Review Round-Up, April & May ’16

Hi readers, it has been a while since our last Review Round Up. Life certainly seems busy at the moment, and a little chaotic. With Britain’s EU referendum resulting in an ‘out’ vote, the government in turmoil with no real plan, and the weather just as changeable, I am sure many of us are looking for ways to keep calm and focus on other interests.

Tina has been working extremely hard with the Tamworth Litfest group, ensuring the smooth run of the Romancing the Word event, as well as setting up many author events over the next year. As a visitor to Romancing the Word, I have to say that it was a magical day for all – authors and visitors. It was an absolute pleasure to meet with Helena Fairfax, Pat Spence, J.A. Heron, Julia Ibbotson, S.J. Warner, and many, many more.

Meanwhile, I have taken some time away from the blog to build on the foundations of my family’s move to Scarborough. I have been volunteering at a local school, helping with reading, and joined a local Zumba class. Walking along the fantastic coastline and through beautiful parks and forests have also taken up weekends as we familiarise ourselves with this very beautiful corner of England. Another pastime has easily been taking my time as I have enjoyed photographing many a stunning view, and now with a new camera I am hoping to pursue this more too. And then, there is the Euro 2016 football tournament that I have been watching obsessively, as well as trying to fit in episodes of Outlander, Preacher, Outcast and Vikings!

Aside from this, we have our number 1 passion of reading some fantastic reads. Below you will find twelve reads from April and May that we have reviewed for you. From crime fiction, paranormal horrors and psychological thrillers to regency romance and erotic romance we hope, as always, that there is a little something for everyone. (Please click on the book titles for more book info and our full reviews.)

And please remember, whatever the weather, whatever the chaos find time to do a little of something you enjoy 🙂

Caroline & Tina ❤

Find us on Facebook and Twitter @areadersreviewb

bloqBloq by Alan Jones, crime fiction, thriller, drama (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: A father waits in Glasgow’s Central Station for his daughter, returning home from London for Christmas. When the last train has pulled in, and she doesn’t get off it, he makes a desperate overnight dash to find out why. His search for her takes over his life, costing him his job and, as he withdraws from home, family and friends, he finds himself alone, despairing of ever seeing her again.

This is a gritty crime novel with some sexual content.

Cheri ChampagneLove’s Misadventure (Mason Siblings #1) by Cheri Champagne, historical regency romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Miss Annabel Bradley refuses to accept life as a spinster. Her many years of pouring greedily over gothic novels has put her head in the clouds; dreaming and hoping for the love she reads about. She has always held a tendre for her best friend, Lane Mason, seventh Earl of Devon, but she does not want to jeopardize their friendship by telling him about those indecent dreams of hers. Anna, therefore, makes a life-changing decision; she is going to accept the proposal of the next suitor to ask!

Lane Mason is an average aristocrat; absorbed in life in general, and content with his status in society. Amid a frequently occurring moment of self-loathing, Lane shockingly discovers his feelings for Anna. Now armed with the awareness of his love for Anna, Lane decides to perpetrate a devilishly clever scheme. He will pay actors to abduct the two of them in order to give Anna an adventure like the ones she reads in her treasured books.

Lane’s plans go awry, however, when they are kidnapped in truth.

Mother coverMother by Alistair Cross & Tamara Thorne, psychological thriller (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A Girl’s Worst Nightmare is Her Mother …
Priscilla Martin. She’s the diva of Morning Glory Circle and a driving force in the quaint California town of Snapdragon. Overseer of garage sales and neighborhood Christmas decorations, she is widely admired. But few people know the real woman behind the perfectly coiffed hair and Opium perfume.

Family is Forever. And Ever and Ever …
No one escapes Prissy’s watchful eye. No one that is, except her son, who committed suicide many years ago, and her daughter, Claire, who left home more than a decade past and hasn’t spoken to her since. But now, Priscilla’s daughter and son-in-law have fallen on hard times. Expecting their first child, the couple is forced to move back … And Prissy is there to welcome them home with open arms … and to reclaim her broken family.

