Book Review – Pretty Baby – Mary Kubica…

A chance encounter

She sees the teenage girl on the train platform, standing in the pouring rain, clutching an infant in her arms. She boards a train and is whisked away. But she can’t get the girl out of her head…

An act of kindness

Heidi has always been charitable but her family are horrified when she returns home with a young woman named Willow and her baby in tow. Dishevelled and homeless, this girl could be a criminal – or worse. But despite the family’s objections, Heidi offers them refuge.

A tangled web of lies

As Willow begins to get back on her feet, disturbing clues into her past starts to emerge. Now Heidi must question if her motives for helping the stranger are unselfish or rooted in her own failures.

Urgh. Just urgh. I really wanted to like this book, I really did. Hearing good things about the author made me excited to read it. Yet the writing style really put me off. From one character’s point of view it was present time and from the other two it was several days prior and it kept on jumping back and forth between the three characters which made the story difficult to follow.

The characters were all seriously irritating. Apart from Willow. For reasons of my own I empathise with her. Heidi I wanted to throat punch, I really did. That woman was way too goody goody and pure. Chris seemed to be a frustrated adulterer (I hate cheaters whether fictional or in real life) and Zoe was a brat who needed a good attitude adjustment.

The concept of the story was good, but it could have been so much more. There are parts that are achingly sad, but they are far outweighed and let down by the rest of the story.

I will give this writer kudos for bringing to the fore the topics of mental health and abuse as they are not nearly normalised enough in popular fiction. I just wish that there had been a trigger warning somewhere in the blurb. It took several days away from the book before I felt able to continue with it, but that’s just me.

I’m only able to give this book a two out of five star read.

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Book Review – Pretty Is – Maggie Mitchell…

Lois and Carly-May were just twelve when they were abducted by a stranger and imprisoned in a cabin in the woods for two months. That summer, under the watchful gaze of their kidnapper, they formed a bond that would never be broken. Decades later, both women have new lives and identities. But the events of that summer are about to come back with a vengeance. Lois and Carly-May must face the truth about their secret, shared past… What really happened in the woods that summer?OK, I have to be brutally honest. I did not enjoy this book. Not even a little bit. I got three quarters of the way through and I came very close to putting it down. Mitchell’s first book has been described, amongst other things as “a slick take on a trope that just isn’t going away”. Sorry but no. I don’t see it as slick at all. The story judders along, jumping between the two protagonists both in current and past time. The whole thing is puzzled together and not at all what I was expecting.I honestly like my thrillers to be fast paced and to pick me up and whirl me along from the very first page and not put me down until the last. Pretty is just doesn’t do that.Both of the women were clearly in need of some very serious and intensive therapy but were both allowed to tumble along and present a functioning face to the world when they both needed a Psychiatrist and some very effective drugs.I just couldn’t get on with any of the characters at all. The villain of the piece just wasn’t very… villainous, and the way the book wound up just seemed so implausible. If you enjoyed this book, fair enough. It just wasn’t for me.A two out of five star book.Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Joyfully His by Jamie Beck…

Folks in Sterling Canyon know that small towns have long memories. Two years after the DUI that injured a pedestrian, Andy Randall is still making amends. He hopes the Christmas spirit will help him get rehired as a ski instructor, but that job will come with conditions. He can’t afford another mistake, which is exactly what making a play for his former boss and friend, Nikki Steele, would be.

Nikki races down double black diamonds and hikes mountains better than most guys, unafraid of tumbling down the slopes. But trusting the guy who once shot her down could end in a fall that actually hurts, especially when she’d have to vouch for him with her boss. Still, the resort needs another instructor to handle the holiday tourists, and Andy’s sexy grin and relaxed charisma make him hard to resist.

With both of their reputations now on the line, can Andy convince Nikki that the second chance he wants isn’t only about the job?

Yes. It was that time again. I need the comfort of a good old soppy romance and as I had read and enjoyed the previous three books in the Sterling Canyon series, I wanted to read this novella just to see how things panned out.

Andy is the protagonist in this shorter story. It’s actually quite nice to see the story go to being from a male perspective from a change (the previous three books were all female led).

I must admit that I had thought he might one day end up with Emma, but by the end of book three, it is abundantly clear that that is not going to happen. So it was nice to see him given his (much shorter but still nice) love story.

It’s difficult to say a lot without giving the game away but it was a thoroughly enjoyable story and I was happy while reading it. I feel a bit sad to say goodbye to the Sterling Canyon characters as I built a fondness for them over the first three books.

