*DOUBLE REVIEW* ~ The General’s Daughter and Stolen Melody (Snow and Ash books 1 and 2), by Heather Knight

#postapocalyptic #romance #darkromance #erotic, #romanticsuspense

Adult/18+ Read

Must read series for dark romance fans!

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of dark romance. I also love post-apocalyptic novels, so when I came across the Snow and Ash series by Heather Knight I was positively salivating. I pre-ordered the first book, The General’s Daughter and read it in one sitting, after which I downloaded book #2, Stolen Melody and feasted on that too. After a difficult week with one thing and another, escaping into the harsh, brutal world the author paints, complete with alpha males, mind blowing sex and suspenseful plots was just the tonic I needed! I will be downloading book #3 in the series, The Other Brother, as soon as it is available.

Each book pairs a swoonworthy anti-hero with a heroine who is broken/damaged. The sex scenes sometimes push the boundaries of consent –  remember it’s a dark romance. The author paints an excellent picture of the post-apocalyptic world which remains after the Yellowstone volcano goes off, destroying much of civilisation and the population and leaving the world in a perpetual winter. Only the strong and/or the very fortunate survive. Women are very much a commodity, controlled by various militaristic male led factions, who vie for control and survival, whilst out in the wilderness many have turned to cannibalism…

My Reviews

The General’s Daughter (Snow and Ash #1)

HKEighteen year-old Ilsa’s father, General Balenchuk, is one of the few men with balls enough to build a tiny island of civilization after a global catastrophe sends humanity to near extinction. He runs Bluefield Mountain with an iron fist, and he’s even more controlling when it comes to his daughter. Ilsa’s been dead inside for years—that is, until the person who hates her most takes her hostage.

When twenty-two year-old Talon Heinesman kidnaps Ilsa Balenchuk, it’s not just because the leader of a rival territory ordered him to capture the general’s daughter. Four years ago, her selfishness set into motion a series of events that resulted in his mother’s and sister’s murders. He’s buried his rage for four years, and now it’s time to mete out the punishment she deserves.

Their story sets Ilsa and Talon on a steamy, turbulent path full of danger, incendiary passion, and a bond so deep it could kill.

This romantic suspense novel contains dark, mature situations and sensitive subject matter, and contains triggers some readers may find discomforting. It is a work of fiction and is intended for adult readers.

My Review ~  Five deliciously dark stars *****

The General’s Daughter, an extremely hot and sexy read, is a tale of revenge and redemption but also absolution.  In it Isla, the daughter of a brutal General,  is kidnapped by a man working for a rival leader. Her kidnapper is none other than Talon, a man whose family she unwittingly destroyed. Talon is hungry for revenge  and jumped at the chance to get his hands on this selfish and spoiled woman. Yet can he hand her over to his boss before he has exacted his revenge? Indeed, does he want to? Would he rather see her suffer at his hands rather than those of another?

Isla’s captivity is brutal and she despairs of surviving it. As she gets to know Talon their relationship develops and they learn much about their respective roles that led to their shared tragic past and its repercussions. There are a number of hightly charged scenes. It becomes clear that Isla is not the woman Talon believed her to be yet nevertheless she was responsible for the deaths of those he held dear. Over time Talon, a man who both despises and desires her, becomes Isla’s only hope for survival.

Isla and Talon are fantastic characters. Both have tragic backstories and have contributed to each others pain. Can they forgive each other and even themselves before it is too late? Their relationship is both sizzling and conflicted and I loved it! Talon struggles to fight his attraction to his captive, a woman whom he should despise. Whilst his words are often cruel, his actions are not always so and Isla comes to depend on him for her survival.

Isla has had led an awful past, controlled by a father she hates and recognises that she is in a situation where she may not survive. I enjoyed how the author developed her character and how she stepped  up to the challenge of facing both Talon and her demons. She is a strong woman but even I doubted how she would withstand the events that came her way as the plot developed. Is her future wth Talon, a man who despises her? Is she better off with her controlling father? Will Talon hand her over to his boss, which would herald her death or has he something else entirely planned for her? Either way she appears to be screwed. The stakes are high and the sex is hot!

