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Just a bit unhealthy by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Unhealthy (Straight Guys #3)Just a Bit Unhealthy by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Unhealthy doesn’t even begin to explain it, that’s probably why I didn’t like this one as much as the previous ones. Jared’s love of Gabriel was one thing, but Gabriel’s “love” was just insane. I don’t mind fucked up characters, but this sort of co-dependency doesn’t do it for me. Throw in a girlfriend who I felt sorry for on the one side, but found too stupid for words (who listens to friends who give advice like that?) and the mix is just not my cup of tea.

I can put up with all sorts of lack of realism, but the fact that Gabriel and Jared behaved the way they did and everybody around them still accepted them to be mere friends is not believable at all (I’d rather believe a college professor gives out good grades as payment for blow jobs). I am pretty sure if a football player was seen cuddling with the team’s doctor nonstop, there would be a lot of awkward situations in interviews and headlines in newspapers. In the next book Tristan ponders about Gabriel not caring about what others thought of his relationship with Jared, but as it happens it seems the public thought nothing of it. Well, they should have, considering the environment of the story. Unfortunately the football world is highly homophobic.

Anyway, so far this was the least enjoyable of the books in the series for me.

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Just a bit obsessed by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Obsessed (Straight Guys, #2)Just a Bit Obsessed by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really like the kind of overlap of the books in this series. This one starts with a scene that we know about as we read about the result of it already in Just a bit twisted, when Christian tells Shawn about the threesome he has been invited to.

Both male characters Christian and Alexander were great guys who I really felt with. Alexander was my favourite kind of hero, cool, calm and composed, yet sizzling and burning underneath. And – he was capable of quite a lot of self reflection which I find admirable!

Mila, the initiator of this whole story, I could take or leave. I was completely indifferent to her and to be honest, once those two guys met she was out of the picture. Somebody complained about her being in the relevant story until what, 85%?, but in reality she wasn’t. Those meetings were no threesomes, they were twosomes with a redundant third wheel. She might as well have read a book while the guys got off. If you, like me, dislike women in M/M books, don’t worry about Mila, she is completely negligible. Talk about being careful what you wish for.

Absolutely recommendable, especially if you like OFY stories.

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Irrevocable by Shay Savage

Irrevocable (Evan Arden, #5)Irrevocable by Shay Savage
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am impressed. This was the best book of the series as far as I am concerned.

How any reader can be pissed off at the fact that Evan now has found the perfect woman and has moved on I don’t know. And no, I wasn’t reading this for the mobster angle, even though I found it highly interesting, but actually for the romance part. It seems that people who complain about the so called betrayal of the readership don’t actually care about the characters, they just don’t want to get out of their comfort zone and rethink an already established HEA (or rather HFN), however fragile it is.

It was clear from the start that Lia was not the right person for Evan and I am only glad that she was removed and replaced by someone better. To what purpose was Evan supposed to go after her? It was clear he was not going to change his lifestyle and she wouldn’t put up with that, so is he supposed to go behind her back all the time? Then everybody would have complained about him being a liar and a cheater. He was right when he said she was better off without him. But not because he didn’t deserve her, but because she didn’t accept him as he was but wanted to make him a better man (whatever that is).

Alina is the best heroine ever. Absolutely perfect in every way! Her reaction when Evan told her about what happened after the funeral ist just so right. I have NEVER read another romance where the heroine would have reacted that way even though it was the only right answer in that situation. The “regular” heroine would have cried, left, pouted, been deeply hurt and only after humiliating groveling would have taken him back. Alina was sensible, yet she took no shit and made it clear that these were extenuating circumstances.

I don’t like pets or kids in romance, but Shay Savage even made me like the dog (I didn’t mind the one in Bastian’s Storm either) which is saying something. I had to laugh about Evan’s reaction to Maisie in the house – this must have been the only funny scene in the whole Evan Arden series. Evan doesn’t do humour.

Anyway, I loved this book. Don’t let negative reviews keep you from reading it, unless you are the Annie Wilkes type.

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Just a bit twisted by Alessandra Hazard

Just a Bit Twisted (Straight Guys, #1)Just a Bit Twisted by Alessandra Hazard
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a fun read. The whole story was unrealistic from start to finish, but so what?!

Shawn was a good character, but I loved Rutledge. His unprofessional behaviour was absolutely out of character, but I am a firm believer in suspending disbelief, so I didn’t mind at all. He was an asshole throughout the story and never changed, which was great. His remarks and Shawn’s reaction made for some really good scenes.

