The Bastard – Lisa Renee Jones

Welcome back everyone, after a brief step back in time we’re back into modern times. This time in America where we have a mix of romance and suspense.

I found myself underwhelmed with this story as a whole. It had some great moments that captured my attention. But at the end of it I found I wasn’t dying to read the next book. Considering the last book I got from NetGalley I immediately bought the rest of the series this was a massive let down.

It’s not that the writing wasn’t good. We had a great mix of past and present, twists popping up at the right time etc. But I felt like I just didn’t really care. I feel like maybe there was some emotional buy in missing right at the start of the book.

If I had that buy in, I think I would’ve liked this a lot better.

Would I read the next book if it was given to me? Probably, but only if I felt like I had nothing else to read.

I’m kinda hoping that I just wasn’t in the mood to read this style, or at all when I read this. It would make me feel better about not really being interested given how highly it’s rated on Goodreads. But it just didn’t do it for me. Sorry.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing To the Stars and Back by Camilla Isley.

The Consequence of Loyalty – Trey Stone

Welcome back everyone, this week we have a change of pace from the romances I’ve been reading so far this year. Instead, we have a bit of a complex, suspense/thriller style story.

Writing Style

I found this book an interesting read throughout. Although there were a few cases of typos (I don’t think you can ever get rid of them entirely) that had me pausing to figure out what had been missed so I could understand the meaning of the sentence. Overall, this read as a story that is meant to challenge you and keep you guessing.

What I found quite useful was the date and time stamp at the start of each chapter. Since we were swapping between various characters and went back in time at a couple of points, this made it really easy to see the flow of the story and understand when I was reading about a particular character.

Given how complex this story is, I would’ve been lost without this so I’m super thankful!


Initial Thoughts

When I first started reading this story, I got the feeling I was going to read a book equivalent to “Quantico”. And that was pretty damn complex, so I knew I’d be in for a confusing ride if this was anything like that.

I was a little bit lost to begin with, until I got used to the writing style, when we kept swapping characters. But this quickly settled as you got told pretty much at the start of each change who you were following now based on where they were, what they were feeling and what they were doing.


Final Thoughts

I will admit I powered through this one more because I got my reading mojo back and because I was trying to avoid having to study since I wasn’t feeling 100%.

That’s not to say that the story wasn’t intriguing. It was!

It just wasn’t the whole reason I read this one in like 2 days.

Anyway, as I worked through the story, I found I couldn’t figure out what direction I was meant to be heading in. Was I meant to be seeing clues as to who was behind everything? Was I just meant to be along for the ride?

If I wasn’t meant to be seeing any clues as to who the mastermind behind the shooting was, then congrats! Coz I certainly didn’t pick up on anything. But if I was meant to see clues and start to figure out (even just vaguely) who was responsible. Well, you missed the mark there.

It kinda felt like when you’re near your word limit for a uni report or essay, but you don’t wana cut out anything you’ve done so far. So you just cram the last bit of the report into the fewest possible words without actually explaining yourself properly. It honestly was like a hail Mary as to who the evil mastermind was that I didn’t pick up on until they walked into the kitchen to arrest them.

Surely, I should have had at least SOME inkling by this stage as to who needed to be arrested? I’m not saying I’m always right with these things. But normally afterwards once you know who the bad guy is you see all the clues fall into place.

And I didn’t get that with this one. Which was a shame since the rest of it was well written and kept me engaged throughout the whole story.


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Trust the Wolf by Zoe Ashwood.


Author Bio

Trey Stone is an author, reader, and reviewer. His first book, The Consequence of Loyalty, a crime thriller set in Columbus, Ohio was published in 2017. When he's not working on his second novel, he enjoys reading, playing the guitar, and his day job as an archaeologist.

          

The Earls Irresistible Challenge – Lara Temple

Welcome back everyone, I hope you enjoyed my review of a towns struggle while two lost loves found each other again. This week’s book is one of those classic regency romances that just draws you in with its female empowerment.

