Category Archives: book reviews

Our Five Favourite Summer Reads

I read many fabulous books this quarter, but my five favourites are:

 DILF by Amy Andrews (contemporary)

DILF‘Serious DILF alert.’ Those are the words that warn Stefanie that her younger brother’s best friend Owen has grown up and graduated as a doctor. He’s about to start work at St Bart’s General Hospital, and she had promised her brother he could stay with her until he found his own place. But… that was when she still thought he was a skinny teenager with acne rather than the hottest doctor in town. The chemistry between them is off the charts but there are a zillion reasons why having sex with Owen is a bad idea. For starters, there’s the age. Owen doesn’t see it as a problem. He’s always had a thing for Stefanie even if she didn’t notice him before. Stefanie is ready to settle down and have babies. She reckons Owen still has to date a thousand nurses. Can he change her mind and get her to give them a chance, first in the present and then in the future? Written with Amy Andrew’s trademark wit and wickedly sexy encounters, this is a delicious romp that will have you alternatively laughing out loud and fanning yourself.

Down and Dirty (Men of Haven) by Rhenna Morgan (contemporary)Men of Haven

I’ve been waiting a long time for Axel’s story, ever since I met him in book 1 of Men of
Haven alongside his brother by choice Jace. Rhenna Morgan doesn’t disappoint. His love interest, rock lead singer Elizabeth is his perfect foil, bringing out all of Axel’s protective instincts and allowing him to engage more fully with the music world he loves and turned his back on as a young man. Elizabeth is scared of being overwhelmed. She’s been down that path once before. Axel, with his dark desires and ferocious intelligence is surprising hesitant when it comes to pursuing Elizabeth, needing a good push from his family. I adored this series and hope to see all the characters pop up again in future series from Ms Morgan.

Devil’s Daughter (The Ravenels) by Lisa Kleypas (Victorian)

Devil's DaughterThe Ravenels and the second generation of wallflowers just can’t seem to keep their hands off each while declaring they just won’t suit. This leads Sebastian, former wicked Lord St Vincent and now meddling Duke of Kingston, to pull strings in order to ensure his beloved daughter Phoebe gets her happily ever after second time around. Phoebe doesn’t want to like West Ravenel. He’s the boy who bullied her poor dead husband at school. But, her father likes him, her son adores him, and even her brother thinks men can change. West doesn’t think he’s good enough for Phoebe. Will all Sebastian’s meddling come to naught or will passion overcome Phoebe’s scruples long enough to allow her to seduce West? Lisa Kleypas once again delivers a witty, intelligent romance with a cast of memorable characters.

On Bended Knee (The Wicked Worthingtons) by Celeste Bradley (Regency)On Bended Knee

I had the great good fortune to meet Celeste Bradley as part of the Australian Romance Readers Association (ARRA) book signing tour of Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. She is charming with a dry sense of humour that resonates through her books. If you haven’t met the quirky Worthingtons, make a date in your diary to do so. You won’t regret it. Lysander Worthington is back from the war in Spain, carrying a terrible secret that haunts him day and night. In search of his brother, he accidentally takes on a fight with a male pig who is not to be outdone on his own territory, thus introducing himself as a patient to Gemma Oakes, doctor’s widow. Gemma feels responsible for her hamlet in Yorkshire and continues to provide medical services. She accompanied her husband to the war, knows the horrors that Lysander faced, and is determined to rescue him from himself. However, he couldn’t fall in love with a patient – that would be unethical. Except no one on her side or Lysander’s agrees. Can Lysander face the horrors of his past? Will his secrets drive Gemma away? Only by confessing, can he find out. Celeste Bradley writes with compassion, humour and an understanding of human foibles. This is a delightful, amusing and heart-warming romance.

Of Sunlight and Stardust by Christina Lee and Riley Hart (contemporary dual timeline gay romance)

Tanner Rowe is livinOf Sunlight and Stardustg in the house he bought for his dead wife because that is what she wanted of him. Cole Lachlan has been released from prison and is looking for work, finding out the hard way that no one wants to give an ex-con a chance. He’s camping on Tanner’s property when they meet. Tanner, realising Cole is down on his luck, asks him to help rebuild the burnt barn. Cole knows he is gay but makes no move on Tanner. Tanner is initially confused by his feelings for Cole but comes to understand and accept them for what they are. Their story is eerily similar to that of two boys who lived and worked on the property fifty years ago in less enlightened times that ended in tragedy with Tanner’s dead wife mirroring the role of the girl who tried to help them. As Tanner and Cole seek to uncover what happened to the boys, the relationship grows. The question is, has the town grown enough to appreciate the value Tanner and Cole can add to the community, or will prejudice and fear of Cole’s past isolate and endanger the men? Of Sunlight and Stardust is the most beautiful, sensitive and heart-warming romance I read this past year, demonstrating the range and fluidity of human sexuality that psychologists now acknowledge. Contemporary romance at its finest.

