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review 2019-02-01 14:59
Fathers, sons, betrayals and a gift with many shades.
Lover Betrayed (The Gift Legacy Companion Book 1) - JP McLean

I was sent an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

As I said in my review of Secret Sky, I had known about this series for a while but never seemed to find the time to read it as more books kept being added to it. After finally reading the first novel, I had the opportunity to read this one, that in effect covers much of the same ground as Secret Sky, but it is told from a different perspective, that of Jackson Delaney, the man who trains Em in the first book, and teaches her quite a number of things (and in case you haven’t read it, I won’t say any more). I must confess that my curiosity was two-fold. On finishing that novel, I think most readers will be left wondering the reasons for Jackson’s behaviour. Although he was never a favourite of mine (he seemed too good to be true and too secretive to be trustworthy), the things we learn about him at the end of the story would make most people reconsider what they had read and make conjectures as to why he had done what he did. As a writer, I was also intrigued about how the author would approach the challenge of telling the same story from a different perspective, or at least, including part of the same story into another story told by somebody else. It is not the same to write a book that includes different perspectives as writing two separate books giving us different accounts of the same story. By using a first-person narrative again, we get inside of the character’s head, and it makes for a very interesting experience, especially if one has read the other book very recently, as you can see the same scene, and read the same dialogue, but interpret it in a completely different way. It must have been a challenge, and I must say that although I read both books back to back and was, therefore, very familiar with the story, the nuances and the change in point of view kept it fresh and intriguing.

This novel talks about families and family relationships, particularly between fathers and sons, although the relationship of Jackson’s wife to her family is also key to the development of the story. The novel opens at the funeral for Jackson’s father, and the author sets the scene beautifully, with great descriptions of the setting, the characters, the funeral arrangements, down to the heat (this is New Orleans in August, and having visited it in September, I can only imagine how suffocating it must be). The author also manages to convey a lot of information about Jackson’s father and his somewhat “dubious” business practices, without making the reader feel there is too much telling. Being inside of Jackson’s head, we share in his perspective and, at least at first, it seems as if he is trying to leave his mark on things and do things more ethically and stand his moral ground, in contrast to his father. (Of course, having read the other book, I had my doubts as to how things would work out, but I think he makes for a very credible character if somebody reads this book first). It doesn’t take long though before it becomes evident that perhaps he is more of his father’s son than he wants to believe, and some of the lessons he learned from his father prove difficult to unlearn, like his lack of confidence and mistrust of women, and his attitude towards family, his and others.

This is another book that has paranormal elements at its heart although, at least at first sight, the novel is set in our everyday world, only with some enhancements and secrets most of us know nothing about. This novel can also be enjoyed by people who don’t often read fantasy, but here we come to realise much sooner than in Secret Sky that the gift can be manipulated and put to uses far from harmless, and we get the perspective of somebody who has grown up with the gift, rather than learning about it with the main character. Jackson moves between both worlds with ease and manages to keep them separate most of the time, but perhaps not as well as he imagines.

I enjoyed reading the same story from a different perspective, although I would not say the book has managed to endear me to Jackson, in particular. He is a solid character, his motivations are plausible, and whatever we might think of his behaviour, he is not all good or all bad. He is quick to think the worst of people; at times he seems cocky and full of confidence but some of his actions and reactions prove he is not as strong and self-confident as he’d like others to believe; he misjudges people often and holds grudges that seem unjustified; he is rather egotistical and thinks of his own interests first; he manipulates others to get what he wants, but he is ambivalent and tries to avoid causing unnecessary harm, can be generous on occasion, and is a dutiful son.  His attitude towards women is problematic, but this seems to be part of his inheritance, and yes, we do get the male perspective of the sexual encounters as well (not something I particularly cared for, but like the rest of the book, I thought Jackson’s voice felt genuine and worked well). There is a clear ARC to the character and by the end he has learned a lot about himself, not all of it flattering.

I read a description of the book which mentioned Rashomon and it got me thinking. Rashomon tells the same story from the perspectives of several of the witnesses present, and in this case I wondered how other characters would have seen the events, or rather, thought about Jackson and his actions at the time. But that would be another book. (Just saying!)

The novel also contains questions for book clubs (don’t read them before you read the novel, as there are spoilers) and a glossary of terms that hints at a much more complex world than we have so far glimpsed. That and the description of the rest of the books in the series piqued my curiosity, and I suspect this would not be the last book in the series I read.

I think this book can be enjoyed on its own, and I’d be curious to hear the opinion of somebody who read it without being familiar with the series, but to fully appreciate it I’d recommend reading at least the first of the Gift Legacy series first. A book for readers who enjoy a touch of fantasy and fancy, combined with a good story of family relationships, betrayal, and mystery. And if you like boats and sailing, even better.

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text 2019-01-15 09:46
Reading progress update: I've read 33 out of 320 pages.
The Scent Of Scandal: Greed, Betrayal, And The World's Most Beautiful Orchid - Craig Pittman

I started this last night and I think it's one of those books you have to have a connection to in order to really get into it.  My connection is actually two-fold: I am a Florida native, born and raised in the Sarasota area, where this story takes place, and my father was an orchid grower and hybridiser who did a lot of work for, and with, Selby Botanical Gardens, the 'scene fo the crime'.  His health by the time this story takes place had deteriorated enough that he was in no way a part of it (nor would he have been anyway; his interest was creating hybrids, not obtaining rarities), but he would have known most of the players.

 

So far, Pittman's writing is straight-forward investigative journalism and reads like it.  This is fine - he's a journalist, after all - and I've read one of his other books and enjoyed his style well enough.  He started out writing for the Sarasota Herald Tribune, so he knows the area well (and is also a native); this is a bonus to a native Sarasotian - he's got the atmosphere pretty well nailed.

 

The other part he has nailed is the obsessive, fanatical, competitiveness of orchidists and orchid hobbyists.  I'd say you have to see it to believe it, but I lived my whole life with it and I still can't believe the lengths they will go to in order to obtain new specimens, or hoard the ones they have.  Whatever 'secrets' they develop to raise them successfully are just that - jealously guarded secrets.  When my father wanted to learn about orchids (in the 50's or 60's, I think) - nobody would tell him anything beyond the basics about water, food and light.  When he wanted to start hybridising - forget it; he might as well have been asking for CIA documents.  My dad being my dad, he just did his own research, experimented, created his own glove-box, tested it out, and when it worked, gave the plans and specifications for it to anyone who asked for it.  My dad was the best!

 

Still a long way to go in this book, and it's not going to be an easy, breezy read, but so far it's exactly what this native Florida girl living on the other side of the world needed.  A true virtual trip home.

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review 2018-09-28 14:12
Dirty Rich Betrayal - Lisa Renee Jones

Dirty Rich Betrayal is the fourth book in this series, which I have not read the first 3 of, but I jumped in and didn’t miss a beat.     Grayson is entirely alpha male.   He is wealthy, he is in charged, and he protects those who mean the most to him which includes Mia.    Mia is everything to him and his biggest rival is out to take him down using her.   

 

I devoured Grayson and Mia’s story.    While some of the scenes make me blush and the language used isn’t my style I couldn’t put the book down when it came to the drama of the take down, the heat of their love, and the unending devotion to each other.      They are a couple that when apart fails to live their lives but together they flourish and surround each other with so much love and respect that can’t do anything but succeed.  

 

 

The secondary characters of the book were great also.   They showed how much they respected each other, trusted each other, and just how true their friendships were.   While some are work friends, some are social friends, there is never a doubt that Grayson and Mia only have friends that they trust and love.    

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review 2018-09-25 01:39
Dirty Rich Betrayal (Dirty Rich, #4) by Lisa Renee Jones
Dirty Rich Betrayal - Lisa Renee Jones

 

When walking through a minefield one has to be on full alert. One wrong move and danger is instantly upon you. Dirty Rich Betrayal is the equivalent of said minefield and Grayson and Mia's relationship could prove to be it's casualty. Jones guides readers through broken hearts, endless betrayals and secret agendas. Can love survive a never-ending battlefield? How can there ever be love, if neither is able to trust? Betrayal is the anatomy of what leads to a broken heart, but at the core of this story is how to repair the damage. Mia and Grayson are an explosive road map to the beginnings a second chance. It's heartbreaking, dirty and heated but after the storm, blue skies await.

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text 2018-09-23 00:45
Reading progress update: I've listened to 1025 out of 1350 minutes.
Lethal White - Robert Galbraith,Robert Glenister

 

Well, good for you, Robin.  This was long overdue.  I hope this time you're going to really go through with it.

(spoiler show)
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