**Release Day Review, Author Post & Excerpt** BRAKE FAILURE by Alison Brodie

Released today, BRAKE FAILURE is a contemporary romance, with humour, suspense and a kick-ass heroine. The story is set in one of the most fascinating episodes in America’s history: the months leading up to Y2K “melt-down”. And, what’s more is that it’s just $1/£1 for the first five days of it’s release!!

brakefailurecoverwithreview793Title: Brake Failure

Author: Alison Brodie

Genre: Contemporary romantic suspense

Date released: January 9th, 2017

Length: 340 pages

Buy Links: Amazon UK, Amazon US, Amazon Canada

Blurb: “Is it too late to tell him you love him when you’re looking down the barrel of his gun?”

Ruby Mortimer-Smyth is upper-class English, rigidly brought up to marry a man from the pages of Burke’s Peerage. She knows the etiquette for every occasion and her soufflés NEVER collapse.

She is in control of her life, tightly in control. Until …she ends up in Kansas.

Ruby believes that life is like a car; common-sense keeps it on the road, passion sends it into a ditch. What she doesn’t know is, she’s on a collision course with Sheriff Hank Gephart.

Sheriff Hank Gephart can judge a person. Miss Mortimer-Smyth might act like the Duchess of England, but just under the surface there’s something bubbling, ready to erupt. She’s reckless, and she’s heading for brake failure. And he’s not thinking about her car.

With the Millennium approaching, Ruby gets caught up in the Y2K hysteria. She joins a Survivalists group, who give her a gun and advise her to stockpile basic essentials. Accordingly, she bulk-buys Perrier, Gentleman’s Relish and macaroons.

Ruby, far from home, is making Unsuitable Friends and “finding herself” for the first time. She falls in with a gang of Hells Angels and falls foul of the law. At every turn, she comes up hard against Sheriff Hank Gephart, whose blue eyes seem to look deep into her soul. She desperately wants him, but knows she can never have him.

She’s angry at the emotions he arouses in her. Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket.

As the clock strikes midnight of the new Millennium, she’s on a freight train with three million dollars, a bottle of Wild Turkey and a smoking gun.

What happened to Miss Prim-and-Proper? And why did she shoot Mr Right?
________________

Note: Alison Brodie wrote this story from first-hand experience. She lived in Kansas during this time and was stunned by the hysteria, unnerved that the US government was spending $150 billion preparing for Armageddon. As Lionel Shriver says in her novel, We Have To Talk About Kevin: “1999, a year widely mooted beforehand as the end of the world.”

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

To say I loved this story is an understatement. Brake Failure is a powerful romantic suspense, with quick wit and humour at times when you least expect it for a great uplifting experience between the intense scenes. Ruby, an extremely well-to-do upper class Brit, has her hopes and dreams set on a life in Paris; living up to the expectations of her stepmother and stepsister. Marriage is more of one of convenience than love and desire, and so when she realises her husband has been offered a job in Kansas, USA instead of the sexy, sophisticated Paris she is quite disheartened and a tad embarrassed. However, when two men from completely different backgrounds enter her life her thoughts begin to spiral out of control.

Sheriff Hank Gephart is the man she keeps running into every time she does something wild and loose cannon-like. He always catches her during times of misbehaviour and craziness, letting her off the hook, but always telling her what to do, and who she shouldn’t be hanging out with. Another moment in his company and she’d lose her top. Yet, from deep within he has this invisible hold of her. She can’t stop thinking of him. But, no, she definitely hates him! Or, does she? Besides, who cares, she’s married to Edward and is certainly not going to be running off with anyone anytime soon.

Unless, Payat, the Red Indian Chief boss of her husband counts, with his tall, broad body, soft eyes and caring nature. Yes, if she were to have an affair it would definitely be him. Why on earth would she want the brute of a man, a cowboy, like Gephart, when she could have the soft, tender caressing love and protection from her seemingly lovely Indian? Yet, as a reader, it is the intensity of Hank’s character that gets the heart pacing, just as it does for Ruby, even if she is in denial.

“It would be like wanting a cuddly cat and being given a tiger. He (Hank) was too masculine, too overpowering, too much in charge. If she wanted to rock the security of her little world by going off with another man, she would choose Payat. Payat with his gentle manner, his shy dark eyes and, of course, his wildly romantic appeal.

But she wasn’t prepared to go off with another man. Like a filing cabinet, her life was compartmentalised and ordered. Edward was her husband. Payat was a delicious fantasy. And Gephart was the rogue piece of paper that had to go in the bin.”

Brake Failure draws you in from the very beginning as the reader learns that a sheriff has been shot. This leads the reader to question who shot him, why did they shoot, and where are they now? What will happen next? Stories that open up with a shocking scene always seem to be the best, as the reader searches for these answers, being gripped to every ounce of information that the author offers them.

The story weaves between the events that unfold in the investigation of the shot sheriff and the weeks leading up to that event. Did Ruby really shoot Hank? If so, what caused her to do so? And, where is she now? Did she leave, running scared after an accident? Or, did she decide to leave to go to Payat?

The differences of Ruby’s social class and etiquette in comparison to the culture and behaviour of those in the Mid-West adds plenty of humour to the story. Her Kansas friends are ever-eager to find out about the British Royal Family, whilst preparing themselves for a possible breakdown in society if computers start to crash during the 2000 New Year Millennium Bug. This encourages Ruby to start preparing herself, just in case. It is during some of these events that the reader is introduced to Ruby’s diary and her thoughts that will make the reader laugh out loud, along with her sarcasm towards her stepsister and Hank Gephart.

