Tuesday 31 May 2016

Short & Tweetish Review #7 Deep Dark by Laura Griffin

I'm back to doing a Short & Tweetish Review (There's no way I can keep it to 140 characters!).  This style of reviewing was introduced to me by Mary@The Book Swarm  and Karen's @For What It's Worth

Deep Dark (Tracers #10) by Laura Griffin
Publisher: Pocket Books
Publication date: May 24th 2016
My rating:  4 stars Amazon | B&N | TBD | GRs

My Thoughts:

Loved the age difference and the opposites attract romance here!  Laney was only twenty-four and Reed thirty-eight, but they had instant chemistry and attraction.  Laney was a young, edgy computer genius, with pink highlights, not Reed’s usual type. Reed is a conventional clean-cut cop and definitely not Laney’s usual type, either, but, boy, Reed was very male in the best way possible, and they just clicked together!

As for the mystery, I was keep guessing and on the edge of my seat with lots of revelations, danger and twists! I loved all the crime procedural bits, and piecing together all the clues, technical and otherwise. The technical aspects, computer/software details seemed very well researched and cutting-edge.  Laura Griffin is writes top-notch mystery/romantic suspense and I plan on adding all her backlist to my TBR.

Friday 27 May 2016

Review: Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle

Hold Your Breath (Search and Rescue #1) by Katie Ruggle
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Publication date: April 5th 2016
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

In the remote Rocky Mountains, lives depend on the Search & Rescue brotherhood. But in a place this far off the map, trust is hard to come by and secrets can be murder...

As the captain of Field County's ice rescue dive team, Callum Cook is driven to perfection. But when he meets new diver Louise "Lou" Sparks, all that hard-won order is obliterated in an instant. Lou is a hurricane. A walking disaster. And with her, he's never felt more alive...even if keeping her safe may just kill him.

Lou's new to the Rockies, intent on escaping her controlling ex, and she's determined to make it on her own terms...no matter how tempting Callum may be. But when a routine training exercise unearths a body, Lou and Callum find themselves thrust into a deadly game of cat and mouse with a killer who will stop at nothing to silence Lou-and prove that not even her new Search and Rescue family can keep her safe forever.

My Thoughts:
As a fan of romantic suspense I’ve read quite a few.  Some super addictive, some okay, and others not-so-much, so I’m always excited when I find one that’s really good!  Hold Your Breath had me hooked from the beginning, and I plan on gobbling up the rest of the series!

Lou Sparks is a new addition to the Search and Rescue dive-team in a tiny town in Colorado. Even though her team leader, Callum, is tough, stoic and barely cracks a smile, Lou can’t help the big crush she has on him or what a bumbling mess she turns into when Callum’s around.  He’s hot, strong, focused and so good at what he does, so how can Lou resist? 

While on a training exercise Lou dislodges a body from the icy depths and her quizzical side can’t let the mystery go.  Who was this man, and why did someone kill him?  In addition to that mystery, Lou is the target of some nasty, dangerous pranks that start to take on a sinister tone.  Surprisingly, Lou finds help in Callum.  He won’t leave her side once it’s apparent she’s in danger and also intent on solving the mystery behind the body that popped up. 

I thought Lou was a little ditzy at first, and she is a little clutzy when Callum’s around, but that’s mostly from nerves.  Anyone with a mad crush could relate.  I certainly can!  In reality, Lou’s pretty strong and intelligent, and displayed the courage to leave when her life in Connecticut was proceeding without her control, thanks to a possessive boyfriend and steamroller parents. Callum was a bit more of a mystery to me for a lot of the book because we didn’t get his point of view, and that’s the only reason I didn’t rate this book higher, but I still loved his character! He was protective and possessive, and his hard exterior cracked bit by bit spending time with Lou.

Lou’s situation becomes more and more dangerous as the story progresses, but she was smart in her responses.  It’s so frustrating when a heroine makes unbelievably stupid decisions and I was relieved this wasn’t the case with Lou.  The mystery behind the dead body isn’t completely solved, so I’m sure it will be picked up in the next book, Fan the Flames.  It’s already loaded on my Kindle and I’m excited that it will feature Ian, the hunky firefighter/motorcycle club member! Can’t wait!

