The Dark Matter of Natasha – Matthew R. Davis

This book contains:

  • Suicide described and depicted and its effects on their loved ones
  • Drug use and addiction
  • Teen drinking
  • Descriptions of rape (girls were 11 and 12 at the time)
  • Reference to abortions
  • Description of murder
  • Description of threatening to kill someone.

While the story is told from the perspective of a man reflecting on his youth, we never know his name. In his youth, the key people he’s remembering are Caitlin and Natasha.

Caitlin is a sweet girl who’s seemingly innocent in all ways and everything that Natasha isn’t. Natasha has a past that haunts her in more ways than one that get explored as we progress through the novella.

From moving to Lunar Bay through to the culmination of Natasha’s darkness we follow our un-named man as a teenager. Throughout his time in Lunar Bay, he’s confronted with some pretty intense topics, from struggling to understand girls and sex through to the more traumatic themes of rape, abortions and suicide.

For a small town, a lot seems to be happening in some pretty big, illegal and emotionally traumatic ways. For a thriller, it doesn’t have the same level of “what is happening?!” that I’m used to. But it makes up for it with the sheer intensity of what’s happening emotionally and hormonally to teenagers who’ve been through a lot.

The way Matthew was describing the events and the man’s feelings as the events unfolded made the story feel almost autobiographical. Especially as we moved to how he left Lunar Bay and how his life was playing out as an adult.

I mean, how do you come up with a story like that without it being based off of truth?

Surely those events are just too intensely traumatic to be something that someone can come up with to happen to fictional characters in a small town before hitting 18?

Over the course of the afternoon where I read the novella, I was definitely pushed to think, contemplate and left wondering at how these kinds of events could happen. Especially what drives people to the point where they do that. In that sense, the story followed the same theme as a thriller but in a different context to the types I’ve read before.

The Only Exception – Claire Huston

This book contains:

  • Serious cardiac event of a minor character
  • Invasion of privacy (online/background search).

Lucinda is a chef with her own catering business with serious doubts about the concept of love even though she’s previously been engaged (to the man she’s still sharing a house with). And yet, for all her convictions, romance seems to find its way into her life at every turn.

Alex is an actor living with his girlfriend who annoys him to no ends. And yet, he can never bring himself to do anything about it.

Lucinda and Alex meet in an elevator where a freak cardiac event draws them together in ways they couldn’t expect. While Lucinda is trying to keep her business running smoothly after losing a key client, Alex is trying to get over some unwanted notoriety and extricate himself from his tiring relationship.

I had such a strong feeling for a significant portion of this book that cheating was going to happen and I was really nervous about that. I really didn’t want it to happen, but at the same time it felt like Lucinda and Alex needed to be together.

Luckily that never happened, so no need to fear there!

Instead, I was treated to a “will they – won’t they” feeling romance as they navigated their complicated situations while trying to save both their careers and domestic lives. The nervous adrenaline I was feeling as I read this meant I skipped uni work just to find out what would happen because I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus if I didn’t find out.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. She writes uplifting modern love stories about characters who are meant for each other but sometimes need a little help to realise it.

A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for over a hundred sweet treats at clairehuston.co.uk. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.

It’s a Widow Thing – Karen Booth

This book contains:

  • Description of a deceased spouse
  • Description of an active heart attack and some of the recovery.

Sabrina is a successful businesswoman running her own make up company. Two years after the death of her beloved husband, she’s still going strong but can struggle when people talk about her husband or his death.

Michael is a flirtatious, successful finance guy who works on Wall Street in a job he hates. Yet, after having a health scare, he’s changed his mind about relationships and hopes he’s found the right woman to match him.

Sabrina and Michael live down the hall from each other and ride the elevator together every morning. After a fateful kiss, they need to figure out both separately and together whether a relationship is what’s best for them. Not to mention tackling ongoing work challenges that will continue to put pressure on their relationship!

In so many ways I really loved this love story. Michael was so considerate of Sabrina’s need for a slow pace and then everything he was doing to try and put her at ease once he discovered she’s a widow. That consideration is something every person should be able to extend to another.

There was one particular moment where I felt for Sabrina SO MUCH! As I was reading that scene, I was desperately holding my Kindle wishing for a particular outcome to happen.

That ability to captivate your attention and sucker you in until you feel like you can will a certain outcome to happen is exactly what you want from authors. You want to feel as if you’re part of the story and you can influence. But we also know it’s already written, and we can’t.