The Past Isn’t Always as Bad as You Remember.
Sometimes it’s Worse …
Claire has terrible memories of her mother, but now it seems Priscilla has mended her ways. When a cache of vile family secrets is uncovered, Claire struggles to determine fact from fiction, and her husband, Jason, begins to wonder who the monster really is. Lives are in danger – and Claire and Jason must face a horrifying truth … a truth that may destroy them … and will forever change their definition of “Mother.”

The Con ArtistThe Con Artist by Kitty Thomas, dark literacy erotica (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Art. Obsession. Twisted possession.

When starving artist Saskia Roth meets Lachlan Niche, a local art collector and tech tycoon, she has no idea how her life is about to change. One act of desperation, one con gone wrong, and she finds herself at the mercy of a powerful man she fears and despises–or so she thinks at first. As lines begin to blur, her life as his captive becomes something more… something that will both transform her and destroy her.

Demon Kassidy Bell 3Demon (Kassidy Bell #3) by Lynda O’Rourke, paranormal horror, psychological thriller (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: After escaping the Bishop’s house with Ben Fletcher, Kassidy soon learns that there’s more to Ben than the eye can see.

Still running from the demons and police, her journey takes her north in a frantic pursuit to find Doctor Langstone, in the hope that Kassidy and her friends can remove the ever-spreading drug – VA20.

But will Kassidy get there before it takes over her mind and body, before she is snatched back to Cruor Pharma? Can she really make it, now that the demon, Doshia, seems to be travelling amongst her and her friends?

Vampires of Maze 3Vampires of Maze (Part 3) (Beautiful Immortals series 2) by Tim O’Rourke, paranormal mystery thriller (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: From Tim O’Rourke #1 bestselling author of ‘Werewolves of Shade’ (Beautiful Immortals Series One) comes ‘Vampires of Maze’ (Beautiful Immortals Series Two) a vampire and werewolf romance with a twist.

Witch, Julia Miller, has been sent by the Wicce to bring an end to the war that rages between the Beautiful Immortals. Joining a pack of werewolves, Julia must travel with them to a land unknown to her. Here she will learn the horrifying truth about the dark secrets hidden in the town of Maze.

To stay alive, Julia will not only have to figure out who to trust but also who to love. For Julia’s worst nightmares are about to get a whole lot more terrifying as she heads into the war raging between the vampires and werewolves where even her own magic abilities won’t be able to protect her.

LabyrinthA Labyrinth of Love and Roses (Touchstone #4) by Beth Barany, contemporary fantasy romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: From award-winning novelist, Beth Barany, comes another magical tale of romance and adventure — a sweet, Hallmark-like tale.

What if what you wanted got in the way of your destiny?

French MBA grad Lili Grenault needs to succeed at her last pitch meeting to fund her international green tech business. But her grandmother tells her to drop everything, find her one true love, and embrace her magical legacy by Beltane, in one week, or chaos and failure in her life will ensue.

San Francisco investor Brett Barnaby wants to find his great-grandfather’s gravesite in Amiens, France, one of the primary battle sites of World War I. Family legend says that purpose, greater mission, and perhaps even untold riches, will be unlocked when he finds that grave. But his search in Amiens brings up fear, anger, and dire warnings about some wild Green Man. He turns to local Lily Grenault for help.

Can these two independent freethinkers work together to prevent chaos from triumphing and find love in time in the labyrinth of roses?

Pieces Like PotteryPieces Like Pottery by Dan Buri, contemporary fiction, drama (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: The first collection of short fiction from Dan Buri, Pieces Like Pottery is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. In this distinct selection of stories marked by struggle and compassion, Pieces Like Pottery is a powerful examination of the sorrows of life, the strength of character, the steadfast of courage, and the resiliency of love requisite to find redemption.