 Connect with Katie Ruggle:


Thursday 19 May 2016

Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Childrens Books
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016
My rating: 3 stars 

Feyre is immortal. After rescuing her lover Tamlin from a wicked Faerie Queen, she returns to the Spring Court possessing the powers of the High Fae. But Feyre cannot forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin's people - nor the bargain she made with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre is drawn ever deeper into Rhysand's dark web of politics and passion, war is looming and an evil far greater than any queen threatens to destroy everything Feyre has fought for. She must confront her past, embrace her gifts and decide her fate. She must surrender her heart to heal a world torn in two.

I’m completely torn as to how I feel about this book, I loved, absolutely loved A Court of Thorns and Roses and I loved both Rhys and Tamlin’s characters, they had the potential to bring so much more to the next book and honestly I couldn’t in particular wait to get more of Rhys, to see how his character would develop, he’d left me wanting so much more. But with this book I kind of was annoyed about the way things unfolded. I know I’m most likely to be the black sheep when it comes to this book, which I’m sort of angry with myself about, but honestly throughout all I wanted to sing was Neyo’s song Let me love you, because that’s really all I wanted to do.

Now major character changes is a big no no for me, there’s been so many series which I loved and backed a character from the beginning, only for the author to completely change said character in the next book and I’m like where the heck did that come from? And with A Court of Mist and Fury, I was slightly flabbergasted, okay so certain things I couldn’t believe this character was doing, like with everything they’d shown in the first book, their love and affection, where had it gone? I could understand them wanting to protect this person with all of their life, but other things I couldn’t understand. And then another character constantly shames that character for what they did, this really miffed me off. It’s like this persons missing for the majority of the book, they haven’t explained or been able to why they did those things and to be honest at the beginning, I only thought a few things were harsh, so the constant doubting of their relationship afterwards really got to me. The relationship was everything in A Court of Thorns and Roses and for it to come to this I really couldn’t understand how this was possible. Maas completely destroyed a character in my eyes. One of the best. Also before I was really looking forward to seeing the smartarse character I loved in Rhys came back, but even though we did get glimpses of this, he was a different character. I did appreciate this side that we got to see of him, it was certainly one that I wasn’t expecting, but I just felt things changed so quickly. Yes he was there, he gave the space that was necessary and let this person be who they wanted without completely trying to control them. But two months for it to go from that to this? It was just too much for me to wrap my head around. 

Now I’m not completely writing off this book, but the way that was dealt with was too much for me to deal with. But that aspect aside there was a lot of great things that was bought to the story that really kept this book going for me. Firstly the new set of characters I was a huge fan of. With the characters I’d already become to love in A Court of Thorns and Roses I didn’t think I could have room in my heart for anymore, but Cassian, Azriel, Mor and even Amren found their way in. They were such a diverse set of characters; strong, quirky but also so dangerous that at first I was a little unsure of them, but the more time I spent with them, the more I realised how much I missed them when they weren’t around. They were willing to risk their lives for someone they barely knew, and in my eyes that’s a massive thing for me.

I also appreciated Maas world building, at any one point I never knew what was around the corner, the story telling was immense! And that ending, after everything I’d been through it really did break my heart. All in all I’m still really conflicted about A Court of Mist and Fury, some aspects I loved the heck out of and others not so much, but like I said the way things were left I’m more than likely to give the next book a go, because of course I need to know how things end up.

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Review & Giveaway: Only Beloved by Mary Balogh

Only Beloved (Survivors' Club #7) by Mary Balogh
Publisher: Signet
Publication date: May 3rd 2016
My rating: 4.5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

From the legendary New York Times bestselling author of Only a Kiss and Only a Promise comes the final book in the rapturous Survivor’s Club series—as the future of one man lies within the heart of a lost but never-forgotten love...

For the first time since the death of his wife, the Duke of Stanbrook is considering remarrying and finally embracing happiness for himself. With that thought comes the treasured image of a woman he met briefly a year ago and never saw again.

