Friday, 2 June 2017

Duke With Benefits by Manda Collins ( St. Martin's Press, 2017)



Publisher's Information

LADY + DUKE = TRUE LOVE?

Lady Daphne Forsyth is a brilliant mathematician with a burning passion for puzzles. When she learns that the library belonging to her benefactress houses the legendary Cameron Cipher- an encrypted message that, once solved, jolds the key to great riches- Daphne is on the case. Unfortunately, her race to unlock the cipher's code is continually thwarted by a deliciously handsome distraction she hadn't counted on.... and cannot resist.

Dalton Beauchamp, the Duke of Maitland, is curious as to why Daphne is spending so much time snooping around his aunt's bookshelves. He's even more intrigued by her bold yet calculating manner: She is unapologetic about her secret quest...and the fiery attraction that develops between them both. But how can they concentrate on solving a perplexing enigma once the prospect of true love enters the equation?

Duke With Benefits is the second in Manda Collins' Studies in Scandal series set in Regency England. 


Author Bio:           
Manda Collins is the author of several books, including Ready Set Rogue and The Lords of Anarchy series. She spent her teen years wishing she'd been born a couple of centuries earlier, preferably in the English countryside. Time travel being what it is, she resigned herself to life with electricity and indoor plumbing, and read lots of books. When she's not writing, she's helping other people use books, as an academic librarian.

Manda’s Social Links:Twitter: @MandaCollins
Facebook: @MandaCollinsAuthor
http://www.mandacollins.com/
SMP Romance Social Links:Twitter: @SMPRomance
Facebook: @SMPRomance
http://smpromance.com/

Review:


Duke With Benefits had me completely enthralled from page one. Mentally, I  did an excited little happy dance after reading the first few pages as I realised that this was going to be a gem of a story. 
I love historical mysteries and this one didn't disappoint. Secret rooms, a hidden cipher, a lost treasure, not to mention a murderer on the loose made this a great romantic adventure not to be missed.

Daphne and Maitland make a lovely couple. They don't have any silly misunderstandings or huge squabbles because they actually talk to each other. Daphne speaks her mind very matter of factly and Maitland is always at hand to support, help and protect Daphne from any threats that come their way during their investigations.
The supporting cast were equally as likeable and entertaining. I am particularly intrigued with Maitland's sister as she had quite a troubled back story and so I am itching to see what happens next.

Publication Day

Buy Links


Read an excerpt here!

“There you are, my dear,” said the Earl of Forsyth with a beaming smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes.
Maitland saw at once that Daphne favored him. Her green eyes were the same shade as his, though there were lines of dissipation bracketing the earl’s. And though his expertly cropped blond hair was shot through with silver, what remained of its original color was the same shade as hers. But whereas Daphne’s gaze was focused off to the left of whomever she conversed with, like a bird hovering just over a branch, Forsyth’s speared one with cold calculation. As he did to Daphne now.
“You are looking well, Daphne,” the earl continued, stepping forward to embrace his daughter, who looked as uncomfortable with the contact as Maitland had ever seen her. “The sea air agrees with you. As I knew it would.”
“The sea is very beautiful,” Daphne replied woodenly. “Why are you here, Father?”
“Is that any way to greet your Papa?” the earl chided, stepping back from her and wandering farther into the room, standing to stare out at the gardens below through the window. “I’ve traveled all the way from London to see you. And this lovely estate. I must admit that when I first learned of your inheritance, I thought it was all some sort of trick. But you would have your own way and leave the loving bosom of your family no matter what I said. Now that I’m here, though, and see it in person, I must admit that it’s a lovely spot. And your chaperone, Lady Serena, is quite beautiful, isn’t she? A widow, I take it?”
His jaw clenched at the man’s mention of Serena, and Maitland thought perhaps it was time to announce himself. Daphne seemed not to realize he’d followed her in, and the earl was too busy waxing rhapsodic over the beauties of Beauchamp House.
“I don’t believe we’ve met, Forsyth,” he said forcefully, stepping up to stand side by side with Daphne. He gave a slight bow, perhaps not quite as deep as was warranted, but not caring. “The Duke of Maitland. I am a friend of your daughter’s, you might say.”
What he meant by that last, he could not say, but the man made every bit of protective instinct within him go on the alert. He was her father, but all the same Maitland knew that Daphne was no safer with him than she would have been with Sommersby if he still lived.
At the sound of the duke’s voice, Lord Forsyth turned with almost comical haste from the window and stared. For the barest flicker, he looked angry. Well, if he were upset at the knowledge that his daughter was not without friends, then he would simply have to swallow it. Because Maitland was damned if he’d leave her alone with the fellow.
“Duke,” Lord Forsyth said with a tilt of his head, “I am pleased to make your acquaintance. I was a friend of your father’s, and had little notion I’d be meeting you here. He was a good man, your father.”
His father had been nothing of the sort, but Maitland was hardly going to discuss it with Forsyth.
“I am here visiting my sister, Lady Serena,” Maitland said coolly, letting the other man know in tone rather than words that he had not appreciated the older man’s speculative words about her earlier.

