Review Round-Up – May ’15

Dear readers, Welcome to May’s Review Round-Up! We have plenty of romance reads for you, whether they be contemporary, historical, erotic or humour. Not to mention the paranormal fantasies and mysteries.

I have been a little quiet on the blog-front recently seeing my daughter through her SAT’s exams, and being busy with decorating the house. But, I have enjoyed Christine S. Feldman‘s hilarious romcom, Winging It, Jamie Drew‘s (aka Tim O’Rourke) November Lake: Teenage Detective books 1 & 2, and I am currently reading the amazing C.J. Pinard‘s dark paranormal, SOUL REDEMPTION (Rebel Riders #2)! Meanwhile, Tina has been busy at the Vestry with settlement papers and writing some text for the Staffordshire Archives Roadshow which will take place at Tamworth Library on 4th July. She has also been involved in proposals for Tamworth Literature Festival, in which we are both hoping to be a part of. All this at the same time as reviewing some great romances, from Skye Warren‘s Loving the Beast, to Lily Harlem’s Toy Boy, and erotic sci-fi time travel series When in Rome by Jessica Nyman. How does she find the time to make rhubarb wine too?!

We hope that you enjoy the selection of books, as well as the reviews we provide. As always, please click on the book titles and author for our main feature review plus more….

We hope that you have a super Bank Holiday weekend 🙂

Caroline & Tina ❤

Pose 1Pose for a Billionaire (Billionaire Encounter books 1-3) by Lucee Lovett, contemporary erotic romance (reviewed by Tina Williams)

Books 1-3 comprise of ‘When the Rent is Due, What Do You Do?‘, ‘There’s No Room for Mistakes, When You…‘ and ‘Secrets and Lies & Everything in Between‘.

Blurb (book 1): What choice does a young girl have, when she’s a twenty-two year old high school dropout? She has a deadbeat dad who has run off with his latest whore. Then her mother gets locked up for dealing drugs, leaving her with an eight-year-old to care for. Now, the rent is due and Mia Blackman, has no job, no money and very few options. She is forced to use the only asset she has when she poses for enigmatic, enticing, billionaire, Roman Evans. This changes Mia’s life in more ways than one.

November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries books 1 & 2) by Jamie Drew, YA crime/mystery (reviewed by Caroline)

November Lake 1Blurb (book 1): When 18-year-old police recruit, November Lake, joins training college, her curiosity and desire to solve mysteries soon has her investigating a series of creepy and chilling crimes.

With the help of her friend and colleague, Kale Creed, November is soon caught up in a dark world of strange and inexplicable mysteries, each with a deadly twist.

Three novella length mysteries in one book:

The Dead Girl In The Room

The Kidnapping at Blackwater Farm

The Menacing Stranger

November Lake 2Blurb (book 2): When police recruits November Lake and Kale Creed are ordered to stay away from each other by Sergeant Black, they can’t help but be drawn back together again.

Working side by side, November and Kale solve four more grisly and chilling mysteries. The first deals with deceit, the second betrayal, the third revenge and the fourth the greatest mystery of all – love.

Four novella length mysteries in one book:

The Reappearing Knife

The Death at Hook Inn

Splitfoot & The Dead Girl

The Mystery of November Lake & Kale Creed

WhereWolves Cover - realisticWherewolves by John Vamvas & Olga Montes, YA horror/thriller/paranormal (reviewed by Caroline)

Synopsis: Using a fun, explosive style, full of new slang and fresh dialogue, WHEREWOLVES is the story of a group of high school seniors, most “military brats”, who are headed for an army-type survival weekend.

The underdogs, Jeffrey and Doris, do not want to go as they fear for their safety among the disdain and cruelty of the popular students. Sergeant Tim O’Sullivan, their teacher, as well as their dysfunctional parents pressure them into going, but it is an unforgivable act by their peers that propels the pair to go. Likewise, Elie, a student resented because of his Arab roots, is even more determined to prove himself this weekend. In the background, a news report cautions of a wanted couple with alleged super-human strength supposedly brought on by a new drug on the streets.

In the woods, the students hike, hunt, camp, and soon act in unity as the forest brings them closer together. But does it? O’Sullivan leaves them alone for the night. The students bond, chant, tell campfire tales, and quickly lose their fears and inhibitions. HOO-AH! Though sexual tensions are high, it soon turns to violence and everything quickly turns sour.

