Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Review: Shift - Jeff Povey

Get ready for one apocalyptic detention. These misfits are going to save the world!

Meet Rev, Billie, the Ape, Johnson, GG, Carrie, the Moth and Lucas, a motley crew of bickering teens who find themselves totally alone in the world after a strange power surge hits their classroom during detention. With no answers as to why or how the rest of the world has disappeared, the mismatched group is soon facing a bigger nightmare than they could ever imagine… Standing between them and the only way home are lethal duplicate versions of themselves, super powered teenagers who will kill anyone who gets in their way. Our unlikely heroes must somehow work together to save themselves… or they'll never see home again.

Shift is the first in a fast-paced, page turner of a series, filled with action, adventure and humour. Perfect for fans of Michael Grant, Charlie Higson and Antony Horowitz and for anyone who loves Misfits or Shaun of the Dead.

Visit the Shift Tumblr or Facebook pages for more information.

Review:
Shift is a fabulous fast paced debut that will grip you from the first page and keep you hooked until the end. The main characters Rev, Billie, the Ape, Johnson, GG, Carrie, the Moth and Lucas, are thrown together when something goes horribly wrong in the middle of their after school detention. They wouldn't normally choose to spend time together but when they leave school after seeing a mysterious flash of light they slowly start to realise that everyone else is missing. Their town looks exactly the same as it always has but there are no people anywhere and there is nothing to indicate where they've all gone.

You might thing it would be bad to be one of the last eight people on the planet but they soon discover something much, much worse. There are in fact sixteen people left and the other eight are strange duplicates of them, ones who aren't quite normal and who seem to have superhuman abilities. Oh and these mysterious doppelgƤngers are not only incredibly powerful but they also have an agenda, one that they don't need to keep their normal human versions alive to fulfil.

I don't want to say too much about the plot because this is the kind of story that you need to unravel for yourselves if you want to get the most out of it so I'm going to focus this review on the characters and how much I loved (or loved to hate!) them all. Jeff Povey has done a fantastic job of creating realistic teenage characters, I guarantee that you'll have met pretty much every one of these kids at some point in your lives, in fact you probably went to school with most of them. They all have well developed and individual personalities so I never had a problem keeping track of who was who. The only time things do get slightly confusing is when the characters are interacting with their duplicates because they both have all the same mannerisms. This made for some incredibly amusing situations though and I had a lot of fun seeing the characters effectively talking to (or about) themselves.

It's hard to pick a favourite character because they all have things I liked about them but I think the one who surprised me most was the Ape. When he's first introduced I saw him as a fairly typical bully boy, someone who isn't very bright but whose size made it easy for him to intimidate other pupils. In a lot of ways my immediate assessment was correct, he isn't the smartest of the bunch and he LOVES to destroy things, but he's definitely the kind of guy you'd want to have on your team if you were facing a bunch of homicidal superheroes. Time and time again Ape protects the others, he is completely loyal to the people he considers his friends and his love of hitting things comes in very handy when they're under attack. I loved the fact that there is more to him than meets the eye and I enjoyed seeing how the other characters changed their opinion of him as they got to know him better.

Shift is full of action and dark humour, it's a fast paced story that is being marketed to fans of shows like the Misfits and for once I'd agree with that back cover blurb. I'm excited that this is the first book in a series and I'll definitely be grabbing a copy of the next one as soon as it's available!

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Blog Tour: Jeff Povey introduces one of my favourite characters from his debut YA novel Shift - meet The Ape!

Recently I had the pleasure of reading Jeff Povey's debut novel Shift and I can tell you right now that I absolutely LOVED it! It's such a fun that kept me hooked from beginning to end (my full review will be posted later today) and I can't wait for you all to discover this fabulous new British author!

Jeff Povey has experience as a scriptwriter (for shows like Eastenders, Casualty, Silent Witness and Grange Hill) and you can really see that in the pacey way he tells his story. There is never a dull moment in Shift and I guarantee you'll be laughing all the way through it.

Here is a bit more information about the book:

Get ready for one apocalyptic detention. These misfits are going to save the world!

Meet Rev, Billie, the Ape, Johnson, GG, Carrie, the Moth and Lucas, a motley crew of bickering teens who find themselves totally alone in the world after a strange power surge hits their classroom during detention. With no answers as to why or how the rest of the world has disappeared, the mismatched group is soon facing a bigger nightmare than they could ever imagine… Standing between them and the only way home are lethal duplicate versions of themselves, super powered teenagers who will kill anyone who gets in their way. Our unlikely heroes must somehow work together to save themselves… or they'll never see home again.

Shift is the first in a fast-paced, page turner of a series, filled with action, adventure and humour. Perfect for fans of Michael Grant, Charlie Higson and Antony Horowitz and for anyone who loves Misfits or Shaun of the Dead.

Visit the Shift Tumblr or Facebook pages for more information.

So now you know all about the book I'm thrilled to welcome Jeff Povey to the blog today to introduce you to one of my favourite characters - The Ape! Please give him a warm welcome!

********************

THE APE

(Homo Hominoidea)

Everywhere I’ve ever been there’s always an Ape-type close by. Usually bellowing something, usually a little bit intimidating and boisterous, and very much a manboy who is much larger than his mates and always judged on his physicality and the loud noise he makes. In fact we pre-judge these Apes to such an extent that we never bother to get to know them.

So my intention was to try and bring that character to readers. To show that underneath there is a good person who lives by simple rules and because what you see is what you get then ultimately he is the most honest of characters. Complex brooding heroes have their place and quite rightly so but there are other types of hero that need to be given their day in the sun. This happens to be the Ape’s time.

He is based on a boy I know who would never for a minute recognise himself so he will remain anonymous. This boy is sort of blunt, very physical, dresses badly, is always loud, eats everything but has a heart of gold. I took some of his more robust elements and expanded on them, eventually boiling them down to three basic reactions to whatever the Ape encounters.

Do I eat it?

Do I tell it jokes?

Do I hit it?

Those are the three thought processes that the Ape has. He pounds through life, constantly hungry and blissfully unaware of social and moral codes. He isn’t loud in cinemas in an attempt to annoy people, he just has a loud voice. He doesn’t mean to completely encroach on your personal space, he just wants to talk. He never intends to smash things, he just gets carried away in the moment.

The Ape has no fear because he isn’t clever enough to see two outcomes to a fight. He thinks that he can only win. He loves girls and knows for sure that they love him even though he hasn’t had a girlfriend ever. He thinks he’s popular and that everyone should be happy to be around him. He possibly doesn’t have any idea that most people can’t stand him. He doesn’t do bitchy, or deep, or angst-ridden. He doesn’t even try to be a hero, he just does what he thinks is right at the time. And he is always going to be there to protect Rev. He has an invisible thread to her, one of those unspoken bonds that neither know is there, but he would tear the planet apart if it meant keeping her safe.