A recommended read for dark romance fans!

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Stolen Melody (Snow and Ash #2)

The rest of the world knew her as Melody, the beautiful young siren who rose to the top of the music scene just before a HK1volcano blew and wiped out most of civilization. For the past three years, nineteen year-old “Imogen” has been living under the protection of a small town pastor, and no one else in this increasingly righteous parish knows her infamous history. The whole The rest of the world knew her as Melody, the beautiful young siren who rose to the top of the music scene just before a volcano blew and wiped out most of civilization. For the past three years, nineteen year-old “Imogen” has been living under the protection of a small town pastor, and no one else in this increasingly righteous parish knows her infamous history. The whole persona of Melody was a corporate fabrication, and Imogen would like to forget that part of her past.

Ex-felon Axel Diehl is scouting ahead for a well-organized gang when he spots his fantasy girl. There’s no mistaking the small scar on her hand, those full lips, or that kick-ass figure. It’s too good to be true, and when the gang takes control of Sadie’s Bend he publicly claims Melody for his own.

Can sweet Imogen become the sexy Melody of Axel’s dreams? Can Axel give his poster girl the love she craves? Or will the violence of this new, post-apocalyptic world tear them apart?

This dark romance novel contains mature situations and sensitive subject matter, and contains triggers some readers may find discomforting. It is a work of fiction and is intended for adult readers.

My Review ~ Fast paced and sizzling! ~ Five stars *****

I loved both the premise and the execution of Stolen Melody. It has a very different plot and feel to The General’s Daughter in that it contains more characters and further explores the landscape and society of the post apocalyptic world in which it is set. It pairs an ex-felon Axel with Imogen, a young woman who, prior to the apocalypse, was a young music star at the top of her career. As Melody she was the proverbial wet dream, with her raunchy stage show and persona, an image that was far from the truth of Imogen the girl. Imogen’s refuge in a restrictive small town religious community comes to an abrupt end when she is claimed by Axel, who recognises her, the girl from his fantasies.

Axel’s character is dark and alpha to the core, taking what he wants and defending it to the hilt.  He starts off as a violent, controlling and unlikable character, but we soon find out that he had an appalling childhood, learning that to survive he must be stronger, tougher and meaner than the rest. Melody is a prize that he will not share and he is intent on enjoying her and not afraid of punishing her if she transgresses.  Indeed, he is a very bad boy and once again the plot contains some dubious consent and some hot scenes!  Obsessed with the image he lusted after he is surprised when the real woman reveals herself. How can the couple possibly find any common ground?

Imogen is at first terrified of Axel, yet she realises that he is her only protection against others who covet her. She also lives in fear of her old identity becoming common knowledge. Surprised and afraid of the emotions that Axel’s rough love stirs up in her, should she escape if given the chance or should she stay? Also how can they survive the violence that is closing in around them as different leaders vie for dominance?

The novel reveals more of the post apocalyptic world, a world of violence, cannibals, and survival of the fittest. It also introduces us to the hero of The Other Brother, book #3, whose story I am very eager to read.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Purchase Links

Amazon UK  Amazon US

Connect with the Author

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/352997.Heather_Knight?from_search=true&search_version=service

 

 

Wolfkeeper’s Woman, by Lisa Day

9196442[1]A Compelling and Emotional Romance!

I was blown away by the emotional intensity of this unorthodox romance between sworn enemies, a Native American warrior, Wolfkeeper and an American homesteader Cassie. I devoured the book in a day as I was so captivated by it!

In Wolfkeeper’s Woman, Cassie, who has recently given birth, finds her home attacked by Indians. Her husband is killed and Cassie finds herself captive of one of the men instrumental in his murder, a powerful and terrifying warrior, Wolfkeeper.  Wolfkeeper gifts Cassie’s son to his brother and sister-in-law, who have already lost three pregnancies, which naturally leaves Cassie devastated. Cassie is referred to as The Ghostwoman by the tribe, shunned by many and is not allowed to communicate with her son. There are some truly heartbreaking scenes as Cassie’s son is taken from her and what occurs whenever their paths do cross. Wolfkeeper assumes the role as Cassie’s protector, ensuring that she obeys his command to keep away from her son, whom he tells her is now dead to her, and that she strives to assimilate into the ways of his people.

