Zapata – Harper McDavid

Welcome back everyone, we’re going from a cold Cornish winter setting to Mexico! I already feel warmer just thinking about Mexico.

Well the first thing I want to say is, when you get to about the 70% mark put on a full-on action movie like John Wick 3. Why do you ask? Well, I spent some time on the couch reading a good portion of the last third of the book while my partner watched John Wick 3 and the fight scenes perfectly matched the intensity of what I was reading.

To give you an idea, this is the This is War of books. This is the type of book I can see made into a movie and becoming a date night favourite. It has enough romance for the girls, while being action packed enough for the guys to love it, while also not over the top to the enough that the guys hate it.

Yes, I’m stereotyping couples. But that’s coz I’m thinking of my relationship and the types of movies we can truly enjoy that satisfy both our preferences.

Yes, the book includes kidnapping, human trafficking, the sex slave trade, drug use, various other criminal activities and unthinkable circumstances. So, if any of this triggers you, avoid this book! And I really do mean that!

If you love the excitement, not knowing what’s going to happen and those full-on action-packed stories that make you feel the adrenaline pumping through your body. Then you’ll probably love this.

For a debut novel I am amazed at the quality and I can see myself (and my partner who doesn’t normally read much!) loving her novel! I likened this to Matthew Reilly to him, but where the writing is a little bit more mature and the content is DEFINITELY more mature. But just as fun, action orientated and engaging as his books.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing #Jerk by Kat T. Masen. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

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As a child, Harper McDavid watched her mother ride the roller coaster of writing books, swearing she’d never do it herself. But some things are just hardwired, and luckily for Harper, the world has moved on beyond typewriters and ten-pound manuscripts.

Harper’s gritty romantic suspense incorporates her own background in science and engineering and work experience along the border. The result is a collection of hardhat-wearing heroines that occasionally employ the use of the little black dress.

Harper is the mother of three daughters and lives in the foothills of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a fat cat. Her free time is spent traveling the world in search of that next story and perusing her local library for funny book covers.

Wrapped Up for Christmas – Katlyn Duncan

Welcome back everyone, we’re only in October but we’re already seeing some of the Christmas new releases making their way into our reading lists.

In this case it starts off in America and spans a whole month leading up to Christmas with a young girl suffering a massive heartbreak because her boyfriend had been cheating on her. She goes home to spend time with her family and regroup over the Christmas season.

Leading into the season of giving it’s nice to read a sweet romance that embodies being with family, getting oneself onto a better path, forgiveness and giving back to others. Katlyn balances these aspects of the Christmas time in one story in a way that allows us to truly relax and enjoy it.

I read this one over a few days and found it to be a calmly relaxing read that I was able to emotionally buy into, without becoming emotionally stressed as the story progressed through its peaks and throughs. For those coming into the Christmas season with a busy schedule but still want a nice, sweet romance, this could be a great book for you to keep up your reading.

If you’re a dog lover like me, you’ll especially love the doggy love that is shown throughout this love story.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Perils of Autumn by Rusty Blackwood. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Coming from a small town in Western Massachusetts, Katlyn Duncan always had her head in the clouds. Working as a scientist for most of her adult life, she enjoyed breaking down the hows and whys of life. This translated into her love of stories and getting into the minds of her characters.

Currently, she’s a full-time author and freelance writer. When she’s not writing, she’s obsessing over many (many) television series’.

She currently resides in Southern New England with her family. Check out more about her writing and current TV addiction in her newsletter, and on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!

SCBWI & RWA Member.

You can find Katlyn on her various social media including Pintrest and BookBub.

Giveaway - Win a book of your choice from Book Depository up to the value of $25 (open internationally)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome, so long as The Book Depository delivers to your country.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Intimate Strangers – Lasairiona E. McMaster

Welcome back everyone, I feel like I’ve had some emotionally charges romance reads this month and today is no different. I mean. Wow. Just wow!

