Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Rainbow Sprinkles by Anna Martin - Release Day Review



A States of Love Story
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Novella / 77 pages
Buy links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Amazon UK

Blurb

Cooper Reed has a fairly relaxed life for someone who lives in LA. He’s no celebrity—just the guy who makes sundaes at the Dreamy Creamery, and that’s the way he likes it. The highlight of every week is the beautiful guy who turns up and orders a sundae with rainbow sprinkles. Cooper still isn’t sure if that’s a code, because he has a huge crush and the hot guy is terrible at flirting.

Drew Tanner, it turns out, is an original California dreamer. He’s as wholesome as apple pie and twice as sweet, a real-life Disney Prince at Disneyland. But while Drew’s head is in the clouds, Cooper’s feet are firmly on the ground, and their different outlooks might be more than their new relationship can take.

My thoughts

Rainbow Sprinkles is a sweet and easy story about two men who bond over ice cream.

Cooper is down to earth, doesn’t have particularly high expectations of life or of himself and while he knows his life could get better, he’s not inclined to push himself or rock the boat.

Drew Tanner is more of a dreamer. He’s an aspiring actor working as a Disney Prince in Disneyland and thoroughly enjoying his job while working towards an opportunity to break into fame and fortune.

I adored the early part of the story. I smiled because both Cooper and Drew are convinced they’re not good or special enough for the other. I loved the dates Drew organised for them and their slow but steady coming together. The conflict between them, when it arose, felt a bit like ‘much ado about nothing’ to me, and I didn’t think it warranted the two men being apart for as long as they were.


On the upside, I adored the secondary characters almost as much as I did Cooper and Drew and I loved how the story ended with a definite ‘happy for now’ and glimpses of a ‘happy ever after’ without forcing the issue. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novella—yes, even the bits I was less happy with content-wise. Anna Martin knows how to tell a story and presents characters that capture the reader. All in all this was a great story to read out in the sunshine on a Saturday afternoon. The only thing missing from that experience was my own ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

The Heart (Ice Dragons #2) by RJ Scott - Release Blitz







Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Cover Design: Meredith Russell


Ice Dragons Series


The Code (Book #1) - Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


The team captain and the rookie firefighter never meant to fall in love; but they’ll fight tooth and nail to protect what they have.

Alex Simard, captain of the Ice Dragons hockey team, didn’t intend on rescuing a baby from a burning car. Doing what anyone else would’ve done doesn’t make him a hero. Add the press hounding him, to on-ice injury, warring Russians, and the season from hell, and he’s losing focus. Getting his team to the Stanley Cup is his priority; falling in love isn’t even a footnote on his to-do list.

Jo Glievens, rookie firefighter, never meant to fall in love with a hockey player. Her career is everything to her and right now she doesn’t want to add a man to her life. She has a plan and is sticking to it. But someone is out there planting bombs, destroying lives, and she has to make choices when this criminal's actions hit way too close to home.