Cassie has little choice but to cooperate if she is to have any chance of escaping with her son. She despises Wolfkeeper for what he has done to her and her family. However, she is forced to rely upon him for protection, guidance  and at times comfort in this strange new world, where she does not even speak the language and is ignorant of its complex customs, which are so different to those of the white man.

Wolfkeeper demands total compliance from Cassie, who finds herself carrying out daily tasks for him and having to permit his touches, which increase in intensity, becoming more and more sexual. Although their relationship is not immediately fully consummated, Wolfkeeper demands dominion over Cassie’s body to bind her to him, in a number of sensual scenes, and she is powerless to resist, knowing that no one will come to her aid. She permits his caresses at first because she is fearful of the consequences of refusal and then because she enjoys them, even while she despises him. Yet how can she permit her body to betray her when he has committed the sins of killing her husband and taking away her child? Can she possibly let him into her heart or even forgive him?

Wolfkeeper at first regards Cassie purely as the enemy and treats her harshly. However, he comes to respect her inner strength. He is pleased when she does begin to assimilate into the life of his people. Cassie begins to penetrate Wolfkeeper’s heart and he decides that he wants to make her his. He is a wise and patient man and knows that he must bide his time if he is to win her. However, the issue of her son is always between them. Will Cassie accept that her son is lost to her forever and embrace Wolfkeeper and the ways of the tribe or will she reject them and escape at the first opportunity?   There are many twists to the tale as Cassie and Wolfkeeper both struggle with the feelings that they develop for each other and I was hooked from start to finish!

Cassie is a great heroine, showing great strength of character for one who has suffered so much. She has been given few choices in her life, being very much a victim of circumstance. However, she responds with courage and dignity. I found the growing respect, trust and affection between the couple a beautiful and touching love story, surprising given the circumstances of their relationship.

There are a number of supporting characters in the novel, some of them native American Indians and some of them other white settlers. One of my favourite characters, apart from the main couple was Wolfkeeper’s grandmother. I also liked the character of Becky, the widow of Todd, the friend of Cassie’s husband, who also lost his life in the Indian attack on Cassie’s home. The author weaves her story throughout the main narrative and I found it to be a touching one. I was also fascinated by the customs of the Native Americans and how they differed from those of the white man.

I recommend this novel to readers of western historical romance, especially those who like an emotional and sensual read. It will particularly appeal to those who like to examine forgiveness and acceptance and how individuals from different cultures can come together. The author Lisa Day has a true gift for original storytelling and I have already downloaded her latest novel, Love and Betrayal on the Santa Fe, also set in the American frontier, to read very soon.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

http://lisaday.weebly.com/

Heart of Obsidian, Psy-Changeling Series, #12, by Nalini Singh

uk%20heart%20of%20obsidian%20small%20with%20shadow[1]Dark, Dangerous and oh SO Seductive!

I ADORE this book! Heart of Obsidian was for me and other Nalini Singh fans one of THE most anticipated books of 2013 and it more than lived up to my expectations. The novel, #12 in the author’s fantastic Psy-Changeling series has a dark and seductive hero, ex Councilor Kaleb Krychek. I am a huge fan of Nalini Singh’s heroes, but she has reached new heights with Kaleb, the anti-hero of this novel. Kaleb is dark, tortured and deadly, the most powerful Psy on the planet, with awesome psychic powers, even for his race. Indeed he has telekinetic powers so great that he could penetrate the Earth’s crust, has the ability to induce madness into the minds of his victims and can teleport at will. I strongly recommend that you read this series in order to fully appreciate it.

