**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

**Release day ARC REVIEW w/Author Interview** Palace of Deception by Helena Fairfax

It is an absolute pleasure to introduce you to Helena Fairfax’s latest release, Palace of Deception. It is a beautiful romantic suspense novella, with mystery. And to help celebrate it’s release, not only have we reviewed this sweet romance, but we also have a super interview with the author herself, where Helena will not only be talking about her novels, but also her blogging, social networking, her involvement with the Romantic Novelist Association, and much, much more!!

Sweet, sexy & suspenseful

palace of deception Author: Helena Fairfax

Title: Palace of Deception

Genre: Romantic Suspense, Contemporary, Mystery

Release date: August 2nd, 2015

Length: 76 pages

Blurb: A sinister housekeeper, a silent bodyguard, and a missing princess – mystery and intrigue in this gripping romantic suspense.

Lizzie Smith is contacted by her old drama teacher over the summer and offered the acting job of her life. Princess Charlotte of Montverrier has disappeared on the eve of her Investiture…and Lizzie must take her place.

But in the run up to the ceremony, all is not what it seems in the Palace of Montverrier. Why does the housekeeper insist Lizzie keep to her suite of rooms? What danger lies outside the palace walls? As Lizzie learns her role, her only confidant is Léon, her quiet bodyguard…but what secrets is he keeping from her?

Mystery and suspense against the backdrop of a beautiful Mediterranean city.

REVIEW

There are many reasons to fall for this romantic novella; not only is the suspense powerful and intense, and captivating with a hot bodyguard in Léon, but the story is set in a picturesque town between mountains and the Mediterranean, which is perfect for a romance. Yes, Montverrier is described so beautifully by the author that you can actually picture yourself there.

Lizzie is instantly likeable and the reader can sense that her drama teacher thinks highly of her, especially to ask her to become involved in such a covert task in taking the place of Princess Charlotte of Montverrier after she has disappeared! One cannot deny the ease and optimism that Lizzie has when accepting the job, albeit she is not completely aware of the full situation.

But, I must admit, aside from the scenic setting, it is Léon that makes my head turn. Meeting Lizzie for the first time in his leathers and taking her back to the palace on his bike, it is hardly believable that he is a bodyguard for the Princess. And yet, his whole mannerism, politeness and care do tell a different story, making him very believable and extremely sexy.

I absolutely love the chemistry between Léon and Lizzie. It is clear before too long that Lizzie is expected to remain in her suite for the full five weeks she is to be at the Palace, and with an emotionally cold housekeeper in Daria, Léon is the only human contact with warmth that she has. I love the mild smiles he passes her, over Daria’s shoulder, and the cute winks he makes – all of which help assure Lizzie that she will be okay. Yes, I found myself smiling at some moments.

Regardless of the mystery surrounding the missing Princess, and the fact that Lizzie feels like a prisoner at times, it is the fact that Léon spends day and night with her that provides her with some comfort. Léon’s character is perfect for the suspense. A man of little words, and yet his actions and expressions speak so loud, it is impossible to not be taken in by him. I’m sure every reader will wish to be in Lizzie’s shoes! I certainly wouldn’t mind being guarded by him!

Lizzie is aware that the situation isn’t quite right at the Palace as she is made to remain in her quarters, the housekeeper is a little stern and cold to say the least towards her, and she is aware of the dislike some members of the public have on the Princess’ s Investiture. Just what danger is she in? Does Léon know? And, will he really protect her?

If you’re looking for a short, suspenseful romance, in a setting you can only dream of, then Palace of Deception is the book for you. As always, it is written in the sophisticated and classy manner that Helena Fairfax is known for, and I have no doubt that her fans and new readers alike will love this sweet, sexy and suspenseful novella.

An ARC copy of Palace of Deception was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Released today, Palace of Deception is now available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Author Interview with Helena Fairfax

 Hello, Helena, and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer some of our questions.

Hi, Caroline and Tina. Thanks so much for having me. It’s lovely to be with you again!

After having just finished reading Palace of Deception, I must say how beautiful the setting is in Montverrier for your story. How did you decide where to set the story?

One summer there were terrible floods in the UK, but I’d been lucky enough to escape on holiday. I was watching the flooding on the news in my hotel room in Nice, where outside the sun was glittering on the sea. The south coast of France is such a beautiful coastline, and the light is like nothing you would find in northern England. Everything seems bright blue and white, and such a contrast with rainy Yorkshire. The holiday stayed in my mind long after I got home and the floods went down. I based the fictional Mediterranean principality of Montverrier on Monaco, which I find a place with a fairy tale quality to it. And in summer it’s lovely and hot!

And, I am very eager to find out how you dreamed up Léon and the intensity between him and Elizabeth.

I had a clear image of Léon in my mind at the start of the story. I wanted to make him someone quiet, who at first is only protecting Lizzie because that’s his job, but then of course they are thrown together, and his desire to look after her becomes much more complicated! The background of suspense and the constant hint of danger add to the way their feelings for one another deepen and intensify. And although Léon is quiet, Lizzie begins to realise that under that silent exterior beats a passionate heart!

Did you plan to write a novella initially, or did you begin writing and waited to see how it worked length-wise?

I first wrote Palace of Deception as a short story, but I realised the characters would have much more depth if I made it longer. I much prefer it now as a novella. Léon is a far more rounded and interesting character now, and filling in the backstory of Lizzie’s life in Edinburgh makes her someone readers can sympathise with.

After writing both full length novels and now a novella, do you find you have a preference? Or is it a case of depending on how the story pans out?

That’s a great question! I really enjoyed writing this novella. It was a lot of fun to do, and I plan to write more – perhaps next time with a winter theme. But I also enjoy writing the full length books, as I can immerse myself in them far more deeply and for a longer period. I really don’t think I can choose one over the other. I like them both, for very different reasons!

I have also noticed that you now have your publishing rights back for The Silk Romance and The Antique Love. Have you any specific plans to relaunch them?

Both books were originally published a couple of years ago. I haven’t made a big deal of relaunching them, but I have put them both back up on Amazon for now, and they’ll be in other online stores from September. It’s been great having control of the books. The Antique Love was a freebie for a few days, for example, and is now selling well in the US in particular. It gained quite a few more 4 and 5 star reviews because of it, which was really nice to see! I plan to do the same with The Silk Romance once the launch of Palace of Deception is underway.

Have you thought about deviating from contemporary romances and writing historical romances, or penning different genres?