When the kids start disappearing one after the other, the remaining begin to unwittingly “act like the natives” carving spears, ready to face whatever is out there. What has gotten into them?

Amid blood-curdling growls and gruesome deaths, the story’s underlying layers are revealed. We see how misconceptions, prejudice, greed, fear, and hatred bring out the worst and best in them.

WHEREWOLVES is a thought-provoking, intense, action-packed ride loaded with plot twists that will keep you guessing:

What is out there? Can it really be werewolves?

d5c5e-under2bthe2bmayhaw2btreeUnder the Mayhaw Tree by Charlotte Boyett-Compo, contemporary romance suspense (reviewed by Tina)

Keynote:

Living under a cloud of tragedy for which he’s assumed blame, Drew Dunne has known hell for the past sixteen years. Then he meets Allison Bennett. But in the small town of Colquitt, Georgia, evil lurks around every corner and capturing happiness has an incredibly high price.

Synopsis:

SWEET VICTORY

Small-town football star Drew Dunne sacrificed everything for friendship and guilt. He’s spent most of his life unloved and unwanted. A kind touch, a gentle smile, an encouraging word are all wisps of memory from before the accident. For him there is only family, duty, loyalty. And longing. Until he meets Allison.When Allison Bennett looks in the mirror, she sees a woman whose life has gone from bad to worse. At the mercy of an abusive husband, sweet tenderness is something she can only dream about…until she finds it in the arms of Drew Dunne.Not every sacrifice is worthwhile, not every promise is worth keeping, and events in a small Georgia town will test this pair to the very depths of their souls, but at the end of the journey is the truth that—if you’re willing to pay the price—true love can conquer all. Drew Dunne will finally be with the woman he loves. Or die trying.

When in Rome (An Unexpected Vacation & The Emperor’s Dungeon, books 1 & 2) by Jessica Nyman, erotic sci-fi fantasy (reviewed by Tina)

Jessica Nyman 1Blurb (An Unexpected Vacation, #1): A young and geeky college girl wins a trip to Rome and while visiting the ancient ruins, she gets transported two thousand years back by a mysterious magic artifact. She is immediately seized by the city guards and brought before the most notorious emperor Rome had ever known. She’s in for a big surprise and some hot, steamy, action beyond her wildest dreams.

When In Rome Vol 1: An Unexpected Vacation is the first part of an erotic romance serial short stories exploring the lifestyle of ancient Rome from the eyes of a twenty first century college girl. Approximately 7000 words.

Jessica nyman 2Blurb (The Emperor’s Dungeon, #2): Our heroine meets a mysterious witch who agrees to help her go back to ancient Rome. However the locket’s magic effects last for a limited time and she comes back to the 21st century when it expires. Will she be able to solve the mystery of the locket and stay in ancient Rome for good? Will she break and tell her secret when the emperor ties her up in heavy chains and ‘interrogates’ her in the dungeon?

When In Rome Vol 2: The Emperor’s Dungeon is the second part of an erotic romance serial short stories exploring ancient Rome from the eyes of a twenty first century college girl. Approximately 5000 words.

Loving the BeastLoving the Beast: A Beauty Epilogue by Skye Warren, erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: The sexy journey began in Beauty Touched the Beast and continued in the Beauty series. Now read the breathtaking conclusion in this epilogue novella…

Since their forbidden beginning, Erin and Blake’s relationship has been marked by deep sensuality and intense emotion. Each challenge only makes them stronger, and Blake is ready to take his new fiancee to meet his family.

Home holds secrets for them both. A dark legacy threatens everything they’ve worked to build. When old debt comes between them, both Blake and Erin must fight to protect each other–and their love.

Books in the Beauty series:
1. Beauty Touched the Beast
2. Beneath the Beauty
3. Broken Beauty
4. Beauty Becomes You

And now the sexy ever after… Loving the Beast: A Beauty Epilogue

coverThird Debt (Indebted #4) by Pepper Winters, dark erotic romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: “She healed me. She broke me. I set her free. But we are in this together. We will end this together. The rules of this ancient game can’t be broken.” 

Nila Weaver no longer recognises herself. She’s left her lover, her courage, and her promise. Two debts down. Too many to go. 

Jethro Hawk no longer recognises himself. He’s embraced what he always ran from, and now faces punishment far greater than he feared. 

It’s almost time. It’s demanding to be paid. 