With regard to the Ape and Rev’s friendship there is very much an undercurrent of something a little deeper going on. Beauty loved the Beast but we all knew he was a handsome prince underneath and she only really got with him when the curse was lifted. The Ape is just the Ape, there is no Prince trying to escape. I’m not sure he would recognise that he loved someone anyway, but one day he will hopefully find someone who will love him for what he is. The Ape is the true hero of the trilogy but he won’t necessarily be the hero who gets the girl.

The Ape is a great character to write dialogue for. He can say anything and not be governed by a personal history of learning what not to say. Everything is up for grabs; in Book Two he claims that Jesus must be the first zombie because he came back from the dead. His comments aren’t meant to be offensive, they’re more the thoughts that people might have but also know to keep to themselves.

As in:

“What’s Hamlet?”

“This other Rev’s boobs look bigger than yours. Just going to zoom in to check.”

“Sh, I’m trying to hit that man.”

“I ain’t a train.”

“Yowza!”

“I got this.”

He’s clearly not the most eloquent person around and again he’s not the archetypal hero who spouts cool lines and clever quips. He’s a force of nature and when the chips are down you’ll want him right beside you. Not talking – but fighting.

********************

Thanks for a fabulous post Jeff, I really grew to love The Ape when I was reading Shift. He has such a straightforward outlook on life and he doesn't play games with people. I actually felt kind of sorry for him that nobody could ever remember his real name though!

Make sure you check out the other stops on the Shift blog tour for your chance to meet the rest of the characters and find out more about the book:

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Review: Night After Night - Lauren Blakely

Their world was sex, love, and lies.

He intoxicated her. Commanded. Consumed.

With a dirty mind and a mouth to match, Clay Nichols is everything Julia never knew she wanted and exactly what she cannot have. He walked into her life one night and unlocked pleasure in her that she never knew was possible. Possessing her body, captivating her every thought. Which makes him way too dangerous for Julia to risk her heart, given that she has a price tag on her head. She ran after one mind-blowing week with him, but now he's back, and determined to make her his own.

No matter the cost.

She was a sexy drug to him. Fiery, unforgettable, and never enough, Julia is an enigma, and Clay isn't willing to let her go without a fight. But she's got dark secrets of her own that threaten to destroy any chance of happiness. She’s a wanted woman – the stakes are high, her every move is watched, and yet the lure between them can’t be denied. Can two people burned by love trust again when desire and passion are met by danger at every turn?

Seductive Nights Series:
First Night (Free Short Story)
Night After Night
After This Night
One More Night
One Night with Her (Novella)
Nights with Him
Forbidden Nights (2015)
Sweet Sinful Nights (2015)

Visit Lauren Blakely's website for more information

Review:
After really enjoying First Night (the free prequel to the Seductive Nights series) I couldn't wait to spend more time with Clay and Julia in Night After Night. This is the first full length book I've read by Lauren Blakely and it definitely won't be the last because it not only lived up to my expectations - it utterly smashed them! I absolutely can't wait to carry on reading this series so I'm incredibly relieved that the release date for the next book is less than a month away.

If you've read the prequel (which I'd recommend before picking this book up - it's free so you've got nothing to lose even if you're not sure about whether to try the series or not) then you'll already know that Julia and Clay have fabulous chemistry and you can definitely expect to see more of that in this book, but, while they have a whole lot of insta-lust and things certainly heat up fast between them I'm so happy to be able to tell you that they take time getting to know each other before they start even thinking the "L" word. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed seeing them spending time together outside of the bedroom, these are two characters who actually know how to have a conversation about something other than sex. Shocking isn't it?! So many erotic romances focus just on the bedroom and forget about a couple spending time together and just having fun so I loved that we get to see Julia and Clay do both. Of course the bedroom scenes are red hot too so you're not missing out in that department either!

Another thing I loved about this book was the lack of unnecessary drama. There were a few moments when I was worried that something or someone would cause an issue between them just to raise the tension but thankfully I was concerned needlessly. There are things from both of their pasts that could cause problems between them but Clay is very good at being open and honest about his feelings and telling Julia exactly what he wants. Julia is more wary of sharing her secrets but only because she worries that Clay will be in danger if he finds out about her past. She is caught in a very difficult situation and she hasn't been able to confide in anyone the full extent of her troubles because she is terrified of dragging her friends and family into her mess. She's also embarrassed that she ended up in this position in the first place and doesn't want anyone to think badly of her because of it. I don't want to say much about the mess she's in so you'll have to read the book for more information but I will tell you that although she takes her time she does slowly start to trust Clay and let him get close enough to get a peek at her secrets.

Julia and Clay are both fabulous characters and I devoured Night After Night in one sitting. It's the kind of book that will raise your temperature and leave you in need of a cold shower but it also has some really sweet and romantic moments (can someone please tell me to find a real life version of Clay because I want one!). It's going to be very interesting to see how they deal with Julia's past in the next book, can she trust Clay enough to open up to him fully and let him help her? Even if she does I can't see an easy way out for them. After This Night is at the top of my wish list and as soon as I've read that I'm going to start working my way through Lauren Blakely's back list because I believe I may have found a new favourite author.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Review: First Night - Lauren Blakely

An erotic novella from the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author Lauren Blakely...

It was only supposed to be one night...

When the sinfully handsome man walks into her bar in San Francisco, Julia Bell simply wants a break from the troubles that keep chasing her. That escape comes in the form of sexy, confident and commanding Clay Nichols, who captivates her mind AND turns her inside out with pleasure. The attraction is electric and they share one scorchingly hot night together, but they also discover there is more than just off-the-charts chemistry; the connection between them runs deep. Clay never thought he’d return to New York with this woman still on his mind. But he can’t get her out of his system, and he needs more of her...

He wants more than just the first night...

*This is a prequel novella to the erotic romance NIGHT AFTER NIGHT.*

Seductive Nights Series:
First Night (Free Short Story)
Night After Night
After This Night
One More Night
One Night with Her (Novella)
Nights with Him
Forbidden Nights (2015)
Sweet Sinful Nights (2015)

Visit Lauren Blakely's website for more information

Review:
First Night is a free short story prequel to Lauren Blakely's new Seductive Nights series and it introduces us to Julia and Clay who are the main characters in the series. This is the story of their first meeting, what is supposed to be a hot one night stand to scratch an itch ends up leaving them both wanting more. At around 50 pages there isn't much time to develop the characters but it was enough to show what fantastic chemistry they have and give us a nice taster of how hot the rest of the series is (hopefully!) going to be.