Writing Style

The overall writing style for this one felt really cohesive and like the author had planned out each phase of the book before actually writing it as a whole. The rushing to get the couple together and happy that sometimes occurs didn’t happen. You could see moments throughout the book where both characters could feel and accept that their relationship was changing.

Although the author didn’t describe the surroundings much, they did focus on the characters emotional and physical responses to each other. I felt like I could truly see Lord Sinclair intimidating Miss Silverdale when they first met. Whenever they were having a moment, I could imagine what their expressions looked like, right down to how they held their body in that moment.


First Impressions

To begin with I was confused as to how this could be a romance given Lord Sinclair was doing everything he could to avoid being around Miss Silverdale. Also, Miss Silverdale was adamant that he was arrogant, among other not so nice descriptions, so it didn’t seem like someone so self sufficient and forward thinking could possibly want to be with someone like that.

That soon changed when I realised that this was because they had yet to spend enough time together to really start to click. I will admit I was reading this initially when I was REALLY stressed and reading it in like 2-5-minute intervals. So, I probably should have realised this sooner. But you know, when you get caught up in other things you don’t necessarily notice things properly or think straight.


Final Thoughts

I’m glad the author didn’t rush the romantic connection. And I was surprised at when and how Lord Sinclair decided to propose to Miss Silverdale. But that was a good thing. How many of these regency romances do you read when you know the exact moment the realisation of a proposal is coming?

So, the fact I didn’t know made me re-think a few other things I thought were going to happen. And yet again I was still surprised! I love it when a book can have that predictable feel but then throw a curve ball at you when you’re least expecting it. Given the genre this book is in that’s kinda hard to do! So kudos to the author for still managing to surprise me! I hope you do this with all your books!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, tomorrow, that’s right! Tomorrow I will be reviewing An Unconventional Affair Book 2 by Mollie Blake.

If you liked her first book be sure to tune in tomorrow for my review of her second book! But FIRST! Continue reading for info on today's author.

Author Bio

Lara Temple writes strong, sexy regency romances
about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion.
After moving around the world for her career as a financial analyst and
business consultant she returned to her childhood love of making up stories,
and was surprised to discover that other people don’t mind reading them.

She lives with her husband and two children who are very good about her taking over the kitchen table for her writing (so she can look out over the garden and dream while Oscar the dog keeps her feet warm by sitting on them as she works).

The Earl’s Irresistible Challenge (out December 2018) is the first in her Sinful Sinclair series. In May 2019 Unlaced by the Highland Duke, part of a four book series with three other Harlequin Mills & Boon authors will be released.

                    

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Miao-Shan: The Awakening – Gary Morris

Welcome back everyone, this weeks book is another author request. This time from an author who only has one other published book, so you might not have heard of him.

But if you haven’t, you should give him a go because this is a book unlike any I’ve ever read before. It’s based in Hong Kong and includes a fair bit about the Chinese culture and history which is fairly new to me.

Story overview

The story begins at the end of the 19th Century in Hong Kong with a small and happy family. Only to have the parents murdered in the first chapter and a rampant display of racism between the local Chinese people and the “Gweilo”, or English, people.

Typically both races believe the other to be savages purely because they do things differently. Of course, you'd be forgiven for thinking this is the main theme of the book. However, it’s not the key theme so I’m going to leave that there.

Lei's need for revenge against the Triads as the long survivor of her family is what we learn to be, the key theme of the story. As such, she learn's Kung Fu to become calmer and to learn empathy.

However, her thirst to hurt "bad people" means she never quite reaches that goal. Instead, she ends up accepting her fate and became an almost merciless killer in her quest for vengeance.


My thoughts

Throughout the story Lei chooses to fight back against those that want to oppress others. And this, I believe, is something many people don't have the courage, and or, the skills to do. So good on her for standing up for what she believes in!

However, the examples we see of Lei's excessive force does scare me a little. But only because that lack of compassion or regard for human life is what typically forms the basis for a sociopath's personality.