Dora Debbins relinquished all hope to marry when a family scandal left her in charge of her younger sister. Earning a modest living as a music teacher, she’s left with only an unfulfilled dream. Then one afternoon, an unexpected visitor makes it come true.

For both George and Dora that brief first encounter was as fleeting as it was unforgettable. Now is the time for a second chance. And while even true love comes with a risk, who are two dreamers to argue with destiny?

My Thoughts:
Mary Balogh’s historical romance series has been lovely.  The past characters have come through the Napoleonic Wars with physical, mental, and emotional scars, but survived and triumphed with the help of the fellow Survivors’ Club members.  These members met and recuperated at Penderris Hall, and its owner George Crabbe, the Duke of Stanbrook, helped each of them. 

Forty-eight year old George didn’t fight in the war, but his son was killed and soon after his wife threw herself off a cliff because she was so overcome with grief that she didn’t want to live.  Twelve years later, George is at a point in his life where he doesn’t want to be alone anymore. The idea of marriage and companionship is something he can’t stop thinking about, but only with one woman in his mind: Dora Debbins.  George met Dora while at one of the Survivors’ Clubs yearly gatherings and was taken with her understated beauty, “serene dignity”, and amazing musical talent.  And so George goes to propose a marriage of contentment, companionship, and physical relations, but without the offer of romantic or passionate love.  George felt like he was past the age to offer that kind of fanciful romance, but of course, I was hoping he’d be proved wrong! Why should age exclude someone from that kind of love?

Thirty-nine year-old Dora is considered a spinster and has given up any hope of marriage at this point. However, she doesn’t regret putting her life on hold to care for her younger sister when their mother left while Dora was just seventeen and Agnes was five.  Plus, Dora has a fulfilling life as a music teacher, something Dora loves to do and makes a decent living at. Even if she is lonely at times, Dora still leads a mostly content and happy life.  But when George arrives and proposes, her stomach turns to butterflies, because she can hardly believe she’d have a chance to experience the joys of marriage, physical and emotional closeness, and with a Duke, no less! With George’s offer on the table Dora can now admit that she was impressed and infatuated with him when she met him all those months ago.  And it feels like her life has turned into a fairytale.

Dora quickly realizes that while George is an excellent and compassionate listener, deriving happiness from helping others work through their past pain, he is very tight-lipped about his own demons.  Dora wonders if he’ll ever open up to her and allow her completely in or will she have to accept that her husband will always keep a portion of himself closed to her?

This romance was very touching, and it was gratifying to see Dora get her happily-ever-after after putting her life on hold, and giving up on the idea of marriage.  George and Dora gave so much of themselves to help others, so I wanted nothing but happiness and love for them. This story was very much about how the past shapes us, and George was very instrumental in helping Dora reconcile with the past and move away from some of the hurt.  George just needed a little more time accepting reciprocal help.  I appreciated the patience and understanding Dora showed, not pushing too hard, but showing her willingness to accept whatever George told her without judgment.

Ms. Balogh skillfully creates multi-layered characters with an insightful look into what makes them tick.  I loved the gradual increase of respect, affection and love between George and Dora. I loved that it was a mature romance with older characters (yes, there is life after forty, thank you so much!). And as icing on the cake, I couldn’t have asked for a better ending and epilogue/update on the past characters in the series.  It was so very heartwarming to see how far everyone has come and their continued happiness in the future.  With that said, Only Beloved can easily be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone. The entire series is wonderful, and I think it would be a winner for any historical romance fan.

Connect with Mary Balogh:

The lovely people at Signet graciously provided a Paperback Copy of Only Beloved to one Readers Den Follower.  The giveaway is open to US and CA residents only.  Fill out the rafflecopter for a chance to win. 

Friday 13 May 2016

Review: The Rose & the Dagger (The Wrath & the Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P Putnam's Sons for Young Readers 
Publication Date: April 26th 2016
My rating: 5 stars 

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust. In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan. While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.