Talk about an emotionally draining read!

If anyone wants to see how an emotional rollercoaster should be written, I suggest reading this book and making notes. I really wasn’t expecting it to be QUITE so dramatic. Especially throughout the whole book.

Given that Lisa met someone online I was anticipating there to be a certain level of emotional stress leading up to them meeting for the first time. But that was just the start of it! There were a few other hits in there as well as the comedic release you need during those highly charged moments.

Lisa’s sarcastic and confident (even if she doesn’t feel it most of the time) attitude made her highly amusing. Especially when we also got to read along with the conversations she was having in her own head. As we only follow her, we don’t get to find out what’s going through AJ’s head.

In this case I really don’t think having AJ’s side of events is needed. There are quite a few stories where you need both sides. However, the way Lasairiona has written this means it’s perfect as it is. And having AJ’s side would probably just ruin it.

I’m scheduled to review the follow up book The Good in Goodbye in December. So make sure you subscribe to my mailing list if you want to know the moment that review goes live!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Wrapped up for Christmas by Katlyn Duncan. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did - with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself 'home', with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

The Secret Cove in Croatia – Julie Caplin

Welcome back everyone, after yesterday’s cover reveal we’re going back into a review! This one is based in beautiful Croatia, which I can’t wait to see since my Croatian friends keep telling me amazing stories of their country.

My first thought when I started this book was “why the hell am I on a photoshoot in some backcountry town in England if the story is meant to be in Croatia?” Well, it turns out that’s to help set up a couple of character BEFORE jetting us over to Croatia. Which in the long run I was actually thankful for. Don’t think you’ve been duped; those scenes are needed and actually play a pivotal part of the story.

As we go in and Maddie is working on this luxury boat I can’t help but think she’s a little too relaxed and informal for 5 star service. I’ve worked in those kinds of settings (not on a boat coz I get sea sick real bad, and I mean before we even undock I’m sick bad), and if I even showed the slightest hint of the attitude she showed sometimes, I’d have been fired. My bosses wouldn’t have cared if I knew the guests or not. I would’ve lost my job.

I didn’t really like that familiarity with all the guests. I think I would have enjoyed that aspect more if it matched my experiences more closely. But then again, maybe things are different in Europe? Or maybe because it was a small kind of company the appearance of detachment and being unruffled isn’t needed as much?

The rest of the story was pretty dream like though. Imagine sitting on a private yacht in your own bay with crystal clear water, all the sea life and amazing sunny weather? Other than the whole being on the boat thing, this sounds almost perfect to me. If there was a way I could zap my sea sickness into nothing, it would be perfect.

Yes, I liked the romance. But the sights, the relationship building (not just the romance ones, but even their relationships with themselves) and the way I was transported to these breathtaking locations really stole the show for me. Unfortunately for my purse strings, this book has added yet more sights for me to see when I get to Europe! Maybe I can talk my Croatian friends into taking me so we can try and get locals discounts… If there are any.

hank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Friday I’ll be doing an author interview with SamanthaParks and next week I will be reviewing Reclaimed by her Rebel Knight by Jenni Fletcher. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Jules Wake announced at the age of ten that she planned to be a writer. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands, taking journalists on press trips to awful places like Turin, Milan, Geneva, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and occasionally losing the odd member of the press in an airport. This proved fabulous training for writing novels as it provided her with the opportunity to eat amazing food, drink free alcohol, hone her writing skills on press releases and to research European cities for her books.

She writes best-selling warm-hearted contemporary fiction for HarperImpulse.

Under her pen name, Julie Caplin, her twelfth novel, The Secret Cove in Croatia published in ebook format this July.

@JulieCaplin

@Juleswake

Foxglove Farm – Christie Barlow

Welcome back everyone, we’re back into the world of romance. Yes, I know. I can’t stay away for long! Who knew being an adult automatically made me like romance?

I think I forgot between reading the blurb and starting this book that it wasn’t about Polly. Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not 100% sure I did read the blurb… I may have just seen it was the sequel to Love Heart Lane and jumped on board.

After the initial shock and “damn I’ve been jibbed” feeling upon discovering that our couple for this book was in fact the married Isla and Drew. I jumped into reading to see what could be in store for them. And I can tell you it was quite an adventure!

I smashed this book out in about a day sitting by the fire while my partner finished his book. When he finished his book and wanted to put Netflix on I was like “ahhh… how’s about you put something on that you wanna watch so I can keep reading?” How sociable am I? For a Saturday night you’d think I’d put in more effort than that!

But no! Foxglove Farm was more important. Isla and Drew seemed to get hit with problem after problem and it was tearing their relationship apart. So much so that I was starting to wonder how this could possibly be a romance given the genre typically means a HEA is a requisite.

I mean, the only romances that haven’t ended with a HEA are ones where it’s one in a series following those two characters. I’ve never seen it with a stand alone or in a series where you swap characters every book.

By the time I got to the end of the book in bed on the Sunday morning (yea the partner slept through another like 2 hours of me reading) I felt emotionally relieved for Isla and Drew that their story was over. I mean WOW! Kudo’s for them for getting through all that given how societal “norms” almost broke up their marriage.

I loved the fact that Isla stuck by him even when she hated him because she knew him well enough to know more was going on. And I loved how blatantly Christie puts these issues out there. Mens health is something that’s definitely not talked about much (especially among the men I know) but it’s so important. I’m not sure about your own countries, but I know in Australia suicide is the leading cause of male death between the ages of 15 and 44.

That to me is a sobering fact and one we should all be working to fix by normalising talking about your emotions and everything that’s weighing down on you. I hope over time more writers will include this in ways that works towards normalising it. And I hope we all do our part to help normalise it for the men in our lives.

I’m sorry to end on a sad note but I really liked and appreciated Christie throwing this in and talking about. Even if she didn’t mean to make a statement it resonated with me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, after my June Wrap Up I will be reviewing Storms over Babylon by Jennifer Macaire. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.


Author Bio

Christie Barlow is the author of A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother, Kitty's Countryside Dream, Lizzie's Christmas Escape, Evie's Year of Taking Chances, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, A Home at Honeysuckle Farm, Love Heart Lane and Foxglove Farm. Her writing career came as somewhat a surprise when she decided to write a book to teach her children a valuable life lesson and show them that they are capable of achieving their dreams. The book she wrote to prove a point is now a #1 bestseller in the UK, USA & Australia. 

Christie is an ambassador for @ZuriProject raising money/awareness and engaging with impoverished people in Uganda through organisations to improve their well-being.

Tuscan Enchantment – Kate Zarelli

Welcome back everyone, today’s review takes us into the wilds of Tuscany and its history, both recent and long gone.

I’m going to kick off this review with some things I didn’t like. The way Kate has written her character’s thoughts and conversations made me feel like I was reading a regency or Victorian romance. The formal way the character’s spoke to each other is something that you just wouldn’t come across in modern times.

For a good while there I thought it was set historically (obviously having forgotten what the cover looked like) until Antonia set setting up a laptop. That really threw me! And I had moments like this happen throughout most of the book.

The other thing that really bugged me was how easily Lorenzo switched from being a man whore to be a one-woman man who is dumping his fiancé. Like that was just so sudden it didn’t feel natural. And the same kind of thing happened with Antonia. Can someone REALLY fall in love so deeply they will change who they are within a few days?

I know romances aren’t meant to be realistic, but this was just over the top.

On the other hand, Kate’s ability to describe a location is amazing. I feel like I knew a fair bit about Tuscan history (thank you Assassins Creed!) yet I didn’t know that there were literal castles there.

