Monday, 9 January 2017

Review: Worth the Wait by Claudia Connor

Worth the Wait (McKinney/Walker #1) by Lisa Gardner
Publication date: January 10th 2017
My rating: 4.5 stars 
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He broke her heart. When he finds out just how badly, it will break his too.

Nick Walker found the love of his life when he was just nineteen.

Found her.
Loved her.
Lost her.

It's been ten years since Nick watched the only woman he ever loved walk out of his life. Now this FBI Special Agent will do anything to win her back.

But it won’t be easy…

Mia’s heart was shattered by Nick. They'll have to face their painful past if they want a future, including Mia's own secret about that day it all fell apart.

Do you believe in second chances?

My Thoughts:
Nick and Mia met and fell in love in college right after Nick’s parents died and he became guardian over his younger brothers and two-year old sister, Hannah.  Both Nick and Mia knew their love was the forever kind, and I loved going back and watching them fall for each other; loved seeing Mia become an integral part of Hannah’s life.  But tragedy strikes, and the aftermath shatters them.  Guilt, anger and blame deals the final blow to their relationship and Mia leaves, no longer able to bear Nick shutting her out. 

They haven’t spoken in the ten years since Mia left, but neither has really moved on, so when they run into each other it brings all the hurt and pain back, but also the undeniable, intense love they had.  Like Mia, I wondered whether Nick could ever let the past go to have a future with Mia. And I wondered if Mia would ever be able to forgive Nick for pushing her away. 

Even though I felt for Nick and everything he went through, my heart went out to Mia more.  I hurt so much for her! With their breakup Mia not only lost the love of her life, she lost Hannah who was basically like their daughter, and Nick’s little brothers, too.  But Nick felt so guilty, angry, and helpless over what happened he had no room in his heart for anything else.  He didn’t feel like he deserved any happiness because of what happened on his watch, and so he let Mia go. I was glad that this time Nick wasn’t going to make the same mistake.

Back when I read Hannah’s story in Worth the Risk, I begged for a Nick and Mia story, because it seemed like it would be an amazing second chance romance, and it was!  I’m so happy Ms. Connor granted my wish!  Worth the Wait was a very emotional read, I cried several times while reading.  I was so invested in Nick and Mia’s story I couldn’t put it down and ended up reading it in one sitting. It was heart-wrenching at times to see what Nick and Mia went through, but that just made their journey back to happiness all the more satisfying. My heart soared and I cried happy tears in the end! 

Connect with Claudia Connor:

Friday, 6 January 2017

Review: The Third Victim by Lisa Gardner

The Third Victim (Quincy & Rainie #2) by Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Bantam
Publication date: January 30th 2001
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository

The past isn't over....

An unspeakable act has ripped apart the idyllic town of Bakersville, Oregon, and its once-peaceful residents are demanding quick justice. But though a boy has confessed to the horrific crime, evidence shows he may not be guilty.

Officer Rainie Conner, leading her first homicide investigation, stands at the center of the controversy. It's hitting too close to home, bringing back her worst nightmares, threatening to expose her secret sins. But with the boy's life at stake, she won't let anything stop her from finding the real killer.

With the help of FBI profiler Pierce Quincy, Rainie comes closer to a deadly truth than she can imagine. Because out there in the shadows a man watches her and plots his next move. He knows her secrets. He kills for sport. He's already brought death to Bakersville and forever shattered the community. But what he has really come for is Rainie -- and he won't leave until he has destroyed her....

My Thoughts:
I think this is my 5th re-read. I've been a fan of Lisa Gardner for years and this book is the first book Quincy and Rainie appear together. Rainie is a small-town cop, and Quincy is an FBI Profiler drawn to her town when a school shooting happens.

The little town of Bakersville, Oregon is a town where everyone knows everyone and neighbors look out for one another. Not a place where you'd expect a school shooting. But three are dead, and it appears a thirteen-year old Bakersville boy did the deed. Quincy and Rainie discover the shooting isn't as cut and dry as it first appears and the key seems to be with the third victim, the pretty computer science teacher, Miss Avalon.

Rainie is a complex character, a Bakerville native with a colorful past the locals have gossiped and theorized about for years. What really happened fourteen years ago? As Quincy finds himself drawn to Rainie more and more, he pushes for answers. But Quincy has his own personal troubles.

The main murder mystery is solved, but a few things are left in up in the air with Rainie and Quincy. Their story continues in The Next Accident.

As far as the audio version goes, C.J. Critt sounded too old for the voice of Rainie and her performance of Quincy did not give the impression of a smart, sophisticated FBI Profiler. Her performance didn't turn me off of the story, probably because I've read it so many times before, but I wouldn't recommend it.

