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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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