The Rose and the Dagger was a book which reignited my passion and love for reading, the last few months had been some of the hardest reading months for me, with only a handful of books making it on my radar. My last five star book was all the way back in November! but once again Ahdieh came through for me with a splendid story in The Rose and the Dagger. Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed The Wrath and the Dawn, Ahdieh took it up a whole another level with The Rose and the Dagger. The stakes were even higher this time and with multiple hearts on the line including mine I seriously had a hard time keeping up with the tough scenes), but all the heartache and surprises I had to endure were worth it.

Shazi once again was a formidable character; she had a lot to deal with in this story and a tough time deciding upon who she could fully trust. But I liked how she was the same fierce and outrageous lady we’d come to know and didn’t let her “status” and who she had become change that. Her love for Khalid was strongly apparent and I for one couldn’t wait for them to be reunited once more, they were jigsaw pieces that fit perfectly and the softer but still protective side we got to see of Khalid because of Shazi I loved the most! Shazi really did have to go through an incredible journey in this book, but I adored the characters that she met along the way, and how she found friends in the most unexpected of places.

Despite Shazi being our main MC, I liked how Ahdieh gave us perspectives from different characters in the book too. Characters who we really didn’t get to know properly in The Wrath and the Dawn, but their voices and personalities really came through in this book. Surprisingly Isra became one of my favourite characters, I assumed her to be a young immature girl, but I couldn’t be more wrong, her growth throughout was immense and one of my favourite scenes in the entire book was with Isra. This sweet girl had me laughing so hard, (but also my heart went out to her too.)  Just be sure to be ready for these fantastic characters, because they’ll be sure to take up all the space in your heart!

The Rose and the Dagger had everything that I love and more, the romance was beautifully done, it made my heart ache and then at times made it soar and the dangers lurking around the corner and unexpected surprises had me on the edge of my seat. The world and wonderful characters that Ahdieh bought into my life I really didn’t want to let go, but I know this book and its predecessor will hold a special place in my heart for years to come.


Tuesday 10 May 2016

Review: Troublemaker by Linda Howard

Troublemaker by Linda Howard
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication date: May 10th 2016
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible

A thrilling, fast-paced novel of romantic suspense from sensational New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Linda Howard.

For Morgan Yancy, an operative and team leader in a paramilitary group, nothing comes before his job. But when he’s ambushed and almost killed, his supervisor is determined to find out who’s after the members of his elite squad—and why. Due to worries that this unknown enemy will strike again, Morgan is sent to a remote location and told to lay low and stay vigilant. But between a tempting housemate he’s determined to protect and a deadly threat waiting in the shadows, keeping under the radar is proving to be his most dangerous mission yet.

The part-time police chief of a small West Virginian mountain town, Isabeau “Bo” Maran finally has her life figured out. She’s got friends, a dog, and a little money in the bank. Then Morgan Yancy shows up on her doorstep. Bo doesn’t need a mysterious man in her life—especially a troublemaker as enticing and secretive as Morgan.

The harder they fight the intense heat between them, the closer Morgan and Bo become, even though she knows he’s hiding from something. But discovering the truth could cost Bo more than she’s willing to give. And when Morgan’s cover is blown, it might just cost her life.

My Thoughts:
Linda Howard has been my go-to author for romantic suspense lately. I can’t get enough of her, and it doesn’t matter if the book was published twenty years ago or just releasing, she somehow nails the genre every time. Troublemaker pulled me in and kept me entertained the entire weekend!

Morgan Yancy is part of a top-secret, elite team ready to take down any threat to the US Government.  He’s back in the country after a couple of months working and ready for some down time when trouble comes knocking on his door and almost kills him.  He needs time to recuperate, and together with his team leader, Axel MacNamarra, Morgan needs to find out how he was targeted and why. They hatch a plan to hide him with Isabeau “Bo” Maran, the police-chief in a small West Virginian town, and lay a trap.

Morgan is thrust upon a reluctant Bo.  She’s used to a solitary life with her vivacious dog, Tricks, and prefers it that way, but she can’t turn such a sick man away. As Morgan gets better and better they forge a bond and a mutual, fiery attraction begins to brew.

