Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Lone Star Blues by Deborah Fossen


Title: Lone Star Blues
Author: Delores Fossen
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 17th, 2018
Publisher: HQN
Series: Wrangler’s Creek
Format: Print
Print ISBN: 9781335631992
Digital ISBN: B075JH8W58

Synopsis:

Wrangler’s Creek’s most eligible bad boy has just become its most eligible single dad.

Dylan Granger could always count on his rebellious-cowboy charm to get his way—until the day his wife, Jordan, left him and joined the military. The realization that during a wild night he got her cousin pregnant is shocking enough. But the news that Jordan has come home to Texas to help raise the baby is the last thing he expects.

Raising a baby with Dylan in Wrangler’s Creek is a life Jordan might’ve had years ago, but she doesn’t want regrets. She wants what’s best for the child—and to find out if there’s something deeper between her and her ex than blazing-hot chemistry. Getting closer means letting down her guard to Dylan again, but will he be able to accept the emotional scars on her heart?

Add to your TBR list:  Goodreads
Available at:  Amazon  | Barnes and Noble  | Kobo  | iTunes

Review:

Dylan Granger is having a bad day. It started with a naked woman asleep in his bed and reaches its peak when a social worker drops his apparent son on his doorstep because the toddler's mother has just been arrested.

If this sounds like your sort of choc-a-plot, read on. This book is full of twists and turns - multiple marriage proposals, custody suits, interfering family of all sorts, cameos from previous books I haven't read, and endless drives back and forth to the prison to talk some sense into Adele, the mother in question.

Somewhere in the middle of this mess are Dylan and his ex-wife Jordan, who also happens to be Adele's older cousin. It's pretty obvious that their chemistry is off the charts, but they've tried the marriage thing before, and it didn't work out

I would've liked to see more of the kid and less of the sprawling supporting cast - I know later books in romance series run into it but it seemed almost every character was visiting from their own book or being set up for one. I also disliked how big events happened off the page and would be related in flashback form, which dilutes the impact.

I do wish the ending had been a little less sudden, but if you want a second-chance cowboy romance with tons and tons of plot, don't go past this one.

Three and a half stars

I received a copy of this book for review from Barclay Publicity

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Helping Her Remember by Kate Carley



Internalised misogyny is alive and well

Where do I even start with this review? For a small-town second chance romance with a secret baby, this book managed to annoy me in ways I can’t properly articulate

On the positive side, it handled dementia and aged care with tact and grace. There are some really nice relationships between family and friends, even if their friend group is threatening to get messy.

Here’s the thing: the baby was a secret because the father was a) a cheater and b) an alcoholic. The heroine made the (IMO, correct) decision to keep the father out of the picture. When she does return and finds the father has sobered up, she decides to tell him. The cat jumps out of the bag a little early and the reveal happens in public. Who gets the blame for this?

Well, both of them.

There’s this really icky thing where every ‘apology’ he makes is followed by one from her. He apologises for cheating (though not very well), she immediately forgives him and apologises for staying away. He apologises for being the kind of person she kept their son away from and she follows up with an apology for keeping the son away from him. Even when he gives a decent apology, the book undermines it by making them out to be equally at fault. She constantly carries around this giant burden of guilt. I’m all for communication and talking through issues, but this endless line of self-recrimination and blame does not make for a satisfying book.

Furthermore, he steamrolls his way into the son’s life and wants to do an overnight visit within a month of meeting the kid and within a week of knowing his parentage. I don’t care if you and the mom were childhood friends; that’s not how you parent, buddy.

Finally, the ending felt abrupt. It’s only a happy ending in the family and relationship areas. There’s a subplot with her job that doesn’t tail off, it jumps off a cliff.

If you don’t mind double standards, uneven pacing, and half-hearted endings, you may enjoy this. Otherwise, I’d recommend giving it a miss.

Two stars

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The Bastard's Bargain by Katee Roberts

Synopsis:

Married to the enemy

When Keira O'Malley was a child, she used to picture her perfect wedding. The flowers. The dress. Her husband. But nothing could have prepared her for saying "I do" to Dmitri Romanov-cold, domineering, and always one step ahead of everyone else in the ever-shifting power plays of New York City. She agreed to his bargain to secure peace for her family, and she may want the bastard more than she'd ever admit, but she'll be damned if she'll make this marriage easy for him.

Dmitri knows better than to underestimate Keira for one second. Molten desire smolders between them, a dangerous addiction neither can resist. But his enemies are already on the move, and he needs every ounce of his legendary focus and control to keep them alive. Keira could just be his secret weapon-if she doesn't bring him to his knees first.

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Review:

I have such mixed feelings about this book. As the final book in the series, featuring two previously-introduced characters, I wanted to love it.

For a romance, it was great! Dark, steamy, fast-paced, and both Dmitri and Keira learn and grow from being around each other. I adored Keira’s character growth as she took ownership of her life and choices for possibly the first time. Dmitri is just as dangerous and sexy as you would expect, with hidden depths that make him even more alluring. I was a bit let down by some unexplained plot twists at the end – they felt rushed, but didn’t detract from the overall experience. However, it wasn’t just a romance, it was an ending.

For the last book in the O’Malley series, I was disappointed. There was surprisingly little O’Malley presence, save Keira herself, and no closure. Keira’s downward spiral started with Devlin’s death – and no one talks about this. This omission felt glaring given how much it affected Keira. Would it have been too much to ask for some real family interaction?

If you’re looking for a dark romance with criminal characters, don’t miss this. If you have been waiting for the youngest O’Malley sibling to wrap up her family’s story, lower your expectations.

Three unsatisfied stars

I received an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Kissing Strangers by Alethea Spiridon

Synopsis:

So many frogs. So few princes. 

Every single (and soon-to-be-single) woman knows the Dating Horror Stories. The guy who charms your panties off before he bolts. The funeral planner with a foot fetish. The Early Ejaculator. Or that filmmaker looking for a soul mate—provided you don't mind he lied about his height, his weight, his wife, and... oh look, a micropenis. How nice. 

The bad news is that these guys exist. The good news? There are ways to find them, avoid them, and concentrate your energies on non-fuckwits. Who, as it turns out, also exist. Hurrah! 

From deciphering Man Speak to the sexy perks of 30-year-old men, Catfishing 101, navigating hookup culture, and the safety precautions every woman should take, author Alethea Spiridon taps into her own hilarious—and occasionally heart-crushing—experiences in the dating world. Funny, forthright, and hopeful, Kissing Strangers is a survival-based how-to guide about looking for love online ... and how to separate the men from the frogs. 

Review:


First up, I have not done online dating. Despite some good friends finding their significant others online, I found it intimidating and kinda weird. Alethea Spiridon lifts the veil on online dating in this sometimes hilarious, sometimes sobering book about her experiences. I found it a really good primer on how to go about online dating and things to look out for. It covers ‘rules’ to follow, the right attitude to take, and is peppered with personal experiences both good and bad. If this is a pool you’re thinking of dipping your foot into – or one you’re already in, this is a fantastic resource.

Unfortunately, it’s also put me off the experience myself. I know that 1 in 3 people find their partner online, but I think I want to be one of the other 2. It all sounds exhausting and I’m not ready to start kissing a lot of frogs to meet my prince. Maybe I’ll change my mind in the future – in which case this will be my go-to book. Until then, this will stay an entertaining but unused cover on my eReader.

Three Tinder'ing Stars

I received a copy of this book in return for an honest review. 
Find out more at: Goodreads | Amazon

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Starlings by Jo Walton

Synopsis:

An intimate first flight of short fiction from award-winning novelist Jo Walton (Among Others, The King’s Peace).

