ARC REVIEW ~ Cinderella and the Geek (British Bad Boys), by Christina Phillips

#newadult #romcom #contemporary #romance

Blurb

From Christina Phillips a sexy, new romance with a hero you won’t forget…

I’m not looking for love or a Happily-Ever-After because I know how that ends. I just need to concentrate on my degree and look after myself. But there’s something about my boss, Harry, I can’t resist. It’s crazy since he’s so hot and smart it should be illegal.
And then, just like Cinderella, I have my night at
the ball and a midnight kiss, and for a week all my sexy daydreams come true. That fake date changes my life in a way I could never imagine. It turns out, Harry wants me too.

But I’m off to pursue my dreams, and he’s taking his business to the next level. There’s no way this fairytale has a happy ending, but that doesn’t keep me from wishing for it.

My Review

Enchanting twist on the Cinderella story ~ 4 stars

I loved this sweet new adult romantic comedy by Christina Phillips. It’s a perfect feel-good read with a distinctly British flavour which re-creates perfectly the excitement and angst of a new relationship between two young people who are very much in love.

Alice has been attracted to her boss Harry as long as she has been working at his high tech gaming firm. However, she has never had the courage to let him know her true feelings and is soon to leave his company and attend university hundreds of miles away. She is desperate to seduce him at some point during her remaining weeks at the firm, after all what does she have to lose? However, it never seems to happen, until  Harry invites her to a ‘fake date’ which sees her accompany him on an unforgettable night at an awards ceremony.

The night is a game changer for them both and afterwards they begin to spend time together. It becomes clear that Harry does not just see Alice solely as his irreplaceable office administrator, but as something more… However, has their relationship got staying power or is it just a quick fling before Alice begins her studies?

Both Harry and Alice are thoroughly likeable characters and it is obvious to the reader that they are destined for each other. Harry is the quintessentially handsome geek – in his case an expert in computers, but a man who is not so good at letting his true feelings be known. Alice’s’s experience of relationships with the opposite sex is a big fat zero, her lifelong ambition before meeting Harry being to gain a degree and embark on a stellar career. She also has her own insecurities – what young person doesn’t?

The story is told in their dual POV and there are are some very funny scenes and internal and external dialogue as the couple navigate around each other, their colleagues and family. The physical scenes between them are sweet, funny and romantic at the same time and are beautifully depicted, although at times I did feel like banging their heads together!

Between them the path to lasting love is fraught with ups and downs, as they deal with intense feeings and situations they have not experienced before and issues arising from their past. The reader is left wondering whether their fragile bond will last.

All in all a cute and sexy feel-good read!

Reviewed by Tina Williams

An ARC of this novel was given to me by the publisher for the purpose of a fair an honest review.

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*REVIEW* – Captive Beauty, by Natasha Knight

#fairytaleretelling #romanticsuspense #eroticromance

Blurb

Cilla

The Beast had Belle.
Killian Black has me.

How I got here doesn’t matter, even though he says it does. Says it was my choice. He doesn’t get it, though. It wasn’t ever a choice for me.

And now, he’s changing the rules.

The agreement was one month. For thirty days, I’d be his. He’s no longer satisfied with my body alone, though. He wants my soul, too. Wants every part of me. And even though I can pretend I’m safe when I lie beneath him, this man does something to me. Something wicked.

A thing that will break me.

Killian

Cilla made the choice. She offered the deal. I just took her up on it. So what if I changed the rules half-way in? I’m not apologizing for it.

See, Cilla and me, we’re the same. She’s dark. As dark as me. Something happened to her. Something bad. It damaged her.

But it’s not a hero she seeks. It’s an avenging angel. A dark knight. That, I can do. I’ll slay her dragons, but it’ll cost her, because in return, I want everything. And I’ll take it.

She’s mine.

Author’s note: Captive Beauty is a standalone romance. Think Beauty and the Beast, but twisted and dark in the best, dirtiest ways. 

My Review

Freaking Fabulous – 5 Stars ***** TOP READ

I just loved this latest release Captive Beauty, by Natasha Knight, one of my go to author’s when I want to read about exceedingly dark alphas and complex and damaged characters. It was not only a delicious panty melting read, but it was based on one of my favourite romance tropes – Beauty and the Beast. I one-clicked and devoured it with gusto at the first opportunity.