Filled with graceful insight into the human condition, each linked story presents a tale of loss and love. In Expect Dragons, James Hinri learns that his old high school teacher is dying. Wanting to tell Mr. Smith one last time how much his teaching impacted him, James drives across the country revisiting past encounters with his father’s rejection and the pain of his youth. Disillusioned and losing hope, little did James know that Mr. Smith had one final lesson for him.

In The Gravesite, Lisa and Mike’s marriage hangs in the balance after the disappearance of their only son while backpacking in Thailand. Mike thinks the authorities are right—that Chris fell to his death in a hiking accident—but Lisa has her doubts. Her son was too strong to die this young, and no one can explain to her why new posts continue to appear on her son’s blog.

Twenty-Two looks in on the lives of a dock worker suffering from the guilt of a life not lived and a bartender making the best of each day, even though he can see clearly how his life should have been different. The two find their worlds collide when a past tragedy shockingly connects them.

A collection of nine stories, each exquisitely written and charged with merciful insight into the trials of life, Pieces Like Pottery reminds us of the sorrows we all encounter in life and the kindness we receive, oftentimes from the unlikeliest of places.

One Night in BudapestOne Night in Budapest (novella) by Lucy Felthouse, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Hermione’s in Budapest on a romantic weekend break. Or at least it should have been romantic—an unexpected break-up means she’s visiting the Hungarian capital alone. Determined to make the most of it, she goes on a night-time river cruise, the perfect opportunity to see some of the city’s beautiful sights after dark.

On the boat, cute Budapest native, Emil, serves her cocktails. They chat a little on the journey, engage in some banter, and when Emil asks Hermione out for dinner, she’s seriously tempted. But she’s a long way from home, by herself—is dinner with a complete stranger a good idea? Hermione decides to take a chance, and what follows is an unforgettable night which will transform her life forever.

Rebel warriorRebel Warrior (Medieval Warriors #3) by Regan Walker, historical medieval romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: When your destiny lies far from where you began …

Scotland 1072

The Norman Conqueror robbed Steinar of Talisand of his noble father and his lands, forcing him to flee to Scotland while still recovering from a devastating wound. At the royal court, Steinar becomes scribe to the unlettered King of Scots while secretly regaining his skill with a sword.

The first time Steinar glimpses the flame-haired maiden, Catrìona of the Vale of Leven, he is drawn to her spirited beauty. She does not fit among the ladies who serve the devout queen. Not pious, not obedient and not given to stitchery, the firebrand flies a falcon! Though Catrìona captures Steinar’s attention, he is only a scribe and she is promised to another.

Catrìona has come to Malcolm’s court wounded in spirit from the vicious attack on her home by Northmen who slayed her parents and her people. But that is not all she will suffer. The man she thought to wed will soon betray her.

When all is lost, what hope is there for love? Can a broken heart be mended? Can a damaged soul be healed?

His PrizeHis Prize (The Cleaners #1) by Doris O’Connor, dark erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: It’s the choice of her life—submit or die.

When Susie Elliot stumbles into the middle of a clean-up, undertaken by none other than Ellis Reynolds, she expects her life to be over. No one disturbs this ruthlessly efficient killer and lives to tell the tale.

The man they call Ren has no time for tender feelings, but there is something about the curvaceous redhead that calls to him. Rather than killing her he claims her as his prize. One night should be more than enough time to get her out of his system. However, Susie’s submission means Ren has to confront emotions, completely alien to him. Killing is easy. This relationship thing is fraught with problems.

When his criminal activities catch up with him, loyalties are tested to the max, and Susie has another choice to make—walk away, or stay and accept the darkness within.

