Review: Robin Storey – An Affair with Danger

An Affair with Danger
Robin Storey

Will is held up in an armed robbery, and can no longer think straight. His life as a lawyer should have prepared for the court to stand witness, but instead he finds himself falling for the perp’s girlfriend, Frankie. What follows is an affair that is perhaps a little dangerous.

The author gets points for making the novel potentially race along, skipping years where necessary to make the plot move. What redeemed this novel a little was the writing style, and the gentle nature of the male protagonist. He wasn’t all macho, which made it a refreshing change from other romance novels. Not to mention it was a MALE protagonist, which is rare in this genre.

This was a throwaway novel. It’s nothing special, I’m sorry to say. Where it fails is that it didn’t leave me with a sense of having gained anything in reading it. I didn’t get attached enough to the characters, I didn’t learn anything particularly pertinent about being a lawyer. It left me feeling lukewarm, with the romance/affair not being ‘throbbing’ enough to keep my attention.

This author did send me this novel off her own bat, and has spent a very unfair amount of time waiting for this review. I also interviewed her back in 2016. It makes me wish I could have gotten more out of the novel and given it a more positive review. I’m going to give it a lower end of a 3 star review, because I did finish reading it.

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Review: Liz Kessler – Haunt Me

Haunt Me
Liz Kessler

Erin has just moved house to get away from a horrific high school bullying situation which got out of control. When she goes into her bedroom, she is surprised to find it already occupied – by a ghost. Joe doesn’t remember how he died, or how he lived, but he knows that he wishes he was alive to be with Erin.

Ollie isn’t introduced until mid-way through the novel, and by then I was already too attached to the Erin-Joe relationship to give him any time. Ollie, you are boring and you can’t redeem yourself in my eyes. Self-centred bastard who can’t see past his own guilt.

I’m giving this novel points for dealing with difficult themes, including suicide as a product of bullying. However, I’m taking away points for the ending. Yay! A hopeful ending. Not. This is not what the rest of the novel was leading up to. I was very disappointed.

This captured the recovering depressed mind of a teenager beautifully. Erin’s ritual with the bottle, the cloud she refers to, and even the rushed moments at the end of the novel – everything is as it should be. Which is why, again, I have such an issue with the ending.

Inconsistencies with the character development and the stupidity of Erin were the death knells of this novel for me. For being an “intensely romantic” novel, Erin’s love for Joe felt cliched, while her feelings for Ollie were just as transperant. Another reviewer calls it “insta-love”, and that’s exactly how I felt about it too. I wanted more reality.

I enjoyed Read Me Like A Book and suspended disbelief for it. I was so excited for this novel, but it simply failed to deliver. I’ll be giving it 3 stars, but recommending that you go for perhaps By The Time You Read This I’ll Be Dead or Burn Journal if you are looking for some YA depression fiction.

Hachette | 13th December 2016 | AU $16.99 | Paperback

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Review: Karelia Stetz-Waters – For Good

For Good
Karelia Stetz-Waters

Marydale and Kristen have very little in common. One is a convicted murderer, the other a straight up defense attorney. One is a committed lesbian, the other has only dated men of various standards. When their lives collide in a tiny country town ruled by homophobes, it seems like love will never succeed.

for-good-cover-smallStetz-Waters creates characters that are compliments of each other, particularly in these romances of hers (Something True, Forgive Me if I’ve Told You This Before). I worry that this could become formulaic for her work, but I am reassured by her thrillers (The Admirer, The Purveyor) that she can write in more than one area.

I read this novel while there was a tornado warning for the area I was staying in overseas. Nothing like a storm outside to provide a perfect reading atmosphere. I couldn’t tell you why exactly I kept reading, only that I did and that I couldn’t put it down. Love, love, love.

Lesbian sex scenes written by a lesbian? Yes please for realism and a drive to include value in what could just be lumped into ‘eroticism’. As with other Stetz-Waters novels, sex is for controlling or for submission, not just a titillating inclusion for the reader. I’m not reading the novel for the sex scenes, but I love it all the same.

Money where my mouth is on this one. I received an ebook copy well before it was ‘properly’ released (I can’t even find it on GoodReads), but I’ll be purchasing a paperback copy as soon as one is available. 5 stars from me for another valuable contribution to adult queer novels.

5star

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Review: Judy Bruce – Voices in the Wind

Voices in the Wind
Judy Bruce

Megan has returned home for a funeral, and ends up facing more than she bargained for. She’s just finished the Bar exams that mean she’s a full-fledged lawyer. She comes to a practice that is being embezzled and a stage set for death.

25041953This book was such a disappointment. All the exciting things promised in the blurb turned out to be completely predictable. The grand secret? Meh. I wasn’t that convinced that her dad had done anything wrong. It’s hard to cope with children, of any kind!

The progression was soooo slow. Thing one happened. Then there was a bit of uninspiring soul searching. Then thing 2. Oh wait, she needs to run out into the middle of the woods. And then… Oh no, we’ve been distracted by childhood memories. Oh yes, back to the main storyline. Oh wait, we diverged again.

This was a classic example of telling vs showing storytelling. The fight scenes which could have been exciting were like the boring blow by blows (literally) of a boxer’s match. There was no feeling of character, and honestly I couldn’t tell the difference between the different people – I didn’t even remember their names. Megan… And ah, dad? Uncle Bill? No idea on the rest of them, even the ‘blonde hunk’.

I barely finished this novel. Honestly, I can’t see who it might appeal to. It just didn’t take my fancy. The author very nicely asked me to review it, and kindly sent me the first two novels in the series, but I won’t be even attempting the second one in the hopes it gets better.

1star

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Review: Kathleen Duhamel – Deeper

Deeper
Kathleen Duhamel

Claire Martin has married the lead singer of Deep Blue. There’s things in his past that are yet to be faced though, and it could all come tumbling down even as Claire’s bestie falls for the other man of Deep Blue.

deeper-cover-200x300I really enjoyed the first novel in this series. I don’t think I’m the target audience, but it’s refreshing to see some good new fiction aimed at older women – I don’t think there is enough there. Too much comes under the heading of romance or literature to me – how about a novel with some body to it? This novel is it.

We get to see some more sides to the band, and the lives of the famous! Claire is constantly fighting off groupies, old flames and a complete mess. Not to mention that she wants to maintain her own career, and yet not be absorbed by it.

I couldn’t believe Claire being ordered to turn herself in. Seriously, it was a single allegation, and since there was another person there who would have vouched for Claire, I think she should have and could have gotten away with it.

Sex scenes? Yes. Are they slightly awkward for a queer reader? Yes again. But really, they are well written, add something to the characters and make a difference to how the reader thinks about the characters.

Therapy! Ah, you good thing. Promoting people to go to therapy is one of the more helpful (but annoying) things someone can do.

Now, if I was the true target audience, I’d be a rereader of this one, and the first novel in this trilogy. As it is, I’m giving it a really solid 4 stars – go and hunt this book from Amazon.

4star

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Review: bud smith (editor) – First Time

First Time
bud smith (editor)

This novel is a collection of essays, stories and poems about the first time the authors had sex. I only bought this ‘novel’ because one of my favourite authors had written a piece for it. Sadly, it didn’t turn out anything like I hoped, not to mention the humping bunnies on the front cover

18364966By the feel of things, I think the authors had a wide scope of what they could write. For me, I hate poetry. I especially hate random poetry where I can’t work out any of what is going on. Other examples were of not-true stories. What is the point of writing expository fiction if your reader can’t connect in any way with it?

It’s stupid of me, but for some reason I thought this would be a collection of stories about queer people’s first times. I figured this because two of the authors that I knew had works in this book were gay, and I liked their other pieces. So as such, this ‘novel’ wasn’t for me. I’m not interested in the first times of straight people, generally these seem to be boring. Queer people (and I know I am generalising here) have more interesting first times, or first meetings, because half the time they don’t know what they want or if their partner will be willing, available and accepting.

Honestly, I read about half this book, picking and skipping authors that I wasn’t interested in. There is no way I would have read it in its entirety. I will be freeing it into the wild in the hopes that other people might get something out of it. If you’re queer, I’d recommend the Letter Q instead for relatable fiction. Let’s give this one 2-3 stars and call it a day.

2star

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Review: Mette Jakobsen – What the Light Hides

What the Light Hides
Mette Jakobsen

Ben has committed suicide, leaving behind his devastated parents. As a boy full of life, his father David is left trying to come to terms to his death, by trying to find out the situations that lead to it. Is it his fault as a parent? Or is it something unique to his son.

28958494At times, I felt exactly as David did about his son. Ben couldn’t be dead. It was painfully clear that David’s self-deception as a character came through as an unreliable narrator. This was such powerful writing, and I could feel all of the characters leaping out of their pages like real people.

This ‘romance’ is all I wanted to refresh me after finishing a dud. It’s not primarily a romance, it is more an in depth look into what happens to a variety of relationships when traumatic life events happen. Suicide, alcoholism, break-ins, dementia; this novel covers the whole spectrum of upsetting events with ease and without feeling like the author is trying to push an agenda down your throat.

What more praise can I have? I felt like I was walking the streets of Sydney and the mountain homes. I could see David’s work taking shape, and imagine previous masterpieces. My only complaint would be that I didn’t get to hear more about Vera’s work. Ah well. I can’t have everything! What I had was satisfyingly enough.

It’s not a reread for me, but I did really enjoy it and had trouble putting it down (I finished it off in basically one sitting). 4 very healthy stars from me.

4star

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Review: K.J. Gillenwater – Acapulco Nights

Acapulco Nights
K.J. Gillenwater

Suzie’s current lover is pushing her to set a date for their marriage. The only thing stopping her is the fact that she is already married to a man in Mexico. When an old school friend is planning to go there, Suzie jumps at the chance to set things right, and move on with her life.

AN-KindleCover-FinalRomance. Romance, romance, romance. I forget that I generally don’t enjoy the ‘smoking’ sex scenes or powerful erections. I appreciated the differences between James and Joaquin’s love-making styles, but I wasn’t left asking for more. I read other great romances (Deep Blue) lately, and they just have an individual spark that makes them great. This novel attempted to keep me interested in Mexico, specifically Acapulco, but it just didn’t happen.

I struggled to finish this, and left it sitting on my bedside table, half read for more than a month. When I picked it back up again, I finished it off in half an hour. There just wasn’t enough substance for me in there.

Isn’t Suzie an adult? She is a complete and pathological liar. Poor Suzie, she has to choose between two smoking-hot men, and to do that, she has to insist on having a divorce from a mistimed earlier marriage. Excuse me for not feeling more sympathetic. If you can afford to live in a house by yourself and buy an overpriced coffee once a week, I’m pretty sure you could afford the trip to end the marriage yourself.

I didn’t find myself satisfied with the Mercedes-Suzie dynamic at the ending. I also couldn’t have cared less about who she ended up with. James might be a soft-touch, but I don’t think he’s blameless either, even if he isn’t the total user of Joaquin-standards. Perhaps I would have enjoyed reading it from different perspectives instead.

Didn’t love it. Unless you have a thing for Mexico and love triangles, don’t worry about reading it.

2star

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Review: Kathleen Duhamel – Deep Blue

Deep Blue
Kathleen Duhamel

Claire is a struggling artist haunted by her ex-husband’s pleas for return and threats of money. A chance encounter with an ageing rock-star opens her heart to love again – but also opens other areas of her life to danger. Denise, her BBF, has other things going on in her life, besides being Claire’s buddy.

26192938 (1)Oh man, oh man. Where do I get started with this? The jazz and soul music promised to me by the author, or the attractive cover? Or both? I found myself hooked in, with the music and lyrics speaking to me and tying in nicely with the delicious cover. I didn’t feel ashamed of taking it out in public, and in fact read it instead of doing house renovations!

The perspective between the older women changes mid-way through the novel. It took me a bit to get adjusted, and I still felt more attached to Claire. However it didn’t then continue swapping back and forth, so I wasn’t disturbed.

I think a lot is made of the addiction problems in the blurb, which is unrepresentative of the actual contents of the novel. We do see some struggle going on, and it fleshes Rob out nicely. It does make a nice change from not having any issues, and adds some interest. It’s not just the ‘love story’, it’s also real people problems.

Could it have kept going with no sex scenes? Yeah, I think so. But at the same time, it’s cute how they are all over each other all the time. Did I just write that? It is a romance after all.

I’m really looking forward to a sequel. I didn’t feel done with Denise. I’m going to give it 4 stars, a chick/hen-lit that gets my approval.

4star

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Review: Kyra Davis – Just One Lie

Just One Lie
Kyra Davis

Mercy/Melody is the lead singer in a band that’s just gotten a new drummer. When she sees an old one-night stand in the audience she feels like things have come full circle. The jobs and friendships she has to hold down next could be her undoing.

23492689This is the sequel to Just One Night. But I didn’t know that when I picked it up to read it (or otherwise I probably wouldn’t have started it at all). It reads perfectly well as a stand-alone, which is good enough for me with the waiting-line of other novels I want to read!

I can’t say I was particularly interested in it to start off with, just another tale of a poor band that has a lead singer that gets recognition. But then I was hooked in, with plenty of action and variety to keep me there.

I didn’t see this as a love-triangle, otherwise I would have put it down immediately. Often in those situations the guys end up as caricatures, and here they are fleshed out (haha) and actually have their own roles to play. Yes, Mercy feels drawn apart between them, but it doesn’t feel set-up.

There was sex scenes in this. Now, that’s not in the least a bad thing. They’re well-written, not particularly ‘porny’ and add to the sexual and emotional frustration of the characters.

This is quite an emotional novel, or perhaps I was just feeling particularly emotional already when I read it. The things that happen to Melody/Mercy are cruel, dangerous and tempting all at once. I felt myself inhabiting her character, both her triumphs and her falls.

What I would have liked to see more of was the period of her solitude/recovery. I didn’t get a whole story there, and I felt like it could have been a novel all on its own. So many juicy details missed out on!

For a mainstream novel that seems to be way too popular with the heartthrob romance loving crowd, I actually really enjoyed it. It had a spark to get me, and some grit to pull me along. 4 stars from me.

4star

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