Friday, 29 May 2015

Feature Friday #8: Author Interview with Samantha Young

We are just over half way through my Feature Friday series on some of my favourite book series!

After taking a little break last Friday to join Cecy Robson's blog tour for Once Perfect I am back with a belter (excuse the Scottishness) of a post today. One of my favourite series is On Dublin Street by Samantha Young and with the up coming release of the 6th book in the series, Moonlight On Nightingale Way, next week Samantha joined me for another interview!

Firstly for readers who might be new to the On Dublin Street series can you tell us a bit about it?

On Dublin Street is an adult contemporary romance series set in Edinburgh. It follows Scottish and American (and English *Grace from MONW*) heroes and heroines and their romantic entanglements. Other than hot romance, one of the primary themes of the series is the importance of family— blood kin or not. It’s a series filled with sexiness, alpha males, strong, stubborn heroines, humour, sadness, and all the good stuff in between.

Do you have a favourite character and a favourite book from the series?

It’s very difficult to choose just one favourite character or one favourite book because they all have qualities about them that make them special to me. On Dublin Street is, of course, especially special because of how personal some of the story is and also because its success literally changed my life. However, I have to say I am particularly fond of Grace from Moonlight on Nightingale Way, the upcoming sixth book in the series. I think she may be my most compassionate and kind heroine yet. And Logan… ah Logan. He and Braden are good friends in MONW and for a reason. I think readers are going to LOVE Logan.

In one of our previous Q&As you mentioned that the series only turned from stand alone to a series after the reaction from your readers. We’re about to get into book six – how did it feel to have such a reaction to On Dublin Street?

Incredibly surreal. I remember a reader asking me to try my hand at contemporary romance. At this I had a discussion with my mum over a cup of tea about it. I distinctly remember saying ‘I’ll give it a go. It’ll be like an experiment to see if I’m any good at the genre.’ As soon as I started to think on an idea for the book, however, it became clear to me that writing a contemporary novel meant delving into real life stuff to make it as authentic as possible. Writing ODS was very therapeutic for me. To have readers react to the story and to react so positively to my first adult contemporary romance was utterly surreal. My mum still jokes about it to this day ‘It’ll be like an experiment!’

As well as six full length novels you’ve also released three novellas in the series. Is it fun to go back and revisit characters from earlier in the series?

It is really fun. The characters have their happily ever after but I like to show readers that a happily ever after isn’t always easy and the couples are constantly working at it. Revisiting Joss and Braden is particularly fun because I know the characters so, so well it doesn’t ever feel like work writing about them. It’s really just like visiting old friends who make me laugh. A lot.

The 5th and 6th books introduce new characters to the ODS tribe. How did you make sure they would fit in? Were you worried about readers accepting new characters?

I think it’s easy to make new characters fit into the ODS tribe. They’ve all become a bit like Elodie and are good at accepting strays into the fold. The new characters are characters that understand the importance of family and the tribe react positively to that. They’re also quite a protective bunch, so it helps that the new characters are ones in need of a good family. As for readers accepting the new characters… I never really worried too much about Shannon for instance, because she was involved with Cole, a long-running character in the series.  I think this helped ease her intro into the series. For MONW, it’s a little different. Grace the heroine is completely new and Logan the hero has only been mentioned in brief scenes in Echoes of Scotland Street. I connected almost instantly with Logan and that’s why I felt I had to write his story. I worked particularly hard to make him one of my best heroes yet, so I think that will more than make up for his newbie status! Moreover, the tribe are in MONW so readers will get to hang out with familiar folks.

How does planning and writing a series compare with the same process for a standalone novel?

The planning is definitely more involved because you’re planning ahead for quite some time. Once I knew ODS was evolving into a series, I had in mind which characters I’d like to see have a story. I knew from the end of ODS that I wanted to give Jo and Hannah a story. Liv came to me organically in Down London Road as did Nate. But by the end of DLR I knew Cole also had to have a story. It’s also different in that you can open a thread of a plot in one book without tying it up because you have the next book in the series to touch on it. With a standalone you have to craft the story so that all loose ends are tied up nice and neatly.

What do you think the key ingredients are for a sexy, compelling series like ODS?

I think the key ingredients are relatable characters, a carefully crafted chemistry between each couple, humour, real life stuff, and an authentic sense of friendship and family.

Finally, do you have a favourite series that you’ve read? If so, what is it and why?

Ooh that’s so difficult! I have a ton of fave paranormal series including KMM’s FEVER series and Richelle Mead’s VA series. Currently my favourite contemporary romance series is Knitting in the City by Penny Reid.

Moonlight On Nightingale Way is out on the 2nd of June - check it out on Amazon here.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Review of Playing Dirty by C.L. Parker

The bit on the back…

Shaw Matthews plays to win, and he intends to snag a coveted partnership at San Diego's hottest sports agency by signing America's top athlete. Only one woman stands in his way: rival agent Cassidy Whalen. But eliminating the competition will be Shaw's pleasure when he concocts an ingenious plan to seduce Cassidy and show the beautiful ballbreaker who's the better man for the job. That is, until Cassidy turns the tables—and their steamy encounters start breaking all the rules.