Alison Brodie keeps the readers guessing due to the surprises and twists that occur, and also because of Ruby’s sometimes erratic and indecisive behaviour. She has her family’s upbringing expectations to live up to, her perfect, classy housewife expectations of her husband’s, and yet (although in denial for the most part) starts wanting to live. Love shouldn’t be a lustful desire, but a companionship – a means to an end, but when she begins to desire things she’s not used to it sets her down a crazy path. This keeps the reader on their toes, making it a fast and exhilarating read that will stay with you for a very long time. Certainly a classic in my opinion!

A copy of Brake Failure was provided by the author, Alison Brodie, in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Other reviews include:

5 * “OMG…I freakin’ LOVED this book…going on the list of one of my favorites of 2016.” –Star Angels Reviews

5* “Everyone needs to read this book. It’s blooming brilliant.” –The Reading Shed

5* “Hilarious.” –Lauren Sapala, Book Reviewer and Writers’ Coach

5* “A laugh-out-tale that will keep you flipping the pages as fast as possible.” –Tome Tender

5* “Empowering…comical…refreshing.” –San Francisco Book Review

AUTHOR POST

ALISON BRODIE – Brake Failure

 

Brake Failure is about an English girl, Ruby, who has been strictly brought up to be polite – and to bottle her feelings. Then she arrives in Kansas and collides with Sheriff Hank Gephart, who gives her a hard time. Pushed to her limit, she bursts from her emotional straightjacket and commits minor acts of criminal insanity.

I loved writing this story. It was wonderful to be in Ruby’s skin and just be reckless, rude and raving!I I also love Hank. He is down-to-earth, controlling (he is a cop, after all) and very macho.

When I write a book, I allow my characters to tell the story. With this book, I just didn’t know how – or if – Hank and Ruby could ever get together. It seemed so impossible. I also loved Rowdy, the ugly dog she adopts, and Idabel, a Survivalist who teaches Ruby how to shoot a gun ready for Y2K “meltdown”.

I lived in Kansas during the time of the Millennium Bug and got quite worried about what would happen when the bell struck midnight of the new year! TV channels were either saying: “Just prepare as if for a 6-day blizzard.” Other channels were saying “Run for the hills!” I didn’t know what to think, especially as the American government was spending 150 billion dollars on preparing for the “bug”. Yikes!

This was an easy story to write because I didn’t need to do research. I lived there, went to all the dives, danced with cowboys, met real bull-riders, sheriffs, neighbours, Survivalists. The book reads more like a memoir! And the big event that happened right at the end? It really did happen. I have the Kansas City Star from 1 January to prove it!

Some readers may enjoy historical references: I mention Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac (institutes like these gave money to poor people, which would eventually lead to world recession).

The first Harry Potter book had just come out and was being burned (can you remember a time before the Year HP?)

Princess Diana had died two years before and the American people were still stunned, still asking questions. The Americans have a fascination for the Royal Family.

The Hadron Collider was just being built. Now it’s up and running and has found the Higgs boson.

So this book is a romcom, a memoir, a slice of recent history, plus a social document detailing the differences between America and Britain. Enjoy!

Alison Brodie Author photoAUTHOR BIO

Alison Brodie is a Scot, with French Huguenot ancestors on her mother’s side. Alison was a photographic model for a wide range of products, such as Ducatti motorbikes and 7Up. She was also the vampire in the Schweppes commercial.

Alison lived in Kansas for two years. She loved the people, their friendliness, the history and the BBQs! Now, she lives in Biarritz, France with her rescue mutt, Bayley.

BRAKE FAILURE will be “unleashed” 9 Jan, 2017. See the reviews on Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31683339-brake-failure

Alison loves to hear from her readers. Link to website: http://www.alisonbrodiebooks.com/#!the-double/c1253

EXCERPT

Ruby!’ Karla shouted. ‘Git yer ass over here, gal.’

She wandered over, aware that he was more stoned than usual. He grabbed her hand and tugged. ‘Come on, Ruby-Ruby; tell us more about the Tower of London.’

She was not at all alarmed by his manner. Although he was built like King Kong, he was a pussy-cat. But she was in no mood for talking. ‘Nah, I’m going back inside,’ she said, making a half-hearted attempt to disengage herself.

GET YER HANDS OFF HER!’ The voice cut through the night air.

Gephart was striding towards them, his face murderous.

Karla was on his feet, hands bunched: ‘You talking to me?’ he growled, unaware that he was threatening a cop out of uniform.

Yeah, I’m talking to you.’

Karla stepped forward, chin thrust out. ‘What I do with her ain’t none of yer business!’

It’s alright!’ Ruby cried, grabbing Gephart’s sleeve to restrain his threatening punch. This was a mistake. With his arm held back, Gephart was unable to defend himself and took the full force of Karla’s fist in his face. Gephart let out a yell and fell back clutching his nose.

Ruby spun to Karla. ‘You idiot! Why on earth did you do that?’

Karla, startled by her verbal attack, didn’t see Hank’s fist coming. It cracked against his jaw, sending him reeling back.

Appalled, she turned angrily to see Hank going in for another punch. ‘STOP IT!’ She jumped between them and held out her hands. ‘THIS IS ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!’ Goodness, she sounded like the Queen.

It worked, though. The combatants stared at her with a “what-the-hell-was-that” look.

Karla’s girlfriend arrived on the scene, wobbling on spiked heels and screeching. Everyone was making a fuss over Karla, yet no-one cared about Hank, who was bent over, cupping a hand under his bleeding nose. Ruby’s fury turned to pity. She picked up his Stetson.

Come on,’ she said, putting a hand on his back. ‘Let’s go inside and I’ll clean you up.’ She steered him towards the entrance, along the corridor and into the ladies lavatory. ‘You shouldn’t have hit him,’ she said, sitting him on a stool by the sink and taking the tube of Savlon from her bag. Apart from a pair of tweezers, the rest of her emergency medical supplies had long ago been abandoned to make space for makeup and perfume.