In His CornerIn His Corner by Vino Arno, contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb:

WORK OUT

No sex for almost a year could kill a guy, but when you’re the boxer known as the Juggernaut, it’s the price you pay for turning pro. Tommy’s fully dedicated to his craft, until he meets the incredibly gorgeous Dr. Siena Carr. Now he’s looking forward to taking on this prim and proper lady in a wet and wild work-out…

KNOCK OUT

Siena has seen many patients come through the ER, but none as sexy as Tommy Raines. With a nasty cut over his eye, she knows he needs stiches, but after he takes off his shirt, she needs some air. With rock-hard abs and taut biceps, it’s clear this man takes care of his body. And all Siena can think about is letting him take care of hers…

Review Round-Up for our October reads

12087236_10154263570968696_5735409078405643180_oDear readers, we hope that you have enjoyed these autumn months, and that you celebrated Halloween in style. It would be great to see your Halloween photo’s!! This was my attempt (right) at being a vampiress at a much-loved friend’s birthday party – a friend who is absolutely hooked on Halloween, and then celebrated her birthday in style by going to New York and visiting Central Park at this real beautiful time of year!

And, how time seems to be sprinting by this year, with Thanksgiving only a few days away, and Christmas a few weeks!

During October we had 12 fab reads to review for you from Tim O’Rourke‘s Beautiful Immortals series 2 release to international best-selling author Catherine McKenzie‘s Smoke. We had a cheeky contemporary comedy horror short with Deborah Melanie‘s Vivian’s Vampire and the dark horror/sci-fi of J.G. Clay‘s Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor. Not to mention the many romances and paranormals in between. We hope you enjoy our selection of reads, as always.

Much love.

Caroline & Tina ❤

(As always, please click on the title and author for our full review)

Living the DreamLiving the Dream by Celia J. Anderson, contemporary romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: When dreams and reality crash and mingle, escape can be the hardest challenge of all.

Longing to get away from her troubled marriage, the opportunity to cross America by train seems like a dream come true for Vita Craythorne. But charismatic travel agent Moriarty Miles has other ideas; by replacing their mutual friend Jack on the trip, Vita has unwittingly set herself up as a guinea pig for Moriarty’s mind-blowing and potentially dangerous virtual-travelling project. His plan is to give clients the holiday of a lifetime without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes. It’s exciting. It’s time-saving. It’s innovative. Maybe this trip is just what Vita needs? That is, if she can avoid becoming trapped inside her own, miraculous dream world.

Vampires of Maze 1Vampires of Maze (Beautiful Immortals, Series 2, Book 1) by Tim O’Rourke, paranormal romance, thriller adventure (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: From Tim O’Rourke #1 bestselling author of ‘Werewolves of Shade’ (Beautiful Immortals Series One) comes ‘Vampires of Maze’ (Beautiful Immortals Series Two) a vampire and werewolf romance with a twist.

Witch, Julia Miller, has been sent by the Wicce to bring an end to the war that rages between the Beautiful Immortals. Joining a pack of werewolves, Julia must travel with them to a land unknown to her. Here she will learn the horrifying truth about the dark secrets hidden in the town of Maze.

To stay alive, Julia will not only have to figure out who to trust but also who to love. For Julia’s worst nightmares are about to get a whole lot more terrifying as she heads into the war raging between the vampires and werewolves where even her own magic abilities won’t be able to protect her.

Into the UnknowmInto the Unknown by Lorna Peel, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen-year-old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of total war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?

SmokeSmoke by Catherine McKenzie, contemporary women’s fiction, mystery drama, chicklit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: From the internationally bestselling author Catherine McKenzie comes an evocative tale of two women navigating the secrets and lies at the heart of a wildfire threatening their town.

After a decade-long career combating wildfires, Elizabeth has traded in her former life for a quieter one with her husband. Now she works as the local arson investigator in a beautiful, quaint town in the Rockies. But that tranquil life vanishes when she and her husband agree to divorce and a fire in nearby Cooper Basin begins to spread rapidly. For Elizabeth, containing a raging wildfire is easier than accepting that her marriage has failed.

For Elizabeth’s ex-friend Mindy, who feels disconnected from her husband and teenage children, the fire represents a chance to find a new purpose: helping a man who has lost his home to the blaze. But her faith is shattered by a shocking accusation.

As the encroaching inferno threatens the town’s residents, Elizabeth and Mindy must discover what will be lost in the fire, and what will be saved.