So far I always skipped GFY stories, but they seem to have a certain flair. If you don’t mind the lack of realism in a story, you should give this one a go.

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Falling for Matt by James Lee Hard

Falling for Matt: A Second Chance at LoveFalling for Matt: A Second Chance at Love by James Lee Hard
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I can’t tell how sick I am of men not even or slightly over 40 who are constantly whining about their supposedly old age. They are all prematurely grey and moaning nonstop. What’s wrong with those guys?

Next, I seem to be picking books lately with men who have lost their partner recently and have a hard time coping. While I get it in case of a partner who died (but even then I draw a line somewhere after years and years of mourning), I don’t get it when it was a simple break up. People break up all the time and find new parters sooner or later. I don’t really see why someone has to take a year long sabbatical because of his partner cheating and leaving him. This is all the more surprising as Robert is hoping for a tenured position; I would imagine a sabbatical for such a ridiculous reason is not considered a point in his favour.

When Robert got drunk I was about to stop reading because I hate nothing more than drunk people. Had I been Matt this would have put me off for good. Robert almost fell off the chair at one point – is there anything less appealing? Also, you might be as obsessive-compulsive about your own things as you want, but undressing a stranger that you more or less just met before putting him into bed (he passed out from drinking) because you have a problem with street clothes in bed is taking your obsession too far.

All these little things added up for me so that I couldn’t connect with the MCs or feel any interest in their story. I finished the book but it left the feeling that I could have done easily without.

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The Thirteenth Earl by Evelyn Pryce

The Thirteenth EarlThe Thirteenth Earl by Evelyn Pryce
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have never read a romance with a hero less defined than Jonathan. He acted one way, but was described in another. There were hints about his behaviour or his disposition that pointed into a certain direction, but he never actually showed the described state of mind.

Example: According to what was being said to or about him, he must have been almost starving himself. However, at one occasion he raided the breakfast buffet (not intended for him, so it might have been just a one time thing to annoy the others) like there was no tomorrow. Would someone who can’t eat properly because of inner turmoil be able to stuff his face like that?

Another one: It was given the impression he was a pale, skinny guy, never leaving the house and being practically a recluse. But in a love scene later on he was the embodiment of physical male beauty. Large, strong hands and muscles.

I just don’t expect from a socially awkward, shunned individual who thinks he is going mad and evades company whenever possible to act like the superior, sophisticated, witty, sometimes even cheeky, ever so in charge of a situation hero. The few occcasions when he didn’t have everything under control (like the scene with the raven) it felt as if this was just put in in order to establish that he indeed was troubled, and not because it was a real side of him. Somehow the underlying problem of the whole situation was only told, but what was shown was a completely different matter.

That being said, I absolutely adored what was being shown. The relationship between Jonathan and Cassandra was delightful. The way he talked to her was how you talk to a real partner and companion, not just some “petite” that needs rescuing (as so often in romance). They worked together to solve the mystery and his advances were refreshing and original. As a couple they were maybe a bit too forward, especially given the time setting, but I am no stickler for that sort of thing. Cassandra misunderstood a few things (when does that ever stop?), but at least those problems were removed rather quickly and the couple just continued carrying on as before.

I am not sure if the whole madness business was ever resolved properly. The father was a bit of a loose end as far as I was concerned. Was he mad now or not? I never got that. The final solution to the problem, to all problems in fact, was brought about by the women working together in spite of their previous differences which I also found was a nice change to the usual male saving the day.

If you judge the hero solely by his actions he is exemplary as to how a romance hero should be. Honest about his emotions when called for, witty, funny, original, he treats his partner as an equal (not that this is something that should even be neccessary to mention, but it is) – I loved him. Cassandra was an equally pleasing heroine. Not some damsel in distress that needs help getting away from the clutches of her fiancé, but quite self sufficient, down to earth and resolved to help Jonathan out.

I even found a redeeming quality (well, not quite, but I did appreciate it) in Miles who, when catching Jonathan and Cassandra, didn’t even pretend to give a damn about the ruination of his fiancée. As long as she has money what does he care whether she is sullied. He is honest and at least no hypocrite with a double standard. You have to give him that.

This was very enjoyable and entertaining. If you like a slight mystery, a little gothic feel and a solid romance between two likeable characters, go for it.