I do completely recommend the Quincy & Rainie series! Love the mysteries and their developing relationship! If you haven't read a Lisa Gardner book before The Third Victim is a perfect place to start.  

Connect with Lisa Gardner:

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Thursday, 5 January 2017

Reviews: Sweet Filthy Boy and Sweet Filthy Morning After by Christina Lauren

Sweet Filthy Boy (Wild Seasons #1) by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: May 13th 2014. 
My rating: 4.5 stars. 

One-night stands are supposed to be with someone convenient, or wickedly persuasive, or regrettable. They aren’t supposed to be with someone like him. But after a crazy Vegas weekend celebrating her college graduation—and terrified of the future path she knows is a cop-out—Mia Holland makes the wildest decision of her life: follow Ansel Guillaume—her sweet, filthy fling—to France for the summer and just…play. When feelings begin to develop behind the provocative roles they take on, and their temporary masquerade adventures begin to feel real, Mia will have to decide if she belongs in the life she left because it was all wrong, or in the strange new one that seems worlds away.

I’d tried Lauren’s Beautiful Bastard series just a few weeks before and I hadn’t been as successful with it as I was hoping to (I actually made it to book 2.5, before calling it quits, maybe I’ll come back to it one day). Alas I decided to give Lauren’s Wild Seasons series a go, and seriously the audiobook was probably one of the best decisions I’d made, as the narrator Shayna Thibodeaux had me hooked from the very beginning. She did Ansel’s French accent perfectly, that I was swooning throughout. Typically I’m really fussy with a woman doing the voice for a guy, but Shayna nailed it! 

Also the situation that Ansel and Mia found themselves in was really awkward; they’d only met a few hours before and had woken up the next day married and could only remember bits of the best sex they’d had the night before. But Lauren really made their relationship work for me and make it appear so realistic. I could understand the connection that they had and why they didn’t want to get their marriage annulled. I’m glad that despite not knowing one another, they decided to take a chance with their relationship. 

Having visited Paris just last year I adored the days that we were given with Mia exploring her new life out there, it made the traveller in me want to go back and visit as soon as possible. This alongside Mia and Ansel slowly learning to adjust to one another in their lives made Sweet Filthy Boy an addictive read. I was eager for more Mia and Ansel time, their chemistry was off the charts, but I was also scared for what could be around the corner for them. I could see that they were perfect for each other, but how could they make it work? So you could say that little bombshell at the end was a complete shocker to me, it sort of left me reeling. 

All in all Sweet Filthy Boy was a truly wonderful read, I honestly can’t wait for more from these two in the rest of the series, as by the end of this book, I was totally in love with Ansel! Readers you do not want to miss out on this gem of a book!

Sweet Filthy Morning After (Wild Seasons #1.5) by Christina Lauren
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication Date: October 14th 2014. 
My rating: 5 stars.  

This audio exclusive short tells of events from Sweet Filthy Boy from a new perspective.

This 30 minute audiobook really wasn’t enough, after finishing Sweet Filthy Boy I knew I would devour anything Ansel-related, so this book from his perspective was perfect! I already knew that Ansel was a person that wore his heart on his sleeve and this short book went onto show that even more. I loved getting into his head and learning his exact feelings about Mia and the situation they found themselves in. His fascination and concern for her was always apparent, but actually getting it from his own perspective made me love Ansel that much more. Also Jason Carpenter’s French accent was on point! This 30 minute audiobook made me want to buy all the books that he narrated immediately! And just to move to France so I could be around this sexy accent all the time. Sweet Filthy Morning After is a super short book, but definitely worth it. Fans of Ansel, I highly recommend giving this book a go.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Review: The 4th Man by Lisa Gardner

The 4th Man (Quincy & Rainie #6.5) by Lisa Gardner
Publisher: Dutton
Publication date: January 3rd 2017
My rating: 3.5 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
 FBI Profiler Pierce Quincy and Officer Rainie Conner return in a baffling cold case in this exclusive eBook short story by New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner.

A young woman is found strangled in the stairwell of a college library, only her sneakers missing. With no physical evidence, no signs of sexual assault, and no witnesses, all the police have to go on are the three men who were in the library with her: her boyfriend and two campus security guards . . . all of whom have secrets, none of whom can be proven guilty.

Five years later, ex-FBI profiler Pierce Quincy and his wife, former police officer Rainie Conner, agree to consult on the still-unsolved case, delving into deep background to comb for any clue that will lead to the woman's murderer. But with no leads and the case colder than the body, will they be able to build a case against one of the three suspects, or is there a fourth man out there? And if the killer has eluded the police this long, how far will he go to ensure justice is never served?

With Gardner's singular ability to delve into the minds of criminals and law enforcement alike, The 4th Man is a shocking look at the reasons for taking a life . . . and just how far profilers need to go to learn them.

