Tuesday, August 26, 2014

DELICIOUS AND SUSPCIOIUS by Riley Adams

 

Publisher:  Berkley
Published:   Jul7 6, 2010
ISBN:  978-0425235539
Genre:   Cozy Mystery
Format:  Paper
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina Gina@loveromancesandmorereviews.com

ONE HEART

 

In what could be the chance of a lifetime for Aunt Pat’s Barbeque in Memphis, Cooking Channel star Rebecca Adrian is on her way to check out the locale for a show.  While the owner, Lulu Taylor is thrilled and quite excited about the opportunity, her basic, down home style doesn’t change one bit.  In fact, when Rebecca arrives she cannot help but notice the tight knit community that surrounds Aunt Pat’s.  Not that Rebecca likes the familiarity shared between the locals and herself.  Oh no, she’s much better—so she thinks—than what appear to be a cadre of country bumpkins.  With disdain she answers their questions and assesses the restaurant for an upcoming show.  That is, until, she ends up dead.

Surprised and not at all happy about what could be the outcome of the TV host’s death, Lulu is on the case to find out who done it before her restaurant is no more.

I enjoy cozy mysteries because I like trying to figure out who did it and how many of their authors solve the crimes laid at their doors.  Riley Adams’ DELICIOUS AND SUSPICIOUS had been sitting on my TBR for quite some time and after struggling to read it I should have left it there.  The cover is enticing and the blurb hints at what could be a really fun series to read.  Unfortunately the writing was fairly juvenile—I almost wondered if Adams had a pre-teen who wrote it and attached her name to it in hopes that it would sell and sell well.  I didn’t care for the dumbing down of so many of the characters or what could have been a missed opportunity with the character who always wore her motorcycle helmet.  I never felt any connection to any of the characters and had the book not been for review I would not have finished it.

There are some good recipes in the back you’ll want to check out should you pick up the book.


This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.




Monday, August 25, 2014

MAYBE THIS TIME by A.M. Arthur




Publisher:               Carina Press           
Published:               July 21. 2014         
ISBN:                     978 142688 871 6 
Genre:                   Romance, M/M
Book Format:          E-book
Obtained via:          Publisher
Reviewed by:          Helena Stone, helenastone63@gmail.com

Rating:                   4
         

This is the second book in the ‘Belonging’ series. While it can be read as a stand-alone I think you’ll enjoy it more if you read ‘No Such Thing’ first.

Ezra Kelley presents himself as a free spirit. A regular at gay hotspot Pot O Gold, he loves flirting and one night stands. A relationship is the farthest thing from his mind after a boyfriend he gave his all to,let him down. When bartender Donner Davis picks him up off the bathroom floor one night after an encounter gone wrong and too much tequila, Ezra is amazed at the man’s kindness. A kindness Ezra is sure he doesn’t deserve.

Donner’s life has been on hold ever since his lover died two years ago. He lives in his sister’s basement and works at the Pot where he flirts with his customers. He can’t deny his attraction to the flamboyant Ezra and wouldn’t mind spending a night with him but knows that a fling is all it could ever be. He isn’t ready for anything beyond that.

What should have been a one-night-stand leaves both Ezra and Donner with feelings they didn’t expect. What they thought was physical attraction appears to be a connection that won’t be denied. But with Donner still afraid to risk his heart and Ezra incapable of sharing his thoughts and feelings they push each other away as much as their connection brings them closer. They’ll both need to face their past, deal with it and leave it behind them if they want to get it right this time.

When I started this book I didn’t realize it was the sequel to ‘No Such Thing’ and I was pleasantly surprised to find myself spending more time with Jaime and Allessandro, even if they only play a supporting role in this book. The two characters taking centre stage this time, Donner and Ezra, are as fascinating as their two predecessors. They come with enough baggage to make connecting with each other harder than it should be which makes their hesitant relationship fascinating to follow. They don’t always deal with their issues in the best possible way which makes them relatable characters.
None of the issues the characters face are new to the reader. We’ve read books about parents rejecting their child before. There’s nothing new about being reluctant to commit to someone new after you’ve lost the love of your life. And yet nothing in this story felt rehashed. Their story may not be unique, these characters were and they are what made this a beautiful and hard to put down book.
It was impossible to not fall for Donner almost from the moment he is introduced to the reader. He is one of those characters who is aware of his issues, struggles with them but tries to stop himself from allowing his past to interfere with his future. Ezra on the other hand is a bit more of a handful. Younger than Donner he hasn’t yet learned to separate his past from who and what he is. His constant struggle between wanting to connect to Donner and being afraid of what it might cost him in the long run was at times heartbreaking. Watching him as he takes small steps towards a happy future was beautiful.
“Flaws are only part of a person. Our pasts are another part. But the most important part is our present. It’s the guy you are now and the guy you’re going to be down the road.” - Donner
The author pulls no punches in this book. We’re given a clear picture of everything that can and does go wrong in relationships, families and the world at large. The fact that this is a positive and ultimately uplifting story despite all the darker details proves A.M. Arthur has found the right balance between gritty realism and beautiful romance.
The writing in this book was smooth and at times awe-inspiring. The dialogue between the characters sounded real and the descriptions left me with a clear picture of Donner, Ezra and the world they live in. I’m pretty sure there will be more titles coming in the ‘Belonging’ series – I even have my suspicions about the character the next book might focus on – and I will most definitely be reading it when it comes out.
“Because nothing worth doing is ever completely easy. It’s like falling in love. You have to risk getting hurt in order to get the rewards, and usually the rewards are so fucking amazing and totally worth it.” – Donner

 



This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


Sunday, August 24, 2014

HOME THE HARD WAY by Z.A. Maxfield



Publisher:               Riptide Publishing            
Published:               28/07/2014 
ISBN:                     978 1 62649 146 5
Genre:                   Romance, M/M, Mystery, BDSM
Book Format:          E-book        
Obtained via:          Publisher
Reviewed by:          Helena Stone, helenastone63@gmail.com

Rating:                   3.5
         

Dare Buckley has returned to Palladian, the small town he lived in until a tragedy took him away when he was a teenager. He’s lost his job with the Seattle PD after a disastrous error of judgment, and Palladian is the only place that will hire him now. The only benefit to the forced and reluctant return is that it gives Dare the opportunity to investigate his father’s unexplained suicide.

Returning to Palladian also means reconnecting with Finn Fowler. When they were young Finn hero worshipped Dare to such an extent it made Dare feel uncomfortable enough to end all communication between them after he left. Things have changed though. Finn is no longer the little kid Dare remembers. He’s no longer helpless and he keeps his cards very close to his chest.

It isn’t long before Dare is torn between his attraction to Finn and everything the man has to offer and his doubts about whether he can trust the man who was like his shadow when they grew up. Dare has questions Finn seems to know the answers to but the younger man is disinclined to share.

As secrets, mysteries and danger close in, the two men have to rediscover each other and themselves. The secrets of the past have the power to destroy opportunities in the present. Coming home has never been harder.


I’m having a very hard time trying to figure out what to say about this book. It swept me from one extreme to another while I was reading. There were portions of this book I adored and drank in as slowly as I could just to savour them. And then there were sections of the story I couldn’t get through fast enough because they either irritated me or seemed to contradict the images I had formed in my mind.

In fact I had a love/hate relationship with both the characters and the story itself. When the book started I fell for Finn almost immediately while Dare left me cold. As the story unfolded that perception shifted. Dare seemed to become more defined as a character while Finn became ever more obscure. By the end of the book Dare had completely won me over but I still had reservations about Finn. Most importantly, I still had reservations about Finn being the right man for Dare. And since ‘Home the Hard Way’ is a romance, not quite seeing the connection between the two characters by the time the story ends is probably not what the author had in mind.

On the other hand – and this is where my dilemma becomes clear – I liked that the story kept me guessing. The mystery in this book wasn’t just who had committed murder, or who was after Finn, or what had happened to Dare’s father or even why things were happening. The far more intriguing mystery in this book was why the characters reacted the way they did and whether or not they’d be able to overcome whatever was holding them back for long enough to see that they might be good together.

The scenes describing Dare’s submission to Finn were breathtaking. Not only were they very hot, they also gave the reader a wonderful insight into everything going on in Dare’s head and all the conflicting emotions he was dealing with.

It is possible this book was just a little bit too dark for me. Most if not all characters in this story seem to have deep and at times heartbreaking issues. I can’t help feeling that the book would have benefitted from a bit of light relief here and there.

In short I would call this a mostly fascinating story with quite a few gorgeous scenes. The writing is good and the story keeps the reader guessing. If you like your stories a little bit darker with some clever plotting, a lot of emotion and sexy scenes, you’ll probably enjoy ‘Home the Hard Way’.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.


 

Friday, August 22, 2014

HER LAST WHISPER by Karen Robards

LEAVE A COMMENT BY MONDAY, AUGUST 25 AND FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A COPY OF HER LAST WHISPER BY KAREN ROBARDS






Publisher:  Ballantine
Published:   August 26, 2014
ISBN:  978-0804178266
Genre:   Romantic Suspense, paranormal
Format:  Hardback
Obtained via:  Publisher  
Reviewed by name and email address:  Gina Gina@loveromancesandmorereviews.com