You were in trouble.’

She began filling the sink with hot water. ‘I wasn’t in trouble.’ Gephart was so close; she could feel the power of him.

Didn’t look that way to me.’

Karla’s my friend. He was just being silly.’ She yanked paper towels from the dispenser, soaked them in water, squeezed them out and began to wipe the blood from Hank’s face. He was staring at her but she refused to meet his gaze. Being so close, she could smell him, the beer on his breath, the smoky smell of hickory wood from his hair, the warm scent of male sweat; musty yet inoffensive. She could see the kink in his noise where it had broken, the crows’ feet at the corner of his eyes.

In the dance hall, the band finished their song with a rousing roll of drums. The roar of chattering voices filled the sudden silence. It was the interval. Females began filing in to the lavatory and, seeing Gephart, rushed forward, squeaking their sympathy. ‘Hank, sweetheart, does it hurt?’ ‘Can I help?’

When a hand reached out to touch his cheek, Ruby slapped it away. She was appalled at this base action. She quickly collected herself: ‘Ladies, please!’ That voice again. ‘We need space.’ Throwing her cautious looks, the females backed off.

Why had she slapped that girl? Shame-faced, Ruby soaked another fistful of paper and began cleaning the side of Gephart’s nose. All around was the sound of flushing loos, the spray of perfume, the click of lipsticks. Then the room went silent as everyone left. From the dance hall came the plaintive sound of a woman singing:

Let me ride through the wide open country that I love. Don’t fence me in. Let me be by myself in the evening breeze, listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees, send me off for ever but I ask you please, don’t fence me in …’

When Hank spoke again, his tone was low, dejected. ‘What happened to you at Shady Acres? I was waiting with a bunch of flowers to say thank you.’

She felt a twinge of guilt. He’d bought her flowers. ‘I’m sorry, Hank. I must have gone out the wrong door.’

You were running from me again, weren’t you?’

Her glance flickered over his blue eyes and quickly away.

Was it because I called you Sweet Cheeks?’

She was silent for a moment then a tiny laugh escaped. ‘Possibly.’

He stared at her. ‘You’re the most beautiful woman I ever did see.’

Ruby knew from the heat in her cheeks that her face had turned the fiercest red. She was panicking, unable to cope with these feelings.

How kind,’ she said coolly, trying to re-assert control of her emotions.

She sounded like Claire. Good. Now she had to be Claire.

I want you to know I’m more’n just a cop.’ He flexed his right hand – his punching hand – and grimaced. ‘I’m a bull-rider. I’ve won the bull-riders’ championship at Flint Hills Rodeo three years straight, and no-one west of State Line can rope a steer as good as me.’

Evidently, you are not a man who sits at home in a smoking jacket listening to Schubert.’ She was using biting sarcasm as a defence and was surprised when he chuckled.

Sure don’t sound like me.’ He shifted. ‘I’m building my own house out in Abilene with a veranda looking west to the sunset. And a picket fence that goes all around. Out in the yard there’s a live oak some say was used by Sherman’s scouts.’ He paused. ‘Come out with me Ruby. No strings. Just you and me. Bottle of wine. Steamboat on the Missouri. Moonlight. Then we can talk, start over. What do you say?’

It sounded appealing, and very romantic. All the pieces fitted perfectly, except one:

Him.

It would be like wanting a cuddly cat and being given a tiger. He was too masculine, too overpowering, too much in charge. If she wanted to rock the security of her little world by going off with another man, she would choose Payat. Payat with his gentle manner, his shy dark eyes and, of course, his wildly romantic appeal.

But she wasn’t prepared to go off with another man. Like a filing cabinet, her life was compartmentalised and ordered. Edward was her husband. Payat was a delicious fantasy. And Gephart was the rogue piece of paper that had to go in the bin.

It was time to tell him she was married.

I’m mar-’ She stopped and thought: This man is a cop, a control freak. What if he has the old-fashioned notion that this little lady should be at home with hubbie and not in some seedy bar mixing with drug-fuelled Hells Angels? What if, in a fit of pique, he tells Edward? Then I’m in big trouble and all “shore leave” will be revoked – permanently.

Hank sighed. ‘Sometimes I get the feeling you don’t like me.’

Possibly.’

He grabbed her wrist. Astonished, she found herself staring him straight in the eyes. ‘No, you don’t dislike me, Ruby,’ he whispered. ‘In fact, I bet if I asked nicely, you’d give me a kiss.’

She had the sensation of standing on railroad tracks and feeling, or imagining, the far-off trembling of something large racing her way. And yet she was powerless to move away as much as a step.

Go on, Ruby, I’ve been injured in the line of duty. Give me a kiss.’

No.’ His hand felt like a steel band around her wrist.

I saved your hide.’ Although his tone was cheeky, his eyes pleaded.

Then will you to let me go?’

I promise.’

Alright,’ she conceded, telling herself that for right or wrong, he was now sitting here because he’d believed she’d needed rescuing. She lowered her head, touched her lips to his cheek and jerked back.

His face was stamped with indignation. ‘What the hell was that?’ he thundered.

A kiss.’

I meant on the lips.’

She stared down at his mouth. A voice in her head told her to do it, another voice told her to run like hell. But she couldn’t run; not with him holding her. She bent and quickly pecked him on the lips. ‘There! That’s a kiss.’

Where I come from lady that was no kiss.’