The Third Debt will be the ultimate test… 

To Tame the WindTo Tame the Wind (Prequel to Agents of the Crown Trilogy, #1) by Regan Walker, historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Paris 1782… AN INNOCENT IS TAKEN 

All Claire Donet knew was the world inside the convent walls in Saint-Denis. She had no idea her beloved papa was a pirate. But when he seized Simon Powell’s schooner, the English privateer decided to take the one thing his enemy held most dear.… her.
 
A BATTLE IS JOINED
 
The waters between France and England roil with the clashes of Claire’s father and her captor as the last year of the American Revolution rages on the sea, spies lurk in Paris and Claire’s passion for the English captain rises.This is the prequel to the Agents of the Crown trilogy but can be read as a stand alone.

83e80-bride_cover_finalThe Duke’s Bedeviled Bride (Royal Pains #2) by Nina Mason, erotic historical romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: The tawdry tale of the Duke and Duchess of Dunwoody continues…

Maggie Armstrong, the long-lost illegitimate daughter of the heir presumptive to the throne, is bedeviled by her husband’s limited definition of fidelity. After observing him in a ménage à trois at the court of King Charles II, she is determined to bring him around to her way of thinking—by any means necessary. Robert doesn’t mind being punished for his transgressions. Rather,  he enjoys being whipped, especially by his beloved bride. Unfortunately, her heart might not belong to him alone. His younger brother, who he’d sent abroad to clear the way for himself, is coming home sooner than expected, and Maggie’s feelings for Hugh may not be as dead as her husband had hoped.Both duke and duchess soon learn, to their peril, Hugh Armstrong is not the honorable man they’d been led to believe. Insanely jealous of his brother’s situation, Hugh will stop at nothing to strip Robert of all he holds dear—including his life.But the real danger for Robert and Maggie is not the villainous Marquess, but the growing friction betwixt Catholics and Protestants in Restoration Era Great Britain.Can their love survive the trials that await them?

Toy BoyToy Boy by Lily Harlem, erotic cougar romance (reviewed by Tina)

Blurb: Getting something unexpected can be a shock, but it can also be a wonderful treat, if you allow yourself to indulge, that is.

Kay is bubbling with excitement. She’s booked a sailing holiday of a lifetime in Greece with a man she’s fallen for hook, line and sinker. They met on the Internet. She’s from Oxford, he’s from Washington State. She’s a business lecturer, he runs his own successful business.

They’re perfect for each other, and she can’t wait to meet him and spend time in and out of his bed, allowing him to seduce her for real and not just with softly spoken words over the telephone.

But when she arrives in the idyllic port of Fiscardo, she’s in for a shock. There’s a reason Sullivan’s photographs were grainy, and it’s not because he’s sporting a potbelly or balding as she’d suspected. It’s because he’s over a decade younger than her and could rival any Greek god in the looks department. What’s more, his sex appeal and lust for her is off the scale.

Should Kay take what she can with her ‘toy boy’ and have some fun in the sun or hop on the first plane back to England? It’s a tricky decision for a woman who believed she couldn’t be surprised by life anymore.

Werewolves of Shade 5Werewolves of Shade (Beautiful Immortals #5) by Tim O’Rourke, paranormal fantasy (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: From Tim O’Rourke #1 bestselling author of ‘The Kiera Hudson Series’ comes ‘Werewolves of Shade’ a werewolf romance with a twist.

When the entire population of Shade go missing, investigative reporter Mila Watson knows this could be the big break she has been waiting for. Setting off into the mountains to the village of Shade, Mila soon learns that the village isn’t as deserted as she first believed it to be and that creatures lurk in the shades…

‘Werewolves of Shade’ (Part Five)

Note: This ends in a cliff-hanger. Part six will be published within the next few weeks.

For readers 16+

the girl in betweenThe Girl In Between (The Girl In Between #1) by Laekan Zea Kemp, YA/NA+ up paranormal fantasy (reviewed by Caroline)

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. 

Winging ItWinging It (short story) by Christine S. Feldman, comedy/humour, contemporary romance (reviewed by Caroline)

Blurb: Up until now, straitlaced Simon Kirkendale has done an admirable job of keeping his high society mother’s demands for grandbabies at bay, but lately she’s kicked things into high gear. So he isn’t too disappointed to delay her latest matchmaking attempt when a pretty stranger hops into the backseat of his car en route to one of his mother’s dinner parties and tells him to drive. A car-jacking? Nope. More like a bird on the run, but this particular bird happens to be a parrot who has slipped its cage, and Simon’s new acquaintance desperately needs to get it back before she loses sight of it altogether.