Clay is an entertainment lawyer who has travelled from New York to San Francisco to close up a deal for one of his clients. The bar, Cubic Z, is recommended to him by a friend, someone who also happens to mention the hot bartender Julia and suggests he look her up. After signing his deal Clay is looking to unwind and Cubic Z seems like the perfect place to do it. He loves his women feisty so he is instantly drawn to the smart mouthed redhead but it is only after spending a night together that he realises just how perfect she is for him.

Julia is the kind of woman who knows exactly what she wants and who isn't going to settle for less. she wants a real man, one who isn't always going to let her get her way and someone who knows exactly how to please her in the bedroom. There are hints at some issues from her past that I'm sure will be delved into deeper in the next book - I for one am incredibly curious to find out what she gets up to on Tuesday evenings! - but for now we don't have much information about her background.

Clay and Julia are incredibly well matched, they both love to talk dirty and they both love a bit of give and take when it comes to sex. They are very in tune and seem to naturally switch over who gets to be the dominant one in any given situation which is something I'm hoping we see a lot more of.

First Night is short and sweet, it's incredibly hot but has a few more tender moments too and it's definitely enough to make me want to carry on reading the series. The ebook also includes a sample from Night After Night just in case you need more help deciding whether to buy the next book. I'm looking forward to spending more time with this couple.

Source: This was a free read available to download from Amazon.

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Kindle:

Review: White Hot Kiss - Jennifer L. Armentrout

One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she's crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she's not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn't an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she's the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

Dark Elements Series:
Bitter Sweet Love (Novella)
White Hot Kiss
Stone Cold Touch
Every Last Breath (2015)

Visit Jennifer L. Armentrout's website for more information

Review:
I really enjoyed Bitter Sweet Love (the prequel to the Dark Elements series), I liked both Jas and Dez but I think the character that intrigued me most was Layla, the young half demon / half warden (gargoyle) girl they met when they were in Washington, so I was excited when I found out that she was actually going to be the main character in the series. White Hot Kiss is set a few years on from the prequel and although Jas does appear occasionally throughout the story I have to admit I didn't like her as much in this book. She just seemed like a different girl to the one we met previously and considering she'd become friends with Layla in the first book I was irritated by her reactions in this one. I was also a bit disappointed that Dez doesn't even make a minor appearance.

However, the focus on this book is definitely on Layla and while there were some occasions when she started to irritate me overall I quite liked her. It isn't easy being the only half demon / half warden in existence. The wardens may have taken her in and they're very happy to use her ability to tag demons to help them in their fight against evil but the majority of the clan have never fully accepted her. Most of them don't trust her, in fact, they're pretty scared of some of her abilities so they always seem to put her down and belittle her. The only warden who has ever treated her like a normal girl is Zayne, he is a few years older than she is and has been protecting her ever since the wardens found her and brought her to live with them. As a part demon Layla doesn't just have the power to tag demons she also has the ability to suck the soul from anyone she gets close to, she has to constantly battle her instincts so that she doesn't harm anyone and Zayne is the one person who understands how hard she has to fight it. It's no real surprise that Layla developed a crush on Zayne but it is impossible for them to be together since wardens have such bright, pure souls and Layla couldn't even get close enough to kiss him without stealing his soul accidentally. I really loved the way Zayne stuck up for Layla in Bitter Sweet Love, he obviously cares about her a lot but in White Hot Kiss I actually found myself surprised and a little disappointed by his behaviour. Considering he is a potential love interest (and the guy whose team I expected to be on before I picked up the book) I was surprised to find myself much more interested in his demon rival Roth.

Roth is very much your typical bad boy, he has the looks, the snarky attitude and the sex appeal that I find very appealing in my fictional characters so it's no surprise I loved him from the moment he steps onto the page. He seemed much more vivid than most of the other characters in this series but even so doesn't really bring anything new to the table - he's exactly what I'd expect from one of Jennifer L. Armentrout's bad boys. Don't get me wrong, she writes very good bad boys, but I just was hoping for more from Roth. Either way I'm still firmly on team Roth when it comes to this love triangle and I do love his character.

I had expected to learn a lot more about the wardens in this book, I'm still not sure I understand why it is OK for the humans to know that gargoyles exist but so important that they don't find out that there are demons walking around. We were kind of given an explanation but it seems a bit flimsy to me and not a very logical one so I'm going to hope that we get more answers to that as the series continues. I think the wardens actually owe Layla a lot more information about her background and why they have kept so much hidden from her. Right now I find the demons more trustworthy than the supposed good guys which I wasn't expecting. There are some fantastic revelations towards the end of the story and the ending left me really eager to get my hands on a copy of the next book Stone Cold Touch. I have a feeling things are going to get very interesting now and I'm looking forward to seeing how certain events play out. I do hope that the triangle has less focus in the next book though. I'm really over that trope now and it's getting a little boring to see nearly every female main character bouncing back and forth between two hot male leads.

While I enjoyed White Hot Kiss and found reading it a pleasant way to pass the time I have to confess that it isn't my favourite one of Jennifer L. Arementrout's novels. I do think fans of YA paranormal romance will like it though, especially ones who are looking for something a little bit different - it's not every day you come across books about gargoyles after all.

Source: Received from publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Paperback / Kindle:

Monday, 28 April 2014

Review: Bitter Sweet Love - Jennifer L. Armentrout

In a sizzling prequel novella to her new series The Dark Elements, #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout draws readers into the extraordinary, irresistible world of Wardens and demons.

Dez wasn’t just Jasmine’s crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas, he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining the balance between good and evil. He was her everything…right until the moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn’t help that Jas’s father had just announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that personally.

And now he’s back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn’t taking that risk again. Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her heart—or shatter it all over again…

Dark ElementsSeries:
Bitter Sweet Love (Novella)
White Hot Kiss
Stone Cold Touch
Every Last Breath (2015)

Visit Jennifer L. Armentrout's website for more information

Review:
When Dez walked away from Jasmine without a word he broke her heart so when he comes waltzing back into her life after three years with no word she isn't about to forgive him easily. Dez seems to expect her to welcome him back with open arms and for them to pick up their relationship where it left off but Jas has no intention of letting him into her heart for a second time. She has no idea where he has been or what he was doing and until she understands his actions she will never be able to trust him not to desert her all over again. When he asks her to be his mate she has seven days to make her decision so she decides to set him a series of tasks to see if he can win her heart and regain her trust. If nothing else having Dez on her side will allow her to get away from the clan and have an adventure.