He stood up abruptly. She sensed what was about to happen and felt the flutter of giant wings open inside her chest. But before she could step away, he pulled her against him, one hand coming around her to hold her arms, the other gripping the back of her head. She was immobilised, unable to turn from his advancing kiss. He lowered his head and slowly brushed his mouth across hers; she could feel his breath coming into her. She felt a dart of hot desire shoot up from between her legs. Then his mouth was on hers, pressing down…

A cheer of female voices and male wolf-whistles erupted from the doorway. Hearing it, Hank lifted his head to his audience, his arms loosening their hold on her. ‘Now that’s a kiss!’ he smirked.

Humiliated, she slapped him across the cheek and strode for the door. Laughter broke over her head like a wave. She shouldered her way through a jubilant crowd of heavily perfumed females and grinning cowboys. The bastard had got a laugh at her expense!

A man shouted out. ‘Hey, Hank, I got a notion she don’t like you!’

Another man agreed. ‘You ain’t gonna be herdin’ that pretty heifer into yer corral any time soon.’

In the babble of voices she heard: ‘… got yerself a maverick.’ ‘… Roxanne.’

It wasn’t until she was outside that she realised she was crying.

brake-failure-teaser-2733

 

 

**Release Day Review** KOVAH: Soul Seeker (A Rebel Riders Novel) by C.J. Pinard

KOVAH: THE SOUL SEEKER is released today!! From author, C.J. Pinard (The Rebel Riders, The Beautiful Immortals) comes the paranormal, fantasy romance that fans have been waiting for. After following Nolan Bishop (the Rebel Riders trilogy) almost losing his soul from being bitten by a succubus, it is now time to hear Kovah’s story; the hybrid, half-human/half-vamp, who hates and hunts vampires, slaying them, and feeling despair and angry for what he has become. But, when he begins to have a purpose, friends and emotions he never thought he’d feel again, will he be able to admit it to himself that his existence maybe not so bad afterall?

Kovah: Soul SeekerTitle: Kovah: Soul Seeker (A Rebel Riders Novel)

Author: C.J. Pinard

Genre: Paranormal fantasy, paranormal romance, urban fantasy

Release date: December 27th 2016

Length: 255 pages

Buy Links: Amazon US & Amazon UK

Blurb: The night Dominic DeLuca meets a succubus, his life of all-night partying and college classes is over in an instant. Fundamentally transformed inside and out after killing her, he exists much differently for the next 10 years than he had before. When his freakish eyes and lack of aging become too much to explain, he leaves Dominic and New York behind and becomes Kovah Sanagra, the foul-mouthed, angry vampire-hunting hybrid who literally has nothing left to lose.

His new life takes him to New Orleans, where he finds pleasure in the large variety of vampires he has to choose from when he wants to kill something. But when a female vampire who had helped him in the past shows up during his hunt, he realizes he has some unresolved feelings he’d rather not deal with. Upon meeting Archie and the Rebel Riders, Kovah feels as if his life might have some purpose; some direction. But still, the female vampire keeps showing up… and when a time comes that she needs Kovah’s help, is he going to repay her for how she saved him so many years ago, or will his hatred for the vampire race override what he knows he feels for her in his hardened heart?

Kovah: Soul Seeker is a Rebel Riders novel intended for readers 18 and older.

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

This deliciously dark, fantasy paranormal romance is the perfect escapism. After being introduced to the strong, stand-out character of Kovah in the Rebel Riders series, fans (myself included) have been eagerly awaiting this stand out novel, Kovah. A hybrid, half-vamp/half-human, turned after losing his soul to a succubus, Kovah now spends his evenings with his motorcycle friends, the Rebel Riders, eliminating vampires and, his favourites, succubae.

Kovah’s character is dark, mysterious, stand-offish to most and particularly aggressive to vamps, but he is an incredibly exciting character. He may be a survivor but he has lost his life as he once knew it. He has given in to the understanding that he’ll never age, and most probably never have the long term love that many enjoy. He acts the tough guy, and is often one, but deep down he knows nobody would cope easily with his experiences, and the nightmares he has are constant reminders of what happened to him.

Like PTSD, he relives the events over and over, which ultimately leave him with a peed off attitude. He has an exhilarating, dangerous past that overwhelms him. And, although a badass with aggressive tendencies, there are moments when his emotions have led to him crying in despair, in shock, for what he has done and what he has become.

However, Kovah is not as alone as he thinks. He has Archie, his boss at the motorcycle garage and leader of the Rebel Riders, along with his new companion, Nolan Bishop. After his first suspicious instincts, there becomes a growing respect and friendship between these two. To fully appreciate how Kovah and Nolan become so close it is highly recommended that the Rebel Riders trilogy (Nolan’s story) be read as it details encounters between the two more intricately. And, lastly, there is Violet; the female vampire that saves him in his darkest moment, and years later comes back in his life.

To relieve his aggression, just for kicks, he has been seeing Janice, a kinky vamp that provides him with the release he needs. However, in contrast to her are his growing feelings for Violet. It is interesting to see how this situation unfolds, how Kovah deals with his feelings, especially as his strong dislike for vamps won’t allow him to get too involved with one. They can’t be trusted. Or, can they?

A member of the BSI (Bureau of Supernatural Investigation), Violet, has been made aware of a vamp motorcycle gang and approaches Kovah for help. His capabilities, being a hybrid, may allow him to get close and find out more. But, will Kovah get in too deep, and will he really be willing to help Violet out?

Kovah is a very suspenseful read that is complete with action, surprises, romance and fun. It is a quick read due to the pace of the story, with some excellent characters to follow, both new and old. The author has written Kovah in first person, which I enjoy as a reader simply because it allows the reader to get inside the head of the main character, understanding their thought processes, and in turn their actions/reactions.

