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review 2017-04-28 22:40
In The Ring
In the Ring: A Dario Caivano Novel - Perri Forrest

Title: In The Ring
Author: Perri Forrest
Publisher: Chic Lioness Publishing, LLC.
Reviewed By: Arlena Dean
Rating: Five
Review:

"In The Ring" by Perri Forrest

My Thoughts.

Good Read!

This author gives the reader something to think about...what happens when a secret finally comes out but was it really a secret that one important person already knew about it? I kept wondering what was it about these sisters that seemed to keep them apart [Chanel & Rochelle]? Let's not leave out the two main characters... Chanel & Dario who were two interesting people were truly drawn together in so many ways. Well, all I can say is that is this was one amazing read with twist and turns that that one will only have to pick up and read to see how well this author presents it to the readers. I enjoyed how the story flowed so well together and in the end all I can say is that the readers will gets one simply a good read.

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review 2017-04-22 18:53
Review: With Every Letter (Wings of the Nightingale #1) by Sarah Sundin
With Every Letter - Sarah Sundin

This book.

 

*SIGH*

 

*great book noise*

 

Where has this author been all my adult reading life?

 

I ended up creating a draft copy of my end of the year best of list for fiction. It has one book on that list. This book.

 

So I picked this book up from Amazon's bargain/close out section and then it gathered dust on my book shelves for years. I am now kicking myself for not reading this (and the other two books in the trilogy, but I don't have a copy of those yet) sooner.

 

Lt Philomela Blake (Mellie) is an Army nurse working on the experimental Air Evacuation section of the Army-Air Corps. She wants adventure, she wants travel, and she wants to move up in her career. Mellie is a damn fine nurse, and a fine person - but she is lonely because she never could make friends, especially female friends due to her childhood. Mellie is half-Filipino and half-white; she was too Asian for American school kids to like and too American for Asian kids to like. She has been instructed to learn to make friends and get along with the other women in her squadron or she will be removed from the Air Evacuation team and sent back to hospital work. She decides that part of this new "make friends and influence people" plan is to write anonymous letters to a male pen pal in her supervisor's husband's platoon.

 

Lt Tom MacGilliver is the son of an executed killer who just wants to be accepted for himself and be the best engineer the Army needs. He is working with the Airfield Battalion, hopping from location to location to lay down airfields for the Allies in North Africa. He too is lonely, so he answers Mellie's letter, staying anonymous. She goes by "Annie" and he goes by "Ernest".

 

Tom and Mellie form a deep bond through letters, even when Mellie's unit deploys to North Africa. They do meet, neither of them knowing that the other is the pen pal. At the end of the first meeting, Tom gives away a little of his identity and Mellie figures out Tom is her pen pal. She keeps this knowledge to herself, hoping to keep letter writing going. Both are falling in love with each other via letters, but Tom is also starting to fall for Mellie when she comes to his airfields to pick up wounded soldiers. He is very conflicted about his feelings for the "two" women throughout the second half of the book, but in the end he decides on "Annie" over Mellie, because "Annie" knows him deep down while Mellie he is physically attracted to. When he finally (FINALLY!!) figures out that they are actually the same woman, he mows down anyone in his way of him getting his woman.

 

This romance tackles racism, ethnic tensions, sexism, and how to deal with long hair when in the combat theater and you are rationed water supplies. Honestly, the deft hand when dealing with these issues plus the emotional baggage Mellie and Tom bring to their relationship is amazing. The story is rounded out with a variety of characters, some good - some bad - some ugly. But all the characters felt real. And the setting was aptly described; the reader is taken on a tour of North Africa including Casablanca, Oran, Tunis, Algiers, Youks-les-Bains, Constantine, Tabarka, and a few places in Sicily. This is an inspie romance, non-denominational Christianity. However, the religious aspects are really well-woven into the story, with no lecturing or long monologues or selfish praying. 

 

Tom adopts a stray dog early in the book. The dog is still alive at the end of the book and still working and living with Tom's unit.

 

I am definitely making it a point to read the other two books in the series and read the author's backlist (she tends to write in trilogies, all WWII). HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!

 

 

 

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review 2017-03-18 23:27
This is definitely going to be a series to watch...
An Unseen Attraction - K.J. Charles

A Tag Team Review with Chelsea!

FOUR HEARTS--K.J. Charles' newest Victorian romance series, Sins of the Cities, starts off on the right foot with An Unseen Attraction. A slow burn with an encompassing mystery and romance between two unassuming souls can be found in this novel.


"Rowley, there are lots of people who think I'm worth looking at. Not so many who think I'm worth listening to. Not like you."
A spasm of something passed across Rowley's face. "Then there are a lot of fools out there."




Swoon.

The words were, as usual, a joy to read from this author. And the shared moments between 28-year-old Clement Talleyfer - lodging house keeper and 35 year old, Rowley Green, a solitary preserver (taxidermist) made this book special.

Clement, or Clem, is of Indian descent and grew up an outsider for his entire life. Rowley has not had an easy childhood and bears the scars to prove it. The author has a fine hand on writing inclusive characters be it race or QUILTBAG, no one gets left out. And An Unseen Attraction is on par.

But what makes this book even more special was including a character with DCD (Developmental Coordination Disorder or Dyspraxia). She wrote the character in such a way that respected the disorder and an affected person's feelings, rather than using his disorder as a characteristic and not following up. (I'm not a fan of books that write characters with intellectual disabilities and can't back it up with thorough research). Based on the obvious research alone put into this tale, it's rated all the hearts.

Clem runs the lodging house and crushes on his lodger of eight months, the small, quiet Mr. Green, who runs a preserve shop next door. Clem's not one to easily discern if Mr. Green would welcome his affections, so quiet friendship is what he relies on to keep in respectable contact within that time period. You know what they say about the quiet ones? Because quiet Mr. Green notices Clem just as much.

Told in dual POV, the two become closer while surround by interesting characters at the lodging house. Their shared attraction obvious. A mystery is literally dropped on the house doorsteps by way of a dead body. The pair bond even more, trying to figure out what is the cause of the violent acts. Both men have damaging pasts, with internal and external scars. Clem is gorgeous (great cover by the way - it's very close to how I picture Clem). But with DCD, most treat him like an imbecile. Rowley, knows he's not as handsome and he tends to downplay himself. Not to the point of annoyance but thankfully Clem sees him as a worthy partner and vice versa.

I loved both main characters. (Can you tell?) Flawed individuals who make each other stronger together and bring out the best in each other without losing a sense of self. They aren't overt characters, rather it's the quietness and the little things that they both do that grabs the attention.

And their compatibility exists both in and out of the bedroom!


"I like to be...undemanding in bed. To, well, have the other person make the decisions. there's something about someone doing what he wants to do with me..."






I-- *clears throat*

Yes, I'm very fine with that.

Edging and submissiveness...oh yes, these two were definitely hot together.

While the two check off so many boxes on my characters-I-enjoy list, the story isn't without minor flaws.

Why not full throttle and dump all the hearts at this book's feet? There are some open ended issues that I would love to be answered. There's an arc that has enough mystery to probably cover the entire series. (That epilogue is everything)

But...something about the 'villain(s) ending'-- something about it s sticking in my craw. Maybe it could be more of a me thing but I wanted justice. I wanted a big never ending battle royal as a climax to the action scenes scattered about the story.

The cowardice irks me. Who is the accomplice? Mastermind? Ah!

But I do think the author kept the main character's personalities at the forefront at all times, so I'll just have to swallow and build a bridge to get over it.

Or read the rest of this series, which I DEFINITELY will be. Because I am all in for "Polish Mark". This author has me pining for themes I tend to shy away from - mysteries and psychics. *shakes head*

The writing is that good.

I don't plan on running through the ignored lists of books with those themes but it seems that if K.J. Charles has written it, I'll make an exception.

The secondary characters are just as intriguing as the main characters. And the story overall, is well written enough, suspenseful enough and romantic enough to check out!

Recommended.



A copy provided for an honest review via Netgalley.

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review 2017-03-06 06:31
Stereotypes in insta-love. Ho hum.
Permanent Ink - Jaime Samms
A Hearts On Fire Review

TWO HEARTS--The re-release of Permanent Ink by Jaime Samms is a short story that features a very quick pairing between white college basketball player Eric and black tatted/pierced ex-con Dwayne. Eric's best friend is Dwayne's cousin, Angel, meaning they knew of each other but never formally hung out. Eric judges Dwayne based on his outward appearance, assuming the worst. Though Dwayne doesn't help Eric's preconception in the beginning of the short when he brags about his ass pain from a hookup the night before. The two start on the wrong foot and it quickly turns around into a HEA.

Race is an important factor in this short. And unfortunately, so are a few stereotypes.

This is a re-release, I haven't read the original version but I'm going to take a stab that not much changed. Though the time period could be implied as modern day, it read more like any reference to the time period was vaguely mentioned. An example, Dwayne is supposed to look like a "thug" with cornrows and beads because he came from the hood and had to wear the "thug" exterior to protect himself on the "inside".

*sigh*

I just can't buy the characterization as justification for writing Dwayne this way. I'm unsure if the story is supposed to be based in the UK or America, so it could help me reference the characters. Maybe that's how the "thugs" dress and act in a different part of the world? *shrug*

I think I see what the author was going for, opposites attract insta-love romance but the beginning was rough. I didn't like Eric. He was privileged and didn't really come away as a better person in the end. Dwayne read more like 2-D character who had past rape added to his life to give depth?

Past rape was given as the reason for the "armor" of tattoos and 'tough persona....why have him brag about sleeping around if he has a sexual hang up (about bottoming). There were contradicting factors - hooking up with random men to never having sex since jail.

Didn't make the impact it tried to go for.

My second biggest gripe (after poor characterization) is if this was reedited, why not make it read more current? Angel tried to give something about race relations when he tried to give a teaching moment with Eric. But it kinda fell off to the wayside. Story is too short to try and encompass crime, rape PTSD. Not a fan of the way it was written or presented.

The one sex scene was a bust because the main characters read awkward and acted awkward to me. Example, it'd be a kiss then stall then kiss then pause...not smooth writing. Along with the vagueness in the writing.

I've read this author in the past. Samms's books have a tendency to be full of angst. I don't think the topics added to make the story...interesting (for lack of a better word) was needed.

How could the story have been better? More length, show how the two connected rather than insta-love over time. There were very tiny bits of that that just didn't go anywhere.

Didn't like Eric by the end - he still read like a privileged rich kid. I doubt he grew or will grow from his relationship with Dwayne. Dwayne could do so much better.

Not recommended.
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review 2017-03-02 02:04
Fun historical road trip romance!
Wanted, A Gentleman - K.J. Charles
A tag team review with Chelsea

3.75-4 HEARTS (sliding scale)--

WANTED, A Gentleman of better character than he knows, who plays the Villain to the manner born. Prompt application to M.St.V. is greatly desired as a Promise remains to be kept.

Oh this was fun!

Wanted, A Gentleman is officially my first book of the year and I couldn't have chosen any better to start the new year off! Take one overworked scribbler who is a bit shifty (Theo Swann) and pair Theo with a former slave turned well to do merchant who is straightforward (Martin St. Vincent) and get a surprisingly light, and sexy opposites attract budding romance(?)

It's romantic in a sense though the story starts with a HFN feel, it's a promising start which read like an organic conclusion.

St. Vincent (I've had a great track record with historical St. Vincents) needs help locating a wayward teen who is determined to marry a liar. The girl is the only child of St. Vincent's former masters = complicated city. Theo runs a matrimonial matchmaking advertising business where the lonely and desperate write for potential matches. The two men are thrown together during desperate measures, Martin wants to help a child he grew up with though the ties still uneasy to fathom and Theo wants the money Martin promises him....even though he can't stop his attraction to Martin.

The two start off as strangers, are thrown together in a race to catch up with the eloping pair. And you know what happens during that road trip when mutual passion and chemistry is shared between the pair?

Road side hooking up.




This isn't PWP in the least and the road trip plot and chasing the wayward teen and her crappy swain plays second fiddle to Martin and Theo's page time. Thankfully.

The story is a definite win, but some parts were better than others.

Where this book excels : The main characters are the read and butter of this story. From the moment they meet to the very last scene, Martin St. Vincent and Theodore Swann grab the reader's attention.Well known Charles is a wordsmith and exceeds with excellent dialogue between her main characters. No different in Wanted. Theo and Martin have great balance of funny, serious, sexual and damaged.

"This has been a delightful interlude, but if you don't fuck me right now, I am going to set fire to your house. Consider yourself warned."
"Well, if you put it that way. How do you like it?"
"In."
"I'm trying to treat you with respect and consideration. The least you could do is stop playing the harlot."
"What makes you think I'm playing?"

Well matched pair.

Another point where the story excels is the fact that Martin is a conflicted character. The story is light in tone but it by no means diminishes Martin's history. I think it gave a great grasp on being...'other' than what society deems 'the normal'. It was cool to read Charles' take on a merchant Black Briton in the Georgian era. Martin is layered. He's proud of his accomplishments (freed slave now merchant), never mistreated as a slave and grateful for that because it could have been worse. But he is still angry. (Justifiably so) Traveling north of London, the reader gets a taste of the subtle racism Martin endures, learns why he chooses to continue this 'mission' and get to learn all of facets.

All while having Martin find a possible partner. And it wasn't angst riddled.

Out of the pair, Martin wins for me slightly over Theo, though Theo is definitely no slouch in the great character department: witty, quick thinking and just a bit criminal. Both are damaged by their upbringing but aren't bitter at the world.

Where the book was good : The plot was simple and engaging. I've lost track of how many historical romances I've read that used a Gretna Green road trip plot device to throw opposites together. It was nice to read one with a queer main couple. It's a quick read so, there aren't everlasting declarations made (Totally wouldn't work BTW) There was a big twist at 65% that seems a little left field...how? what? who? But overall, it works for the arc.

Where the book could have done better: It's little nitpicks but knowing I've read stellar reads from this author in the past, I know this story could have been more. Maybe a little more exposition on Theo. It's a Martin/Theo book and we get more depth on Martin. Theo is an interesting character. He leads a double (or triple) life. Once the twist is thrown in, Theo loses a little of his sparkle. I think I wouldn't have minded more page time, maybe a little more written at the stage stops on the road. The reasoning of why Martin chose to chase after 'Cressida' is given but maybe a touch more.

Altogether, the story more than gets the job done.

Would I read more of this pairing? Yes...and no. The story ends on the right hopeful note. I wouldn't say no to possible future snippets of their future but the story really drove the main point across.

Martin is living a HEA (as much as can be expected in that time period) being free and being able to help the poor Britons in need.

Theo was a delightful addition. Two lonely hearts entwined for however long they fancy.

Sometimes a budding and hopeful end is all we need.

Recommended for readers familiar with Charles work, readers of historical romance who don't mind different interpretations of a HEA.

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