When I first started reading I had a little trouble with the amount of page time spent on Bo’s dog, Tricks, but she grew on me, and I think her antics were pretty entertaining.  I dare any animal/dog lover not to fall for her. 

The best part of the story to me was the gradual friendship-turned-romance between Morgan and Bo. Their romance felt powerful, yet realistic; not of the wish/fantasy fulfillment variety. I like that Ms. Howard rarely categorizes her main characters as model beautiful, rather, they have qualities that make them attractive and irresistible to the other lead character. Chemistry is at the root of all her romances, and Bo and Morgan’s built gradually, steadily, and believably.

I felt sucked into the story, and didn’t want to put it down for real-life.  I wouldn’t say this is pulse pounding action, although, there are a few scenes of that here and there, but the characters and relationships are what reeled me in.  I loved the small town aspect, complete with quirky secondary characters, and the dynamics that would only fly in a small, close-knit place. Linda Howard always manages to sneak in a few fun twists and turns that I’m not expecting to keep me on my toes, and Troublemaker was no exception. 

I’m happy Ms. Howard has quite a large backlist of stories to pick from.  It seems I can always turn to her if I’m in a book slump or vacillating over what I should read next.  If you’re a fan of romantic suspense you must look her up!

Friday 6 May 2016

Review: Worth It All by Claudia Connor

Worth It All (The McKinney Brothers #3) by Claudia Connor
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication date: April 19th 2016
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible

“Read Claudia Connor for a consistently raw and emotional love story,” recommends Carly Phillips. Now the swoon-worthy McKinney Brothers series from this bestselling author continues as JT, the youngest of the trio, discovers that only love can make him whole.

She’s fighting for control. . . . Paige Roberts learned to fend for herself growing up. Now she’s doing everything possible to give her daughter, Casey, the stability she never had. But when the vivacious five-year-old decides she’s done wearing her prosthesis, Paige faces her toughest challenge yet: trusting a handsome, brooding stranger who simply wants to help.

He’s struggling to connect. . . . JT McKinney lost more than his leg in a car accident that stole his dreams of pro football. Eight years later, he's made a new life for himself far away from his old one. His business is developing cutting-edge prosthetics and he’s more than happy to turn his attention to machines instead of people. Still, he can’t shake the feeling that something’s missing.

Will they take a chance on love? . . . When JT gets the chance to help Paige’s daughter, he takes it. He never planned on the two of them tearing down his walls or teaching him to believe in himself again. Paige might not believe in happily ever afters, but JT wants more than anything to be her prince. They’ll both have to let go of the past if they want a future.

My Thoughts:
Both JT and Paige weren’t out looking for romance, but isn’t that always when it smacks you right up the head?!  Both were hesitant and had a lot on their plate, but there is no stopping what the heart wants, especially when an adorable five year-old is involved.   JT and Paige have been sharing stolen looks and heated glances every time he eats at the diner she works at.  Their feelings begin to burn brighter and brighter when JT steps in to help Paige with her daughter, Casey, a five-year-old struggling with her prosthetic leg.  JT knows all about the challenges little Casey faces as a fellow amputee, and his heart is split wide open over Casey’s situation. 

Paige doesn’t want to be indebted to anyone, she’s got a plan in place for making a better life with Casey so she doesn’t really have time to date, but JT is swooping in like a regular super hero, and her heart can’t resist this knight-in-shining-armor. Their romance was a slow burn that turned hot and passionate!

One of the things Claudia Connor excels at it portraying a close-knit, big family, complete with adorable kids and humorous exchanges.  I dare you not to smile when the McKinney family is all together, bustling in chaos and sharing time! Paige and Casey fit right in with this big loving brood, and I loved catching up with everyone! My heart swells "seeing" the past couples happy in the future!

I have loved The McKinney Brothers series from the beginning so I was glad to be back with the clan in Worth It All! This series is a must read for any romance junkie (like me) out there.

Connect with Claudia Connor:

The McKinney Brothers Series:
 (click on title for Goodreads link)

Worth the Fall (The McKinney Brothers, #1) Worth the Risk (The McKinney Brothers, #2) Worth It All (The McKinney Brothers, #3)

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