Review: Until We Collide by Charlotte Fallowfield

19 Oct until-we-collide

I love romantic comedies. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Kristen Ashley’s Rock Chick Series and Bridget Jones’s Diary are some of my favourite books of all time. When I was approached by this author and asked to review her romantic comedy book it would be fair to say I was pretty excited.

until-we-collide

What do you do when the guy you’re in love with is seeing someone else?

That’s the dilemma facing Paige Taylor. All of her life she’s only ever had eyes for the gorgeous Alec Wright, but despite their undeniable chemistry, their timing has always been off. Fast approaching her thirtieth birthday, Paige despairs of ever finding love and a happy ever after. Her best friend Poppie tells her that she can either watch life pass her by, or grab it with both hands. She convinces Paige to throw herself back into the dating pool, or she could be waiting for Alec forever.

What Paige didn’t expect was the catalogue of dating disasters to follow. A neck brace, jelly fish, stitches, flashing and an encounter with a gorilla were some of the most memorable. Despite some downright hilarious, humiliating and cringe worthy dates, her biological clock is ticking and Paige is determined to keep trying until she finds the one.

Was Alec Wright always her Mr. Right, or is he still out there waiting to be found?

Join Paige in her quest to find the ultimate prize. Love.

This book starts off with a very young Paige Taylor, still in her last year of high school and already madly in love with Alex Wright. Both are from a small town in England and I thought the author set the scene very well. I could picture the quaint village and smell the crisp, clean air. She also sets up the characters in the story right from the start and it soon becomes apparent that poor Paige is a bit of a klutz and that the humor in this book was going to be very slapstick, at the expense of our poor heroine who can’t seem to catch a break where embarrassing situations are concerned.

Throughout the book, and Paige’s life she and Alec keep bumping into each other but the timing never seems quite right and I did keep going until the end wondering if she was going to end up with Alec or if someone else was going to swoop in and grab our heroine’s heart. I enjoyed the story and most of Paige’s little mishaps made me smile and chuckle.

There were however, a few things I didn’t like about the book. I’m a huge dialogue girl. Give me a hard to believe plot line where reality has to be suspended and I can go with it as long as the dialogue is smart and funny. Bad dialogue takes me out of the story faster than most anything and there were parts of this book that took me right out of the story.

“I just graduated from Leeds University, fingers crossed I’ll achieve my BA honours degree in photography. My portfolio was so strong that I’ve already been offered a job in the fashion industry, training under a prolific photographer, John Graves…”- This made me snort a bit because I don’t know many people who talk like that. Although I can see what the author was trying to do here as with a couple of sentences you do learn a lot about the person speaking.

On the next page though, the author pulled me back in again with this little piece of dialogue:

“Please, I’m Paige calamity Taylor. You’ve seen me in action. I’m the girl who gets sprayed with cow poo, falls in rivers and gets coated with mud, and snorts water all over her date. I’m not model material.” That was funny and again, gives a lot of information about the character but in a more fun and easy way than in the previous page.

Here are the other things that I DID like. The book was well-edited in that there were no glaring grammatical errors or typos. I liked the premise of the book and there were parts that were straight out HILARIOUS. Some of the fixes that Paige got herself into made me laugh out loud. I really liked her relationship with her best friend Poppy and how there was never a time that she forgot her friend or neglected her because of romance.

I don’t want to give away too much as a huge part of the fun in this book is wondering the whole way through if Paige and Alec are going to end up together and you’ll have to read it to find out. All in all, it wasn’t a perfect book but it was an enjoyable one.

Final Grade: C+

 Note: I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review

 

 

 

 

Review: Bending Bethany by Aria Cole

7 Aug bending bethany A Cole

I knew I had to read this book when I saw that it was about a soccer player. It’s been a long time since I’ve participated in a book tour or requested an Advanced Readers Copy (ARC) of a book due to  real life getting in the way of reading and reviewing as much as I would like to. However, the premise of this book was too cute to pass up so with pictures of hot soccer players kicking goals in my head (Ole, ole ole!) I put my hand up to do a review.

