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review 2017-07-23 23:36
What would you do for the people you loved...
Olivier - T.J. Nichols

'Olivier' is book #7 in the series 'Order of the Black Knights' and it's by T. J. Nichols. I'm really enjoying this series so far and while I haven't had the chance to read all of the books I've liked the ones that I have read and have hopes of going back to read the one's that I've had to miss. 

 

'The Order of the Black Knights is very much a series that allows for the books to be read as standalones. There is one character that is a constant in each book and while he is the thread that ties the stories together each story gives a more than sufficient explanation of his connection. 

 

Olivier works for organized crime. Essentially he's a hitman who refers to himself as a problem solver. But for as simple as this might look...appearances can be deceiving. Becoming a hitman was never his goal or ambition for him it was more about circumstances and circumstances are that he has a sister and a niece whom he loves dearly and will protect at any cost and if that cost is doing what he's told to without asking questions...he'll do it.

 

He's never questioned this or really thought about it. Guilt and fear are foreign concepts for him until the day he meets the twin brother of his latest victim. Suddenly he's having dreams about the past...about lives long gone, where history seems to repeat itself over and over again and he's finding that he seems to care about more than the well being of just his sister and niece, but still putting them at risk isn't an option.

 

Cody walked away from his family fifteen years ago when his father rejected them and he's never looked back. All it takes to disrupt his well ordered life is an e-mail from his twin brother's wife telling him that his brothers dead. The coroner says 'overdose' but his sister-in-law says murder. Cody wants answers and without really giving things a second thought Cody heads back to New York a place he swore never to go back to.

 

While 'Olivier' didn't work as well for me as 'Gideon' or 'Jaeger' there was still a lot about this story that I really liked.  While the attraction between Olivier and Cody was strong. Initially it felt more like a physical thing and the subsequent emotional connection came as they spent time together and the story progressed.

 

I also liked the conflict that was essentially always there as a result of Cody and Olivier's objectives being at odds with each other.

 

While I liked the ending it also felt a little too abrupt for me and while 'Gideon' and 'Jaeger' felt like they ended with an HEA this one felt like we were being left with an HFN, with strong potential but still not the HEA that these two men really deserved.

 

'The Order of the Black Knight' is not a romance series...these stories have a strong mystical element to them and they are definitely second chance stories about finding and giving forgiveness, seeking redemption and ultimately finding love.

 

********************

An ARC of 'Olivier' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-07-23 18:44
This one's not 'Hell on Wheels' but...
All Wheel Drive - Z.A. Maxfield

it did take a toll on my heart...

 

'All Wheel Drive' is book number 18 in the 'Bluewater Bay' series and like the third book, 'Hell on Wheels' it's written by Z. A. Maxfield, an author that I'm kind of  partial to. So of course I was all grabby hands for this one because 'Hell on Wheels' is one of my favorite books in this series so far. 

 

If this is a series that you're reading than you'll remember that 'Hell on Wheels' was about Nash Holly and in this book, we get a closer look at Healey Holly, Nash's twin brother and seriously can we talk about that name? Healey, really? I have to admit it just wasn't working for me, but, aside from the name, I really liked Healey. While Nash and Healey may look alike on the outside it's inside where the differences really begin, although both of these men are good and decent people who love their family and are loyal to the extreme with those they care about. Healey is crazy smart and has spent most of his adult life in the world of academia unlike his brother Nash.

 

The last thing that Healey expects when he knocks on the door of his childhood home broken, battered and bruised on the outside and just wanting to rent the apartment over the garage so that he can let his shattered heart and body heal is to be greeted by a man in a wheelchair who recognizes the look of helpless anxiety that he sees in Healey's eyes after all Diego's seen that same look often enough in the mirror in the days following the accident that put him in a wheelchair and again after losing his mother it's become a familiar sight as he tries to piece his own life back together.

 

For me 'All Wheel Drive' was as much a book about learning to live with a new reality and forgiving yourself as it was about finding someone to love. Both Healey and Diego have issues…lots and lots of issues.

 

Healey’s come back to his childhood home in Bluewater Bay more as an emotional reflex reaction to his recent experiences than any kind of practical or even logical decision. He’s hurting physically and emotionally following a car accident and the end of his long-time relationship with ‘Ford’ the man he loved and the man who nearly cost Healey his life.

 

‘All Wheel Drive’ was for want of a better word at times a bit convoluted. Especially the part that dealt with Healey and the circumstances surrounding his relationship with Ford and why he returned to Bluewater Bay and while I’m not often a fan of stories that twist and turn the way Healey’s does, in this instance I don’t honestly think that there was a direct path to take with his story. His relationship with Ford was complicated to say the least because of Ford’s circumstances and his family.  The dynamics between Healey and Ford were…well let’s just say ‘it was complicated’ and truthfully from the information we were given it never really seemed that they were meant to be, but we don’t always get to pick who we love and when that love ends sometimes it takes a while for the heart to understand what the head already knows and this seemed to be part of what Healey had to deal with in letting go of his relationship with Ford.

 

As well Healey and Diego definitely had issues when it came to communication but given how emotionally fragile both men were…especially Healey. I’m not sure I would have believed anything different. I certainly would have found it a bit of a fairy tale if the author had given us an ‘insta-love, all-my-problems-are-solved-now-that-you’re-in-my-life’ kind of story. Healey didn’t even trust himself anymore much less trust someone else and Diego because of his accident believed that there were things in his life that were lost to him forever…especially the physical aspects of an intimate relationship and both men were trying to protect themselves from further heartache…so communication at best between these two was guarded and putting everything out there when neither of them had fully pieced themselves back together was a scary concept and often times done in a very roundabout fashion.

 

‘All Wheel Drive’ is by no means a typical romance story, it was complicated and as I said at the beginning it was often ‘convoluted’, but for me it was also the epitome of second chance stories and finding love when and where you least expect it. There was definitely some sexy times between these two, that on more than one occasion turned out to be funny and messy and so very fragile as both men tried to guard their heart and still be what the other man needed.

 

Just like real life ‘All Wheel Drive’ was complicated, messy, frustrating, funny, awkward, sexy, full of love and kindness and in the end worth the effort.

 

*******************

An ARC of 'All Wheel Drive' was graciously provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-07-19 20:38
A horse trainer and a retired surgeon...how could things possibly go wrong?
An Unexpected Truth - S.A. Meade

‘An Unexpected Truth’ is my first book by this author…definitely not my last. I was pretty much enchanted from the word go when I realized that the story was set in England. I have a definite fondness for England…maybe, my in-laws are from there and maybe my mother’s family is from there and maybe it’s just a beautiful country but whatever, I love it so reading a book with England as the setting was definitely no hardship add in that it’s set in the countryside and there are horses and things are just getting better and better.

 

Brendan Matthews trains racehorses for a living and he’s happy with his quiet life but he’s also not a foolish man so when opportunity brings 6 yearlings that display more than a little potential to him and they happen to be owned by a man who’s ‘not to shabby either’. Who is Brendan to not open the door when opportunity knocks.

 

Adam Ahmadi is a wealthy orthopedic surgeon who’s looking for something to do with his time and money after an accident damages his hand forcing him to retire early. He was thinking horses but one look at Brendan and Adam’s interest go beyond having Brendan train his horses.

 

I really enjoyed this story from start to finish. The first part of the story focused on Brendan and Adam’s relationship and it was wonderful. These two men getting to know each other was sweet and a slow burn. They spent time together taking care of the horses, cooking for one another, taking walks, getting to know one another. There was no insta-love here and while there’s a bit of an age gap it’s not a big deal…so much not a big deal that I really can’t remember exactly how big of an age gap it was…so definitely not an issue for me.

 

The relationship between Brendan and Adam unfolded beautifully and was definitely one of my favorite parts. Also, there was a bit of drama and suspense unfolding in the background and while this part of the story was more prominent in the latter part of the book and for a while it was the dominant part of the story it was necessary in order for things to play out to a conclusion that brought us back to Brendan and Adam’s relationship and the HEA that these men so deserved.

 

As Brendan and Adam’s relationship deepens Adam’s past rears it’s ugly head forcing them apart and leaving Brendan more than a little mystified about what Adam’s feelings are and whether or not the future he wants with Adam can be a reality or not.

The ending of this one worked for me. There was just enough going on to hold my interest but not enough to make it overwhelming or confusing since most of what happened around Adam’s past wasn’t really revealed or dealt with until the last half of the book.

 

For me ‘An Unexpected Truth’ was a story that I was easily able to slip into reading and enjoy. The writing style was so enjoyable and easy to follow, the characters worked well together and I found myself enjoying all aspects of the story…the romance, the suspense, the little bit of a plot twist that I didn’t quite see coming. It all came together to create an unique and enjoyable reading experience that I look forward to experiencing again.

 

********************

 

A copy of ‘An Unexpected Truth’ was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2017-07-18 00:37
Well this one was aptly named because it seems "You Never Know"...
You Never Know - Mary Calmes

I freely admit with me when it comes to Mary Calmes they all start as 5 star reads and often stay that way or they may slide down to 4.5 or 4 stars. It's not very often that things slide below that. 

 

I was pretty conflicted on this one. I liked the overall concept of the story but for me the devil was in some of the details.

 

Now for the best part of the story...Hagen. I loved Hagen...as did everyone else. But Hagen is that person that you just can't help but love. He's good and kind, gentle, loyal and way, way more forgiving than most people but at the same time he really wasn't a pushover. He stood up for himself when he truly needed to and did it without using threats, intimidation or humiliation. 

 

The first problem I had was Ash. I did not like this man. He was not nice. He was self-centered, self-absorbed and just totally selfish. He wanted Hagen on his terms with no consideration to what Hagen really wanted or for the life that Hagen had made for himself. He got himself caught in more than one lie. He was manipulative and try as I might I could not see him as someone who was nice, so the fact that he was such a strong presence in the story truthfully irritated me. I honestly just wanted Hagen to tell him to go away. 

 

I definitely liked Mitch more than Ash. While I got why things happened the way they did between Mitch and Hagen. There were glimpses of Mitch being sorry and regretting what happened but I just felt like there needed to be more than a glimpse of regret from Mitch. I think he missed Hagen, but it felt more like Mitch did what he did because he had to and he thought Hagen should understand and be willing to move forward from there and I have to admit if I was Hagen it would have been a big 'Oh hell no!' no matter how much I loved or wanted to be with the other person.

 

I honestly can't say what would have made this part better for me. I believe in second chances and that's one of the things that really appealed to me about this story so of course, I was cheering for Hagen and Mitch from the start and I loved the ending of the story it was awesome, but the middle where Mitch's "I'm sorry" just didn't feel as epic as his "mistake" was where I needed more, I needed the "I'm sorry" to be at least as grand as his "mistake" and it just didn't happen.

 

I enjoyed this one but for me it definitely wasn't another 'Frog' or 'Acrobat' or my personal favorite 'Mine'. But then if they were all 5 stars how would anything ever be special for us and at the end of the day, I'm still waiting for my next Mary Calmes story because even the good ones leave me happy.

 

********************

An ARC of 'You Never Know' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

 

 

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review 2017-07-17 15:34
It's hockey night in Canada!!!!
Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers Hockey Book 1) - RJ Scott,V.L. Locey

‘Changing Lines’ is the first book in a new series by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey. While I’m a long time fan of R.J. Scott this is my first time reading anything by Ms. Scott’s co-author V.L. Locey and from the looks of things I’m about to become a fan of this author as well…I’m definitely a fan of this series already.

 

It’s hockey and I am after all Canadian and a Bruins fan, I’ll explain this shortly. Tennant ‘Ten’ Rowe is one of the 3 brothers who are making a name for themselves on the ice. There’s Ryan his oldest brother captain of the amazing Boston Bruins. Unfortunately, while he loves his little brother Ten, Ryan tends to be a bit obnoxious at times but hey, that’s what big brothers are for…I should know I have four of them. Then there’s Jamie (James to their mom) he’s the peace keeper the negotiator of the family and Ten well he’s the baby and needless to say he’s tired of living in everyone’s shadow. He’s got talent of his own and then some but between his two older brothers and playing in the shadow of Tate Collins his teammate and the shining star of Texas hockey Ten’s thinking that getting traded to the Railers might not be such a bad thing and maybe it’ll be his chance to shine.

 

Jared ‘Mads’ Madsen is the defensive coach for the Railers. Having his NHL career cut short wasn’t his plan but at least coaching allows him to continue with the game he loves and spend time with his son, Ryker.  Jared’s not a stranger to the Rowe brothers but what he suddenly realizes is that Ten’s may be 9 years his junior but he’s not a little kid anymore and keeping his hands off may not be something Mads really wants to do.

 

I’m not sure where to start here so let’s start with the obvious I enjoyed the hell outta’ this story…I loved it. For me it was well balanced between the romance and the hockey. I liked the amount of hockey that was there in terms of the detail…like I said “I am Canadian”. I loved Mads and how he refused to rush things between him and Ten. He wanted to take it slow for him and Ten to really get to know one other. I loved that it wasn’t just a case of ‘Hi, how you been? and then falling into bed. That took time and drove Ten crazy as he discovered that Mads may have wanted him but he wasn’t going to lose control or think with his little head…nope Mads was a man with the maturity to know that ‘good things come to he, who waits’ or has strawberries… I will never view strawberries quite the same again.

 

These two men are sweet, funny, sexy and just really good together both in and out of the bedroom. Their communication is strong and then there’s all the other fun stuff. Things like Mads son Ryker. He was a typical 17 year old wanting to rush his life but a the still time silently crying out for help and guidance from his parents. His grandfather not so much…the guy was an idiot…but you’ll have to read the story for the scoop on him.

 

I would also seriously like to spend a holiday at the Rowe house this family is awesome…don’t get me wrong, they’re not perfect. They fight, they argue and then they talk and make up or go to the treehouse…again you’ll need to read the story to find out about this but the treehouse is awesome.

 

‘Changing Lines’ is by no means a comedy but it is a good start to what I think is going to be an enjoyable hockey themed series. There were hot men both on and off the ice, humorous moments…also on and off the ice, there’s Pokemon and Pokemon tattoos, there’s Sven, one of the best Russian goalies EVER!…I love Sven and a coming out that is epic from start to finish.

 

If book 2 is anything like this one…well all I can say is…‘Hockey Night in Canada’ just got a whole lot more interesting.

 

*********************

 

A copy of ‘Changing Lines’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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