Tag Archives: Romance

Book Review: Dr No Commitment by Virginia Taylor.

DrNCA mischievous romantic comedy, about a man who’s always run from love and the girl who just might catch him.

Ally was warned about Rohan Sinclair when she first moved to town – and she is determined she won’t let this gorgeous, model-dating doctor distract her from being the best nurse she can be. Problem is, this bad boy just happens to live in the room next door . . .It’s hard enough to resist his persistent charm at home; almost impossible when they are thrown together at work . . . But a little innocent flirting never hurt anyone, right?

Wrong. Ally knows it’s a terrible idea to fall for a man who will never commit, but what if in every other way he’s her perfect guy?

This novella is part of the Random Romance imprint, the digital first romance list from Random House Australia. I read an outback set title, Beneath Outback Skies earlier this year and enjoyed it so was curious to see how I’d get on with a medical romance.

The book feels like it starts a little way into the story. Whilst I’m a fan of books getting on with the story telling from the get go, in this instance I felt like I was missing a whole heap of information I needed to know. Much of this was delivered in the first 10% of the book, but unfortunately relied on some pretty clunky dialogue to get the necessary exposition out of the way.

The reader learns much more quickly than Ally that Rohan has a secret (to be fair you would think anyone around him might be suspicious but apparently not Ally), but the reveal of this is kept until infuriatingly late in the course of the novella. I do wonder whether it was the incessant game playing that both characters engaged in that kept Ally from wondering just who Rohan was – I can’t remember the last time I encountered characters so difficult to get a handle on, and as a result to care about.

There were elements of the story that worked well for me. I enjoyed Ally’s work as a midwife, particularly learning a little about how this role varies in Australia. I’m always a fan of medical stories though so this aspect of the book was always going to be an easy sell.

Overall I found this novella a really frustrating read, and I wasn’t really satisfied by its conclusion. Looking at other reviews I seem to be in the minority, most readers who’ve reviewed it really liked it but for me it just did not work and was a thoroughly disappointing read.

Dr No Commitment is published by Random Romance. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book via NetGalley.com all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: All I Want for Christmas by Esme Taylor.

AIWFCSometimes the best gifts are unwrapped…

Ella is dreading Christmas. She vowed to change her life this year, and although breaking up with her boring boyfriend was the first step, she’s been too scared to take the next, and her life has become small.

But then, when working at a Christmas party, Ella meets Joe. The attraction is instant and convenient: neither is interested in more than a fling. While Ella’s been stuck, Joe’s been running. He’s been travelling for a year and has no plans to stop, but he’s home to spend Christmas with his huge, loud family. His father wants him to stay and join the family business, but Joe’s not yet ready for that kind of commitment and isn’t sure he’ll ever be. But as the snow and the presents pile up – and Ella and Joe’s clothes come off – Ella realises she needs to start living again. And that maybe all she wants for Christmas is Joe…

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS is part of Hot Key Books’ exclusive new novella list, and one of a series of five available this Christmas. Unlock your naughty side!

25% Christmas, 50% Romance, 25% sexual content.

Hot Key Unlocked is the new digital first imprint from Hot Key Books, publishing stories aimed at readers aged over 16. They’re publishing books in batches, with books written by both experienced and new writers each time. The launch batch was a collection of 5 festive romance novellas, All I Want for Christmas grabbed my attention as it is written by YA author Keris Stainton, using a pseudonym as the content of this book is a little more grown up than her already published novels.

It’s no secret that I love a good romance, when I’m reading one I want to identify with the characters, swoon over the leading man and feel entirely invested in the central relationship. I can very happily say this this story ticks all of those boxes really well. As the book is aimed at the older end of the YA audience there is some steamier content, I was pleased to see that this is well written and makes excellent use of well placed scene changes – the more explicit stuff all happens off page.

Within the first chapter I was completely and utterly hooked, the very mention of Joe sporting a Santa hat like a beanie (you can read this bit in the excerpt available on the Hot Key Unlocked site here) was enough for me to know I’d fallen for both him and the book.

My love only grew as I progressed through the book, the characters are the sorts of people you’d like to spend some time with – there are scenes described where a group of them are sitting drinking and chatting, I felt like I was sitting there with them. I think anyone reading this book will find they identify with more than one character, their feelings and where they are in their lives easily transported me back to my time just out of university.

Another aspect of this book that I loved was its setting. I always love to see books set outside of London or “the countryside” so the North West of England setting of this book was a real delight.

This book is novella length so it’s a fairly quick read. It’s perfect for curling up with a mug of tea or glass of wine and ignoring the weather and seasonal stresses!

All I Want for Christmas is published by Hot Key Unlocked.

Book Review : Beneath Outback Skies by Alissa Callen.

BeneathOutbackSkiesA captivating rural romance featuring an indomitable young woman determined to save her family farm, and the city-boy who is not all he seems…

Paige Quinn will let nothing and no one distract her from caring for her crippled father, Connor, and fighting for her remote, drought-stricken property, Banora Downs. Least of all a surprise farm-stay guest named Tait Cavanaugh, whose smooth words are as lethal as his movie-star smile.

Except Paige can’t help noticing that, for a city-boy, Tait seems unexpectedly at home on the land. And he does ask a lot of questions…

It doesn’t matter how much he helps out or how much laughter he brings into her life, she soon suspects he is harbouring a big secret – the real reason he has come to Banora Downs…

The first romance books I ever read were written by Australian author Lucy Walker so when I was contacted by Random House Australia to ask if I’d be interested in reading any of the inaugural titles from their new digital-first list Random Romance I jumped at the chance. I chose to read Beneath Outback Skies because of its outback setting, the blurb reminded me a lot of the Lucy Walker stories I’d read as a teen which were often set in the outback.

There was something very nice about reading a book set in hot sunny Australia whilst the snow was falling over the UK, though the drought conditions did make me think about how the grass is always greener! The book is set on a remote property, Banora Downs, part of a small, very rural community. I liked the sense of community within the book, whilst Banora Downs is a way out of the town its happenings are known by everyone in the town – something I can identify with a little.

The main thing you want from a romance novel is for the romantic leads to be great characters, and for you to really believe in the relationship. Beneath Outback Skies really doesn’t disappoint, whilst this book doesn’t fall into the insta-love trope that many romances use there is a definite sizzle from the first time Paige and Tait meet. I really liked the way their relationship evolved over the course of the book, it felt natural and very believable.

I was a little concerned when it became clear that part of the plot hinged on a secret that Tait was keeping from Paige, I’ve read books where this isn’t handled well – I normally end up a bit of a nervous wreck by the end of the book. I didn’t need to have worried though, it’s handled really well.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it’s one of the better romances I’ve read in the last couple of years. I shall definitely be keeping an eye on the other books brought out on the Random Romance list.

Beneath Outback Skies is published by Random Romance from 1st February 2013. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book via NetGalley.com all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review : Crash Into Me by Jill Sorenson.

Though he’s gone into virtual seclusion, Ben Fortune is still the world’s most famous surfer, known as much for his good looks as for his skill. He’s also a suspect in a series of brutal murders that may have begun with his late wife. Now FBI Special Agent Sonora “Sonny” Vasquez has been sent undercover to the elite beach community of La Jolla to make friends with Fortune. With her fierce beauty and take-no-prisoners attitude, she’s more than equipped for the job, and soon she and Ben have collided in an affair that is both intense and irresistible. But for the first time in Sonny’s career, her emotions are threatening to get the better of her. Could this passionate, wounded man, who is genuinely anguished over his troubled daughter, really be a killer? And could falling in love blind Sonny to the greatest danger of all?

When I first read the synopsis for this I must admit my thoughts jumped straight to Point Break. It was the whole undercover in the world of surfers thing, plus I’d only recently watched the film for the first time. Once I’d moved my attention back to the book I liked the sound of Sonny so I eagerly started reading.

The reader is introduced to Sonny in the first chapter, seeing her in the surroundings of the FBI training centre. Straight away it becomes clear that she’s quite a prickly character, very focussed on her job and maintaining her professional reputation. The chapter also sets up the mystery plot that earns the book its place within the suspense subset of the Rouge Romance list – there’s a serial killer within the surf community and Sonny must go undercover to investigate. To make things more interesting, it’s a return to Sonny’s roots, she grew up on the wrong side of the tracks in the same town that these murders have been taking place.

We initially get to see Ben through Sonny’s eyes, through her observations of him as she starts her undercover work. She has him in her sights as a possible suspect, his wife was killed in similar circumstances, though from everything she can see he seems like an unlikely target. She instead uses his daughter to get to him, and then once she has her way in gets to know him in every way.

I liked the plot, though I spent a fair amount of time worrying about what was going to happen when Ben inevitably found out about Sonny’s deception and lies. I liked that their relationship was a little more complicated than sparks fly, they fall in love, the end – they both came with stories and baggage, and were realistic characters.

In addition to Sonny and Ben the other characters were well created and interesting. Carly, Ben’s daughter, is a troubled teen who seems to be constantly challenging her dad. This sort of character could easily become cliched but Sorenson manages to avoid this pitfall.

From the mystery side of the plot I thought I’d got it worked out but discovered I’d got it completely wrong, and the reveal was a surprise to me. I know some people like to be able to work out whodunnit early on but I’m always happy when I don’t manage to work it out. There were however bits of the plot that I was less keen on, some aspects felt a little bit too convenient and at times unnecessary. These were fairly minor quibbles though.

I really enjoyed this book, I liked the surf setting – it was something a bit different. I’d definitely read more by Jill Sorenson in the future.

Wild Heat is published in eBook by Rouge Romance in the UK priced £4.80. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review : Wild Heat by Bella Andre.

Maya Jackson doesn’t sleep with strangers. Until the night grief sent her to the nearest bar and into the arms of the most explosive lover she’s ever had. Six months later, the dedicated arson investigator is coming face to face with him again. Gorgeous, sexy Logan Cain. Her biggest mistake. Now her number-one suspect in a string of deadly wildfires. As leader of an elite fire-fighting crew in Tahoe, Logan won’t back down from a blaze – or a woman. Maya Jackson may have seduced him with her tears and her passion, but it’ll be a cold day in hell before Logan lets down his guard again. Until Maya’s life is threatened and with his natural-born hero instincts kicking in, Logan vows to protect the woman sworn to bring him down. And as desire reignites, nothing – not the killer fire or the killer hot on their trail – can douse the flames…

Now whilst I am aware of the fact that firemen are not irresistible to all women I’m definitely a sucker for a man in uniform, I remember being hugely disappointed that when I got trapped in a lift the firemen who came to rescue us were all retained firefighters close to retirement age! The blurb for this book therefore hooked me straight away and I knew it was one that I would more than likely enjoy.

The first chapter introduces Maya, she’s had to deal with the belongings of her brother, a firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. She’s hurt, confused and angry over his death and the somewhat questionable circumstances that surround it. It is this emotional turmoil that leads her to make the uncharacteristic move of getting drunk and having a hot one night stand. The second chapter properly introduces Logan, the man from the one night stand. We get to know that he is a specialised firefighter, part of a hot shot crew who deal with dreadful wildland fires. We also get shown just how dangerous this work is, the chapter is action packed and incredibly tense.

After the opening two chapters set the scene and introduce the main characters, the plot spins into a mystery – someone is deliberately setting the fires that the hot shots are fighting, and Maya is the investigator sent to find out who it is. I found the mystery aspect of the book pretty well done, there are plenty of characters introduced that could be the arsonist, whilst I had suspected a few of them I only very briefly considered the actual culprit.

In a romance novel the relationship between the two lead characters has to be a focal point, and has to work for the reader. I found that the relationship between Maya and Logan was pretty sizzling. After that first night together when they were reunited they both intended to resist the other, but of course that didn’t happen. I liked that Maya was a strong and determined woman, I am not a fan of female characters who simply swoon into the obvious hero’s arms. Logan also worked well for me, he’s definitely an attractive character. I liked reading about his role within the hotshot crew and getting to understand the relationships between him and his fellow crew members.

Whilst I really enjoyed this book it was far from perfect. There were a couple of scenes that left me scratching my head, but I could forgive it these as it was such an enjoyable read. This is the first in a series of books about this particular hot shot crew, I’m definitely going to be reading the others.

Wild Heat is published in eBook by Rouge Romance in the UK priced £4.80. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Introducing… Rouge Romance.

For the rest of this week I’m going to be featuring a new digital list from Ebury, Rouge Romance.

The Rouge list is split into six sub-genres – Regency, Historical, Suspense, Contemporary, Paranormal and Occasions and includes many award-winning, New York Times best-selling authors. All the novels are full length and feature covers specially designed for the UK market. They released eight titles released when they launched on 29 September, and plan to publish four books each month with additional extra ones at times like Christmas and Valentine’s Day. The list is eBooks only at the moment, but there are plans to release print versions of the most popular titles in the future.

They have a website which has details of all of the books they have published so far, and information about the authors behind the books. At the moment there is a PDF sampler available to download that gives you a peek at 8 of the titles currently available. In addition to the website they can be found on Twitter @RougeRomance and Facebook here.

I’ve read Bella Andre’s Wild Heat and Jill Sorenson’s Crash Into Me, both from the Suspense sub-genre. I’ll be reviewing Wild Heat tomorrow and Crash Into Me on Friday so make sure you come back to find out what I thought of them!

Book Review : Yours to Keep by Shannon Stacey.

Sean Kowalski no sooner leaves the army than he’s recruited by Emma Shaw to be her fake fiancé. Emma needs to produce a husband-to-be for her grandmother’s upcoming visit, and, though Sean doesn’t like the deception, he could use the landscaping job Emma’s offering while he decides what to do with his civilian life. And, despite his attraction to Emma, there’s no chance he’ll fall for a woman with deep roots in a town he’s not planning to call home.

Emma’s not interested in a real relationship either; not with a man whose idea of home is wherever he drops his duffel bag. No matter how amazing his “pretend” kisses are…

When I started reading this book, my initial thoughts were that the plot was absolutely ridiculous. After Emma’s grandmother moved to Florida, Emma made up a relationship to stop her worrying about her being on her own. The man in question was Sean, the soldier cousin-in-law of her friend Lisa. When her grandmother announces she’s coming to visit Emma knows that her deceit will quickly be found out, unless she can persuade Sean who has only just left the army to play along. It didn’t matter though that the plot was a little far fetched, it was also sweet and funny and has some real moments of sizzle.

I think the real strength of Yours to Keep is in the characters. Sean is part of the Kowalski family, this is the third book that Shannon Stacey has written about them. The relationships between the family members are all wonderfully written and the love that they all have for each other just jumps off the page, I found myself wishing that my extended family was more like the Kowalskis.

Emma is a great character, she’s determined and capable, and hugely likeable. Whilst some of her decisions are a little questionable, like the whole fake fiancé thing, they’re always made for the best of reasons. I fell completely in love with Sean, he’s a wonderfully caring and strong character. Then came the revelation that he carries post it notes and a sharpie everywhere and uses them to leave little notes – who could fail to fall in love with a man like that?

The book’s a quick read, it’s quite short at 201 pages long. Whilst it seemed fairly obvious where the plot was going to go I found that I was still really invested in it, and willing it to play out the way I thought it would.

I enjoyed reading this so much, I’m definitely going to be reading the previous two books about the Kowalski family and any subsequent ones that are written.

Yours To Keep is published in eBook by Carina Press in the UK priced £2.77. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book via NetGalley.com all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review: The Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks. PLUS Giveaway.

They were teenage sweethearts from opposite sides of the tracks – with a passion that would change their lives for ever. But life would force them apart.

Years later, the lines they had drawn between past and present are about to slip …Called back to their hometown for the funeral of the mentor who once gave them shelter when they needed it most, they are faced with each other once again, and forced to confront the paths they chose. Can true love ever rewrite the past?

I must start this review by being completely honest, after I watched the film version of The Notebook I borrowed a pile of books by Nicholas Sparks keen to catch up with everything he’d written. I made it a few chapters into one of the books (I don’t remember which one now) and decided he wasn’t actually a writer for me and gave up. In the years since I’ve heard so many people raving about how brilliant his books are that when I was offered a copy of The Best of Me to review I thought I probably ought to give him another go, maybe I’d been too young to appreciate him before or maybe when I tried one of his books before I was just in a grump.

The Best of Me starts out with Dawson and Amanda both making their way back to their hometown, they’ve been summoned by a lawyer after Tuck, their old friend and father figure, died. We quickly get a look at both of these characters, and learn a little about the person they were and how their lives have ended up. I found them both intriguing characters, particularly Dawson.

Whilst we only got to see Tuck through the eyes and memories of Dawson and Amanda I found that I really liked him as a character. I think I would have enjoyed reading a book about the younger Dawson and Amanda, and their relationship with each other and with Tuck.

The final third of the book felt to me quite different to the first two thirds. Characters who had not been featured very much start to take a more significant role and the narrative switches between them all quite rapidly. The twists and turns of the last few chapters unfortunately didn’t work for me, they meant the ending was very neat and tidy, and I saw them coming.

So, did I enjoy it? Yes, absolutely. Did I love it? No, the ending wasn’t really my cup of tea. Will I be reading more by Nicholas Sparks? Yes, I can see that my first experience with his books was not a true representation of them and I shall certainly be picking up some of his other books.

Giveaway
The publishers of The Best Of Me have offered 5 bookplates signed by Nicholas Sparks for a giveway. So if you’d like to win one please leave a pick me comment. The giveaway closes at midnight (BST) on Sunday 23rd October, and is open to UK entrants only.

The Best Of Me is published in paperback by Sphere in the UK priced £12.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Book Review : Tessa’s Pride by Olivia Brynn

Two years after leaving home to make his own fortune, Joshua Bradley has finally returned to the Bradley Equine Ranch—and to Tessa McCade, the sexy ranch manager with whom he shared a single steamy tryst.

Tessa now owns the ranch like she’s always dreamed—but it’s in trouble. Dozens of horses have been lost and she’s on the brink of bankruptcy. To save his family’s business, Josh offers to buy it from her…and share the ranch house with her once again.

Tessa chafes at needing Josh’s help, but she’s never forgotten the taste of pleasure Josh gave her so long ago. Soon, neither of them can resist the desire mounting between them, and unleash a passion that is even more powerful than Tessa’s pride…

I’d heard about Carina Press and was interested to see what their books were like, so I was really pleased when they appeared on NetGalley and I got a chance to have a look at one.

The plot initially seems pretty simple – a story of damsel in distress, in comes a knight in shining armour to save her and after fighting the attraction between them she gives in and swoons at his feet. Just as I was about to dismiss the book as complete fluff however a twist came that changed my opinion of the book for the better.

In places the plot did take a back seat to the sex, whilst I had expected there to be sex in the book (the cover gave a strong hint of this) I wasn’t really expecting there to be quite as much as there was, particularly considering the slim size of the novella. It was at least pretty well written, I’m just not sure it was all needed for the book.

I liked Tessa, she was written as a strong and determined woman fighting for her place within a male dominated world. I found that I could identify with her, and liked her determination. I liked Josh, but I wasn’t as swept away by him as I wanted to be.

Overall I enjoyed this book, it was a quick and fairly entertaining read. I like the fact that Carina Press is publishing novellas in eBook form, I’ll certainly be giving a few more a go I think.

Tessa’s Pride is published as an eBook by Carina Press in the UK priced $3.99. Whilst I was provided with a review copy of the book via NetGalley.com all of the opinions expressed are my own.

Introducing… Loveswept.

Not a lot of people know this (until now at least) but if I was asked what my reading guilty pleasure was I would have to say it’s classic romance. There are times when all I want to do is curl up with a good old love story, especially one with a cowboy or two. I blame it on the summer I spent as a teenager devouring the box of Lucy Walker books my mom had saved from her teenage years. I was therefore very interested when I received an email from Kate at Transworld about Loveswept.

Transworld Publishers are relaunching romance imprint Loveswept today as an eBook only line. It’s a collaboration with Ballantine Bantam Dell in the USA and will be publishing titles by established authors as well as new voices.

Back in the 1980s and 1990s Loveswept was the imprint that gave many authors their break including Janet Evanovich, Tami Hoag and Iris Johansen. I wonder which of the new voices that are published by the new imprint will go on to have such successful careers?

The line is launching with eight titles, with further titles planned for Autumn 2011. On the website at the moment there is a preview of “Tall, Dark and Lonesome” – I’ve had a little look and it sounds like my kind of read. I think I’ll be reading at least that one, and probably a couple more from this first batch of books.