and better way.

A really enjoyable romance and I’ll be cheering this couple on, as I have for all the couples so far. I hope there is another book in this series to look forward to.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harlequin – Carina Press for a digital copy in return for an honest review.

 

New Release Book Review: Bound by Silence by Suzanne Cass

Bound by SilenceBound by Silence by Suzanne Cass is book #2 in the Island Bound series and while it can be read as a standalone, the two main characters, Sierra and Reed, from book #1 Bound by Truth, play a pretty big role in this novel and they will continue into the next, so I’d advise you to read book #1 first, saying that, you won’t be lost if you don’t but the first book was really good and lays some of the backgrounds for our characters.

In Bound by Silence, we meet Keira, who is living in Hawaii and who witnesses a crime, watches her house be consumed by lava and is now on the run from some seriously bad guys. I kept changing my opinion of Keira, I liked her, then I thought she was a spoiled brat, followed by feeling terribly sorry for what she’d been through with her husband and being able to understand where some of her behaviours and thoughts come from, then liking her again. I wanted her to show some of the mettle she’d shown at the beginning of the story when she starts out on the run, but now and again she slipped into complete victim mode, which annoyed me. But at the same time, she’d lived through a lot and now her life was in danger, she was allowed to act like a victim for a while.

The things that Keira went through with her husband were quite hard to read about, she suffered terrible emotional abuse at his and others’ hands and that made her trust no one, while at the same time feeling that she was worth nothing. It is hard to fathom how people can blame themselves so completely for the way other people treat them when it is those people who are to blame.

I really liked Dalton, a bounty hunter, who inadvertently ends up rescuing Keira and becomes a target for the bad guys too. He struggled with what was right, morally and by the law, but chose to believe Keira and keep her safe while finding a way to prove she is innocent of a crime she’s been set up for in order to flush her out.

Keira’s sister Sierra and her now fiance Reed turn up in Hawaii as all this is going down, and using their skills as journalist and police officer, they go about tracking down evidence to help clear Keira’s name and prove who the bad guys really are.

There are some pretty hairy moments throughout this novel, where things could go either way for all four of our good guys, and there is a surprising twist, proving you don’t always know the people you think you do.

I did enjoy the chemistry between Dalton and Keira and I liked how much restraint and respect Dalton showed towards Keira. Some of the banter was fun too.

An enjoyable sequel in this series, I look forward to book three when Keira and Sierra go looking for their brother who seems to have disappeared.

Thank you to the author for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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#AWW2020 9/50

New Release Book Review: Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry

Echoes between usI’m a big fan of Katie McGarry, her books are always full of emotions and she is never afraid to take you on a rollercoaster of an emotional ride. Echoes Between Us is no exception.

This novel is about two teenagers from different social groups whose surprise friendship through a school project makes them reassess their lives and their beliefs.

When I started this I wasn’t sure what to expect, it had aspects of the supernatural, bullying, a brain tumor, grief, and an alcoholic mother. It took me a little while to get into this story, but once I did, I was invested in the lives of Veronica and Sawyer, our two main characters.

We meet Veronica who is talking to her mother, who it turns out is a ghost only she can see. Veronica is struggling with the loss of her mother to a brain tumor while living with the knowledge and side effects of her own brain tumor. Veronica is a quirky character who I immediately liked, she’s self-assured and different, with three loyal friends. She doesn’t fit in at school, her quirkiness and her often time strange behaviour cause many of the other teenagers to spread nasty rumours about her and treat her like being weird is a bad thing. Veronica thinks she’s ok with her tumor and that she is dealing with things in a positive way, but as the story progresses, she learns that maybe she isn’t living as much as she thought, but rather, just waiting to die.

Then we meet Sawyer, one of the in-crowd, whose mother has just rented the downstairs apartment from Veronica’s dad. These two are not friends by any means, both having a natural disdain for the other. Sawyer has a secret, he chases an adrenaline high to get him through his life, just like an alcoholic or drug addict would. The difference with Sawyer is, he knows it is dangerous and he wants to stop, which leads him to attend an AA meeting and gain a sponsor, Knox, who becomes an important part of Sawyer’s life.

When Veronica needs a partner for an English assignment, she chooses Sawyer to be her partner to the shock/horror of everyone, including Sawyer’s mother, who is a right piece of works. Sawyer’s mother is a drunk, she’s also manipulative and controlling, and I didn’t like her one little bit.

Sawyer and Veronica’s relationship starts off extremely rocky, with only the assignment in common, the assignment being Veronica’s choice, to show that ghosts are real. What starts off as a very rocky truce, soon changes as they both start to realise they actually like who the other person is, especially when they aren’t around their respective friends. I enjoyed these two getting to know each other, and I enjoyed the way they pushed each other outside of their comfort zones in really taking a look at their lives and the people around them.

There were some sad and confronting parts in the story, I admit to getting teary at times. There is also some very interesting knowledge I learned about alcoholics and those who support them. I feel sorry, especially for the teens out there who end up mothering their parents, essentially enabling them in their illness.