Kaleb has the potential to be the destroyer or the saviour of the Psy race and the rest of the world inhabited by the Changelings and the humans. He is also a seemingly ruthless killer who lets no one stand in the way of his lust for power, destroying those in his path. Yet he will do anything to find the one person who was cruelly taken away from him seven years ago and atone for his role in her abduction and disappearance. I also cannot resist a man who can literally make the earth move when making love and who is a virgin hero who states that he has “researched sexual intimacy the same way as I research everything else. Methodically and in intricate detail.”

Readers have witnessed Kaleb’s rise to power in previous novels in the series and wondered whether he is on the side of good or evil, or somewhere in between….. In Heart of Obsidian the truth is out. We also learn of the identity of the mysterious and elusive Ghost, whose meetings with the Psy Judd Laurens, who has dropped out of the Psy Net and defected to the SnowDancer changeling wolf pack and the human Father Xavier has featured in previous instalments. Kaleb’s destiny is inextricably linked to this shadowy figure.

Sahara Kyriakus, of the Clan Nightstar, who has the power of back sight, has been held captive for the last seven years, her captor ruthlessly trying to exploit a formidable second power that she also possesses for their own evil intent. Sahara has resisted this at great cost to herself, retreating deep into her mind and creating a protective labyrinth. When we first meet her she has been rescued by Kaleb, only to be imprisoned by him in his home, unaware of the part he has played in her life. Although Sahara is wary of Kaleb, fearing that he too wishes to exploit her power she cannot resist the attraction she has for him. The fate of the Psy Net and the world rests on how Sahara will react when her memories return and recalls the role that Kaleb played in her past.

Both Kaleb and Sahara have tortured pasts. The abuse they have been subjected to is truly horrific and yet I love how they come together. Kaleb has the reputation of being as cold and calculating a they come, a wholly Silent and emotionless individual, with a dark past. Yet Sahara has the key to his heart. It is only with her that he is open to compromise. I adored how possessive Kaleb is when it comes to Sahara, reminding her often that she is his and belongs to him alone. Yet Sahara is no shrinking violet and has an inner strength. Indeed, I loved how this woman. Initially so broken and vulnerable regained her physical and mental strength after years of abuse and asserted herself.

Much of the novel focuses on the relationship between Kaleb and Sahara, with the main backdrop the continued disintegration of the Psy Net and the actions taken by Pure Psy. We also encounter ex Councilors Tatiana, Ming, Anthony and Nikita, and the Arrows Aden and Vasic and some scenes take place in San Francisco and the home of the DarkRiver Leopards. The past actions of Santano Enrique, who we met earlier in the series also plays a part.

As usual Nalini Singh’s plot and character development and descriptive powers are superb.  I am hoping that there will be a good few novels left in the series yet. The book contains some fantastically erotic lovemaking scenes, which are always a big plus for me! It brings new meaning to the meeting of minds as well as bodies, when Sahara’s merest touch can cause both Kaleb’s shields and the very Earth to fracture!

I recommend this book to fans of Nalini Singh and those who like to read paranormal romance or romance with a Futuristic/Sci-Fi theme, with a plot which keeps you at the height of suspense throughout.

Reviewed by Tina 🙂

www.orionbooks.co.uk

www.nalinisingh.com

www.gollancz.co.uk

 

The Genie Ignites, Book One of the Zubis Chronicles, by Kellyann Zuzulo

genieignites_full-17942442_std[1]-001Passionate and Magical Romance

After reading this tale I will never look at copper lamps or think of genies in the same way again! The Genie Ignites is a passionate and magical romance with an intricate plot. In it, a young American woman is recruited by a secret society to help it eradicate all genies. In doing so she is reunited with her lover, a three thousand year old genie she betrayed in a past incarnation she is unaware of.

American editor, Bethany O’Brien, has been beset by disconcerting dreams of a dark and handsome man. Whilst attending a reception at the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia, she is stunned to meet the very man she has dreamt about, a man she has never met, but whom she finds strangely familiar. The man is Zubis, counsellor to the Saudi Arabian king.