Cassidy has worked hard to make it in a man's cutthroat arena, and she isn't going down without a fight, not even against the six-two alpha hunk whose rock-hard body awakens desires she's never known before. As Cassidy shares night after night of unending passion with Shaw, the game begins to change. Now Cassidy stands to lose everything—unless a fiery contest of wills can become a winning proposition for two people who keep raising the stakes.

Firstly thank you to Bantam for inviting me to download a review copy of this title. This is the first book in C.L. Parker’s Monkey Business trio and is the first book I’ve read by the author. The story is about two main characters, Shaw and Cassidy, who go up against each other in a bid to sign a top sport star to their agency roster.

At first I thought ok, good start. There was a dual POV, which you probably know by now that I love, and there was definitely heat and electricity between the characters driven by their love to hate each other and their competitiveness against each other. A little way into the book my thoughts changed to oh God, here we go. The story seemed to take a turn into jumping-the-gun-ville but to my surprise and pleasure it was just a little twist and the story jumped straight back onto its original tracks.

The narrative goes back and forth between Shaw and Cassidy as they compete to win over Denver and his family. From the beginning there is definitely an attraction between the characters and you can just feel that something is bound to happen. The story is a little predictable in that way but to be honest the predictability ran out towards the end as your left on a cliff hanger awaiting the next in the series.

Shaw is cocky, arrogant and described as downright beautiful. He admits to Cassidy’s own beauty even though it pains him to say it in the beginning. It’s easy to see that they should be together based on their likeness alone. They have a group of friends around them and the story of their friends intertwines with the main story between Shaw and Cassidy meaning that they are pushed closer together in a platonic capacity too.

I will definitely be looking out for the next book in the series if anything just to find out what happens next. I have high hopes for Shaw to come through as the guy you know he can be! I would recommend this for fans of Emma Chase’s Tangled Series and for fans of Samantha Young’s Hero.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Review of Elements of Chemistry Part 3: Capture by Penny Reid

The bit on the back…

One week.

Manhattan apartment.

Super-hot ex-boyfriend.

…What’s the worst that could happen?

It’s been nine months since Kaitlyn Parker has seen or heard from Martin Sandeke—nine months and five stages of matter. She’s lived through the worst of first-love heartbreak, and is most certainly stronger (and less likely to hide in science cabinets) than ever before.

But now Martin is back. And he wants to be friends. But he’s sending mixed signals to the Bunsen burner in Kaitlyn’s pants.

Will Martin re-capture Kaitlyn’s heart? Can Kaitlyn and Martin ever be just friends? Or, despite an abundance of chemistry, are some bonds just too unstable to endure?

This is the third and final instalment in Elements of Chemistry where we re-join Kaitlyn as she tries to be the friend she promised she would be.

I have really, really enjoyed this series. I love the chapter headings and the whole science chemistry thing going on as well as the sexual chemistry between the characters. Throughout the series there has been an intense chemistry between the characters and a whole load of passion and angst and just plain sexiness.

In the background of Martin and Kaitlyn’s love story, both characters lead very different lives. Where Martin wants to take over the world with his satellites Kaitlyn is happy to be a wall flower, albeit a wall flower who now enjoys fulfilling her passion for music. Kaitlyn is quirky and clever but also extremely likeable because she is a little neurotic when it comes to Martin and tends to flap a little bit. It’s easy to read from her perspective and not notice that you are devouring the book so quickly.

I read these on a recommendation from one of my favourite authors and I will definitely be going back for more from Penny.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Review of The Edge of Never by J.A. Redmerski

The bit on the back…

Twenty-year-old Camryn has always felt different from everyone else around her – not content to be tied down by life's conventions, she’s always known that she wants a life less ordinary. But when tragedy forces her to abandon her plans, she vows never to let her walls down again – and never to fall in love.

But one night in the hottest club in town, her world is turned upside down. Desperate to escape, Camryn packs up the bare necessities and boards the next Greyhound bus leaving town, to find the true self she knows is out there. What she finds instead is a young man who is more like her than she knows. Andrew Parrish needs to find himself too, and harbours his own dark secrets…

Zig-zagging across the country together, Camryn finds herself doing things she never imagined, as Andrew shows her what it’s like to live by your own rules and what it feels like to give in to her deepest, darkest desires. Before she knows it, he’s become the centre of her world. But as the electric love and lust between them intensifies, a dark shadow is looming. Will Andrew’s secret push them together – or tear them apart?

This book has been on my radar almost since I started blogging, but I hadn’t bought it until recently when it was also recommended to me by my friend Kelli. We usually like the same books and authors like Colleen Hoover for example and this book was no different. I’m so glad I decided to download it.

The story is all about kindred spirits Camryn and Andrew. Both characters are on the road, one running from the trapped feeling that is consuming them and one heading home.

The story starts off with Camryn, setting the scene for her impulsive decision to take a time out from life. I could empathise with Camryn quite easily and her introduction to the readers will instantly win you over. She has been through quite a lot and to me she seemed like quite a selfless character although she finally embarks on a journey that is for her and her alone.

The two characters meet on their road trip and the banter between them in the beginning is quite fun to read because there is a friction between them that I feel comes from travelling but Andrew just has such a loveable rouge thing going on it’s hard not to feel a little captivated by him. That, and his tattoos.

