Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Book review: Tempted by the Bridesmaid by Annie O'Neil


Title: Tempted by the Bridesmaid
Author: Annie O'Neil
Release date: 1st August 2017
Publisher: Mills & Boon
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Source: Review copy from the publisher

Description: The last time brooding Italian surgeon Luca Montovano saw bubbly heiress Francesca Martinelli was at his best friend's failed wedding. Sparks flew then, and now she's made a surprise appearance at his mountaintop clinic, bringing a much-needed whirlwind of laughter!

Aristocratic Luca just wants to be left alone to care for his orphaned niece. The scars on his face reach right to his heart, and he's learned to push people away. Until Fran forces him to see the world through her eyes!

My thoughts: I've always liked romance stories, and what I particularly like about a Mills & Boon book is that I can pick one up and read it in just a few hours. It's a nice cosy evening thing to do and leaves me feeling all happy. Tempted by the Bridesmaid begins with Fran standing at the altar with her best friend, forcing herself to tell the bride and the priest that the groom is having an affair. As another good friend of the bride, Luca can't understand why Fran would 'wreck' everything, so they get off to a bad start on their first meeting.

However, their mutual friend has arranged for Fran to work with Luca over the summer: Fran trains therapy dogs, and is going to work with Luca's niece, who is in a wheelchair. Career path changed by the accident that disabled her, Luca is renovating some land to create a medical treatment facility for disabled patients, which has its grand opening part way through Fran's stay.

I liked that their romance is balanced by the questions of whether the clinic will be ready in time, and then whether it will be a success. Fran is a lovely woman who always sees the best in everything and is always trying to help with anything she can at the clinic. However, I have a problem with Luca. Their relationship is very 'sparky', they argue despite being very attracted to each other, but I noticed halfway through the book that Luca will be thinking about some nice, thoughtful thing Fran is doing, and how she's so wonderful, then he'll snap out something grumpy and hurtful at her, then immediately be thinking that he regrets it. He does it again and again and again. I think if he really did regret it, he would have stopped doing it. To me, it did not read as a healthy, happy relationship and I couldn't buy in to Luca being an appealing hero, or the two of them having a happily-ever-after with the way he was shown in this book. By the end, I could believe that the ending was the start of his redemption, but I would have liked to see the change on the page, rather than being left to imagine it.

This is getting a solid 5 out of 10 from me. There are elements of a sweet romance, and a nice secondary plot with the clinic, but it's a pretty straightforward story, and the hero being a dick so much of the time was very off-putting.

Buy it here: Amazon

Monday, August 7, 2017

Book review: Protecting Their Mate (Part 3) by Moira Rogers


Title: Protecting Their Mate (Part 3)
Author: Moira Rogers
Release date: August 7th 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Erotica
Source: ARC from the authors

Description: As the full moon raises tensions–and appetites–Ashley indulges her wildest fantasies…and discovers what it truly means to belong to the pack. But Blake’s control is tested as outsiders descend on the pack’s territory, and Ashley discovers that following her heart may be the only way to find her mate.

Ashley’s heart longs for one man, but her wolf demands that she test herself against the alpha. Can she settle for a life of never knowing, or will she risk everything for Blake?

Protecting Their Mate was originally published as an eight part serial under the penname Mia Thorne. It has been repackaged, but the story remains the same.

My thoughts: This is the final part of a serialised story - here are my reviews of Part 1 and Part 2.

The sex in Part 3 is as steamy as in the rest of the story, and Ashley continues to explore her sexuality with all five other members of the pack. A deeper plot comes back a little here, which I thought was good - it got a bit lost in Part 2, I think. The threat of another pack who have made contact throws up some issues in this part of the story, as does the fact that the other pack have a female wolf of their own. Ashley's pack suspect that the other female might not be there willingly, so they come up with a plan to get to the bottom of things, and fix it if need be.

I love all the sexiness in this book, but I need plot, not just porn, so I was glad to have the additional conflicts become an equally large aspect of Part 3 as the quest for Ashley to find her mate is. I will read on in the series - the sequel is coming out later this year - but it'll be as a cheer-me-up, guilty pleasure sort of read, not because I'm desperate to find out what happens next with any aspects of the story.

I'm giving part three, and Protecting Their Mate as a whole, 6 out of 10.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Review: Protecting Their Mate (Part 2) by Moira Rogers


Title: Protecting Their Mate (Part 2)
Author: Moira Rogers
Release date: 31st July 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Erotica
Source: ARC from the authors

Description: As Ashley settles in to her life at the lodge, she meets more of her new pack mates–including wicked, intense Jud. His touch arouses her hunger–and Blake’s possessiveness.  Lucas, the unyielding alpha, grows concerned with the attachment between Blake and Ashley and sends Blake out on a mission.

While Blake is away, Ashley meets the most elusive member of her new pack—the enigmatic Connor, a hacker who, like her, was raised among humans. For Connor, sex is volatile—dangerous—and being near Ashley draws out the feral edge of the wolf inside him. As Ashley’s connection with Blake–and with Lucas—grows deeper, an outside force threatens the peace of the Last River pack.

Protecting Their Mate was originally published as an eight part serial under the penname Mia Thorne. It has been repackaged, but the story remains the same.

My thoughts: Firstly, my part 1 review is here.

The sexiness of part one continues as Ashley meets the rest of the pack and gets to know them... intimately. My favourite part was getting to see more about Connor, who has clearly had some kind of tough time in the past. He connects with Ashley in a way the others don't, but similarly, he doesn't feel the draw towards her as strongly as the others do, and it's clear to him that while he cares for her, they're not going to mate. I got the strong impression that Connor will have a different book focussed around him.

There are also hints about another pack in the area, who want to get in touch with Lucas's. I expect that's going to be a large focus in the third & final segment of this book.

There is a lot of sex in this part of the story, and not so much plot, but it's very well written sex, so it was a fun read! Since I think that's a big part of what the book was setting out to do, I can't fault it much for having a lighter plot than some Moira Rogers stories. I'm giving part 2 of Protecting Their Mate 6/10.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Mini review: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa


Title: The Iron King
Author: Julie Kagawa
Release date: 2011
Publisher: HQ Young Adult
Series: The Iron Fey #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Free copy via previous job

Description: Meghan Chase has a secret destiny—one she could never have imagined. . .

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan's life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school. . . or at home. When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she's known is about to change. But she could never have guessed the truth— that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war.

Now Meghan will learn just how far she'll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face. . . and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

My thoughts: I have friends who rave about the Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa and I like stories that use celtic faery stories so I thought I'd give it a go. Megan lives in the USA, until her brother is kidnapped and she discovers that she can enter a faery 'underworld'. She decides she has to rescue him, but along the way becomes entangled in other plots.

I liked the story to some extent, but it felt very similar to many other young adult fantasy stories, and linked to that, very predictable. I don't really know what else to say about it apart form that, it was a very 'meh' book and a pretty quick read. I do have others in this series on my bookshelf already, and I might read them at some point, but I don't feel any urgency to do so, I'm not feeling excited to find out what happens next. There were fun bits in the book, the writing was alright, but nothing about it stood out to me. This is a 5/10 read for me.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Review: Protecting Their Mate (Part One) by Moira Rogers


Title: Protecting Their Mate (part one)
Author: Moira Rogers
Release date: 24th July 2017
Genre: Paranormal Romance/Erotica
Source: ARC from author

Description: Blake is on a mission from his alpha--to track down a werewolf whose parents dragged her into the human world years ago, one who may be in danger. He expects the lead to go nowhere, given how few wolves live among humans, but he discovers something rare indeed, caged in a basement: a beautiful, curvy woman gripped by the fever, ready to mate.

Ashley Todd has never fit in. She's always been too much--too big, too demanding, too aware of the wolf hiding beneath her skin. She's been locked away for months--been alone for a lifetime--and in walks Blake to save her from her prison. Her rescuer is hard, intense--a dominant wolf whose bossy attitude makes her growl...and yearn to submit.

Soothing Ashley's mating fever is Blake's responsibility--and his pleasure. Their passion is explosive, undeniable. But what started out as a job for Blake quickly becomes something more, and the toughest part of his mission looms: taking Ashley back to his pack so she can choose her permanent mate from amongst his brethren.

Ashley is drawn to dominant Blake, but meeting the rest of the pack reignites her desire. She is overwhelmed by her new life and all it entails, but embracing her inner wolf means embracing the truth: if she doesn't explore her attraction to the other members of the pack, she'll never find her forever mate .

Protecting Their Mate was originally published as an eight part serial under the penname Mia Thorne. It has been repackaged, but the story remains the same.

My thoughts: This is part one of a three part serialisation, with parts 2 & 3 to follow in the next couple of months. The story opens with a young woman called Ashley locked in a basement. She's fighting down her werewolf instincts, which are telling her 1) that she should shift into wolf form and 2) that she needs to find a mate. Luckily, she's soon rescued by Blake, another werewolf, who begins to correct some of the many lies she's been told about werewolf life. The most important thing is that as she's now in heat, only having sex will ease the pain she's experiencing and that she can sleep with lots of different members of the pack before it'll become clear who her mate is.

Blake and his pack have been searching for Ashley for a while, for various reasons. He's angry about the conditions he found her in but more than happy to look after her, doing anything she wants with his body...

Ashley has had a pretty horrible upbringing, but despite the host of revelations she gets as the pack bring her back to their home, she takes it in her stride. She's confident, and embraces the fun of getting to sleep with the other men in the pack, not just Blake.

It's a very sexy story, and there are also some hints dropped about problems in the wider werewolf community. I'm looking forward to seeing more about that in parts 2 & 3. It was a fast read, as you'd expect from part of a serial. I'm giving part one 6/10 - it was very sexy, but most of the plot revolves around that.

Buy it on Amazon here.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Book review: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh


Title: Silver Silence
Author: Nalini Singh
Release date: 15 June 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Series: Psy-Changeling Trinity #1
Source: Bought (at Waterstones)

DescriptionControl. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that's exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence--her mind clear of all emotion--Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That's what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious...and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...

My thoughts: I'm a huge Nalini Singh fan, and this world is my favourite. It follows on from her Psy-Changeling novels but as the main story arc of those books has now come to a close, this new book marks a step in a slightly different direction, following a new pack and focussing on a new area of the globe (although there are cameos from some familiar faces).

I was excited about the new characters before I started reading, and I'm pleased to say that they live up to the packs from the original series. There are jokers, trouble makers, and that overwhelming sense of family. There are just a couple of people who we get to know well in the pack, but already several who I want to see get more stage time and explore their stories. I think this is one of Nalini Singh's great strengths - her supporting characters are all detailed enough that you want to know their own story, without them being so strong as to steal the show.

Valentin is very playful, particularly with Silver, who he's decided to pursue before the book starts. Being an alpha, of course he also has a lot of responsibilities, and he's always looking out for the people in his pack. Silver, we've met already in previous books, and I loved seeing more of her family dynamic, and how, despite them being Psy, they're very close as a family.

I enjoyed the political aspects of the story, the conflicts going on in the wider world and how Silver and (to a lesser extent) Valentin are tied in to them. I wasn't so keen on the internal conflicts, like Silver's issues that hold her back from letting go of her Silence. I'm being vague to avoid spoilers, but I didn't like how the issue was resolved - I didn't think it was explained well enough. While we met a lot of the bear pack, who are all a lot of fun and I can't wait to read more about them, we don't meet many knew Psy. I think I would have liked to get a few more new characters on that side of things. One notable exception is Silver's brother, who is gay. I'm so happy that it looks like there might be a male/male romantic pairing getting a more central focus. Nalini Singh has had same-sex relationships between side characters before in the series, but those were already established off-page, and there was never much attention on those characters. With Arwen that might change!

Unsurprisingly, given my love for all the other Nalini Singh books I've read, I really enjoyed Silver Silence. It's not my favourite in the Psy/Changeling world, but I do think it's an excellent start to a new story arc, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. Overall, I'm giving Silver Silence 8 out of 10.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

June Reading Wrap-Up


I hope everyone had a good week? It was my first week back after a holiday, so a bit of a struggle, but I did manage to film a reading wrap up for the books I've read over the last six weeks or so. I'll do some written reviews of books mentioned, but here is a brief summary.


Have you read any of these? What do you think? And what's on your reading pile for the next few weeks? Let me know in the comments!

~Ailsa
 

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