The words on the cover of the book pretty much explain the plot:

bending bethany A Cole

The story is about Bethany, a shy Biology major, and Jensen, a star soccer player. They have a one night stand and the rest of the book is about Bethany being pursued very ardently by Jensen.  I’m not a huge reader of New Adult books but I found myself liking this book in spite of its genre.

I liked the relationship between Bethany and her sister Taylor, and how the whole big sister/little sister dynamic was different from usual in that Taylor was the older sister but was actively encouraging her little sis to get into more trouble. I liked that Bethany was shown to still take her studies seriously- there was no throwing it all away for love. Without giving too much away, I like how Jensen wooed Bethany so well. There were more than a few very sweet moments/grand gestures in the book that made me smile.

bending Bethany 8

There was a stark contrast between the sweetness of the way Jensen pursued Bethany (and really pursued is the word, the boy worked hard for it) and how racy the language got in the sex scenes. On the spice-o-meter I’d put this book just over the 50% line where the orange starts turning into red.

If there was one thing I do wish is that there was a little more character development for Jensen, I would have liked to see more of his soccer playing and his back story. That said, this read like a long novella so the length of the story didn’t lend itself to much of a backstory for either character. What you DO come away with though is that Jensen is a really good guy, not afraid to go after what he wants and work hard for it.

Overall, this was a very enjoyable book that was easy to read, was well edited and BONUS had an epilogue which showed their happily ever after. It wasn’t perfect, but the story was so cute and the characters so likeable I devoured the book in one sitting on a Sunday night. This is my first book by Aria Cole but she caught my attention with this book and I will definitely be looking out for her next one. B-

RFG Recommends: The Obsession by Nora Roberts

27 May

The Obsession NRoberts

I have made no secret of my love for La Nora. The woman is a romance writing MACHINE. For a full list of her very impressive collection of work you can check out her website here:

http://www.noraroberts.com/

She writes stand-alone romance/romantic suspense novels, series books that are straight up contemporary romances or those with a paranormal twist (I think the Smart Bitches Trashy Books site calls them, ParaNoras, heh) as well as an Urban Fantasy series that she writes under the pen name JD Robb. This UF series centres around a cop in a New York of the future named Eve Dallas who may be one of my absolute favourite urban fantasy heroines (along with Kate Daniels) and the hero, Roarke well, if he isn’t one of your ultimate book boyfriends after reading these books then… we can no longer be friends. Really.

The Obsession is one of her stand-alone romantic novels with a suspense element. Let me preface my love for this book by stating that NR has published around 33 stand-alone novels and although my love for her work is (seemingly) boundless I have to admit that of the 33 there were some that were awesome (Birthright, Montana Sky, The Search, Angels Fall among others) and some that were good but I probably didn’t bother re-reading (Black Hills, The Liar, The Reef). This probably comes down a little bit to personal taste and a little bit to the fact that she is such a prolific author that some of her books may come off as a little more formulaic than others.

I was afraid to read this book as I didn’t particularly like the last stand-alone book she published, The Liar, as it didn’t grab my attention the way a really good book is supposed to. Also, the premise of The Obsession book is dark- very dark. So if kidnapping and rape is a trigger for you keep far, far away. NR handles it very well and descriptions aren’t too graphic but the book IS about a serial rapist and murderer so Rainbow Bright this book is not.

“She stood in the deep, dark woods, breath shallow and cold prickling over her skin despite the hot, heavy air. She took a step back, then two, as the urge to run fell over her.” 

Naomi Bowes lost her innocence the night she followed her father into the woods. In freeing the girl trapped in the root cellar, Naomi revealed the horrible extent of her father’s crimes and made him infamous. No matter how close she gets to happiness, she can’t outrun the sins of Thomas David Bowes.

Now a successful photographer living under the name Naomi Carson, she has found a place that calls to her, a rambling old house in need of repair, thousands of miles away from everything she’s ever known. Naomi wants to embrace the solitude, but the kindly residents of Sunrise Cove keep forcing her to open up—especially the determined Xander Keaton.

Naomi can feel her defenses failing, and knows that the connection her new life offers is something she’s always secretly craved. But the sins of her father can become an obsession, and, as she’s learned time and again, her past is never more than a nightmare away.