White HeatWhite Heat by Serge de Moliere, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A frigid wilderness. A blazing encounter.

In the frigid wilderness of Northern Canada, Carol treks through the snow, desperate to escape her violent and obsessed husband, Dugan. Unprepared for the harsh conditions, she soon finds herself trapped in the ice. She’s rescued by Josh, a loner who has fled society for his own reasons, and he brings her to his isolated cabin.

Carol and Josh are trapped together in the cabin as a snowstorm rages outside. Soon neither of them can fight their building desire, giving in to the temptation of shared heat and intimacy. Josh is nothing like the man Carol fled. He brings out feelings in her she’d long since suppressed.

But Dugan is hunting for her, and he plans to have his revenge on any man who dares share her company…

prettyPretty When You Cry (Stripped #3) by Skye Warren, dark erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A new dark romance novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Wanderlust and Prisoner…

I came from a place of dirt floors and holy scriptures. They told me the world outside was full of sin, and the first night I escape, I find out it’s true. Ivan saves me, but he does more than that. He takes me. He makes me his own girl.

My conditioning runs too deep. Ivan sees what I am.

That’s the thing about showing a mouse to a cat. He wants to play. And it’s terrifying, even for me. Because the only thing darker than my past is his.

Jace (River Pack Wolves 2) for Kindle_28Jace (River Pack Wolves #2) by Alisa Woods, NA paranormal romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: His wolf is out of control. She’s a wild thing that won’t be tamed.
Ex-Army Specialist Jace River has a lock on his bedroom door, but it’s not to keep anyone out; it’s to keep his nightmares from breaking loose. His wolf is an out-of-control killer, which means he can never risk shifting, never truly be part of his pack, and definitely never take a mate.

Piper Wilding works for the Army as a civilian, traveling the world for her work in counterintelligence and fighting the bad guys while bedding down the good ones. The best part? It keeps her far from her asshole father in Seattle, the rest of the Wilding pack, and the pressure to take a mate. Settling down isn’t her thing, and after what happened to her mother, Piper vowed she would never be tied down by magic or men again.

While Jace’s wolf keeps him Sleepless in Seattle, Piper returns home to find her missing kid brother. When she breaks into the River brother’s safehouse, sparks fly and claws come out. Her sexy skills threaten to bring out Jace’s wolf, and Jace’s good-guy hotness reminds Piper how tempting shifter men can be. They’re like fire and gasoline, and as they race to find Piper’s brother, the heat threatens to burn down all their carefully constructed walls. But falling in love has never been so dangerous—and being together means taking risks that neither might survive.

Jace is a complete novel with HEA, the second in the River Pack Wolves trilogy (all standalone stories, but best enjoyed if you read them in order!).

Contains scorching hot shifters, alpha military heroes, and sexy spy girls. Only readers over 18 should dive into the deliciously hot world of the River brothers.

BrakeBrake (The Redline Series #3) by Skye Callahan, dark romantic suspense (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Bitter feud between brothers, Colt and Devlin, speeds out of control.

From Colt’s pawn to Devlin’s captive, Aubrey is caught even deeper in their pact to destroy one another. Imprisoned in darkness, she fights for her life–and her sanity. Her only hope is a cocky and sadistic car thief who is already wrestling with his own demons.

Colt swore he’d never end up in this place again. That he’d never be held captive to heroin or rendered helpless by his brother to watch as another life is destroyed. He’s ready to tear the city apart to find Aubrey, but that’s only if his own mind doesn’t tear him apart first.

Lines have been crossed. Promises broken. Souls shattered. And the worst has only begun.

Note: If you’re looking for rainbows, butterflies, and happy endings coated in chocolate and caramel, turn back now! This story deals with dark themes and intense situations that aren’t suitable for sensitive readers. If you’re looking for an intense roller coaster of emotions and situations that will warp your sense of right and wrong and drag you through the debauched underworld of crime and deceit, then you’re in the right place.