I think this was the first romance I read where the widow was under 50 and I loved the different take on how it impacts your life.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Karen Booth is a midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ’80s music and repeated readings of “Forever” by Judy Blume. Karen writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, almost always about the dreamy guy you never thought you’d get. Her stories are full of breathless kisses, tearjerker moments, family dynamics, and more than a few things she’s glad her grandmother never read.

Sweet Love and Country Roads – Camilla Isley

This book contains:

  • Mentions of the death of a parent
  • Sick parent.

Samantha is an Executive Producer for a film company who’s dedicated to her career and her life in Manhattan. She’s fiery, sassy, takes no prisoners and makes sure she does it while looking amazing in Manhattan style and shoes, regardless of where she is.

Travis is the Mayor of his small town and he’ll do pretty much anything to help his town improve and survive. After the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy and almost every industry his mission while a movie is being filmed in his town is to use them to get as much revenue and improvements into his town as possible. Even if Samantha hate’s him for it.

Samantha has to leave her comfortable Manhattan lifestyle to head to the small town in rural Indiana where her latest movie is being filmed because there seem to be some issues with staying on time and within budget. When she gets there, she meets Travis and pretty quickly things turn sour between the two.

As Samantha gets her movie back on track, Travis always seems to be around and it’s infuriating for Samantha who just wants to get back to Manhattan as soon as possible.

Camilla writes some really fun contemporary romances, and this is no exception. With an appearance from Christian and Lana, we’re back in the First Comes Love series. Following the almost typical for this series trope of enemies-to-lovers, Samantha and Travis need to overcome a lot to find their way together. And not just their competing motivations, but also the distance between their homes.

With Samantha’s endless supply of inappropriate (for the rural town) clothing and shoes, there were so many moments that had me laughing. Those little moments of Samantha being so out of her element in the rural setting compared to Manhattan that made some of the small and seemingly inconsequential funny were what made this book what it is.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Camilla is an engineer who left science behind to enter the whimsical realm of romantic fiction.

She writes contemporary rom-coms. Her characters have big hearts, might be a little stubborn at times, and love to banter with each other. Every story she pens has a guaranteed HEA that will make your heart beat faster. Unless you’re a vampire, of course.

Camilla is a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

The Italian Job – Kathryn Freeman

This book contains:

  • References to and small descriptions of cheating
  • Descriptions of going to jail and why
  • Vivid description of a serious car accident and saving the occupants lives.

Anna is a chef who’s made a great career for herself, until her partner who’s also the head chef and son of the owners of the restaurant she works are cheats on her and she’s forced to quit. She’s determined, passionate and highly resilient despite what life throws her way.

Jake is an ex-con firefighter who’s struggling to find work and respect thanks to the influence of the man who’s responsible for getting him arrested. He’s loyal to a fault and protects his family and loved ones regardless of the personal consequences he needs to suffer.

Anna has just left her cheating ex and she’s looking for a new job when she comes across an add for a caretaker for a castle on Lake Como. Only catch is that they’re looking for a couple and won’t negotiate on taking on just her. Meanwhile, Jake is struggling to find work since getting out of jail, thoroughly depressed and worried he’ll need to move back in with his mum if he can’t find something soon.

Cue, Anna decides to ask Jake to pretend to be her boyfriend so they can both get away to Lake Como for a year to try and turn their lives around after the same man has ruined them both.

I found this one really interesting. While there were times where I felt it was a bit “meh”, overall, I really enjoyed it!

Thinking back, the “meh” times were the important background establishing slower moments that while critical to the story overall, in the moment just felt boring to me. But I think that had more to do with pace and style of the books I’d read immediately prior to this one more than anything lacking in Kathryn’s writing.

Even though you KNOW something is going to happen to try and derail their relationship, I still found myself heartbroken, frustrated and pissed off on their behalf for everything that kept getting in the way of them having a real go at a real relationship.

And of course, the ending was exactly what I was hoping it’d be! What more could you ask for from a contemporary romance with the fake fiancé trope?

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Dream job. Dream house. Fake fiancé. 

A year in a gorgeous Italian castle…

When Anna Roberts’ life implodes, an online search leads her to an ad for the ultimate dream job – management of a gorgeous castle on the shores of Lake Como, accommodation included. The only catch? Anna can’t do it alone…

…With the last man on earth she’d choose!