In spite of the dark subject matter of the book I really, really loved it. The story sucked me in and the pacing was really good. There were quite a few chapters devoted to Naomi in her growing up years and it never felt like an overly extended introduction or padding for the book but a natural progression of her development from that pivotal moment in her life when she discovered her dad was a serial killer to how that then reverberates through her life in so many ways and for so many years.

Naomi was one of the best things for me about this book. I adore books with strong female leads (hence my love for romance novels) and this one is a doozy. She’s naturally cautious as life has taught her to be but never falls into brittle or bitter. Every time I think about the chapter where she is only 12 years old and discovers her dad’s victim it gives me goosebumps. The fact that she didn’t then curl up into a whimpering ball in horror and instead helped the victim speaks volumes about this character at an age where her only concern should have been getting her first pimple.

NR does the tough but reluctantly kind heroine very well and this one gets dragged kicking and screaming into making friends, being part of a community and having a dog. Speaking of the dog- some of the BEST scenes in the book revolve around that dog. In spite of the dark history, there are laugh out loud scenes in this book that make it so easy to read.

Aside from my love of the heroine, I think what also makes this book so good is the cast of secondary characters, from the builder and his wife, to Naomi’s uncle and his partner all the way to the darn dog there was so much likeability built into this book it almost fell into the too cute for words category. Of course then you have Xander Keaton, mechanic and band member. Xander falls into the more gruff, tough talking NR hero mold than the affable, easy going one but somehow manages to charm the literal pants of cautious Naomi anyway. Here’s an excerpt of the two of them having a disagreement in Chapter 20 of the book:

He crossed over, sat beside her again. “You’d have slept with me. I saw that the first time you came into the bar.”

            “Oh, really?”

            Not yet settled but getting there, he picked up his beer again.

“I’ve got a sense about when a woman’s going to be willing. But if you believed all that crap all the way though, this wouldn’t have turned into a thing.”

            “It wasn’t supposed to.”

            “A lot of good things happen by accident. If Charles Goodyear hadn’t been clumsy, we wouldn’t have vulcanized rubber.”

            “What?”

            “Weatherproof rubber-tires, for instance, as in Goodyear. He was trying to figure out how to make rubber weatherproof, dropped this experiment on a stove by accident, and there you go, he made weatherproof rubber.”

            Baffled,she rubber her aching temple. “I’ve completely lost the point.”

            “Not everything has to be planned to work out. Maybe we both figured we’d bang it out a few times and move on, but we didn’t. And it’s working out all right.”

            The sound of her own laughter surprised her. “Wow, Xander, my heart’s fluttering from that romantic description. It’s like a sonnet.”

And then there’s this funny interaction in Chapter 24:

“As a matter of fact, I’ve been looking at grills online.”

            You can’t buy a grill online.” Sincerely appalled, he stared at her –with some pity. “You have to see it, and-“

            “Stroke it?” She offered a bright smile. “Speak to it?”

            Appalled pity turned on a dime to a cool disdain that made her want to laugh. “You have to see it,” he repeated.

Rating: A 

RFG Recommends: Fae, Fashion and Fun with Coyotes

9 Apr Escaping Destiny A Hutchins

Fighting Fae Series by Amelia Hutchins

First off, have a look below at the covers of the books. Aren’t they pretty?

I don’t remember how I first heard of these books. Due to several really bad experiences I’ve been a little leery of spending my hard earned money on a new author. I was intrigued by the back cover blurb of book one though and there were enough good ratings for me to give it a try. I’m SO glad I did.

AH has a way of sucking you into her stories. Her characters are larger than life, emotions are high and there is enough of an overarching mystery going through the books that I just had to keep reading- I think I finished all 3 books in less than 5 days. Afterwards? Definite book hangover territory. I must have started and stopped 5 different Urban Fantasy books looking for the same crackalicious hit and not getting it.

This is an urban fantasy series that centres around Synthia (Syn for short) and her dealings with the Fae, in particular, a Tall, Dark and Sexy Fae named Ryder. In books and movies I’ve found that Fae fall into either of two camps- the small, cute tricky ones and the ones that are like Legolas in Lord of the Rings but on steroids like a 2.0 version. AH’s fae definitely fall into the Legolas 2.0 category.

