Tag Archives: Review

Review: Wolf’s Challenge by Christina Lynn Lambert

26 Feb

 

wolfs-challenge-c-lambert

Taking risks, especially risks of the handsome male variety, is currently out of the question for Sydney Reid. She will make no exceptions for tall, gorgeous Derrick Porter. Never date a player-it’s rule number one in Sydney’s book, and the charming lawyer constantly devouring her with his eyes is every inch the reason. Despite her best efforts to keep Derrick in the friend zone, sparks fly between the two of them, and Sydney isn’t entirely sure she wants to throw water on the flames.

Can Derrick convince the shy, sexy Sydney to give him a chance, something more than her elusive “maybe”? More importantly, should he? Derrick has a few secrets, the least shocking secret being that he can transform at will into a powerful wolf. He’s still trying to forgive himself for being at the wheel during the accident that killed his son. Losing Sydney when she learns the truth might break him, but he’s pretty sure not having her would be just as bad.

And with an obsessed stalker on their tails, more than their hearts are at issue.

I really like paranormal romance. I like reading about characters and their relationships and emotions all with the added benefit of some kickass world building and the supernatural. I think that the best paranormal romances are those whose main focus is still the relationships and the growth of the characters as people in spite of the fact that they may drink blood, have super strength or go furry once in a while. Some of my favourite authors, Ilona Andrews and Nalini Singh for example, do this particularly well.

The first few chapters of this book drew me in immediately as the focus was on the characters and their internal struggles. There’s a prologue that hints at a tragedy in the hero’s past that shapes his internal conflicts. There’s not as much dedicated to the heroine’s past at first but her history of some very bad luck with past relationships slowly unfolds and it becomes clear why she’s so gun shy when it comes to relationships.

I really liked the first half of the book. I loved the “meet cute” of the hero and heroine via a well-meaning matchmaking friend who also happens to be a coach of a running club so both of them are forced to run/train for a race. I enjoyed the focus on the characters and how they fought and then gave in to their attraction all the while sweating and forcing their legs to go that extra mile. Given my own love/hate/love relationship with exercise I really like reading about other people (fictional or otherwise) suffering through it as well.

The dialogue was natural and not stilted and the tension build up in the first part of the book was done really well. It read like a really interesting contemporary where the main character happened to turn furry once in a while instead of the paranormal elements being the focal point to the detriment of the story.

However, I did feel that the book did take a turn somewhere in the middle into crazy town. I like a certain amount of crazy sauce in my books as I love escapism but I did feel that there were one too many elements inserted into the plot that the book could have done without and it would have streamlined the book a bit and kept the focus on the relationship between Sydney and Derrick. There were also chapters that were told from the point of view of the antagonist and this is never my favourite thing to read- but that is just a personal taste for me and does not reflect at all on the writing of the author.

All in all I liked the book and I really liked the first few chapters. I would definitely read this author’s work again because I liked her characters and the way she writes dialogue. Given my different reactions to the different parts of the book I feel that I need to give two ratings. I’d give the first half of the book a B and the second half a C.

Note: I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review

 

 

 

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Review: Until We Collide by Charlotte Fallowfield

19 Oct

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

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: Wicked Ride by Rebecca Zanetti

7 Jul

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

Good Books, Weird Covers and Weird Girls

1 Sep

I’m reading and enjoying some books by authors who may not necessarily as well known as some of the other authors I’ve reviewed in the past.

The first book I read that I really enjoyed is Code Name: Nina’s Choice by Natasza Waters. This is the third book in her warrior series and boy, are these books FUN. The books follow a team of Navy Seals (because in Romance land only the Special Forces count) and the women they fall in love with. The first two books are about Admiral Grayson Thane and Kayla, who is a Canadian analyst that started working for the team and has some serious emotional issues to work through. Aside from the romance, there is an overarching storyline about a serial killer who targets women in the base that the Navy Seal Team Alpha One are stationed at. This third book is about Mace Callahan and Nina- characters who I was introduced to and fell in love with in the previous books. The author does have some sort of background working at the Coronado Base (in San Diego, California) where most of the story takes place so I found the military jargon etc to be pretty realistic.

Everything else though? High emotion, screaming suspense, over the top drama- it’s almost like reading a military based soap opera and I LOVED IT. The characters are very likeable and the whole concept of “no man gets left behind” and teamwork gets taken to almost superhero, GI Joe levels. SO. MUCH. FUN. I actually got a book hangover from this book; it has that special crack quality to it. I may have to stalk this author’s page until the next book comes out. Think Kristen Ashley writing military suspense novels and you get the general flavour of these books.

Another book that I just started and am enjoying is Prisoner by Lia Silver. I discovered this author after listening to Jane from Dear Author talk about it on the Dear Bitches Smart Authors Podcast. This book is about a wolf-shifter marine who gets coerced into working for a top secret government laboratory as an assassin. It was hard to type that last sentence with a straight face but this is paranormal romance, people so realistic does not fall anywhere within our sphere of reading.

I’m only 60% into the book but so far am enjoying the dialogue between the hero and heroine. There is a fun sense of humor threaded throughout the story even though the premise seems a little grim. To give you an example, the hero’s werewolf scent name is Lechon which is Filipino for roast pig which really shows that the author doesn’t take herself or her characters too seriously as that’s about the least sexy code name you can come up with in my humble opinion.
I also like how the hero isn’t this perfect badass who can defeat 25 armed men singlehandedly, all the while never breaking a sweat on his perfect, tall, built, secret billionaire playboy philanthropist’s body. This hero is far from perfect. He’s of medium height (a mortal sin in romance land), suffers from debilitating dyslexia and talks too much when he’s stressed. He’s also kind and strong, darkly handsome and unfailingly loyal. I’m enjoying the slow build into romance and the friendship between the hero and heroine is a lot of fun to read. I can’t wait to finish the book and have signed up to this author’s newsletter so I get notified when the next book in the series comes out.

A sidenote is that the covers for BOTH these books are really ugly, like fugly ugly, and I almost didn’t buy them because of the supreme el cheapo effect of the cover art. In this case, do NOT judge the books by their covers. I’d give a solid 4 out of 5 stars for both them.

Prisoner L Silver Nina's Choice

In contrast, another book that had a pretty decent cover but one that I found to be a bit of a let- down was the third book in the Weird girls series by Cecy Robson, Cursed by Destiny.

Cursed by Destiny C Robson

This is the third book in the series and I really loved the first book and seriously liked the second. This series revolves around Celia Wird and her three sisters who all have strange powers due to a curse that a witch put on their family. Celia is a human who can shift into a tiger but also has the ability to pass through matter (cool right?). I really enjoyed the world building and learning about Celia and her sisters in the first book. I loved the sense of family and closeness and pack dynamics that I got there. I didn’t really like the love triangle between Celia, Aric the werewolf and Misha the master vampire (Twilight flashback). I didn’t mind it so much in the first two books because she clearly was with Aric and Misha was just so much fun to picture in my head. The third book though is where it gets a bit annoying.

Suffice it to say that Aric and Celia have a bit of a star-crossed love going as he is a pure-blooded shifter and must mate another shifter for the good of his race. It’s all very plausible in the context of the story and I really felt for the couple in the first two books. For some reason though, it just annoyed the heck out of me in the third book. I did at one point roll my eyes and wished with all my might that Aric would just get over himself already and that Celia would get over him already for the love of all that is furry. That said, the rest of the book was very well-written and I still am invested enough in the series to want to read the fourth book. So although I didn’t like it as much as the first two books I would still give this one three out of five stars.

Do you have any new authors you’re excited to talk about?