To save her brother from a serious kicking (and possibly worse) for daring to cross mob boss Killian Black, Cilla feels compelled to offer herself instead as recompese. She soon finds that she has signed herself over to the devil for 30 days to do exactly what he wants to her… For this woman who likes to keep men at an emotional distance she soon finds herself challenged by the darkness and intensity that Killian personifies. Killian is one hell of a dominant and likes very much to keep Cilla in her place. They are so well matched. as Cilla is feisty and certainly no pushover however, and I hugely enjoyed their battle of wills and the sex scenes truly sizzle!

The hero, or rather the anti-hero Killian Black is such a worthy beast: a remorseless mob boss with no scruples, a deliciously dark alpha. Yet Killian has his own inner demons to slay, feeling tormented that he could not protect an innocent from his past. The connection he forges with Cilla is profound and I loved that Killian is drawn to the darkness that he senses in her. He is determined to peel away her layers and discover what she is hiding. Yet Cilla is determined to keep her secrets at all cost, even when she enlists him to avenge a past wrong. As for Cilla, I loved that even as she struggles to submit to him she begins to enjoy his wicked attentions and very wicked they are too – cue serious hotness Natasha Knight style! My heart bled for what both these characters had endured.

I adore how this author delved deeply into their respective characters and slowly revealed their respective pasts. The attraction between Killian and Cilla was palpable from the off and increases in intensity as the read progresses.  I was glued to the pages as I waited to find out whether their darkness would tear them apart or whether together they could slay their respective demons and together find resolution. It was unclear whether Killian’s actions would help Cilla find closure or somehow destroy them both.

The book contains a number of triggers, as you would expect with a dark romance, but they are integral to the plot and the character development. The writing, narrated in dual POV, flows beautifully. The book is an intense, emotional rollercoaster for Killian and Cilla and I enjoyed accompanying them on the ride.

This thoroughly addictive and sizzling dark romance, is without a doubt a superb read for lovers of the genre.

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*REVIEW* ~ Deadly Lies (DI Mariner #1), by Chris Collett

#crimedrama #policeprocedural

Blurb

Journalist Eddie Barham is found dead in his home. A syringe is in his arm and a note by his side reads, ‘No More.’

Open and shut case of suicide? Not for DI Mariner. Hours before, he saw Barham picking up a woman in a bar. And then Mariner discovers Barham’s younger brother, Jamie, hiding in a cupboard under the stairs.

Jamie is the only witness to his brother’s death, but his severe autism makes communication almost impossible. Mariner is determined to connect with Jamie and get to the truth. Is the journalist’s death related to his investigation of a local crime kingpin?

What other dark secrets does Jamie hold the key to and can Mariner keep his relationship professional with Barham’s attractive sister, Anna?

In a nail-biting conclusion, Mariner races against time to prevent more lives being lost.

Perfect for fans of Peter James, Ian Rankin and Peter Robinson.

My Review

A Cracking Crime Drama – 5 stars

Deadly Lies by Chris Collett is a cracking character driven crime drama which had me guessing until the thrilling denouement. The book introduces the reader to DI Tom Mariner, the central character in the ensuing series, and can be read as a standalone. It is the first book I have read that is billed as a Police Procedural, and I was unsure as to what to expect. What I did find was that I was very quickly sucked into the suspenseful plot and the relationships between the chief protagonists.

Although the death of the journalist Eddie Barham in his home at first appears to be an open and shut case of suicide, DI Mariner is determined to leave no stone unturned. He focuses his investigation on not only the woman who he saw the deceased pick up at a Birmingham bar but also on attempting to communicate with Jamie Barham, Eddie’s severely autistic younger brother, who was found locked in a cupboard at the scene.

The latter part of his investigation brings him into contact with Anna, Jamie’s sister, and the very personal connection they forge adds further tension to the novel. Both have baggage from their past and I found their ‘will they won’t they’ relationship particularly well portrayed by the author.  DI Mariner’s relationships with his colleagues are depicted in a realistic way and I found him to be a fascinating albeit flawed character. The novel is full of suspense as the investigation leads Tom Mariner into the underbelly of the city of Birmingham and to adopt some unexpected and often unpalatable leads involving drugs, prostitution and criminal gangs. I enjoyed the numerous twists and turns as he strives to solve the case.

One of the big pluses in the book for me was the complexity and humanity of the main characters, who due to their various foibles came across as very believable. It also examines the challenges faced by those with autism and their families.