FOUR-HALF HEARTS



In the days after escaping a second…or in a way third…serial killer in a short span of time Dr. Charlotte Stone is back at Wallens Ridge prison continuing her research into those very same serial killers.  This time instead of studying Michael Garland another convicted killer sits before her.  But even though Michael is no longer a study subject, he’s not far from her.  In fact, for as long as he … lives … he cannot be more than fifty feet from Charlie courtesy of a spell to keep him grounded here on earth.  If that tether to Charlie were to be broken he would find himself hunted in a dark place of the afterlife he calls Spookville.  Michael is a ghost.  More specifically he is Charlie’s ghost.  Charlie has the unlikely … gift … of being able to see and hear the recently violent dead.  And while Michael died violently, before Charlie’s eyes, he hasn’t quite moved on to his just rewards.  Sometimes that’s okay with Charlie—because even though she’s determined not to fall in love with the often confusing, always possessive, ghost, somehow her heartstrings cannot untie themselves from the man that was.

Today, however, Michael is proving not only a distraction, but a dangerous one and before Charlie knows what is happening her subject not only grabs hold of her, he bites her.  Once again Michael is able to protect her, but at a cost. As alarms go off Charlie soon finds herself fleeing not for her own, but Michael’s life…or at least an afterlife away from Spookville.  They don’t get far before the other man in her life, FBI agent Tony Bartoli, is on the scene.  While Michael is none too happy to see Tony—he is, after all alive and able to have the life with Charlie he wishes he could have, Tony may hold the answer to saving Michael a little longer. It seems one of Tony’s team, Lena Kaminsky’s sister, has been taken while on vacation in Las Vegas.  While that in and of itself doesn’t bode well, what makes it all the more nefarious is there is a serial killer roaming the roads of Vegas—and Lena is convinced he’s got her sister. 

Despite Michael’s constant demand Charlie stay away from serial killers, she is determined to go to Vegas if for no other reason than to get Michael out of town to keep him away from one of Spookville’s hunters.  When they arrive in Vegas Charlie and Michael soon learn there may be worse creatures than a hunter from the dark side of the afterlife.

Karen Robards’s Charlie Stone series is one of my all-time favorites.  So much so that before each new book comes out I re-read the earlier ones in the series not just to refresh my memory of each character, but because of what great ones Charlie and Michael are.  As I said after the first, LAST VICTIM, Michael Garland can haunt me anytime.  That said I eagerly awaited the third instalment, HER LAST WHISPER.  It couldn’t arrive soon enough. 

It took me a few days to process just how I feel about HER LAST WHISPER.  There is so much to it, or at least the potential of so much, that it bears re-reading before the next book in the series comes out.  It can either be read as a straight romantic suspense with paranormal overtones, or it can be read with an eye on some deeper questions and issues.  I’m not generally a fan of your usual paranormal themes and genres like vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters and the like.  They’ve become a bit overdone and routine for me.  I’m also not a fan of the darker side of the afterlife like the hunters portrayed in the Stone books, particularly this one.  I do like a good ghost story and I have a fascination with walk-ins, past lives and reincarnation and in HER LAST WHISPER Robards delves into those themes.  Michael has been a ghost character – one of the best I’ve ever read, since book one.  One of the things I like about the character is you can read him as a ghost lover in a romantic suspense, or you can dig deeper into your own thoughts and feelings of the one you can never truly have.  I enjoy how Robards takes Charlie through the emotional and intellectual inner battle of loving a man she can never have simply because he is a ghost.  He’s not only the quissentential bad boy that we girls should keep a solid distance from—he’s out of reach because he’s dead.  Charlie knows that Tony is the kind of guy she should be falling for—but like all of us at one time or another, the attraction to the untameable bad boy draws her in. 

In LAST VICTIM I had the feeling there was much more to Michael’s story than his being a sociopathic serial killer.  I was certain there was a reason for his actions and have waited for those reasons to come out.  In book 2, LAST KISS GOODBYE we have a glimpse of what motivated some of his behaviour.  In HER LAST WHISPER Michael finally begins to tell his story.  It is a heart wrenching one and one that makes you want to scream at the universe to give him another chance. 

What I didn’t like about HER LAST WHISPER were the darker paranormal elements, particularly around the hunter and what happens to Michael after fighting one off.  And the ending was a disappointment.  It wasn’t satisfying.  While I can understand Ms. Robards came as far as she could go with Michael and Charlie’s relationship, as a romance reader, I want some sort of happy ending for them.  There are hints of where it might go and how their relationship might get there; but would it really be the Charlie and Michael I’m a huge fan of? 

What I really liked is how Robards, for those of us who have lost a loved one, who want to go down that road, gives a glimpse, an idea, of what it might be like to hold them just one more time.  Would you tell them you love them?  Or would the pain of saying goodbye again be all the more painful for been able to hear them say they love you one more time?

This is one series I will continue to read again and again.  Sometimes for the sheer enjoyment of a good read; sometimes for the deeper thoughts and feelings it opens the doors to.






This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.