The above are all five star romance reads. If you’re looking for something different, why not see what the other members of The Writers’ Dozen have been reading?

Angella Whitton

Rae Cairns

Pamela Cook

Michelle Barraclough

Virtual Book Tour – Lion Dancing for Love

Fabulous roses Jean Grant and Peggy Jaeger helped me celebrate a publication day for Lion Dancing with Love, in Australian and America. If you’d like to read the posts, you can click on their names for the link. I’m now on tour for the month with Goddess Fish who have put together a fabulous lineup for me. I’d love to see you pop by and say hi if you have the time.

Please note the schedule is US Eastern Standard Time, starting very early in the morning! Thank you to all my hosts – I do hope you are all making use of your schedule buttons!

Here is my schedule:

April 1: Romance Novel Giveaways

April 2: Christine Young

April 3: Straight From the Library

April 4: Edgar’s Books

April 5: The Reading Addict

April 8: T’s Stuff

April 9: Romantic Reviews

April 10: Candrel’s Crafts, Cooks, and Characters

April 11: Archaeolibrarian – I Dig Good Books!

April 12: Fabulous and Brunette

April 15: BooksChatter

April 16: Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews

April 17: Renee Wildes Weblog

April 18: All the Ups and Downs

April 19: Readeropolis

April 22: Joanne Guidoccio

April 22: Read Your Writes Book Reviews

April 23: Long and Short Reviews

April 24: Kimber Li

April 25: Locks, Hooks and Books

April 26: Viviana MacKade

I’ll update daily with the topic of discussion.

Our Five Favourite Spring Reads

So many Spring reads to choose from but here are my five favourites, all five star reads:

The Pursuit of by Courtney Milan

tpo-smallI loved this story of same sex romance in the late 1700s set against backdrop of the American War of Independence. It’s a prequel to her Worth Saga series and features the couple that set up the family business, English officer Henry Latham and African American corporal John Hunter. Chance sees them meet on the battlefield, where they almost kill each other, before becoming friends and then lovers. Both face different challenges in their personal lives and they must overcome societal restrictions and personal concerns before they reach their happy ever after. The Pursuit Of  is tender, funny and meaningful. Vintage Courtney Milan.

 

One Night Wife and Fool Me Forever, The Confidence Game books 1 and 2 by Ainslie Paton

Ainslie PatonThis series from Ainslie Paton is Robin Hood for the twentieth century. It is funny, sassy, smart, seriously sexy contemporary romance with a twist for our morally ambiguous age. The Sherwood family are professional grifters in the name of causes not supported as they should be by government and business. They con money from those who have too much, especially if they’re slack about paying tax and morally reprehensible, and give it to responsible charities. They’re one of four families committed to the con. In One Night Wife, Cal Sherwood falls for Finley Cartwright, the queen of lost causes. The problem is she’s not part of the four families. I absolutely loved it and book two, Fool Me Forever, featuring youngest brother Halsey and Fin’s friend Lenore Bradshaw.

Lionheart by Thea Harrison, Moonshadow book 3 (Moonshadow andSpellbinder)

Lionheart_HiRes_1800x2700-768x1153Lionheart is the final book in this trilogy which forms part of Thea Harrison’s Elder Races world. It is paranormal/fantasy at its finest, combining the creatures of mythology and lore with the Arthurian legend and others. Magical worlds overlap with earth creating more opportunities for cross cultural conflict, war and love. Moonshadowwas my introduction to Thea Harrison, and I was hooked. She became an immediate feature on my autobuy list. Lionheart is the story of King Oberon of Lyonesse and the Wyr earth trauma surgeon and magic user, Dr. Kathryn Shaw, sent to save him.

 

Neanderthal Seeks Human, A Smart Romance by Penny Reid, Knitting in the City bk 1

neanderthal-seeks-humanThis is not a new title, but it was a lovely introduction to Penny Reid’s delightful rom-coms. I’ll be reading my way through all the Knitting in the City as well as the Winston Brothers books. *happy sigh* Discovering a new-to-me excellent author with a long backlist is one of the best things that can happen to an avid reader. Neanderthal Seeks Humanintroduces Janie Morris, who is awkward, anxious and uncertain. Quinn Sullivan, aka Sir McHotpants, is anything but. Can they really make it work?

