Review Round-up Aug ’15

Hi readers, Love certainly has been in the air for us this summer at A Reader’s Review Blog! I know romance is usually at the core of many of the stories we review, but this summer I have been left with a calm, serene and warm feeling, especially after just reviewing Laurette Long’s HOT BASQUE! Katherine McIntyre’s SOUL SOLUTION certainly left a mark on me, and Laura Barnard’s DOPEY WOMEN will have you in stitches, as well as enjoying a dangerous romance!

Tina has been reviewing some dark erotica books with Annika Martin & Skye Warren’s PRISONER, and HER MASTER’S COURTESAN by Lily White. Please note that the latter is most certainly not a romance though, and is definitely for the Adult 18yrs+ reader!

To meet your paranormal needs, along with Soul Solution (Katherine McIntyre), we have SOUL RELEASE, the last of C.J. Pinard’s Rebel Riders series, as well as a YA paranormal fantasy in Pat Spence’s TRUE BLUE (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #2).

And if mystery, crime and thriller are calling we have Niki Danforth’s STUNNER, and SILENCE OF A STRANGER by Elizabeth Bailey.

We hope you enjoy our selection. (As always, please click on the titles for more info and to read our reviews!)

Caroline & Tina 🙂

soul solutionsSoul Solution (Beyond Fairytales #1) (novelette) by Katherine McIntyre, dark paranormal/romantic suspense (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: For Erik Anderson, the Copenhagen line is his curse. He takes the train every night en route to collect souls. Like any lovelorn fool, he bargained his own long ago, and now pays the price—a lifetime of loneliness as a grim reaper. Stay distant—that’s been his mantra and what keeps him sane.

Until Mina Castner drops into his life like a whirlwind, one spilled drink leading to staying up until dawn with the woman. He believed one night couldn’t hurt, but he sorely underestimated her determination. Every encounter between them is reprieve from the guilt of reaping souls every night, but it can’t last. Even if she sparks long buried feelings, and even if her sheer presence intoxicates him, he can’t let this continue. For humans, his touch is poison, and if he slips up, it could cost her life.

Lily whiteHer Master’s Courtesan by Lily White, dark erotica (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: (N.B. This is not a romance novel. Adults 18yrs +)

I am a Master.

You must know this fact to understand my story.

I capture women.

I break them down.

And I rebuild them.

If they are lucky, they are sold into the professional hands of another Master. If they are less fortunate, they are buried beneath the ground, never to be thought of again.

I lust for the control, I demand absolute submission and my body yearns to warp the minds of those I train.

Power is the only thing I’ll ever need and I am addicted to the feeling of ultimate control.

I am wealthy, good-looking, educated and charming.

And I am – in no way – a good man.

I do not want love.
I do not want kindness.

She thought she could change me by giving me the two things I knew I never wanted.

She was wrong.

23303963Prisoner by Annika Martin & Skye Warren, dark erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: He seethes with raw power the first time I see him—pure menace and rippling muscles in shackles. He’s dangerous. He’s wild. He’s the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. So I hide behind my prim glasses and my book like I always do, because I have secrets too. Then he shows up in the prison writing class I have to teach, and he blows me away with his honesty. He tells me secrets in his stories, and it’s getting harder to hide mine. I shiver when he gets too close, with only the cuffs and the bars and the guards holding him back. At night I can’t stop thinking about him in his cell. But that’s the thing about an animal in a cage—you never know when he’ll bite. He might use you to escape. He might even pull you into a forest and hold a hand over your mouth so you can’t call for the cops. He might make you come so hard, you can’t think. And you might crave him more than your next breath.
 
Prisoner is Book One of the Criminals & Captives series.

DOPEY WOMEN

Dopey Women by Laura Barnard, contemporary romantic comedy/chick-lit (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Sadie had a bumpy upbringing but she’s still managed to drag herself out and carve a career for herself. That all comes crashing down when she, along with the women she manages; Mags, Lexi & Steph, get made redundant. She’s screwed. In hindsight she shouldn’t have attacked her colleague in a moment of rage. There goes the reference.

When they all bump into each other a few months later at the job centre Sadie finds she’s not the only one in a hole. Steph’s boyfriend has left her holding the baby, Lexi’s stuck in an abusive relationship and poor Mags has breast cancer. They’re all struggling to keep on top of their bills. They all need money to get out of their situations, its as simple as that.

Mags mentions that some women find marijuana helps ease the sickness caused by chemo. With the desperation mounting and the coffee spurring them on they somehow decide to start growing it. They’re only going to sell to ladies going through chemo, so its not too bad, right? They’re not going to be proper drug dealers. And its only temporary.

They didn’t bet on the business taking off so well though. Before they know it they’ve got orders coming out of their ears, a sexy detective on their trail, suspicious neighbours and drug dealers angry they’re working on their patch.

Can Sadie pull them out of this dangerous world they’ve found themselves in? And can she do it before they end up in prison?

