Cold Attraction – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, I bet you weren’t expecting a review today!

Well neither was I!

Zoe gave me the heads-up last week that she had a new release ready to be read and reviewed and I just so happened to be finishing up another book and am way ahead of schedule. So, I figured why not throw in a surprise review for you! Especially since this was released YESTERDAY! So it's really fresh off the press for you.

Zoe has written paranormal romance and sweet romance before, and I will admit to preferring the paranormal romance. But I think that has more to do with my ambivalence to sweet romance than anything else. With the new series being an alien romance, I was hoping it’d lean back towards the style I like.

Right from the start it was infused with political intrigue, sexual attraction and verbal sparring. We come in after Adriana and Taron have already had a kiss that was interrupted so there’s already some history. Meaning we skip all the awkward meeting, will it, won’t it initial kind of insecurities.

With some handy gadgets that translate any language spoken to one the wearer understands, Adriana and Taron skip a lot of potential misunderstandings that happen when people speak different languages. I was left a little confused when he understood some sayings, but not others. I mean, people from another language probably don’t understand any of my Aussie sayings and phrases, so how is it that an alien species understand half of them?

Do I seem to have some weird love of alien romance? Apparently, I do!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be back to my regular Monday reviews, this time with Intimate Strangers by Lasairiona E. McMaster.

Give Me a Day – Zoe Ann Wood

Welcome back everyone, today I’ll be reviewing the sequel to Give me a Dream. Each book within this series is a standalone book with no characters appearing in the following books, so don’t feel like you need to read the whole series if only one or two books sound good to you.

I was a surprised at how Sebastian and Lori met, and the ongoing strife caused by how they met. Although, I was impressed by how much Lori was considering her safety while travelling alone in a foreign country.

Throughout their time together they slowly build up to a full-blown romance which appears to be going along at a natural pace. But of course, the characters personalities get in the way of things working out which then makes it hard for them.

I did find the ease of access to someone else’s bank records and the willingness to share it a bit weird. That might be my banking background going “NOOOO!!!! NEVER SHARE THOSE DETAILS!!! AND HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET A HOLD OF SOMEONE ELSE’S BANK STATEMENTS?! ISN’T THAT ILLEGAL?!?!?!”

My stress levels got a little bit of a hit, but it did calm down quickly.

Without spoiling the ending, I was robbed of the planning phase that makes it so special. But at the same time, it was kinda sweet, but kinda presumptuous of what the answer would be.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Summer of Going Topless by Liz Davies.

Give me a Dream – Zoe Ann Wood

Welcome back everyone, for those of you who followed the Shift series by Zoe Ashwood you’ll be familiar with the author of this book. But she’s hiding under a different pen name as this is a completely different style!

We’ve moved away from paranormal romances into the realm of sweet romances. There’s a common theme of romance, but just a different style of romance. I’m not too sure if I’ve read a true sweet romance before, so I’m not sure I have anything to judge this book by in its respective genre. However, I did have many aspects that I liked, and a few I didn’t quite like so much.

What I did like was the strong theme of equality and the need to be environmentally conscious. One of my main issues with equality (well one of a few…) is that women are often given equal opportunity for jobs (in developed countries) but we’re expected to behave a certain way.

Zoe addressed this astutely by having a really strong female lead who’s respected and loved for who she is. Ballsy behaviour and all. When many women in real life probably find this wouldn’t happen. I wish we didn’t live in a world where people were judged because of their sex, race, religion or any other difference you can think of. We’re all people wanting to same things (general themes) from life so why can’t we just move on and let it happen?

What I didn’t like so much was how little story there was outside of the romance. It’s a little bit like those cheesy porn movies where the “plumber” or whatever comes over to fix something and the housewife inevitably has sex with him and there’s not much else to the story. This had a great telling and development of the romance building between Ava and Daniel. But outside of their romance there really wasn’t anything to the story.

As I said, I don’t think I’ve read a true sweet romance before. So, I’m not sure if this is something I don’t like about the genre of this story. Do you know?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Project Duchess by Sabrina Jeffries.

Sea of Revenge – Nicola Italia

Welcome back everyone, we’re coming into a super busy period in my schedule which means I’m due for a holiday right?In the meantime, we have this sweet author request to review. I’m so thankful for Nicola reaching out to me after seeing my reviews of her other books I’ve read. Thank you!

I was due for an adventure packed regency romance when I picked this one up. I’d read a few contemporary romances and chick lit books, but I needed this fix. Considering the two other books of hers I’ve read I assumed the female lead would be a strong independent character. And I was right!