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Passing through by Jay Northcote

My new Kindle Unlimited makes me go through those books like there’s no tomorrow.

Passing ThroughPassing Through by Jay Northcote
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After The Law of Attraction this was my second book by Jay Northcote. I was still recovering from Broken, so an easy and light read was just what I needed.

This was another story that was quick reading. The story was nothing extraordinarily angsty or complicated. Two guys meet under somewhat stressful circumstances, connect immediately and one of them has to decide if he is ready to change his career driven lifestyle for something more fulfilling. Again, no misunderstandings, no stupid games, no ever so popular bloody demons from the past, just a story about two regular guys. There wasn’t even the lesbian best friend, what a relief! Edwin was a good addition whose story really touched me.

The descriptions of the landscape, ocean, atmosphere made this almost like the gay equivalent of a Rosamunde Pilcher novel (plus the sex, of course). So, if you like fluffiness without a lot to make you ponder this story for days, go for it.

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Where you least expect by Lydia Rowan

Where You Least Expect (Thornehill Springs, #1)Where You Least Expect by Lydia Rowan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This would have been a good story if the heroine hadn’t been such a doormat. A doormat that curses like a pro and continuously gets on her neighbour’s nerves with her teasing behaviour. While I can’t stand heroines who go about as if they were the best thing since sliced bread, I hate heroines even more who go around thinking they have no worth. She was annoying to watch. Isn’t there no middle ground?

Verna and Joe went from a like/hate relationship to a passionate affair filled with lust in a heartbeat. What changed both their mindes? No clue!

I kind of liked Verna’s first reaction to Joe’s abhorrent behaviour. Acting as if it hadn’t happened and going back to being just superficial “friends” (and, of course, she convinces herself that what happened was something ordinary because she didn’t deserve better) isn’t something I could have pulled off but it hit Joe harder than accusations would have done. But then what does she do just a little later? She forgives him his really unspeakable actions because he says he loves her! As if loving someone made up for anything. His half assed apology didn’t cut it at all! But for Verna it turns the day around to be the best day ever. Wow, she is easy to placate. I would have made that bastard grovel until the earth opened up before him, but she’s ok with a “sorry, I know I was an asshole and I shouldn’t have done it”.

Somebody pointed out before me that her list of demands as to what she expects of him in the future is laughable. What she asks of him (and he naturally and readily agrees to because it won’t require any effort) are the most basic, goes without saying, not even worth mentioning things a relationship is made of. The mere fact that she has to ask for them and that he answers “deal” as if this was actually something to make a deal about is proof that this relationship is based on something so wrong that I can’t even find words for it.

All in all, a quick read which left a sort of bad taste because of the unbalanced nature of the final outcome.

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Isolated by Shay Savage

Isolated (Evan Arden, #4)Isolated by Shay Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very short story, basically an intermezzo between two books and an addition to Bastian’s Storm. I already liked Shay Savages style and approach in the previous books, but now I’m enthusiastic.

Not only did she give us the tournament scene from Evan’s point of view – interesting and enlightening at the same time with a revelation that explains a few things -, but she also gave Evan’s story a really good twist. I am aware many readers don’t like that outcome but I find it extremely satisfying. Not because I disliked Lia, but for once we do see what’s happening AFTER the (not so) happily ever after. Problems do not go away just because of love. And they have consequences. This is not nice, not enjoyable, but realistic.

If this was regular romance a continuation wouldn’t be possible. Once the couple gets together the reader loses interest in them. Who wants to know about domestic problems, money worries and infidelity? Btw, I don’t see Evan as cheating on Lia at all. He did what he had to do, so please stop going on about him being unfaithful.
Here the story after the HEA stays just as intriguing, interesting and breathtaking as it was before. I liked that Evan kept his word and took care of Franks and at the same time used it to his own “family’s” advantage. Bastian is right, how devious is that guy?

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The law of attraction by Jay Northcote

The Law of AttractionThe Law of Attraction by Jay Northcote
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

In the very beginning this felt very similar to Broken by Nikola Haken but turned out to be, oh, so different. The premise was exactly the same, quick, supposedly meaningless sex one night, new job, the sex partner turns out to be the new boss. But right there the similarities ended.

Even though Alex had his problems with not being out and not knowing how to come out without losing everything he has worked so hard for, it was not angsty and intense. This was my first book by Jay Northcote, but I have read another one since and it seems she is good at dealing with problems on a low stress level – quite refreshing. The characters always have issues to overcome but not in a way that have you continuously worrying.