The ravages of time and WWII haven’t been left out either. There was a great nod to those poor souls who lost their lives because of that war which I thought was brilliant. The moments when characters interact with the memorial to those was probably the most emotionally realistic the whole book got.

If Kate were to write a historical romance I feel like she’d nail it with her ability to emotionally draw you into a place. And she can already write in the same way people of the past spoke. But for a modern romance?

It’s not quite hitting it for me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Monday I will be reviewing Zoe Ashwood’s latest (yes I’m finally getting to it!) novel Make Him Howl. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Kate Zarrelli is the romance and erotica pen-name of Katherine Mezzacappa. Kate is Irish but now lives in Carrara in Northern Tuscany, between the Apuan Alps and the Tyrrhenian Sea, with her Italian husband and two teenage sons. She writes historical, erotic, feel-good and paranormal fiction, set all over Europe, and in her spare time volunteers with a used book charity of which she is a founder member. You can follow her on Facebook at Kate Zarrelli books or on Twitter @katmezzacappa.

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and Conditions
 –Worldwide
entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The
winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and
will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days
then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative
winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as
part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be
shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This
will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the
prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the
data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

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.

Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

Welcome back everyone, we’re moving a bit out into the English countryside this week although we’re sticking to the romance genre. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but I have a bit of a thing for historical settings and a countryside castle fits into that. I just had to give it a read to see how a castle was described, used and managed in these modern days.

Writing Style

For some books I find this really hard to describe, and this is one of those books. It almost felt like at times it was character driven, while at others it was driven by the story or the location. I don’t know if there’s a technical description for it, but I found the balance of all those different approaches really relaxing.

This let me just absorb what was on the page and feel like I was there with them as much as possible. I did find myself wishing I could enjoy reading them in the bath, but by the time I realised I wanted that it was too late to run a bath. And unfortunately, I don’t own a portable bath to travel to and from work in (not that I’m sure that’s socially acceptable?) to get my extra level of relaxation that way.

And man, those bluebell descriptions reminded me of the park behind the house I grew up in. But for me it was a field of daisies not bluebells. Not quite as fancy. But you still get the whole running in a field of flowers feeling which is amazing. So those descriptions brought me back to those childhood summer days where I’d read in amongst the flowers and my dad would almost trip over me coz, he couldn’t see me coz the flowers were so tall.

Those were good times so it’s nice to remember them sometimes.

Initial Thoughts

I was a bit confused as to what was happening in the first 2-3 chapters because it didn’t label the time to show we were covering certain days across winter with months between them. Once I realised this, I was OK, especially since it was pretty much entirely based in spring/early summer after that.

Since I’d been held on tenterhooks waiting for this book to arrive, I was ready to dive straight in and get immersed in the story. And I found this super easy to do, especially with a glass of wine on hand late on a Saturday afternoon and throughout Saturday night.

This book felt like a really great reading companion for a weekend night, which I really haven’t felt like I’ve had for quite some time.

Final Thoughts

Throughout the whole book I found myself picturing the countryside, the types of stones used, the layout of the castle, all those dogs running around and how picturesque it must be. Living somewhere like this would be a dream for me. Minus the money issues of course.

To read about how the other half live was mesmerising for me. But what I really liked were the moments when Lucie and Arthur were able to recognise their own faults and do something about them. They may have needed help sometimes to see their own faults. But they didn’t run away, gloss over or hide from them in in fear of what others would think of them.

Except a small moment from Lucie. But I can understand that and respect her for making sure Arthur found out the truth from her regardless.

My only fault with this book was the ending. I wanted more than like the 2 pages of them meeting up and making up to know what happens to them. An epilogue would have been perfect to wrap it up nicely. Unless it’s a series? Is it a series?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing After the Green Withered by Kristin Ward on tour thanks to Write Reads. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others.

Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives.

When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants.

Sarah is the author of the Butterfly Cove, Lavender Bay and the forthcoming Bluebell Castle trilogies, published by HQ Digital UK.