Dystopian, Political, Reviews, Romance, Suspense

Review: Dissident – Cecilia London

dissidentDissident by Cecilia London
Series: Bellator Saga #1
Genre: romantic suspense
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“I will always be with you…”

Rising Democratic star Caroline Gerard hasn’t had an easy year. After losing her husband, she is raising two small children alone while trying to navigate the tricky and sometimes shallow halls on Capitol Hill. A string of nasty speeches has her scrambling to apologize to any number of candidates, including newly elected Republican Jack McIntyre. Falling in love again is the last thing on her mind.

Jack McIntyre might have a reputation as a playboy, but he has his sights set solely on his new colleague. Can he break through Caroline’s grief and capture her heart?

Told mostly in flashback and set against a chilling fascist backdrop, Dissident is a rollercoaster ride of political intrigue, passionate contemporary romance, and undying love.

For readers 18+. Ends in a cliffhanger. The first part in a six book saga.

Purchase it

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA

Review

Subgenres: political, dystopia
Themes: friends to lovers, widowed
Heat: ★★
Rating: ★★★★

This is a book series I was totally unaware of until this month’s Quirky Blind Date with a Book. And I’m unbelievably glad I was part of it, because this is a highly original premise, and a pleasure to read.

“We take our relationships, our spouses, our partners for granted until one day, poof, it’s all over. Maybe we’d all be a little better off if we lived each day as if it might be the last.”

I felt somewhat overwhelmed when I first delved in, because my knowledge of the American political system is not great; but once I got used to the jargon and past the infodump found in the first few pages, I really managed to get into this.

Told mainly in the romantic past but bracketed with moments of intrigue and suspense set in the present, this book was structurally very interesting – removing the importance of the outcome of the relationship simply from the prologue, instead we are encouraged to become deeply invested in the development of the relationship; despite its angst, it becomes in some respects much less superficial. We can sit back and enjoy the ride and the conversation.

“You make me want to be a better human being. And I hope you’re willing to give me the chance to be the man I know you need me to be.”

Pace-wise, this is a slow-burner. Highly character-driven, we learn an unbelievable amount about the complexities of the many characters (and there were a lot of them – London’s biggest strength is her complex character-building skill), with the vast majority of the plot unfolding through conversation, yet never venturing into boredom.

My main complaint? The sex scenes were of the ‘fade to black’ variety, despite the hints at kink and general dirtiness. This was a huge shame to me because I like living out the climax and culmination of the slower relationship development. There was a lot of scope for this delving into eroticism, and I was left disappointed.

“Don’t judge my reading preferences. My Kindle is full of highly enjoyable, unequivocally filthy smut.”

Deep, slow and original, this first instalment succeeds in building an intriguingly teasing plotline while allowing us to fully know and invest ourselves in the characters and relationships (despite a disappointing lack of eroticism).

Blog Tours, Erotic Romance, Reviews

Tour & Review: Black Swan Affair – K.L. Kreig

13720508_585152038312993_1090760524_oBlack Swan Affair by K.L. Kreig
Series: standalone
Genre: erotic romance
Themes: love triangle, friends to lovers, unrequited love

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I’ve loved him as long as I can remember.

The gangly boy with big brown eyes and unruly hair who grew up into an intoxicating man. He wears scruff like he invented it and ambles with a swagger that makes panties drop.

Killian Shepard.

Shep.

We grew up together. We played Ghost in the Graveyard. Had our own rock band. It didn’t matter that he was five years older than me. It didn’t matter that he looked at me as a kid sister even as I grew into a woman. It didn’t even matter when he left me behind to go to college and start his adult life.

He’d be back.

He was always meant to be mine.

He came back, all right. But instead of smelling of promises, he stunk of betrayal. And he destroyed me—us—the day he married my sister instead of me.

So I did the only thing a girl like me in my position could do.

I got my revenge.

I married his brother, Kael.

Now we’re one big happy fucking family.

Purchase it

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CA | iBooks | Kobo

Review

Heat: ★★★★
Rating: ★★★

I’m suffocating. Drowning slowly in heart-wrenching torment and a lifetime of regrets and wrong decisions.

It had a bit of everything – plenty of drama, insanely steamy sex, utterly nerve-wracking moments, and occasions when I felt I’d been punched in the gut. This was nothing if not an emotional, hard journey – and one I feel was absolutely worth taking.

Our lives are eternally interwoven. Our futures together already penned. They have been since the day of my birth.

I loved the voice of Maverick, and how it changed and grew throughout these pages. How it started bitter, and ended confident, and really how this reflected her journey. This was more than just a love triangle, and I have to be honest I was pleasantly surprised with how the plot differed from what I was expecting from reading the synopsis. There were plenty of twists and turns, and although it all felt like it was leading in a particular direction, I still had moments where I was unsure if it would actually make it.

“When life gives you lemons, you don’t make lemonade. That’s for pantywaisters. No. You pucker up, suck them dry, then throw the used rinds back in life’s face with a giant fuck-you and a gesture for more.”

I have also completely fallen in love with Kael, Killian and Maverick. The latter, because she has strength despite her mistakes. The former because of the strength of their love for her and how they individually expressed this. But Kael – he’s one of those rare book soulmates that you actually fall head over heels in love with. It’s always a pleasure to read a story with someone like that in it, whom you care for so deeply, though the ramification is that the real-life partner never quite lives up to it…

Fantastic characterisation, scorching sex, with a deeply emotional touch. One of the best releases of 2016.

Reviews, Romance

REVIEW: Wildest Dream – R.C. Boldt

Wildest DreamWildest Dream by R.C. Boldt
Series: Teach Me #1

Genre: romance
Themes: friends to lovers, office romance, fling to thing, military
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Taken from his parents and bounced from one foster home to the next, former Navy SEAL turned math teacher, Callum “Mac” Mackenzie had a rough childhood. The only time he’s let himself get attached to anyone has been with his military “brothers”. He’s convinced he doesn’t know how to love and certainly doesn’t “do” relationships. He’s spent fourteen years in the Navy and now he gets to live out his other dream: teaching.

Her thirtieth birthday fast approaching, science teacher, Raine Thompson feels as if her time to find “the one” is running out. She knows life is short, especially after dealing with breast cancer two years ago, and wants to experience her own happily ever after. But is it in the cards for her?

Finally acting on the simmering attraction they have long ignored, Raine and Mac decide to have a fling and they discover what it’s like to have someone who knows you inside out also be the one who makes your body come alive.

But it was only temporary…

Purchase it

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Review

Heat: ★★★
Rating: ★★★★

When his hand grasped hers, feeling his firm, callused fingers, she swore she felt like their hands just…fit.

I describe a lot of the heartwarming books I read as “candyfloss” – that is, they’re delicious and yummy but somewhat devoid of substance. This was a little different. Yes, it was unbelievably heartwarming and romantic, including the typical big gestures, passionate monologues and a somewhat predictable storyline, but this had a little more depth to it than I was expecting. It touched on past scars of the military and cancer, having a lingering presence and driving the relationship between Mac and Raine forwards without the book and more light-hearted storyline drowning underneath the weight of them.

I also enjoyed the feisty nature of Raine, how her smile was described by Mac and yet when she needed, she could be absolutely cutting – something which came out during the few dates and confrontations peppered throughout these pages. The comedic value of these moments and one-liners was just gold. Similarly, although there were many characters, Boldt presented them in a way which was easy to keep track of who was whom, as well as creating this wonderful family vibe; for me, this is primarily where the extra depth came from. The strength of the friendships and relationships of this group of people, with the humour and chemistry between them all just cementing this as a fantastic novel, and hopefully a great series, if it continues to build upon this.

Something in his chest pinched as he watched her slowly descend the steps and walk toward him. God, the moonlight casting the glow over her in that dress and her hair being tousled in the gentle breeze nearly took his breath away.

Yes, it’s predictable, soppy stuff. But it’s also something well worth reading if you need a smile, or you need that horrific pinch in your heart when you really feel invested in watching a relationship come together. Now for the main test – would I read the sequel? Absolutely.

Drama, Reviews, Romance

REVIEW: In The Spur Of Heath – Sydney Ledger

in the spur of heathIn The Spur Of Heath – Sydney Ledger
Series: In The Spur Of Heath #1
Genre: romantic drama
Themes: forbidden love, friends to lovers, love triangle, unrequited love
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Two hot men, one confused girl and a shitload of emotional trauma; Never let two men fall in love with you, girls. It never ends well…

Reese Singh – the sarcastic, strong-willed Trini girl; a little mean, a little defiant, a little indecisive and a whole lot of fun.
Heath Andrews – the Australian sweetheart, the best friend. The beautiful, harmless soul, and slightly clueless crush of Reese.
Jake Cavanaugh – the seductive, gorgeous lecturer. A witty confidante with a heart of gold. Forever immaculately dressed, and a few haunting secrets up his sleeve.

In pursuit of love from her best friend, Heath; Reese, a free-spirited Trinidadian girl who migrated to the US to pursue a degree in Film, finds herself amidst an even bigger problem when she begins having an unexpected student-teacher affair with the most attractive teacher on campus, Jake Cavanaugh.

Internally conflicted by her love for Heath & her erotic relationship with Jake, things begin to spiral wildly out of control when Jake’s illusive past comes back to haunt him & their budding relationship. Forcing the ultimate decision…

The Best Friend or The Forbidden Love Affair?

A witty erotic romance with a touch of suspense, lots of drama and a roller coaster ride of emotions.

Contains strong sexual content, adult situations and language

Review

Heat: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Rating:
⭐ ⭐

We then slowly pulled away, our eyes still locked and that’s when I realised that it was more than just acting, it was real.