A strange Eritrean coin travels from lovers to thieves, gathering stories before meeting its match. Google becomes sentient and proceeds toward an existential crisis. An idealistic dancer on a generation ship makes an impassioned plea for creativity and survival. Three Irish siblings embark on an unlikely quest, stealing enchanted items via bad poetry, trickery, and an assist from the Queen of Cats. 
With these captivating initial glimpses into her storytelling psyche, Jo Walton shines through subtle myths and wholly reinvented realities. Through eclectic stories, subtle vignettes, inspired poetry, and more, Walton soars with humans, machines, and magic—rising from the everyday into the universe itself.


Review:

Starlings is a collection of short fiction – short stories, poetry, and everything in between. They are mostly scifi with a sprinkling of fantasy and a side of religion and mythology. There are literary allusions, historical snippets, some alternate history. Some of it's confusing and some of it's disturbing and some of it's funny and some of it's inspired, and I suspect every reader will find different ones tickles their fancy.

Personally, my favourites were Jane Austen to Cassandra, Turnover, Tradition, and A Burden Shared. It shows great talent that these four are such different stories; I never felt like this collection got dull or repetitive. If you’re looking for some entertaining light reading, pick up Starlings.

Four fragmentary stars

I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, 5 January 2018

Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet

Synopsis:

With the help of pivotal figures from her past, Cat begins to understand the root of her exceptional magic, her fated union with Griffin Sinta, and Griffin's role in shaping her destiny.

Only Cat holds the key to unlocking her own power, and that means finally accepting herself, her past, and her future in order to protect her loved ones, confront her murderous mother, and taking a final, terrifying step--reuniting all three realms and taking her place as the Queen of Thalyria.
What doesn't kill her will only make her stronger...we hope.

Review:

Wow.

What. A. Ride.

Heart of Fire starts with a heart-breaking family confrontation and ends with one that puts it back together. It’s a stunning inferno of a book, a fitting conclusion to a fantastic trilogy.

 The plot bursts breathlessly from confrontation to confrontation so quickly, you barely notice Cat’s bouts of navel-gazing. She had a terrible childhood and only in this book is it clear how badly it scarred her. Most of the book is her learning to accept herself and control her considerable powers, a journey that takes her back to the Ice Plains, down into Tartarus, and all the way back to her homeland of Fisa.

I enjoyed the foundation of Greek mythology, which becomes even more apparent in this instalment. It limited the world-building the author had to do without forgoing richness and it was also interesting to wonder if this is some offshoot of our own world.

This can’t be read as a standalone, as it refers to past events throughout. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if the previous events had happened on page, which caused some confusion but not enough to push me out of the story.

It’s not a perfect book, but it was such fun to read and (mostly) ended Cat and Griffin’s story on a satisfying note. I could see side-characters being paired off, which I really like in an ending. There is some mystery on the fate of one character, but I’m hoping that’s a sequel hook, or at least short story fodder. All in all, a worthy end to a wonderful debut and I eagerly await what the author writes next.

Four fiery stars


I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, 1 January 2018

The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett

Synopsis:

When an author event at the local library ends in murder, Jude finds herself a suspect in the waspishly witty new Fethering mystery.

Having been booked to give a talk at Fethering Library, successful author Burton St Clair invites his old friend Jude to come along. Although they haven't met for twenty years, Jude is not surprised to find that St Clair hasn't changed, with his towering ego and somewhat shaky relationship with the truth. What Jude hadn't been suspecting however was that the evening would end in sudden, violent death.


More worrying, from Jude's point of view, is the fact that the investigating police officers seem to be convinced that she herself was responsible for the crime. With the evidence stacking up against her, Jude enlists the help of her neighbour Carole not just to solve the murder but to prevent herself from being arrested for committing it.


Review:

This was a solid mystery, if not particularly suspenseful. There were some fun references to Golden Age Detective Fiction which made the murderer obvious, so the rat race from suspect to suspect seemed a little contrived, as did the evidence that pointed to Jude (the POV character).

 I have not read any of Burton’s other works but it still works okay as a standalone, though I had no connection with the characters, which made it harder for me to care about them. All in all it was a good book but not a great one.

Three solid stars

I received a copy of this story from the author through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.