All in all an enthralling start to the series. The author has created a fascinating character in that of Tom Mariner. I am curious as to how his crime solving journey and his personal one progresses and will be reading other books in the series.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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*REVIEW* ~ Sleeping Lord Beattie (The Contrary Fairy Tales Book 1), by Em Taylor

#regency #erotic #romance #fairytaleretelling

Blurb

EM TAYLOR brings you an amazing new series of Regency stories based on the fairy tales you loved as a child.

Young ladies of good breeding do not kiss gentlemen in their bed chambers even if they have been asleep for three weeks. One would think Lady Emily would know that. One would think Lady Emily would not have entered Lord Beattie’s bed chamber alone. One would have thought that kissing the handsome viscount would have been the last thing she would have done.
But kiss him she did. And that was when the apothecary walked in. All of which meant she had to marry Lord Beattie.

Why the silly little chit had kissed him when he’d been out cold for three weeks, the Lord alone knew. And now Gideon, Viscount Beattie had to marry the outspoken little minx. But there was something a little charming about her. The problem was, her uncle was after his hide, the peasants were revolting – in the rioting sense, not in the disgusting sense – and he really needed to procure some grain from up north. He may as well kill two birds with one stone and elope with the interesting, frustrating, irritating and thoroughly delightful Lady Emily – soon to be Viscountess Beattie. It would be an interesting journey.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book has no magic in it. While loosely based on a fairy tale, the story is gender swapped and there is no paranormal happenings.

This book has scenes of an adult nature and is intended for mature audiences aged 18+

My Review – 5 stars

Charming, feel-good and sexy Regency Romance

If you fancy an entertaining and charming Regency Romance then look no further than Sleeping Lord Beattie, the first book in a new series of books by Em Taylor based on the retelling of well- known fairy tales.

Sleeping Lord Beattie (Sleeping Beauty with a role reversal) is set during the cold winter of 1815-16, which is threatening to cause unrest and upheaval in the country due to the poor harvest. Gideon, Viscount Beattie,  suffers a head injury and has lain asleep for weeks. His sister Sophie, fearing that her beloved brother is not long for this mortal realm, invites Emily her friend to visit for moral support.

Except that Emily goes above and beyond providing her friend with moral support… It is not long before the fun and mayhem begin!  Emily is drawn to the bedside of the sleeping lord and on a whim kisses him, her impulsive action awakening the sleeping Viscount! However, her actions are witnessed and Emily is compromised and risks ruination. it is fortunate that Gideon, a gentleman through and through (although a damn sexy one to boot) does the honourable thing and proposes to this woman whom he has never seen before…

The scene is set for a hugely enjoyable romp with a super hero and heroine. I loved the unconventional character of Emily – she is so unlike the sensible and simpering misses that frequent many a Regency Romance. Outspoken, clumsy and accident-prone her family despairs that she will ever find a suitor. And Gideon – he is soon drawn to the strange chit who had the temerity to kiss him. He finds her increasingly more fascinating, and as they are thrown together he has his work cut out to keep her wayward actions and thoughts in line without compromising her more fully! I enjoyed their sexual tension, their banter and the humour that this writer injects into her stories, as well as the sexy lovemaking scenes!

The tale, which also contains scandalised relatives (including an angry uncle), an elopement and desperate highwaymen, is an absolute pleasure to read and I recommed it to fans of the genre.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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*REVIEW* ~ Split Decision, by Carmen Capuano

#comingofage #youngadult #romance #thriller

Book Blurb

How was Natalie to know that the decision she was about to make between two potential dates, would forever be a pivotal point in her life? That it would mark the time where childhood innocence ended? How could she even imagine that the wrong decision would send her life spiralling into the stuff of nightmares from where she might not come out alive? Life takes a cruel twist of fate when Natalie, a completely average [almost] 16 year old, is forced to make a split-second decision… a decision that will change her future and forever alter her perception of trust, love and the realities of life.

My Review

Brilliant and Brutal Coming-of-Age Story – 5 stars

Split Decision, essentially a coming-of-age novel, is both brilliant and brutal – brilliant in its execution and brutal in the sensitive subject matter it explores. The decision Natalie makes impacts on many and she is not the same person at the end of the story as she is at the beginning… It is the second book that I have read by the author Carmen Capuano, the first being Ascension, a dystopian thriller (click on the book title for the review). Although the subject matter is completerly different, I found the story just as engaging and thought- provoking.