 

The Laird’s Christmas Kiss by Anna Campbell, Laird’s Most Likely book 2

TLCK-FOR-WEB-1-683x1024After six delightful novellas, Anna Campbell has returned to full length novels with her Laird’s Most Likely series. The Laird’s Christmas Kisshas landed just in time for Christmas, a time Anna writes about particularly well. Shy wallflower Elspeth Douglas has had a crush on Brody Girvan, Laird of Invermackie, for five years – and he has never noticed her. Just when she decides to grow up and move on, he decides to show interest. Unfortunately his reputation as a rake means Elspeth is uncertain as to whether she can trust his newfound interest. With interfering friends and a crate of imported mistletoe thrown into the mix, the stage is set for a house party rife with secrets, clandestine kisses, misunderstandings, heartache, scandal, and love triumphant.

 

If you’re looking for something different, perhaps try other members of The Writers Dozen:

 

Our Five Favourite Winter Reads

Can you believe it’s July already? This year is running towards the finish at a crazy pace. However, I always make time to read. It’s my safe place, my fun place, and the way I refill my creative well. Here are five five-star romance reads I recommend. At the bottom of my post you’ll find links to the other, very different, recommendations from The Writers Dozen.

July books composite

First up is The Lingerie Wars by Janet Elizabeth Henderson. I fell across this delightful The Lingerie Warsromantic comedy in the best way – as a recommendation from an author newsletter. It’s the first in a new-to-me seven book series set in the small Scottish town of Invertary. Englishman Lake Benson, ex-special forces, is forced to take control of the lingerie shop he helped his sister buy – or watch his life savings go down the drain. The problem is the competition directly across the street run by former model Kirsty Campbell. Lake campaigns for victory with military precision. Kirsty takes a more creative approach. Aided and abetted by a cast of quirky characters, they are each determined to win the right to be the town’s sole lingerie shop. When the sparks fly, all bets are off. The Lingerie Warsis great escapism; funny and silly but with depth in all the right places. I’m slowly reading my way through the entire series.

Stand and DeliverStand and Deliver is the latest book in Rhenna Morgan’s Men of Haven series. I adore this family of self-proclaimed brothers, their two mums and the women they fall in love with. Stand and Deliveris Beckett and Gia’s story. Gia’s a kickass Southern belle who has built a reputation in Beckett’s male-dominated security industry. Beckett knows his brothers have his back. He wants Gia to know that he has hers; that she can let down her guard once in a while. Gia’s afraid of being overwhelmed by Beckett, but when it becomes clear someone is trying to sabotage her professional reputation, she needs to take a chance on letting Beckett guard her back – and her heart. As usual, there is an element of suspense to keep your heart racing. I love all the books in this series. They are dark and dirty but with heart and humour in all the right places. And the covers are drool-worthy.

OMG. I have to confess that before May this year, I had never read a Sarina Bowen novel. SpeakeasyThat’s the bad news. The good news is that there is a Sarina Bowen shaped hole on my bookshelf which I am rapidly filling up. Don’t you love it when you find an author you haven’t read with a great backlist?! Speakeasy is new, book five in her True North series. It’s filled with the fabulous vistas and great organic food of the series’ rural Vermont setting, the backdrop for May and Alec’s story. May Shipley is an alcoholic. Alec Rossi owns and runs a bar. Their families are intertwined on one level, competitors on another. On the surface it’s not a great combination, especially given that May is on the rebound, but Alec makes her feel good and she’s not ready to give him up just yet. Sarina Bowen explores tough contemporary issues such as sexuality and addiction, but she wraps it all up in the warmth and love that is the Shipley family, giving us a vision of what modern life should look like. And the covers are great too.

The Right TrackOn The Right Track is Penelope Janu’s follow up to In at the Deep End. The books can be read as stand-alone novels but are linked by Per and Tor Amundsen, twin Norwegian brothers destined to fall in love with complicated Australian girls. Tor is the hero of On The Right Track. He’s a diplomat (read spy) investigating murky dealings in the world of horse racing, which brings him into Golden Saunders orbit. Tor is casting aspersions on the reputation of her grandfather, and Golden doesn’t want anything to do with him – or the chaos his appearance creates in her small but manageable circle. However, Tor falls fast for the combination of fragility and fierceness that is Golden. Can Tor persuade her to extend her boundaries? Can Golden take another risk on the world? Penelope Janu’s books are funny, heartfelt, tender and beautifully descriptive. I love them.

I didn’t however, love the cover for On the Right Track. It’s pretty enough but it’s deceptive. A large property two hours from the heart of Sydney does not a rural/country romance make, especially when fifty percent of the action takes place in the city suburbs. It is also so different to the cover for In at The Deep Endthat readers would be forgiven for thinking that there is no connection between the two books and that, indeed, they are in different genres. Nothing could be further from the truth. The publisher has done their author a disservice. Hopefully readers will not be distracted. I recommend both books.