Later that evening, Seth Nasser, her liaison at the embassy, reveals to her the existence of the Jinn and the Veil of Thoth, an ancient order committed to controling the Jinn and keeping them from overrunning the world. Seth informs Bethany that she is the reincarnation of the high priestess Lina, murdered by one of the three genies who served King Solomon, the high priest she was apprenticed to.

As a malachi, a human killed by a genie in a previous incarnation, Bethany cannot be harmed by that genie and is the only person who can destroy it. She is therefore valuable to the Veil of Thoth and Seth wants her to travel to the Middle East to help the society. Although sceptical, some of the things Bethany hears sound strangely familiar, and as a committed journalist, she resolves to go to the Middle East to investigate a strange copper vessel that has been discovered and also Seth’s story.

There are many other players in this game however and Bethany finds that she has to flee the US and travel across Europe to the Middle East with Derek Martin, a photojournalist, with others in hot pursuit, including a second genie called Borzal. There is also Prince Faisal, who covets the throne, who only has his own interests at heart, which involve Zubis. Neither the reader nor Bethany know who to trust and the remainder of the plot involves murder, betrayal, deceit and some hot lovemaking scenes, which incorporate a little genie magic!

Zubis, the handsome genie, should despise Bethany for her betrayal in her previous life, but he cannot as he is deeply in love with her. Advisor to the royal family, he has already granted two of the three wishes due. On the granting of the third he will be free and this, combined with the power of his connection to Bethany, will enable him to open the gates to Jinnistan, where he wants her to return with him. He knows that once Bethany regains her memories it will be her decisions which govern whether he lives or remains free. King Jul is adamant that it will not be him who unleashes the power of the Jinn and will not make the third wish. Instead he keeps Zubis trapped in his palace.

Bethany is sassy, confident and self-assured, more than a match for an autocratic genie. When she meets Zubis and recognises him as the man from her dreams, she senses that she knows him. As she approaches the palace, her bond strengthens and her memories of him and the ancient betrayal slowly resurface, as Zubis visits her in a series of dreams and visions. One particular lovemaking scene where Zubis uses his ability of transmorphic migration is extremely memorable! I shall now be forever rubbing copper lamps to conjure up my very own genie!

The author weaves a complex plot whilst developing and maintaining a hot romance. She has clearly done a great deal of research into the mythology of the Jinn and the customs, history and politics of the Middle East. I liked the way she spins her tale and her world building is excellent. We feel for the heroine throughout and swiftly come to adore Zubis and hope that the couple will find their HEA this time round. I recommend this book to readers of paranormal romance and also those who enjoy romantic suspense with a paranormal twist. The romance between Bethany and Zubis is continued in The Genie Smolders, which is due for release this spring.

This book was given to me by the author, for the purpose of an honest review.

Boroughs Publishing Group Website

Kellyann Zuzulo Website

The Key to Helmbrooke. For the Love of Isabelle. By Jayn Wilde

41JsSzD0w2L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-074Sweet Fantasy Romance

The Key to Helmbrooke. For the Love of Isabelle by Jayn Wilde is her first published work. It contains an evil queen, a young maiden and a man intent on committing one final foul deed before he starts a new life. It is a short story of circa 82 pages.

Isabelle’s mother died a year previously and on the anniversary of her death her father is kidnapped and spirited away by the queen’s men, as he refuses to give them a special key they are seeking. Isabelle leaves her fiancée behind and sets out from her village, alone and on foot to find him, heading to the palace of Helmbrooke, home to the queen. Isabelle is a young woman with a free spirit and craves adventure.

Queen Tristana, feared by all, tasks Zander, a skilled tracker and hunter, with finding Isabelle. She instructs him to earn Isabelle’s’s trust, take the key from her and return it to the palace, leaving her to die in the forest. Zander, a tortured hero, is not proud of his past and decides that this will be his last job for the queen, before takes the gold he is due and uses it to fund a more reputable future.

Isabelle loses her way and by chance comes across Zander, who points her in the right direction. Zander is intrigued by Isabelle and follows her as he is curious as to why anyone would voluntarily seek the palace. Isabelle employs him to escort her there and it is not long before Zander realises that she is the woman he needs to deceive and abandon in the forest. However, the more he gets to know her, the less he desires to do this.The remainder of the plot includes capture, incarceration, magic and a sword wielding queen. We learn what happened to Isabelle’s mother, why the key is so important to the queen and whether Zander and Isabelle have a future together.

The book is a sweet romance. Isabelle and Zander are attracted to each other almost immediately, although Zander tries to fight this because of his orders and as such Isabelle thinks that he does not care for her. However, in the course of their journey to the palace we are given many examples of how their attraction grows and how they come to develop feelings for each other. I particularly liked the two scenes which took place at the waterfall – the descriptions were very vivid and they made me smile. I also enjoyed the humorous banter between Zander and Isabelle, which formed part of their courtship.

Overall it is a heart warming romantic tale. I could imagine it being told by the fireside to young and old alike. I liked the plot and thought that the pacing of the story was excellent. I would have liked a little more back story about the two main characters, but this would have been difficult due to the length of the book. I would certainly read another book by the author and recommend it to all lovers of a sweet romance.

Author Jayn Wilde’s Blog

The Angel’s Assassin, by Samantha Holt

assassin%20(1).jpg.opt134x203o0,0s134x203[1]The Redemptive Power of Love

In this medieval romance penned by Samantha Holt, a dark knight finds redemption through the power of love, in a romantic tale that I found had an almost fable like quality.

In The Angel’s Assassin, Nicholas, a hardened mercenary knight, is employed by Lord Benedict. He is tasked with taking his niece Annabel, under the pretext of protecting her from rebels, from her home at Castle Alderweald, and return her to Benedict’s abode. Once there, he is to guard her until he receives word from his employer to return her to Alderweald, ensuring that she then meets with a fatal accident. In the intervening time Lord Benedict will persuade the king, Williams Rufus, that Annabel is a traitor, thus paving the way for him to inherit Alderweald, without suspicion falling on him. Nicholas has not killed a woman before, but accepts the task. When he reaches Alderweald Castle it is already under siege from the rebels. Nicholas therefore easily persuades the terrified young woman that he has been sent by her uncle to bring her to safety, and they escape on foot into the adjacent forest.

Nicholas has never met a woman like Annabel, whom he finds angelic, almost fey like in her appearance and he fights his attraction knowing what he must do. Annabel in turn is grateful to her rescuer, seeing him as a brave and honourable man. Forced into close proximity a strong attraction develops into something far deeper. Yet will Nicholas fulfil his contract? What will Annabel do if she finds out his real motives for rescuing her? Annabel’s evil uncle will go to any ends necessary to claim Alderweald, even if Nicholas decides to leave his contract unfulfilled. The remaining plot contains some sweet and hot love making scenes, deceit, violence, betrayal and redemption.

Nicholas, a lonely man, has accumulated wealth due to his misdeeds but he sees no joy in life until Annabel. He is awed by her blind trust in him as her saviour, but also her kindness and intelligence. I loved the way she seems to mesmerise and bewitch him. Annabel has had no experience of men outside her own family. She is immediately grateful to her mysterious and taciturn rescuer and little by little she breaches his defences, finding out as much as she can about him. She knows that he is not unaffected by her presence and finds him equally attractive.

I found the tale to be a sweet romance with likeable central characters. I love a dark hero and was praying for his redemption and a HEA throughout. Much of the plot centred on the couples’ growing attraction towards each other, the conflict coming from Nicholas’ own feelings of self loathing and from the machinations of Lord Benedict. I found that Annabel was not your typical Medieval heroine, as she succumbed to the physical side of their relationship more easily than perhaps a lady would have done at the time. However, she is portrayed as a character who knows her own mind and I think that any woman faced with a hero such as Nicholas would have acted the same way! I enjoy Samantha Holt’s writing style, which enables the reader to get into the head of her characters and transports them into another time and place. If you like medieval romances I can also recommend her novel A Crimson Castle.