The attraction to each other is there between the characters from the beginning although it’s subtle and grew gradually as the two characters began to get to know each other better. I liked that they took their time to build a relationship rather than just jumping straight into being in love. Andrew seemed to respect Camryn and almost keep her at arms-length a little throughout the initial stages of their friendship. At one point this is particularly evident and I could almost feel the emotional punch to the stomach that Camryn took, until I turned the page and J.A. Redmerksi soothed my soul by bringing Andrew to the rescue.

The narrative is told between Andrew and Camryn. I loved the dual POV in this story especially because each character had something totally different going on in their life even though their desire to avoid conforming to the norm brought them together.

The story becomes quite sad as the secret Andrew has been hiding, well might I add, throughout the story becomes very apparent. I can remember holding my breath, barely daring to turn the page to see what was going to happen at the end. I downloaded the second book straight away because I absolutely couldn’t help myself! Can’t wait to read more about Andrew and Cam.

Friday, 22 May 2015

!!Blog Tour!! Review of Once Pure by Cecy Robson

The bit on the back…

Sofia Tres Santos remembers a time before her life went sour, before her innocence was ripped away, before she began punishing herself with risky behaviors and unworthy men. Now, at twenty, she just hopes she’s ready to rebuild some of what she lost. One way or another, it always comes back to her childhood friend and longtime crush, Killian O’Brien.

As strong as Killian is, Sofia has always been his one weakness. He knows Sofia has suffered and wants to ensure she’s never hurt again—not like before, and definitely not under his watch. When Sofia agrees to work at his mixed martial arts gym, Killian seizes the opportunity to help and protect the sweet girl he’s always cared for. And yet, as he trains Sofia to defend herself using his hard-hitting MMA techniques, he’s drawn to the vulnerable beauty in ways he never expected.

As Sofia grows stronger, she also grows brave enough to open herself up to love. And along the way, she challenges everything Killian believes to be true, showing him that no matter how much he dominates in the ring, the real battle is fought in the heart.

Firstly thank you to Love Swept for approving me for a review copy of this title via NetGalley and to Lisa for allowing me to be a part of the tour for the third book in Cecy Robson’s Shattered Past series. I’ve toured with the first two books so it was great to continue with the third.

This story is all about two characters who we have already met earlier in the series – Sofia and Killian. There is always a feeling of something brewing between the characters so I was glad their story was next! I would definitely recommend reading the series in order because the Tres Santos family are the main character and the story of each member progresses in all of the books.

Sofia is naturally shy but due to her past she has more reason to be timid and reserved. She is the polar opposite of MMA fighter Killian but opposites do attract! I love the difference between the characters because you get the feeling that Sofia needs someone to look out for her and Killian seems perfect for the job.

The story is set in Philly as with the first two in the story and I feel like I could see it all in my head again just like I had with the first two stories in the series which was great because it was familiar and it felt like I could focus more on the story between the characters. As I mentioned it’s always felt like there was something brewing between the characters but you really get the full force of it when they star in their own novel. The story is sexy and romantic and has a semi friends to lovers thing going on (one of my favourite storylines). It’s also packed with action which has been prevalent throughout the series so far and there is no shortage of it in Once Pure. It was great seeing the transformation in Sofia between the beginning and the end of the book and Killian and his family are hugely responsible for that.

The story is told only from Sofia’s POV but there is a sneaky epilogue from Killian which was great! I love dual POV and his voice is quite different to Sofia’s so it was nice to see a little snippet of him at the end. I read the story quite quickly so if you like fast paced, action packed, sizzling romance this one is for you!

Giveaway! Loveswept Mug, Flirt Mug and Select Ebook Bundle

About Cecy

Cecy Robson is the New Adult author of Once Perfect, Once Loved, and Once Pure and the award-winning author of the Weird Girls urban fantasy romance series. A self-proclaimed professional napper, Cecy counts among her talents a jaw-dropping knowledge of useless trivia, the ability to make her hair big, and a knack for breaking into song despite her family’s vehement protests. A full-time writer, registered nurse, wife, and mother living in the Great Northwest, Cecy enjoys spending time with her family and silencing the yappy characters in her head by telling their stories.

Buy Links :

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Release Day! Coming Up Roses by Rachael Lucas

The bit on the back...

Country air, cowslips and a charismatic rogue . . . 

Would-be gardener Daisy can't believe her luck when her parents announce they're off on a midlife-crisis gap year, leaving her in charge of their gorgeous garden. After a turbulent few months, a spell of quiet in the countryside is just what she needs. A shoulder to cry on wouldn't go amiss either - so when Daisy comes across Elaine and Jo, she breathes a sigh of relief. 

But her new friends are dealing with dramas of their own . . . 

As Daisy wrestles the garden into something resembling order, her feelings for handsome Irishman George, begin to take root. But Daisy's heart's desire - her parent's garden - is under threat, and she is forced to confront nosey neighbours and fight greedy developers.

Village life is turning out to be far from peaceful.

Release Date: TODAY!

Publiher: Pan Mac

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Book News: The Show by Tilly Bagshawe

The bit on the back...

Surrounded by rolling fields and filled with idyllic stone cottages, the chocolate box village of Fittlescombe is the jewel in England’s crown. But battlelines are about to be drawn – and this time it’s even more deadly than cricket . . .

When Wraggsbottom Farm’s finances are squeezed, Laura Baxter has an idea to show the world the secret of her happy (if sometimes muddy) country life: producing a reality show about Fittlescombe village.