Excerpt

Jo walked in on a team meeting.
Not her team; not the big burly firefighters that formed her life and mostly sat around looking all kinds of badass whenever they had a meeting.
Nope, it was the key members of the Ice Dragons hockey team that had congregated in her friend Kat’s living room. Of course, it was also Ryan’s living room given Kat and Ryan were recently engaged, and it was their new house. Hence why Ryan would be there.
“Excuse the noise, we’ll study upstairs again where it’s quiet,” Kat said.
“It’s a team meeting then?”
“Less meeting, more smack-down and telling Alex like it is. Poor guy can’t stay at his own place because of all the media attention, so he’s staying here, but he’s pissed and probably scared of being off-ice for far too long.”
“It’s fine,” she said, although she wasn’t exactly concentrating on what Kat said, so had missed most of it.
And all because, from there she could see the center of attention, one Alexandre Simard, or Simba as his teammates liked to call him. She only knew that Simba was his nickname because he’d done those ridiculous car sales ads for a local Toyota dealership a couple years back. They’d made this whole thing about his blond hair, and his name, likening him to a lion based on his hockey nickname.
She’d seen the ads so many times she could almost recite them from memory; too much down time at the firehouse between calls.
Of course, his face had been fixed firmly in her mind after she and Mitch had been the ones who dragged his trapped and heavy ass out of that car, the flames burning through his jacket and the jersey beneath. He’d been the one who looked up at her and asked, not about himself, but about the baby.
The damned man had crawled back into the burning car for the dad. He could have died. Jo had been furious at his actions; the last thing professionals needed were civilians getting involved, but when the action of the call had faded she’d thought past the rookie checklist for civilian interaction on scenes. Instead, she’d gone from seeing him as a man who’d helped to sell cars, played a game for a living, to a man who risked his own life for a child and father.
With no thought for his own safety.
He was pretty much a local hero if you listened to the news, a tall, gorgeous, blond-haired, blue-eyed hero. Could the guy be any more of a cliché? And why did he have to look so sexy and handsome, even when he was angry?
“They’re all mad,” Lieutenant Dennison had said when they were working on getting the car clear. “Hockey players, all mad,” he elaborated when she’d stared at him not really understanding at first.
Seems like they weren’t just mad for putting themselves in danger, but they were mad-angry as well. So, it wasn’t so much a meeting she’d been warned was happening at the same time as her study session, as much as a heated debate.
There was some language she didn’t understand, although it was deep and guttural and likely Russian, and then one hell of a lot of cursing. She caught some of it, a shouting match over ice time and why couldn’t their fucking captain understand the concept of fucking rest.
She didn’t watch hockey that much, sometimes caught highlights on shift down time, but being the probie at the firehouse kept her busy. That would all be ending soon when she passed probation and her exams, but for now, it sucked. She kind of wanted to watch hockey, the way that her fellow officers and the paramedics talked about it, the game was fast and changed on a dime. Burlington had an expansion team, or so she’d read in the paper that morning. In fact, she’d learned a lot about hockey the past few days. Ever since the accident actually, because the articles on it were everywhere.
To be fair, every article she’d read about the Dragons’ captain and him risking his life had begun with the words Alexandre ‘Simba’ Simard, Captain of The Dragons, the NHL’s newest expansion team…she’d looked it up, knew what expansion meant, that it was a new team, only five or so years old, and that this year they’d started strong before setbacks had them trailing in the rankings.
Not to mention they’d lost their captain for at least four weeks. Maybe six. One writer pointed out the team didn’t have the chance to label it as a generic upper body injury, meaning other teams wouldn’t know the captain’s vulnerabilities. Nope, there were pictures and news reports of burns and a fractured radius.
According to news reports, the team losing their captain was vital, and Jo could understand that. Captains were key pieces in their teams, the leader, the one that everyone looked up to. He was also a real American hero, or at least that is what the news was painting him as. Without thought for his own safety, he’d rescued a father and baby from their car only seconds before the fire spread.
Brave. Not everyone was a firefighter like her, not everyone would have risked their own life to rescue others. Not everyone was trained like her. Brave, stupid, they were different sides of the same coin.
She glanced into the main seating area, the one with the views out over Burlington, in the beautiful place that Kat and her fiancé had bought. They’d only just moved in, but this was the third time Jo had visited. The view included shouting, sexy, angry hockey players; men who were clearly pissed at something.
“You’re not coming back early,” one strong, steady voice said, and Jo recognized Ryan, Kat’s other half, as the owner of the voice.
“Fuck you, Flynn,” the captain snapped.
“This is not up for discussion, you hard headed idiot,” Ryan shouted louder. Seemed it was that kind of meeting where each person shouted louder than the last just to be heard.
She counted it as a win that they hadn't spotted her; there was something compelling about being able to see them in person. Kat was watching with amusement on her face. Of course, her fiancé was one of them, and she probably knew more about the whole thing than Jo ever would.



Author Bio

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk







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Monday, 27 March 2017

Holding by Graham Norton



Pages 312
Bookclub Read

The blurb

The remote Irish village of Duneen has known little drama; and yet its inhabitants are troubled. Sergeant PJ Collins hasn't always been this overweight; mother of­ two Brid Riordan hasn't always been an alcoholic; and elegant Evelyn Ross hasn't always felt that her life was a total waste.

So when human remains are discovered on an old farm, suspected to be that of Tommy Burke - a former­ love of both Brid and Evelyn - the village's dark past begins to unravel. As the frustrated PJ struggles to solve a genuine case for the first time in his life, he unearths a community's worth of anger and resentments, secrets and regret.

Darkly comic, touching and at times profoundly sad. Graham Norton employs his acerbic wit to breathe life into a host of loveable characters, and explore - with searing honesty - the complexities and contradictions that make us human.

My thoughts

“The past was opening up like a great dark bottomless pit, and she felt herself falling.”

Holding caused a stir when it was first released. The reviews in Irish newspapers were glowing and it shot up the bestseller list. All the to-do sure made me curious and I was delighted when my library bought extra copies of the book so it could be read by the Reading Groups. Now that I’ve read the book I’m not entirely sure what to say and am afraid I could well end up damning the book with faint praise.

Let me start by saying there is absolutely nothing wrong with this book. The story is well written and the characters are painted in such a way that I could see them. In fact, a lot about this story was recognisable, probably because I live near a town even smaller than Duneen.

On the other hand, there wasn’t anything in this book to make it stand out as remarkable either. In fact it all felt a bit like ‘same old – same old’, almost to the extent that those recognisable characters felt like caricatures, and Duneen like a prototype Irish small town. As for the mystery, I don’t want to say too much about that because I realise that just because it wasn’t much of a mystery to me doesn't mean it won't be surprising to others. I had however worked out almost exactly what had to have happened long before the solution was presented on the page, and I was almost sorry when it turned out I had been right.

However, none of what I said in the previous paragraph means I didn’t enjoy the book. It was an easy read, at times poignant, and somewhat dark. The only thing mentioned in the blurb I do not agree with is the description of this book as ‘darkly comic’. I don’t think I so much as smiled while reading this story, never mind laughed out loud.


To say I’m on the fence about this one would be an understatement. I certainly wouldn’t discourage anybody from reading Holding but neither is it the first book that would spring to mind if I were asked to recommend a mystery set in Ireland. In fact, it was the Irishness of this story that made it so very predictable for me, which means that people who don’t live in Ireland might well get a lot more out of this book than I did. As it is I’d rate this book a very solid 3.5 stars; there’s nothing wrong with it but it’s not something to write home about either.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

The Night Mark by Tiffany Reisz – Pre-Release Review



432 pages
Publisher: MIRA
Release Date: April 1
Buy Links: Mira | Amazon | Amazon UK

The blurb

She has nothing to live for in the present, but finds there's something worth dying for in the past…

From Tiffany Reisz, the international bestselling storyteller behind The Bourbon Thief and The Original Sinners series, comes an enthralling new novel about a woman swept away by the tides who awakens to find herself in 1921, reunited with the husband she's been mourning for four years. Fans of Kate Morton and Diana Gabaldon will fall in love with the mystery, romance and beauty of an isolated South Carolina lighthouse, where a power greater than love works its magic. 


My thoughts

“The night mark is the pattern the light flashed. Some lighthouses had a steady beam. Some lights flashed. That’s how navigators told lighthouses apart.”

Surely I don’t need to tell you that Tiffany Reisz tells amazing stories. Her imagination is a thing of wonder and her characters are always, not so much larger than life, but painted with such clarity they come to life.

The Night Mark is a very emotional story. When it starts and we meet Faye she is only surviving. Four years after her soul mate, Will, died, she’s still buried so deep in her grief that it felt almost as if it was the only thing that kept her going. Grief is Faye and Faye is grief and while she’s making an attempt to kick start her life again, it seems as if that life will have to fit around that grief, accommodate it, because when Faye lost Will, she lost her reason for being.

“Whoever first said it was better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all had neither loved nor ever lost.” – Faye

Then Faye almost drowns and when she comes to she thinks she’s been reunited with her Will, or at the very least that she’s experiencing the most lucid dream she has ever experienced. Except that the man isn’t Will, and she isn’t dreaming. Instead she finds herself almost a century in the past, and in the company Carrick, who closely resembles, but isn’t Will.

I’m not going to say a whole lot more about the story itself. Twists and turns kept me turning the pages as secrets were revealed, and surprises kept me guessing. This is a love story in its purest form. A ‘love-overcomes-all’ sorta story. The wording is both lyrical and at times introspective, but never too much of either. And both the main and the secondary characters we’re fascinating and so well portrayed I felt I knew them on a personal level.

I loved how this story played with time. It is not impossible that time-travel purists will have one or two questions relating to whether or not history should or could change, by the time the story ends. I just lost myself in the romance of it all and decided that I would stick to Carrick’s theory.

“To think I spent my whole life believing time only went in one direction, (…). Thought it was a river. Turns out it’s an ocean. Waves come in. Waves go out. Sometimes those waves take us with them.” – Carrick

While Tiffany is an all-round fabulous author, there is one thing she does better than anyone else I’ve ever read; she writes the best priests ever. Pat Cahill in this book proves that once again.

“My job entailed turning wine into God’s blood, so I don’t think I can judge you too harshly.” – Pat Cahill.

I received an ARC of this title through Netgalley and while it pains me to do so I have to say that I hope this wasn’t the final version. I came across issues both with  both formatting and editing. Nothing so major or shocking it took me out of the story, never mind put me off reading it or even made me mark the story down, but enough of them to make me sit up and mention them here.


To summarize: The Night Mark only confirmed what The Original Sinners books had already told me; this author possesses a rare and wonderful form of genius. And while the Original Sinners will, in all likelihood, always be my favourite stories and characters by this author, I now know, without a shadow of doubt, that she can write just about anything she puts her mind (and fingers) to. And I will continue to greedily devour those words of hers.

