Tempted – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, I’ve saved up a special treat for you in the form of one book each week for the next three weeks of Zoe Ashwood’s latest trilogy, Sea Dragons of Amber Bay.

After reading just the first one, I feel like Zoe has outdone herself. In every way this book had me hooked so much more than her previous books!

Pretty much as soon as I finished it, I was messaging Zoe asking when I’d be able to get Ensnared because, OMG! I need to know more! How dare Zoe end it on a cliff hanger like that?!

Some of the things that made this so interesting was the constant need for secrecy, everyone being on edge about saying the wrong thing and the history behind why those secrets needed to be kept. The amount of times they almost slipped up was hilarious.

The fact that this is a reverse harem book means that the romantic relationship needs to be a connection between more than just two people. The way Zoe wove that development and change in amazed me and made it feel kind of normal. By that, I mean it didn’t feel like the relationships were forced at all.

The one thing that I was constantly looking for, thanks to the blurb, is all three guys to come walking out of the water all sexy like. It never happened! Come on Zoe! Prime opportunity there!

The other thing was the suggestion that their relationship would be all figured out by the end. It’s not, and in a few surprising ways that I don’t want to give away!

I’m guessing you should just go right ahead and buy all 3 books. Although I should mention there’s a fair bit of steamy sex scenes, much  more than Zoe has ever done before!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing Secrets in the Snow by Emma Heatherington.

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Art and Soul – Claire Huston

Welcome back everyone, I have a slight change of plans today. I’d planned on reviewing Venators: Legends Rise but I mixed up my days, so I decided to bring you Claire Huston’s debut novel!

I’ve always enjoyed romance stories where there is a boss-employee romance, and they don’t get along in the beginning. With Charlie being emotionally distraught, without inspiration and at the final end of career failure. Becky is a master of solving other people’s problems, coming out of maternity leave and trying to revive her business.

Given our current year I’m really glad that this book doesn’t specify what year it’s set in like some do. It meant I could pretend like it was set in 2018 or 2019 with no COVID to ruin our lives.

With Charlie’s distinct lack of ability to articulate his feelings, it’s amazing that he was able to communicate in other ways. The best example of this is the final piece that Charlie makes for his exhibition. Becky’s reaction to seeing that piece for the first time is the most beautiful part of the whole story.

The frustrating moments Charlie, Becky, Rachel and Virgil went through led to this amazing moment and made it even better. Each little interaction felt real and similar to so many real interactions I’ve seen play out in real life.

That realism is so important with romance stories set in modern times that we can relate to. The fact that they’ve both been hurt by previous relationships and were willing to step up for their loved ones were what really made every part come together. It made the awkwardness real, relevant and so much more meaningful.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; I’m still locking down my plan for the next couple of weeks. Stay peeled for my next review! Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. Art and Soul is her first novel.

A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for all the cakes mentioned in Art and Soul at clairehuston.co.uk along with over 100 other recipes. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.

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The Unexpected Inlander – Kellyn Thompson

Welcome back everyone, at a time when we have a global pandemic, why not read a book about how the world come back to order after a worldwide war?

That’s pretty much what this is. It’s a book set about 40-50 years after a global world has ripped through the world destroying a lot of it and leaving an organised society that lives in sectors. Sounds a bit like Hunger Games right?

Well it’s not like Hunger Games! At least I didn’t think it felt like that.

We spend the whole time in the old US (the Western Sector) and follow two characters. Chris is the main character, however Jenna plays a large role in the book and is fairly pivotal to Chris, his personal development and even his professional development.

Given Chris’s job working for the government as an assassin you’d assume he’d be pretty sold on his government and whole heartedly agreed with everything they stand for. Pretty early on you get a sense that he believes in the government but is also open to hearing other views and at times disagreeing with how things currently work.

Jenna on the other hand grew up being told the government is authoritative, controlling and should be overthrown. Not exactly a recipe for a great relationship right?

Funnily enough, together they’re able to learn and develop and in a way the changes Chris is offered towards the end of the book are a perfect fit for him. I think for anyone who didn’t start with his mindset, let alone go through the learning he did, they would have struggled in that situation. Chris? I can picture him totally succeeding and being amazing at it.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll be reviewing Four Letter Feelings by Lasairiona McMaster. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Kellyn Thompson is the author of the Unexpected Inlander series. In addition to thinking about how technology can influence society and writing fiction about it, she enjoys psychology, reading, going on walks, and cuddling with cats and dogs. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and two cats.

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The Secret Letters – Taryn Leigh

Welcome back everyone, South Africa is a country I feel a bit of an affinity for. I’ve dated a South African, I love their accent (especially the Afrikaans one!) and in some ways, their country is SO SIMILAR to my own but at the same time, SO DIFFERENT!

My major grievance with this book was how little a part the letters played. I don’t think we even heard about a letter until almost halfway through the book. Given the blurb almost entirely revolved around the letters I really expected them to play a much bigger part.

I think when we learn about the first incident and her healing process, the letters should have been mentioned. Even if not too many details were given, just enough to know that they’d played a part in her healing process would’ve been good.

I also had some concerns with was the editing. There were a few moments where I stumbled a bit because of typo’s, or other minor grammar errors. I’m by no means perfect myself. But these were noticeable enough to frustrate me a little bit.

The story was interesting enough, characters complex and grey enough that these minor errors felt glaring. I really enjoyed the depth to this story, making those errors feel like a bit of a let down even though they really are quite small.

With some more writing experience and a good editor to work with, I really do think Taryn can write some amazing books. This is one of the few books where I actually read the author’s acknowledgment and I’m so glad I did. So many parts felt too real and like they were coming from a little while back that it felt like it had to be real. And it was.

This book is inspired by true events, although it’s still a work of fiction. And that just reinforces the security and lifestyle aspect of South Africa that I’m highly conscious of.

In terms of being a book worth reading. I do feel like it is! Reading about the impact of rape and a country with a strong rape culture is important. It’s also the second book in a row where I’ve read an attempted rape scene. What’s going on?!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Thursday (or maybe Friday) I’ll be reviewing Pirates Persuasion by Lisa Kessler.

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Dead Time – D.L. Orton

Welcome back everyone, it’s double trouble today! I bet you weren’t expecting a second review today!

Well I jumped into this as soon as I finished the second book, Lost Time so figured I could bring it to you at the same time as well since I technically forgot to set up Lost Time for you last week. Whoops!

We get another book where we don’t see Isabel at all. So I feel like my theory is holding true, don’t worry, I won’t ruin it for you! And some things are consistent with the previous books which really intrigues me!

Since you’ve figured out by now from the blurbs that we’re time travelling, we’re also universe travelling! Making the similarities and differences a really interesting point to consider and track. Which points are so key to the whole problem that they’re the same regardless, and which are the points that change whether they survive or not?

D.L. Orton suggested I’d be unhappy with the ending because of a cliffhanger, and yet this felt like it had a really smooth ending. The last book felt like it ended mid-paragraph. Whereas this had a natural ending and I can picture in my mind how the next book will pick up.

Am I going to be right? Who knows!

Am I looking forward to the next book? You bet cha! Can’t wait for her to finish writing it so I can bring you a review for it!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh.

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Lost Time – D.L. Orton

Welcome back everyone, I’m finally back with the second book in the Between Two Evils series. I’d hoped I could bring you books 2, 3 and 4 in 3 consecutive weeks but it looks like book 4 will need to wait since it’s still a work in progress.

The first thing I need to say is, I HATE CLIFF HANGERS!

Like, I love them, coz it means the author has well and truly hooked me in their story. But I hate them because I need to get the next book to find out what happens. In this case I was lucky enough to have the next book ready to go. But we’re not always that lucky.

Moving onto the story and why you should read this series (because yes, I think you really should read this series). In a way I was expecting to start off with Isabel, or maybe go to Diego then back to Isabel like the first book.

Nope.

The whole book followed Diego. And what a story it was! I saw some glimpses of some things that explained a few things from the end of the first book. No solid answers, but little hints that suggest at something interesting. And I’m looking forward to reading all the in-between bits!

I’m not sure how I feel about one of the romances, but we can’t love everything every time. Even then, Orton did it so well that it was more of a suggested romance and more of a friendship than a true romance. That made it ok for me because it didn’t take away from the wider story, even when it felt like for a bit there it might.

And then all hell broke loose, drama began, everything that could go wrong was suddenly going wrong. Only for Orton to end on a line that normally doesn’t even end a chapter! Let alone a book!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing The Secret Letters by Taryn Leigh.

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Circle-A Killings – Sean Heary

Welcome back everyone, the last few reviews I’ve done on Monday’s have been fantasy or sci-fi. Now it’s time to go back to Sean Heary and his suspense books!

Some sequels pick up exactly where the previous book left of. Generally speaking, the one’s I’ve read tend to have a bit of a gap. Sean’s created a little bit of a gap, but not much in the grand scheme of things. Yet emotionally, we’re way past where we left The Concordat.

The thing that intrigued me the most about this story was the motivation behind them. In The Concordat, it felt very religious. Looking back, I realise it’s more political than religious so I’m not sure how I missed that. Or maybe I forgot?

Either way, this suspense is stemmed from someone’s wealth. The richer you are, the more likely you are to die. O! And that’s the other thing! This is about a serial killer not a single object!

I think at the end of every chapter I had a suspect in mind. At several points I was partially correct in my theory for the who, why and how. Yet I never nailed it. Sean’s writing sucks you in, gives you all the clues you need (in hindsight I can see this) and yet doesn’t give you quite enough to figure it out.

The information you have to make your theories is exactly what Lorenzo and Cathy have. In several spots I had a brainwave SECONDS before I read one of the characters having the same brainwave. It keeps you involved without ever being obvious which is amazing!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Friday I’ll continue The Boys of Jackson Harbour series with Wrapped in love by Lexi Ryan.

Author Bio

Sean Heary is a former business executive who lived for many years a stone’s throw from the Kremlin. No wonder he writes political thrillers. He also spent several years in Tashkent, Uzbekistan where he met his wife. Born and raised in Australia, Sean now makes Germany his home.

