grief

Her Pregnancy Bombshell (Summer at Villa Rosa #1) by Liz Fielding Review

 Her Pregnancy Bombshell (Summer at Villa Rosa)  by Liz Fielding  2.5 Stars

Expecting her boss’s baby! 

Pilot Miranda Marlowe is too sick to fly her plane, and she must face the truth: she’s pregnant! She knows well enough that her boss, Cleve Finch, is still grieving for his late wife, so to think, she heads to her sister’s new inheritance, Villa Rosa.

Despite the spiders and dust, the Mediterranean palazzo is as gorgeous as ever. Until Cleve turns up with a dramatic offer: a convenient marriage as soon as it can be arranged! It may be the sensible answer…but is it enough for Miranda?

 

Review

I was enjoying this romance with its look at grief and comfort between two pilots.

The heroine has been in love with the hero since she was 18. He married another. The book opens with him in deep grief and the heroine comforting him physically.

She gets pregnant. I like very much what a respected pilot and airplane designer the heroine is. I like the setting of the the crumbling Italian Villa the heroine flees to (and the hero follows) to sort out what do to with her life now.

Then, for me the book goes south. The secondary characters don’t work well for me and worse the mystery of why the hero and heroine weren’t together misses the details I want and the details I get make me dislike almost everyone in the book.

Well written but it lost me. I was given this book for my honest review. So, there you have it.

A Seal Upon Your Heart by Pepper Pace Review

  A Seal Upon Your Heart  by Pepper Pace 4.5 Stars!!

Jane used to have a different name, a different life—but that was before she was rescued from the refugee camp after the Rwandan genocide and brought to the convent to be raised. Now she is being dismissed, told to go out into the world. But how does she do that when all she knows is the convent?
Sometimes she wants to scream, I am a child of Africa! And sometimes she wants to dream about a love that will save her from her loneliness…but mostly she wants to fit in.

Tim Singleton lost his wife to breast cancer less than a year ago and yet the pain and anger is still fresh in his mind. He hates the sympathetic looks from his colleagues and tolerates the invitations from friends with their good intentions. When Corrine died, so did Tim’s faith…so when he received the call from the convent that his wife had focused her charitable endeavors, Tim isn’t quite sure why he agreed to help the young African girl with a job.

She didn’t quite fit in with the others at the law firm that wore thousand dollar Chanel suits while her clothes were picked with care from the donation bin at the church. At nearly six feet tall, the shy girl tried to become invisible in the hectic world around her. But if her ill-fitting clothes didn’t draw attention to her, then it was a beauty that couldn’t be hidden so easily.

Soon Jane sees Tim as not only her benefactor, but her one true love. But can Tim finally open up and allow someone else to touch his heart? Can he forget their difference in race and age? And more importantly, would being with him mean the loss of her innocence?

Review

This is the kind of book that lingers with you long after you have put it down.

It starts with seemingly trite themes that one might find in an old Mills and Boon: a much older man (a grieving widower) and a his new personal assistant (naive and convent raised).

Then, the layers build. We are in Ohio. She is black and he is white. She is a Catholic and devout and he is non religious He drinks from grief. She has PTSD. She survived the Rwandan genocide as a young child and witnessed its horrors.

It is a powerful book and a powerful romance where they don’t heal each other but themselves.

The heroine isn’t perfect. She is young and struggles to find her full and complex self. The power issues bsased on age, money, race, gender and class are sometimes so intersting handled and sometimes clumsy.  She resilient and kind.

The hero too falters and errs and then becomes more. He contradicts himself and  doesn’t always do what he knows he should

There are no cookie cutter characters here and nothing is simple. The heroine is smart and so is the hero in terms of common sense, knowledge of profession, and emotionial intelligence.  Its glorious.

Racism and sexism are a large part of this tale.

I wish the sexism of the law firm and the hero’s privilege in it (he is never the issue but while he takes on a role protector and punisher, he doesn’t attack the issue at the systematic level that would be much more satisfying) had been more closely examined.

This romance is moving and a wonderful piece of writing as usual from Pepper Pace.

Pansies (Spires Book 4) by Alexis Hall Review

 Pansies (Spires Book 4) by Alexis Hall 4 Stars!

Alfie Bell is . . . fine. He’s got a six-figure salary, a penthouse in Canary Wharf, the car he swore he’d buy when he was eighteen, and a bunch of fancy London friends.

It’s rough, though, going back to South Shields now that they all know he’s a fully paid-up pansy. It’s the last place he’s expecting to pull. But Fen’s gorgeous, with his pink-tipped hair and hipster glasses, full of the sort of courage Alfie’s never had. It should be a one-night thing, but Alfie hasn’t met anyone like Fen before.

Except he has. At school, when Alfie was everything he was supposed to be, and Fen was the stubborn little gay boy who wouldn’t keep his head down. And now it’s a proper mess: Fen might have slept with Alfie, but he’ll probably never forgive him, and Fen’s got all this other stuff going on anyway, with his mam and her flower shop and the life he left down south.

Alfie just wants to make it right. But how can he, when all they’ve got in common is the nowhere town they both ran away from.

Review

This is my first Alexis Hall book and I was impressed.

The writing is lyrical and such a pleasure to sink into. I love the detail of the North of England Contemporary setting geographically, historically, culturally and in the dialect.

The romance is compelling. I have a great discomfort with the falling in love with my former bully theme but Hall does a good job of dealing with all the layers though even more self reflection and therapy on both their parts would not have hurt.

The grief and depression of Fen’s character and yet solid internal adulthood paired with Alfie’s outward adulthood with the seeking of a full recognition of self and needs and wants make for a compelling love story.

They are both great wounded loving. people and the cast is wonderfully complex as well. They have friends and family and jobs. Those things all evolve as they fall in love and choose a life together.

The main thing that keeps this from being an smashing success of a romance for me is that Alfie’s character is given more light than Fen’s so that when Fen makes some decisions, we are left a little uncomfortable as to if that his best self because we need to see more of Fen’s healing than we do,

Overall, I highly recommend this book for a lush and engrossing romance.

Perv (Filth, #1) by Dakota Gray Review

 Perv (Filth Book 1)  by Dakota Gray 3 Stars!

I’m honest about what I am. You want to screw until you can’t see straight? I’m your guy. You want to experience the best oral orgasm of your life, don’t pass go and collect two-hundred dollars. Eating you for dessert is my specialty. I live for that. Skinny, average or meat on your bones, I don’t care. Blonde, brunette…white, Asian, black…
Are you pink where it counts? Then you’re my type.
I’m your guy.
For the duration of our affair, I will call you Sugar because I can’t bother to retain your name.
That’s the kind of man I am, and you will know that going in. I make sure of it.
So it’s not my fault her friend loved me, but She is going to make me pay for that.
And I’m too addicted to her taste to walk away.

Review

Hmmm.

The most intersting part of me about this book isn’t the fetish that Nate has for downtown, rather it is the more quiet discussion of connection and objectification and grief.

Those parts of the romance were powerful for me, however, Robyn’s and Nate’s working stuff out should have been on the page and in the book. Instead, we get melodrama, angst, and don’t get the well deserved falling in love.

Revenge plot, jerk heroes and deep 1 person are not my favorites so this book was climbing a steep hill with me.

The sexy stuff is sexy (though opening a romance with him with someone not the heroine makes me cringe a bit).

So, didn’t work that great for me and the author’s note at the end of the book annoyed me as a reader who is happy to see something different.

However, I will try the next book in the series as Nate’s friends are intersting.

Heart Fate (Celta’s Heartmates, #7) by Robin D. Owens Review

 Heart Fate (Celta Series Book 7) by Robin D. Owens 4.5 Stars! 

Wed to a wealthy older man when she was just a girl, Lahsin Yew runs away from her abusive home to find a new life. At seventeen, she?s about to enter her Second Passage, when her Flair?and perhaps her HeartMate?will be revealed.

Lahsin finds sanctuary in a secret garden, where she meets Tinne Holly. Though he is her HeartMate, he cannot tell her, and her troubled past prevents her from trusting any man. Pretending to find her by chance, Tinne helps her through her Second Passage. But when the truth is revealed, can she forgive his deception, and learn to trust in her destiny?

 

Review

This is a tender love story between two young people whose lives have already seen so much suffering.

The hero and the heroine are fated to mates but the heroine’s family marries her off at 14 to an abusive older man. The hero marries someone else and is suffering the effects of a miscarriage an the very rare ending of that marriage.

Tinne and Lashin hurt, heal, and love together. If you have been reading the series, you will be so happy the Tinne’s gets his own book but even if you haven’t this book stands alone as a great romance where respect and care overcomes abuse.

The world building as always is sport on with cultural and magic systems details of the highest order. The dog and the cat and a lonely house are perfect additions and the villain suffers.

A comfort reread for me. Adored.

Wake Up Married Serial, Episodes 1 – 6 by Leta Blake and Alice Griffiths

4.5 Stars!!!

Episode One: Will & Patrick Wake Up Married

After a drunken night of hot sex in Vegas, strangers Will Patterson and Dr. Patrick McCloud wake up married. A quickie divorce is the most obvious way out—unless you’re the heir of a staunchly Catholic mafia boss with a draconian position on the sanctity of marriage. Throw their simmering attraction into the mix and all bets are off!

Episode Two: Will & Patrick Meet the Family

Meeting the family is challenging for every new couple. But for Will and Patrick, the awkward family moments only grow more hilarious–and painful–when they must hide the truth of their predicament from the people they care about most. Throw in the sexual tension flaring between them and you’ve got a recipe for madcap laughs and surprisingly heartwarming feels.

Episode Three: Will & Patrick Do the Holidays

A couple’s first holiday season is always a special time. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve are magical when you’re in love. Too bad Will and Patrick’s marriage is a sham and they’re only faking their affection for each other. Or are they? Sparks fly in this episode of the Wake Up Married serial. Will the sexual tension between Will and Patrick finally explode in a needy night of passion? Or will they continue to deny their feelings?

Episode Four: Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings

Will and Patrick have embraced adding hot sexy-times to their fake marriage, but as their emotions deepen, they confront whether or not they want to be more than friends-with-benefits. The heat is high (and occasionally kinky) as Will and Patrick struggle to accept their mutual affection.

Episode Five: Will & Patrick Meet the Mob

Patrick has finally accepted that he’s in love with Will, but his newfound determination to do something about that runs up against his father-in-law’s mobster plans. Will must face the truth about his family before he can fully come to terms with his feelings for Patrick. And Patrick has to decide if this whackadoodle world is something he truly wants to be part of forever.

Episode Six: Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending

Sure, Will and Patrick are in love now, but they weren’t when they got married in Vegas. For Patrick, that’s no problem, but Will can’t shake his doubts that a relationship started through coercion can ever become the real deal. Since the Molinaro crime family has reversed their position on divorce, Will and Patrick have a chance to rectify their drunken mistake. But is divorce the right choice for them?

Review

This book has all the cat nip. It is a sheer joy to read as it plays with tropes through hyperbole and reversals while mixing in powerful psychological depth.

It is at once silly and moving with a grand love story at its heart.

It would have been a 5 Star read for me but its a Serial (I hate them with all my heart) and there is some sex aftermath body stuff that happens repeatedly and is just a bit ewww for me in the way that it is described.

There is a lot of silly here that makes it fun. We have a strangers marry Vegas while drunk fun with opposites attract joy through in. They have to stay married because of an inheritance clause from the Mob family of Will who is much younger than the Patrick. Fun!

And yet each of these standard (and great in my opinion) is explored at the same time with emotionial truths. Will was drunk that night because he was relapsing in his alcoholism after getting dumped by his long time boyfriend via a phone call. The book does a beautiful job with addiction, recovery, and family made more compelling because Patrick is a neurosurgeon and looks at addiction biologically.

The mob family stuff show layers of recklessness and disfunction of Will’s family. Will has diabetes and the book details the daily life of such a disease. Will’s last relationship was awful and Patrick’s gruff but steadfast treatment and care and eventual love of will is a wonderful display what love should be. He respects and treasures Will.

Patrick is his own gruff, arrogant, funny mess. I don’t want to give to many spoilers as to why but he has a hard time with so much feeling and yet…he is the very best. The friendships he develops are their own awesome love story.

There is a joy in this book too that while internalized homophobia does come up they fact that gay marriage is legal means that everyone in the book simply looks at their marriage as a marriage.  The end.

This is just such a wonderful read with so much healing and love. Read it.

Until Nico (Until, #4) by Aurora Rose Reynolds Review

  Until Nico (Until Series Book 4)  by Aurora Rose Reynolds 

Sophie Grates has never had it easy, but she’s finding her way through life one step and one day at a time. That is, Until Nico comes in and flips her world upside-down. He forces her to see you cannot live life from the outside looking in, and sometimes you have to step out onto the ledge so you can really enjoy the view.

Nico Mayson knew the moment he saw Sophie Grates that she was the one. His whole life, he has been judged by what’s on the outside, so finding a beautiful woman who sees the real him only makes his feelings that much stronger.

Nico knows the kind of man he is, and the things he is capable of, and he will do everything in his power to help Sophie fight her demons so they can have their happily ever after. Everything in life worth having is worth fighting for.

3 Stars!

 

Review 

This is a lovely, sexy, sweet romance made all the better by the super tough hero’s little puffball of a dog.

I loved the steadfast kind tattooed up hero. Who wouldn’t? The heroine comes into her own as she works through her issues that stem from neglect and trauma.

Nico is a sweet Alpha hero which we don’t get enough of in Romanceland.

The books was really enjoyable.

However, there were lots of little things I wanted to make it a richer feast. The heroine who loves books talking about books much more. More dog antics. I would have liked to know what all those tattoos were. I would have loved to really see the heroine go through therapy a bit and more of the support group she joins.

Very good overall!

Trade (Deridia Book 2) by Catherine Miller Review

    Trade (Deridia Book 2) by Catherine Miller 4 Stars!!

Gullible.
Foolish.
Weak.

She had always done as she was told. She dug in the sands until her fingers bled so that her people could have something to barter. She packed up her sparse belongings without complaint when it was time to flee the Wastes, leaving behind the only home she’d ever known, and the site of the bittersweet memories she carried of her lost family. It was easier that way, to obey and not to question, knowing her own judgement to be faulty.

But when her people learn that the exchange for living on alien land and securing their safety is the price of one of their unclaimed women, the limits of her compliance are tested, as she is given in marriage to a man she does not want from a species and clan she does not know.

Only to discover that he feels precisely the same about their ill-begotten trade.

She was a Marzon now.

And she had no idea what that meant, other than giving up her clothes, her home, her people, all for a man who like to scowl and grunt and sigh.

“By what name shall she be called?” Sladec asked, and she eyed him with confusion.

She opened her mouth to answer, to finally inform them both that she most certainly had a name and it was important, no matter what Machrus had said, but the voice that gave answer was not her own.

But came from her husband instead.

“Renna. Now wife of Machrus of Krahl.”

 

Review

I love Catherine Miller’s character driven Science Fiction with a long slow burn.

The world building is very good and the ache of grief and loss is this book is compelling.

The hero and heroine are both so wounded it hard to like them at first because they hold so much of themselves as private but as they heal and come to love each other, we come to love and know them too.

If you liked Mercy, the first book in this series, you should like this one as well. It has similar themes of an arranged marriage and culture adjustment,. It also has some of the same drawbacks of not getting the hero’s point of view and some information held back too long to enjoy a full rich HEA. I would have loved a lush epilogue.

I would be very happy to read another romance in this world.

Never Say Never to an Earl (Heart of Enquiry Book 5) by Grace Callaway Review

   Never Say Never to an Earl (Heart of Enquiry Book 5) by Grace Callaway

A Wallflower Who Guards Her Secrets
Miss Polly Kent has no illusions about finding love. Not only is she a wallflower, but her freakish ability to read others’ emotions has led to devastating rejection time and again. When it comes to her future, she knows that a marriage of convenience, one in which she can keep her secret affliction hidden, is the only safe choice. Yet when fate throws her into the path of the ton’s wildest rake, she discovers that desire can jeopardize the most carefully laid plans…

A Rake Who Makes No Apologies for His Past
Sinjin Pelham, the Earl of Revelstoke and heir to a duke, has a reputation darker than London’s fog. His exploits have made him the envy of men and the desire of women, but behind his wild and jaded façade lies a painful secret. He knows that no woman can love the devil inside him, yet when he is accused of a ghastly crime, the only one who stands by him is a beautiful virgin, one whose wanton innocence makes him long for the one thing he cannot have…

When Good and Wicked Make Perfect
A marriage that begins with smoldering passion soon deepens into something more. All the while, a dangerous enemy lurks, waiting to strike. As Sinjin and Polly untangle the threads of mystery to clear his name, they must confront their greatest fears, risking all for their love—and their very lives.

4 Stars!

Review

I liked a great deal about this book and am happy to have found a good historical romance author to read!

The psychological aspects of this romance make it compelling. The hero is bi polar in a time when there is no real treatment nor understanding of the condition. The heroine has self esteem, trust, and body issues.

They are both good people and the sexual chemistry between them is hot. This is s very sexy book.

The heroine’s family is as wonderful as the hero’s family is awful.

The plot of the story is well paced with lots of great secondary characters.

The history bit is very thin even with an awful peek into the treatment of the mentally ill at the time. The heroine’s sister is fairly unlovely and doesn’t make me want her to be the heroine of the next book nor buy in this heroine’s adoration of her.

However, overall this was a very engaging read.

Breath of Fire (Kingmaker Chronicles #2) by Amanda Bouchet Review

SHE’S DESTINED TO DESTROY THE WORLD… 

BUT NOT IF SHE CAN HELP IT

“Cat” Catalia Fisa has been running from her destiny since she could crawl. But now, her newfound loved ones are caught between the shadow of Cat’s tortured past and the threat of her world-shattering future. So what’s a warrior queen to do when she knows it’s her fate to be the harbinger of doom? Everything in her power.

Griffin knows Cat is destined to change the world—for the better. As the realms are descending into all-out war, Cat and Griffin risk sacrificing everything they’ve fought for. Gods willing, they will emerge side-by-side in the heart of their future kingdom…or die trying.

4 Stars!

Review

This second book in the series follows Cat and Griffin and Co on an amazing quest. We get the same wonderful world building with a great cast of characters.

The love story remains powerful as it evolves as does the arc of the story.

The writing detailed and compelling and the plot is well paced. There is so much to like an enjoy in this mash up of Greek mythology and magic.

I think you need to read the first book to get the full pleasure out of this entry but it is a great ride and I can’t wait for the next book plus spin offs with other couples.