Funnily enough, that question has been on my mind a lot recently. Earlier this year I was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize for a young adult novel, which I’ve written in a completely different style to my contemporary romances. I’d love to write both genres – perhaps using a different name for the YA novels – and it’s one of my aims this year to finish off this particular YA novel and to explore this genre more fully.

With the advent of social media and the internet, I imagine the life of a writer is now far less lonely than in previous generations. How useful have you found social media and the internet to you personally in your journey as a writer?

Social media and the internet have been invaluable. A whole new era of publishing has begun now, with e-publishing, and I’ve made great friends with authors all over the world. We’re able to pool resources and support each other in a way that was unheard of twenty years ago. Having my first novel published was a great experience because I was able to share the moment online. I also find it’s far easier to meet up with other lovers of romance (especially through blogs like yours) and discover new authors. Before, I didn’t really have anyone to talk to about my love of romance. Now there’s a whole brilliant tribe online!

We find your blog fascinating with all of the writing tips, author interviews and general writing experiences that you share. How do you find the time to do both your blog and writing? And, which do you prefer?

I’ve been able to reach out to other readers and writers through my blog, and I really enjoy communicating with people this way. When I first started blogging, I decided to post twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays, and I’ve stuck to that. It does take discipline, but writing in any form takes discipline if you want to make a success of it. If I had to choose between blogging and writing novels, then I’d definitely choose writing novels, but it’s fun to be able to do both!

I noticed on your blog recently that you have a re-worked cover on your previous release, A Way From Heart to Heart. Do you have an idea of the front covers yourself, or do you leave it in the hands of an artist/photographer to design?

My designers have always asked what I’d like to see on the cover, and I give them the germ of an idea – nothing concrete. I don’t want to be too rigid about it, because they always have such good ideas themselves. Then I leave it in their hands, and I’ve always been surprised and delighted with what they’ve come up with. I really enjoy this side of publishing. I used to work in the print industry for many years and have a lot of experience working with designers. I admire what they’re able to do, and wish I had their skill!

Would you like to tell us about your involvement with the Romantic Novelist Association and how it has helped you with your writing career?

I joined the RNA New Writers’ Scheme a few years ago, and it was through them that I wrote my first novel, The Silk Romance. The critique I received in the scheme was invaluable, and helped me on my way to publication. Since then I’ve made many friends in the RNA and met many people in the publishing industry through attending RNA events. I was given the chance to pitch my latest book to several agents at the last RNA conference, for example, which is an opportunity I wouldn’t otherwise have had. I can recommend joining for any romance writer, no matter what stage your career is at.

How helpful do you think entering writing awards are for authors? Would you like to share your experiences of them?

Entering competitions is a great discipline and a great way to get yourself noticed by agents and publishers. As I mentioned before, I entered my YA novel for the Exeter Novel Prize earlier this year. It was shortlisted by Broo Doherty of the DHH Agency. Broo is an agent I really admire, and having my work noticed by her was a real boost, and gave me the confidence to carry on and finish the novel. Bro was able to offer me advice, too, in which direction my career should take. Writing awards can be a great help to authors – and if you succeed, they are an excellent addition to your author profile.

Can you sum up your experience as an author in five words? If this is too much to ask we’d love to hear your thoughts in a paragraph or two!

Stressful, work, exciting, joyful, fulfilling

Are you currently working on a new book? If so, can you share any hints as to the storyline?

I’m currently working on two books – the YA novel I mentioned above, which is a time slip novel, featuring a fifteen-year-old heroine and a Roman soldier. I’ve also just finished a contemporary romance set in an ailing hotel in the Lake District. I’m hoping that one will be published next year. Fingers crossed!

Is there anything else which you would like to share with us and our readers?

Just to say I’ve followed your blog for a long time, and really enjoy it. I’ve found lots of new authors here, and I just love a place where people can get together to talk about their love of romance and reading. Thanks for having me!

Thank you for your time. We wish you every success with the release of Palace of Deception and any future works. – Caroline & Tina xx

You may be aware of Helena’s previous works in The Silk Romance, The Antique Love and A Way From Heart to Heart, all of which are best sellers and truly lovely reads too!

You can also check out an author post from Helena – In Praise of Romance Reviewers

And, you can follow Helena’s blog here, where you can find out all about her work, her inspiriations, author interviews with her favourite authors, reviews, writing and publishing tips, and much, much more!!

Caroline’s Top Reads 2014

Hi readers, it’s that time of year again when Tina and myself have lots of fun going through our reviews of the past year and choose our favourites to share with you! And, wow, there are so many it is difficult to narrow them down!Australian xmas card (2)

This is the end of our second full year and we cannot thank you all enough for following us and sharing our posts. We have made so many friends, be they authors, bloggers, agents, publishers and more, it has been overwhelming. We have received our first Christmas card from Australia (pictured), which was an absolute pleasure to receive. It’s amazing to see the sun and summer holiday reminders when the usual card for us is full of snow, log fires and dark evenings.

We hope that you have had a great year and are looking forward to the festive season. We are looking forward to sharing it with you. And I hope that you enjoy us sharing our favourite reads. Tina’s Top Reads will also be coming your way very soon. And here are mine!

Please click on the titles for my full review and much more info!

Contemporary Romance

Books of this genre and some contemporary rom-coms have been a big hit for me this year, and Helena Fairfax’s The Silk Romance was an absolute pleasure to read. It was written so beautifully, powerfully and thoughtfully, and certainly a read you will not forget! It is a Cinderella-type story that is highly intense and completely grips the reader. I have also likened it to some high-profile romance movies in my review as some aspects are similar and captivating!

TheLoveofMarisol_WP2014The Love of Marisol by Christos Toulouras is a short story of love and loss, but with the possibility of finding new love after. It is, again, very powerful and emotive, beginning as quite a dark and realistic read (although fiction). Taking only around an hour to read, it was one of my favourite reading hours of the year!

Contemporary Rom-Coms

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda's Story)As well as the serious side of romance, it is always uplifting and refreshing to read some fun reads, even though they still hold a serious undertone. The book that enlightened me in this manner is C.J. Pinard’s Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #3). It is my favourite book of the Duty & Desire series. It is a light-hearted, fun and cheeky read. And I love how C.J. Pinard follows both Miranda’s career, as well as her romances, and at the same time the reader sees a different side to the friendship that Miranda has with Cara.