STUNNER, Niki Danforth - CoverStunner (An Accidental Lady Detective series – A Ronnie Lake Mystery #1) by Niki Danforth, mystery crime thriller (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Beautiful. Bright. And possibly deadly…

That’s all Ronnie Lake knows about her soon to be sister-in-law, Juliana. But Ronnie is determined to find out the truth about her wealthy brother’s new lover—before he throws away his happiness, his fortune…maybe even his life. Who is this mysterious woman, and where did she come from? What is she hiding? And how deep could the deception go?

First the family receives strange phone calls. Then a disturbing package appears at their estate outside New York City. Ronnie—a divorced, downsized, 50-something—seems an unlikely detective. But she soon finds she’s got an instinct for this type of work, as she falls ever deeper into a sinister world where people will do anything to escape their past. And Juliana may be the most desperate of them all.

True BlueTrue Blue (The Blue Crystal Trilogy #2) by Pat Spence, YA paranormal romance/fantasy (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: As the word ‘tomb’ came into my head and my predicament hit home, I lost control and hammered on the lid, screaming ‘Help, get me out of here’ over and over, until my throat hurt…

In just two weeks, Emily must undergo the blue crystal initiation ceremony or face death from the secret order that protects it. But is she ready to spend eternity with the beautiful and irresistible Theo de Lucis, or can best friend, Seth, offer an alternative? And can she stay alive long enough to make the decision?

As Emily considers her future, she becomes an unwitting pawn in a dangerous game of life and death, caught up in a supernatural world of ancient enemies, old grievances and dark forces. Tested to the limit, she must draw deep to ensure her survival.

Heart-rending and horrifying, True Blue is the second book in the ‘Blue Crystal’ trilogy, with a colourful cast of characters, a fast-moving plot and surprises at every turn. Keep turning the pages. You have to know what happens next….

An old enemy of the de Lucis family waits in the shadows, desperate for the crystal and preparing to exact a terrible price…

lunchtime eavesdropperLunchtime Eavesdropper (short story) by Joanie Chevalier, contemporary psychological drama/self-belief chick-lit/humour (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Meet Marlee, a woman who lives a comfortable but simple life with her loving partner, the adorable Larry. She discovers that covertly listening in on other people’s conversations during lunch hour excites her and adds to her otherwise humble life. When she overhears unpleasant gossip about herself, she becomes obsessed with changing her personality and makes the bad decision to become someone she’s not. After her total makeover, Marlee suddenly finds herself basking in the attention of her co-workers and is ecstatic when she’s finally invited to sit at the “popular” table at work. But is a personality change really worth the price? Is being popular worth losing herself, possibly the love of her life and/or redefining her own definition of happiness?

Come and take part in Marlee’s life, even though it’s only for a short time, and experience her yearning to belong and be accepted for who she is. You may be surprised by the unexpected twist in her story.

statelypleasures (2)Stately Pleasures by Lucy Felthouse, erotic ménage (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Three’s a magic number in this steamy love triangle set in a British stately home. Alice Brown has just landed her dream job. Property manager at Davenport Manor, a British stately home. It’s only a nine-month contract to cover maternity leave, but it’s the boost up the career ladder she so desperately needs. Unfortunately, things don’t get off to the best start, when Alice finds her boss, Jeremy Davenport, in a compromising position. Far from being embarrassed by what’s happened, Jeremy turns things around on Alice and makes her out to be the one in the wrong. So when he and his best friend and head of security, Ethan Hayes, throw an ultimatum at her, she’s so stunned and confused that she goes along with their indecent proposal. When the dust settles and Alice has time to think about things, she realises that perhaps it isn’t such a bad thing. There are worse things she could be doing to advance her career, after all.

Soul Release - Rebel Riders 3Soul Release (Rebel Riders #3) by C.J. Pinard, paranormal romance/urban fantasy (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: His heart wants love. His mind craves revenge. His soul needs peace.

Faced with the horrible reality that he’s been tricked by Eva, Nolan sets off in a mad rage to find the evil red-haired succubus and end her once and for all. When the search for her falls flat, he turns to Kovah and the Rebel Riders for help. Not only fueled by wrath, a now sudden fear and sadness has also overtaken his heart: Where is his love, Charity?

With Joel Reichert searching deep for what the Justice Department knows about the supernatural of New Orleans, he’s not going to be of any help to Nolan – especially once Nolan finds out what Kovah and the Riders are planning for Joel and his hotel of vampires.

Can they all work together to find Charity and rid Louisiana of her evil succubus sister once and for all? Or will pride, egos, and longstanding feuds and hatred tear them all apart before she can be found?

Find out in this third and final instalment of the Rebel Riders Series.

silence of a strangerSilence of a Stranger (novella) by Elizabeth Bailey, romantic suspense (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Secrets, danger and an enigmatic stranger, a twentieth century mystery romance.

Is Bea’s life more at risk than her disobedient heart?

SILENCE OF A STRANGER

Her car broken down, Bea Russell goes for help and walks straight into hell. Three armed men and no answers. Held captive, strip searched, her dignity in shreds, Bea is horrified when she responds to the attraction of the man who grabbed her out of the dark.