But when the new vicar, ‘Call-me-Bill’ Clempson takes it upon himself to lead the anti-Valley Farm Show protest, Laura and her husband Gabe find that the village is divided. And when newcomer MP ‘Fast’ Eddie Wellesley draws attention for all the wrong reasons, opposition comes from some unexpected places too . . .

With so much at stake for her village and her marriage, will Laura be able to weather the storm, or will her big idea turn out to be her biggest mistake?

Release Date: 4th June 2015

Publisher: Harper Collins

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Out this week! Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot

The bit on the back...

Sun, sea and a sexy stranger - a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated...

Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart.

But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vueinclude one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Release Date: 22nd May 2015

Publisher: Bookouture

Monday, 18 May 2015

Review of Elements of Chemistry: Part 2 Heat by Penny Reid

The bit on the back…

Four days left.

Private beach (…and boat).

Not so invisible girl.

And maybe less of a jerk-faced bully than originally thought.

What’s the worst (or the best) that could happen?

Kaitlyn is finding life outside of the science cabinet of obscurity to be quite illuminating …and so are her pants.

When things heat up between Kaitlyn Parker and Martin—previously known as the jerk-faced bully—Sandeke, she places her trust in the one person she never thought capable of earning it, let alone keeping it safe. Fortunately or unfortunately for Kaitlyn, where she gives her trust she can’t help but also give her heart.

But how will the world beyond the sanctuary of their newfound connection react to their relationship? Soon senators, chinless billionaires, and elements beyond Martin and Kaitlyn’s control want to weigh in on the young couple’s future.

After being left with a massive, jaw dropping cliff hanger at the end of part 1 Attraction, and then quickly discovering that, thank goodness, the first chapter of part 2 was just over the page I was really looking forward to reading Heat. I had it on pre-order from Amazon and luckily for me it was released early, so receiving that e-mail to say it had downloaded was a great surprise.

This is the 2nd part in Kaitlyn Parker’s story and continues directly from the end of part 1. You definitely have to read Attraction first and be aware that the blurb and this review could contain some spoilers for part 1 if you haven’t read it already – so look away now!

We join Kaitlyn again at Martin private beach mansion half way through her spring break. Things between the pair are starting to heat up (hence the name of this part?) and although Parker is trying to maintain the slow and steady pace of their relationship but Martin has other thoughts. To be honest I was completely taken with Martin’s pursuit of Kaitlyn and I really wanted her to go with his flow on how their relationship should progress. I definitely feel the attraction that Parker has to Martin but there is something that holds her back and I think Martin hits the nail on the head further into this section of the story when they argue about Parker’s inability to feel something without looking at it logically, and rationalising it first.

Carrying on from the previous chapters the same quirky chemistry references are throughout the story and I really liked that. Parker continues to be quirky herself in these chapters but her quirks are explored in more detail through Martin’s analysis of her.

The story has left off on another cliff hanger, although not quite as huge as the last part and it has categorically ensured I will be reading the third and final part of this series, which I now have on pre-order. 

Friday, 15 May 2015

Feature Friday #7: Jay Crownover's Marke Men Series

Hello! Today's Feature Friday is all about 6 book series Marked Men by Jay Crownover. This popped up on my Amazon recommendations after I read Samantha Young's On Dublin Street series a few years ago. There is one main similarity between the two series and that is the tribal/make-shift family element to the cast of characters. 

There is a core group of characters and new additions come along with each novel. Each novel focuses on a different couple and in each one you will know at least one character if not both from earlier in the series. I love this because it allows you to catch up with favourite characters and see how their story has progressed! 

One of the other major draws to this series, for me, besides the hot tattooed guys is the fact that the stories are dual POV. I love Jay's guys so seeing the story from their perspective was great. I've just finished the 6th and final book in the series and you can check out the review of Asa here and the reviews of the first 5 novels below!

Rule (Marked Men #1) - Jay Crownover
Jet (Marked Men #2) - Jay Crownover
Rome (Marked Men #3) - Jay Crownover
Nash (Marked Men #4) - Jay Crownover
Rowdy (Marked Men #5) - Jay Crownover

Have you read any of Jay's books?

Erin xx

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Review of Just The Way You Are by Lynsey James

The bit on the back...

Dear Ava,

How do you start writing a letter to someone, six years after breaking their heart?

Ava is unlucky in love as well as in life. The new office bitch has landed the dating column Ava wanted, and she can't remember the last time she had a second date. It's a good thing she has best friends Max and Gwen to pick up the pieces.

Deep down, Ava knows the reason why one date never turns into two – she's in love with someone else. Someone she's never even met.
It all started six years ago, with a letter from a secret admirer, Mr Writer... but then they suddenly stopped and Ava was heartbroken.

Now the letters have started again and Ava knows it could mean winning back the dating column at work. This time she's determined to unmask Mr Writer... and find out once and for all if he's Mr Right or Mr Very Definitely Wrong!

Firstly, thank you to Carina for approving me for a review copy of this debut novel and also to Cara and Lynsey for asking me to take part on the blog tour.

This is Lynsey's debut novel and it's all about Ava. Ava used to be a romantic which was fuelled even further by love letters from a secret admirer. The letters suddenly stopped six years ago and Ava's faith in true love waned. Until the letters started again...

Let me just start by saying Lynsey lives about two hours from where I'm from in Scotland and one thing we've bonded over is being able to use Scottish slang when we are chatting instead of moderating our language to make sure we are understood. There were a couple of 'Scottishisms' throughout the book and mention of a shortbread tin that struck home with me so the book felt like it had a little something extra.

Ava is a genuine, down to earth, normal girl with her own share of problems to face in her work and family life. It was easy to imagine myself in her shoes but that doesn't mean I necessarily agreed with her throughout the story! Sometimes I just wanted to give her a shake to make her see sense and that some times you need to grab opportunities with both hands in life.

Throughout the story the re-appearance of Ava's admirer plays a big part in the plot as she decides to try and uncover the mystery man. I was in limbo back and forth between the potential Mr Writer candidates and I wasn't completely sure until it was revealed to Ava.

Along with the main storyline there is a really sweet reunion plot line and Ivy almost felt like a fairy godmother to Ava in the story.

Overall this read is full of laughs, emotion ups and downs and great writing from start to finish. It's hard to believe that this was a debut. If you enjoy Rachael Lucas and Mhairi MacFarlane you will enjoy this.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Review of Elements of Chemistry Part 1: Attraction by Penny Reid

The bit on the back…

One week.

Private beach.

Invisible girl.

Jerk-faced bully.

What’s the worst that could happen?

Kaitlyn Parker has no problem being the invisible girl, which is why she finds herself hiding in various cabinets and closets all over her college campus. Despite her best efforts, she can’t escape the notice of Martin Sandeke—bad boy, jerkface bully, and the universe’s hottest, wealthiest, and most unobtainable bachelor—who also happens to be Kaitlyn’s chemistry lab partner.

Kaitlyn might be the only girl who isn’t interested in exploiting his stunning rower’s build, chiseled features, and family's billionaire fortune. Kaitlyn wants Martin for his brain, specifically to tabulate findings of trace elements in surface water.

When Kaitlyn saves Martin from a nefarious plot, Martin uses the opportunity to push Kaitlyn out of her comfort zone: spring break, one week, house parties, bathing suits, and suntan lotion. Can she overcome her aversion to being noticed? Will he be able grow beyond his self-centered nature? Or, despite their obvious chemistry, will Martin be the one to drive Kaitlyn into the science cabinet of obscurity for good?

This is the first part in Penny Reid’s Hypothesis series. I came across this book when my favourite author, Samantha Young, recommended it on twitter and I thought to myself, well if Sam likes it them I’m bound to like it, right? So right. I read this very quickly in one sitting because I just couldn’t put it down! Let me tell you a bit more about it…

Main character Kaitlyn Parker, chemistry supremo, has attracted the unwanted attention of her gorgeous lab partner Martin and much to her chagrin she has promised to give him one week to prove he is more than her preconceptions of his jerk-facedness.

Kaitlyn is quite a quirky character. She’s super smart and I loved how Penny incorporated her love of chemistry into the story with chapter headings and analogies using chemistry to explain non-chemistry related situations. There is an undeniable attraction between the characters even though Parker isn’t convinced that Martin is being truthful in his attraction to her. I think a lot of that comes down to her inexperience but I really liked how great Martin was with her.

This part is left on a MASSIVE cliff hanger. I tweeted something along the lines of “nooooooo! How can this be?!” when I got to the end of it but thankfully the first chapter of the next part was just the next page over! I was really looking forward to the next part - Heat. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Review of Asa by Jay Crownover

The bit on the back…

Royal Hastings has been a cop, first and foremost, for most of her adult life. So when a call-out goes wrong and her partner ends up in hospital, she finds herself suspended from the job, indefinitely. 

With too much time on her hands and a heavy load of guilt weighing her down, she seeks solace in oblivion – otherwise known as a golden-eyed bartender with a rap sheet as long as her arm.

Asa Cross has spent his live on the wrong side of the law, but a near death experience has left him rebuilding his life and relationships. But being good is tougher than it seems – especially when being bad looks as good as Royal does.

On paper, the cop and the con seemed doomed to heartbreak – but when love has stolen your heart, how can you walk away?

This is the 6th book in Jay Crownover’s Marked Men series. I was anticipating this in a big way and had it on pre-order so I could start it as soon as I could on release day! I’ve read the first five books in the series and although I hadn’t enjoyed the 4th and 5th book quite as much as the first three I was looking forward to starting this.

This is Asa’s story. Asa is a character we already know from earlier in the series. Asa is trouble, or rather was trouble but more recently in the series he’s been trying to turn his life around, and that means keeping as far away from the police as possible. That includes Royal Hastings. Royal is the other main character in this novel, and another character that we’ve already been introduced to.

This story did not disappoint IN THE SLIGHTEST. God, from the first chapter Asa just has this aura of sexiness about him, the way he thinks, speaks and does. I was immediately attracted to his character and I couldn’t wait to read more about Asa instead of seeing him through the eyes of the other characters. Royal is feisty and and if anyone is a match for Asa it’s her. I was sort of seeing Julianne Hough in my head, as a red head of course, throughout the story. With her tough girl persona she doesn’t take any shit from anyone but she’s in a difficult place in her life and is focusing all of her attention on Asa to get her through it.

I had my own preconception of Asa’s character but he is the definition of a changed man. I felt sorry for him during the story because you can sense the guilt he is weighed down by in his thoughts and actions. He looks for a way out of trouble instead of for a way to get into trouble and I loved how desperate he was to protect Royal from getting hurt, even when it hurt him in the process.