An Autumn CrushWanting to read a seasonal book at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed An Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson. It was a Bridget Jones style read, with plenty of humour and a real feel-good and refreshing feel that really captured the time of year. And with some sombre storylines for some characters it has an awful lot going on, but is still relaxing and fun to read.

Historical Romance

Summer in RyeLucy Oliver’s novella Summer in Rye is an incredibly intense short story, with power and the ability to grip the reader. Following a new governess to children that have been badly affected by smallpox, and a master that is tyrannical, Eva only has one choice: to turn to the master’s brother, who was once engaged to her. Passion reignites between these two, but after he lied before, can Eva really accept him back?

Paranormal

Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5)To top off my favourite paranormal reads is Tim O’Rourke’s Vampire Flappers (Samantha Carter #1.5). Last year the first of the series, Vampire Seeker, was one of my favourites, and again this series has really thrilled me. It has everything from vamps, shifters, action/adventure and time travel! The romance and passion is also very intense, making for a very HOT read! This is a series not to be missed, and I cannot wait to review Vampire Watchmen (Samantha Carter #2) in the new year!

And, not always a huge fan of short stories, this year has certainly changed my point of view. I used to think that to create great characters that full novels would be more fulfilling. However, there are a number of short stories in my top reads this year and a certain series of short stories really blew my mind – Alisa Woods’ True Alpha series. There are six shifter stories, which follow Mia and shifter Lucas, their attraction and heat for each other! Yet, the dilemma is that Lucas lost his last mate, and being to close to another is just not an option. But, when rival shifters kidnap Mia, Lucas has to face his true feelings. Each story is complete with action, heat and intensity. Shifter fans will LOVE this series. Here are the links to each review:-

Desired (True Alpha #1)

Guarded (True Alpha #2)

Hunted (True Alpha #3)

Captured (True Alpha #4)

Sacrificed (True Alpha #5)

Claimed (True Alpha #6)

I am also hoping to review another short A True Alpha Christmas over the coming days before the big day. And, in the new year Alisa Woods will be releasing her Dark Alpha short story series!

Soul RebelNow, for my second entry of author C.J. Pinard we have Soul Rebel. This is my favourite novel of C.J.’s. With plenty of action, suspense and romance it really does have it all. The characters and storyline are brilliant. Nolan loses his soul during a kiss with a female succubus in a nightclub and he only has 7 days to claim his soul back! Time constraints cause the tension and really make the pace quick. Plus there are many surprises which make it an exciting read.

Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #1)Recommended for the younger adult (15yrs+) Blue Moon (The Blue Crystal trilogy #1) by Pat Spence is an enchanting and fairytale-like read with supernatural mystery and horror. It is highly recommended to fans of the Twilight saga, but without the vamps. It follows the idea of eternal youth, ancient links and an attraction between Emily (17) and the handsome Theo. It is highly emotive, with a great eerie atmosphere as the reader gets sucked in to the mystery. Blue Moon is a fantastic beginning to this trilogy.

Horror

Moonshine (The Moon Trilogy, #3)This year saw the final instalment of Tim O’Rourke’s Moon trilogy, Moonshine (The Moon trilogy, #3). A paranormal horror series that has it all; action and adventure, vamps, weres, heart-warming moments and plenty of surprises. The running theme through the trilogy is whether or not vamps and weres can exist in peace together. Or, will they both have to try and annihilate each other? Will the love of Winnie be enough to hold it all together? (Clicking on the links for books 2 and 3 may spoil the storyline for those who haven’t read book one.)

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Crime Thriller

COLD CALL BOOK COVER - with blood SAFE COPYCold Call by Colin Llewelyn Chapman, was an instant like for me. After being likened to author Martina Cole, Luther (BBC tv series) and with a pinch of Fifty Shades, Cold Call proved to be a gritty, well-planned read that follows both the suspect and the police with their investigation into the deaths of several women from seedy backgrounds. This is another read with surprises along the way that will keep you gripped until the end.

21 Hours - Dustin Stevens_1Dustin Stevens’ 21 Hours is full of action and suspense as an uncle and ex-con is attempting to save his two year old niece after she has been kidnapped. Being an ex-con he is not entirely trusted by the authorities, but he is so desperate that he will do anything! I have likened it to some action movies, such as Lethal Weapon, Commando, Ransom and Con Air as there are some elements of these in the book and especially in they way it left me feeling after I had read it. It is also another read that is quick-paced, partly due to the time that it is believed that the young girl has left!

Ooh, and now for some Festive Contemporary reads

As an added treat, and because they were brilliant reads, I thought I would share the following two festive reads:

CANDY CAIN by C.L. Scholey - Click Image to CloseC.L. Scholey’s Candy Cain is a short 55 page read that is festive, hot and full of suspense. After being snowed in during a blizzard and left on a desolate road, with only the stranger that she dislikes after briefly bumping into him earlier, the only way they can keep warm is by body heat! Hmm, I wonder where this will lead and what the outcome will be for them? There are also heart-warming moments and an underlying storyline about helping those in need.

All I Want for ChristmasAnd finally, a full-length story with a Christmas build-up, new friendships and a new romance in Amy Silver’s All I Want for Christmas. Beginning from the fourteenth of December, the story is written with each chapter being a new day in the lead up to the big day, when there are plans at The Honey Pot café for people of the neighbourhood to meet for a party of food and friendship for the lonely.

I have read many more great reads that I cannot possibly add due to the amount I have here. Crossing many genres, I always hope that there are reads in here to suit many, and I feel that there is a great mix of both published and indie authors.

I hope that you enjoy our posts and would like to thank each and everyone of you for following and supporting us. I sincerely wish you a Merry Christmas and an absolutely brilliant New Year!

Caroline Barker 🙂

If you would like to check our Top Reads of 2013 to recap on our previous year, you can do so here:-

Caroline’s Top Reads 2013

Tina’s To Reads 2013

 

 

Review Round Up December ’14

Hi readers, we hope that you’re Christmas preparations are going well and that you are not too stressed with all of the arrangements, shopping and wrapping to do! Here is the last Review Round Up of 2014! As usual, there are quite a few genres with the fourteen books that we have reviewed, and we do hope that they pique your interest. (For the full review please click on the titles.)

You may be pleased to hear that we will both be doing our Top Reads of 2014 over the holidays. We have had the pleasure of reading many great reads and look forward to sharing them!

Enjoy!