Bitter Sweet Love is the prequel novella to Jennifer L. Armentrout's Dark Elements series and it introduces readers to a world of gargoyles who protect humans from the demons who walk unseen amongst us. The gargoyle society is quite old fashioned with the men becoming Wardens who fight to protect both the clan and the human population while the women are expected to stay safely at home raising the children. This is something that Jasmine has been fighting against her whole life, she doesn't want to just be a wife and mother, she wants the freedom to explore the world and to be allowed to do her part in the war against the demons. Dez broke her heart by leaving and she has no reason to trust him but when he agrees to spend the next week helping her achieve her dreams she agrees to spend time with him. If it means she'll be able to leave the clan and get to travel even a tiny bit then it is worth having Dez around for a week.

I really enjoyed learning about the world the author has created, I've read a few gargoyle books now but they are still fairly uncommon in the paranormal romance genre so stories about them always feel slightly different to anything I've read before. I have to admit I'm not a fan of the old fashioned way the gargoyles view gender roles but since that is something that Jas is fighting against it didn't bother me as much as it would have done otherwise. I enjoy seeing characters who rise up against what they were raised to believe in so that actually turned into a plus point for me.

The romance between Jas and Dez was well handled, they had fantastic chemistry (yes, gargoyles CAN be sexy!) but Jas wasn't about to let Dez off the hook lightly for the disappearing act he had done on her. I was glad that she made him work at earning her trust and that made their relationship much more believable. It helped that Dez had reasons for what he had done, they weren't necessarily reasons that either Jas or I agreed with but he hadn't walked away because he didn't care about her. He spent every day proving how much he loved her and trying to win her back and I felt he'd earned her trust by the end of the week.

Jas and Dez aren't the main characters in the rest of the series, although I expect they'll make further appearances, but this story does introduce us to Layla and Zayne who are going to be the main focus. We don't spend a huge amount of time with them but we found out a little of their back stories and they were very easy to like. I'm definitely looking forward to spending more time with them both in White Hot Kiss.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Kindle:

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Review: Tempted by the Soldier - Nicolette Day

When one touch isn't enough, why resist?

Road trips are supposed to be fun. Or, at least, full of hot sex. For photographer Lilly Grayson, the fifteen-hour drive to her friend’s wedding with Nate Jennings will be neither. Not that Nate isn't sexy—the man is six-foot-three-inches of mouth-watering Marine. But Lilly’s been there, done that...and he walked away. Now it’s time for a little payback. The kind that’ll make a man desperate for a taste of what he can’t have.

And Nate wants a taste—so badly that he can barely keep his hands on the wheel. But the scars and ghosts of his last tour still haunt him. He can’t give into temptation, not this time. Lilly deserves a whole man—one who can love her the way she deserves to be loved, even if she doesn't believe it can happen. And that can’t be Nate. Not when he’s leaving again in two weeks, and this time, he’s not sure he’ll return...

Falling for You Series:
No Strings Attached (Novella)
Tempted by the Soldier

Visit Nicolette Day's website for more information.

Review:
After really enjoying No Strings Attached I couldn't wait to read Nicolette Day's first full length novel Tempted by the Soldier and I have to say it was even better than I'd hoped it would be. I had so much fun reading this book and I can't wait to see what this author comes up with next - she's definitely been added to my list of must read authors! Lilly is Hayden's best friend and Nate is Jace's brother so both characters were around in No Strings Attached but they didn't have a huge amount of page time so we don't know them well before starting this book. Although you can read this as a stand alone novel I would recommend reading the series in order if you can because of this rounds off the previous couple's story really nicely.

Nate is a Marine who was badly injured in a helicopter crash on his last tour of duty, he has recovered physically but he is suffering badly with PTSD and is an emotional wreck. He feels so guilty that he was the only survivor of the accident and he doesn't feel that he deserves to be happy. Lilly is beautiful, feisty and everything he could ever dream of but he is convinced that he isn't good enough for her and he is determined not to get involved in her life. Lilly and Nate shared an incredible night together a year ago and she really thought there was a connection between them, until he walked away from her the morning after and has been pushing her away ever since. She may still be attracted to him but there is no way in hell that she'd ever give him another chance to hurt her like he did before. When circumstances force her into a road trip with Nate she sets out to show him exactly what he walked away from but she's finding it harder to keep him at arm's length than she expected to.

I'm a sucker for a damaged hero and they don't come much more emotionally wounded than Nate so of course it didn't take me long to fall for him. It helps that he's a sexy hunk of alpha male who is ALL about the smouldering looks and flirty banter. His nickname is "Private Panty Melter" and boy does it fit him! I'm amazed that Lilly managed to hold out for as long as she did because their chemistry was off the charts and about to set fire to my kindle. Nate can come across as a bit of an ass at first because he does everything in his power to push her away and that includes saying some quite hurtful things to her. We get to see the story from both character's point of view though so even when he is being an idiot we get to see his thought process and understand why he's acting that way.

Thankfully Lilly isn't a pushover and she totally calls him out on his bad behaviour, she punishes him in some truly fantastic and creative ways and I loved her for that (watch out for the truck stop bathroom scene - I laughed so much I nearly cried!). Lilly is a great character, she is down to earth, modest and a lot of fun and I think she'd be a great friend. Nate is lucky that she is forgiving too because not everyone would take him back after the way he acted initially no matter how irresistible he is. He does have to work to earn her favour and the banter between them is fabulous, neither of them like to lose an argument and they'll do whatever it takes to one up each other which is very amusing to watch.

I expected this to be a light and fluffy read - nothing wrong with that, I enjoy my palette cleanser romances - but I actually ended up with a story that has a lot of heart. These characters are both damaged individuals but they come together and make each other stronger. The story was still a huge amount of fun, full of witty banter and extremely hot sex but the characters also go on a satisfying emotional journey and it left me with a huge smile on my face.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
If you have reviewed this book on your blog please leave a link to your review in the comments & I'll add the link here.

Kindle:

Review: No Strings Attached - Nicolette Day

She wants one night. He wants her forever.

Hayden Summers just landed the job of a lifetime taking pictures for Time magazine, but she’s determined to leave with no regrets. The first thing on her list? Erase the memory of her cheating ex with a wild night of anonymous sex. The second? Figure out why her best friend, sexy bar owner Jace Jennings, stopped speaking to her the night she told him about the job.

Jace has a problem. Hayden isn't just leaving the country, she’s risking her life—just when he’s realized he’s in love with her. When fate traps them in the storage room of his bar together, barely contained desire simmers to surface. In one last attempt to keep her, Jace offers Hayden the one thing she wants: a night of hot sex, no strings attached. But when the night is over, will Jace be able to let her go? And will Hayden leave with her heart intact?

Falling for You Series:
No Strings Attached (Novella)
Tempted by the Soldier

Visit Nicolette Day's website for more information.

Review:
At around 50 pages No Strings Attached is perfect for when you don't have enough time for a full length novel but still want to read a satisfying romance. I have to admit that I was worried that Nicolette Day wouldn't have enough time to do the story justice in such a short novella, especially as these are new characters that haven't been introduced to readers before but I ended up really enjoying getting to know Hayden and Jace.

I'm a sucker for friends to lovers romances and these two have a long history together which probably helped me get on board with a relationship that develops so quickly. Jace has been Hayden's best friend for a long time and she trusts him implicitly, what she doesn't understand is why he has been acting so distant ever since she told him she'd landed her dream job as a photographer for Time magazine. It took a long time for Jace to realise that he was in love with Hayden and now she's got a new job that is taking her out of the country and potentially putting her life at risk before he's even had a chance to tell her. He doesn't want to stop her from living her dream but he can't bear the thought of letting her leave without telling her how he feels. When he finds out that she plans to have a wild night with a stranger before she leaves the country he decides it's the perfect opportunity to show her how perfect they are for each other.

I don't want to say too much more so I'll just tell you that No Strings Attached may be short but it's also sweet and incredibly hot. It's a great intro to the Falling for You series and I can't wait to read Lilly and Nate's story Tempted by the Soldier.

Source: Received from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Review: The Shadow Prince - Stacey O'Neale

Every sacrifice has consequences.

Sixteen-year-old Rowan has spent most of his life living among the mortals—learning to control the element of fire, impatiently awaiting the day his vengeful mother, Queen Prisma, will abdicate her throne. When he finally returns to Avalon for his coronation, his mother insists he must first prove his loyalty to the court by completing a secret mission:

Kill Kalin, the half-human, half-elemental daughter of the air court king.

Willing to do anything to remove his mother from power, he agrees to sacrifice the halfling. He returns to the mortal world with his best friend, Marcus, determined to kill the princess. But as he devises a plan, he starts to question whether or not he's capable of completing such a heinous task. And what price he will pay if he refuses?

The Mortal Enchantment Series:
The Shadow Prince (Free prequel novella)
Mortal Enchantment (May 2014)
Fragile Reign (November 2014)

Visit Stacey O'Neale's website for more information

Review:
The Shadow Prince is a prequel novella to Stacey O'Neale's new Mortal Enchantment series and it is currently available as a free ebook from Amazon (I'm not sure if that is the permanent price so download it to your ereader now just in case!) or if you prefer you can also purchase a paperback copy. While the story is fairly short it is a great introduction to the series, one that is full of action and definitely leaves the reader wanting to know more.

The story is told from the point of view of Rowan, a fire elemental who is next in line to control the fire court. Rowan has spent most of his life in the human realm but has now been summoned home by his mother Queen Prisma because she has decided to abdicate her position and hand him the crown. To say Rowan is surprised by this move is an understatement, he has never been close to his mother as she favours his older, adopted siblings, and he is very wary of her motives. He suspects she is planning something and that turns out to be true when she insists that to prove he is worthy of the throne he must complete a challenge - he must kill Kalin, the half-human daughter of the king of the air court. Although Rowan is horrified with his task he knows how important it is to get his people out from under Prisma's tyrannical rule and he feels there is no other option but to agree. Can Rowan really go through with killing an innocent girl though and if he doesn't how much will his failure cost him?

I don't want to say too much more about the plot because you should just read it for yourself. After all it's free and it's only around 70 pages long so you've got nothing to lose by giving it a try. The author has done a great job of introducing her main characters and the world she has created without overwhelming us with too much information and I'm looking forward to continuing the series.

Source: This was a free read available to download from Amazon.

Other Reviews:
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Friday, 25 April 2014

Review: The Lingerie Shop - Joey W. Hill

When finance executive Madison inherits a lingerie shop called Naughty Bits, she decides to leave behind her staid career and explore her every forbidden desire...

Madison is a control freak with one wish—to lose control. Her hidden submissive cravings have led to a string of disastrous relationships. So when she inherits her sister’s North Carolina lingerie shop, Naughty Bits, she jumps at the opportunity to dump her boring finance career and bad history and try her luck down South.

But before Madison can settle in, she catches the attention of the owner of the neighboring hardware store. Sexually dominant Logan Scott can see the hunger for command in Madison’s eyes and is anxious to help unleash her submissive desires. He presents her with three very tempting gifts—handcuffs, erotic cards, and an open invitation to join him at a submissive’s training session.

Faced with the realization that she can’t sell fantasies to her lingerie customers without embracing her own, Madison accepts Logan’s offer. Now, she’s about to discover just how far her desire can take her...

Naughty Bits Series:
The Lingerie Shop
The Training Session
Bound to Please
The Highest Bid

Visit Joey W. Hill's website for more information.

Review:
When Madison's sister dies and she inherits the Naughty Bits lingerie shop she sees it as the perfect opportunity to get away from her boring job and start a new life for herself. She didn't realise how hard it would be to turn her hand to selling sex toys though and it looks like she's going to need some help learning how to make her customers comfortable. She has been burying her submissive side for so long that she has no idea who she really is any more and the incredibly sexy Dom from the shop next door seems to be more than willing to help her loosen up a little. Can she be brave enough to take a risk with Logan or will her new career end in disaster?

I have a confession - I've never read anything by Joey W. Hill before. I've heard so many good things about her books though so when I got the opportunity to review this one I jumped at the chance to read it. I have to admit that while I liked the story it didn't wow me as much as I hoped it would. I have now come to the conclusion that serial novels are just not for me. I want to be able to read the whole story in one sitting and I do honestly think that if this story had been released as a full length novel I would have happily carried on to the end and probably really enjoyed it. The problem is that this part didn't grab me enough to make me spend the money it will cost to buy the remaining three instalments. Another issue with serials is that they nearly always work out more expensive than buying a full length book and that makes me very reluctant to part with my money. Add in the fact that this book is releasing in monthly instalments so the final part won't be available until July and I can pretty much guarantee these characters will be completely off my radar by then (when you consider that I'll probably read at least 80 books between now and then it's no surprise that something has to be INCREDIBLY special to hold my attention for that length of time).

Madison is an interesting character but I found it very hard to relate to her, she is so sexually repressed and embarrassed about her desires and I don't like the way she pushes everyone away. We do see her start to explore her fantasies a little by the end of the novella though and I have a feeling she's going to go on a real emotional journey as well as a sexual awakening throughout the series which should be interesting to see. I'm hoping she'll become a lot more likeable by the end of the series because I really did want shake her and tell her to get a grip at times. I enjoyed the humour of seeing Madison thrown in the deep end with her sister's lingerie shop though, she is so incredibly naive and now she's supposed to be advising customers and selling sex toys which was very amusing.