The plot begins in a shoe shop where best friends, teenagers Natalie and Stacey are shopping. The new pair of shoes which Natalie purchases – in a style which is way out of character for the sensible teenager, can be viewed as a metaphor for both her step into adulthood and what subsequently occurs. Natalie is soon called upon to make a split second choice and her decision heralds a chain of unexpected and shocking events.

The author does an excellent job of depicting the trials and tribulations of the teenage years and how they effect existing and new relationships: a time of burgeoning sexuality, when we strive to forge our own identity, sometimes putting us in conflict with our families who find it difficult to come to terms with their offspring entering adulthood. The balance between protecting their children whilst allowing them the freedom to grow is often a difficult one and I felt that the author touched on this in a sensitive fashion. I certainly identified with Stacey and Natalie from memories of my own teenage years and recognised how easily events could take the path they did.

The characters, the young people and the adults, were all very believable and the author is to be congratulated on using the events to illustrate their personal growth and changing family dynamics.The plot is cleverly and expertly written and certainly had me guessing and questioning my own preconceptions and prejudices.

All in all a super read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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*REVIEW* ~ Merry Christmas, My Viscount (Rules of the Rogue #2), by Emily Windsor

#historical #regency #romance #sensual #christmasread

Book Blurb

Mrs Lily Mereworth’s List of Bold New Life Resolutions. To be completed by Christmas Eve, 1814.

• Burn Miss Pikesworth’s Guide to Etiquette – Achieved.
• Visit a gaming hell and win oneself lots of money – Achieved.
• Imbibe new-fangled absinthe – Preparations underway.
• Seduce a rogue – ?

Attending a Christmastide gathering is surely the best way for the most proper widow Mrs Lily Mereworth to complete her list and banish her past. After all, there will be more than a few suitable gentlemen present.
If only a shrewd, hazel-eyed viscount didn’t keep disrupting her plans…

Newly ennobled Viscount Asher Rainham has no schedule for seduction, Christmas or dallying with women. He has merely turned up for the good company, intelligent card playing and excellent brandy. But as snow swathes the land, a certain Mrs Mereworth confounds his expectations and assaults his methodical senses.
Asher, spymaster, a man who never takes risks, finds himself in need of some Rules of the Rogue…

Ghost stories on a windy night, swordplay down the Great Portrait Gallery, snapdragon in the dark – a lady and a gentleman with no thought to love… Merry Christmas.

My Review

Delightful Regency Romance ~ 5 stars

Merry Christmas, My Viscount, by Emily Windsor is a fun, feel-good read, ideal for Christmas or at any time of the year. I adored it! It is the first book that I have reviewed by the author and I was impressed with how she effortlessly blended romance, sexual tension and humour to create a compulsive read.

I loved the heroine in the book, the widow Lily as she strives to recover her mojo. She is so determined to liberate herself from the memories of her marriage to her stuffy and controlling husband. She has worked her way through The List of Bold New Life Resolutions, which she created with the help of her friend Rosalind, and now only has to complete two outstanding resolutions before Christmas Eve – imbibe new-fangled absinthe and seduce a rogue – what a list! Fortunately the Christmas house party hosted by Rosalind and husband Lucas on hand to afford her plenty of opportunities …

Cue for a delightful and romantic read with plenty of humour as Lily, egged on by Rosalind in particular, resolves to complete the list before the allotted time. Her perusal of the rogue she’d most like to give her attentions to is particularly entertaining. However, everywhere Lily goes she finds the eyes and attentions of the oh so serious Viscount Asher Rainham upon her. The risk averse Viscount, spymaster extraordinaire, is flummoxed by the contradictions in Lily’s character and is determined to find out what makes her tick.  Indeed, this woman not only piques his interest but confounds his senses and his fascination quickly turns to attraction…

For Lily’s part, she becomes intriqued by the Viscount, against her better judgement. She realises that there is more to Asher than first impressions suggest. Yet will she want to risk more than a simple dalliance now that she is enjoying her newfound freedom?  There is plenty of humour and heaps of sexual tension as Lily and Asher fall for each other at the same time embarking on a journey of self-discovery in this hugely entertaining read.