Caroline & Tina ❤

Invasion Earth (Delroi Connection #1) by Loribelle Hunt, erotic/sci-fi romance (reviewed by Tina)

In the distant future, Earth has been ravaged by war and famine, and after generations of bloodshed settles into peace only to be invaded by the alien Delroi. General Alrik Torfa needs a mate and his seers promise mates for many of his people on the distant planet Earth. He doesn’t expect her to come easily, but is more than a little surprised to find her leading an enemy army. Outmanned and outgunned, there is no way the Earth forces can win.Sergeant Major Laney Bradford has always played her part and served her people well, but the demands of the Delroi’s surrender are a bit extreme. Marriage? To one of them? Not likely. But she’s fought for peace her entire life and when surrender talks are threatened by a conspiracy led by her people, Laney must choose. Will she submit to the alien invader or lead the fight against him?

Entropy by Robert Raker, dark crime drama, thriller suspense (reviewed by Caroline)

When a series of child abductions and murders disrupt the life of an economically blighted community, the consequences have far-reaching implications. The brutal crimes take a different toll on a disparate group of individuals; the scuba diver who retrieves the children’s bodies; the disfigured cellist who thinks he knows who’s responsible; the undercover federal agent; and the mother of one of the victim’s.
United in a situation not of their choosing, they are forced to take a deep, introspective look into their intersected, yet isolated lives.

To Avenge Her Highland Warrior (Highland Fae Chronicles #3) by Samantha Holt, historical romance, fantasy (reviewed by Tina)

Lorna lost everything to war. Her home, her wealth… her lover. And now she wants revenge. When her hasty plan throws her at the mercy of her enemy’s men, she holds little hope of returning to her kin and fears death is around the corner. But could her salvation lie in the arms of her dark captor? Logan has little time to be dealing with a stubborn noble woman. His orders are to prepare for war. His laird—the man he owes his life to—intends to join forces with the Norse and bring a battle to Scotland that will see the fate of the country forever changed. Scarred, and with no memory of his past, Logan is determined to forge a new future for himself as well as prove his loyalty to the laird. But the beautiful lass has him questioning his previous life and his goals. When she starts claiming he once loved her, he knows he’s being manipulated and she’s taking advantage of his memory loss. So why is it so hard to resist the idea of having once been her lover? With the threat of impending war—a battle that promises to bring slaughter to her family—can Lorna persuade Logan to believe her, and is the bitter man he’s become even worth saving? Whatever the outcome of the battle, a certain interfering faery is resolved to see fate back on its correct path. And that means forcing Lorna and Logan together—no matter their differences.

COLD CALL BOOK COVER - with blood SAFE COPYCold Call by Colin Llewelyn Chapman, dark crime drama, thriller (reviewed by Caroline)

Wealthy entrepreneur Robin Bradford had it all – the house, the cars, the fine dining – and he lost it all. All except Lizzie, his perfect, loving girlfriend. Down on his luck and with no immediate prospects in business, Robin’s energies found another outlet, Just a little something spicy to bide his time until his financial world recovered, leading him down a very seedy path, onto a very rocky road. Time however was all he had, and all he was going to get.

Due to violence, drug references and sexual content, readers are recommended to be of 18yrs+.

Benddontbreak_front_coverBend, Don’t Break (Irrevocable #2) by Skye Callahan, dark erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

I thought I was done.
my End
I couldn’t take my eyes off her as the bullet tore through me, leaving me with nothing but the hope that I had done enough to save her. The darkness tried to engulf me—to brand me as its own and drag me to my fate.
my Darkness
Waking to see her tear-stained face above me was enough to make my heart stutter. I was alive and free from that place—but not from the toll it had taken on my mind and body.
my Strength
My story should have ended, but one woman kept standing in the way of that. The only way I could have her was to find a way to put the darkness to rest.

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda's Story)Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) (Duty & Desire #4) by C.J. Pinard, contemporary military romance, romantic comedy, chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Miranda Cates finally graduates from college and is excited to begin her dream career in law enforcement. After the final betrayal and heartbreak of her college boyfriend, Chris, she moves back home with a firm plan in place for her life.

However, the life she has carefully mapped out for herself takes a serious left turn. Miranda finds she not only has to be strong for herself, but for the daughter who hadn’t been part of her plan.

Determined to still believe in true love, life throws Miranda one more wicked curveball. She meets Jace Lawless, a hot minor league baseball player, whose warm aqua eyes and big dimple have her unraveling her carefully laid plans. A man who may be just be too good to be true.

Boots Beneath My Bed (Miranda’s Story) is book 3 in the Duty & Desire series, and while it is recommended to read the books in order, it’s not necessary.

An Autumn CrushAn Autumn Crush by Milly Johnson, contemporary romantic comedy (reviewed by Caroline)

In the heart of the windy season, four friends are about to get swept off their feet…

Newly single after a bruising divorce, Juliet Miller moves into a place of her own and advertises for a flatmate, little believing that, in her mid-thirties, she’ll find anyone suitable. Then, just as she’s about to give up hope, along comes self-employed copywriter Floz, and the two women hit it off straight away.

When Juliet’s gentle giant of a twin brother, Guy, meets Floz, he falls head over heels. But, as hard as he tries to charm her, his foot seems to be permanently in his mouth. Meanwhile, Guy’s best friend Steve has always had a secret crush on Juliet – one which could not be more unrequited if it tried…

As Floz and Juliet’s friendship deepens, and Floz becomes a part of the Miller family, can Guy turn her affection for them into something more – into love for him? And what will happen to Steve’s heart when Juliet eventually catches the eye of Piers – the man of her dreams?

21473101Apartment 2B by K. Webster, Adult contemporary paranormal romance (reviewed by Tina)

Sidney has a rough life. Her mom is incredibly abusive both mentally and physically. One day, she’s awarded the escape she’s always wanted and thrust into a world she barely understands. Each day is a struggle to feel human and not terrified of everything around her.

Sidney has rules. Routines. Structure. It’s the only way she can cope

When a handsome, yet mysterious stranger inserts himself into her life, Sidney begins to come apart at the seams. She’s having trouble sticking to her habits and it’s threatening to shred any hope of a normal life to pieces. Will this stranger help her in ways no other person can, or will things get worse for her?

He comes with his own set of problems and secrets he’s unwilling to share. Will they work together through the mess of their pasts or will they get caught up enabling each other? Will their toxic relationship ultimately be destined for demise?

MistUnveiled_HiResMist Unveiled (Elemental Desire #1) by Nancy Corrigan, erotic paranormal romance (reviewed by Tina)

Cat has one love in her life—science. Facts rule her, not passion. At least it doesn’t until an unknown deadly virus claims her sister’s life. Cat’s quest for answers takes her to Greenland and drops her into the arms of the one man who sways her devotion from logic to passion. Rune stirs her lusts, ignites her desires and fuels her carnal cravings, but he isn’t simply a lover, nor is he human. He’s a weapon, one that has the potential to save or destroy her.

Rune, a child of the mist, awakens into a world hovering on the verge of destruction. Rising temperatures have released his enemies from their frozen prison without his knowledge. He searches for them but finds Cat, a human with the power to save him and the world. He hungers for her—blood, body and soul. Every moment of shared passion convinces him of the truth—she’s his greatest treasure, one he’ll die to keep.

Secret Confessions: Sydney Housewives (Virginia #1, Lana #2 & Nella #3) by Rhian Cahill, Cate Ellink & Cathleen Ross, erotica (reviewed by Tina)

Cool, collected, confident – those who know Virginia in her personal and professional life would never expect to find her in Boyd’s, a bar across town from her circle of friends and socialite world. But Boyd’s offers her something she can’t get among her rarefied acquaintances: sex. Rough, hard, mind-blowing, anonymous sex. In her casual clothes, she’s no one important. Incognito, unnoticed by everyone except one: the bartender who knows her drink order – and would like to know a whole lot more.

22584Lana by Cate Ellink: Lana lives her life by her own rules – and she has very few. What she wants, she goes for, and she very rarely fails. So when a young, handsome waiter at her favourite restaurant catches her eye, she has no hesitation in asking him to escort her home. But one night of passion opens up exciting new possibilities, and a chance for Lana to enact one of her deepest, most illicit fantasies.

23510826Nella by Cathleen Ross: Nella is one hundred percent in control of her life – all aspects of her life. She excels at knowing what everyone needs, and in meeting those needs. So when it comes to her husband, Michael, and his deepest desires and most fundamental requirements, she is committed, creative, and unswerving in her responsibilities. A strong man needs a strong woman, and Nella’s love is as strong as steel.

Cursed (Cursed trilogy #1) & Obsession (Cursed trilogy #2) by Georgina Hannan, young adult paranormal horror (reviewed by Caroline)

CursedCursed: Reality and Myths collide.
A young adult story about a group of four friends who embark on a holiday together to the gorgeous countryside of Dartmoor, Devon. Each of them hoping for an adventure, something they will always remember. However it isn’t long before they get what they want.

The group are plagued by noises after hearing the myths and legends of the area. Is it just their overactive imaginations or is there a visitor in the spare room who is trying to get their attention?

Join the group on a spectacular journey as they discover what Dartmoor has to offer.

Obsession by Georgina Hannan_1Obsession: There’s a fine line between Obsession and Madness.

After a strange and exciting holiday, Daisy is looking forward to the new start University life will bring.

A life changing assignment makes her question the fine line between Obsession and Madness.

Can she tell the difference?
Can you?

CANDY CAIN by C.L. Scholey - Click Image to CloseCandy Cain (festive short story) by C.L. Scholey, hot, contemporary romance, festive (reviewed by Caroline)

Candy is on top of the world. She’s a high priced corporate lawyer with expensive cars, time on her hands, and money to burn. Although, she has no one to burn it on, except for a yearly ritual of buying toys and treats for the needy at Christmas time.

Cain is an egotistical enigma. A very deprived and hurting enigma, who feels wishes are for fools. A car accident leaves them stranded together, and the two have no choice but to warm each other’s cold bodies, lest they freeze to death.

As the temperature dips outside, the heat begins to sizzle inside. Candy and Cain, though worlds apart in society, begin to feel perhaps they have more in common than either could ever wish for.

Will they both discover the miracle of Christmas wishes isn’t just for the very young?

A Way from Heart to HeartA Way From Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax, contemporary romance (reviewed by Caroline)

After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Kate’s free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives – which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.

Reserved, ex-public school journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t. But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything.

But can Kate take a risk with her son’s happiness as well as her own?

6624391The Silent Governess by Julie Klassen, historical romance, religious (reviewed by Tina)

Believing herself guilty of a crime, Olivia Keene flees her home, eventually stumbling upon a grand estate where an elaborate celebration is in progress. But all is not as joyous as it seems. Lord Bradley has just learned a terrible secret, which, if exposed, will change his life forever. When he glimpses a figure on the grounds, he fears a spy or thief has overheard his devastating news. He is stunned to discover the intruder is a scrap of a woman with her throat badly injured. Fearing she will spread his secret, he gives the girl a post and confines her to his estate. As Olivia and Lord Bradley’s secrets catch up with them, will their hidden pasts ruin their hope of finding love?

*Review with Extract & Author Bio* A Way From Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax

A Way from Heart to Heart

A Reader’s Review Blog is absolutely thrilled to share with you the latest release from author and blogger, Helena Fairfax, A Way From Heart to Heart. A keen reader and writer of romance, Helena has brought another deep and meaningful contemporary romance to her audience, following her previous stand alone novels, The Silk Romance and The Antique Love.

Blurb: After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Kate’s free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives – which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.

Reserved, ex-public school journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t. But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything.

But can Kate take a risk with her son’s happiness as well as her own?

REVIEW

A Way From Heart to Heart is a lovely, emotive and heart-warming contemporary romance story that draws in the audience and takes hold from the very beginning. Kate’s character is developed so well that the reader feels her sadness and loss at the death of her husband, Stuart, and later we learn of her worries and fears for her future – for her son, George. Although these feelings are negative, Kate is actually quite a strong woman as the reader will find out. I was drawn to Kate and wished I could have read this in one sitting as I certainly didn’t want to put this book down!

The story begins where Kate first discovers that her husband has died. This creates a great sense of loss with Kate, his best friend, Paul, and the reader. It is a very poignant beginning to a thoughtful and meaningful story. As Kate learns of her husband’s fate, Paul comforts her as they share their grief. Although extremely tragic, it is a beautiful and intimate scene where these two characters share the same feeling, at the same moment in time.

But, despite being briefly affectionate in this instance, Paul always appears cold and distant towards her. He picks his godson, George, up once a month to spend a day with him and yet every time he arrives at Kate’s house he stands on the doorway, never enters, and speaks as little as possible. This doesn’t warm Kate to him at all, in fact the opposite. Is he just looking out for George, or is he there for Kate too?

Paul is quite a reserved man. He begins to realise how he must seem to Kate, but how can he express his true feelings. For Paul, it was an instant attraction to Kate when Stuart had introduced them a few years ago. Paul is in a battle with himself it seems as he doesn’t quite know how to handle his situation. He, therefore, keeps to his once a month visits to pick George up for a day out. But things are about to change.

Aside from her modelling work, Kate spends most of her time working with a charity, At Home, who offer their help and support to teenage girls who have fallen on hard times. It is something that Kate feels very strongly about as she can empathise with the girls and is now in a position to help them. She realises that Paul’s journalism may come in useful in creating an awareness of the charity and it’s cause.

The teenage girls who are being supported by At Home have many problems collectively, including homelessness – which Kate herself experienced. The reader becomes well acquainted with some of these girls and their situation, and Helena Fairfax has written these scenes with much thought and respect. Although very delicately written, the girls’ circumstances are dark. Certainly in Kate’s case some people have been judgemental of her history. She was not accepted by Stuart’s parents, and the press have also found their way of belittling her. Has Paul ever felt this way about her?

The world of media has a huge impact on Kate’s life. When Paul writes about his experiences of At Home and Kate he writes from within, based on what he knows of Kate and how he feels for her. A rival journalist uses her model status and writes a very negative story, allowing her past to creep up on her.

As the story opens up more and more, Kate begins to see a different side of Paul and there are some great scenes between the two of them. Although Kate begins to feel more strongly about her attraction to him, she is not ready to go head on and have a relationship with him. After all, she experienced love with her parents and then lost, and again with Stuart. She fears love and loss again, and she certainly doesn’t want to open George up to that possibility.

There are moments when she wishes for Paul to return to his reserved self and become distant again, and other times when she wants his friendship, and sometimes more. Paul accommodates her feelings exceptionally well, although there are times for him when he just longs to be with her.

Helena Fairfax really builds these characters up and fills them out with both positives and flaws, making the characters believable with very real dilemmas. Fans of contemporary romance will love A Way From Heart to Heart, especially the ‘will-they-won’t-they’ aspect, as Helena keeps the reader guessing until the very end!

A Way From Heart to Heart was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Excerpt

‘You know none of this was your fault, don’t you?’ he said.

Kate didn’t answer. A large, fat, stupid tear rolled slowly down her cheek and dripped onto his fingers.

‘Katerina, listen to me. You were a child. Nothing that happened was your fault.’ He shook her face, his touch warm and gentle.

Kate leaned a little into his hand. ‘I try to think like that,’ she said. ‘But it’s hard. Sometimes you just can’t help feeling if you’d only been a bit different, if you’d just been a different person, people wouldn’t have just left you.’

Her voice quivered.

Paul tightened his grip. ‘The people who left you were the ones who lost out.’

Kate said nothing, and he dropped his hand.

‘Do you know what this calls for?’ he asked solemnly.

She shook her head.

‘This calls for a massive bowl of chocolate and almond pudding, hot chocolate sauce, and whipped cream.’ He stood, removing their plates. Kate rose to help him, but he waved her away. ‘Stay where you are,’ he said. ‘Help yourself to more wine while I’m in the kitchen.’

He moved past her, and Kate cast a glance at her half full glass on the table. She’d barely drunk a drop. And the bottle was still nearly full, which meant Paul had drunk even less. His mind must be razor clear. And he certainly knew how to get people to talk. All the time he’d been pretending to concentrate on his meal, he must have been listening to her intently. Her eyes fell on Paul’s notepad, which was full of some scribble. How had she not noticed him writing? She twisted her head to make sure he was out of the room. Then she reached a hand out swiftly over the table and picked up the pad. It appeared to be full of some form of shorthand, interspersed with question marks. She replaced it on the table, disappointed.

Trust me, Paul had said. Funnily enough, this evening he’d made her acknowledge what she’d always known deep down. Whatever he might think of her, Paul was a man she could rely on totally.

When he returned, he was carrying two enormous bowls of chocolate and cream. He placed one of them in front of her, leaning over to move her glass as he did so. He had rolled up his shirt sleeves and his bare arm grazed hers briefly. He smelled deliciously of almonds and chocolate.

‘Did you make this?’ Her eyes were wide as she gazed into her bowl.

‘Yes.’ He gave her a grin. ‘I took it out of the packaging and switched the microwave on, all by myself.’

Kate grinned back. She realised Paul was now also completely relaxed. The arrival of dessert seemed to signal some sort of finish to his interview. The intensity had left him, and when he sat at the table he leaned back a little, holding his bowl in one hand and looking at her with his attractive smile. ‘I’ve never known anyone enjoy a dessert as much as you do, apart from maybe George.’

‘Oh, George loves his pudding!’ Kate laughed and licked her spoon. ‘Actually, I do have to watch what I eat a little, for my job. I can’t eat the amount of dessert I’d like every day, but when I go out I make up for it, and enjoy it as much as I can.’

‘How much dessert do you think you could eat, if you allowed yourself?’ he asked, tucking in to his own bowl.

‘I’d eat it for breakfast, dinner, and tea.’ Kate suddenly remembered something, and broke into a chuckle. ‘For Christmas dinner, George and I have a chocolate starter, followed by turkey dinner, followed by chocolate pudding. It’s heavenly.’

She gave a satisfied sigh and filled her spoon. Then greed got the better of her. As she was lifting the loaded spoon to her mouth, a small dollop of cream fell off the edge and dropped. ‘Oh.’ She slid her finger into the neckline of her dress and scooped up the cold cream from where it had fallen on the top of her breast. She lifted her creamy finger to her lips and raised her head, to find Paul had gone totally still. His gaze was fixed on her mouth.

It was many years since Kate had thought of her body as desirable. Ever since Stuart had died, she’d thought of it as merely a tool of her profession. Her torso was moved this way and that under the camera by people who had no interest in her as a real woman. Clothes were put on and removed from her with clinical dispassion; make-up and hair were styled by people who talked over her head. Her body was an object, advertising clothes for other women to admire.

The intensity in Paul’s expression caused a jolt of awareness of herself. A delicious heat spread throughout her body. Paul’s eyes were fixed on her, dark and intense, and her skin flamed and burned under their scrutiny. He lifted his gaze from her mouth, and the throbbing hum of her pulse sounded in her ears. There was complete silence in the room, apart from their breathing. Then Kate’s fingers relaxed their hold, and her spoon dropped from her hand with a clatter, bouncing from the table to the floor.

‘Oh,’ she cried again, standing quickly.