I really wanted to like this. The premise was great; I am a fan of love triangles when they are done well. I am a fan of forbidden love, when it’s done well. I’m a fan of friends to lovers, when it’s done well. I’m a fan of unrequited love, when it’s done well. The problem here is that there are too many themes and romantic tropes all chucked together. It’s like choosing all your favourite ingredients and mixing them together because they should taste great. But it’s not great; the flavours don’t work together, and it’s messy.

The novel opened up with a big infodump, rather than having these character descriptions and pasts weaved seamlessly into the narrative. Yet, once it feels like you get the hang of it and know where you’re going, something completely new is thrown in – in this case, a dose of crime and suspense – and just totally ruins the suspense of disbelief. Not to mention seeming completely out of character. With some of these aspects and themes removed, this novel would have probably been half the length and twice as readable.

I was in the spur of Heath, and with being in the spur of Heath, I eventually lost myself. I broke every bit of morality left in me because I wanted to have my cake and eat it too.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the narrative voice. There were too many exclamations, and despite it being in first person, this seemed to be an omniscient first person narrative. If the reader needed to know these details, it would have been more effective to either use different POVs or to come out of Reese’s brain and use a third person voice instead. There was also a lot of telling, not showing – I like to be able to make my own mind up about how to feel, rather than be told that particular things are sad or infuriating

Ledger is a new author, and there is certainly potential here. The killer climax, something I was absolutely not expecting, being one example. There was simply too much here to fully be able to invest in the characters, particularly when Reese herself became unrelatable and unlikeable in how long she messed around with these two.

Blog Tours, Drama, Reviews, Romance

TOUR & REVIEW: Until Harry – L.A. Casey

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He was my best friend, my best not-really-big-brother, and my best protector.

He was my best everything.

He was mine.

Coming home is hard for Lane. Hard because Harry, her beloved uncle, has died suddenly, but also because of him. Kale.

Kale Hunt has been her best friend since childhood. But it was never that simple. He was Lane’s reason for leaving home and moving to New York. Seeing him with someone else, in love with someone else, shouldn’t have hurt. But it did. It really, really did. So she upped sticks and left, started a new life and cut herself off from her past.

But now she’s back, and all the feelings are right there. As if she had never left.

Emotions are running high for everyone, and tragedy has a funny way of bringing people together. But is Lane reading the signs right? Are they still just friends, or is there something more?

Excerpt

I pushed my glasses up the bridge of my nose as I reread the letter from my brother for the millionth time since I received it two days ago. It stated two things. One, my uncle passed away. My godfather and dear friend was gone. And two, I had to go home.

I wasn’t jumping for joy about either fact.

I looked up from the worn paper Lochlan’s letter was scribbled upon and gazed out the window of the train I was sitting inside.

The Yorkshire’s countryside passed me by, and in seconds I was lost in the green beauty of it. Unfortunately, the glamour of the never-ending dreamlike view wasn’t enough to mask the pain in my chest. The horrendous agony quickly brought me back to the present, and it screamed that I couldn’t run from it.

Not this time, Lane, a sour voice in my mind hissed. You can’t escape this.
Nothing beautiful to the naked eye or soothing to the delicate ear could erase the inevitable reality I would soon have to face head on. I shifted in my seat as my stomach roiled at the thought of what the next few days entailed.

Why did this have to happen? I glumly wondered.

Review

Title: Until Harry
Author: L.A. Casey
Series: standalone
Category: second-chance, friends-to-lovers, unrequited love, drama
Rating: ****

Another deeply emotional read and a top one of 2016. Although very dramatic and difficult to read in places due to the events depicted, this was a heartwarming and optimistic story of internal strength and living life to the fullest. It is about coming to terms with death and love, both in the book’s present and past, and the way the secrets unfolded was wonderful to experience.

This is the first book I’ve read by L.A. Casey, despite many recommendations, but it will definitely not be the last. I was highly impressed with the complexities of the characters and the reasons for the starting positions of Kale and Lane at the beginning, and enjoyed watching them finding their way back to one another whilst reading about their past and really getting invested in their relationship.

If you fancy a heartwarming sob-fest, this is the one for you.

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Reviews, Romance

REVIEW: Promised Nights – Louise Bay

30076401Title: Promised Nights
Author: Louise Bay
Series: Nights #2 (standalone in a series)
Genre: friends-to-lovers romance
Rating: *** 

Bay’s writing is strong, and she really gives us the chemistry between Ash and Luke, with some pretty hot sex scenes scattered throughout – most notably their first encounter. Despite a happy, warming ending and a strong beginning, I couldn’t help but feel a little lukewarm simply because Ashleigh’s actions and constant worrying/running away was unbelievably frustrating and led to a really pointless middle section during which both characters were pining towards one another yet keeping their distance for no good reason.

It was good, and I would recommend it and even go and read the first and next instalments, because the closely-knit family group was just wonderful and they all really had their own highly developed characters and personalities. It was just let down by a slow, very pointless middle section.