I would definitely recommend that you read the series if you enjoy romance novels.

A four out of five star book.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – No Other Darkness (D.I Marnie Rome Book 2) – Sarah Hilary…

Two young boys.Trapped underground in a bunker.

Five years later, the boys’ bodies are found and the most difficult case of DI Marnie Rome’s career begins. She has to find out who they are and what happened to them. For no-one has reported them missing – and it seems she is the only person to care.

This book deals with the most shocking of all crimes… the possible torture and murder of two young children. The writer has handled it in a very sensitive way and built a story skilfully around a topic that is sad and disturbing. I have read some crime thrillers around the same topic that just sensationalise and are not layered or enjoyable in the slightest.

Marnie has definitely entered my collective of favourite fictional police women. D.I Kim Stone, D.I Helen Grace and now D.I Marnie Rome.

Marnie is again a multi-layered protagonist and as such, is able to convey her past into the work she does to understand certain aspects of this case.

I admire Marnie’s character a great deal. She isn’t as rule bending as my other two favourite fictional detectives but having a good working relationship with her seniors provides a different dynamic to the story.

It was gratifying to see post partum psychosis dealt with in such a way. It isn’t widely dealt with or known about and the way that this book sensitively deals with the subject is, for me, an excellent thing. The character of Esther was skilfully created and the way that she is juxtaposed with her new self is very cleverly done, it really is. Mental health is not dealt with enough in mainstream fiction and to see it done in such a skilful way really is gratifying.

Another thing that I love about the D.I Marnie Rome books is the character of Noah Jake. He is a person of colour and also a gay man. There are scenes between him and his partner that deal with arousal and kissing which I adore. This needs to be more prevalent in mainstream fiction and I applaud Ms. Hilary for doing this with her characters.

The story is very skilfully written and I adored every page of it. Bring on book three!

This is a definite five out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Unexpectedly Hers – Jamie Beck…

By day, bashful wallflower Emma Duffy works at her family’s bed-and-breakfast. By night, she secretly pens erotic romance hot enough to melt the snow in their cozy Rockies town.

But Emma’s real life is about to heat up when her mother books the entire inn to a professional snowboarder, hoping the publicity will put them on the map. In a karmic twist of fate, that guest is Wyatt Lawson, the man with whom Emma had shared the secret one-night stand that became the inspiration for her novel and its dreamy hero. Worse, a film crew is documenting his comeback just as her debut is about to hit the shelves. Emma’s only saving grace is that Wyatt doesn’t remember her—and hopefully he never will.

When Wyatt arrives in Sterling Canyon for several weeks of intense training, the last tumble he expects to take is falling for a girl, especially one as shy as Emma. Unlike groupies with their hidden agendas, she isn’t using him—or so he believes…until the film crew uncovers Emma’s pen name and steamy novel.

Wyatt’s comeback run can withstand a fall or two, but can his heart recover from this crash and burn?

I’ve grown really attached to the Sterling Canyon characters that Jamie Beck has created and feel a little sad that I only have one more book to read before the series is done. Anyway, enough being maudlin and on with the review.

This, like the other two before it is a really sweet book and there is an interesting balance between all of the lead characters. I was really pleased to see Emma in the limelight this time around. She deserved it so much!

She is a sweet, shy woman and lived for way too long in her mother’s shadow. Seeing the way that Ms Beck writes her into being a stronger and more independent woman was really gratifying.

This book was finished in a couple of nights and is perfect for curling up with a box of chocolate with.

A four out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Secretly Hers – Jamie Beck…

On her thirty-first birthday, hopeless romantic Kelsey Callihan has all but given up on happily ever afters, which is why she agrees to a risqué proposition from Sterling Canyon’s notorious playboy, backcountry skier Trip Lexington. After all, every girl needs a little fun, and with Trip, there are no mixed signals or risks of a broken heart. And if his tips can help her land a husband in the process, all the better.

Trip couldn’t be happier with his secret, no-strings fling with sweet and sexy Kelsey until she calls it quits after meeting a man she believes could share her dream of marriage and family. His jealousy turns to outrage when he discovers that the man is his estranged half brother and lifelong rival.

Now Trip must decide whether the fire in his gut is due to sibling rivalry or something much more dangerous…like love.

Here I am into another foray into the wonderful world of beautiful, soft and gentle literary cotton wool. After reading a couple of non fiction books and then having some serious sinusitis that left me neither wanting to blog nor read, I did neither. However, I have this book to review as well as others so I shall get on with it. I loved this book. It’s the second of the Sterling Canyon series and the second of the three female friends, Avery, Kelsey and Emma is the lead female protagonist in this book.

Kelsey was pictured in the last book as a hopeless romantic and was nicknamed “boomerang” by Grey, Avery’s partner when she was chasing after him. Trip, the main male character joined in with it which does come back to bite him on the ass at one stage but I will say no more than that as I don’t want to add any spoilers to this review at all about any of these books.

You can almost see the heartache waiting to happen at first, but you realise as the pages turn that there is more to this story than a no strings attached sex kind of thing. Kelsey displays fortitude and bravery in this story and proves herself to be much more than the book initially paints her to be. Trip also shows a side to his personality which is more than the town Casanova.

It is very difficult to say much more about this story without major spoilers but if you like Jamie Beck and these books then you will really enjoy this story. I give it a four out of five star read. Enjoy the book.

Be kind to each other.x

Book Review – Accidentally Hers by Jamie Beck…

When ruggedly sexy backcountry guide Grey Lowell moves to Sterling Canyon, Colorado, after buying the ski-expedition company Backtrax, his plans don’t include romance. Still, it’s fun to look—especially across a crowded restaurant at a beauty he dubs “Bambi.” But all his plans change later that night when he’s injured by a drunk driver.

Physical therapist Avery Randall is shocked to learn that Grey’s the man her brother struck with his car, and even more stunned when he arrives at the clinic expecting her help. Despite her reservations and Grey’s silly new nickname for her, Avery agrees to work with him, and passion begins to simmer. Yet with his livelihood at stake, Grey must make tough decisions that could hurt Avery and her family. Before long, Avery’s loyalties are tested, and the choices she and Grey each make may cost them their chance at lasting love.

This book is the first of four that make up the Sterling Canyon series. I was looking forward to reading this as the blurb made it sound like an excellent story and I was in need of a nice dose of literary cotton wool. I have a thing for books that run in a series as you get a chance to get know the characters much better and can become immersed in the inter-sectioning stories.

The story is your typical handsome rugged looking guy falls for gorgeous girl and vice versa. Their paths cross in unusual circumstances and it soon becomes clear that they were meant for each other.

I liked Avery’s character a great deal as she was sassy and realistic. She was very bright and determined yet vulnerable in some areas of her life.

Grey was a kind character. He very quickly realised the damage that pushing through his insurance claim would do to Avery and her family so he does everything that he can possibly do to prevent that.

The book isn’t the most taxing read in the world but so what? That is exactly why I chose to read it. It was just what I needed to read.

A pleasant four out of five star read.

Be kind to each other.x

#justwhatIneededtoread

#sorrynotsorry

Book Review – No Ordinary Billionaire by J.S Scott…

Dante Sinclair never cared about his family’s money. All the ultra-sexy billionaire ever wanted was to be a cop; and now that he’s a homicide detective in Los Angeles, he’s a damn good one. But when he is injured and loses his partner in the line of duty, he returns to his vacation home in Amesport, Maine, to recover. With a mouth as dangerous as the streets he protects, Dante knows no one can ever heal or tame him.

Sarah Baxter, a brilliant young doctor still struggling with her stifled upbringing, has recently moved from Chicago to sleepy Amesport to escape her past, hoping to find peace. When Sarah is assigned to Dante’s case, there’s an instant heat between them. They couldn’t possibly be more different, yet their intense passion is impossible to ignore. As burning desires awaken within Sarah, her haunted past returns, threatening her once again. Can Dante overcome his grief and unravel the secrets Sarah is hiding in time to protect and rescue her?

Another wonderful foray into the world of literary cotton wool. I read this about a month ago and enjoyed this one so much I read it twice. Now I have so many books on my “to read” pile that for me to stop and read a book twice? It has to be a good one. This one was.

The whole premise of the story is of the wounded Dante taking sick leave in which time he decides to come back to Amesport to heal. We recognise Dante as being a gruff man who is accustomed to getting his own way – ALL the time! That is until he meets Sarah Baxter who turns his whole world upside down and she becomes his one and only desire.

The two of them grow closer together and the story coasts along easily to the end. I can’t really say too much without throwing spoilers into the review so I’m going to finish up here and say if you like this genre of book then you will absolutely love this one.

A four out of five star read.

Book Review – The Billionaire’s Christmas by J.S Scott…

OK, here it is. Time for me to stick my middle finger up to the world of intellectual and literary snobs who look down on people who read romance novels. My main area of interest in reading lies with crime fiction/thrillers and non fiction books. But thanks to my stupid brain and my mental health issues, there are times when I simply cannot process reading a book that is going to give me the intellectual stimulation that I normally crave. That is when I crave what I call literary cotton wool. It’s quite simply a nice story. Normally a romance that doesn’t have a challenging plot line and a plot that makes you constantly think. It feels like your brain is laying down in a big, squishy mattress that is the most comfy you have ever been. They give you time to recharge your brain cells whilst still being able to read. If you have an issue with that, then move along you must as I don’t expect to be judged for my reading choices on my own blog. 🙂

So – this story…

Called an eccentric beast by the citizens of Amesport, Maine, handsome, sensual billionaire Grady Sinclair stays isolated in his mansion on a private peninsula. The arrangement suits Grady just fine—until an unassuming woman rings his doorbell, awaking his long dormant passion with her fearlessness. All he wants is to make the fiery blonde his forever. But will he have to become the monster everyone thinks he is to get his Christmas wish?

Emily Ashworth is desperate. The Youth Center has been robbed of all its money, and as the director, she has to find a way to give the town’s needy children the Christmas they deserve. With nowhere else to turn, she ventures to the mansion of a mysterious billionaire to ask for help. Warned to expect a beast, Emily is shocked to find Grady Sinclair a handsome and very sensual man. With steamy kisses under the mistletoe and seductive whispers while hanging the wreath, Emily finds there’s more to Grady than meets the eye. Is this misunderstood billionaire just a lonely soul who needs the gift of love for Christmas?

This book doesn’t pretend to be War and Peace. It’s a nice romance of the ever growing trend of “Billionaire mommy porn” books genre, but who cares? It is a nicely written story that made me relax whilst I was reading it. Some books don’t do that because you are so tense to race ahead and get to the end of the story to find out what happened. This book doesn’t do that.

The lead characters, Emily and Grady appear to be polar opposites to begin with. He is an introvert and she is the outgoing head of the local community/youth centre. He hates Christmas and she loves it. Yet despite that, from that first meeting, Grady’s character begins to thaw and become much warmer. All he needed was a good woman.

This book isn’t going to win any major literary awards, but it is perfect if you just need (like I did) somewhere for your brain to retreat and relax inside your head.

A four out of five star read.

Book Review – Someone Else’s Skin by Sarah Hilary…

Called to a women’s refuge to take a routine witness statement, DI Marnie Rome instead walks in on an attempted murder.

Trying to uncover the truth from layers of secrets, Marnie finds herself confronting her own demons.
Because she, of all people, knows that it can be those closest to us we should fear the most . . .

I actually came across DI Marnie Rome for the first time when I encountered her via an ARC from NetGalley. It was the second book in the series that I read first. I’m now reviewing book number one and intend to read book two again as I am keen to see if I have a different perspective this time around.

Marnie Rome may just be the third female DI that I have fallen in love with in recent weeks, the others being DI Kim Stone and DI Helen Grace. I stopped to think what it could possibly be that appealed to me so much about these three characters. Could it be that all three of them have very traumatic, albeit in different ways, pasts? It could certainly be a part of it, but I don’t think for one second that is all of it. Marnie, like the other two is multi-faceted and has a real gift for police work. Marnie the “dragon slayer” is how she’s seen. Marnie has real hurt to carry and seeing the vulnerability inherent in her character makes her appear to be much more human than you originally think she will be. We all carry grief and shock in different ways and we all turn in on ourselves at times to cope with that. Marnie does that a lot. Internalises her feelings so that she can be a better police officer. The problem is, and she realises this towards the end of the book is that doesn’t always work. Her past definitely affects how she works and the this book plays a massive part. I can’t say more without giving away spoilers.

Marnie’s relationship with her foster brother runs as an undercurrent throughout this book. She continues to visit him loyally after pledging to her parents memory that she would look after him. Deep down, the writer cleverly shows us that Steven is far from what Marnie thinks he is. She starts to slowly realises this and withdraws a little near the end of the book.

The twist in this novel was a very clever one. I really do not think that I have read anything like this before.

An utterly brilliant novel that kept me gripped until the last page. I cannot wait to read more of Marnie and her colleagues!

A five out of five star read.