Paul stood as swiftly, pushing his chair back. ‘Leave it,’ he commanded. ‘I’ll fetch another.’

He took a step towards her, and she drew back. She remembered kicking off her boots under the table, lulled into relaxing by the dessert and Paul’s good-humoured conversation. Now she stood in her stockinged feet, feeling exposed, forced to tilt her head slightly to look at him. The heat had vanished from his expression, as though she’d imagined it. He was looking down at her gravely.

With a rising feeling of unease – the same unease she’d felt the day she first met him, that time beside Stuart’s pond – Kate finally understood that Paul wasn’t the stuffed shirt she’d always dismissed. The Paul Farrell she had just glimpsed was an unknown force.

Amazon Buy Link: http://authl.it/B00PQRJ0WQ

(Available from other distributors from February 2015)

Author Bio

Helena Farfax photo-002Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Happy endings are her favourite, and when one of her novels won a reader competition for “The Most Romantic Love Scene Ever” it made her day.
Helena was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire. After many years working in factories and dark, satanic mills, Helena has turned to writing full-time. She walks the Yorkshire moors every day with her rescue dog, finding this romantic landscape the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.

Social links

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax

Twitter: @helenafairfax

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/helenafairfax/

Blog: www.helenafairfax.com

Caroline’s Current Reads – Nov ’14

Hello readers, it has been a while since I have made a list of my current reads, and although you are probably aware of our recent reviews, I thought it would be a great idea to share what my reads are going to be between now and the New Year.

There is a nice collection of contemporary romances, chick-lits, sci-fi, paranormal, crime, as well as a travel/non-fiction. If you are a fan of historical romances and/or erotica there will also be reviews from Tina and a current reads post from her soon.

Amongst my reads there is the newly released, A Way From Heart to Heart (a contemporary romance), from the amazing Helena Fairfax, All I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver (to add some festive cheer) and books from Torrid Books (an imprint of Start Publishing) and Wattle Publishing!

We hope you enjoy them!

Caroline 🙂

Cursed & Obsession (Cursed Trilogy, #1 &2) by Georgina Hannan, Young Adult horror/paranormal

CursedCursed blurb: A young adult story about a group of four friends who embark on a holiday together to the georgeous countryside of Dartmoor, Devon. Each of them hoping for an adventure, something they will always remember. However, it isn’t long before they get what they want.

The group are plagued by noises after hearing the myths and legends of the area. Is it just overactive imaginations or is there a visitor in the spare room who is trying to get their attention?

Join the group on a spectacular journey as they discover what Dartmoor has to offer.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

ObsessionObsession blurb: There’s a fine line between Obsession and Madness.

After a strange and exciting holiday, Daisy is looking forward to the new start University life will bring.

A life changing assignment makes her question the fine line between Obsession and Madness.

Can she tell the difference?

Can you? 

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

A Way from Heart to HeartA Way From Heart to Heart by Helena Fairfax, contemporary romance

Blurb: After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Kate’s free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives – which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.

Reserved, ex-public school journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t. But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything.

But can Kate take a risk with her son’s happiness as well as her own?

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

The Girl In Between (The Girl In Between Series Book 1)The Girl In Between (The Girl In Between #1) by Laekan Zea Kemp, fantasy

Blurb: Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive. 

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

All I Want for ChristmasAll I Want for Christmas by Amy Silver, chick-lit/contemporary holiday romance

It’s Bea’s first Christmas with her baby son, and this year she’s determined to do everything right. But there is still so much to do: the Christmas menu needs refining; her café, The Honey Pot, needs decorating; and she’s invited the whole neighbourhood to a party on Christmas Day. She really doesn’t have time to get involved in two new people’s lives, let alone fall in love…

When Olivia gets knocked over in the street, however, Bea can’t help bringing her into The Honey Pot and getting to know her. Olivia’s life is even more hectic than her own, and with her fiancé’s entire family over from Ireland for Christmas, she shouldn’t be lingering in the cosy warmth of Bea’s café. Chloe, on the other hand, has nowhere else to go. Her affair with a married man has alienated her friends, and left her lonelier than ever.

But Christmas is a magical time, and in the fragrant atmosphere of The Honey Pot, anything can happen: new friends can be made, hearts can heal, and romance can finally blossom…

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

79840-front2bcoverTequila & Tea Bags by Laura Barnard, chick-lit/contemporary romantic comedy

Blurb: Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Bethany's Heart (Unearthly World Book 3)Bethany’s Heart (Unearthly World #3) by C.L. Scholey, sci-fi romance

Blurb: Amidst the snow and icy wasteland, Earth has become a watery grave to many. Zargonnii warriors Finn and Blu search for any remaining human females. Luck abounds and six females are found struggling to survive. The moment his blazing red eyes settle onto Bethany Finn feels in his heart she is the one he wants to end his loneliness. When Bethany encounters two massive aliens, eyes alight, long white hair wildly flying, she knows the pair are either death or salvation. Their encounter leads Bethany on the wildest adventure of her life. After the Zargonnii ship is annihilated by the enemy a shuttle leads Finn and Bethany straight into the path of peril more times than the couple care to count.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Dead of NightDead of Night (The Tom Mariner series, #7) by Chris Collett, crime drama/procedural investigation

Blurb: When a young woman disappears on her way home from work, Detective Inspector Tom Mariner tackles his most challenging investigation yet”
18-year-old Grace Clifton vanishes on her way home from work in the centre of Birmingham late at night, the case is remarkable in that not a single witness comes forward. The more he has to deal with Grace s wealthy and overbearing father, Council Leader Bob Clifton, the more Tom Mariner is inclined to believe that Grace left of her own accord.
Then the package arrives. It contains Grace s clothes, neatly pressed and laundered. A second woman disappears. And a disturbing pattern begins to emerge.
Still adapting to a new investigation team and struggling to pull its members together, Detective Inspector Mariner is about to tackle one of his strangest, most challenging cases to date.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Love BitesLove Bites: A Collection of Short Stories by Valeria Kogan, romance

Blurb: Love Bites is the provocative debut collection of short stories by Valeria Kogan. From heartbreak to redemption, Love Bites provides a spellbinding interpretation of love and friendship, glamour and guilt, secrets and deceit. Each story provides a captivating insight into the world of love; its profound impact and effect; and how women relate to their partners. This cleverly constructed collection of short stories will leave you tantalized and yearning for more. Love Bites is a must-read for every modern woman, reader of romance and romantic enthusiast.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Travel BitesTravel Bites by The Hungry Traveller, non-fiction

Travel Bites is a collection of short stories that criss-cross the globe. It is the first work by The Hungry Traveller who has combined his two great life passions: travelling and eating!