And typically speaking sociopaths can’t change who they are or how they react to things. They can learn to mimic emotions, but they can’t feel them the same way most people can. So how can Lei truly learn and display compassion if she's unable to truly feel it?

Surprisingly enough, she does find the ability to be compassionate. And the time she finds this ability is what truly surprises me. It's at this moment that we really get to explore the difference between revenge, and justice. Can she live with the knowledge that she caused destruction and the loss of hundreds of lives.

That’s a lot for anyone to bear, let alone someone who’s only about 18-20 years old. I can’t imagine the guilt gnawing at her conscious and how difficult it would be to get to sleep each night knowing that she cut those lives short.

So knowing that she had to live with that for eternity I can sympathise with her need to leave China and be somewhere else. Somewhere different where she can come to terms with everything she’s done.

Gary has told me since reading Miao-Shan that there is a second book for me to look forward to. And I will, because I want to know what she does next!


Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review. On Friday I will be reviewing Second Chance at the Ranch by Maxine Morrey.

Yes you read that right! This Friday! I look forward to seeing you again then. But don’t forget to read a little bit about this week’s author Gary Morris below.

Author info

Gary Morris

For most of my working life, I was in the collectables field. First dealing in stamps and then in antiques. I have always had a love for Asian art and history. Particularly Chinese and Japanese. I have also directed and produced a computer game.

I started writing fiction professionally in 2010, during which time I wrote two complete novels, of which Miao-Shan is the second one. At the end of 2010, I returned to the property industry, without having acquired an agent. For the next six years, I wrote part-time.

I currently have two other books completed (one an unusual spy thriller, and the other a time-travelling paranormal fantasy), but neither is ready for publication yet.

          

The Brilliant Game – A. Gavazzoni

Welcome back all, I hope you've been looking forward to this review because I've been looking forward to sharing it with you!

This is the final instalment of Behind the Door and Lara's Journal and I can honestly say I enjoyed reading this one and was cursing my Kindle when it was taking forever to download so I could get started.

So this one picked up a little bit after Lara's Journal ended but not before Simone's daughter was freed. Following on from the previous book I can tell you that you're in for one hell of a ride!

Firstly Peter's sister isn't connected to any of the murders and gets released. At first I couldn't believe this because how else did Peter escape? And how else could he have known when to kidnap Simone's daughter? And then I thought, maybe Peter has another accomplice? Maybe a guy? Maybe that's how the sperm samples aren't related to Peter's sister.

That certainly felt more plausible than Peter being adopted since it was never mentioned in any of the previous books. And surely if Peter was adopted that would've come out sooner. I mean, it'd just have to right? Which means Peter's sister and the receptionist are now out of the running for being the killer. Which leaves us with the ex-boyfriend; although he seems to have dropped off the map so I think we can scratch him off as well. So really we're left with Peter Hay, Carl and Edward.

And somehow I couldn't see Carl being responsible. I mean he really doesn't feel right for this. He goes to Simone honestly looking for help. He's in crisis over what happened with Lara and needs to absolve his guilt over her death. To begin with that's in the form of getting her to read his memoir and analysing the possibility that he purposely killed Lara. Then he is given a copy of Lara's story, her whole life on paper for him to read and really understand why she was who she was. Except facing those details can be tough so I understand why he'd need someone else, a third party, to read it along with him.

During this book we're introduced to two more possible candidates for all the murders. A necrophiliac that Simone had previously treated, and John, one of Lara's lovers. Even though when the necrophiliac angle was introduced because Peter's DNA didn't match the semen found on the body it just didn't feel right. This necrophiliac was one who sought out already dead bodies. Unless of course he was brought in as the accomplice who would get rid of the bodies? But I dunno... It just didn't feel right to me.

John on the other hand went of the rails a bit once he read Lara's Journal. So I could see him killing people. But again, he didn't know Simone previously, so why was he attacking people and leaving them on her doorstep, and why attack her patients?