Who is the fugitive Rad? Escaped rapist or spy? No one will talk. Yet Bea is forced to share the danger, fleeing across rough fields in the deep night hours. At a deserted house by the sea, she looks fate in the eye. One wrong move could change her life forever.

COVER HOT BASQUEHot Basque (A French Summer Novel #2) by Laurette Long, contemporary romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Sit back with a glass of chilled rosé and let yourself be carried away to the white sands and pounding surf of the French Basque coast. What could be more relaxing? Find out what’s going on at the Villa Julia, where Caroline and her honey are enjoying the song of the crickets, the glow of the stars and happy romps in the boudoir. Caroline is also doing some matchmaking between best friend Jill and the hot Basque himself, Antoine, he of the smouldering eyes and perfect teeth. And Annabel the sister from hell, is miles away, no need to fret about her. What could be more idyllic? Not a cloud on the horizon…well, maybe it’s looking a bit black to the north, but nothing to worry about, surely??

**REVIEW w/excerpt** Lunchtime Eavesdropper by Joanie Chevalier

lunchtime eavesdropperTitle: Lunchtime Eavesdropper

Author: Joanie Chevalier

Genre: Contemporary, psychological self-belief fiction

Release date: July 20th, 2015

Length: 40 pages

Blurb: Meet Marlee, a woman who lives a comfortable but simple life with her loving partner, the adorable Larry. She discovers that covertly listening in on other people’s conversations during lunch hour excites her and adds to her otherwise humble life. When she overhears unpleasant gossip about herself, she becomes obsessed with changing her personality and makes the bad decision to become someone she’s not. After her total makeover, Marlee suddenly finds herself basking in the attention of her co-workers and is ecstatic when she’s finally invited to sit at the “popular” table at work. But is a personality change really worth the price? Is being popular worth losing herself, possibly the love of her life and/or redefining her own definition of happiness?

Come and take part in Marlee’s life, even though it’s only for a short time, and experience her yearning to belong and be accepted for who she is. You may be surprised by the unexpected twist in her story.

REVIEW

Lunchtime Eavesdropper is a real ‘stay true to yourself’ kinda read. The psychological effects of overhearing people talk about yourself can take over even rational thoughts. And, this is how is affects Marlee. Although the comments are hurtful, she takes heed and begins to question herself, doubting who she really is.

It all became a bit of fun, changing her appearance, wanting to share some time with girlfriends and being able to talk with them. But, after a night out clubbing, she begins to think that she has taken things too far. She never really enjoyed these girls’ company anyway, so why start to now?

This novella explores the psychological effects that others can have on a person when expressing their personal opinion, or even the opinion that they believe others want to hear when they are trying to be popular and fit in.

Marlee loves Larry. He is the love of her life. He has always loved her for who she is and how she treats him, But, with changes that Marlee is making, it does begin to affect him too.

It isn’t all too serious as Marlee tells the reader in first person her most innermost thoughts. Some are quite flippant or amusing comments. And when she begins making some changes, during a shopping trip she gets a little excited when she finds a beautiful photo frame, but with the perfect, handsome guy she’s ever seen. She decides to buy it and later places it on her office desk, making out that the guy is in fact Larry!

With some surprises there are a few times when you will question what is really happening. There is a slight realisation towards the end of this short story that did make me smile, even though there is a more serious message. Is it really worth changing for other people? For the trouble and upset it can cause you and those around you? The story hints in places at having some criminal element, but the most powerful subject is Marlee’s psychological state and how she deals with her life – fantasy or otherwise!

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

Lunchtime Eavesdropper is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

EXCERPT

Reluctantly, I returned the frame to the dusty shelf, swearing, almost sure that my bizarre behavior was probably because I’ve been depressed ever since The Tragic Event.  I felt ashamed and I walked away slowly and dejectedly from the shelf with the beautiful frame.  But when I reached the end of the aisle, I couldn’t help myself and made a quick u-turn causing my heel to squeak as it left a black skid mark on the linoleum.  When I returned to the framed photo, I snatched it up, like a metal claw inside a machine full of stuffed animals.  My hand was the claw and I had won the top prize: a beautiful sea shelled frame with a photo of a gorgeous male model, his deep brown eyes gazing at me with desire.

Author bio:

I was born in the L.A. area and our family moved up and down the West Coast for most of my childhood, finally settling in Washington State when I was about 12. After living many years in Washington State, where it is gray for 350 days of the year (might be an exaggeration but it’s close!), I finally decided I needed more vitamin D and made the decision to move to the San Francisco Bay area. I pay more taxes in California but I call it the “Sun/Fun Tax,” so it’s okay! Since I didn’t know anyone when I moved, I decided that I could write in (all) my spare time (besides working full-time). In addition to writing, I love being out in my yard creating color and camping in my teardrop trailer. I’m lucky that I have one fantastic boyfriend who loves traveling with me and I live with my son, an awkward teenage boy/man who does laundry when he can’t find anything clean to wear from his floor.

Author Links:

Twitter: @JoanieChevalier

Website: Joanie Chevalier, Author and Book Reviewer

Goodreads

Independent Author Network

Facebook: Author Joanie Chevalier