Another great read from Katie McGarry that broached many important subjects and poked at many emotions.

Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Tor Teen for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

New Release Book Review: The Sinful Scot by Maddison Michaels

The sinful scotFirstly HAPPY RELEASE DAY  to Maddison Michaels.

I am a big fan of Maddison Michaels’ Regency romances ever since reading her first book The Devilish Duke followed by The Elusive Earl,  so I was really looking forward to the newest book in the Saints and Scoundrels series, The Sinful Scot.

This was slightly different from the first two books in the series, dealing with a couple of serious subject matters, with domestic abuse being the main one. We meet our main character, Connie, not long after her abusive husband had beaten and threatened her just before she is due to go down to a party they are hosting. This sets the scene for what Connie has endured for the past 3 years and gives you an understanding of where she is coming from in her lack of trust in both herself and Alec, our hero.

Alec is a doctor and her childhood friend who she snubbed because he didn’t fit her mother’s idea of who she should associate with. Alec is a very lovely hero and just the kind of guy you would want to have your back when you are on the run from the law for supposedly killing your husband whilst also running for your life. As Alec and Connie attempt to uncover the dreadful secrets her husband has been hiding while trying to clear her name, the chemistry between them starts to heat up. Unfortunately, they have both had their hearts broken and are both trying to be in complete denial about their feelings for each other.

As they learn more about themselves and each other, their interactions are often amusing, but just as often serious. I liked how Connie is forced to grow throughout the story, I enjoy a heroine who doesn’t need to be rescued,  and Connie, while needing help to be rescued to start, comes into her own as the story progresses and Alec recognises that they need to work together.

For me, this story started off slightly slow, but when it picked up the pace, it was nonstop action and intrigue as they both try to outrun the police, some unknown assailants, and Fergus, her husband’s brother in order to prove her innocence and save her from two possible terrible outcomes. There was a definite twist in the ending of the novel, the bad guy was definitely not anyone I could have even guessed at, always a good thing in a mystery. I do enjoy a book with a happy ending.

Another great read by Maddison Michaels, I recommend picking up the other two books in the series also.

With thanks to Maddison Michaels, Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel in return for an honest review.

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A-Z Author Challenge – X

 

A-Z Author Challenge post #2

X is a hard letter to find an author for, luckily they are a bit lenient and you can use a name with X in. So I picked Alix E. Harrow’s The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

It was the cover and the title that drew me to this book without even knowing what it was about. Then I saw that author Tabitha Bird was reading it and she said it was good, so I thought I’d give it a go, it sounded different in a magical kind of way, and that interested me. Magic is something we need more of in this crazy world.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is indeed about magic and believing in the unbelievable, it’s about adventure, hope, love, loss and good and evil.

I will say that it took me a while to be completely captured by this novel, it wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying it per se, but I just couldn’t really grasp where it was leading me. It wasn’t until about page 130ish that it all started to come together and I began to be hooked on finding out what magic was in these pages.

At first, we are introduced to January, a young girl of odd colouring, a coppery-red colour, who doesn’t fit into society’s norms, nor have the right colour skin for society as it was in the early 1900s. She is talking about Doors with a capital D, trying to explain them to us, her readers. We meet her benefactor, a Mr Locke who doesn’t really seem as good as she seems to think he is at the beginning of the story. We also hear of her father, Julian or Yule Ian, who is always off on quests for Mr Locke and barely sees his daughter.

Interspersed with January’s tale is another tale written in the form of a book, this I think is where I became a bit lost and wondered how it was all going to come together. But when it did become clear, I was compelled to keep reading.

January does a great deal of growing up in this story, as things happen to her and she starts to uncover the truth about who she is and who her parents were and especially who Mr Locke and he society are, things begin to go wildly out of control for her and so begins an adventure of great proportions as she goes on the run for her life and simultaneously hunts for the truth.

The Doors are a wonderful concept, that there are fissures, thin places that sometimes people find and discover a doorway leading to all manner of worlds, though not all of them are good places to visit. I really love this and so want to believe that they do exist, maybe from growing up reading first Enid Blyton’s books, especially The Enchanted Woods and The Faraway tree and then onto Narnia and E.S. Nesbitt’s books as well as of course The Wizard of OZ and Alice in Wonderland, I’ve retained that childhood belief in magic and other worlds.

This is a unique novel that I highly enjoyed once it all came together.

Book Review: Fleeting Moments by Rania Battany

I’ve finished my first book of the year and my first book in the #AWW2020 challenge and what a fabulous book to kick off the year.

IMG_20191219_111738I actually read this at the end of November, but I was having an issue with fatigue and wasn’t up to writing a review, I also had a thought in bed after reading it about why Maya, the main character annoyed me so much, but by morning it had flittered away. I thought it only fair to reread it so I could give it a proper review, and I’m glad I did. The thought that came to me after reading it the first time was, ‘Hmm I think the reason Maya annoys me so much is that in many ways I totally relate to her and she has many of the characteristics I don’t like so much in myself’, as is so often the case with things that annoy us about others.

