Monday, 26 June 2017

Review: Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker

Until It Fades by K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: June 27th 2017
My rating: 3.5 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Kobo
Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.

For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

My Thoughts:
Catherine thought she was in love with her thirty-year old art teacher when she was seventeen.  Her mother dragged her to the police and made her make a statement when she caught them sneaking off together.  Her reputation was dragged through the mud and Catherine’s teacher let her take all the blame, crushing her heart in the process.  Six months later, Catherine finds herself eighteen, pregnant and with very little job options seeing as most in town shun and whisper against her.  My heart went out to Catherine, because her mother threw her under the bus and she was ostracized by the town when it should’ve been her lecherous art teacher who got in trouble! I was outraged for her! At any rate, Catherine let her dreams of going to Art College and now works as a diner waitress to support her and her five-year old daughter. 

Catherine’s love life leaves something to be desired which is why she’s driving herself home after a blind date gone wrong on the stretch of highway that Brett Madden, a famous hockey player, has just crashed on. Seeing the wreck, Catherine stops and saves Brett, but won’t let her name be released to the press or Brett in an attempt to stay under the radar.  She’s had her brush with fame or infamy and doesn’t want any more attention.  It’s only a matter of time before Brett and the press gets a hold of her name.  Brett is grateful, of course, but there’s an immediate connection and attraction. Is it just the gratitude drawing him to her or could it be something deeper they both feel?  Catherine trusted those swoony feelings before and was burned, so she has a tough time letting her guard down. 

I totally understand where Catherine was coming from; she went through so much at such a young age with little support from anyone except Lou, Misty and Keith.  I would feel the need to be cautious, too, but it was a just a tiny bit frustrating in a few spots.  I was irritated Catherine kept letting her relationship with Brett stagnate to the point he might move on.  I so desperately wanted some happiness for Catherine romantically, that I wanted to shake her a few times.  But, she really deserved to be swept off her feet after everything she went through.  Brett, on the other hand, was an absolute dream come true.  He was so steady, honest and humble in spite of being such a big star and a total hunk!

There wasn’t a ton of angst which I’m not real keen on, so good news for me, but Until It Fades wasn’t my favorite K.A. Tucker story.  Still, it was a feel good, fairy tale sort of sweet romance that’ll leave you happy in the end.   

Monday, 19 June 2017

Review: Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata

Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata
Publication Date: 10th June 2017
My rating: 4.5 stars 

Ruby Santos knew exactly what she was getting herself into when she signed up to write a soldier overseas. The guidelines were simple: one letter or email a week for the length of his or her deployment. Care packages were optional. Been there, done that. She thought she knew what to expect. What she didn’t count on was falling in love with the guy.

I’ve been a massive fan of Zapata’s work for some time now; her slow burn romances are written so well, that she’s become an auto buy author for me. So when she announced that she had a new book coming out in just a few weeks I was super excited. Of course I got myself a copy straight away and despite having bazillion things to do I started this book immediately. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book this quick in a long time, all my priorities were thrown out of the window, as I devoured this brilliant read. I loved the format in which Zapata wrote Dear Aaron the most, it started off with emails between our two main characters Aaron and Ruby, when Ruby is assigned to be Aaron’s pen pal whilst he’s out on deployment. Both Ruby and Aaron had previously been assigned to pen pals before, so this one didn’t appear any different. But boy were they wrong. 