In The Sheik’s Son the female lead was a writer stirring up discontent against the higher classes, while in Love in the Valley of the Kings the female lead was educated, ahead of her times and so sweet. A noblewoman that moonlights as a pirate captain? That kinda fits the bill I reckon.

Although I was surprised by how and when our main leads met, I really enjoyed seeing them grow and develop. Especially because he was totally ok with her beating him in a sword-fight in front of his entire crew! How many men can say they are secure in their masculinity that they’d be ok with this?

I did feel like this book should be written in two parts. One during the pirate days and one after. It felt like these two sections were very different, and so should have had a bigger way to differentiate between them without creating a sequel. I agree that it didn’t need a sequel, but I still would have preferred a bigger “separator” in the story.

What I didn’t like was how casual Tamzen was when she found out why she’d run away from her “fiancé”. I can’t see someone being so casual about learning that fact, so it was weird that it felt like she was just like “o ok, but you won’t do it again? Ok that’s fine then.” It just confused me a little bit.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, I don’t have another review until July 31st, but I do have a cover reveal and an interview with Samantha Parks coming out next week. Then on July 31st I’ll be reviewing Reclaimed by her Rebel Knight by Jenni Fletcher.

Make him Howl – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, after my first NetGalley request last week we’re back to Zoe’s Shift series. At this point in time when I’m writing this (in very early April!) this is the last book in the series available.

After reading Bearly Married, Trust the Wolf and Truth or Bear I was used to a certain level of excitement, drama and romance all blending together to form a captivating story. Even though Zoe’s quality of writing was still up there with the other books, I felt it was written a bit differently.

Since we’re following on from the end of Truth or Bear our lovers are separated thanks to Parker being kidnapped. Even though we’re a month on from where we left off, Gabriel hasn’t managed to find any promising leads to find Parker. Although this separation was great for building up Gabriel’s feelings for Parker. It meant that the rest of the story had to adapt to suit it.

Zoe has even given us a playlist to listen to while reading Make him Howl

Throughout most of this book I felt like it was a bit flat emotionally compared to the rest of the series. There were certainly peaks of drama and excitement. But not to the same levels as the other books.

After finishing that story, I feel like it could have been done better as a novella. That way it cuts out the flatter sections or could have at least condensed it. Leaving us with all the good filled bits!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Mr Temptation by Rachael Stewart. Continue to read further down to find out about Zoe, and don’t forget to check out the reviews for the other books in the series.

Author Bio

Zoe Ashwood is a romance writer with a passion for sweet stories with a sexy twist. While she’s always been a reader, Zoe’s writing used to be limited to diary scribbles and bad (really bad) teenage poetry. Then she participated in NaNoWriMo 2015 and never looked back.

Some 400,000 words later, she’s still in love with the art of making up stories—and making her characters fall in love. Trust the Wolf is her debut novel.

When she’s not writing, Zoe works as a literary translator. She’s happily married to her best friend and has two small boys who are as stubborn as they’re cute.

She’s active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but her newsletter or Facebook Group are the best way of keeping in touch! She's also on Pintrest so you can check her out there or through her socials below.

Group

Bearly Married – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed my latest author request. I read this one directly after Truth or Bear because I just needed more. More shifter stories, more of this world. And of course, knowing who the main characters are I was interested to see how they’d start.

So, I signed up to Zoe’s newsletter list so I could grab a free copy AND know when new books are coming out, in case she doesn’t want me reviewing them anymore… Let’s hope that doesn’t happen coz I really like this series!


Writing Style

Going into this one I thought it was a short story, not a novella. So, I was expecting the pace to be quicker than it was. I realised pretty quickly when the story wasn’t moving along quick enough and there was a layer of romantic build up, but also tension.

So, don’t be fooled like I was!

Silly me thought I would finish it on my way to work then smash out the 2 other reviews I needed to write and this one on my way home, and the following days commute. Needless to say, that was taken up by this one coz the story was gripping!

The sweetness of Christine really draws you in. Especially when it’s contrasted so nicely with Alexandre’s stern, serious and desperate disposition. The way Zoe had their personalities building and developing together was so sweet. And very reminiscent of a shorter story. So I’m glad to kept this one to a novella rather than a novel.


Initial Thoughts

I was a bit confused to begin with since I thought Alexandre and Christine’s marriage was arranged, as in their parents arranged it for them. Not arranged as in Alexandre sought heiresses and interviewed them until he found one, he was interested in. So, I was a little thrown by that.

I was also thrown a little bit by how much control/input Christine had to the organisation of the marriage. But the fact that she still had some spunk to her was awesome.

I’m not going to say anything more on this now, because otherwise I’ll ruin the book for you!


Final Thoughts

If you’re reading this one as a prequel (like you’re kinda meant to) it gives you a hint of what’s to come with the series. But on a much tamer level.

Whereas if you’ve read the series (or what’s out so far) like I have. You’ll probably find yourself wondering if a certain evil person will pop up in this book.

If that’s you. Give up. It’s not happening.

I was hoping it would coz I wanted to understand them better. But it proved futile so please don’t get your hopes up.

I also found that this story followed a romance kind of story plot, rather than a paranormal one. I don’t know if I can quite explain it. But all the paranormal books I read tend to have a slightly different feel to the straight romances I read. And this felt closer to a straight romance to me.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire.

One? – Jennifer Cahill

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed reading about my first book box last week. This week I’m back to an author requested review, and I never know what I’m going to get with these ones!

Writing Style

I really wasn’t a fan of the way Jennifer wrote this one. So much so, I wrote to her letting her know the issues I was having with her writing style. My main problem was that it was too stilted and formal for how people really talk.

Not to mention, having the characters thoughts written out word for word rather than summarised or hinted at kept interrupting the flow of the story. But what made the flow worse for me was that we’d change character perspectives with no break to signify there’s a change.

Most books that I read that change perspective will have say a line going between the paragraphs, or one of those cute little images (say, a leaf). Or at the very least, a much bigger gap between the paragraphs. This didn’t have that, so it was just suddenly, I was following someone else.

This one is probably very minor if you’re British. But being an Aussie I don’t know the postcode system over there and Jennifer was using the postcodes as a way to signify where we were landmark wise in the story. I was left going “what is SW4? What is EC1?” because to me they mean nothing. It feels like me saying to you “o you should totally check out the Ferris Wheel at 3008!”

Seriously, how many of you know what I’m talking about right there?

Minor problem if you’re British, bit of a waste of space if it’s not explained; which it’s not but Jennifer has said she’s open to feedback and will be writing the sequel slower so it’s less stream of thought and more structured so it’s not difficult to read which is awesome! Being her first book, I think she’s done a pretty good job if my only problems are things an editor can fix!

My Thoughts

I already mentioned that all my problems with this book stem from a lack of editing. Other than that, I had some fun reading a very Sex in the City style book set in the early 2000s rather than the 90s. Given I was born in the 90s, this made it much more relatable to me.

Something else I really liked was the way Jennifer openly discussed the pressures women feel to get married, have kids but still hold a highly successful full-time career. We might be getting to really seeing that part (possibly?) but she’s hinted at it and we see and hear it in all of Penelope’s thoughts.

I especially connected with this because I personally have started to feel the pressure because I don’t want kids, but I do want my career. And I hate that people do that. Getting married, having kids and having a career are all very personal choices that every individual should be able to make without feeling judged. So, I love that this theme is starting to come through, whether it was intentional or not I’m not sure.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing the third instalment of The Time for Alexander series, Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire.

Truth or Bear – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed last week’s dystopian review because we have another change of pace this week! This week I’ve gone back to Zoe’s Shifter series, this time with her latest release. So, if you like the sounds of it please go and support her by grabbing a copy.

Writing Style

This book felt more action packed than Trust the Wolf, and in a way it was. We started off with an action scene rather than a potentially romantic interlude scene.

Thinking back (I’m writing this review a week after reading the book, and after also reading Bearly Married, the prequel to the series) it feels like Zoe started off with what was safe and easy to write about. And with each book has explored something new.

Whether it be a new angle for love. A new level of intimacy and the build up of desire. And in this book, it feels like she’s exploring her ability to write about the action scenes.

There’s more detail in them, more focus on them and they feel like they belong more. From my knowledge, this series is Zoe’s first published books (sorry Zoe if I got that wrong!) so I’d say it’s normal to see that progression.

I just find it interesting coz I can’t say I’ve noticed it in other authors. It doesn’t mean it’s not there. I just haven’t noticed it like I have with Zoe’s writing.

Initial Thoughts

Initially I was a bit disappointed. But that probably has more to do with me not reading the blurb before asking for this book after finishing Trust the Wolf.

If I had have read the blurb, I wouldn’t have set myself up for disappointment, so that’s totally on me. Not Zoe.

Why was I disappointed?

Because this book doesn’t continue to follow Emilia and Jason. Instead it, follow’s Emilia’s cousin Claire and her love interest Nik from about 2 months into their relationship. And I wanted to know how Emilia went in her new job and how she was going adjusting to the Shifter world.

But I didn’t get my wish. Instead, I got two new characters that I wasn’t sure I’d like.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I actually ended up enjoying Claire and Nik’s story, which I really wasn’t sure I would.

It did get off to a rocky start, but over time I ended up enjoying their banter and their acceptance of their positions. I think it’s really mature of them and I’m glad Zoe brought up the issue of falling for someone when you weren’t meant to and struggling to figure out how it could possibly work.

Luckily, Claire’s father is really understanding which is something I can relate to. Reading about someone else facing these challenges reminded me of when I was experiencing the same issues.

The only difference is, I could at least turn to my mum which Claire couldn’t really do.

I’m not sure I love Claire and Nik as much as I love Emilia and Jason. But I don’t know how much of that is to do with the fact that I read their story first, or because their story was actually better. I’ll have to keep thinking on that one.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Brooklyn by Colm Toibin Continue to read further down to find out about the Zoe.

Author Bio

Zoe Ashwood is a romance writer with a passion for sweet stories with a sexy twist. While she’s always been a reader, Zoe’s writing used to be limited to diary scribbles and bad (really bad) teenage poetry. Then she participated in NaNoWriMo 2015 and never looked back.

Some 400,000 words later, she’s still in love with the art of making up stories—and making her characters fall in love. Trust the Wolf is her debut novel.

When she’s not writing, Zoe works as a literary translator. She’s happily married to her best friend and has two small boys who are as stubborn as they’re cute.

She’s active on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, but her newsletter or Facebook Group are the best way of keeping in touch! She is also on Pintrest if you're interested.

Group

Burden of Truth – Kristin Ward

Welcome back everyone, you’ll notice me jumping between two series for the next couple of weeks, so I hope you don’t mind. After finishing After the Green Withered, I lasted all of 22 hours before asking for the second book so I could start reading it immediately.


Writing Style

After the unique style of After the Green Withered, I was expecting this one to follow the same style. What I found was that although there were elements that were still there, there were also elements that felt very similar to some other dystopian YA novels.

I still want to know what happens next. But I’m almost afraid to know because it’s so close to tipping into the realm of what’s been done multiple times already. Which is one of the issues I have with the YA genre that Kristin has done SO WELL to keep clear of so far.

I know it’s really hard (if not impossible) to come up with 100% unique stories these days. But this one is getting perilously close to the point of no return for me. And I REALLY hope it doesn’t go that way because I really did love the first one.

Please Kristin, do not go the way of Hunger Games, Divergent and The 100! Your story is so different, and it doesn’t deserve to be tarnished with those generic story lines!

Note: I still enjoyed those stories, I just don’t want to read another one that follows almost the same skeleton for the story and character development as so many other YA books.


Initial Thoughts

I really felt like there was hope that Enora could be true to herself and what she believes in. Maybe she could be the driving force for change in a positive way.

At the same time, was I reading the vibes between Enora and Springer properly? Were they being set up to fall for each other and be a romance within the story? I kinda hope not.

I’m really loving the focus on the survival and the truth. So, I hope it isn’t ruined by an attempt to put some romance in there just coz it feels like there probably should be some romance to balance the sorrow that otherwise overpowers the story.


Final Thoughts

By the end of the book I was wishing Kristin took a different route for the story. Almost all my fears for the story and character development were realised.

Enora and Springer end up kinda being a couple, the rebel faction is possibly just as evil as the DMC so Enora and Springer decide to make their own way. Only to end up pretty much dead (but still alive) right at the end of the book and Enora doing something quite possibly, ridiculously stupid in an attempt to save their lives.

Sound familiar to anyone?

If you’re not sure, think about Katness almost shooting the rebel leader and at the last second shooting the evil president in Hunger Games. Not to mention her weird romance with Peeta. In Divergent, don’t Beatrice and Four leave the rebels and their home in the hope of finding something better when it turns out the rebels are as bad as their ruling council?

I don’t like drawing parallels between different stories. But every step this book took towards this feel I cringed. Kristin, it feels like you have so much creativity and some great ideas that are different to anything that’s happened before. Please bring this out in full force for Ander's story!

I still enjoyed the story as a whole, there were just moments when I felt like those parallels were glaringly obvious. While at other's it was still it's own story with no other similarities that made me mourn right alongside Enora and Springer.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Zoe Ashwood’s second Shifter novel Truth or Bear.