At the moment I think Logan is the main draw for me to want to continue the series, he runs the hardware shop next door to Naughty Bits but he also builds custom made BDSM equipment and trains submissives on the side. Logan was also good friends with Madison's sister Alice and she asked him to keep an eye on her after she was gone. Alice knew Madison inside out even though they've been estranged so I think she was aware of how much Madison needs to be pushed if she's ever going to learn to let herself go and loosen up and I'm pretty sure Logan is the perfect man for the job. My main complaint was that we didn't get enough of him in this instalment but hopefully that will be remedied as the series continues.

Unfortunately this novella cuts off the story just as things are starting to get interesting, I would like to know what happens next but I doubt I'll continue with the series unless it is released as a bind up for a reasonable price. I'm not going to be forced into paying more than normal for a novel just because it has been split into four chunks. Die hard Joey W. Hill fans or people who like this new trend of serial novels will probably be happy to start the series now but otherwise my suggestion is to wait until July & then give it a try when at least you're not going to have to wait on a cliffhanger between each new instalment.

Source: Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Thursday, 24 April 2014

Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter is preparing to leave the Dursleys and Privet Drive for the last time. But the future that awaits him is full of danger, not only for him, but for anyone close to him - and Harry has already lost so much. Only by destroying Voldemort's remaining Horcruxes can Harry free himself and overcome the Dark Lord's forces of evil.

In this dramatic conclusion to the Harry Potter series, Harry must leave his most loyal friends behind, and in a final perilous journey find the strength and the will to face his terrifying destiny: a deadly confrontation that is his alone to fight.

Harry Potter Series:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Illustrated Edition (Illustrated by Jim Kay)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets: Illustrated Edition (Illustrated by Jim Kay)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (with John Tiffany & Jack Thorne)

Pottermore Presents:
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies (Short Story Collection)
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics and Pesky Poltergeists (Short Story Collection)
Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (Short Story Collection)

Harry Potter Products:
Harry Potter: Winter at Hogwarts: A Magical Colouring Set (Colouring Book, Gift Tags & a build your own 3D Firebolt in a Keepsake Box)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: House-Elves (Deluxe Book and Model Set)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: Buckbeak (Deluxe Book and Model Set)
Incredibuilds: Harry Potter: Quidditch (Deluxe Book and Model Set)

Visit J.K. Rowling's website or the Pottermore website for more information

Review:
As with my previous reviews for the books in this series this is probably going to be more of me fangirling over J.K. Rowling and the world she created rather than a proper review. How can I be expected to properly analyse a series that has meant to much to me for such a long time? It's just impossible!

I put off re-reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows for a long time after I'd finished the last book, not because I didn't like it but because I knew just how emotional the story made me the first time around. I'm sad to have reached the end of the journey once again because I just want to live in this world. The characters all feel like long lost friends and I've enjoyed being reunited with them in this series re-read but it is so hard to let them go.

I do think the series went out with a bang though and certain characters really get their chance to shine here. Of course you have Harry, Hermionie, Ron and the rest of the Weasley's (Mrs Weasley is one of the best fictional mothers out there and I absolutely adore Fred & George!) but Neville has come an amazingly long way since the first book and he, Luna, Hagrid and Dobby will always have a special place in my heart too! Once again this book contains some devastating losses for our heroes, not all of our favourites will still be around at the end (something that I think was made quite clear after what happened in the Half-Blood Prince!) and there was more than one occasion that this book reduced me to tears. I guess that's probably why I actually enjoyed the cheesy ending so much, the characters who do make it have seen more than enough loss to have FINALLY earned their happy ever after and it put a huge smile on my face to see them get it.

This series will always be special to me. I have loved it for so long, both in book and movie form, and I only love it more after re-reading the series again from the beginning. I know I'll pick up these books again in the future but for now I'm going to settle for a movie marathon (I haven't actually watched the two films for this book since they were on at the cinema so it'll be like watching them again for the first time). I know J.K. Rowling will never see this review but I want to thank her for creating such a wonderful series, one that has captured the imagination of millions of readers and brought so much joy to so many people. I don't think there will ever be a series that has such an impact on me as Harry Potter has but I don't think that is a bad thing - it just goes to show how wonderful these books really are.

Source: Purchased

Other reviews of this book:
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Print / Kindle:

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Review: House Rules - Chloe Neill

In a city full of vampires, trouble never sleeps.

At the tender age of 27, Merit became a sword-wielding vampire. Since then, she's become the protector of her House, watched Chicago nearly burn to the ground, and seen her Master fall and rise. Now she'll see her mettle - and her metal - tested like never before.

It started with two . . . Two rogues vanishing without a trace. Someone is targeting Chicago's vampires, and anyone could be next. With their house in peril, Merit and her Master, the centuries old Ethan Sullivan, must race to stop the disappearances. But as they untangle a web of secret alliances and ancient evils, they realise that their foe is more familiar, and more powerful, than they could ever have imagined.

Chicagoland Vampires Series:
Some Girls Bite
Friday Night Bites
Twice Bitten
Hard Bitten
Drink Deep
Biting Cold
House Rules
Biting Bad
Howling for You (Novella)
Wild Things
Blood Games
Lucky Break (Novella)
Dark Debt
Midnight Marked
Phantom Kiss (Novella)
Blade Bound

Visit Chloe Neill's website for more information

Review:
I'm going to assume that anyone reading this review has already read the first six books in the series so although this will be spoiler free for House Rules it will probably contain spoilers for the earlier books. If you are new to the series it's one I'd highly recommend but please don't read beyond this paragraph because you really do need to read the books in order starting with Some Girls Bite.

After the revelations at the end of Biting Cold I knew things were going to get even more interesting in this book and I wasn't disappointed. Cadogan House have decided to opt out of the Greenwich Presidium and stand alone but as you can imagine the GP aren't going to let them go easily. As the countdown to the split begins the GP make their presence known in Chicago and they really put the pressure on Ethan and the whole of Cadogan House to change their minds. As if that wasn't enough for Merit to worry about she is also asked to investigate the disappearance of two rogue vampires. Cadogan are trying to form alliances with the rogues since they'll all be in the same boat soon so they can't turn down the request for help even though the timing couldn't be worse. Can Merit figure out who is behind the attacks before they move on to targets even closer to home?

There really is so much going on in this book and it had me gripped from beginning to end. The GP are so sneaky in the way they go about things and it isn't going to be easy for Ethan, Merit and the others to find a way to fight them at their own game. They are threatened with losing everything and it looks like their decision to leave the GP could have been a mistake after all since it has earned them some powerful enemies. Neither Ethan nor Merit are the type of characters to back down from a challenge though and they definitely aren't going to be forced into changing their minds due to the GP's underhand tactics. If they can't win by playing fair then they're just going to have to play dirty too and thankfully they have a few tricks of their own up their sleeves. There are also some very interesting developments when it comes to Merit and the Red Guard. I've been fascinated by Jonah since he first appeared in the series so I enjoyed seeing more of him here and I can't wait to see the knock on effects that Merit's choices will have in the future - there are bound to be some unexpected ones!

Merit and Ethan's relationship has never been particularly smooth and there are definitely forces at play trying to keep them apart in House Rules. Thankfully they are both now more secure in their relationship and although they hit a few bumps along the way they managed to deal with them much faster than they would have in the past. We get to see both Merit and Ethan show a little of their jealous sides but we also see them talk things through like adults and actually learning to make compromises together. I never once felt that they wouldn't be able to work through their issues and come out stronger on the other side and it's nice to finally seem them in a better place in their relationship.

I think it was the action I loved most in House Rules, there is just so much going on but it never got confusing. Chloe Neill wove the different plots together brilliantly and gave us a little of everything - mystery, action, romance and of course the humour fans of the series have cone to expect. It was nice to catch up with some of the other side characters too, Jeff and Catcher had a bit more page time in this than they had in the previous book but we also get to spend time with Mallory who is still working for the shapeshifters as she pays her debt to society. I was really pleased with how realistic Mallory's interactions were with both Merit and Catcher. Mallory was Merit's best friend for so many years and she still loves her in spite of the things she has done but that doesn't mean she can trust her. They both want to rebuild their friendship but they also understand that it is going to take time and even then they may never get back to where they were before Mallory went off the rails. I think one of the things I love most about this series is how many layers there are to all of the characters, even the side characters have depths to them and it makes spending time with them even more enjoyable. I'm really happy that this series is still going strong and I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next.

Source: Purchased

Other Reviews:
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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Review: Wild About Her Wingman - Robin Bielman (+ Giveaway)

Playing it safe never felt so risky.

Erin Watters is her small town’s resident wild child—she doesn’t do boring, and after having her heart annihilated, she definitely doesn’t do relationships. Her friends have other ideas, though, and when they throw down a matchmaking challenge, impulsive Erin can’t ignore it. Even when the annoyingly hot Troy Strieber accepts the matchmaker role...

As a rescue paramedic, Troy’s used to watching out for people. Never mind the bet he made with his buddy to play Erin’s wingman. But the more time he spends with the sexy, charismatic woman, the more he discovers a side of her she doesn’t let many see. Soon what started as an innocent game of matchmaking has them both thinking about the person right under their nose. But Troy’s a play-it-safe guy, and he won’t let a woman who lives for risk ever steal his heart.

Secret Wishes Series:
Kissing the Maid of Honor
Her Accidental Boyfriend
Wild About Her Wingman

Visit Robin Bielman's website for more information.

Review:
After getting her heart broken by her first love Erin has sworn off relationships and now sticks firmly to her no more than three dates rule. Seeing so many of her friends and siblings fall in love has made her start to think about having someone in her life more long term though but even if the idea of a boyfriend is intriguing she has no intention of letting her heart get involved. She can never refuse a challenge though so when friends bet her she can't find the perfect boyfriend she sets out to prove them wrong. She isn't the only person involved in the bet though and sexy paramedic Troy has been designated her wingman. The more time Erin and Troy spend together the more they start to realise how good they could be together but Erin isn't the only one who is wary of relationships. He dated a thrill seeker before and it nearly cost him everything so as much as he admires Erin's adventurous spirit it also scares him. Can they learn to let go of the past and take this chance at happiness?

Robin Bielman's Secret Wishes novels have become one of my favourite small town romance series. I really enjoyed the first two stories but I think Wild About Her Wingman has to be my new favourite. It has everything I've come to expect from this author - the family and friendship of characters we've already grown to love, the fun banter and laugh out loud humour, the meddling townsfolk who love to gossip and of course the really sweet romance that develops between Troy and Erin. The only thing missing is the smut, don't worry there is plenty of flirting, smouldering looks and hot kissing but beyond that this is a fade to black series which I know a lot of people prefer.

Erin is a great character, she's confident in herself and she knows what she wants from life. She loves to have fun and is very free spirited but she doesn't take undue risks and as much as she's got the reputation as a wild child she's really quite a homebody. She loves her family and would do anything to help the people she cares about but she also tends to hold herself back. Ever since her ex-boyfriend betrayed her in the worst kind of way she has been wary of giving anyone her full trust, even her friends and family. Troy is the kind of hero we can all fall for, definitely no bad boy he's a caring man who looks after his mother, sister and niece. He moved home to be near them after his brother in law died and he takes his responsibilities seriously. Troy is very much a knight in shining armour, always going out of his way to help people, and that shows in his choice of career as well as in his every day actions. As much as I love a fictional bad boy Troy is actually much more like the kind of guy I'm attracted to in real life.

There is just so much to love about this story, I laughed out loud on multiple occasions and I swooned alongside Erin when Troy did something sweet. I think what I enjoyed most is that they become friends before anything else, they get to know each other slowly and I had fun spending time with them both. I also loved getting to catch up with the previous couples and seeing what they're up to now, you might recognise a few of the characters who are meddling to get Troy and Erin together from the other books. I would say you can probably get away with reading this series out of order because each book features a different main character but I'd be happy to recommend all 3 stories so far because they've all been great reads. I have a feeling that we might get Erin's little sister Teague's story next but whoever the main characters are Robin Bielman's next book will automatically go straight to the top of my wish list.

Source: Received from Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Kindle:




Giveaway Details:

As part of the blog tour Robin Bielman is giving away Three (3) Make-A-Wish necklaces.

May all your wishes come true with this small Glass Vial Dandelion seed Make-A-Wish necklace!

You can enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter form below. Winners will be announced via Rafflecopter and they will be contacted directly by Robin so she can arrange to send out the prizes.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 21 April 2014

Review: Paradise - Simone Elkeles (Bind Up including both Leaving Paradise & Return to Paradise)

Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel and hit Maggie Armstrong. After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb's free, but coming home doesn't feel as good as it should when his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers. Months of painful physical therapy have left Maggie with a limp. Longing to escape the pitying stares, the last person she wants to see is Caleb.

But despite the horror of their shared history, Caleb and Maggie can't seem to stay away from each other, with the heated attraction between them becoming undeniable. As they struggle with their growing feelings for each other, Caleb and Maggie realise that ultimately, whether they leave Paradise or stay, they must face the truth about the night of the accident, or the secret will forever stand between them.