Like I mentioned before Dear Aaron was one addictive read, the format of emails between Aaron and Ruby, I was completely suckered into, the format was so easy to get into that despite the early awkwardness of our characters getting to know one another, I found myself flying through the pages. I loved getting to know Aaron and Ruby over the course of the story, how slowly overtime they found that they could finally lower down the barriers that they had up for so long and just be who they were. Ruby was such a great character, she was one of those people who had always done so much for other people and hardly ever put herself as a priority (reminded me a lot of myself!). And so having Aaron assigned in my eyes was the perfect thing to have happened, he wasn’t a judgmental character, but actually wanted Ruby to do what was best for her and often pushed her in the right direction to do so, in addition help build her confidence at the same time. I of course fell for Aaron’s character straight away, he too had been through a lot, and deserved to be happy and laughing and so I extremely looked forward to his interactions with Ruby more and more. I of course knew the direction that I wanted this book to go in, I couldn’t see any other way happening, and so really appreciated the slow build up that Zapata gave us of their relationship. I of course found myself experiencing every single feeling that Ruby was going through in the build up of her getting to know Aaron too! I was nervous as hell, excited and later constantly swooning! What can I say Aaron was one heck of a guy. My only minor complaint is that I wished certain things hadn’t been misunderstood and then maybe we could have got more of the swoony scenes, I definitely wanted and needed more! But this aside Dear Aaron was a book that I couldn’t get enough of, I loved experiencing the communication between Aaron and Ruby, the subtle changes from awkward to witty as they got to know each other, the development of their characters (especially Ruby’s, she seriously came a long way in this book) and the development of their relationship. I for one would welcome more books on these two characters, as they easily cemented their places as firm favourites of mine! Zapata is one author whose work you seriously don’t want to miss out on. I’m honestly glad that I still have two of her books to read, as I don’t know what the heck I’d do otherwise!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Publication Date: June 1st 2017
My rating: 4 stars.  

The arranged marriage YA romcom you didn't know you wanted or needed... Meet Dimple. Her main aim in life is to escape her traditional parents, get to university and begin her plan for tech world domination. Meet Rishi. He's rich, good-looking and a hopeless romantic. His parents think Dimple is the perfect match for him, but she's got other plans... Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works even harder to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

This book was super adorable; I did have my reservations at first going into it. I blame this largely on the books that have been working for me lately; adult and that I’ve just been really struggling to get back into the flow of YA books. But despite the initial struggle, Menon completely won me over with characters such as Dimple and Rishi and her take and setting of the story. 

Coming from an Indian family myself, I could totally understand the pressures that Dimple felt about settling down in life with the perfect husband. Despite views and norms changing a lot these days, there are still a lot of families who live by these ideals, which can be frustrating in a big way, when all you want to do if live life to the fullest and enjoy what you do, just like Dimple wanted to. I loved how Rishi popped up in Dimple’s life when she was least expecting him to and how they both changed their ideals in order to adapt and make room for each other in their lives. Dimple and Rishi were just totally adorable! I loved how Rishi wasn’t your typical macho guy, but could easily get embarrassed by things, he didn’t realise how super talented he was and the lengths that he would go to for Dimple. I loved watching the development of their relationship; it was super cute and just left me with a goofy grin on my face the entire time. What I appreciated the most from this story was the character development in this book. Both Dimple and Rishi had their dreams they wanted to pursue and their fears of not achieving them. And I’m glad that both characters were able to give each other the extra encouragement that they needed in the right direction. Both characters were just perfect for each other. 

When Dimple Met Rishi was exactly the sort of book that I needed in my life, it featured a romance which was beautifully done and touched upon pursuing you dreams and passions no matter what. Bravo Menon on a wonderfully written debut book, I for one can’t wait to read your future books!

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Review & Excerpt: Silver Silence by Nalini Singh

Silver Silence (Psy-Changeling Trinity #1) by Nalini Singh
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: June 13th 2017
My rating: 4.5 Stars
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Kobo

New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh introduces a bold new chapter in her extraordinary paranormal romance saga with the Psy-Changeling Trinity series. Wild passion will encounter the darkest of betrayal...

Control. Precision. Family. These are the principles that drive Silver Mercant. At a time when the fledgling Trinity Accord seeks to unite a divided world, with Silver playing a crucial role as director of a worldwide emergency response network, wildness and chaos are the last things she needs in her life. But that’s exactly what Valentin Nikolaev, alpha of the StoneWater Bears, brings with him.

Valentin has never met a more fascinating woman. Though Silver is ruled by Silence—her mind clear of all emotion—Valentin senses a whisper of fire around her. That’s what keeps him climbing apartment buildings to be near her. But when a shadow assassin almost succeeds in poisoning Silver, the stakes become deadly serious…and Silver finds herself in the heart of a powerful bear clan.

Her would-be assassin has no idea what their poison has unleashed...

My Thoughts:
Silver Mercant, a powerful Psy telepath, and director of the newly formed Emergency Response Network embraced Silence (completely suppressing one’s emotions) from an early age, but the charismatic Valentin, Alpha of StoneWater, a bear changling pack, has been disturbing her carefully controlled existence.  Whether it is by showing up unannounced at her apartment or place of work in the guise of EmNet business, or just to ask her out for ice cream, he manages to shake up her reserve and get under her skin.  There was a time Silence wasn’t her way of life, she was a passionate little girl, and now that it is no longer against the law to have emotions for Psy, Silver wonders about that long dormant side of her.  Valentin makes her wonder.

Valentin has been fascinated by Silver since he laid eyes on her.  She seems made up of fire and ice, and just the kind of woman he wants for a mate.  Valentin’s determined to stir those emotions he senses burning under her cold exterior.  When someone tries to poison Silver it becomes clear stashing her at the bear’s clan home is the best option for her protection.  Valentin is outraged that someone could’ve killed his precious Silver, but her staying at his Denhome gives him a better chance at capturing her heart.

I’ve only read one other book in the Psy-Changling series, the first book, but I feel like I would’ve enjoyed Silver Silence even without reading any previous books in the series.  There was enough information given to get a feel for this world to appreciate Valentin and Silver’s story on its own. 

Loved this romance! It was amusing to see Silver flustered with Valentin’s attempts to infiltrate her life.  And I dare you not to fall in love with Valentin!  He’s a dangerous Alpha for sure, but at his center he’s a big loveable teddy bear!  And it was impossible not to fall for the StoneWater clan! They’re so openly affectionate, fun loving, and mischievous!  Bears.” The cubs were the cutest, wedging themselves bit by bit into Silver’s heart!

Even though you might think Silver would come off as an ice princess, at her core she was lovely; principled, loyal, and protective of Valentin and his beloved bears.  I enjoyed Nalini Singh’s writing so much I know I’ll go back to read some more of the Psy-Changling series.

SILVER SILENCE by Nalini Singh

Laughing at the cubs’ antics, Valentin jogged down the slight incline and waded into what had to be ice-cold water after kicking off his boots and socks. He splashed the cubs, laughed when they splashed him back. Running so they could chase him, he turned abruptly and chased them back, to their unhidden joy.
Silver took a seat on the grass. When the female bear looked her way, she inclined her head in a silent greeting. The bear did the same, then they both watched an alpha bear play with two energetic cubs, his hands holding rough care for their small bodies.
By the time Valentin made his way back to her, he was drenched and his eyes weren’t human in any way. When he spoke, his already deep voice was so low it felt like thunder against her skin. “Couldn’t resist,” he said, pushing back his wet hair with one big hand. “If you weren’t in recovery and if I wasn’t in terror of Nova’s wrath, I’d have invited you. The small monsters wanted to play with you.”
Silver didn’t get to her feet. “Can we stay here a little longer?” It was patent that Valentin had an extremely high tolerance for the cold, but he might want to dry off.
“Sure,” he said, and, moving away several feet, shook off the wet.
Fine droplets settled on the skin of her cheek, but she didn’t flinch at the unintentional tactile contact. She also controlled her urge to reach up and touch the water where it lay against her skin. There was no reason to do that, and Silver was alive because she only did things that were rational.
Settling beside her, Valentin waved at the cubs as their guardian led their tired forms toward a path in the trees that was at the same level as the stream. “Gentler climb,” Valentin told her.
“They seem too exhausted to make it to Denhome.
“It’s all an act—they’re hoping for a ride on their aunt’s back.” His tone held the same fond affection she’d heard when he spoke of Dima. “It’d take more than a few minutes’ play in the water to wipe out those two.”
The cubs had played with Valentin for almost a half hour. “They’re hyperactive?”
“They’re baby bears.”
Silver watched as those baby bears turned toward her and rose up on their back paws, as if in challenge. A stern sound from their caretaker, and they dropped down and scrambled to catch up with her. Their bodies disappeared into the trees as dusk began to turn from orange to shadowy gray.
Beside her, Valentin sprawled out, bracing himself on his elbows. His drenched T-shirt clung to the ridged muscles of his abdomen, pulled tight across his pectoral muscles, shaped itself over his shoulders. His jeans weren’t much better, outlining the raw muscle of his thighs.
Valentin Nikolaev was a man of violent physical strength even in human form. Yet he clearly had iron control over it; when he’d played with the children, they’d displayed zero fear of their alpha.
“You thought about where you’re going to live when you escape the bears who’ve kidnapped you?”
When she raised an eyebrow at him, he grinned. “Fringe netter with his own Internet channel sent out a breaking report last night. Pasha—who obviously needs more work duties—made up a fake account and posted a comment swearing to have seen you being pulled into a black van by six burly bears in bear form.”
“You don’t seem too concerned.” Amber eyes and deep voice, he remained very much a bear in human form.
“Well, according to this ‘eyewitness,’ the getaway driver was in bear form, too. Must’ve been tough for him to steer with one paw since he was drinking a beer at the same time.”
Bears,” Silver said, making Valentin throw his head back and laugh that huge laugh that wrapped around her.

Posted by arrangement with Berkley, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Nalini Singh, 2017.

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Friday, 9 June 2017

Review: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row Books
Publication date: May 30th 2017
My rating: 3.5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo |The Book Depository
A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters--her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf has been described as "masterful" and "intelligent" and compared to Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult. Introducing her most compelling heroine yet, she delivers a taut and emotional thriller that proves she's at the top of her class.

My Thoughts:
Amelia’s life fell apart after an accident left her deaf, losing her husband and stepdaughter in the process.  I can understand how Amelia could let things fall apart, but thankfully the author doesn’t drag us through the depressing experience.  We pick up with Amelia slowly getting back on track: sober, new job, reconnecting with her stepdaughter, Nora, and getting back on friendly terms with her ex-husband, David. She wouldn’t have got that far without the help of Jake, her childhood friend, and detective on the Mathias Police Force.

Things are going great when Amelia discovers the body of a woman close to her home. She becomes wrapped up in the mystery, and in the path of danger. 

The challenges of living without hearing gave an unexpected layer of terror to the story.  Someone could be walking in your house, up your stairs, rush you while you unlock your car door, and you wouldn’t hear them coming until it was too late. A frightening prospect.  That’s where the lovable Stitch, her service dog came in handy.  Stitch wasn’t always super obedient, but he had an adorable personality. He was her lifeline and loyal friend, and came through when it counted.

The idea of spending time in a lakeside cabin during the fall is appealing and I loved the beautiful descriptions of Amelia’s surroundings.  However, those peaceful woods turned into a potential hiding spot, eerie with dangerous possibilities once Amelia became a target. There were several silent, suspenseful moments when I felt my skin prickle with alarm!

At times I did feel the writing was a little overly descriptive of the surroundings, the town, the past; things I didn’t feel had much bearing on the overall story.  I skimmed where it felt unnecessary to the story.

I was really rooting for Amelia, really liked her.  She was back on the right path with her life after falling so low, and she was trying to get justice for the poor woman murdered.  That being said, I wasn’t thrilled with a few of Amelia’s choices. I don’t like it when a character ignores their gut feeling or plain facts, getting into risky situations unnecessarily.   For the most part Amelia handled whatever came at her pretty well, and those risky situations made for an exciting read!  I have to say the ending was a roller coaster thrill ride! Definitely had me on the edge of my seat!

I was pleased with the way the romance turned out, but would’ve liked a little more development.  Still, this was a thriller/mystery so I was happy I got any romance at all!

Not a Sound was an exciting mystery!  One I read straight through in one sitting!  I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Ms. Gudenkauf’s next story!

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