I’d thoroughly recommend this to all romance lovers.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the author for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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*REVIEW* ~ The Passage of Desire: French Summer Prequel, by Laurette Long

 #familydrama #friendship #adult themes

The French Summer Novels are a series of contemporary romances set in the stunning French Basque country, following the lives of two sisters, Caroline and Annabel, and their friends. In this prequel we step back in time to meet Alexandra, their mother, and learn more about her story in the years before her fatal car crash. When Alexandra dies, she takes with her a terrible secret …

Yorkshire, 1991: the summer that everything changed.

Alexandra and her seven-year-old daughter, Caroline, arrive in the village of Haworth to spend a holiday with Alexandra’s best friend from school, Juliet. Though the years have passed, the two friends quickly fall into their old intimacy, sharing reminiscences and comparing the different paths their lives have taken. Juliet seems to have it all – marriage to childhood sweetheart, Alan, two children and an adorable grandchild – while Alexandra is a troubled soul, an only child brought up in a dysfunctional family, prone to bouts of depression since the birth of Caroline, and becoming more and more estranged from husband Robbie.

But life with the boisterous, touchy-feely Pearson family in their rambling disorganised house starts to lift Alexandra’s spirits. Hot sunny days filled with long walks across the purple moors, leisurely picnics, drinks on the terrace in the evening, laughing at the antics of Caroline and the family collie, Bonnie. Oliver, the Pearson son, usually joins in the fun, ready to top up the drinks or join Caroline and Bonnie in their game of catch.
A perfect summer idyll, which is about to be shattered by violence and betrayal.

Underneath the surface, tensions build and emotions come to the boil. Cath, the Pearson’s second child, is a teenage Mum, eking out a precarious existence with a shifty, unreliable partner, a less than ideal father for the couple’s baby son. Their situation is a source of friction and worry for Juliet, who’s also bracing herself for the departure of 19-year-old Oliver, the golden boy, off to Cambridge in September. Young Caroline is missing her Daddy, on a business trip to New York, and burdened by feelings of responsibility to a ‘fragile’ Mummy, who needs looking after.

And meanwhile, through an innocent gesture, an unguarded look, a spark ignites, a flame is lit, a forbidden desire grows. As the characters go about their normal routines, two of them become caught up in an escalating conflict, torn between the demands of loyalty and friendship and the irresistible urges of the human heart. As the holiday draws to an end, events take a sudden, dramatic turn, setting off a chain reaction that will change the lives of everyone forever.

My Review

Compelling and Flawlessly written  ~5 stars

I have yet to read the series of contemporary romances that comprise the French Summer Novels, but having read the observations of Caroline, my co-blogger, I jumped at the chance to review this prequel. The Passage of Desire is the story of Alexandra, the mother of the sisters, Caroline and Annabel, of the later novels Biarritz Passion and Hot Basque.

In the book Juliet, Alexandra’s childhood friend invites her and her daughter Caroline to stay with her in her family home on the Yorkshire moors. Alexandra, whose husband is away on business, is going through a low point in her life but soon begins to bloom again and under the summer sun, with her friend’s easy going attitude and the healthy country air, she begins to heal herself.

Indeed, there is much to distract her with Juliet’s own offspring: Cath, who has a young child and a volatile partner and Oliver who is about to leave the family home and go away to study. Alexandra’s own daughter is also deeply absorbed by the tangled relationships she witnesses as their visit draws to a close – I loved how the author reflected what is going on through her young eyes.

Throughout the read the author delves deeply into the emotions of two women and their families. It touches on all which makes us human; the different stages of life; family dynamics; intimate relationships and unexpected desire. The book is flawlessly written, with insight and sensitivity as the events, which will have life-changing repercussions for some, unfold.

The setting for the story, the wild and untamed Yorkshire moors, where emotions become freed and passions can often come to a head, is a metaphor for the tale itself. The reference in the book to Alexandra’s recollections of a teenage visit to The Passage of Desire in Paris is also allegorical, and its  meaning reveals itself as the plot unravels. The descriptions of the various settings in the book, particularly the countryside, are vivid and beautifully written in a way that powerfully reflects the emotional journey of the characters.

I don’t want to reveal any of the plot as it would spoil the read, but suffice to say that I enjoyed the read immensely and thoroughly recommend it.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note that a copy of this book was given to me by the authorfor the purpose of a fair and honest review.

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