The castle owners will only accept a couple as caretakers, which means Anna needs a man on her arm at the interview. Enter her neighbour, Jake Tucker. Though Anna and Jake have never seen eye-to-eye, Jake’s had a rough few years and an escape to Italy sounds ideal. Yet, when they get the job and jet off, Anna and Jake face an unexpected challenge. Pretending to be a couple is difficult … but pretending the tension simmering between them doesn’t exist is quickly proving impossible!

Giveaway – Win a paperback copy of The Italian Job by Kathryn Freeman (open internationally)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms 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.

The Earl She Should Never Desire – Lara Temple

This book contains:

  • Emotional results of war
  • Descriptions of the death of a husband, mother and child
  • Family disputes.

Lily left home when she was barely old enough to be married and eloped with her husband to Greta Green. Since their families disapproved of their union, they ran away and joined the war effort, during which Lily had and lost a child before then losing her husband on the battlefield. After her husband dies, Lily returns home to Manchester to find work and try and live her life without her mother’s disappointment and disapproval constantly interfering.

Marcus promised his mother he would find himself a wife to become his countess and continue the family lineage and sets out to find the perfect bride. This search leads him to Lily’s sister as someone he can get along with, produce heirs and not hate his life. That’s all he’s asking for in a wife.

Lily’s younger sister is engaged and begging her to some to London to meet her fiancé and be there for her wedding. Despite her reservations, Lily travels to London and endures her mother’s wrath to be there for her younger sister.

When Marcus meets Lily, he’s instantly drawn to her despite his betrothal to her younger sister and somehow finds ways time and again to protect her and help her bear her mother’s antics. He even helps her when the after-effects of seeing war grips her tightly and she’s frozen.

Lara Temple’s regency romances have always drawn me in. The way she’s able to tell a story where the characters emotionally struggle and yet you feel like you’re struggling with the characters, and you want to help them is amazing. While we never have to fear a cheating situation happening, you still find yourself wishing they could hurry up and find a way to be together.

I read this in like the space of two days in amongst chores and uni work and the whole time I just wanted to go back to reading this because it was so good!

Author Bio

Lara Temple writes strong and sensual Regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion. She lives with her husband, two children, and one very fluffy dog and they are all very understanding about her taking over the kitchen table so she can look out over the garden as she writes and dreams up her Happy Ever Afters.

Secrets Behind the Billionaire’s Return – Rachael Stewart

This book contains:

  • References to prior domestic violence
  • Teen pregnancy
  • Teen drinking.

Felicity is a single mum running a bed and breakfast in her small hometown doing the best she can to raise her teenage daughter. She’s worked hard to provide for her daughter and proudly rejects the need for ‘charity’ from others.

Sebastian runs a billion dollar international hotel chain with his brother and he’s finally returning home to turn the manor home he’s inherited into another hotel for his chain. Instead of staying at his home he goes to Felicity’s bed and breakfast in the hopes of out-running his past for as long as possible.

Sebastian has returned home and decides to try and reconnect with Felicity in the hopes of delaying confronting the past. While there, he not only discovers she’s taken over the bed and breakfast, she also has a teen daughter.

As they’re reconnecting, new spreads and suddenly their life snow balls into a drama neither of them expected and changes in ways they could never have imagined.

While I love Rachael’s books, there was something a little different to this one. Not just that it’s one in a series (which is rare for Rachael), but also the pacing. Typically, her books have a steady pace that slowly increases until you reach the climax of the story, then you get your slowed down ending. Which is a pretty standard pacing for romance novels.

However, in this one, it had multiple points where it felt like it sped up and slowed down which got a little confusing. While it wasn’t horrible, it was something that I noticed and threw me off a few times as I was reading.

Going back to the story, Rachael’s focus this time around was on generational domestic violence, the long lasting impacts it can have and teen pregnancy. Rachael’s written books with domestic violence involved previously, a couple actually, this new take on the generational aspect of it brought a new take on it that was quite interesting.

I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for when the second book comes along to find out about how Sebastian’s brother coped with it!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heartwarmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.

She’s been writing since she could put pen to paper as the stacks of scrawled on A4 sheets in her loft will attest to, and the lovingly bound short stories that her father would run off at work and proudly share out with his colleagues. Thinking it was a pipe dream to be published one day, she pursued a sensible career in business but she was really play-acting, achieving the appropriate degree and spending many years in the corporate world where she never truly belonged. Always happiest when she was sat at her laptop in the quiet hours tapping out a story or two. And so here she is, a published author, her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.

A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she’s not glued to her laptop, she’s wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.

Giveaway – Win 4x Signed Rachael Stewart Paperbacks and more (open internationally)

4 x Signed paperbacks:

  • Tempted by the Tycoon’s Proposal
  • Surprise Reunion with His Cinderella
  • Beauty And The Reclusive Millionaire
  • Secrets Behind the Billionaire’s Return

And:

  • “Hug” Bracelet
  • Diamond Metallic Pen
  • Heart Post-Its
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Terms 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 I reserve 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 I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Home for Christmas – Camilla Isley

This book contains:

  • References to deceased parents
  • Difficult divorce involving a spiteful ex-wife.

Riven is an award-winning author going through a difficult divorce while trying to write his latest book. He’s hurting and he’s struggling to get more words on the page to keep his story’s going while his family is pestering him to spend Christmas with them since he’s hiding away from LA in a Ski Resort.

Wendy is a playwright from New York City, with a boyfriend who’s not around much and doesn’t fully support her career as being serious. With Christmas coming up and her mum not wanting to host the family Christmas, she takes charge to book a family get away for them in a Ski Resort.

When there’s a mix up about the lodge Riven is renting and both his family and Wendy’s arrive days before Christmas to spend a week there, all hell breaks loose. Suddenly two big families need to spend a week in 1 cabin that was already going to be tight fitting just one of them.

As the families spend the week together, Riven and Wendy struggle to get along and fight their growing attraction towards each other.

Riven and Wendy’s relationship with the will-they-won’t-they, getting together and how they work through things is amazing. It felt so insightful and had me siding with Riven when I’m often left siding with the female in the relationship.

I was often laughing at all the antics, but I was also loving the slow development of their relationship. The thoughtful speed at which Riven moves had me wishing more men could be like that. When in reality I’m sure there are plenty that do and that’s part of what infuriates us about them.

It’s a great read that I thoroughly enjoyed reading the whole time.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Camilla is an engineer turned writer after she quit her job to follow her husband on an adventure abroad.

She’s a cat lover, coffee addict, and shoe hoarder. Besides writing, she loves reading—duh!—cooking, watching bad TV, and going to the movies—popcorn, please. She’s a bit of a foodie, nothing too serious. A keen traveler, Camilla knows mosquitoes play a role in the ecosystem, and she doesn’t want to starve all those frog princes out there, but she could really live without them.

Giveaway – Win one of 5 ebook copies of Fool Me Twice at Christmas (open internationally)

*Terms 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.

Shadow of a Dead God – Patrick Samphire

This book contains:

  • Attempted murder, multiple times
  • Mass murder
  • Psychological manipulation
  • Corruption.

Mennik (Nik) Thorn is our main mage. Given he’s the main character one would think that he’s a mega powerful mage, but nope. He’s an average to below average mage of dubious origins who can’t seem to do anything right. And he’s meant to be the hero?

Nik is sitting his butt up doing a shitty job he hates but he desperately needs to help him pay the bills. Then his best friend, also of dubious origins, drags him back into the underworld where from there, everything that can go wrong, does go wrong.

As the story got deeper and deeper into the shit, it got better and better. Every time something seemed to get worse for Nik, it got more interesting, and more and more questions got raised. I mean, how many times can you change who you think the bad guy is in a single book?!

Not to mention the interplay between Nik, Sereh, Benny, Mica and Meroi was classic. The way their various personalities, loyalties, humour, knowledge and skills made for such an interesting story.

Then of course there’s the magical element that underpins the whole story. How are some mages so powerful and some not? How do ghosts exist? How do dead gods work? How do gods even die?

And then there’s the ending!

It’s got me wanting the next book so bad!

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.


I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.

BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website www.bbnya.com or twitter @bbnya_official.

The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!


Author Bio

Patrick Samphire is the author of the adult fantasy novel SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD, as well as the middle grade novels SECRETS OF THE DRAGON TOMB and THE EMPEROR OF MARS. He has also published around twenty short stories and novellas.

Patrick has been writing stories since he was fourteen years old and thought it would be a good way of avoiding having to sit through English lessons at school. He was absolutely convinced that he would be famous by the time he was eighteen, but sadly, even infamy has eluded him.

He lives in Wales, surrounded by mountains, with his wife, their sons, and their cat. When he’s not writing, he designs websites and ebooks.

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