Ever the nice guy—and okay, maybe also a little intrigued by the colorful Miss Juleen Pruitt’s sudden appearance in his car—Simon hits the gas pedal and obliges only to find himself unwittingly dragged into a wild goose chase around town for a bird who seems to be determined to either get itself killed or the two people trying to catch it. Simon’s money is on the latter.

But it turns out that a little disruption and chaos in his life might just be what Simon needs most—especially if it comes in the form of Juleen.

If he can just manage to survive meeting her…

**Double Review** November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries, Books 1 & 2) by Jamie Drew

I LOVED reading books 1 & 2 of The November Lake Mysteries by Jamie Drew. This is a mesmerising mystery series for Young Adults and adults alike. Originally released as a prequel series for Tim O’Rourke‘s Keira Hudson paranormal series, it has been reworked and brought to life some brand new characters in November Lake and Kale Creed, two young police recruits. A step in a different direction for O’Rourke away from the paranormal and into the mystery and crime.

And what’s more, Book 1 (ebook) is currently FREE on Amazon!!!

November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries) Book 1Title: November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries #1)

Author: Jamie Drew

Genre: Mystery, YA, crime

Release date: November 23, 2014

Length: 150 pages

Blurb: When 18-year-old police recruit, November Lake, joins training college, her curiosity and desire to solve mysteries soon has her investigating a series of creepy and chilling crimes.

With the help of her friend and colleague, Kale Creed, November is soon caught up in a dark world of strange and inexplicable mysteries, each with a deadly twist.

Three novella length mysteries in one book:

The Dead Girl In The Room

The Kidnapping at Blackwater Farm

The Menacing Stranger

REVIEW *****

Originally a Young Adult mystery prequel series belonging to Tim O’Rourke‘s Keira Hudson paranormal series, November Lake: Teenage Detective was reworked and released under the pen name Jamie Drew. Taking a step away from the paranormal, and into the mystery and crime genre, November Lake: Teenage Detective follows a young police recruit, November, as she solves mysteries, seeing things much quicker than most – working out how a crime has been committed and being able to explain why it must have been a specific person who carried it out.

November is a very likeable character with a great deal of intelligence and wit. She is very quick off the mark, being able to take in her surroundings at the same time as holding a conversation and weighing up possibilities in her head. By piecing her puzzles together and seeing much further than most in such a short amount of time she manages to solve many mysteries. However, this does come at a price where she acts upon her findings immediately and places herself in danger in order to finish her work and prove her findings.

I love how each story is a separate mystery for November, however the book as a whole is continuous and follows November through Police Training School and preparing for her exams. In this first instalment we are treated to three fantastic stories from November finding a colleague’s dead body (The Dead Girl in the Room) to a kidnapping (The Kidnapping at Blackwater Farm), and then the mystery of a ‘disgusting creature of a man’ coming to search for his dog in The Menacing Stranger.

Each story has November teaming up with fellow officer, Kale Creed, and shows the early signs of a great partnership between them. There are also signs of a deep friendship brewing as they spend time away from work to study for their exams. They stick together really well at all times, and I love the way they bounce off each other with their thoughts and humour.

With some nice twists throughout you will find that during many scenes not all is as it seems. During the second story, the kidnapping, Lake and Creed feel they have no option but to intervene which winds them in a great deal of trouble and danger. After being driven off a country road and seeing the car that raced passed also lose control they begin to check the area and try to call for assistance.

“The trail soon petered out or became invisible amongst the wild thorny shrubs and bushes that covered the slate walls on either side of the country road. The fog was still dense and surrounded us like smoky cloud. It muffled any sound, drowning our world in silence. The whole effect was disorientating, and it wasn’t long before I had lost all sense of direction. I rummaged through my coat pocket for my phone… I plucked my phone from my pocket. There was no signal.

“I haven’t got a signal either,” Kale said, standing beside me, phone in hand.”

Whilst the third short story is probably the most eeriest of the three. Again, not all meets the eye but the whole book creates so much mystery and curiosity for the reader you simply can’t put the book down until you have all of the answers.

I can’t remember reading this much mystery packed into short stories. The author certainly has a way of telling them, making them believable and so full of life. After reading this first instalment I had no hesitation to read the second. I’ll definitely be reading more from this series!

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries) Book 2Title: November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries #2)

Author: Jamie Drew

Genre: Mystery, YA, crime

Release date: November 23, 2014

Length: 231 pages

Blurb: When police recruits November Lake and Kale Creed are ordered to stay away from each other by Sergeant Black, they can’t help but be drawn back together again.

Working side by side, November and Kale solve four more grisly and chilling mysteries. The first deals with deceit, the second betrayal, the third revenge and the fourth the greatest mystery of all – love.

Four novella length mysteries in one book:

The Reappearing Knife

The Death at Hook Inn

Splitfoot & The Dead Girl

The Mystery of November Lake & Kale Creed

REVIEW *****

The tales of November Lake and Kale Creed continue in book two, separated into four fantastic mysteries. Police trainees, Lake and Creed, are running before they can walk in the eyes of their Sergeant, Sgt. Black. Although they have cracked three great mysteries together in The November Lake Mysteries #1, their Sergeant can see the danger they are drawing themselves into, as well as not always following police procedure and waiting for assistance.

Therefore, at his request Lake and Creed are to spend some time apart whilst away from work for a week. The only trouble is, they have slowly begun to develop some feelings for each other that may be a little too much for them to be apart. In truth, neither one has ever felt lonelier. But, their jobs are on the line if they disobey orders, and so they need to fill their time with something more constructive.

November needs to distance herself. She can’t risk annoying Sgt. Black and losing her job. She wants to be a properly trained copper in order for her to later find her father’s killer. She knows there’s no chance she will ever get a chance if she messes up. Therefore, she goes to visit her father’s grave 20 miles away. Although trouble is never too far away from her… Lucky for her Kale is so lost without her he tries to find her when she doesn’t respond to any of his messages. But will he reach her in the nick of time?

After noticing Lake at her father’s grave, Father Rochdale approaches and begins to converse with her. Finding out that she is alone, on a break from work and a police officer in the making, he invites her to stay and investigate the strange happenings of a butcher’s knife being left outside his bedroom door. But not all is as it appears as the twists will show, and The Reappearing Knife will leave you more than a little petrified!

Not ready to go home Lake then stays at the nearby inn, The Hook Inn, where not before too long a murder is found to have taken place. Not ready to call for assistance for fear of Sgt. Black finding her name involved Lake takes it upon herself to find out how it took place and by whom.

With the heat of the drama and need to get away, Lake and Creed drive up to his parents house to keep away from any possible action. However, what is meant to be a fun night at a séance for Kale to see how November could prove the psychic a cheat (just between themselves), it turns into yet another murder right before their eyes. But in the dark, barely candlelit room nothing can be seen for certain!

As well as the eeriness and mystery in Splitfoot & the Dead Girl, there was also a small amount of humour. Not only was Kale sceptical of the psychic and the whole meaning of the séance, but when they are all sat around the table in the darkened room, with nothing but the faint glow of the candlelight, he likens the face of the psychic to that of a pumpkin!

“I guessed the darkness added to the whole illusion and gave camouflage to the trickery that was about to take place. I looked at November, who was staring up the table at the psychic. The light from the solitary candle before Splitfoot lit up his face in a gold and orange glow. It was Halloween all right, and he was the pumpkin.”

I love how each separate short story follows on from the story of November and Kale, and also how it can be read in chronological order , following the early career life of November Lake. The November Lake Mysteries #2 is written from both points of view, November and Kale, making a very interesting read with how the characters’ feelings towards each other are changing and the reasons they think that the other has for behaving in a certain manner.

The style of the writing is fascinating and reader’s will be gripped, wanting to keep on reading. Both November and Kale are easily likeable characters, even moreso in this second book of the series as the reader knows them so much more and can easily see how these two have grown closer. They are both lonely, without or away from family, working together and living to solve mysteries. The author has shown a beautiful build-up of emotion between the two which I suspect will grow ever stronger in the subsequent books of the series.

Copies of November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries #1 & #2) were provided by the author in return for honest and fair reviews.

November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries #1) by Jamie Drew Kindle ebook is currently FREE at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

November Lake: Teenage Detective (The November Lake Mysteries #2) by Jamie Drew Kindle ebook is currently 99p/99c at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Please note that prices are subject to change.

The third instalment of The November Lake Mysteries is set for release on June 26th, 2015, and is available for preorder.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker