The Modified Blueprint – Kellyn Thompson

This book contains:

  • Prisoner of war type treatment of one group of people
  • Attempted murder

Chris and Cameron are back, this time as a team.

Cameron is in on the job. This time as the key asset. She’s forced with facing the reality of where she would have been as a Purebred if her family wasn’t rich. Not only that, but she’s forced to face her remaining family and what the loss of them means to her. The emotional turmoil challenges her in ways she hasn’t been challenged before.

Right in time to set her up for her next challenge in what sounds like a third book coming! Chris is back in the field to support Cameron as she enters a Purebred Community, and as she confronts her family, what they’ve done in the past and what their legacy is continuing to do. Unlike in The Unexpected Inlander, Chris is the secondary character with Cameron taking centre stage. Although his character does give us some insight into how the government of the Sectors operates and gives us clues of some potential issues before facing a crisis of his own identity.

Chris and his team discover a new item for sale that worries them. To help them find out what it is, Cameron is enlisted. She’s sent into a Purebred Community where she’s able to help them find the information they need to chase down and recover the Cipher.

Through two states they chase down and negotiate for the cryptic Cipher. They have no idea what it is, all they know is that they must get it for the safety of the Sectors. In doing so they learn some unfortunate truths about their families and themselves. These truths are so dramatic but come so late they feel like they’re setting up for a third book rather than really impacting the storyline of this one.

I really enjoyed myself reading this one. I thought The Unexpected Inlander was a stand-alone book, so this sequel came as a bit of a surprise for me. Who knew so much drama and intrigue could happen in one family? Especially when almost all of them are already dead?!

Unlike the first book, as we get towards the end of this one it starts setting up some things that I’m assuming will come to light in a third book. When those hints follow up so much drama, emotional turmoil and intrigue, what will we be in for in the next book?

I’m really looking forward to the next one to see what will happen next for these two!

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Among the Darkness Stirs – Nicola Italia

This book contains:

  • Death of father
  • Murder and its investigation

Audrey is the daughter of a vicar, university educated and in need of work. Throughout life’s challenges and changes, she stays true to herself as she picks up her, and her families lives and works to give them the life they deserve.

With the help (and eventual romance) of Henry, Audrey is able to weather all the storms the workhouse throws at her while Henry continue to support her, offer friendship and help her in her investigation. Although Henry only wishes to help Audrey in the beginning, this changes to more intense feelings that he has to pursue, while trying to keep her safe from her own investigations.

Audrey’s father dies leaving her family destitute with no where to turn to. Thanks to the help of Henry, she’s able to secure a role in a workhouse teaching the children in the hopes of bettering their lives. While working there she makes friends with some of the staff, “inmates” and Henry’s mother.

The first half of the book is about Audrey finding her place in the workhouse, getting to know Henry, his mother, Norwich and getting comfortable teaching the children. Then, about halfway through the book, one of her friends suddenly dies and she discovers a diary that concerns her. The remaining half gives Audrey and Henry time to investigate the odd diary and figure out exactly what is happening.

On the whole, the book was quite interesting. Various aspects of society and the changes we likely take for granted now were pointed out numerous times. Simple things like everyone deserving a basic education, women getting a university or college education, women holding jobs and even the idea that people who fall on hard times are lazy.

I did find the first half of the book a little bit slow. Looking back on it I can see how most of it was needed, the pace of it just felt a little slow. Especially when compared to the second half. The first half spanned a few months, whereas the second half spanned maybe a week or two.

It’s not that I think the second half was rushed! I actually think it was really well done.

There was enough detail, enough intrigue and enough drama that it worked really well. It was just a bit of a shock to have the pace suddenly change. When I got to about 60% of the way through I found myself wanting to keep coming back to the book, ditch work and just find out what was happening!

And I was left shocked at the end!

When it was described I thought it was one, normal(ish) thing, but then when it was truly revealed I couldn’t believe it! Did that stuff actually exist in those times?! WOW!

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A Match for the Rebellious Earl – Lara Temple

Thank you Lara for reaching out to me to review this. You remembered I loved Return of the Disappearing Duke, and I’m so thankful you thought of me to review this for you.

Throughout the book we swap between Kit Carrington (the new Lord Westford) and Genny Maitland’s perspectives. Both characters met when Genny travelled with her grandfather’s army regiment several years earlier, however, were never close and weren’t in contact once they separated ways.

Kit is reluctant to take the mantle of Lord Westford, especially because of how his cousins treated him. The only reason he’s back is because his half-sister is getting married and she wants him there. His plan is to sort out the family business, attend his sister’s wedding and set sail again! Genny is in a different position. With no family, her sister’s dead husband left them with a lot of debt and no way to support themselves. On top of that, they’re stuck living with Kit’s horrible grandmother who torments them every chance she gets.

Genny is trying to find a way to clear her sister’s husbands’ debts and find a new life for them, free from the Dowager Westford. To get what she wants she uses the skills her grandfather nurtured to form alliances and manipulate people and situations to achieve everyone’s goals.

One such alliance is with Kit, the goal of which is to find suitable husbands for Genny’s sister and Kit’s step-mum. While working with Kit to organise everything to her liking, they discover their attraction to each other. As they execute each part of their plan, they’re fighting their attraction for each other, without letting anyone realise what’s happening.

I’m a fan of Lara’s works and always enjoy a story with a strong female lead. Throughout this story I was left wondering how they’d get their happily ever after. They fought it every step of the way, which for some reason made me all the more determined that they should get it!

I got so invested in their relationship that I found myself stressing that maybe this would be the book where they didn’t get a happily ever after.

The fact that in the end, it was Kit’s maturity that helped them bridge the gap and move forward was awesome. The fact that you could tell how nervous he was, how he didn’t want to risk his heart but at the same time knew he had to put himself out there, it made that moment so much more believable.

All their interactions leading up to that moment allowed it to feel so much more alive and real. Every time they’d come close to maybe admitting their feeling one or both had shied away. So that moment where they both finally put it all on the table had me cheering them on.

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Seduced – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, the third and final instalment of the Sea Dragons of Amber Bay trilogy is here!

I’ve been waiting a while to get this and even bugged Zoe for it coz I was looking forward to it so much. In a way it was a little bit of a letdown, but it’s amazingness in other areas well and truly made up for it.

Adrian really bugged me with his inability to commit to them but refusing to let Skye leave or anything to happen to her. Like it’s great that he was so into showing her how he felt, but did he have to fight against it for so long?

I was really hoping this book would be about the four of them fighting together against the world. Not a mixture of still figuring out their relationship and fighting against the world.

The other areas that were amazing, included Adrian trying to figure out how to impress Skye, Jack and Ty fighting to make their life with Skye and Skye learning about her magic and the community. Reading about how Skye was figuring things out was amazing and I loved her thought process.

Although I beat her to the anchor thing.

The ending to the trilogy was very satisfying, although I’m surprised with the turn that Zoe took to get us there. I also kinda wish the epilogue was set further into the future coz there’s a couple of things I really wanted to hear about that would only need a chapter to cover off.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing It’s Raining Men by Rich Amooi.

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Ensnared – Zoe Ashwood

Welcome back everyone, my new favourite sexy paranormal romance trilogy is back with the second book!

We pick up exactly where the first book ends. On the beach with Skye panicking.

I was so happy Zoe did this! Given the massive cliff-hanger we were given on the beach I didn’t want to miss a thing, and I didn’t!

As they worked through what had happened on the beach we saw the flaws come out in some, and the strengths come out in others. Each of the boys surprised me in how they reacted to the various challenges they faced.

While Jack had worked through a few emotional things fairly early on in Tempted, Ty and Aiden hadn’t really done much of that yet. While Ty had stepped up in the first book, it was time for Jack to step up. And he did it brilliantly!

Meanwhile, Ty and Aiden’s responses allowed them to open up and become a whole. With the help of some meddling family members and a pod of orcas of course. As weird as that sounds, it makes total sense in the moment and you’ll love it when you read it.

Following on the theme from the first book, Zoe leaves us with a cliff hanger! And right as they all came together and kinda sorted themselves out too!

While I have to wait a month for the third and final book, I’ll be bringing you my review of that one in just one weeks’ time!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing Strictly Come Dancing by Kathryn Freeman.

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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 & 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.

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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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