Reading this for the second time, I could see so much of myself and some of my relationships, in Maya, it was so clear and confronting. Rania Battany says in her author’s note at the end of the book “I wanted to create a heroine that was flawed, and Maya is seriously flawed. I often read stories with strong, independent and powerful women, and while these characters may empower others, I can never relate. I wanted to create a character who had to fight her way back after loss, not only the loss of a loved one but the loss of connection with themselves and others – the loss of self-identity and relationships. Regardless of each personal journey, the struggle of fighting through a period of darkness is a universal one, and I believe Maya’s journey is one a lot of women will be able to identify with.”

Well, Ms Battany has certainly achieved this, at least as far as I’m concerned, I identified a great deal. Her author’s note really connected with me the first time I read it too. Reading Fleeting Moments for the second time, was even more satisfying in some ways than the first time, maybe because I knew how it ended and I was able to relax a little more, maybe because this time I knew why Maya annoyed me so much and because of this I had far more empathy for her this time around, just like I realise I need to have for myself.

Maya really is a great character, she is flawed and sees herself as different from others, unable to connect properly, unable to be understood, she deals with anger and hurt by withdrawing or getting angry (I feel like I’m talking about myself).

When the book starts we meet Michael, an asshole, and her longtime partner, things hit rock bottom for Maya soon after and we ride along with her for the fallout.

Then we meet Sam, (big sigh), what a gorgeous guy, (just the kind of guy I need) and maybe the kind of guy Maya needed. Sam is positive, easy-going, generous, kind and a great friend. I loved Sam and wondered why he persevered sometimes with Maya (hmm another insight into myself). I loved the relationship that Maya and Sam started to develop, the whole getting to know someone can be fraught with many challenges, especially if you are full of self-doubt.

Another element to the story is Maya’s grief at losing her father and how this has impacted just about every aspect of her life. We all deal with grief differently, there is no right or wrong way and sometimes it can be really messy. I am lucky and haven’t experienced grief like Maya, I’m not sure how I’d cope and hopefully, I won’t have to find out for a very long time, but I imagine it would be a very messy and mixed up time. Seeing how Maya had coped with this grief was heartbreaking, losing the one person she thought truly understood her, made other relationships tumble.  Maya’s relationships with her sister and her mother are difficult and I  lived alongside Maya while she worked through the issues she had with them, wondering if they could be repaired in any way. My heart really went out to all three of them, I could completely empathise with each character.

We also meet Amanda, who Maya works with and who extends to Maya a hand in friendship. Amanda, and what she is dealing with, is a reminder that we need to connect with others, that we need to see past what is there on the surface and get to know people and find out how they really are coping with life. Connections with others are so important and we can all gain so much from taking the time to get to know people on more than a surface level.

This is a story of loss, grief, hope, love, friendship and finding oneself amidst the chaos of this thing we call life. This is a story I am sure I will revisit again one day because Rania Battany certainly achieved her goal of writing a character I was able to identify with and one that would give me hope “that healing is possible no matter how deep the pain

Thanks to the author for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for an honest review. Thanks also to the author for giving me so much to think about and work on in my own life.

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Book Review: Winter in Mason Valley by Eliza Bennetts

Winter in Mason ValleyThis is my final review for 2019 and what a great book to end a fabulous year of reading on.

I loved the first two books in this series and I really enjoyed catching up with Dee again after she left Urchin’s Bluff for a new job position to further her career.

I have to say it makes a nice change to be reading about women my own age making big decisions in their lives, whether it is a career, relocation or love or all three. It’s also nice to think that I’m not alone in still searching for the right job and the right man and also that not all women have to have had children to be content, though in this case, Dee gets a child as part of the package, maybe that’ll happen for me too, you just never know.

Starting her new job at the paper factory in Mason Valley Dee seems extremely off-kilter in her behaviour and it didn’t entirely endear her to me, though on further reflection, I’ve started jobs where the need to impress or make a stand straight away has made me behave slightly different to the way I normally would, though unfortunately never because the men I’m working with have blown my socks off, lucky Dee.

I wasn’t overly taken with Travis in the beginning either, his behaviour towards Dee to start with was annoying. The way he was with his mother and his daughter however, showed what a caring person he could be.

Both Dee and Travis’s characters grew on me as the story progressed and I was definitely hoping they could sort things out by the end.

I didn’t like creepy, smarmy Vince, the money man, who Dee has to work with and I seriously couldn’t understand how she didn’t pick up on his dodginess (is that a word) from the get-go, instead making excuses for his behaviour (I shudder when I think of him).

I enjoyed Dee and Travis’s undercover sting, I’ve always liked a Nancy Drew operation. What they uncover made me wonder how much of this sort of thing goes on every day and how often people get away with it or for how long. I can’t imagine ever being that dishonest or needing money that badly, but I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who fit one or the other of the criteria.

My favourite character was Annie, followed closely by Travis’s mum. Annie was an absolute delight and always brought a smile to my face.

A really enjoyable read, I look forward to Eliza Bennetts’ next book in the seasons series which is Spring at Lake Grange.

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