Shadow Keeper is book three in my favourite Christine Feehan paranormal series, The Shadow KeeperShadow Riders. The Ferraro family of Chicago dispenses justice when the law cannot. However, business and family cannot be separated, making it hard for the Ferraros to find love, especially when their life partner must also be a shadow rider, someone with the potential to both read and ride shadows. Giovanni is on the Ferraro equivalent of desk duty, forbidden to ride the shadows until his leg is healed. He’s sick of his role as a playboy, but then he meets Sasha, a warm-hearted, smart and sassy country girl with a shadow that reaches out and touches his. She thinks she’s tough. She thinks she can look after her brother and herself. But the predators in Chicago are not as easy to fight off as the ones on the family farm. Giovanni must overcome the initial bad impression he made and persuade Sasha to trust him – and love him. Gritty, edgy and magical romance.

For more recommendations:

 

Our Five Favourite Reads

Welcome to The Writers’ Dozen Top 5 Reads Blog Hop

I fortunate to belong to a fabulous writers’ group of women of diverse tastes and interests. If there’s one thing you know about writers, it is that they are also readers. Here’s a look at what I’ve been reading this past two months along with links to all their favourite reads. Whilst mine are all romance (this time), the others feature a broad range from crime to non-fiction. Enjoy!

I’ve been meaning to give Jo Beverley’s books a go for quite some time now. I read Christmas Angel as a post-Christmas indulgence and then went back to start her Company of Rogues series from book 1. To date, I’ve glommed my way through An Arranged Marriage, An Unwilling Bridge, A Christmas Angel, A Dangerous Joy, and Forbidden. They are dark Regency romances exploring the ugly underbelly of reality for women in 19th century Britain. Initially, Jo couldn’t get them published but after she achieved success with lighter Regencies, her publisher relented and they were published to popular acclaim. She won a RITA for An Unwilling Bridge.

I love the range of characters and the way the heroine and hero have to fight so hard for their happily-ever-after. The women face the realities of rape, poverty, prostitution, and the dilemma of being married ‘off’ as possessions, to good men, well-meaning men and blaggards. The men, too, are vulnerable, to bullies in boarding schools and the dangers of war, including post-traumatic stress, loss of limbs and the death of dear friends. I’ve got at least another five to go in this series and then another series from her to lose myself in.

Another fortunate discovery of 2018 has been the work of Kiwi Lucy Parker. She’s writes delightful, funny, heart-warming rom-com set in London’s West End theatre world. They are glorious. Arrogant, vulnerable, handsome heroes. Witty, hardworking, beautiful yet insecure heroines. Definitely drawn minor characters. The reality of celebrity gossip. It’s your average working world with the drama of the stage adding an additional layer of glamour. The first book in the series is Act Like It starring Richard Troy and Lainie (Elaine) Graham, an enemies to lovers novel.  Pretty Face, book two, is just as good, but in this case the stars are Luc Savage and Lilly Lamprey. Rather than a behind-the-scenes look at deserved and undeserved reputations, it looks at how we judge people on appearance.

An out-of-the-ordinary read is Addicted to Love by Jennifer Wilck which has in common with Pretty Face a big age gap between the hero and heroine. Some of Jennifer’s contemporaries have Jewish characters, and this is one of them. Hannah and Dan work through the difficulties of loving someone older/younger, the accompanying ‘baggage’ and the different faces of addiction. It’s about love and the power of forgiveness, both external and internal. Addicted to Love is thought-provoking, well written and utterly absorbing and won’t be what you expect at all.

 

 

I have eventually grabbed Amy Andrew’s No More Mr Nice Guy off my TBR pile and couldn’t put it down. No wonder it made her a USA Today bestselling author. It’s a sexy, funny romance between two best friends, Josie and Mack, who become lovers for the purpose of dealing with her list of unexplored sexual experiences. Only when it becomes time to part, neither one of them wants to let go, but neither has the courage to speak up either. No More Mr Nice Guy is published by Entangled Brazen, and,  yes, it really is hot. If you like the bedroom door kept closed, this is not the book for you.

 

 

My final recommendation is Erica Ridley’s audiobook, Lord of Chance. I’ve been ‘reading’ Erica Ridley’s Rogues to Riches series on my to and from appointments. I think it is her best series ever. She writes non-traditional Regency romances. Not every hero is a duke. In this series one is even – GASP – working class. Her heroes and heroines deal with problems from gambling addiction, illegitimate birth in a class conscious society, the stigma of prostitution, the problems of being typecast. However, they all get their Happily Ever After. I recommend starting with book 1, Lord of Chance, Charlotte and Anthony’s story. This is followed by Lord of Pleasure and Lord of the Night, and, I hope several more, as there are characters I still wish to get to know better.

Want to see what other members of The Writers’ Dozen are reading? Stop by their blogs and find out: