I write book reviews, I also write books, and occasionally I write about myself!

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Mud for it...

Evening all,

So I know I have been AWOL for a little while, but life has been getting in the way. But never fear I'm still around and still chugging away.

In 365books challenge I'm right on schedule, in fact I am now over a quarter of the way through, I have just finished reading my 95th book! Unfortunately I am quite a bit behind on posting my reviews, I have 10 reviews written on paper just waiting to be posted. Apologies for this but they will be up as soon as I can... Which won't be in the next 7 days...

Tomorrow I am off to Glastonbury Festival. I'm very excited, this will be my 6th time going. The weather looks like it's going to be an issue, it has been raining quite regularly here in the UK for the last two weeks so it may be mud bath. I am prepared for all eventualities though, wellies and waterproof as well as hat and sunscreen! Be prepared folks!

In other news my husband and I will hopefully have some very exciting news to tell you about soon.

I will leave you on that note of suspense....


Thursday, 16 June 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #76

The Wedding Date - Ally Blake
Mills and Boon RIVA
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263883701

My rating

From the back cover:

"Hannah couldn't wait to get back to Tasmania for her sisters wedding. But its hardly a holiday - to research a new TV show, her boss has decided to come with her!
Hannah doesn't want the gorgeous Bradley Knight anywhere near her crazy family! How can she act professional with karaoke as the wedding entertainment? And what if mojitos and slushy wedding songs prompt someone (her mother, sister or herself) to get the wrong idea...?
Under no circumstances should Bradley be considered Hannah's wedding date. Even if hes incredibly charming. Even if her disobedient legs wont do the sensible thing and walk away..."

I have had this book on my shelf for some time and I was waiting for the right moment to read it! As far as I know this is my first Ally Blake book, and I can tell you now that it won't be my last. I loved this book!

So the hero and heroine are Bradley and Hannah. Bradley is a well known TV show producer and Hannah is his hard working assistant, whom has had a crush on Bradley for a while. Bradley, unaware of this, knows that Hannah is invaluable to his work and worries that during her upcoming sisters wedding in her beloved Tasmania she may realise that she wants to stay closer to home, or even meet someone. Bradley goes with Hannah under the guise of wanting to scope out Tasmania as a potential location for the TV show. Much to Hannah's bemusement he also manages to muscle his way into being invited to her sisters wedding, although she is secretly glad to have Bradley there with her as a shield since she doesn't have an easy relationship with her mother.
The attraction between them becomes hard to ignore and they both agree to a fling, with the 'What happens in... stays in...' idea. Bradley is not interested in love and relationships whereas Hannah is looking for ever lasting love, so it's not long before feelings grow and tension mounts between them.

Almost from the first line of this book the dialogue sparkles with wit, especially between the hero and heroine. Very few authors can write dialogue with humour and sass and still manage to deal with emotions without it feeling like a joke, Ally Blake has done this spectacularly here. Both of her characters felt very real and had real issues, I love a feisty heroine and that's exactly what I got with Hannah. And Bradley, well he was complex, but in a good way and I liked how a lot of his thoughts a feelings were held back from the reader and although this made his development 'slower' it kept me reading and interested. Just like the characters I also felt the development of the relationship was very real and believable. I liked the setting, as a clueless Brit I know nothing about Tasmania and I was on the Internet while reading looking at photos of the countryside, and I think Ally described it beautifully and with passion.

I have read quite a few RIVA's now and if someone asked me for recommendations to show what this series is all about then this book would be one of them. The story and characters are modern and written with wit and sass, sparkling dialogue and great chemistry. This is a great book that had me laughing out loud and left with that all important warm fuzzy feeling!


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #75

Sins of the Past - Elizabeth Power
Mills and Boon Modern
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011

My rating

From the back cover:

"Five years ago Riva Singleman lost her heart and her virginity! - to sexy Italian businessman Damiano D'Amico. While she wasn't a hundred percent truthful with Diamiano, it was nothing compared to the web of lies he spun! Devastated by Diamiano's betrayal, Riva fled carrying away another secret of her own...
Now Damiano is back, and Riva is running scared. Not only is their attraction as powerful as ever, Riva is terrified of letting Damiano too close - lest he discover the truth and demand what is rightfully his..."

After reading the fantastic Bad Blood series I wanted to stay within the Modern line and this is a book my husband bought me for my birthday. I was looking forward to reading it, I have mentioned in the past that I really like the 'secret love-child' plotline so...! This was an enjoyable read.

When the hero Damiano sees the heroine Riva working for a design firm he plans to use he is immediately reminded of the time they spent together five years ago. We discover that five years ago Riva's mother was engaged to Damiano's uncle and Damiano did not approve, he set out to end the relationship and seduced Riva in the process. Riva and her mother had told some untruths in order to hide some of their background they were embarrassed about, although not for any nefarious reasons. When Damiano discovered the truth they were both sent packing, not realising that Riva was pregnant.
Curiosity about Riva gets the better of him and he hires her for a design job, Riva is apprehensive and unsure of Damiano's motives. She is also wary of him finding out about her son, his child. When Damiano does find out, quite by accident, he wants to be part of his son's life. Although he still believes Riva to be a liar and angry with her for keeping their child a secret as he gets to know her he begins to see her strength and realises that he may have been wrong about her. But he hurt Riva in the past and she is very reluctant to let him close.

I enjoyed this book, it is well written and interesting, but a little samey. Nothing 'new' is done here and while that was a little disappointing, the plotline is a classic one and is done well. I really liked the character of Riva, she had a lot of strength and determination and that really appealed to me. I didn't like Damiano's character so much, he was a little too judgemental and a bit cruel at times, I found that I couldn't warm to his apologies and contrition regarding his past behaviour. The dialogue is well written, as are the descriptions of settings and surroundings.

Overall, this book is a quick and enjoyable read.


Monday, 13 June 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #74

Lone Wolfe - Kate Hewitt
Mills and Boon Modern Special Release
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889703

My rating

From the back cover:

"Jacob... Master. Untamed. Protector.
After years lying neglected, the walls of Wolfe Manor tremble as Jacob Wolfe returns - the master is back!
Gardener's daughter Mollie Parker has lived amidst the secret, overgrown garden in her little cottage - waiting... for what she wasn't sure, until now.
Reputation in tatters, Jacob licks his wounds alone in the shadows. Mollie knows his ferocious bark is worse than his bite and, as she takes her tentative steps across the threshold, she brings with her the light missing from his darkened soul. The lone Wolfe will never be tamed - but she knows that once he loves, he loves for life."

So, we're onto the eight and final book in the BAD BLOOD series. When I read the first book my first though was that Kate Hewitt must have got the Golden Ticket to be able to write Jacob's story, although I'm sure it wasn't an easy task! Well, I thought this book was perfection! Perfect story for Jacob, perfect ending to the series, perfect... well, you get the idea!

The book begins with the heroine Mollie arriving at Wolfe Manor, where she lives in the gardeners cottage, after a six month trip to Italy she took after he fathers death. When she gets to her cottage she discovers that the power has been switched off and is confronted by Jacob, the hero, who thinks she is an intruder. Jacob has been away from his childhood home for 20 years after he left haunted by events that led to him killing his evil father. He has returned to restore Wolfe Manor before moving on and also to make amends with his siblings he abandoned. He offers Mollie the chance to landscape the Manor, which she accepts. Mollie harbours resentment towards Jacob and how he left his family alone to deal with everything, and Jacob is still haunted by his past and rarely lets anyone close. Their interactions are tense and awkward, but as they slowly get to know one another they fall in love and ease the loneliness inside each other. However Jacob knows it can't last and still plans to move on.

As I have read all of the books in this series in order I already knew quite a bit about Jacob and his involvement in his siblings lives, and especially the events leading up to their fathers death. I knew his story would have to be powerful and I'm pleased that this is exactly what we got. The guilt and pain that Jacob carries around everyday saturates every page of this book and is written beautifully. I really liked reading how Jacob realised his feelings for Mollie early on, but it was his pain that held him back, not your typical commitment-phobic issues. Mollie is a great female character, I was expecting a quiet and nurturing type character and this is not at all what Mollie is like. Instead she was ballsy and strong, and a little judgemental at times, this was a pleasant surprise and made her character feel very real. Both of the characters are flawed and suffering, the relationship written for them developed beautifully and is believable. The story is very emotional and hard hitting, with thanks to some brilliant writing from Kate Hewitt.

Out of the whole BAD BLOOD series this has to be my favourite story (although my favourite Wolfe has to be Jack, oh so sexy!) but I have enjoyed all of the books so much. I cannot recommend the series enough, a definite must-read!

This book will be out on general sale in the UK in August. In the US it will be released in February 2012, same title!



365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #73

Forgotten Daughter - Jennie Lucas
Mills and Boon Modern Special Release
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889697

My rating

From the back cover:

"Annabelle... Reserved. Elegant. Scarred.
Sister to seven brothers, Annabelle should be used to men, but her trust was shattered the night her father almost killed her. Now Annabelle is a poised, polished ice-queen, whom no man has ever touched...
Stefano Cortez can tame a wild horse quicker than any man alive and this passion heats the blood in his veins. Annabelle might appear untouchable, but he sees beneath the frost, sees the real her: a woman desperate to be brought alive again."

When I read the first book in this series and read about the 'incident' that caused so much distress for all the Wolfes, I could hardly wait to read Annabelle's story. Coming from Jennie Lucas, I had a feeling it was going to be intense... I wasn't wrong!

At the start of the book Annabelle arrives at a horse ranch in Spain owned by notorious playboy Stefano, the hero. Annabelle is a well known photographer and has earned a reputation of being untouchable, she was left scarred after a horrific beating by her father and has not let anyone close since. She rarely stays in one place for long and hides her scars as well as her emotions. Stefano sees Annabelle as a challenge and immediately desires her but he gets frustrated by her constant rebuffs. In order to be successful at seducing her Stefano begins spending more time with her, but as he gets to know her he begins to have other feelings towards her and senses that she is hiding her real self. When Annabelle finally succumbs to Stefano's seduction they are both shocked at the level of passion between them. Stefano realises that Annabelle means a lot more to him than simply a challenge but Annabelle is determined not to let him close and to move on.

This is a very intense book, since Annabelle's past is very dark you would expect this, and it was done perfectly. Annabelle was written with the perfect mix of vulnerability and detachment, I liked how she had managed to drag herself out into the world and make something of herself even though she was still very tortured by what had happened to her. This was a little hint of the strength inside her that was just waiting for the right man bring it out. Cue Stefano! I'll be honest, I hated him at the start, yes hated! All he could think about was the challenge of bedding her, so he could brag about it perhaps, that I just wanted to hit him over the head the book! However, once he managed to get his head out of the gutter he gradually let his gentle and caring side shine through, sigh! All is forgiven Stefano! To make you change your mind on a character that much shows how strong the writing is.
The chemistry between the two is very, er, intense (sorry that's apparently my favourite word at the moment!). Annabelle's back story is explained and written well and right at the perfect moments to add more layers of emotion to the story, I really felt that the love story between the two characters was believable.

As expected from Jennie Lucas the writing is spectacular, the book is fast-paced and exciting and the characters are well developed. Quite simply, I loved it!

This book will be released on general sale here in the UK mid-July, you can buy it now the Mills and Boon UK website as a bundle with all eight books in the series. It will be released in the US in January 2012 called 'The Girl that Love Forgot' (great title!).


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #72

Illegitimate Tycoon - Janette Kenny
Mills and Boon Modern Special Release
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889680

My rating

From the back cover:

"Rafael... Brooding. Proud. Outcast.
Always an outsider, Rafael spent his life looking in on his privileged Wolfe siblings, a boy in the shadows. And so, determined to create the lifestyle and family illegitimacy denied him, Rafael punishingly worked his way to the top. His marriage to beautiful supermodel Leila was the icing on the cake of success!
Now his marriage is crumbling and the vows he took seem in vain. Rafael chased a rainbow - but made his wife feel as though she was never more than a trophy... Now it will take all of his courage to win his wife back..."

This is the sixth book in the BAD BLOOD series.

The hero Rafael and his wife Leila, the heroine, meet for the first time in 8 months due to their careers taking them away from each other. Rafael is looking forward to spending the week with Leila as he has missed her terribly and wants to finally start trying for the family he longs for. Rafael spent his childhood watching his siblings be together and was never acknowledged by his father. When he and Leila are together he feels complete, only now he feels Leila distancing herself from him and becoming more and more obsessed with her career. Leila, a famous model, is guilt ridden around Rafael, she suffered a miscarriage a year ago, which she believes to be her fault due to her past issues with anorexia, she also never told Rafael about it. Leila has fears she will never be able to have children and is afraid that Rafael will no longer want to be with her, whereas Rafael thinks that Leila has changed her mind about wanting a family and is only interested in her career.

Usually when a romance novel has a married couple as the hero and heroine they are separated or perhaps near to divorcing. That's not the case here, Rafael and Leila have a relatively happy, albeit distant, marriage. This is a different angle and I found it interesting and enjoyable to read.
Rafael is caring and devoted to Leila, but I found his tendency to dictate what she could or could not do a little annoying. He is desperate to have the happy family he feels he missed out on as a child, it seems a little bit of an obsession, and I think he was lucky to have missed out on some of the horrors the Wolfe family went through. Leila was well written, her issues with anorexia were handled with sensitivity and I liked how she really wanted to make a success out of herself. I did feel uncomfortable with the fact that she kept the miscarriage from Rafael.
This is a story about the dangers of couples not communicating in marriage and was interesting, if a little frustrating, to read. I did like the angle of Rafael's experiences of being external, so to speak, to the Wolfe dramas, and I think it added more depth to the whole series.

An enjoyable read.

This book will be out on general sale in the UK in July, and is available now from the Mills and Boon UK website. In the US this book will be titled 'The Trophy Wife' and will be released in December.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #71

Heartless Rebel - Lynn Raye Harris
Mills and Boon Modern Special Release
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889673

My rating

From the back cover:

"Jack... Red-Hot. Renegade. Restless.
Notorious gambler Jack no longer gets a buzz from the risks, or the money, he takes at the card table. In fact it bores him. Until one night he wins more than he ever bargained for...
His prize is the stunning Cara Taylor - she might be down on her luck but she certainly doesn't need rescuing by a maverick card-shark like Jack! Now she's stuck with him she doesn't know whether to love him or loathe him. But, cut from the same pack, playing Jack at his own game is the most fun she's ever had!"

Moving on to the fifth book the BAD BLOOD series, and I couldn't wait to read this one, it was certainly worth it!

The heroine Cara is working as a croupier in a casino in the south of France, one night she is asked by her creepy boss to throw a high stakes poker game and in return she will get a significant bonus. Cara reluctantly agrees as she desperately needs the money to help her family, who are still struggling after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina, at the last minute she can't go through with it and the winning hand goes to Jack, the hero. Jack realises what's going on when Cara is taken off the table and into a back room, he steps into help and ends up being beaten. Cara gets him out but she is angry for his actions, which have cost her her job. Jack offers to pay her to attend his brothers upcoming wedding with him, something he is not looking forward to , especially seeing Jacob again whom Jack is still angry with for running out on the family causing Jack to have to step in. They soon begin an affair, which they both know is only a short term thing, only when both of their feelings begin to grow Jack pulls further away.

Lynn Raye Harris is one of those authors with the ability to hook you in right from the very first sentence and this is exactly what she does in this book. I loved the whole opening scene with the high stakes poker game, it was jam packed with tension, enhanced by the regular change of character point of view that made it interesting and exciting. I almost choked on my drink with the amount of money being gambled, do people really gamble that much?!
I adored Jack's character, he was written with a very cool, almost bored attitude that really worked and his issues regarding his family and especially Jacob were believable. Cara was also a great character, she had integrity and was honest, especially in her dedication to helping her family but also being honest enough to admit she needed to get away and live her own life, I think this is very true to life and made her character very relatable.
The chemistry between the characters is nothing short of intense, the strip poker scene was so hot that if I wore glasses they would have steamed up!

The plot was fantastic and fast paced, with realistic characters, this is a great book on its own and a brilliant part of this series.

The book is out on general sale in the UK this month. In the US it will be released in November and will be called 'The Man with the Money' (LOVE that title!).



365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #70

Fearless Maverick - Robyn Grady
Mills and Boon Modern Special Release
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889666

My rating

From the back cover:

"Alex… Thrill-seeker. Player.
Champion. Driven to succeed, Alex’s only desire is to win, win, win – at all costs! A champion race-car driver, he lives like he drives – fast, reckless and always number one…
But after a huge crash, his racing career facing ruin, Alex must confront his biggest fear: failure.
Physio Libby Henderson is there to help him get back to fitness, and all Alex wants to do is get physical! Libby’s dealt with more challenging things in life, but it’s taking all of her professionalism to keep this stubborn playboy at bay!"

This is the fourth book in the BAD BLOOD series, and once again another fantastic read.

The story begins with the hero Alex, a famous racing car driver, being involved in a crash after becoming distracted with his memories of his dark childhood, caused by learning about his eldest brother Jacob's return. Due to an injury he is told he will not race for a while and will need physiotherapy treatment and sign off before his return. Alex's solution to get back to racing as quickly as possible is to find a [female] physiotherapist who will not be able to resist his charms, in the hope he will be able to convince her to sign off his injury early.
Alex gets more than he bargained for when physio Libby, the heroine, turns up and refuses to dance to the beat of Alex's drum. Libby is an ex Pro Surfer, after losing her leg in an accident she took control of her life an retrained as a physiotherapist and specialises in sports injuries. She still hasn't fully come to terms with her accident and finds it difficult to trust. Libby can see exactly what Alex is trying to do and doesn't back down, they begin to develop feelings for one another as they open up to each other.

This book is in a different setting that the previous ones, it's set in Sydney. I really liked the change of scenery, which was described beautifully. Libby was a great female character, she had the perfect mix of honesty and inner hurts, both written flawlessly. It was also a refreshing change to have a disabled female character, as well as very brave, and once again this was written beautifully and with sensitivity, the accident that caused Libby to lose her leg was shocking, I actually gasped out loud! I had a bit of an up and down relationship with Alex, I started off not liking him but I grew to like him as the story progressed, he was certainly complex and this was very entertaining to read.
One of the things I liked most about this book was the development of the relationship, it was built over a period of time and the characters feelings were able to develop in a way that felt very believable.

This book is out now in the UK. It will be released in the US in October (same title).


Tuesday, 7 June 2011

365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #69

Restless Billionaire - Abby Green
Mills and Boon Modern Special Release
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889659

My rating

From the back cover:

"Sebastian… Sharp. Cool. Controlled.
Ruthless in business and revered by many, Sebastian is at the top of his game professionally. Emotionally he keeps himself alone, aloof and almost untouchable. Some say his heart is made of stone.
Escaping her wedding, it takes one look at ice-cool Sebastian for Bollywood star Aneesa Adani to be hooked! Passionate Aneesa is the biggest risk Sebastian has ever faced, and letting her close could ignite the fire that melts even the hardest of hearts…"

So, I'm on to the third book in this series and still loving it!

The book begins with the heroine Aneesa, a famous Bollywood star, in the middle of her wedding to her co-star. She is terrified and desperately wants to stop the ceremony knowing that the marriage will be a sham, but is worried about the shame her actions may cause her family. In the end she can't go through with it and runs, inadvertently running into the hero Sebastian's suite. Sebastian, unbeknownst to Aneesa, is the owner of the hotel, earlier he had been observing the wedding and had felt a connection with Aneesa after sensing her fear and loneliness. They end up spending the night together agreeing it's a one night thing, but a few weeks later Aneesa discovers she is pregnant and is forced to leave India for a while due to the scandal. When she tells Sebastian about the pregnancy he offers her a place to stay and they both fall into a rather awkward pattern of living together and trying to be friends, not to mention trying to ignore the chemistry between them.

I really enjoyed this book, the accidental pregnancy plotline is a traditional one, but one that Abby Green does spectacularly (I recommend Abby's 'Ruthlessly Bedded, Forcibly Wedded' for a perfect example of this!). I really loved Sebastian as a character, he is different from the previous two Wolfe brothers, he is more quiet and introverted, although equally as tortured. He took a while to come to terms with the pregnancy and his feelings towards Aneesa and this was very honest and well written. I found Aneesa difficult to warm to, she seemed a little silly at first but as the story progressed she matured and became more sure of herself, which was very satisfying to read.
As expected from Abby Green's books, the chemistry between the characters lit up the pages and the intense emotions kept me turning the pages as fast as I could.

I think the cover should have an Asian woman on it to reflect the heroine. But this has no effect on my enjoyment of the book or the quality of the writing, just an observation.

This book is out now here in the UK. In the US this book will be titled 'The Stolen Bride' and will be released in September.


365 books in 365 days Challenge ... book #68

Shameless Playboy - Caitlin Crews
Mills and Boon Modern Special Release
Harlequin Mills and Boon, 2011
ISBN: 9780263889628

My rating

From the back cover:

"Lucas... Playboy. Rebel. Rogue.
No one denies Lucas anything. Women fall at his feet and into his bed at the click of his fingers. His life is charmed, reckless and carefree. He is definitely a bad boy.
Grace Carter knows uncontrollable Lucas could ruin her career and she won’t tolerate his wayward behaviour, despite their chemistry. But working with Lucas is thrilling, and after just a small dose of his magic, even Grace’s prim and proper shell begins to shatter."

This is the second book in the BAD BLOOD series and once again a fantastic book.

The hero of this book is Lucas, the 2nd eldest of the Wolfe siblings, he has lived the majority of his adult life as a playboy 'it' guy and all round darling of the tabloids. After a run in with his eldest brother Jacob, Lucas decides to accept a job as a figurehead for a world famous department store that has past connections with his family, where he meets Grace, the heroine. Grace is busy planning the store's upcoming centenary and relaunch celebrations and doesn't have the time or desire to babysit Lucas, whom she has nothing but contempt for. Grace has worked hard to get where she is after her childhood growing up in a trailer park, and due to a disturbing incident when she was a teenager she has learnt to only rely on herself and cultivated an 'ice queen' image. It doesn't take long for Lucas to realise he wants Grace, but gets only frustrated by her constant rebuffs and his increasing need for her.

This book had me at hello! I literally read it in one sitting. One of the first things that struck me in this book is the fantastic dialogue between the characters, it was full of wit and sass, especially from Grace, this was very enjoyable to read. The characters are well crafted and beautifully written. At first I couldn't warm to Lucas, he seemed lazy and unnecessarily antagonistic, I was agreeing with every one of Grace's negative opinions! As the story progressed I found myself liking him more and more, just as Grace fell more and more in love with him, to me this shows how strong and emotive the writing is. Grace was a great heroine, she was strong and ambitious, yes she was a little uptight and cold but that suited her with her determination to become a success despite her origins.
My favourite element to this book is the development of the relationship, it was very honest. The HEA is immensely satisfying in that there are no sappy overblown declarations of love followed by a proposal, instead it was two people, who didn't have the greatest starts in life, agreeing they love one another and saying 'hey, let's give it a go'! (apologies if that's spoilerish!)

A great book, and I can't wait to read more of this series.

This book is available now in the UK and will be available in the US in August called 'The Disgraced Playboy'.