Jay has this great ability to tell a story from both sides of the perspective and I love reading from her Marked Men’s perspective. Both Royal and Asa are kind of outsiders to the Marked family but both are readily accepted into the tribe.

If you’ve read Samantha Young’s On Dublin Street series and fancy something a bit edgier then give this series a try.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Review of Ruin by Rachel Van Dyken

The bit on the back…

I'm not your typical girl. I've been running away from the memories that haunt me for so long that depression has become my only comfort. I was content in the darkness...until Wes Michels offered to be my light.

I didn't know that time wasn't my ally -- that every second that ticked past was one step closer to the end of something that was beginning to mean the end of myself. He tried to warn me. He promised me all he was able to offer--each moment as it came--but it would never be enough.

Sometimes when you think it's the end, it's only the beginning. Wes thought he could save me, but in giving me everything, he ruined me. Because after one kiss, one touch, I couldn't--I wouldn't ever be the same.

And from that moment on, his heartbeat became my own.

I read this not long after I read Confess by Colleen Hoover. It was another recommendation from one of my twitter friends. Ruin is all about two main characters Wes and Kiersten.

The story started off well with the characters literally running into each other. There is an instant connection between them but Kiersten is really quite innocent (read sheltered) and Wes initially has completely wholesome intentions but the reasons behind his intentions to keep Kiersten at armslength aren’t revealed until much later in the story.

The first half of the story focuses on the relationship growing between the two characters. You’re let into some of the secrets behind Wes before Kiersten is and the way he lives his life appears to be quite admirable in the face of his reality, and I knew that there would inevitably be tears by the end of the book.

I wasn’t too fond of Kiersten to begin with and I finished the story about the same level of liking. She seemed much, much younger than Wes and although her small town background is touted quite frequently I feel like it was just verging on the YA side instead of the New Adult age of the characters. On that note the female supporting character Lisa acted even more immature than Kiersten.

The story is quite cheesy and begins to follow the formulaic plot that can be expected from any romance novel. The latter half of the book felt like it was rushed particularly towards the end of the book and Wes’s last football game. It didn’t see to carry as much weight as the rest of the book despite potentially being more significant.

I’ve never read anything by Rachel before, and I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed this more a few years ago. I don’t think I will be rushing to read the rest of the series.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Feature Friday #6: Author Interview with Pat Elliot

Aaaannnnnddd..... Relax! It's Friday again! I've scheduled this post in advance because today I'm probably going to be painting or still unpacking boxes after moving into our new house on the 1st! Today I am welcoming my second author of the series to the blog. Pat and I have been twitter friends for some time now and she is joining me today with an interview about her series All In The Leaves. Pat, over to you!

 First of all for readers who may be new to The Leaves series can you tell us a bit about it?

The Leaves series starts with a shy naïve girl, who has her fortune told, by means of a tea leaf reading. Wonderful things are promised to her, if she will go out and engage life.

What inspired the series?

The Series was inspired by a young lady of my acquaintance, who was indeed shy, and had a tea leaf reading. The outcome of hers wasn't quite the outcome of the girl in the story.

Did you intend to make this into a series or did that come about after finishing All In The Leaves?

I'd read in so many places that self published authors should write series, so I decided to try – with an idea in my mind that all three books would also stand alone.

Part of the series is spent in Scotland. Do you have a favourite place in Scotland?

There are so many beautiful places in Scotland, it's hard to pick a favourite. I love the beach at Broughty Ferry, love the McManus in Dundee and adore the countryside around the Carse of Gowrie. Scotland seems to have something for everyone!

Is there one character you connect more with between Anna and Chloe?

I connect with different parts of each. Anna is too naïve to be me, though I share the one man at a time policy she believes in. Chloe has had some rough knocks and she grows more, which I can identify with.

Can we expect more books from this series?

There is one more book to come. 'The House in the Leaves.'
The dream has come true for Anna and Chloe, now they find out living the dream is not quite all they thought it would be.

Can you give us a flavour of your journey to publishing your debut All In The Leaves?

Research, research and research. Submitting to agents to be told not commercial enough, so deciding to go it alone. That's where the research came in. Finding out what to do, how to do it, getting an editor (Saint Diane, for what she has to do for me!)  and a cover artist (the very talented Teresa Palomar Lois) and finally deciding to use the services of the wonderful people at ebookpartnership – they converted my files and distributed to all ebook stores. Having someone handle the technical and tax aspects is priceless. Plus, Diane and Matt are SO very helpful.

Do you have a favourite series?

My favourite series has to be The Discworld Novels by Sir Terry Pratchett.

Why do I love them so much?
Because they can be read on so many levels.
They are humorous on one level, satirical on another, very intelligent and they hold up a mirror to life and all its foibles. There's magic, there's technology, there's righteous anger, there are witches, benevolent dictators, vampires, werewolves and a six foot tall dwarf.
Then, there's Granny Weatherwax, who knows the truth about how things work, but also knows humans so well, that she practises Headology.
Such a smart woman. There's a lot in her to admire!

Thanks a lot to Pat for stopping by today! Check her website out here

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Review of Beautiful Secret by Christina Lauren

The bit on the back…

When Ruby Miller’s boss announces he’s sending her on an extended business trip to New York City, she’s shocked. As one of the best and brightest young engineers in London, she knows she’s professionally up to the task. The part that’s throwing her is where she’ll be spending a month up close and personal working alongside—and staying in a hotel with—Niall Stella, her firm’s top urban planning executive and The Hottest Man Alive. Despite her ongoing crush, Ruby is certain Niall barely knows she’s alive…until their flirty overnight flight makes him sit up and take notice.

Not one for letting loose and breaking rules, recently divorced Niall would describe himself as hopeless when it comes to women. But even he knows outgoing California-girl Ruby is a breath of fresh air. Once she makes it her mission to help the sexy Brit loosen his tie, there’s no turning back. Thousands of miles from London, it’s easy for the lovers to play pretend. But when the trip is over, will the relationship they’ve built up fall down?

This is the fourth book in Christina Lauren’s Beautiful series. The story follows main characters Ruby Miller and Niall Stella. Two barely acquainted colleagues who are about to become much more.

Oh man this is a hard one to write. Unfortunately, and as much as it pain me to say it, I just did not enjoy this book as much as the first three books in the series (particularly no.3 Beautiful Player). I was so excited when I spotted this on Amazon that I had pre-ordered it and started to read it on the release day.

It started so well, with the same intense, sexy promise that has sizzled throughout the stories of the first three books. It was dual POV too, just as the others have been, which in itself is a big bonus for me because I love reading from the male MCs perspective. The book is set initially in London before travelling to NYC which sets it apart from the first three books. The link with the rest of the series is through Niall’s brother Max who was the main character from the 2nd book. I started to enjoy the story and felt like I was going to be in for a winner.

Separately, I liked both of the characters and when they were together in the first instance, although on a work basis, it was evident that there was a chemistry surrounding them in and a connection between them. Unfortunately it went downhill for me just after the characters landed in NYC. Niall is quite different to the three male MCs before him in that he has recently divorced and is unsure of himself in a relationship. I think one of the things I really enjoyed about the characters before him was just how arrogant, cocky and slightly verging on dominant they were. Niall felt completely different and when the relationship between him and Ruby stepped up a gear I just wasn’t feeling it.

I don’t know if there was something about his reserved English nature that just seemed to be at odds with the type of relationship I expected him and Ruby to have but there was definitely something that didn’t sit quite right.

Although I didn’t enjoy the characters together there was inherent enjoyableness due to the fact that it’s written by Christina and Lauren. The wit that they inject into their story, the one liners and quick come backs coupled with the fact that THERE ARE TWO AUTHORS continues to astound me and I will always be a fan based on that fact alone!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Review of The Art of Letting Go by Anna Bloom

The bit on the back…

For Lilah McCannon, life has taken a bit of a wrong turn. Engaged to a guy she is not in love with and stuck in a job with her tyrannical father as her boss, life has definitely not turned out the way she expected.

At twenty-five years old, Lilah knows that she has a simple choice: live the life she has created or change it.

Enrolling on a course at the local University, Lilah sets out with some clear rules to ensure her success at being a grown-up. No alcohol, no cigarettes, no boys, and no going home. But the last thing she anticipates is meeting Ben Chambers, the lead singer of a local band. With Ben, it’s instant, it’s hot, and it’s deep, but when Ben is offered the opportunity of a lifetime and it looks like his future lies on a different path to hers, Lilah has some heart-rending decisions to make.

With the academic year slipping by too quickly, Lilah faces a barrage of new challenges. Will she ever make it up the library stairs without having a heart attack? Can she handle a day on campus without drinking vodka? Will she ever manage to read a history book without falling asleep? Most of all, will she be able to make the ultimate sacrifice and learn The Art of Letting Go?

I bought this on a recommendation from my friend Kelli. We have similar taste in books and we are forever recommending books to each other. This is just one in the long list of recommendations I’ve had and I’ve finally gotten around to reading it after buying it quite a while ago.

The story is all about Lilah McCannon. Lilah is the narrator throughout and her voice comes to us in a diarised format. Lilah is a bit lost in life. Stuck in a job she hates and a relationship she isn’t invested in she decides to take matters into her own hands and run away from home, well to the local Uni.

I really liked the sound of the blurb. I’m close in age to Lilah and I also went straight into work skipping uni so I felt I could relate to her on that front (although I love my job – on occasion – and my boyfriend!). I didn’t realise until I started reading the book that it was written like a diary. I wasn’t sure what to think but read on as Lilah’s dry sense of humour and very down to earth, tell it like it is voice drew me right in.

The story follows Lilah through her first year at university and has so many emotional ups and downs I was wrung out by the end of it. I was sucked right into the story and compelled to turn page after page after page. Lilah meets hunky guitar player Ben on her first night of Uni and spends a lot of time making lusty eyes before finally getting together with them. I loved when the pair were together because they seemed to fit so well and their chemistry was evident even though the story is only told from one POV.

I read this in 2 sittings. It’s quite long but as I said it hooks you from start to finish. I wasn’t going to go ahead and buy the next one in the series straight away as I’m supposed to be watching how much I’m spending BUT this is left on such a cliff hanger I had to buy it straight away.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Review of Normal by Danielle Pearl

The bit on the back…

It's the kind of situation most people would dread. Starting at a new high school, in the middle of my senior year, in a new town, in a new state. I know no one. No one knows me. That's what I'm counting on.

A year ago, Aurora "Rory" Pine was just a normal teenage girl - just as sweet and naive as the fairy tale princess she was named after.

But this isn't a year ago.

Rory is broken, and now suffering from a debilitating anxiety disorder, wrought with precarious triggers, she moves across the country to escape the source of her troubles. Her plan is anonymity, but that's easier said than achieved for the new girl having a panic episode outside of calculus. The worst part? There's a witness - and a gorgeous one at that.

Sam is a walking trigger for Rory. Incredibly handsome, built like the star athlete he obviously is, and undoubtedly popular, Sam outwardly represents everything Rory despises about high school. But as the fates keep throwing them together, a connection sparks that neither ever expected, and certainly couldn't ignore.

But Sam has issues too, and Rory's past won't just stay in the damned past. When friendship evolves into something deeper, can a girl utterly destroyed by the worst kind of betrayal and a boy battling demons of his own ever have a normal relationship? Is that even what they want?

I bought this book on a recommendation from a friend of mine who enjoys reading the same books as I do. It’s the first book in Danielle Pearl’s Something More series and is all about Aurora Pine. 

Aurora has been through something horrific, so bad that she’s left her home state and is starting over in a new town and at a new school. The blurb really made my mind up about buying this because it sounds exactly like my usual read but it also sounded like it might tackle some more difficult to deal with issues too.

Firstly let me say there are good points and bad points about this book. Firstly it doesn’t have a happy ever after ending and for such a long read to end on a cliff hanger I felt kind of put out, tres disappointing. The second thing is actually the length of the book. It took me a while to get into the story and when I did achieve that I found that I was tempted to skim through some of the narrative. On the other hand it does hold your interest in parts and there is a clever time flip thing going on between present day and before Rory moved to New York. It seemed natural and helped the story to progress.

It’s glaringly obvious that Rory has been through a lot and that she’s still suffering from the after effects of her past. I’m not going to go into detail about it as the blurb doesn’t give much away but it’s not pretty, it’s not fun to read and I’m sure there will be some readers who can identify, if not fully, with the situation Rory found herself in.

Having said that, I found that almost instantly Rory’s attitude changed and I found it quite unbelievable that she could “be” with Sam quite so readily and without incident. That might just be me but it didn’t feel natural.

Sam seems like a great guy, moulded by his own less than pleasant past and I actually liked him more than I liked Rory in parts of the book but I think that’s perhaps naivety on my part towards the anxiety that Rory deals with. I’m sad that I didn’t get the happy ever after I was expecting, and I’ve still not decided if I want to carry on with the series.

Monday, 4 May 2015

Review of Confess by Colleen Hoover

The bit on the back…

Auburn Reed has her entire life mapped out. Her goals are in sight and there's no room for mistakes. But when she walks into a Dallas art studio in search of a job, she doesn't expect to find a deep attraction to the enigmatic artist who works there, Owen Gentry.

For once, Auburn takes a risk and puts her heart in control, only to discover that Owen is keeping some major secrets from coming out. The magnitude of his past threatens to destroy everything important to Auburn, and the only way to get her life back on track is to cut Owen out of it.

The last thing Owen wants is to lose Auburn, but he can't seem to convince her that truth is sometimes as subjective as art. All he would have to do to save their relationship is confess. But in this case, the confession could be much more destructive than the actual sin…

I am a massive fan of Colleen Hoover’s and I had this book on pre-order. Due to my TBR being huge and having some bookish commitments it’s taken me a little longer than I would’ve like to get round to reading this but I can 110% say that it was worth the wait. Sit back and prepare yourself for some wonderful, classic Colleen Hoover.

The story is all about Auburn Reed and artist Owen Gentry. The pair meets as if by chance when Auburn finds herself in need of a job and Owen needs a last minute art gallery assistant. After an emotional prologue, the very beginning of the story is so great. It introduces you to Owen’s art straight away and the whole concept behind “Confess”. And it’s such a clever concept! I won’t say much more about it because it’s so great to read about but wow Colleen, 10/10!

Auburn has gone through a lot for her young age and although it is alluded to in the prologue the magnitude of her situation isn’t unveiled until much later in the story, by which time I was so swept up in the chemistry between Owen and Auburn I completely never seen it coming! If anything it makes you appreciate Auburn’s character even more and helps to understand her actions a bit more. The trouble isn’t over for her and the book is a whole rollercoaster of emotions and feelings of regret for the life she’s missing out on and self-sacrifice in order to please other people. It’s a tough read but I just couldn’t put it down.

Owen is quite a complicated character, particularly in Auburn’s eyes as the secrets just keep on coming. Fortunately the story is told in dual POV so you know a little bit more than Auburn and when everything is revealed you just fall in love with him a little bit more. Owen ties the whole story together more than you know throughout and I absolutely LOVED his tie to Auburn.

I really love the cover of this book and after reading it I have a whole new appreciation for it! There is always something more with Colleen’s books whether it’s poetry, music or in this case art. I love that it adds a whole new sensory level to the book and that really sets them apart from the crowd.

I have loved everything I’ve read by Colleen and I’ve even re-read a couple of her books more than once. Confess was such a compelling story that I am sure I will be re-reading it just to be back with Owen and Auburn.