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The Summoned Ones – Darryl A. Woods

Welcome back everyone, I’m continuing the fantasy/sci-fi feel this week with a young adult fantasy novel by debut author Darryl A. Woods.

My first thought once I got far enough in to form an opinion of the book was that it was a great story, engaging and interesting. For a debut author this is impressive and needed! How else do they get fans to come back for more?

After I got involved in the story and the fantasy element kicked in, I started to notice a few flaws in the writing. Not enough to say the writing was bad, or the story suffered enough to dislike it. Just little things I’ve picked up on over time being a writer for online learning and an avid reader.

The first was the way the story was written, the technical writing element. I found myself needing to read a sentence multiple times to understand what it was meant to say because it wasn’t succinct. I’m not saying I’m any better, but it’s something that takes practice, distance and often an editor or second set of eyes to pick up and fine tune.

The second was the distribution of the story, how long we focused on a group of characters. This might be a personal feeling, but it felt like each chapter spent on a group of characters should have been shorter, with more changes between the groups. That way you don’t get so involved in one group you forget about the rest and what’s happened to them.

With shorter chapters and more frequent changes between the groups, I think I would’ve spent less time trying to remember what had happened and more time being actively involved in the story. By actively involved I mean me wondering what was happening with the others and wanting to read more.

By the end I still wanted more. I still want to know what happens. I just think improvements in those areas could have made it even more engaging for me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Dirty, Reckless Love by Lexi Ryan. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Darryl Woods has a passion for telling stories, an appetite for reading fantasy, and a love of old movies. He remembers things in scenes, picturing the background, the clothing of the characters, small details like, wrist bands, jewelry, dogs crossing the street, but most of all the emotions and actions of the each participant in the scene. He would spend time, usually as he waited for sleep, thinking through those scenes, fleshing out details the book didn’t add, or recreating the scenes with differing outcomes. So, as the story of The Flight to Bericea developed the scenes that make up the story easily flowed from his vivid imagination.

Darryl’s favorite authors include Raymond Feist, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, Brian Jacques, David Eddings, Christopher Paolini, Terry Goodkind, and Piers Anthony. With this collection of epic fantasy authors, Darryl’s chosen genre had to include epic adventures, swordplay and magic.

Darryl’s childhood in rural Ohio, three miles from a small town, gave him plenty material for stories. Tales of his father’s many contraptions, fabricated from old parts, angle iron, and square tubing. These were lawnmowers powered by car engines, minibikes, and various types of cobbled together go-carts, including one with a bicycle front end, a car’s steering wheel and seat, and the backend of a cousin’s wrecked go-cart. His stories also included rural life; gardening, playing in the creek, helping neighbors with livestock, numerous family pets, and farm animals, or playing high school football.

As an adult Darryl graduated college with a degree in Systems Analysis, while at school he met his wife who he married shortly after graduation. Inspired by his father who never once used a repairman, and who built his own house, Darryl developed a passion for remodeling houses. He and his wife have remodeled four houses to date, after each one swearing to never start another.  While working as a computer consultant designing database, Darryl spent his evenings, weekends, and days off helping his father-in-law with his family business cutting timber, sawing lumber in his mill, and making pallets. All these activities gave Darryl an endless supply of stories. Telling and re-telling these stories over the years honed Darryl’s skills as a storyteller.

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Of Night and Dark Obscurity – Nicola Italia

Welcome back everyone, we went from a regency romance to an erotica and today it’s a Victorian romance with a murder mystery!

It was quite some time ago when Nicola contacted me asking if I’d like to review this book. At the time it was still a work in progress, and she wasn’t sure when it was going to be released. Other than a really brief idea on what the novel was going to be about I didn’t know anything about it when I agreed to read it.

I mean. I’ve read and reviewed two of her other books, The Sheik’s Son and Sea of Revenge and loved both of them. Surely I’d like this book that I hadn’t been told much about. Right?

It took me ages to get to reading this book but I got there! I don’t know what book I was thinking of when I started reading it, but the cover made me think it was something other than it was. But that’s totally on me coz it was ages between getting it and reading the blurb and reading it!

Unlike most romances that I read this one primarily followed Valentine, our male protagonist. While alternating to Caroline for a short stint once a chapter (roughly) to add context and her voice to the story. Given that this book focused around a murder investigation this makes a lot of sense.

Having Caroline drive the story from the victim’s perspective while Valentine drove it from the investigation perspective felt well done. While Caroline’s character was consistently concerned for others, charitable and interested in Valentine, I had a couple of moments of confusion with Valentine’s behaviour. He was always so considerate of Caroline and her safety, yet s couple of times felt aggressively possessive and jealous. It didn’t feel like it fit with his personality.

A few times sporadically throughout the book Nicola included snippets of what was happening with the criminals responsible. I loved this. Not only were no names or details included in these, as Valentine came across a new bit of evidence we were kept in the dark until the last possible moment. I loved this because it allowed me to try and guess who the culprit was right until the very end.

Even when they are caught, we aren’t told who they are. Until literally the last chapter. It made for a bit of a nail biter that I enjoyed every second of.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Wednesday I’ll be reviewing New Beginnings at Glendale Hall by Victoria Hall.

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