I liked both protagonists and how easily and effortlessly the story flowed. The inevitable complications were understandable, there were no silly miscommunications or idiotic misunderstandings, This is a comfort read.

The cover: for once it absolutely worked. The guy is exactly how you could picture Alec. Good choice!

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Equals by Brigham Vaughn

Equals (Equals #1)Equals by Brigham Vaughn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I usually like stories with an age difference, but was disappointed with this one. Russ was unreasonable, stubborn and plain idiotic. For a silly principle he even risked his life, unbelievable! If both he and Stephen had talked a little more none of the problems would have arisen (oh, well, that is a common problem in the romance genre).

Apart from strongly disliking one the protags I just wasn’t feeling it. I forgive a lot as long as I can see the emotional connection between MCs but here there was nothing, I am afraid. Therefore the whole romance turned out to bore me. I wasn’t in the least bit interested in those two guys. In fact, I was more interested in the slob roommate, and that really means something.

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The untamed earl by Valerie Bowman

The Untamed Earl (Playful Brides, #5)The Untamed Earl by Valerie Bowman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Short synopsis: Alex who is in love with Owen pretends to help him woo her shrewish sister in order to win him for herself.

I loved the first half which was funny, witty and totally enjoyable. The second half turned into a generic romance with the usual misunderstandings and overreactions. It felt like I had switched books which I found disappointing. If I could I would give 4 stars / 2 stars, so settled for 3 in the end.

The first half was mostly interaction between Alex and Owen during their “lessons” – him teaching her how to become an accomplished debutante, her teaching him about her sister’s supposed likes and dislikes – and between Alex or Owen and Lavinia. I very much enjoyed this part.

All of a sudden the atmosphere changed. Alex and a few friends plotted to get Owen to acknowledge his feelings for her and unfortunately the usual romance storyline began. When Owen – as a result of the plot – acts rather foolishly at one point Alex got mad and turned away from him. This goes back and forth a bit until eventually they make up. After that their love seems established but Lavinia, a right bitch, throws a spanner in the works, Alex believes the lie and again wants nothing to do with Owen. How about talking to him properly like they did in the beginning instead of jumping to idiotic conclusions?

All these situations in the second half of the book were so unnatural and out of character that I got seriously annoyed and even started skimming pages. There is a sex scene that came unexpected and that was unnecessary, therefore not very enjoyable. Believe me, for me to complain about a love scene it really has to be against the rhythm.

I enjoyed the writing and the initial story idea but the decline into the typical romance behaviour later on eventually ruined the book for me. Pity!

On a sidenote: According to the author this is a re-telling of The Taming of the Shrew, only the shrew being a rogue. I cannot see that at all. Why Owen would be considered a “shrew” is beyond me. The shrew is Lavinia – and she is in desperate need of taming indeed.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Bastian’s Storm by Shay Savage

Bastian's Storm (Surviving Raine, #2)Bastian’s Storm by Shay Savage
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading this is a necessity before continuing the Evan Arden series. I was not disappointed but have to say that my expectations were not met. I had thought that the book would focus more on the tournament and the two guys, but it took until 85% to get there. Everything before is just working up to that moment in a rather slow way.

Evan hates the situation as it is now and I can understand it. He’s not made for that lifestyle and has nothing to do but wallow in misery. Fine for a while but to me all events before the tournament were simply more of the same from Surviving Raine just without the island but with more people and distractions.

What I liked most was the interaction between Sebastian and Evan. I would have preferred to see more of that; the short encounters before the battle and then the tournament itself were not nearly enough for me. Those two as a team, invincible. Bastian, the somewhat more resourceful one, but with less self control and prone to losing it, Evan, calm and composed, great at recon. They should open up business together.

Now I am more than eager to read the next book about Evan. I have questions that need answers…

Shay Savage delivered a good sequel to Surviving Raine, but left her options open. For now everything is fine and dandy, but who knows for how long?

One word about the cover: Is that another one of those where the cover artist hasn’t read the book? Those two guys are nothing like how I picture either man (and seeing the images in GR reviews I am not alone).

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How to tame beasts and other wild things by A. Wilding Wells

How To Tame Beasts And Other Wild ThingsHow To Tame Beasts And Other Wild Things by A. Wilding Wells
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The title of this made me curious and the cover wasn’t too shabby either, so I went for it.