“And of course my cousin, Kerr. He only recently married another of the heiresses here, and resides here with her.”
Forsyth’s eyes narrowed at the implication that Daphne was well protected should her father wish to cause trouble. At least that was the message Maitland was endeavoring to send. And by the looks of it, Forsyth read him loud and clear.
“Capital, capital,” the earl said with false cheer. “A merry party you must all make here. I had no idea you were in such fine company here, Daphne. No notion at all.”
“Because we have not spoken since I left,” Daphne said, looking from her father to Maitland then back again, as if wondering what went on between them. “And now, father, I really must ask you to leave. I have a great deal of work to do and . . .”
“Don’t be absurd, Daphne,” her father said with a shake of his head. “I only just arrived. And there is something very important I must speak to you about.” He turned to Maitland with a raised brow. “I’m sure you’ll excuse us, Duke. I’m afraid what I need to tell my daughter is private family business.”
Maitland was opening his mouth to tell the man he would leave Daphne alone with him when hell froze over, when Daphne did it for him.
“Maitland stays,” she said, reaching out to grasp him by the arm. It was as much of a cry for help as he’d ever thought he’d see from her. Wordlessly, he slipped her arm into his, as if they were about to promenade round the room. He covered her hand with his, keenly aware of the thread of tension in her.
Once more, the earl’s eyes narrowed, and he turned an assessing gaze on Maitland, perhaps realizing for the first time the threat coming at him from that direction.
His jaw clenched, Forsyth said grimly, “Very well. If you wish your friend to witness our dirty linen, so be it.” As if needing to be in motion in order to speak, the earl began to pace the area between the window and the fireplace. “You know, Daphne, you left me without any obvious means of recouping what I lost from years of paying that tutor of yours, old man Sommersby.”
“You agreed to pay him,” Daphne said tightly. “After I threatened to expose . . .”
Hastily, Forsyth continued, “And I am currently in need of funds. As such, I must insist you return to London with me for the time being and meet a particular gentleman who has expressed interest in marrying you. Though his birth is not as high as yours, he’s quite wealthy and will make you a good husband, I trust. He’s assured me he has no concern about your odd ways, if you’re as beautiful as your portrait.”
Before Maitland could burst out with the string of invectives the other man’s pronouncement inspired in him, Daphne said, “I cannot marry this person. I’ve never even met him. You promised me that I would not have to marry someone for money as long as I won enough at the tables. I did so. You promised me, father.”
“I never actually promised, Daphne.” Forsyth said with a shake of his head. “If you chose to interpret it as such, that is not my fault. Now, go pack your things.”
Daphne’s hand on Maitland’s arm gripped him tightly. And before he even knew what he was doing, he said, “I’m afraid that’s impossible, Forsyth. Daphne is staying here.”
“I don’t know who you think you are, Maitland,” said the earl through clenched teeth, “but I am her father, and I am well within my rights to take her back to London. Now, kindly take your hands off of her and let her go pack.”
“It might once have been your right, Forsyth,” Maitland said coldly, “but Lady Daphne is my betrothed now and as such, she will remain here. With me.”
Copyright © 2017 by Manda Collins and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Press.






Sunday, 7 May 2017

Winter's Exile by James Philip (2015) narrated by Melanie Fraser (2017)




Publisher's Information

Winter’s Exile is the third full length Guy Winter mystery. It is set in England in the Second World War at the time of the London Blitz in October 1940.

In Winter’s Exile we find the Mystery Man in classic whodunit territory.