Now normally I would like to leave some mystery to the book so you can enjoy the full impact when you read it for yourself. But there's a few things I need to tell you because OMG! Adriana really left it to the last minute making me feel like there'd need to be a fourth book just to give me the answers I wanted!

But, instead she made it so that it all came out during Peter's trial in the final chapter of the book so you're only left with a couple of pages to process what's happened. Although I'm not a big fan of Tolkien's writing style where it takes 5+ pages to describe a leaf falling. I would have felt a little bit better with A LITTLE bit more time to have the reveal occur and see how everyone responds to it. I think one more chapter would have REALLY made this book amazing.

But Adriana really leaves you on tenterhooks that whole way through. Guessing, and guessing who could be behind the murders. How could Peter be innocent but not innocent? How did it take the FBI until the last minute, and even then it took Simone to figure out and expose what had happened?

I definitely feel like I need longer to just sit and process everything that came out in the last chapter of this book. So I think I should take a day before I start a new book.

I hope you enjoyed reading the final review on this trilogy and I honestly think you should give this trilogy a go if you enjoy books with suspense, sex and romance.

Thank you Adriana for giving me to opportunity to read your series. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all 3 books the whole way through!

Lara’s Journal – A Gavazzoni

Welcome back all, as promised I have the next instalment of Behind the Door for you! Now something that I often find when reading book series is that they get repetitive and a bit boring so sometimes I go into these with a grain of salt when the first book has really grabbed my attention.

But I didn't need to with this one. I was really unsure how we could continue on from the previous book when the killer has fled the country and we've solved the murder. Other than literally just reading Lara's side to her relationship with Carl (which I wanted to read anyway) I wasn't sure what else could be done. Like really, what would you have done if you were the author? Because I am a big fan of, if you've gotten it right don't ruin it by trying to make more money out of sequels when you had never planned on writing them.

Now the set up for this book is no where near as good as the set up for the third novel so I get the feeling that Adriana finished the first book intending to wrap it up there. Then really wanted to share more. Whereas the ending of this book is a total, blatant set up for a third book. Which I don't mind because it show's there's a plan. And she's ended it on a cliff hanger. And I am a TOTAL sucker for a good cliff hanger!

Anyway I feel like I've jumped ahead because I'm SOOOO eager to read the next book! Like normally I'd space it out a bit to give you guys, my readers, a bit of variety but I don't think I can with this one 😐

ANYWAY! I must move on to give you reason's why I liked this one so much! So we start off with a girl hooking up with a guy at a nightclub and having sex in the bathroom. Since I thought this was Lara, whatevs! Only, it turns out it's Simone, and she's slept with her friends cousin! How completely unlike Simone! But then again she had been kidnapped and drunk A LOT of wine and it's not like she's in a relationship. So she can totally live her life the way she want's to!

Next thing we know one of her reliable crazy patients has attacked his mistress, wife and the club his mistress works in so Simone has to rush home. Just in time to find out that the cousin is a crazy stalker. Just what she needs when she's still recovering from being kidnapped!

Within a couple of weeks of returning like 3 or 4 of her patients have turned up dead, the FBI don't know whether to suspect her or Peter Hay (the guy that kidnapped her). And I was tossing up between the stalker boyfriend, the new receptionist, Peter, Peter's sister, Carl and Edward as to who the guilty party could be! Now to give you a bit of an idea where's why I suspect each of them:

  • Stalker boyfriend rocked up then everything turned to shit for Simone in a way that's different to before which suggests someone new
  • The new receptionist doesn't seem to smile, is happy to take the job of someone who was just killed. And no one died until after she started...
  • Peter Hay because you know, he did kidnap her and kill all those other people!
  • His sister, for revenge against Simone for Peter having to flee the country, and poison is typically known to be a female choice
  • Carl because both times he entered Simone's life shit hits the fan
  • And finally Edward, with him I don't really have a tangible reason why, it's just a gut feeling

Since this book ends on a cliff hanger I never get to find out who the one responsible for this round of deaths is. But my main suspects are the new receptionist and Peter's sister but with her I feel that Peter would have to be involved somehow. Ideally my gut is telling me the receptionist and Peter's sister are either one and the same or somehow linked.