Author Samantha Holt’s website

Book Review of The Fall of the Misanthrope. I bitch, therefore I am, by Louise Wise

The Fall of the Misanthrope_Cover_KINDLE[1]Romancing the Dark Side of Chick-Lit

I read Louise Wise’s sci-fi romance Eden, last year and really liked her voice. I was intrigued by the title of her more recent publication, The Fall of the Misanthrope. I bitch, therefore I am, especially with its billing as a ‘dark chick-lit!’ Misanthrope is a deeply romantic and insightful tale, which deals with difficult issues and the healing power of love. It is also very humorous and made me laugh out loud on more than one occasion!

In the novel,Valerie Anthrope (Miss Anthrope – I loved the pun) is a young woman who runs a financial brokerage. Valerie is not only serious minded and hard working but, she can also be a bit of a bitch. She lives alone and keeps herself to herself, concluding that it is best not to care for anyone. There nevertheless resides within her a deep sadness and vulnerability.

In steps Ellen Semple, a missionary worker returned from abroad, who, in true ‘fairy godmother’ form resolves to make Valerie her next ‘project. Ellen senses something is not quite right with Valerie and does her best to bring light into her darkness. She secures part-time employment in Valerie’s small office. Then, believing that Valerie’s outlook is due to financial difficulties, she persuades her nephew Lex Kendal, a successful businessman, to put a large contract her way. When she sees that Lex is intrigued by Valerie, she warns him off her, believing that Valerie is too fragile to handle Lex’s ‘love’em and leave ‘em philosophy.’ Yet Lex does not take no for an answer, and Valerie falls for him. When she discovers that he is Ellen’s nephew, a fact that they deliberately hid from her, she feels deceived, let down and deeply wounded. To protect herself from future hurt she dumps Lex, almost as soon as their affair has begun.

Yet it is too late, Valerie’s armour has begun to crack and she starts to unravel and descend into depression, the dark dreams she has been having since childhood intensifying. It is from this moment that the  novel, much of which has been light hearted, becomes darker, yet humour still abounds. I am glad to say that the tale did reach a satisfying conclusion. The prologue and the epilogue also contain an unexpected twist and make the reader question both fate and free will.

Valerie is  complex, early childhood events having shaped her into the woman she is. Indeed, she is  ‘stuck’ in the past and needs to let go. The hard face she presents is very much a façade to protect herself from future hurt and loss. The circumstances surrounding Lex’s and Ellen’s deceit unlock her emotions, giving her a chance to face them and heal herself.

Lex, a divorced single parent is a loveable rogue. He is attracted to Valerie and decides to make her one of his many conquests. He has never really grown up. However, Lex becomes smitten with Valerie, who is so unlike his usual women and her prickly nature is a challenge he wants to win. At first he is not thinking long term, but he soon realises how vulnerable she is and wants to help. He finds that he is very much in love with her. I found their developing relationship believable and touching.

The character of Ellen is pivotal. It is Ellen who decides to turn Valerie’s life around. She starts by making small changes in the office, trying to draw Valerie out in conversations and encouraging her to socialise. Oh, and she also introduces her to Lex! The secondary characters of Tim and Paul, Valerie’s employees are also supportive of her. Tim in particular is also very protective, knowing of her history.

I feel that anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression due to past trauma, or is close to someone who has, will find that this book deals sensitively with the subject. It also illustrates the redeeming power of love. Despite the serious subject matter, Misanthrope is a very funny love story, the humour ranging from light to dark. The author’s descriptions of how Ellen bursts into Valerie’s ‘grey’ world and adds shades of colour to it are hilarious, as is the banter between Valerie and Lex and her reaction to his tried and tested seduction techniques.

Louise Wise is a British author and, like Eden, the novel has a British feel.  I again found her voice fresh and original and I was immediately intrigued by the characters and quickly drawn into the plot – it would make an excellent screenplay with the right cast. I recommend this book to all romance lovers, not just those who enjoy contemporary romance or chick-lit.