Friday, 24 March 2017

Shifting Silver by Brandon Witt



Pages: 49
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Buy links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Amazon UK

The blurb

The year is 1618, and Allakau is different from the other members of the Alaskan Yupik tribe. His people survive by hunting, but Allakau is unable to kill or eat flesh. As another season reaches its end and winter approaches, Allakau encounters a narwhal with silver eyes similar to his own. He saves the creature’s life but incurs his father’s wrath, and Allakau is given one last chance to prove himself a productive part of the tribe or be left behind to die. As he spends time alone in the woods, clues about his past and destiny begin to fall into place with the aid of another silver-eyed creature. His hunt might finally lead him to the truth about what sets him apart and where he belongs—if he can survive it.

A story from the Dreamspinner Press 2016 Daily Dose package "A Walk on the Wild Side."

My thoughts

Sometimes you stumble across something special, a little gem of a story that fills your heart, feeds your soul, and leaves you fulfilled. Shifting Silver is such a story for me. I can’t think of a single thing in this story I don’t adore. Allakau is a wonderful protagonist and even better narrator. His struggle between remaining true to himself and doing what his family expects of him was real without ever becoming over dramatic. I’m so grateful that there were no truly horrid characters in this story. Allakau’s father’s decision may seem harsh, but even with him the reader knows he does what he believes is best for his son and their tribe, and he had no way of knowing differently.

The ending to this story was perfect and left me with a huge smile on my face. All too often when I read a short story like this one I’m left somewhat unsatisfied. Not this time. The whole story is here, nothing is missing. While I wouldn’t have minded spending more time with Allakau & co, I’m not sure more story would have improved this fabulous tale.


This is a magical story set in a mythical past. It talks about enduring love and soul mates and shared the most wonderful message: Being ‘other’ does not mean being less. The descriptions of nature and creatures are breathtakingly beautiful and vivid. I could almost feel the cold, see the snow, and touch the animals.  I’m so happy I read Shifting Silver; it was a wonderful reading experience.

Embrace the Fire (Through Hell and Back #3) by Felice Stevens - Release Blitz






Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Cover Design: Reece Dante  


Length: 90,000 words 

Through Hell & Back Series 

A Walk Through Fire (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK  
After The Fire (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb


Brandon Gilbert has spent years in hiding, but he’s finally accomplished his dream of working as a public school teacher. When offered the chance to help bullied children, there was no way he could say no. Not to mention that meeting Dr. Tash Weber, the psychiatrist who helps them, a sad yet sexy older man, ignited a spark inside Brandon he’d never had before.


Though five years have passed since the death of his lover, Dr. Sebastian "Tash" Weber has no interest in relationships or love. But young, enigmatic Brandon awakens his heart and his desire. Despite Tash’s best efforts to push him away, Brandon unlocks the passion for life Tash thought he’d lost forever.


Falling in love wasn’t part of the plan for either Brandon or Tash, but neither family disapproval nor self-doubts can stop them from embracing the fire that burns between them. And when Brandon returns home to fight for a future he never imagined possible, he and Tash discover that the one thing worth fighting for has been with them all along.


NB This is a re-release and has been extensively re-edited and revised with almost 10k words of additional content added.


About Felice

I have always been a romantic at heart. I believe that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, My characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love, but getting there is oh so fun and oh so sexy.

I live in New York City with my husband and two children. My day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass (or two of red wine). I practice law but daydream of a time when I can sit by a beach somewhere and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there are bound to be a few bumps along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.



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Tuesday, 21 March 2017

By the Numbers (Sanctuary #10) by RJ Scott - Cover Reveal




Release Date: April 25


Cover Design: Meredith Russell


Blurb


Sometimes the only way to stay alive is to shoot first.

Brandon Hoselton was running scared. With his family threatened he felt he had nowhere left to go and even considered ending his life to keep them safe. Until Sanctuary, in the shape of the enigmatic Daniel Karnes, gives him a reason to stay alive and offers the possibility of a future free from fear.

Daniel is new to Sanctuary, tasked with watching Brandon, a brilliant geek with a wicked sense of humor. Falling in love with the man is way too easy, now he just has to make sure they can stay together.

The only way of taking down Varga is to cut off his money, and the two men become part of an intricate take-down involving millions of dollars in uncut diamonds.

But Brandon knows too much, Daniel has secrets he can never share, and their new love is at stake. When the villain has murder in mind, sometimes, the only way to stay alive is to be the first to shoot.


Sanctuary Series

Guarding Morgan (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Only Easy Day (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Face Value (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Still Waters (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Full Circle (Book #5) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Journal of Sanctuary One (Book #6) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Worlds Collide (Book #7) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Accidental Hero (Book #8) Amazon US | Amazon UK 
Ghost (Book #9) Amazon US | Amazon UK

Author Bio


RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn't with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn't like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk





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