So now that I feel like I've turned into a bit of a conspiracy theorist I'll let you go! And I look forward to sharing my next review on "Master the Marchioness" by Em Brown next week.

Behind the Door – A. Gavazzoni

A Gavazzoni contacted me to read this book and I'm really glad she did. I'm not sure if she's read my blog, but if she has I can see why she thought I'd enjoy it. Yes it had some graphic sex scenes in it (be prepared for way more than Fifty Shades of Grey). However the focus of this book was the psychology behind the characters which is something I really enjoy. Even in my job I love to be challenged. I even commented that I was getting bored at work recently because it was all making sense and I had to quickly get some easy stuff done due to a really tough deadline.

With the boring work having to be done I found myself constantly thinking about what could possibly be driving these characters, why were they reacting in certain ways? How were they all linked? Why did my gut tell me that such and such a character had more to them than it sounded like? So this definitely kept my mind active when I really needed it.

We start off this book with Simone who is a psychiatrist lecturing in New York and was interrupted by a lawyer; Carl; which I thought was odd. Lawyers don't tend to hang around those types of conferences, and if they do want to speak to a psychiatrist then they'd make an appointment or call them to their office. Then when he didn't pressure her to drop everything and focus on what he needed to meet his court deadline, it made me wonder what was going on. Not that you'll find out until right near the very end!

Due to Carl approaching Simone to help him with his court case the book takes two different approaches. One is Mark's story about Lara which he has written as a manuscript while the other is the murders happening in Simone's home town that start to impact her in her day to day life and her psychiatry practice. At this point I started to wonder if the two stories were intertwined or if this was just the beginning of a series to really explore both avenues.

I won't go into what happens in this story too much because I think it'd ruin the intensity for you. But basically someone starts murdering women in Simone's home town while she's working on the manuscript Carl gave her. The murderer even leaves a dead body on Simone's doorstep which freaks everyone out. And eventually Simone is kidnapped and tortured by the murderer. While held by them she figures out who they are and is able to report them to the police when she is rescued days after her kidnapping took place.

Meanwhile we get to read Mark's manuscript alongside Simone (this is where all the graphic details are) to find out what actually happened between Mark and Lara. Mark sounds like a decidedly normal and kinda boring guy, while Lara sounds like she has a LOT of mental issues that have been left unresolved that she doesn't seem to want to work on. Simone diagnoses her as sadomasochistic with ADHD tendencies that resulted in an addiction to adrenaline. That addiction is what seems to control her life as we know it and ends up being what killed her.

The thing that I really liked about this book that a few other books I've read recently hasn't really done when talking about these kinds of topics is that it showed the bad as well as how to combat it. Yes, Lara's mum was awful and sold her off and didn't act like a mother should. However her friends and the rest of her family supported her in any way that they could, including supporting her to leave those situations. Unfortunately for her it seems it was all too late to "fix" what happened, but it was good to hear about others that are willing to do the right thing. Including getting restraining orders, which I feel many people in those situations are too scared to do. I also liked the fact A. Gavazzoni explored how these events impacted those around Lara which is something most people tend to shy away from.

So although the sex scenes were a bit too graphic for my liking, I really liked the fact that Simone then explored the psychology behind these behaviours. In these situations it's the psychology, the thought process and the analysis that really gets me involved and hooked. And A. Gavazzoni nails this aspect of her writing and I love it. I got so hooked on the what and why the events occurred that I almost ditched my boyfriend on a Friday night to finish the book! Which is unheard of for me, especially since it was game night for my footy team which I always watch.

If you like brain teasers and can get through the sex scenes I think you'd really enjoy this book just like I did.

Thank you for reading, next week I will be participating in another Book Tour, this time with a brand new release called "One Summer Weekend" by Juliet Archer. I look forward to seeing you then.