This is a work of serial fiction, so it will be released in distinct parts with no resolute ending until the end of the series.

Watcher Lotus's Journey 2 cj pinardWatcher (Daughter of Darkness): Lotus’s Journey Part II by C.J. Pinard, paranormal mystery romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: As hybrid vampire/faery Lotus’s journey has taken her from solving the vampire-committed murders in Denver to Las Vegas, she begins to learn a lot more about herself and the evil vampire of a father who has been searching for her for years. She has to make a decision on whether she’s going to run from Vlad or search for him and confront him as he continues to terrorize her dreams. She wonders if finding him will lead her to her faery mother, or if it will just lead to more death, destruction, and heartbreak.

With the relationship between her sexy neighbor, Drew, and her beginning to blossom, Lotus wonders if she should just give up the search and try to lead a normal life for once. She’s finally found a decent guy who is not only gorgeous, but seems to want to protect her. Something she’s never needed, but is now finding she wants. That is, until she finds out Drew’s got his own secrets.

This is part II of Lotus’s journey. Part III will be out in early 2016.

Dark CityDark City (Nick Harland, British Detective Series #4) by Bill Carson, dark crime (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: A must read for all those who like to sit uncomfortably on the edge of their seats.

Dark City is the fourth book in the Nick Harland detective series. In this one we follow him on his most perplexing and disturbing case to date, as he tracks down a serial killer from the past.
The book begins with an elderly man being released from prison, after serving seventeen years for a double murder. A few days after his release a young woman is snatched from outside a London pub.

The police seem to be dragging their heels, so the family of the missing girl call on the services of the tough, uncompromising ex murder squad detective, turned Private Investigator, Nick Harland. During his initial investigation another girl suddenly goes missing, he then gets a tip off that Charles Thorpe had just been released from prison. Nick knows the killer, as he was the detective who put him behind bars when he was a detective in the murder squad. And so the hunt is now on for Thorpe, and Nick will not rest until Thorpe is found, and he promises that Thorpe will pay the ultimate price for his crimes this time around.

Much more can’t be revealed, as it would give too much of the exciting plot away.
This is a fast paced dark and gritty story, packed with hard hitting action, highs and lows, intrigue and tension. This story has characters, that are good, and sometimes very, very bad. Dark City is crime noir in the truest sense.

Vivian's VampireVivian’s Vampire (short story) by Deborah Melanie, contemporary paranormal comedy horror romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: She’s got a scythe, a severed head and she’s looking for love.

Waitress Vivian Shawcross loves a costume party. When Halloween comes along, she can’t wait for the spooky fun to start. However, a mix up over her costume and a road diversion, are just two of the mini disasters she encounters en route to her ghostly night out. Stranded in a remote English village, isn’t her idea of fun, but when a gorgeous vampire is thrown into the equation, Vivian discovers that her fun night out has only just begun. 

Tales of Blood and SulphurTales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor by J.G. Clay, dark horror sci-fi (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Eleven Tales steeped in Blood and reeking of Sulphur

There are cracks in the skin of Reality. Some are microscopic, others are as wide as a four-lane motorway. As the fault lines increase and widen, the door to our world shines like a beacon in the darkness, a warm and inviting sight to others beyond our understanding. When They cross over into our realm, The Tales begin……

A gambler taking one last desperate throw of the dice. A struggling writer making an unholy alliance. An eternal being fighting to stay alive in the financial capital of India. A man burdened with a terrible town secret. The Law Enforcers who must never cry. The End of Days live and direct from the rural heartland of England.

J.G. Clay takes you on a journey through the voids of Reality and into dark places where demons, mutants and inter-dimensional creatures taunt, taint and corrupt Humanity. Survival is not guaranteed, sanity is not assured and death lurks in every corner. These are the Tales of Blood and Sulphur: Apocalypse Minor; eleven twisted tales of terror and mayhem.

The blood is warm, the sulphur is burning, the tales will be told, the Apocalypse Minor is imminent!