It is a great read that fans of the series will absolutely love. As mentioned before, I strongly recommend that the whole Rebel Riders series be read to fully appreciate Kovah’s character, how he stands out in the series, and to see his relationship with Nolan blossom and become a great bromance!

An Advanced Reader’s Copy was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

You can find my reviews of C.J. Pinard’s Soul Rebel (Rebel Riders #1) here, Soul Redemption (Rebel Riders #2) here, and Soul Release (Rebel Riders #3) here.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**REVIEW** GUARDIAN (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part III (Jezebel’s Journey Part III) by C.J. Pinard

The Daughter of Darkness series finale is here in GUARDIAN. Following Lotus’s Journey has been a pleasure. Lotus, half-vamp, half-faery, has been teased and beckoned in her dreams by her evil father, Vlad Montour (a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler). Discovering his ideas for taking powers and controlling all supernaturals, his methods for achieving that, and many other evil acts, it becomes clear that he has to be stopped. But, will meeting with her sisters to discuss a plan of action turn sour? Especially since one was once on the dark side herself not too long ago?

Guardian (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus's Journey Part III: (Jezebel's Journey: Part III)Title: GUARDIAN (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part III (Jezebel’s Journey Part III)

Author: C.J. Pinard

Genre: Paranormal mystery, thriller

Release date: August 22nd, 2016

Length: 127 pages

Buy Links: Amazon US, Amazon UK

Blurb: Realizing that a confrontation with Vlad had slipped out of her grasp, Lotus sets off with Drew and Jezebel to formulate another plan of action. But then a phone call from Tori, the sister she’d just learned about but had never met, changes the course of their plans.

Lotus now has to search for some kind of heirloom or jewel left to her by her biological mother. But where would she find such a trinket? She’d been orphaned for over 100 years and didn’t even know her mother’s name, let alone anything she’d left her. With more determination than ever, the assistance of a witch, and her other gifts, they will help guide Lotus to find it. But what else will they find when going on such a hunt?

The final showdown to kill Vlad has been set and as Lotus and Jezebel finally meet their long, lost sisters, Tori and Blair, they realize the chances of them getting away with killing Vlad and living to tell about it are very slim. Still, their resolve is strong; the sisters are strong. The question is: Will it be worth it? Giving their lives to rid the world of their evil father, Vlad the Impaler, for good?

Find out in this heart-stopping final instalment of the Daughters of Darkness series.

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

I have followed Lotus’s journey through each book of the series, and GUARDIAN is a brilliant story to end the series. Lotus has certainly come a long way throughout the series; although half-vampire and half-faery she has lived most of her life in a most human-like manner. Over the course of the series she has learned so much about herself, her capabilities and her family. She has even sustained a long-term relationship with cute, hot Lycan, Drew, a neighbour and protector. And yet, she still loves to make her everyday life as human-like as possible, i.e. going to work and general life as a mortal.

“… why was I living as a mortal? I’d told them that it was because I knew no other way. That was the truth, partially, but the other half of me knew it was because it was safe and harmless to pretend to be human. However, deep in my dark heart, I knew I should venture onto the wild side – the dark side of the supernaturals – and see what it had to offer.”

It is very easy to connect with Lotus’s character in this manner. Her character, within the story, acts as a bridge between the reality and the supernatural world. In Guardian, Lotus has to make some uneasy decisions and to take chances, along with her sisters, in the hope of defeating their evil, vampire father, Vlad Montour (a.k.a. Vlad the Impaler). And, the reader can sense a change in Lotus in exploring more of her supernatural side, especially as she would need this to help be rid of her father.

Told not only from Lotus’s point of view, the reader also follows Jezebel’s as it is also her final book of the series too! This is very fitting as these sisters are so close at this point and in almost every scene together. In fact, aside from Drew, Jezebel is the closest person to Lotus. Both become cautious when they meet with their other two, newly-found sisters, Tori and Blair, especially Tori as she was brought up and worked for their father.

However, there are some emotional twists when we learn about the sister’s backgrounds, their mothers, and just why Tori may have turned against their father. Along with the final showdown, I felt that the meeting scene of the four sisters was a vital part of the story. Were they going to turn on each other? Could they be trusted? These were just some of the questions running through my mind. It is written really well, and the caution and emotion felt real.

The overall atmosphere of the story, and indeed the series, is dark, eerie, and full of suspense and mystery. It darkens still as the sisters try to take on their powerful, evil father. And, it is he that creates the mood and tension. Trying to take the power and control all supernaturals is his goal, including his own daughters. But, did he really love them? Can they really take on their own father?

Complete with witches, succubi, werewolves, faeries and vampires, Guardian has a thrilling, fast-paced story line with plenty of action, especially as the story moves towards the end. A brilliant read for this Halloween. But, I would advise to read Lotus (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part I and Watcher: Lotus’s Journey Part II before finishing with Guardian.

A copy of Guardian, Lotus’s Journey Part III was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**REVIEW** Jesse Butterfly (The Organization #3) by S J Sprague

THE ORGANIZATION! They’re back! But with a difference; instead of taking on corrupt cops, this time they have to investigate the killings of those connected to The Organization. WHO and WHY?

Following A Presence in Russell County (book 1) and Mulberry (book 2) comes the final book of the exciting crime thriller ‘The Organization’ series, Jesse Butterfly, by author S J Sprague.

jesse-butterfly-sj-spragueTitle: Jesse Butterfly (The Organization #3)

Author: S J Sprague

Genre: Crime thriller

Date released: June 22, 2016

Length: 278 pages

Buy links: Amazon US and Amazon UK

Blurb: The housekeeper of a Supreme Court Justice killed … A Council member’s wife murdered … a lonely man hooked to oxygen found dead. The only thing they have in common is their ties to The Organization.