The Hungry Traveller has been travelling for the last fifteen years and, along the way, has experienced many different sights, tastes, smells and cultures. Central to his travel experiences has been the role of food. Through his unique and very personal style of storytelling, you too can share in the highs and the lows of his stories from around the world. At the end of each story is a recipe for a dish inspired by his adventure.

Travel Bites will capture your imagination and curiosity; and will leave you yearning to plan your next holiday, adventure or escape!

The Hungry Traveller is a travelling enthusiast who loves to eat! When travelling, he enjoys meeting new people and engaging with locals to learn about their culture, history and the food that they eat. He is ‘currently between trips’, saving money, but always has his passport on hand, ready for his next adventure! He always likes to hear about other peoples’ travel experiences and your thoughts on his book!

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

In Praise of Romance Reviewers by Helena Fairfax, author of The Silk Romance

Hello readers, today we are absolutely over the moon with this fantastic author post from romance author, Helena Fairfax. Tina and myself began blogging about romance books in the beginning, whether they were contemporary, historical or paranormal. And we have always appreciated the time and effort that such authors put into writing, editing and promoting their work. We wanted to help spread the word and maybe introduce readers to more and more suspenseful and thrilling reads, at the same time as helping authors to promote their work.

One author who stood out from early on was Helena Fairfax with her debut contemporary romance, The Silk Romance. Tina reviewed this story first and I always loved her review. Along with  the review and the fantastic cover (Charlotte Volnek) and synopsis I had to have a read too! And, as stated in my review, it is an absolutely unforgettable romance. Helena has recently released The Silk Romance in paperback format and we are thrilled to add that we are mentioned in the book and are quoted on the front cover! Thank you, Helena!

Helena Fairfax – In praise of romance reviewers

Helena Farfax photo-002When Tina and Caroline invited me to write an article for their review site, I knew straightaway that I wanted to say how much I appreciate all the hard work book bloggers put in, and how particularly thankful I am that romance review sites like A Reader’s Review exist.

If you’re a lover of all things romance, as I am, and read lots of books, then how do you choose which romance novel to read next? In the olden days before book bloggers (or ‘back in the day,’ as my son always used to tease me with!) I used to find it hard to choose which romance novel, amongst all the many in the bookshop, I could be certain I was going to enjoy reading. All I could go on was the blurb and the cover – and I made many an expensive mistake buying romance novels I ended up putting down after the first couple of chapters, either because the writing wasn’t good or it just wasn’t my type of book.

It frustrated me that I could read reviews and book recommendations for plenty of other genres in newspapers – sci-fi, horror, even graphic novels – but no newspaper critic ever reviewed a romance novel. So how could I find the best authors? I couldn’t rely on word of mouth recommendations, either, as no one I knew shared my obsession with romance! In the end, in order not to waste money on a book that might not turn out any good, I used to either go to my local library (God bless our library service!) or visit my local market and pick up cheap, battered second-hand copies. If I found an author I loved this way, I would be ecstatic, and would buy up all her books new.

Nowadays the internet is full of romance review sites, and I can’t tell you what a difference this has made to my reading. I follow a handful of sites whose reviews I know I’m going to enjoy reading, and A Reader’s Review is one of the few sites I follow.

There are literally thousands of sites to choose from, and we each have our own preferences. This is how I choose whether or not to follow a review site.

I like it when a reviewer:

  • tells us what the book’s about (but without giving too much away.  Definitely no spoilers!)

  • summarises the characters and themes, and also gives their own opinion

  • tries to back up their opinion with examples from the text

  • is reliable (ie not blogging every day for a week, then writing nothing for months)

  • never gives bad reviews – particularly snidey reviews. (This is my own personal preference. I know some readers don’t mind reading bad reviews, but I prefer to read enthusiastic reviews that will point me in the direction of an author I haven’t heard of. If a book is bad, I prefer it if it just gets left unmentioned!)

And of course I love it when a reviewer introduces me to an author I’ve never heard of, who I grow to love.

Reviewing novels is hard work, as I know from the few times I’ve written reviews on my own blog. As an author myself, of course I’m even more grateful for the exposure romance reviewers provide, in a book market where romance authors are often overlooked and looked down on.

To give you an example of how poorly romance is regarded, I once took a box of leaflets detailing all the finalists for the RNA’s annual Romance Awards to my local bookshop, and asked them if they could display the leaflets on their counter. I was told they ‘didn’t sell that type of book in their shop!’ These were a selection of best-selling, professional authors, with publishers such as Simon & Schuster and Harper Collins. But apparently romance is too lowly a genre to figure in many establishments!

Well, thank heavens for romance reviewers, that’s all I can say! So when my first novel, The Silk Romance, came out in print, I was delighted to be able to use a quote from Caroline’s review on the front cover, and to credit A Reader’s Review in my acknowledgements.

Thanks for all that romance reviewers do, and here’s to lots more happy reading!

Helena Fairfax – Author post & bio (May 2013)

You can find out more about Helena on her blog at www.helenafairfax.com, or on Twitter @helenafairfax.

THE SILK ROMANCE

An unforgettable, powerfully intense and beautifully written contemporary romance!

I downloaded The Silk Romance after hearing how great it was from Tina. And so, as I came across it again a couple of weeks ago I just had to have a read. It is an amazing read that I am sure many will find difficult to put down. Yes, The Silk Romance will be forever in your memory as a great, sweet contemporary romance. (Caroline)

 

Blurb: Sophie Challoner is sensible and hard-working, and a devoted carer of her father.  One night her grandmother throws a ball for her in Paris…and Sophie does something reckless that she can never forget. 

Jean-Luc Olivier is not a man to treat lightly.  And so when fate takes a hand years after the ball, and reunites him with Sophie in Lyon, he is determined not to let her go a second time.

But it seems the fates are conspiring against their happiness.  Jean-Luc has secrets of his own.  And  when disaster strikes at home in London, Sophie is faced with a choice—stay in this glamorous world with the man she loves, or return to her family to keep a sacred promise she made her mother.

Caroline’s review of The Silk Romance

Tina’s review of The Silk Romance

The Silk Romance is now available in paperback format and mobi (Kindle) format on Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Thank you once again to Helena! It is always a pleasure to work with you.

Caroline & Tina 🙂

A Reader’s Review Blog