H and h were both good and likeable characters, even though I could have done with a little less focus on his being British. So what if he’s a Brit?! Both stood their ground but didn’t play silly games once it was obvious they were attracted to each other. The conflict around the middle when they have an argument about the boy breaking his wrist was totally believable to me (a novelty, as most conflicts in romance are silly, far-fetched or only exist in the head of one of the characters).

However, there were a few things that were just too much or didn’t make sense.

  • Why send Matilda to find a wife for her brother in law. If the grandfather was so concerned about his grandchildren why not just have an agency screen various nannies and provide a few candidates to choose from? To force the son-in-law to remarry, otherwise he’ll lose the farm, is just a bit too much tyranny.
  • Why did Everit object to Matilda being that wife. He presumably didn’t care for her so what does it matter to him whom she marries. For Balthazar he would have accepted anybody anyway, as it seems. And if he did care for her, wouldn’t he want her to find happiness with the love of her life?
  • The bee stings were just too much. Give me a bloody break!
  • The mother turning up and being welcomed like the prodigal son. You would think that the son has SOME issues to overcome before he can accept her as his mother.
  • The dead fiancé suddenly being alive before he finally dies for good. The nurse lied about Cort being dead. Why? You would assume because she was told to by Cort’s parents who never liked Matilda. So why, oh, why would they call her after all this time to let her know he has awoken from his coma and has been asking for her? They were rid of her and now they ask her to come back? They could have told Cort that she left him and good riddance. That final conflict was contrived to the extreme, made no sense whatsoever and felt as if it was thrown in as a final test to the relationship because everything had been going a bit too smooth until then.
  • The end was a just too perfect. I’m not going into any details, but the fact that really everything and everybody turned out just great was a bit too much of a good thing.

Nevertheless, this was an entertaining read. If you like sweet and crazy stories with a bit of humour and a downright fairytale ending this will be for you.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Archer’s Voice by Mia Sheridan

Archer's VoiceArcher’s Voice by Mia Sheridan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I don’t read too many NA romance, so I have no idea if this fit NA standards. To be honest I would not have classified this as NA at all, it seemed like a “regular” adult book to me. The explicit scenes were done nicely and I liked the overall story.

What I found remarkable was that Archer recognized that he had to leave Bree. In the romance genre personal/emotional/mental issues usually are “overcome” by too simple a solution. Once love is declared and the relationship is established those problems seemingly go away. Well, in real life they don’t, but they return later and bite you in the ass. Archer’s leaving was a refreshing realistic way to handle his problems that I usually miss in romance.

A person owning a town is a very unusual concept for me, but once that is established the rule that the firstborn is the heir to the town makes sense. However, that ANY firstborn can inherit is somewhat unusual. Primogeniture includes legitimate children, not children born out of wedlock. That Archer all of a sudden was the owner of the town came as a surprise which made no sense to me. And frankly, I felt no necessity to validate Archer as a businessman, responsible landlord etc. He was already an accomplished person in his own right.

A good read as I found the conncetion between h and H extraordinary. For me this is always a win.

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Making waves by Vivienne Savage

Making WavesMaking Waves by Vivienne Savage
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After reading Vivienne Savage’s dragon shifter trilogy it was obvious I had to read “Making Waves” that takes place at Teo’s resort. According to All Romance this is part of the Mythological Lovers series, but as far as I could see the series so far consists of this one book.

Shifters seem to be still going strong and I thought that the genre is explored to its nth degree by now, but Vivienne Savage presents us a Hippocampus shifter. At first I thought this was a bit odd as I kept thinking of sea-horses, finding it slightly off putting. However, after some research it turned out Hippocampi are not as cutesy and tiny as I imagined. In fact they look like this (the horse that is, just in case you were wondering).

Hippocampus

Neptun Fountain

 

Anyway, mythological creatures – this is definitely taking it up a notch from the usual wolves and tigers. But apart from that there was nothing extraordinary about the couple. There were some problems coming from various sides but nothing overly worrying, most of the issues got resolved before they became tedious and annoying. People behaved mostly reasonable and the heroine was not the silly kind. There were a few sad moments, but all in all the story left you with a fuzzy feeling – and isn’t this what most readers of this genre are looking for?

I wonder whether more books will follow and what creatures Vivienne Savage could possible come up with. A Minotaur comes to mind, especially as it already has a fitting legend attached to it. Or how about a shifter chimera? Once all the stops are out, anything goes.

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The Romanian Writers Challenge

Romanian Writers ChallengeAlly from Snow Feathers recently started with the first Romanian Writers Challenge. I don’t think I have ever written anything by a Romanian author. As it turns out it’s not so easy to find them translated into German. It seems Romanian writers are only slowly making their appearance in other countries.

Anyway, Ally suggested a few books to start with, among them “The other love stories” by Lucian Dan Teodorovici, a young and upcoming writer according to the German Amazon. God knows whether that is true, for all I know he could be a well established writer, known to everybody in Romania, just we haven’t heard about him (yet). The book doesn’t seem to be available in German unfortunately – too bad, as the title spoke to me. The ONLY book that is available in a translation is called “Dann ist mir die Hand ausgerutscht” (“Then my hand slipped” – meaning: I slapped somebody) with short prose.

However, there are quite a few books out in German by Mircea Cartarescu. There is one in particular “Die schönen Fremden” (“The beautiful strangers”) with three novellas that sound interesting. Amazon gives the original title as “Frumoasele straine”. Ally, have you read that one? I might start with it.

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Scent of Scotland: Lord of Moray #1 by Mac Flynn

Scent of Scotland: Lord of Moray #1 (Lord of Moray, #1)Scent of Scotland: Lord of Moray #1 by Mac Flynn
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

This was a free read from All Romance and the cover looked exceptionally good, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

I think I can say that I am a very forgiving reader. As long as there is chemistry between the characters I accept a lot of crap. But there is really nothing about this story that appealed to me.

What’s wrong with it?

OK, first a short synopsis: Abigail, a very poor seamstress notices a carriage which emanates an enticing scent she can’t resist, follows it and eventually meets her lover/mate/master who fucks her senseless.

* Way too short. Considering that this is obviously the first part of an ongoing project there is way too much stuff packed into 35 pages. Abigail’s miserable life is described, she follows the carriage, gets kidnapped, stays overnight in an inn after an attempt to escape, arrives in Sctoland, meets the laird, has dinner and conversation, ends up in a dungeon, witnesses the transformation of the handsome laird to a horrrible beast and has sex with said beast. All this on 35 pages. Needless to say with all that action going on the characters themselves stay a bit in the dark.

* There is no, and I repeat, no chemistry between Abigail and the laird (I forget his name if it ever was given). Not surprisingly I didn’t feel a thing. There was not nearly enough time to develop any emotional bond between hero and heroine. The reason the sex was so overwhelming, mind blowing and generally awesome was the scent that indicates Abigail is the laird’s mate. You see, she cannot resist the scent.

* Strangely enough she could just five minutes ago. The bloke gives off the scent like there’s no tomorrow and Abigail resists it just fine. Once he turns into a beast with a snout the same scent is just irresistible.

* Sex with the beast. I get the whole shifter thing and have read my fair share of shifter romance. But under normal circumstances (if you can call it that) the sex usually takes place in human shape. Not saying that sometimes afterwards the shifter doesn’t turn into a cuddly wolf and whatnot, but the physical act itself is pretty much always between humans. Sex with a furry animal? Might be out there in shifter romance, but I don’t want to read about it.

* The laird asks her to lock him into a dungeon cell to protect her from the beast. He also warns her. She must not move a muscle or make a sound once he is in beast form, because the beast wants her and once it notices her the laird (who IS the beast) cannot control it any longer. God knows what the beast is going to do to her. About one minute later we know what that is because, well, what can I say, as soon as Abigail sees (and smells) the beast she moves, she screams and then she opens the cell door. And then she has the best sex ever – and I can only repeat, with an animal whose face obligingly transforms into something more human during the act, probably because kissing with a snout is a bit diffcult.

* After that scene the story comes to an abrupt end. From some comments on Goodreads I take it people see it as a cliffhanger, but after this there is really nothing I want to know about Abigail’s story anymore.

* The story needs serious editing. Apart from the odd word that doesn’t fit and needs to be removed there are some orthographic mistakes that I can’t overlook. A bell is not the same as a belle and even though a hansom might be a pretty sight it is certainly not handsome.

I liked the story idea, but the execution was just lacking in every aspect.

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Otherwise occupied by Shay Savage

Otherwise Occupied (Evan Arden, #2)Otherwise Occupied by Shay Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It was only a matter of time before I got to this series. I loved Bastian Stark, so it goes without saying I had to read about Evan Arden, too.

I quite liked “Otherwise alone”, it might have been the intro to a romance series, but it isn’t. So what is this series? Mobster story with sex? Cold blooded killer with issues pines for a girl? I have no clue, but it was definitely gripping. When do you ever sit at the edge of your seat to root for a hit man to finally take out his target? Evan killing the woman who means something to him (whatever that something is)? You take it in stride. Wow! It seems your moral values and general decency fly out the window the minute you start reading.

Amazingly, Evan’s voice is very different from Bastian’s. For some reason I expected a guy who sounded more or less the same as Bastian, but no. It is going to be interesting to see the two men meet later on.

I wonder whether anyone who finishes this book reads “Uncockblockable” next. Can you really read about Nick’s escapades after that ending? Who cares about Nick when Evan is in such a predicament? On to “Otherwise unharmed” instead!

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Embattled Hearts

Embattled Hearts (Lost and Found, #1)Embattled Hearts by J.M. Madden
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

When I read the prequel to the Embattled series “Embattled Roads” I was really looking forward to the first book, but I was disappointed.

Neither the romance, nor the suspense story worked for me 100%.

Romance: I did not connect with the characters at all. There was a point where I thought, now we’re talking, but soon after it went downhill. On John’s part tt was basically whining internally about how useless he was in protecting Shannon and on Shannons part tearing up about whatever. The fact that John went from 100% misanthrope (apart from a few people he did still dislike people in general by the end of the book) to a guy who continuously pulled Shannon on his lap was just not believable. Plus, I consider sitting on someone’s lap neither particularly sexy, nor heartwarming, nor romantic.

Also there were too many kittens. I don’t like pets or children in romance as they are very often used as a sort of catalyst. OK, John strokes kittens like there’s no tomorrow, fine. I’m not impressed. It is no voucher for a person’s loveable nature or good character that they like pets or stroke kittens.

Suspense: I can’t say I am a big fan of stalker stories and don’t read a lot of them. So I can’t judge whether that angle was done particularly well. But the reason to stalk and threaten in the first place was far fetched and preposterous. John and Shannon made the stalking quite easy, too, at least on one occasion. You would think that knowing that there is a stalker around watching you would make sure you close the blinds on your bedroom window, wouldn’t you? The guy with the camera must have had a field day!

I liked the secondary characters, most of all Zeke, and I was looking forward to the second book which is his story. But I am afraid I will have to give it a miss as I have read that there are even more kittens AND a kid in it – and am afraid that will be much too sugary sweet for me to handle.
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Fantasized by you by Steph Nuss

Fantasized by You (Love in the City, #2)Fantasized by You by Steph Nuss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is not the first book in the series, but can be read as a standalone without a problem.

Steph Nuss tackles the romance genre in a different way than most. She clearly is not a friend of the typical misunderstandings, miscommunication and general obtuseness in one way or another with which most heroes and/or heroines are afflicted. What a relief! For that alone she deserves praise.

The heroine was reasonable and not silly at all, the hero is sensible, doesn’t jump to idiotic unfounded conclusions and is just perfect. Who has every heard of such a couple in romance? Other writers should take a leaf out of Steph Nuss’ book, because this approach works just as well, if not better.

The story flowed nicely and there was enough tension in the book (especially the stalker angle had me expecting something to happen any minute), but never in the contrived way at which you just have to roll your eyes. Situations were resolved in a swift manner without the usual silly delay. The story flowed nicely and everything worked out fine.

As far as romance goes, this is definitely one of the best ones I have read.

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I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Hardly a stranger by Heather Boyd

Hardly a Stranger (Hunt Club #3)Hardly a Stranger by Heather Boyd
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This might have been a really good story, but one of the first scenes totally ruined it for me.

When Ambrose got shot and thought he might die, he took the plunge and decided to tell Francis about his feelings despite his fear of rejection. Totally believable! But then, what does he say? Nothing about love and passion, but instead that he wants to put his cock in Francis’ arse (pardon my French). Is this what you say to the man of your dreams, when you are shot, need surgery and think you won’t make it? I sat there expecting a heartfelt emotional scene and got verbal porn. I didn’t recover from that for the rest of the book.

I liked the main characters, Mariani (I’wanted to know more about her), the idea of the club for the Regency libertines and even Rupert who was not as stuffy as he would seem.

If you are not as picky as I am when it comes to the emotional bond (or lack of it) between the protagonsists, you will probably like this.

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Masquerade by Victoria Vale

Masquerade (Scandalous Ballroom Encounters, #1)Masquerade by Victoria Vale
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brilliant erotic short story with two very likeable characters. There aren’t a lot of romance books where I like the heroine, but this is one of them.

There are quite a few sex scenes considering the shortness of the story, very entertaining and not repetitive at all. The characters TALKED to each other as well and developed a relationship. I didn’t care for the first fantasizing scene because I just don’t like that sort of stuff, but once the two met, it was perfect.

A delectable read in every way, and free to boot. Get it!

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Meet me in the garden

Meet Me in the GardenMeet Me in the Garden by Rosa Sophia
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This was an unusual story. Not only because of the topic which dealt with past lives and people meeting again after centuries, but also because the story had a dreamlike quality. Dreamlike in the sense that people’s character changed from one minute to the next in the eyes of Amalie, which I found strange as I could not see Amalie’s reasoning.

On one page she was kissing and let Artie fondle her (even though she wanted to say no she never actually did say it) and a little later she “always thought” he was a dark and brooding alcoholic (where the alcoholic idea came from I have no idea. There was NO indication previously). On one page he was sneering and sounding mean and spiteful and a few minutes later she thought he looked lonely and hurt. He was more or less stalking her and sent notes threatening Ian, but Amalie defended him as only being persistent and kept making excuses, even though she felt uncomfortable. Really odd! Not to mention Ian changing from boyfriend with almost angelic patience to verbally abusive drinker back to supportive lover.

Somehow I didn’t understand what was going on. No, that’s wrong. I understood what was going on but didn’t understand the why. At one point one of the supporting characters said that being with your soulmate does not necessarily mean everything is going smooth. Well, being with an alcoholic who insults me when talking to his friends and accepting that simply hoping this phase will pass, then considering drinking myself (if you can’t beat them, join them) is not only not smooth in my book, but rather disastrous. Why did she stay with him?

I can’t say that I liked either Amalie or Ian very much. She was a doormat, and he a jealous drinker. When Amalie met Artie (who sounded perfectly ok to me until all of a sudden he turned out to be a crazy stalker who then disappeared without a trace) she didn’t tell Ian about him – and that was before there was anything going on between them – because Ian would not tolerate that. I cannot understand, let alone support, such a concept. As a woman I cannot have male friends? This is wrong on a number of levels. What sort of relationship between Amalie and Ian is this?

All these misgivings on my part and the underlying theme of a common past history that I could not relate to made this a mystical story that might have made sense in itself, but was way too outré for me.

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I received a copy of Meet me in the garden from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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An indecent obsession by Colleen McCullough

An Indecent ObsessionAn Indecent Obsession by Colleen McCullough
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a dreary, sad and dull place the world would be if everybody was as dutiful and obsessed with their (self imposed) obligations as our two protagonists here. I am not saying everybody should just do as they please without consideration for anyone else or the consequences, but how Nurse Langtry and Michael go out of their way to sabotage their chance of possible happiness is really extraordinary. Out of the seven people in ward X four end up dead in the end, what an outcome!

I didn’t think I would like a book as much as I liked this one in spite of eventually hating the main characters. I thought I only liked a book if I could at least somewhat relate to a character, but the more the story went on the more I got enthralled by it and the less I liked Nurse Langtry (see, I can’t even bring myself to call her Honour, that is how distant I feel) and Michael. What a couple of self righteous martyrs!

That being said, the story was told in such a way that I could not put it down. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and how the blooming romance (if you can call it that) would turn out. I actually started out liking Luce and the way he rattled everybody’s cages, but later on I felt rather satisfied about his fate, I am sorry to say. Especially after what he did to Nurse Pedder. That poor woman let him do what he did and never even noticed that she was – in fact – raped. Bizarre!
The end was a bit odd with Nurse Langtry thinking of and considering Neil again. That guy had a close shave indeed. He can consider himself lucky he didn’t end up with her. Why she tought about going back to him, I have no clue. Good thing she decided against it and instead fulfilled “her duty”, because, you see, nobody does it as well as she does. Neil would have possibly been misled into thinking she actually loved him when in reality their relationship would have been a matter of careful deliberation.

I love Colleen McCullough’s writing style and her love to detail a lot and once more she did not disappoint me.

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