The Organization, created to bring out-of-control law enforcement to its knees, now find themselves the targets of a new kind of killer.

Racing to decipher cryptic messages sent from an Organization prison, the group brings all their resources to the battle before there are more deaths … and more names on a list marked with an X.

REVIEW **** (4* rating)

I have really enjoyed The Organization series, and book 3, Jesse Butterfly, is no exception. With an individual now seemingly targeting members of The Organization, and killing their loved ones, the heat has certainly turned up a notch or two, making for matters to become a little more personal.

In the two previous books, A Presence in Russell County and Mulberry, we have followed the Organization (usually ex-military) in gathering evidence against corrupt law enforcement officers and trialling them using the Organization’s swift methods. During this time we have followed major characters in Hollingsworth and Crogan (both ex-military friends) and Sam Biggers, a woman who was once harassed by a dirty cop which led her to lean on her online friend, Hollingsworth, and who later became a trained member of The Organization.

The team are now expected to do more than carry out surveillance and gathering evidence on suspected corrupt officers; they need to ascertain if there is a connection between the victims, find out who is behind the killings, and use their skills to bring them to justice. This full-on investigation is so much more than what they are used to. But, as the story moves on it becomes apparent that there is a connection with The Organization, meaning they had to carry out the detective work themselves.

Unfortunately, the clues can only begin to piece together once more and more crimes are committed, and therefore plenty of tension is built up. The reader is left wondering what will happen next and how will The Organization have enough evidence to link everything together.

Told in third person, one of my favourite aspects of Jesse Butterfly is just how often the reader can easily follow the actions of the killer. There are moments that I found more connected with what they were doing than The Organization. This gave the story an edge, depth and darkness which I loved.

There is a great deal of build-up and suspense which I found exciting and quick-paced at times. However, my one concern was that it ended abruptly. I would have enjoyed a longer period of intense action at the end as I felt that that was where the story was heading. I was a little disappointed at this point, but then the epilogue was a joy to read as each remaining character is mentioned in a paragraph of their own, allowing the reader to find out what the foreseeable future holds for them. This was a lovely way to wrap up the series; a series that I have enjoyed very much!

A copy of Jesse Butterfly was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

RussellCounty_WEB_FINAL_sm2You can also purchase the paperback or Kindle edition of A Presence in Russell County on Amazon.com ($11.99 for paperback and $4.99 for the Kindle edition) and Amazon.co.uk (£7.45 for paperback and £3.71 for the Kindle edition). It is also currently available on Kindle Unlimited $/£0.00!

Mulberry_WEB.smThe paperback edition for Mulberry is now available on Amazon.com, the paperback edition is currently $13.99 and the Kindle version is $4.99. Also available on Amazon.co.uk , the paperback version is currently £9.39 and the Kindle version is £3.94! It is also available on Kindle Unlimited $/£0.00!

Prices correct at the time of posting this review.

Please click on the book titles to read my reviews on the earlier books of The Organization! 🙂

If you would like to contact SJ Sprague you can e-mail the author at sjsprague01@gmail.com.

**REVIEW** All That We Are (Trust series, book 1) by Holly J. Gill

We’re thrilled to introduce a brand new series TRUST written by Holly J. Gill, with her first in the series, All That We Are. An exciting contemporary adult romance that will certainly keep you hooked!

All That We Are Holly J GillTitle: All That We Are (Trust #1)

Author: Holly J. Gill

Genre: Contemporary adult romance, erotic romance

Released on: June 1st 2016

Length: 256 pages

BUY LINKS: Amazon UK and Amazon US 

ONLY £0.99 on  Amazon UK for a limited time!

BLURB: Holly knows that sitting behind her computer isn’t going to bring one of her romance heroes to life. And despite her matchmaking friend’s attempts, she’s still lonely, looking for her Mr. Perfect. Fairytales happen, right?

As a bestselling author, Ashton Noir doesn’t need anyone or anything in his life other than his imagination. That is until he comes across Holly’s Promotional Services’ website. Further exposure for his books can’t hurt.

Communicating through the Internet and then phone calls, professional interests turn personal. Realising they lack trust and confidence in different ways, can they have a future as a couple? Or are their dreams forever going to be their safe haven?

REVIEW 5***** (5* rating)

All That We Are is a story that kept me clinging on every sentence. Trying to occupy the kids during the school holidays was even more of a task as I found I couldn’t leave this book alone; grabbing at my Kindle in-between busy periods just to read another page or two wherever I could! Needless to say, I LOVED this contemporary, erotic romance.

Told in third person, we follow the lives of two very lonely people who lack confidence in different ways. Although Holly has a day job, friends and runs her own book blog helping to promote authors and their work, her past is a little haunted with bullying she experienced at school. This is something that held Holly back for many years. Meanwhile, Ashton is a hugely successful erotic romance author, hiding behind a pen name while leading an extremely lonely life as he shuts himself from the world in his huge home.

The fun begins when Ashton comes across Holly’s book blog and decides a little further promotion wouldn’t hurt. This opens the door to plenty of e-mail exchanges, professional at first, and it ultimately leads to intense phone conversations as the two characters begin to discover more and more about each other. It becomes so that Holly can’t get Ashton out of her mind, even when her best friend tries to set her up on a blind date!

The reader is just as in suspense as Holly is as each phone call becomes a little more personal, sexier, and even kinky! And, after reading his books, Holly wonders if the eroticism in them is something that Ashton would like himself. Does he long to be a Dom? Her Dom? She doesn’t seem to mind submitting to him in her thoughts. The conversations are playful and fun.

Although there are some mild twists, and a ‘will they, or won’t they’ eventually meet at a book signing event they both hope to attend, I felt that the story grew more and more intense with the idea that they really could face each other. The build-up to the final chapters was tremendously powerful and, as a first insight into Holly J. Gill‘s writing, I certainly want to read more.

It has a great contemporary feel and written in an area that Holly J. Gill knows only too well as she details the communication with authors and bloggers, the writing, promoting, author events, as well as using e-mails and texts within the story. The book also has a welcoming use of the main characters talking on the phone at length and, as they haven’t met, details the hearing of the other’s voice, their pauses, the tones, sighs, etc. The reader almost hears the receiving end of the phone through the author’s writing. The use of the phone also allows Holly and Ashton to sense how truthful the other is being, growing a trust between them.

Another area that All That We Are ‘wowed’  me on is the bullying aspect. Holly clearly still feels the after-effects of being bullied at school. Thus, the lack of confidence she has in herself. Whereas, Ashton has always been popular with the girls, but on an over-whelming scale, and lived isolated from many people partly because of this. It’s superbly written how these two characters build up their trust in each other, their feelings for each other, and ultimately their confidence in themselves and their future.

Despite Holly never wanting to see her school bully again, I would have loved it if they had crossed paths at a time when Ashton would be on her arm, and to see the face of disbelief and jealousy, and Holly walk pass with her head held high – or is that me being too cruel?

Either way, I think you may sense just how All That You Are has touched me emotionally. A very exciting read, and I can’t wait for book 2!

A copy of All That We Are was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**REVIEW** The Scottish Diamond (novella) by Helena Fairfax

The Scottish Diamond is a contemporary, romantic suspense novella by Helena Fairfax, which follows on from Palace of Deception. However, both books can be read as stand-alones. With a little more darkness and mystery in The Scottish Diamond, we find Elizabeth and Léon in Edinburgh as Elizabeth’s life returns to the norm, after having to impersonate to be the royal Princess Charlotte in Montverrier (Palace of Deception), albeit with her bodyguard in tow!

The Scottish Diamond helena fairfaxTitle: The Scottish Diamond

Author: Helena Fairfax

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Mystery

Release date: March 12, 2016

Length: 104 pages

Blurb: A powerful, intense and dramatic Scottish romance novella – one that will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page…

“Fair is foul, and foul is fair…” When Lizzie Smith starts rehearsing Macbeth with her theatre group in Edinburgh, she’s convinced the witches’ spells are the cause of a run of terrible luck. Lizzie’s boyfriend, Léon – a former bodyguard – is mysteriously turned down for every job he applies for, until he’s finally offered the job of guarding “The Scottish Diamond,” a fabulous jewel from the country of Montverrier.

But the diamond’s previous guard has disappeared in mysterious circumstances. The people of Montverrier are known for double-dealing and skulduggery, and the Scottish Diamond has a history of intrigue and bloody murder. Lizzie is plagued by nightmares in which Macbeth’s witches are warning her of danger.

Then Lizzie discovers she’s being followed through the streets of Edinburgh, and it seems her worst fears are about to be realised!!!!

The Scottish Diamond is a standalone story. Lizzie and Léon first met in the romantic suspense novella Palace of Deception, which is set in the Mediterranean country of Montverrier.

BUY LINKS: Amazon UK & Amazon US

Review ***** (5* rating)

Although a romantic suspense, Helena Fairfax takes us on a darker mystery than we are used to with The Scottish Diamond novella. Now back in Edinburgh with Léon, her former bodyguard, Lizzie’s life has to return to her normal routine with working with her theatre production company, rehearsing and preparing for term time when the schools open up after their summer break. And, what a huge difference it is being back after spending the summer impersonating and covering for the Royal Princess Charlotte of Montverrier, with the beautiful scenery and a suspenseful meeting of her bodyguard in Palace of Deception!

Lizzie notices Léon’s faraway looks as he stares from her bedroom window, not to mention the intensity he radiates. Wild thoughts go through her mind about whether he will enjoy being in Edinburgh, or whether he even loves her enough to stay. To make matters worse, the play she is to rehearse for is the dreaded MacBeth. Isn’t it just a whole load of bad luck, especially to those performing it?

The superstitions worsen as Lizzie overhears suited men speak in the language of Montverrier, possibly mentioning Léon’s name. Is she being paranoid? Meanwhile, Léon is struggling to find work and failing at interviews. Everything seems bleak and solemn. The mood of The Scottish Diamond is in complete contrast to Palace of Deception in terms of the setting, the emotional closeness of Lizzie and Léon, and where Palace of Deception focussed on uniting the two main characters and their success, in The Scottish Diamond there seems to be something between them. The reader fears that they will be pushed apart, and feels the negativity that is swamping Lizzie.

“… the truth is I was frightened of discovering the truth – that he bitterly regretted coming to Edinbugh and he didn’t love me enough to want to stay. During the day there was a thin sheet of glass between us, keeping us apart. At night, though, it was different. Our barriers melted – but even then, there was an intensity to Léon’s love-making that was new, as though each time were going to be our last.”

For a brief moment, this feeling lifts when Léon finds work. Strangely, after having a conversation with some fellow Montverrians he is given the chance to protect The Scottish Diamond. With the diamond about to be exhibited, the previous guard gone missing, and Montverrians that appear to be following Léon, what will become of the diamond? And, what will become of Lizzie and Léon as they get tangled up in the whole fiasco?

Regardless of the fears and mystery that the story holds, one of the enjoyable aspects is knowing that it’s very handy (and HOT), having a bodyguard in Léon around. And, I love his protectiveness of Lizzie; his masculinity ready and waiting for any threat. At the same time, he also allows Lizzie to be independent with her work and doesn’t suffocate her.

Told in first person from Lizzie’s point of view, the reader shares exactly the same worries as Lizzie; the main hope throughout is that they both come out alive, and together! However, there are twists and ordeals to get through which will keep you turning the pages, desperate to find the outcome.

Suspenseful from the beginning, and increasingly as the story unfolds, you’ll love this short adventure that can be read as a stand-alone, or following on from Palace of Deception. It is a story to be read until the very end to be appreciated fully.

A copy of The Scottish Diamond was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

You can check out our review of Palace of Deception (which also includes an interview with the author), along with reviews of Helena’s previous books below:-

PALACE OF DECEPTION – review and author interview

The Silk Romance – Tina’s review

The Silk Romance – Caroline’s review

The Antique Love

A Way From Heart to Heart

**REVIEW** Beneath Broken (Imperfect Heroes #2) by C.J. Pinard

C.J. Pinard has provided us with a new beautiful, military romance with Beneath Broken. The characters and storyline will reach any romance fan in a very natural way, being written with a perfect balance of tragedy, romance and suspense. Beneath Broken is certainly my favourite of the series so far!

Beneath BrokenTitle: Beneath Broken (Imperfect Heroes #2)

Author: C.J. Pinard

Genre: Contemporary, Military Romance, Chick-lit

Date released: July 5th, 2016

Length: 322 pages

Blurb: He’s a clean-cut cop who loves a good challenge.
She’s a smart executive with no interest in falling in love.
It won’t take long for the flames of desire to scorch them both, forcing them to either douse the blaze, or succumb to the fire.

MASON
I don’t give up easily. My personality and training taught me that failure is not an option, and getting the attention of the beautiful executive president Harper Mathis is going to be my biggest challenge yet. But first I’ve got to find out why she’s so withdrawn. A woman that stunning must have secrets and I’m going to find out what’s hiding behind those baby blue eyes of hers. She’ll quickly see how much I love a good game of chase.

HARPER
I’ve gone through hell and am not ashamed to admit that I’m broken. Damaged goods. Used up and empty. I want nothing to do with men or love, especially not a cop and a veteran – one who puts his life in danger every day. I’ve been there, done that, and my heart has no interest in someone like Detective Mason Oliver. Even if he’s the hottest thing I’ve laid eyes on in a very long time. I get the feeling Mason always gets what he wants, though. Well, he hasn’t seen my stubborn side.

Beneath Broken is book 2 in the IMPERFECT HEROES series and is for readers 18+.

REVIEW ***** (5* rating)

The second book of the Imperfect Heroes series, Beneath Broken, brings us two new love interests to follow in Mason and Harper. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and feel that it is even stronger than the first of the series, Above Protection. Mason and Harper are perfect for each other, and despite their fears and doubts, the story is written extremely well whereby the characters are so compatible in a very realistic way.

For the best part of 18 months or more Harper Mathis has been spending her evenings watching bad tv and eating ice cream since the death of her military husband, Keith. It takes all the energy she has to go to work, but her private life has hit rock bottom. If it wasn’t for her best friend, Adria, dragging her to the gym some evenings she really wouldn’t be doing anything with her personal time, apart from wallowing. Adria is the one person she can truly depend upon.

“… Adria, she was still here when everyone else had left and things were dark and ugly, when all the other friends had disappeared. She was a true friend, and had proved it.”

Her job, working at the company that Keith and herself had set up, helping veterans ‘find jobs, get counselling, and reintegrate back into society’ was the one area of her life she gave her all to; partly in remembrance for her husband, and partly to help these courageous guys at a very sensitive point in their life. And, when her non-profit organization is targeted by a thief it is Detectives Oliver and Jenkins that arrive to investigate the situation.

The story is told from both Harper and Mason’s point of view. I am a fan of this style as the reader can understand the thoughts and actions of the main characters in this way. While Harper is still grieving and extremely low, Detective Mason Oliver, ex military himself, has his own demons to deal with. One of which was his last love. He has a way of dealing with his anger issues with his detective partner at the gym when they spar (sometimes quite aggressively).

However, both Harper and Mason find something else to keep their minds occupied after their first meet… each other. A little unsure at first just how the other sees them, it isn’t too long before they begin to spend more and more time together. Mason is aware that Harper is holding back. Meanwhile, Harper begins to go on an emotional rollercoaster; feeling a sense of happiness when with Mason, and yet with this comes guilt. Mason handles the situation well, in my opinion, by giving her the space she needs even though he isn’t aware of her situation to begin with. Although being urged to almost throw himself at her by his partner, Jenkins, Mason treats her with respect and patience, whilst still being attentive. The balance is perfect.

One of my favourite aspects of Beneath Broken is how the author has written Harper’s feelings towards her deceased husband, Keith. Even as the story progresses and Harper appears to be moving on from the death of him at times, there is still a connection that she has with her memories of him as well as good contact with his family. This , above all other areas of the story, really stands out and struck a nerve with me as being extremely real. It reads quite natural as one would expect a friend of theirs to deal with a situation like this in exactly the same way. We read about the guilt, the awkwardness and the doubt that Harper feels when she thinks of being with Mason. Is she betraying Keith? His family?

Beneath Broken is ultimately a story of strength and love. The strength of a woman to deal with the death of a loved one. To be able to love again. And also, to support a friend who has always been supportive of her through thick and thin. I cannot wait to read the next in the series as we follow Harper’s best friend, Adria, who was a strong character in this story and provided Harper with the rock she really needed to lean on. I’d certainly recommend this read for any romance fan.

A copy of Beneath Broken was provided by the author in return for a fair and honest review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

You can also check out my reviews for previous releases of the Imperfect Heroes series:

Antihero (Imperfect Heroes prequel) (please note that Antihero is now sold only alone, and not part of the advertised limited edition box set)

Above Protection (Imperfect Heroes #1)