In Winter's Exile the Mystery Man is ‘exiled’ to the country to recover and recuperate from his injuries. Inevitably, there is no escaping the war. When the son of the local Squire is found dying within hours of a German bomber crashing in a nearby field Guy Winter is suddenly back in his element.

However, what initially looks to be a an open and shut, tame whodunit, soon takes on new and sinister proportions as the Mystery Man finds himself in the middle of what seems like a long-running family feud in a rural backwater that, despite appearances, is anything but divorced from the brutal realities of the war.

In Winter's Exile the Mystery Man is ‘exiled’ to the country to recover and recuperate from his injuries. Inevitably, there is no escaping the war. When the son of the local Squire is found dying within hours of a German bomber crashing in a nearby field Guy Winter is suddenly back in his element.

However, what initially looks to be a an open and shut, tame whodunit, soon takes on new and sinister proportions as the Mystery Man finds himself in the middle of what seems like a long-running family feud in a rural backwater that, despite appearances, is anything but divorced from the brutal realities of the war.



Review 




What I enjoyed most about this story was that we got to see more of Guy Winter as the family man and not just the Mystery Man. I feel that he has grown as a character and for me he is much more likeable in this book.  

I enjoyed the role his daughter played in this story. She played a key role in the investigations and kept a cool head in difficult situations. 
Her involvement marks a shift in the way women have typically contributed to Guy Winter's investigations. Up to this point women within Guy's world have chiefly been useful for sex. Their role amounted to reporting back intelligence gleaned from pillow talk with the men they had been sent out to spy on. 

I love historical fiction and the fact that this series is set during the second World War makes it much more interesting. It is the perfect backdrop for the spying game and an endless source of suspense and intrigue.



Purchase Links Audible  Amazon UK

Monday, 1 May 2017

Dead Time (Between Two Evils Book 3) by D.L. Orton 2017




If someone took everything you live for, how far would you go to get it back?

From award-winning author D. L. ORTON comes book three in the Between Two Evils series...

Shannon fights to stay alive inside a rogue biodome and discovers something totally unexpected... Peter. Lani is forced into the role of the reluctant heroine but rediscovers her street-kid mojo and sets out to find everything she's lost. Diego receives another dirty sock (and a note) from the poorly aimed fireball express: "The window between universes is closing." If Diego has any hope of getting back to Iz, he must get to the Magic Kingdom and power up the time machine before it's too late. 

What could possibly go wrong?



Review 


After reading the first two books in the series I was on tenterhooks to find out what happened to Shannon. Her story arc was terrifying, suspenseful, exciting and surprisingly it had a little sweet romance.
I loved that the story unfolded from the P.O.V. of the different main characters. Diego's quest to travel back in time and save his world also made riveting reading. The story of the alternate Isabelle and James was quite sad but I loved how their story concluded.
Dead Time is incredibly fast paced and exciting read. 
Any fans of sci-fi, romance or adventure would be sure to enjoy this series.

Buy Links Amazon US Amazon UK Book Depository


Thursday, 13 April 2017

Romancing the Rogue by Erica Ridley (2017)



Publisher's Information

When the new earl inherits, poor relation Miss Rebecca Bond must wed immediately or be out on her ear. The only man she’s ever loved is summoned to hear the will—but he already rejected her so soundly that they haven’t spoken in years. Yet who better than a rakish Viscount to teach her how to snare a gentleman who appreciates her charms?

Daniel Goodenham, Lord North Barrows, regrets nothing more than the lost friendship with the one woman who treated him like a man, not a title. Fate has given him the perfect pretext to win her forgiveness—even if it means having to matchmake her to someone else. But now that she's back in his life, he’ll do anything to convince her to choose him instead...


Review 


Another delightful regency romance penned by Erica Ridley.
This short, sweet, light hearted tale is just the thing to brighten up a dull day.
Daniel and Rebecca make a darling pair. 

I loved the story but a couple of things struck me as I was reading it.
I would have liked to see Daniel actively engaging in his reluctant matchmaker role rather than just talking about it. Surely her dowry would have enticed someone....anyone to marry her? She didn't have any suitors for Daniel to play matchmaker with or chase away as he probably would have done.
At the end of the day Daniel didn't have any competition and I think he deserved to have to put in some effort to win Rebecca.
 Rebecca is far too forgiving and I'd have preferred to see Daniel grovel a bit more for forgiveness. 
In saying that it is a charming and enjoyable story. 

Highly recommended.

Buy Links Amazon BookDepository

Thursday, 6 April 2017

The Good Mother by Sinéad Moriarty (2017)



Kate has been through the fire with her three children ...

Having been left devastated and homeless after her husband's affair and the break-up of their family, somehow she has pulled through. Though times are still tough, she's beginning to see the start of a new life.

But when twelve-year-old Jesssica is diagnosed with cancer, Kate's resilience is put to the ultimate test. She has an eighteen-year-old son consumed with hatred of his father, a seven-year-old who is bewildered and acting up and an ex-husband who won't face up to his responsibilities. And in the middle of it a beloved child who is trying to be brave but is getting sicker by the day.

Kate knows she must put to one side her own fear and heartbreak and do right by her children, particularly Jessica. But maybe doing the right thing means doing the unthinkable?



Review

A beautifully written story; Funny, heart warming and heart breaking. A real page turner. This emotionally charged book had me reaching for the tissues.

Buy Link  BookDepository

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne (2017)


From the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy In the Striped Pajamas, a sweeping, heartfelt saga about the course of one man's life, beginning and ending in post-war Ireland

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery -- or at least, that's what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn't a real Avery, then who is he?

Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from - and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

In this, Boyne's most transcendent work to date, we are shown the story of Ireland from the 1940s to today through the eyes of one ordinary man. The Heart's Invisible Furies is a novel to make you laugh and cry while reminding us all of the redemptive power of the human spirit.
 


REVIEW 


                        
                        A hugely entertaining read. 

As a novel set over much of twentieth century Ireland I was expecting a lot of doom and gloom with the usual mix of depressing things associated with the era: emigration, alcoholism, poverty, unwed mothers, an overly religious society dominated by the strictures of the church and under the watchful eye and the judgemental, heavy hand of the priests who show no mercy to women. Normally I would pass on anything that would remotely resemble anything with these typical tropes but I was taken by surprise with John Boyne's 'The Heart's Invisible Furies.'

I was surprised at the quick pace, the humour and the over all light tone of the novel despite some serious issues being described. The humour really lifted the whole feel of the book for me and made the experience of the novel that more enjoyable.

The story unfolds over the course of the twentieth century. It begins with Cyril's mother becoming pregnant at a young age in the post WWII era and it then follows Cyril's life from childhood into adulthood and old age. He struggles with his sexuality from a young age and has to survive in a time and place where it was illegal to engage in homosexual activities. Despite the seriousness of the issues worked into the novel I never felt the sense of hopelessness that I was expecting and I was glad of this as I wanted things to work out for Cyril. There was so much humour worked into the book that I felt a compulsion to read on and find out what happens next in Cyril's life. There were plenty of ups and downs, heartache and tragedy, fun and laughter. 

The Heart's Invisible Furies is now firmly placed on my top ten reads of 2017. Whether or not you are considering reading a book by an Irish writer this year this one should be on your reading list.


Buy Links   Amazon     BookDepository

Friday, 17 March 2017

Bitten (The Graced Series #2) by Amanda Pillar (2017)

The city of Pinton has never been safe…and now a serial killer is on the loose.

Doctor Alice Reive is the city’s coroner, and she’s determined to help find the murderer. Enlisting the assistance of the Honorable Dante Kipling and city guard Elle Brown, they race to track down the killer, before another victim dies.

Hannah Romanov – Dante’s missing twin sister – has spent hundreds of years living on an isolated mountain. But her quiet life is thrown into chaos after she discovers a baby left in the wilds to die. Hannah will do anything to ensure the infant’s survival, even if it means travelling to the worst place in the world for her – Pinton.

The second full-length novel in the stunning Graced series is perfect for fans of Nalini Singh, Richelle Mead, and Anne Bishop.
 


Review 

Bitten is the second installment in this exciting series. The author blends genres remarkably well and lets the story telling develop in such a way that it surely  attracts readers from all genres. Fans of mystery, romance and adventure will find something to love in this series.
I like a good murder mystery and so I found the serial killings aspect of the novel to be riveting, juicy and suspenseful. I didn't have a clue who the killer was until the last moment.
Fin, Byrne and Hannah spend most of the story travelling the road together and getting into one scrape after another. I loved this aspect of the novel. The relationships between the trio adapted and grew as Fin and Byrne got to know Hannah better. They alternated between bickering, arguing, to teasing each other and falling in love which kept me entertained for the duration of the novel. I preferred Byrne to Fin and I hope to read more about him in future stories. His love interest, Alice, intrigues me and so I'm hoping that some exciting adventure is awaiting the pair in the future.

Buy Links Amazon Book Depository

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Betrayal (Sea Assassins Trilogy Book 1) by Danielle Hardgrave (2017)



Publisher's Information

On a calm November evening, a ship disappears off the coast of Washington without a trace...

When Darcy Davies finds a handsome man washed up on the beach, he’s three things: injured, naked, and rude. And he’s got a few demands. Somewhere safe. No hospital.

Tell no one.

While Darcy takes him in, she’s no fool. She knows he was involved in whatever happened at sea that night. But is he a victim or a villain? One thing’s for certain—even if he’s not a danger to her person, this sexy stranger is a danger to her heart.

Gabriel Barnes can’t tell which is more of a pain in his side—the curvy brunette who plucked him off the beach, or the literal pain in his side.

Gabriel's secret will be hard to keep in such close quarters, especially with injuries that are healing much too fast. But he's got bigger problems.

It wasn't an accident that brought him here.

It was a betrayal.
 


Review 

A good start to a promising new series.

Betrayal is a short, sweet story with some suspense towards the end. 

The story started out well, grabbed my attention and held it for the first half of the book but it got a little bit slow in the middle.
The time that Gabe and Darcy spent playing house and getting to know each other was cute but it slowed the pace of the story down a lot. I would have liked something else to be happening to break up the monotony of their days. I kept waiting for them to give in to their attraction to each other so the story could finally move forward. I'm not a huge fan of sex scenes as I don't think they are necessary to the enjoyment of a good story but the author did a good job of building up the sexual tension so their relationship didn't feel rushed. 
The final third of the book was more to my liking when there was tension, suspense and action when Nate catches up to Gabe.  Nate has a very cold, creepy kind of persona which made him appear very threatening in his interactions with Darcy. I found him to be a very interesting character.

I wasn't expecting the epilogue to end with that little twist so now I can't wait to read what happens next!

Buy Link Amazon

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Wild Atlantic Words by MEAS Writers (2016)


Publisher's Information

A pocket watch frees a young girl from an unhappy vocation. Something strange frequents the dance halls of the fifties. A motorist catches a glimpse of giants on a journey through Barnesmore Gap.


In this collection you will discover tales as diverse as the rugged Donegal landscape that has shaped its people over the centuries. Seven authors have crafted themes of emigration, love, loss, friendship, and the supernatural to reflect life hard up against the Wild Atlantic coastline.


These stories provide a unique insight into a part of Ireland where people once gathered around turf fires to indulge in their love of storytelling, a craft which lives on through Meas Writers today.

Review 

A refreshing and lovely collection of short stories. The perfect kind of book to have sitting on your coffee table for dipping in and out of.  It's not often you hear the Donegal accent in modern fiction and I liked how it was represented here. I enjoyed reading about the quirky way ordinary folk get on with ordinary events like buying new furniture. I found the stories like Bees Knees that much more charming because I could relate to so many of the characters depicted.


What I enjoyed most about this collection was its multi author and genre aspect.  It had everything- humour, romance, paranormal. It ticked all the boxes for me. 
Each of the stories were well written and very enjoyable but a few of my favourite stories in the collection include Bees Knees by Malachy Sweeney, Dark Heart by Marie Hannigan, Of Vegetable and Men by Charlie Garratt, Rosie by Ann Garratt and Ruby Red Soldiers by Darren Gallagher.

Buy Links Amazon and Book Depository

The Duke (Victorian Rebels #4) by Kerrigan Byrne (2017)

He is noble, notorious, and takes no prisoners...

Strong as a Viking. Handsome as Adonis. Rich as Midas. Collin "Cole" Talmage, Duke of Trewyth, is the stuff that legends are made of. He's the English Empire's golden son--until fate has its way with him. Cole's family is killed and his closest comrade betrays him on the battlefield, leaving him gravely injured. But Cole is not one to dwell on misfortune. He is a man of duty, honor--and desire. And now he's ready for the fight of his lifetime...

Imogen Pritchard is a beautiful lass who works in a hospital by day and as a serving maid at night. Years ago, when she was young and penniless, she ended up spending a scandalous night with Cole, whose tormented soul was matched only by his earth-shattering passion. Imogen entered a marriage of convenience―one that left her a wealthy widow―but she never forgot Cole. Now that her long-lost lover has turned up in her hospital, injured and with no memory of her, Imogen is torn: Is it a blessing or a curse that their past remains a secret to Cole, even as his new passion for her leaves him wanting to protect and possess her...at all costs, in The Duke, the next Victorian Rebels novel by Kerrigan Byrne.


Review

The Duke is a little bit darker than most of the historical romances I've read lately but it made superb reading. I curled up for most of a day reading this book and I enjoyed every moment of it. The story, packed with emotional angst and longing, romance and suspense, kept me turning the pages to the end. 

Although book four in a series it reads perfectly as a stand alone novel but I will definitely be going back for books 1-3 when I get the chance.

This book was just brilliant and I recommend it to all historical romance fans out there.

Buy Links 


Saturday, 11 February 2017

My Lord the Spy - A Regency Romance (The Spy Series Book 1) Audrey Harrison (2016) Narrated by Melanie Fraser (2017)




Publisher's Information

England is under threat from Napoleon, but it doesn’t affect those in high society, or does it?


Charles Baker, the young Baron Glazebrook has happily fallen under the spell of a man of dubious character. He is rampaging over London, enjoying everything that a young man with a fortune could wish for.


Clara Baker is compelled to try and protect her brother, no matter what the cost is to herself or her reputation. She made a promise to her dying mother and nothing is going to divert her from her mission.


Edmund Ainscough, Earl of Chertsey is a man with a reputation. His welcome in the seedier side of society makes him the perfect target for those in authority who want to know who is loyal to the King.


Three people thrown together find their worlds, values and feelings can all be changed in an instant. All will face their deepest fears in this novel of love and betrayal.


Review 

My Lord the Spy is a charming, traditional regency romance. It has a real feel good feeling which made it a perfect reading choice to cosy up with on a cold, dreary day.
The story has everything that I associate with the genre; lighthearted banter, spies and smugglers, humour and romance. Best of all, it had a little bit of suspense which made it an exciting read as well. I was happy to spend all day listening to this book.

I was also happy to note that this is a clean regency romance; they are in short supply. And I am delighted to have found a new author to recommend to a much loved aunt.

I have listened to many of Melanie Fraser's performances. I've enjoyed them all and as a favourite narrator I knew that I wouldn't be disappointed with her performance of a regency romance. 
I think this is one of my favourites, probably because I love the genre and her narration of My Lord the Spy complemented it so well. Her polished accent and lovely diction really enhanced the story as her narration adds an air of authenticity to the characters and the time period they live in. This is something that narrators who perform with an American or regional accent just can't offer.  


There were quite a few different male and female characters to perform in this book and they were each done incredibly well. Each voice seemed to match them perfectly. Clara's voice in particular reflected her youth and sweet nature. Edmund's was suitably masculine and older than Clara's brother, Charles.

I enjoyed the sprinkling of sound effects. They added to the ambience of the scenes without being a distraction. My favourite was the background sounds on the beach during the smuggling activity and the scenes in the cave.

I'm itching to read Henry and Millie's story in the next book!

Buy Links 


 Kindle 



Friday, 10 February 2017

Dream State: The Sleeping Detective Series Book One by Charles R. Hinckley (2016)


Publisher's Information

August Chase is an ordinary man plagued by extraordinary precognitive dreams. When he foresees the brutal murder of a young woman, he tracks her down to warn her. His warnings go unheeded, and the dreamed murder becomes a reality. The victim’s sister, frustrated by slow police work, enlists August’s help, and he is launched into his first case as a private investigator. Delving deep into the victim’s life, he soon discovers a common thread in the shadowy world that may have claimed her. This is book One of the August Chase Mystery Series.


My review

A fast paced mystery with supernatural elements, Dream State is a great introduction to the Sleeping Detective series.

The whole concept of August Chase trying to prevent the deaths of people he sees in his dreams is quite thrilling. It's a race against time, firstly to find out the identity of the person, and then to convince them that their life is in danger. This leads to a lot of suspicion, fear and confrontation between August and the people he is trying to help. 
I loved the sub plot running through the novel. Chase sets up his own psychic detective business and his first client proves to be a challenge. Chase's abilities are tested as he tries to help a client find out what happened to his sister. This aspect of the novel was a source of humour but also nerve tingling and creepy! 
I can't wait to read more of the Sleeping Detective series.



I was provided a review copy via Word Slinger Publicity.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

My Bad Grandad (Mercy Watts Mysteries Book 7) by A.W. Hartoin (2017)


Publisher's Information

Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go to Sturgis. 

That’s what they say at the famous motorcycle rally. Is Mercy Watts a bad girl? Mercy doesn’t think so, but she’s going to Sturgis and things are about to go bad in a big way. 

When Mercy’s grandad, Ace Watts, heads to a reunion with his oldest friends, Mercy jumps at the chance to get away from her problems, but new problems await her at the rally. When a Vietnam vet dies, Mercy is expected to investigate. Despite her best efforts, she’s drawn into her grandad’s war with a string of deaths and a secret that the vets are intent on keeping no matter what. 
Mercy’s about to find out that a lie spoken fifty years ago can be used by a present day evil, and it’s not only stalking Sturgis, but the Watts clan itself.



My review 

I love this series and I couldn't wait to read My Bad Grandad but I was very disappointed in this latest adventure.
Chuck was missing from this book and his absence had a huge impact on my enjoyment of the story. I missed his alpha male attempts to help and protect Mercy during her investigations. There was no light flirtation, sexual frustration, cute little jealousies or silly arguments to lighten the mood. Instead, we get a pug, who gets treated quite badly in the name of comedy. I didn't particularly like the new cast of characters. There wasn't that same chemistry that the established characters have together. I liked Mercy's grandfather but I had no liking for Raptor at all and I couldn't see why she and Mercy had to be friends when they couldn't stand each other, just because they dormed together in college and their grandfathers were friends. She was a nasty character and I didn't warm to her at all.
I also missed Aaron in this book. He is practically invisible in this story; being relegated to the position of just someone who turns up with hot chocolate at odd moments.
I enjoyed the fact that Mercy is still making a splash in the rock work of DBD and I hope that continues as it provides plenty of scope for comedy and something for Chuck to get all hot and bothered about.
Despite my lukewarm reaction to My Bad Grandad, the Mercy Watts series has been fantastic entertainment up to this point and so I will look forward to the next release with as much enthusiasm as ever.

Thanks to the author for providing a review copy.

Buy Links Amazon  

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Blood of the Oak by Eliot Pattison (2016)


Product Description

The fourth entry in the Bone Rattler series advances the protagonist Duncan McCallum to 1765 and into the throes of the Stamp Tax dissent, which marked the beginning of organised resistance to English rule. Duncan follows ritualistic murders that are strangely connected to both the theft of an Iroquois artefact and a series of murders and kidnappings in the network of secret runners supporting the nascent committees of correspondence—which are engaged in the first organised political dissent across colonial borders. He encounters a powerful conspiracy of highly placed English aristocrats who are bent on crushing all dissent, is captured by its agents, and sent into slavery in Virginia beside the kidnapped runners. Inspired by an aged native American slave and new African friends Duncan decides not just to escape but to turn their own intrigue against the London lords.

Included in the novel’s cast of characters are figures from our history who have their own destinies to fulfil in the next decade, including Benjamin Franklin (writing from London), Samuel Adams, the early Pennsylvania rebel James Smith, Dr. Benjamin Rush, and, very briefly, a soft spoken militia officer named Washington. The Blood of the Oak takes a fresh view on the birth of the new American nation, suggesting that the “freedom” that became the centrepiece of the Revolution was uniquely American, rising not just from unprecedented political discourse but also from the extraordinary bond with the natural world experienced by frontier settlers and native tribes.



My Review                
I love historical novels and I have a keen interest in American history so I was delighted when I was offered this title for review. 
Pattison deftly weaves a fictional tale steeped in historical facts and Native American mysticism. The blood curdling violence in the story added to the suspense as it reflected the savagery that I associate with that time and place.
I found the story engaging from the beginning however the reader needs to take time time to appreciate the complexity of the plot and the intricacy of the clues dotted throughout. 

The Blood of the Oak has received many 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I am in the minority with allotting it 3 stars.
It is a lengthy book and I found the language style used, although reminiscent of the period, quite difficult and tedious to read. It slowed the pace of the novel for me which meant that I lost interest in various places along the way. I understood and appreciated the literary references e.g to Shakespeare however I could never fully immerse myself in the story as I had to work harder to process what I was reading. The long list of characters from various backgrounds and allegiances was also a challenge as I had not read the previous books. I think I would have had a better connection to the story and the characters if I had started from the beginning.

Purchase Link


                         

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Beneath the Coyote Hills by William Luvaas (2016)


Product Description

Beneath The Coyote Hills explores the influence of choice and chance in our lives. Do we control our own destiny or is it dictated in part by mysterious forces beyond our control?
Tommy Aristophanos is a luckless man, a homeless freegan, fiction writer, and epileptic, who is haunted by grotesque "spell visions" and by his abusive father who returns, quite literally, from the dead. When Tommy’s fictional creation, wealthy and successful V.C. Hoffstatter, emerges from pages of the novel Tommy is writing to harass him–repossess his home and fire him from his job, leaving him homeless–plucky Tommy fights back. Hoffstatter believes that we author our own destiny, while Tommy’s many reverses and his ailment teach him that we control far less than we imagine. He endures attacks by vigilante thugs, marauding coyotes, and by a criminal organ transplant ring in Kosovo that steals one of his kidneys. In the book’s final narrative twist, we are left wondering who is the true Pygmalion–Tommy or Hoffstatter?
 

Review 

Beneath the Coyote Hills was a book I just had to read in one day. It is a fast paced, unique and unusual story; one I refused to put it down lest I lose sight of the 'real' world Tommy inhabits and the fictional one he creates as the line between the blurs.
The story jumps in time from Tommy's childhood to his life in the present day as well as dipping into the fictional world of V.C. Hoffstatter. 
It sounds like it might be confusing for the reader however, impressively, it is presented in such a logical way that it all makes sense, although it does make you think! 
The twist at the end took me by surprise and I found myself pondering the story and its characters long after I had finished it.
The merging of the two worlds made compelling reading and I was fascinated by the whole idea of people's existences being dependant upon the stroke of a pen and the whim of the author. 

Purchase Links

Amazon UK / US  

Free Intl shipping from Book Depository



Wednesday, 11 January 2017

The Lucky Hat Mine by J.V.L. Bell (2016) Narrated by Nancy Wu (2016)



Publisher's Information

A recipe for true love or murder? Ingredients: one Southern belle, one Colorado gold miner, a wife wanted classified, and a fainting goat. Let simmer.

What's a Southern belle to do in 1863? Wife-wanted ads are always risky business, but Millie Virginia never imagined she'd survive the perilous trip across the Great Plains to find her intended husband in a pine box. Was he killed in an accident? Or murdered for his gold mine? Stuck in the mining town of Idaho Springs, Colorado territory, without friends or means, Millie is beleaguered by undesirable suitors and threatened by an unknown assailant. Her troubles escalate when the brother of her dead fiancé, Dominic Drouillard, unexpectedly turns up.

Dom is an ill-mannered mountain man who invades Millie's log cabin, insists that his brother was murdered, and refuses to leave until he finds the killer. Compelled to join forces with her erstwhile brother-in-law, Millie discovers the search for Colorado gold is perilous, especially with a murderer on their trail.

The Lucky Hat Mine interlaces the tale of a feisty heroine with frontier legend and lore making for an arousing historical murder mystery.
 



Review 

I really enjoyed this historical mystery-romance. It is a clever tale of greed, murder and suspense with a good dollop of romance and humour. 

I liked Millie and Dom. I found their banter and all their little arguments to be quite funny in places. I listened to the audio book and the humour in the pair verbally sparring came across very well. Millie was adorable every time she protested against being called Red.
The side characters were also well written and provided much amusement. The darker, dangerous characters were menacing enough that the suspense and intrigue had me on the edge of my seat right to the end. I felt the danger that Millie and Dom were in but I was so engrossed in the story that I didn't stop to ponder on who their adversary was. 
I loved the romantic aspect of this story. For me, it was the perfect blend of romance and suspense. It was subtle and full of humour as the pair got to know each other. It took a second seat to he drama going on around them and the pace felt realistic.

This was a great book and would certainly look out for more by the author.

I listened to the audio book and it was narrated very well and was very easy to listen to. I would recommend the audio version for those who like audio books. 


Thanks to the author for the review copy.

Buy links