Word of warning: don’t leave these books around where curious little minds may find them and try to sound out the words. These books are sexy and oh-so dirty. They made me blush and there’s not a lot that can make me blush nowadays. You have been warned!

 

Anything by Lauren Layne

How did I not hear of this author before?! I started with her Stiletto series books and LOVED them. They had everything I look for in a contemporary novel- humor, heat, great dialogue and enough female friendship moments to warm the heart.  The Stiletto series centres around 4 women who work in a popular glossy women’s magazine (Cosmopolitan is what immediately came to mind) and their lives and loves. Each book tackles one amazing heroine and her journey to her HEA. These girls are cool enough that you love reading about them but are imperfect enough not to be annoying.

I then moved to her New York’s Finest books which have the very suggestive titles of Frisk Me, Steal Me and Cuff Me. Don’t be fooled by the risqué titles though – LL does great relationships. This series centres around one family and the byplay between siblings and parents (and one very feisty grandma) was just as delicious as the hero and heroine’s journey towards happily ever after. This series centres around brothers who are cops and a sister who is a defense attorney so there is an element of suspense/mystery as compared to her Stiletto series but the main focus is always the relationships.

If you’re a fan of Jill Shalvis and Julie James I HIGHLY recommend this author. I was thrilled to realise I had a backlist to go through and they’re a perfect pick me up after a hard week of work.

 

The Fae War Chronicles by Jocelyn Fox

I started the first book of this series because it was free and it had the word Fae in it. Clearly, my expectations weren’t too high at the outset. I wasn’t sure I would like it as the first few chapters read a little contemporary YA but things start to get interesting a quarter of the way into the book and you have an epic, fantasy setting with an evil (?) queen, quests, strange creatures and warriors. There is a bit of a romance but it’s more of the build towards one than an actual romance.  The writing and editing of the book is polished and there are no glaring mistakes or typos that will take you out of the story. In the end, offering the first book free was a great marketing tool as I proceeded to buy the second book and started following the author on Facebook just so I would know when the third book was released.

Here’s a short description of the first book, The Iron Sword :

Tess O’Connor has never fought in a duel, ridden a Fae steed descended from a dragon, or touched taebramh, the magical substance that gives mortals dreams. She has never faced down a garrelnost or traveled the hidden mysterious pathways between the mortal world and the realm of the Fae. She has never felt a magnetic attraction to a perilously handsome Sidhe knight with eyes as deep and impenetrable as the ocean. Tess O’Connor stopped believing in fairy tales as a child when her father died…but all that changes when she discovers that her best friend Molly is half-Fae—and has been summoned to the Unseelie Court by Queen Mab herself. The Queen of Night and Winter sends Finnead, one of her trinity of Named Knights, to escort Molly to Court, willingly or unwillingly. Mab believes that Molly is the fulfillment of a prophesy, the half-Fae child foretold to become the bearer of the Iron Sword, a legendary weapon that could mean the difference between victory and defeat for the Fae in their struggle against an ancient evil. While Tess quickly learns she is no match for the shadow spreading through the Fae world, she refuses to let her best friend face it alone; and as the first mortal in Queen Mab’s court in over five hundred years, she must use all her quick wit and tenacity to keep herself and Molly alive in the beautiful, dangerous Fae world as they hurtle toward the war that could destroy it…

I loved the second book from the get go. I found it an even stronger book overall and it really starts delving into epic fantasy territory which I love. The third book is due out soon and I can’t wait.

Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega Series (audiobooks)

No, I HAVEN’T been living under a rock. I have been aware of the sheer awesomeness of Patricia Briggs and her Mercy Thompson world series for some time now but I have to admit that I discovered the books, read the first six in the series in maybe a fortnight and then put them aside for a while (long enough for books 7,8 and 9 to be released apparently) but THEN I bought the audiobooks and wow, am I loving me some Adam and Mercy all over again.

I’m not even going to describe the books themselves because if you read Urban Fantasy then Patricia Briggs is probably someone you are already familiar with. Anyone familiar with her writing knows that her world building is fabulous and just that touch dark, her heroes and heroines are imperfect but so very good at the core and her dialogue is always sharp and well written.

What I will say (which I have said before) is that listening to a book is a very different experience from reading it – at least for me.  I hear things I may have missed reading and I find that I end up liking books even  more after listening to them and this is the reason why I only ever buy audiobooks that I’ve already read.

These books are narrated by Lorelei King and I love her. She has a very understated way of speaking that never seems overly dramatic or overwrought although poor Mercy doesn’t have an easy time of it in these books. Her male voices in particular are really good. Knowing that she is narrating a book would definitely make me think about buying it.

 

 

 

 

 

Review: The Dream Crafter by Danielle Monsch

14 Dec Dream Crafter D Monsch 2

Dream Crafter D Monsch 2

A Legendary Spellbook. Everyone desires it, but he controls it.

The most feared mercenary in the New Realms, Merc takes what he thinks is a routine job – guarding a magic spellbook until a secret auction takes place, one where only the most powerful and influential will have the opportunity to bid. But one moment of carelessness makes this job the most personal he has ever had, and if that wasn’t enough, his dreams are being invaded by a woman who his every instinct warns is trouble, but he can’t stop wanting.

A Legendary Power. Everyone covets it, but can she master it?

One moment of terror took away Amana’s security and her brother’s freedom. Now her life is doing whatever she must to survive, all the while trying to find the way to release her brother from prison. Her answer comes in an offer from the Guild, but the cost is high – using a power she has kept locked away on a man who terrifies her even as he fascinates her.

As the auction draws ever closer, Merc and Amana are drawn into a game of cat-and-mouse, captor and captive as they battle for control, even as they work together to thwart the various factions who are willing to do anything to collect the spellbook for themselves. While grudging respect and mutual desire begin to shape their relationship, in the end, only one can prevail. What will be the ultimate decision, when the price of victory means the end to the other’s dearest dream?

This is an Urban Fantasy series set in a world where a “Great Cataclysm” happened and all of a sudden our boring, mundane world collided with another realm and we are now inundated with gargoyles and elves and vampires and all sorts of creatures of legend. What I particularly like about this series is that the stories are about more than the usual shifters and vampires. The first book was about a gargoyle and this one about a dream walker/crafter- not your run of the mill paranormal hero and heroine.

I was a fan of the first book in this series so was very excited to be given an ARC of this book to review. First off I do think that you have to read the first book, Stone Guardian, in order to understand a lot of references in this one. Being a fan of the author and reading all her books I was able to pick up on the history and terminology but a first time reader may struggle with it a little bit.

I stayed up late reading this book which is one of the best compliments I can give as my sleep is very precious to me! There were plenty of action scenes and plot points that kept the story moving along. I enjoyed the fact that the story included scenes and chapters about secondary characters as the overarching plot lines are moved along- I think this is also unfortunately what makes this a not great starting point for the series (NB: I just checked and the first book for $4.35 in the Amazon Kindle Store, totally worth the one-click).

The plot in this story is moved along by a spellbook that everyone wants. The hero, Merc, is the mercenary hired to obtain this book. Unfortunately, Amana steals it from him so he is seriously angry with her for a few chapters of the book. In spite of all the anger, he never crossed over into serious asshole territory which I appreciated. Merc was portrayed like a bit of a batman on steroids- dark and mysterious with superhero powers. Amana has a tragic backstory which is why she gets caught up with stealing the spellbook.

One of the things that I especially liked about their romance is that there was an element of fate and being drawn to each other but it was handled well and their relationship developed without any unbelievable instant-love. I do feel this was a happily together for now but definitely moving into happily ever after as the whole book takes place over a very short period of time. It was a very low-key romance for me and I have to admit that having read this books a few weeks ago now the secondary characters stand out more in my head than Merc and Amana.

I didn’t love this book as much as I loved the first one but thoroughly enjoyed it anyway. I will definitely be auto-buying future books from this author.  B

 

RFG Recommends: Wicked Ride by Rebecca Zanetti

7 Jul Wicked Ride R Zanetti

Wicked Ride R Zanetti

Rebecca Zanetti is one of those authors whose books I buy without even reading the summary at the back of the book (or the summary in the middle of the Amazon page as the case may be). She has 4 series out at the moment: The Dark Protectors Series, The Sin Brothers Series and the Maverick Montana Series. Wicked Ride is the first book in her 4th series, the Realm Enforcers Series which is a spin off from her Dark Protector novels. Although some individual books are better than others, I would wholeheartedly recommend any of her books to anyone looking for suspenseful and/or paranormal romance and this book is no exception. Here’s the summary:

Alexandra Monzelle is a hard-fighting, heat-packing Seattle vice cop, and she’s not much interested in being protected. Her short skirt and sex-kitten heels are tools to lure her suspects into talking about the deadly new drug hitting the streets. She can take care of herself and then some. Unfortunately, she can’t seem to get that through to Kellach Dunne.

Kellach is a fresh import from Dublin, and he’s landed at the heart of a vicious motorcycle club that deals in guns, narcotics, and mayhem. He’s all male, all rough power—and all interference in her damn investigation. Maybe he’s one of the good guys. Maybe not. Lex knows an affair with an immortal like him would risk everything. No matter how delicious he looks…

The premise alone of a series based on bike riding, leather wearing, magical badasses was enough to make my inner book nerd do a happy dance. And that cover? Wow. Just wow.

I loved Kellach Dunne as the hero of the novel. He was alpha without crossing over into alphahole territory and I really have a soft spot for anything that has a “brotherhood” theme going for it- which also has the added perk of setting up future books in a series.

Alexandra on the other hand, was not one of my favourite of Zanetti’s heroines. Although her reactions were understandable given circumstances, I found myself getting a little frustrated with how she repeatedly painted Kellach’s actions in the worst light. This is a particular little pet peeve of mine so it may not bother everyone. Admittedly, she was a cop and Kellach was undercover at a biker gang so I could understand where she was coming from especially as she was painted as a very strong, independent woman. I love nothing more than a strong independent woman but found Alex a little too prickly and argumentative for my taste.

Everything else though was RZ gold. Snappy dialogue, bursts of humor and good action sequences make this book a really promising start to a series. I LOVED that some characters from the Dark Protectors series made appearances and not in a brief celebrity cameo way either but properly in a way that moved the story forward. That said, you could start reading RZ’s books with this one but I strongly suggest reading her Dark Protectors series first to really appreciate Wicked Ride.

Overall, a solid first book to what promises to be an excellent series. B

RFG Recommends: Rock Hard by Nalini Singh

10 Mar Rock hard 3 tour

Rock hard 3 tour

How much did I love Rock Hard? Oh baby let me count the ways…

ONE: I loved it for its totally likeable hero and heroine both of whom I would love to have as buddies.

TWO: I loved Gabriel for being a strong, take charge man without crossing over into alphahole territory. Here’s a little excerpt:

Rock hard 2

THREE: I loved Charlotte for being the kind of heroine you root for- one who isn’t annoyingly perfect or too stupid to live but one that has been through something terrible and found the strength to overcome it. I also liked that she was shy but was also very smart, snarky and extremely capable.

Rock hard 4

FOUR: I loved it for its boss and secretary trope which is romance catnip for me.

FIVE: I love that there wasn’t hot sex with the hero’s magic wang in the first chapter that miraculously cured all traumas in the heroine’s past no matter how big the trauma was.

SIX: I loved the scenes with secondary characters that showed me again just how likeable these characters are.

SEVEN: I love how the book was able to make my hurt heart and at the same time laugh out loud several times while reading it.

EIGHT: Have I mentioned the hilarious dialogue? Both to each other and when they were thinking to themselves

NINE: I LOVED the slow build to romance and intimacy where the sexual tension and anticipation just kept building and building… phew!

TEN: But at the same time I LOVED how NS through her brilliant writing managed to make me feel that the characters really LIKED each other and didn’t just have sexual attraction holding them together and therefore would have a really kick ass happily ever after.

I really cannot recommend this author and this book enough – a solid A+.

Note: I received this book as an advanced reader’s copy in exchange for a fair review