Thursday, 20 October 2016

The Empty Room - Sarah J. Clemens

The Empty Room by Sarah J. Clemens

The small town of Eastbrook, Maine seemed like the close-knit community where newlyweds Dean and Elizabeth Montgomery could begin their lives together, and the 1901 Victorian seemed like the house they’d always dreamed of owning. The only condition for purchasing the property was that it was sold in “as-is” condition.

When the couple arrives in Eastbrook, they receive anything but a warm welcome from the local residents. And when they realize that as-is condition meant that the previous owner of the house had left every worldly possession behind, the dream of the small town life starts to take a mysterious turn.

Day after day, Dean and Elizabeth uncover more truths than they could have ever imagined, or ever wanted to know about the secrets that were hidden in the small town of Eastbrook. And as neighbors become growingly hostile with every encounter, this young couple searches furiously to uncover what the residents are trying to hide.

As their journey unfolds, Elizabeth goes missing and Dean must turn to the very neighbors he fears may have known what would happen to her from the moment the couple arrived for help. Because in this town, some secrets are better off hidden.

My Review

I have to admit that I struggled a bit with this book to begin with. It started with a prologue that explained the back story. I don't think that it really needed it to and it nearly put me off reading the rest of the book. Once into the chapters themselves though, things picked up. I still didn't warm to the story straight away, I'm not sure exactly why that was. Some of the dialogue was a little strange and stilted, although it did turn out there was a reason for at least some of that. 

Despite my initial misgivings about the book, there was something about this story that kept me turning the pages and wanting to know where it was going. I was intrigued about the plot and what was really going on and wanted to find out. 

I did actually guess at least some of the ending (although not all) but it was this ending that made the book worth reading and keeping going with. I'd been in two minds before that, but once I reached the last couple of chapters, things sped up and I couldn't help but keep going. Those last couple of chapters helped lift my whole impression of the book. I thought that the mystery was very well done and carefully woven into the story. There were a few things that I was left confused about, but over all it worked really well. It also kept me thinking about it, long after I'd finished reading. This is certainly not a forgettable tale.

Although I wasn't completely happy about this story, for a number of reasons, over all I enjoyed it. It was unusual and in parts gripping. I can't help but wonder though, if a little editing and re-writing wouldn't have just helped lift it from an average read to a really good one.

Monday, 17 October 2016

Wicked Rivals - Lauren Smith

Wicked Rivals by Lauren Smith
I've been waiting for the new League of Rogues book since Her Wicked Proposal came out in January. Lucky me, managed to get my hands on an advanced copy, just in time for my birthday last weekend. I managed to resist the temptation to start it for a few days, then dived in while having a birthday lie-in.

The danger with a series that you love, is that you're looking forward so much to the next installment, that when it arrives, it just doesn't measure up. Fortunately, this was far from the case this time, Wicked Rivals is fantastic.

This time we get to hear Ashton's story. He's the business man of the group, the one most in control, or at least until it comes to Lady Rosalind Melbourne. She is his rival in business at every turn, but there's something about her that he just can't resist. He attempts to take control of her business and put himself back on top. But this just throws them together in ways that he didn't expect. 

I loved reading about Rosalind and Ashton learning about one another, they discover that they actually work better together than against one another. Rosalind also discovers that she has been used as a pawn in the ongoing hatred between the league and Waverly. She fears that Ashton's interest in her is more do do with this dispute and believes that Ashton is just using her. Of course, love wins through and we find out more about Waverly in the process.

I really enjoy the little insights that we get into the other league members in these books, although you could read each one as a standalone novel, they do work really well as a series and the other league members always have sizeable roles in the stories. The next one due out is Jonathan's story, which I am looking forward to, although as I have an ongoing Charles theory, I really want to know what's going to happen there. (I'm not going to go into details of my Charles theory, in case I'm wrong, or perhaps even more importantly in case I'm not. But, I will say that there were parts of this book that reinforced my ideas.)

I loved this series before reading Wicked Rivals and I finished the book, wishing that I hadn't finished it quite so quickly and still loving the series. As with the other League of Rogues book, Wicked Rivals is highly recommended.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Three Weeks Dead - Rebecca Bradley

Three weeks dead by Rebecca Bradley
Back in June I read and reviewed the second DI Hannah Robbins book when it came out, Made to be Broken. This week I got to read the new book in the series, Three Weeks Dead. This is a little different as it is set before the previous two books and focuses on DC Sally Poynter, rather than her boss.

Sally is new to the team and trying to find her role within it. She is also trying to juggle the demands of working and spending time with her husband, who is a little less than thrilled at the idea of her working longer hours.

The case that the team are faced with this time, is a kidnapping. But unlike 'normal' kidnappings, this involves a dead body. Jason Well's wife Lisa had been killed in a car accident and buried. He soon discovers that her body has been stolen and that the kidnappers are threatening to feed her to dogs unless he steals some software the company he works for, has been developing. Jason is still struggling to come to terms with the recent death of his wife Lisa and having her body stolen is enough to push him into taking action that he wouldn't normally consider. 

I really enjoyed this story. It was great to get some background into one of the characters that appear in the other novels. You don't have to have to have read the other books and in some ways it would perhaps be better to start with this book first. 

I really enjoyed Three Weeks Dead, it was a great, quick read and I recommend it. I didn't manage to fully solve the mystery before the end of the book, although I had got a few ideas. I love the way that the crimes that DI Robbins' team seem to investigate seem to be a little different to the run of the mill crime stories. They have that little edge of difference, without being over the top or unbelievable. If you're looking for a new crime series, or a quick crime read, then Three Weeks Dead is a great place to start.

Monday, 10 October 2016

Twice burned by Pamela Burford

Twice Burned by Pamela Burford
Last week I reviewed Good to be Bad by Patricia Ryan. This was the first book in a two book series, by identical twins Patricia Ryan and Pamela Burford. While the books can be read as stand alone novels, the suspense element of the story continues in the second book. This week I got hold of Twice Burned, so that I could finish the story and see what happened.

Twice Burned

Zara Sutcliffe has always been more confident and adventurous than her shy twin sister, Emma. But nothing in Zara’s past has prepared her for FBI Agent Logan Pierce… if he really is an agent, that is. She can only take his word for that after he kidnaps her and keeps her a virtual prisoner in a New York City warehouse. He calls it a safe house, but she feels anything but safe when he turns those intense amber eyes on her. The only thing she’s certain of is that her enigmatic bodyguard is too sexy for her own good. What does he know that she doesn’t?
Plenty, as it turns out. Such as his own close connection to a criminal with no conscience who’s a threat not just to Zara, but to her sister and mother as well. And all because of a bizarre, decades-old movie prop that someone wants badly enough to kill for.

My Review

I really enjoyed Good to be Bad, so I was looking forward to giving Twice Burned a go and finding out what would happen. Zara returns from her trip to Australia to find an FBI agent waiting for her, in order to take her into a safe house. She soon learns of the danger that she is in and that her Mother is missing, presumed kidnapped.

I loved reading about Zara and her growing relationship with Logan. Although we had met him very briefly in the previous book, it wasn't clear exactly who he was, so we were discovering things about him at the same time Zara did.

Although Zara was the strong business woman, we soon learnt that there was much more to her character than that, and that she had plenty of worries and insecurities to deal with. I enjoyed seeing how Logan helped her to deal with those and came to care for her himself.

This was a really good conclusion to the first story. It wrapped everything up and still had Emma appearing in the book and the story line. The ending was a little cheesy, but hey, who cares, it was still good fun. I'm glad that I went onto read the second book, it certainly lived up to expectations.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Romance and Erotica Reader Appreciation Giveaway

Welcome to the Romance and Erotica Reader Appreciation Giveaway!

We’re so glad you stopped by! A lot of great authors are giving away a HUGE Amazon Gift Card to one lucky Romance and/or Erotica reading fan! (Yes, we check, and only true romance book worms qualify to win! But there WILL be a winner, which will be publicly announced in the Facebook Party HERE on December 2nd!


Here are a couple of sneak peeks from the EPIC Romance and Erotica Group with Rebecca Hamilton!

How To Catch Crabs - Demelza Carlton

I smelled smoke faintly on the wind and knew Mum wasn't the only one brewing up a morning cup of tea.  
When my basket was empty, I slipped under the lines of washing until I reached the outermost rank. A quick touch told me that these were far from dry, so I returned to the lean-to laundry to finish up the last load of boys' clothes. I'd already scrubbed these once, but they were so dirty, I'd given up and decided to soak them for longer.  
I wound them around the copper stick – actually an old cricket bat of Dominic's – and dumped the mess into the rinse water, praying that I wouldn't have to scrub them again. It wouldn't kill the boys to wear grey shirts to school, especially after they'd turned them that colour.  
I shoved my arms into the tub of water, weaving my hands between the shirts and shorts in an effort to untangle them. The smell of smoke intensified as I touched the bottom of the stone tub. No, this wasn't the clean, sharp smell of burning jarrah from a neighbour's chimney. This was the fug of tobacco that shouldn't be anywhere near my laundry.  
"Nick, if you're smoking again, I'll tell Mum!" I hissed, glancing over my shoulder. 
The masculine silhouette in the doorway was too muscular to be my fifteen-year-old brother. As if to demonstrate this, he removed the cigarette from his lips and blew a stream of smoke at the ceiling. "Who is this Nick, streghetta? Your brother, I hope." 
Giorgio's deep voice stopped my heart for a moment, before it stuttered back to beating. How could one man have such an effect on me? I only hoped he didn't notice.  
"None of your business," I snapped. "What are you doing, trespassing here?" 
He laughed softly. "I am driving my sister-in-law to see her friend. My brother didn't trust me to mind his shop, so he gave me his wife and truck instead. So, this friend. Is she your friend, too? Or your sister, perhaps?" 
"My mother. And my father is pruning the grapevines, but he'll be back for lunch any moment, so you should get out of here and leave me to my work." I deliberately turned my back on him, concentrating only on the task at hand. I willed him to leave. 
"But you have bewitched me, streghetta. I've thought of nothing and no one else since I met you in the market last week." I heard the crunch of footsteps on the hard-packed clay as he entered the lean-to.  
He's right behind me, but I won't give him the satisfaction of paying him undeserved attention, I vowed, lifting a shirt from the suds so I could scrutinise it for stains.  
Something warm touched my neck and I dropped the shirt with a splash. Whirling around, I glared at Giorgio. "How dare you touch me without my permission!" 
"This new fashion of short hair drew my eyes to your neck, as I'm sure you intended, and I could not resist you, streghetta." He touched two fingers to his lips. "Your neck tastes of soap and salt, the products of your hard labour. Do your lips taste sweeter?" 
I drew in a sharp breath to shout at him again, but he seized my shoulders and kissed me. His lips were warm as he took me by surprise, taking advantage of my open mouth to mingle his breath with mine, before his tongue darted in to dance. It was a kiss that spoke of passion, longing and a desire for more as his body pressed mine against the sink. He tasted of ash and smoke, coupled with the warmth of a fire that could melt even the iciest heart. Even mine, I realised, as my knees weakened. I groped for the sink behind me to stay on my feet and my fingers closed on the copper stick.  

Deep Focus: Young Hollywood Book 1 by Madisyn Ashmore
I laid my head back across the couch and kicked my feet up over his strong thighs. My foot brushed across his lap as I stretched. I felt the hardness already forming in his pants, his bulge pressing towards me.
“Your parents, do they still live there?”
My chest tightened. I hated telling this part of my life story because of the pity it elicited from friends and strangers alike.
“My parents died in a car crash when I was fourteen. I went to live with my aunt after that. We’re not close.”
“Oh, I’m sorry.”
“No, It’s okay. I was sort of a wild teenager, so I don’t blame her. But anyway, we don’t really keep in touch much anymore.” I paused. “Like I said, it’s complicated.”
He rubbed the soles of my feet and traced his fingers along my calves. My muscles relaxed against his firm touch. As he drew circles on my skin, an intense warmth washed over my body.
“I think LA is the place where outcasts, misfits, and lonely people come to find their soul.” He breathed the words like the they were meant for only himself. He looked surprised when my soft voice echoed a reply.
“Was that true for you? Did you come to Los Angeles searching for your soul?”
He thought quietly for a moment before his husky voice deepened. “I came here running. Running away from a past that…” His voice broke off. “I came here searching, and to start a new life.”
“And did you?”
“I found that money wins a lot of friends, but not the kind that you can count on forever. I’ve had a lot of women keep me warm at night, but none that would’ve stayed if all this vanished.” He gestured to the expensively decorated room around us, an ornate display of his opulence and wealth. For the first time, I saw the crack in his facade and the real Oliver Tate emerged.
“What was your life like…before.” I paused, choosing my words carefully. “Before all this.”
“Not now, Scarlett. It’s long and boring and not worth discussing.” He shifted on the couch and breathed a heavy exhale.
There was still so much about Oliver Tate I didn’t know. With every detail I discovered, a thousand more secrets loomed in the distance. I wanted him to release to me and tell me every broken and damaged part of himself. I could take it. I could take it all.
He laid back, his youthful face glistening with a mist of perspiration. I ran my fingers down the front of his shirt, slowly unbuttoning him, exposing his ripped abs, slick and steamy. His fingers gripped my arm, pulling me up to his face as he sucked and kissed my delicate lips.
I ran my hand along his pants, the heat spreading from his dark denim. My fingers grasped the stiff metal zipper, his rock hard warmth burning into my touch. He swelled as my hand grazed him…


Monday, 3 October 2016

Good to be Bad - Patricia Ryan

Good to be Bad by Patricia Ryan
It's always a great day when a new book comes out by one of my favourite authors. Today, Good to be Bad by Patricia Ryan was released, so that makes it a really great day as far as I am concerned. I was actually lucky enough to get my hands on a copy over the weekend, so that I could read it and review and let you all know what I think. I have to say, that getting it read in that short space of time wasn't an onerous task, as once I started I just couldn't put it down. 

Good to be Bad

Emma Sutcliffe is content playing the Good Twin to her glamorous, self-assured double, Zara, a literary superagent. Emma’s life is comfortable, predictable… if somewhat humdrum. But after she walks a mile in her sister’s yellow leather miniskirt and mile-high stilettos—hounded by a smoking hot surgeon-turned-thriller-writer who’s convinced she’s Zara—there’s no going back.  
Gage Foster flew all the way to New York for a meeting with Zara Sutcliffe, and now she’s trying to stand him up? Oh, hell no! He may be a laid-back son of the South, and she may be just about the sexiest thing he’s ever seen, but that doesn’t mean he’s about to sit still for that kind of high-handed bull crap. He’ll dog her heels until she gives him what he wants.  
Good to be Bad is book one in the “Double Dare” two-part romantic suspense mini series by identical-twin authors Patricia Ryan and Pamela Burford. Each book is a stand-alone romance and can be read and enjoyed on its own. The suspense story line that begins in Good to be Bad concludes in Pamela’s Twice Burned. Formerly titled Twice the Spice.

My Review

I do enjoy a good romantic suspense book and Good to be Bad was certainly that. The lead characters were believable and I loved reading about the growing attraction and romance between them. The suspense side of the book was thrilling, without detracting from the developing romance and the two aspects of the story seem to gel well together.

Our Hero, Gage Foster was at one time a surgeon, but after injuring his hand, now writes novels. The injured hero is a bit of a recurring theme in Patricia Ryan's books, hand and leg injuries do seem to pop up quite often. I'm not sure if it's a way of making the heros a little bit more vulnerable than they may have otherwise been? It does add an interesting extra dimension to the story lines though.

Although Emma, our heroine, is quite naive in the ways of men, and is quite reserved in general, she doesn't come across as being unable to function on her own. Something which can quite often happen with similar characters. Instead she is resourceful and willing to take a risk to solve her problems. 

What I really liked about this story, was the way that the relationship between Emma and Gage developed. Although he tried to be her knight in shining armour, she didn't let him take complete control. Often in romance novels, one character might get upset, or misunderstand something, then suddenly they admit that they got it wrong and everything is right again. Of course life isn't really like this. I did like the way that Emma wasn't prepared to instantly forgive, forget and sail off into the sunset, the second that Gage admitted that he might have been a little hasty in his judgement over something. 

I really enjoyed this book. Of course, I am going to have to read Twice Burned by Patricia Ryan's own twin, Pamela Burford. I need to know what happens next in the suspense story line. Good to be Bad is a stand-alone romance, so you don't need to read both, but lets face it, why wouldn't you?

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Healing Danger - Maddie Wade

Healing Danger- Maddie Wade
Book one of the Fortis Security series, by Maddie Wade.

Healing Danger

Dealing with the horrific murder of her best friend is more than enough for school teacher Lauren Cassidy, but now a madman has decided that she needs to die for her part in that death. With her life in danger and her past catching up with her, will she stay alive long enough to trust the one man with her heart, that she has never forgotten?

With the promise to catch a killer and keep Lauren safe, Dane Bennet must now protect her from the evil in her past. A sick cult group with ties to the government and the rich and powerful are determined to use her powers for their own evil gain. Will Dane be able to protect the woman he loves or will he have his chance at happiness snatched away? Dane must use every ounce of his elite special forces training to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

Determined to stop the evil that threatens the world and avenge the death of a friend, will Lauren and Dane be able to overcome their intense attraction to stop the people determined to end her life and start Armageddon or will their passion blind them?

My Review

I was quite keen to read Healing Danger, written by a British author, I was hopeful that it would be something a little different. Sadly, I couldn't help but feel that the author really wanted to write a US style suspense but just placed it in England. There wasn't a great deal that made it stand out as a British book. For me, this was a real opportunity lost. Fortunately, the story itself had enough going on that it didn't completely put me off.

The book was quite quick moving, with plenty going on and lots of characters to keep you interested. The interaction between the hero and heroine was good and mostly believable. The only thing I struggled with a little was why Lauren had got involved with a previous partner when she was already interested in Dane. Of course, there wouldn't be much of a story if they'd got together before the book was set, but it still just didn't ring quite true for me.

There was plenty of action that took place over the course of the book, so despite some of the small things that irritated me, I still enjoyed this book. There was lots of action and the romance between Lauren and Dane was believable. There were a few cliches that it would have been better without and the dialogue wasn't always natural, but I think this probably has more to do with it being the first book. Hopefully, it will get better in future books in the series.

I'm not sure if I'll read the next book in the series. I would like to hear what happens to some of the other characters that were introduced in the book. The very long epilogue at the end was a little annoying. It seemed to go on for pages, covering many different people, rather than summing up what had just happened and giving a little hint of what was to come. Overall, I think that the series has potential and the second book may well we worth checking out.