Paradise Series:
Leaving Paradise
Return to Paradise
Paradise (Bind up containing Leaving Paradise & Return to Paradise)

For more information visit Simone Elkeles' website

Review:
Paradise is a bind up containing both Leaving Paradise and Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles. I'd already read Leaving Paradise a few years ago (see my original review here) but for some reason I never got around to reading the sequel. It's been a long time since I read the first book though so I'm glad I decided to reread it before continuing the series, there was so much I'd forgotten about and I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.

Caleb was convicted of drink driving and leaving the scene of an accident and sentenced to time in a young offenders institute. All he wants is to go home and get his life back on track but it isn't going to be quite as easy as he was expecting. Maggie is the girl who was injured in the incident, she has spent the last year suffering through multiple operations and gruelling physical therapy but still walks with a limp and struggles every day with the pain she is in. She is dreading the thought of Caleb, her neighbour and long time crush, coming home and just wants to get the heck out of Paradise before he is released. When Caleb is released early he does his best to avoid Maggie but they seem to find themselves constantly thrown together by circumstances beyond their control. As their attraction grows can Maggie find a way to forgive Caleb for his actions and can Caleb finally learn to put the past behind him?

I was really nervous about reading a story where the hero was someone who had been convicted of drink driving. I guess having a father who was a fire fighter and used to come home and tell me in great detail about the car accidents he'd been called out to (this was a great way to ensure that his teenage daughter NEVER drove drunk!) has ingrained into my head just how stupid and dangerous drink driving is. Before I picked up the book I was pretty convinced that I would never be able to fall for Caleb but I know people make mistakes and having really enjoyed Simone Elkeles's other books I trusted her enough to give this series a try. I'm glad I did because she tackles a difficult subject and does it in a way that makes you think. She never glorifies drink driving and she manages to give all the facts and dangers without sounding preachy about it which I think is important if you want your readers to listen to the message you're trying to give them.

I'm going to be upfront and tell you that Caleb's attitude stinks at the start of the book, he has a very negative outlook on the world and acts as if he is the hard done by party rather than Maggie. He has a major chip on his shoulder and it took a little while for that to wear off and for a more vulnerable side to him to shine through. As it turns out he has good reasons for feeling the way he does but Maggie is still the one who I felt most connected to. She has been through so much and she hadn't done anything to deserve it. Her whole life was changed in an instant and she has struggled to cope since the accident happened. She has locked herself away from her friends and tries to avoid going out because she is embarrassed about her limp. I could understand why she acted that way but I can't tell you how satisfying it was to see her start to come out of her shell and rebuild her confidence and Caleb played a big part in that. Once Caleb started to spend time with Maggie and realise just how hard things had been for her he became a much more likeable character and I grew to respect him in the end for the way he owned up to his actions and paid the price.

I don't want to say too much about the plot, especially for the second book, because if you read the bind up like I did then it would be too easy for me to spoil the first story for you. I will say that I loved the interaction between Caleb, Maggie and their various family members. The accident didn't just effect the two of them it also had a knock on effect on everyone they know and that is something that is shown really well here. The consequences of one stupid mistake cause so much damage to so many people and that is something that is explored even more in the second book. There is a lot more to the accident than originally meets the eye and that secret threatens to destroy everything that Maggie and Caleb have built between them.

Leaving Paradise and Return to Paradise are the kind of books that will make you think. They are hard hitting at times but they also contain humour, love, friendship and so much more. There are some fantastic side characters who add a lot to the story and there are a few that I would love to see get their own books in the future. Simone Elkeles is one of my must buy authors for teenage contemporary romance and I'd be happy to recommend this series to anyone who reads that genre.

Source: Received from Simon & Schuster in exchange for an honest review

Other Reviews:
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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Review: Frost Burned - Patricia Briggs

Mercy Thompson's life has undergone a seismic change. Since becoming the mate of Alpha werewolf Adam and stepmother to his daughter Jesse, her life finally seems to be calming down. But after an accident in bumper-to-bumper traffic, Mercy suddenly can't reach Adam or the rest of the pack. All she knows is that Adam is angry and in pain.

With the werewolves fighting a political battle to gain acceptance from the public, Mercy fears Adam's disappearance may be related - and that the pack is in serious danger. Outclassed and on her own, Mercy may be forced to seek assistance from any ally she can get, no matter how unlikely.

Mercy Thompson Series:
Homecoming (Graphic Novel)
Moon Called
Blood Bound
Iron Kissed
Bone Crossed
Silver Borne
River Marked
Frost Burned
Hopcross Jilly (Graphic Novel)
Night Broken
Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson
Fire Touched
Silence Fallen

Alpha and Omega Series:
(This is a spin off to the Mercy Thompson series)
Alpha and Omega (novella found in the On the Prowl anthology)
Cry Wolf
Hunting Ground
Fair Game
Dead Heat

For more information visit Patricia Briggs' website

Review:
Mercy should be settling into life as Adam's wife and Jesse's step-mother but when a Black Friday shopping spree ends in an accident and not only Adam but the entire pack aren't answering their phones she knows something has gone horribly wrong. Discovering that the whole pack has been abducted sets Mercy in full on rescue mode, especially when she can feel Adam's suffering through their mate bond. The only member of the pack not captured was Ben and along with him, Tad, Stephan and a few new allies Mercy sets out to rescue the others and bring them home safely.

I'm happy to admit that I'm a fan girl when it comes to this series and Frost Burned was another great instalment. Anyone who is also reading the Alpha & Omega series knew to expect big changes after the major events at the end of Fair Game but I definitely wasn't expecting an enemy powerful enough to take down the entire pack! I think one of the things I love so much about this series is that Patricia Briggs is always throwing curve balls at us and she consistently manages to surprise me with her plot twists. I was a bit disappointed when I realised that Mercy and Adam were going to be separated for at least part of the novel but getting a couple of chapters from Adam's point of view more than made up for that fact! It was so nice to get a chance to see inside his head and understand exactly what Mercy means to him.

Actually it was quite nice to see Mercy on her own without the pack for back up for a change, I've always loved the fact that even though she isn't as strong as the wolves physically she is able to stand up for herself. In this case she also has Jesse and Kyle to protect while she searches for Adam and the others so she really has her work cut out for her. I was pleased to see Stephan back on the scene and I also really enjoyed getting to know Tad a bit better but the best thing was a surprise appearance by Asil (who is a regular in the Alpha & Omega series). He is completely crazy and more than a little dangerous but I've been fascinated by his character since we first met him so it was nice to see him out and about causing trouble with Mercy.

I love these characters, I love this world, I love the fast paced stories full of plot twists and shocking surprises, I love how things are changing with the werewolves now they've come out to the public and I'm incredibly excited to see how the new situation with the fae effects things as the series continues. Patricia Briggs is an auto buy author and my only complaint is that she just doesn't write fast enough (surely a new book every month isn't too much to ask?).

Source: Purchased

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