It also includes an early look at Gardner's next chilling thriller, Right Behind You, coming February 7, 2017.

My Thoughts:
The 4th Man was based on a true story/murder, which definitely underscores the idea that “truth is stranger than fiction”.  The reasons a person will murder are quite baffling sometimes! 

Detective D.D. Warren has been working on cold case murders and this one committed ten years earlier stumped the investigators.  A college student was strangled, and her body left in the stairwell of the campus library.  No physical evidence was left on the scene and there were no eyewitnesses to the crime.  But D.D. is a persistent woman, and she’s uncovered a lie told by each of the three persons of interest involved.  She doesn’t want to miss any opportunity to catch the killer so she calls in profiler experts Quincy and Rainie to question these three men.  What follows is an interesting discovery of what actually happened that night. 

I’m a huge fan of Lisa Gardner’s mysteries, I’ve been reading her stories for years, but the first book I read of hers was a Quincy and Rainie book: The Third Victim, the first book they were put together, and I was hooked!  Ms. Gardner has been writing mysteries featuring other detectives/FBI agents since then so it’s be quite a while since I’ve “seen” Quincy and Rainie.  I’ve always wanted to catch up with them again, and with this short story I got a little to whet my appetite before their full-length return in, Right Behind You.  As usual their clever deductions impress!

Even though The 4th Man is part of a larger series, it isn’t necessary to read the other books in the series to enjoy.  This is mainly a crime procedural/mystery without much personal from Quincy, Rainie or D.D. Warren. And its very short; probably took me an hour to read the whole story.

There’s a teaser at the end for Right Behind You, and after reading I can’t wait to pick it up!  As a side note, I noticed Luke Daniels is the narrator for the audio version of The 4th Man.  He’s one of my all-time favorite narrators so I’m sure that would be an excellent way to “read” this story!

Connect with Lisa Gardner:

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Mini-reviews: Sex, Love & Stiletto series by Lauren Layne

Eva and I had a lot of fun reading Layne's Love, Sex and Stiletto series over a few days, that we decided to do mini-reviews for the four books.

After the Kiss (Love, Sex & Stiletto #1)
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Publication Date: September 28th 2014

The star columnist of Stiletto magazine will do anything for a story. Anything . . . except fall in love. Julie Greene loves flings, steamy first dates, sizzling first kisses, and - every now and then - that first sexy romp between the sheets. But when Julie gets assigned the hardest story of her career - a first-person account of the shift between dating and "I do" she'll need a man brave enough to give a total commitment-phobe a chance at more. Mitchell Forbes, a devastatingly hot workaholic who tends to stay in relationships for far too long, is the perfect subject for Julie's "research." But what Julie doesn't know is that Mitchell is looking to cut loose and that Julie, notorious for avoiding love, is exactly the type of no-strings fling he's looking for...

The first book in the series and I think it was a good start to this series - we are, more or less, introduced to all the main players and in a fun way.  Before starting this book, I had no idea this series revolved around a magazine, Stiletto, which I imagine is sort of a Cosmopolitan equivalent.  So, Julie and Mitchell are the definitive opposites attract trope.  They start spending time with each other for less than truthful reasons - Mitchell, for a bet and Julie, for a story.  Of course, you can imagine how this truth that they neither tells the other ends.  And yet, this book was probably the most fun because Julie and Mitchell are so different - she is more of a fun-loving party girl and he is a serious nerd.  I liked them together a lot and Mitchell is, even after reading all four books, the guy with the softest spot in my heart from this series. My only serious complaint about this one, really, is how serious Julie and Mitchell got at the end - the end felt a bit over the top, cheesy and unrealistic to me in terms of the characters we've met throughout the rest of the book.  Still, a good, solid and fun start!  What did you think, Jasprit?
I kind of knew how things would end for Mitchell and Julie from the very beginning of the book, despite getting with each other because of a bet, the predictability of After the Kiss, really didn’t take any of the fun away from the book at all. When I first came across Mitchell he didn’t seem like my typical guy at all, he seemed a little set in his ways and like a bit of a bore. But they say opposites attract and this couldn’t have been truer for Mitchell and Julie. I loved how their time together, bought out different sides to them and with them actually trying things they wouldn’t usually do (running for Julie and a night out clubbing for Mitchell). Both were such funny situations watching play out, but also went onto show just how deep their feelings had developed for one another.  Again there was a lot of non-communication or “plans to tell each other things” that never happened and so this did bring out a lot of drama and heartache which could have been avoided. But like Eva mentioned earlier, things did go up a whole another notch for their relationship far too quickly for my liking, not that it wasn’t apparent which way things would go for Mitchell and Julie, but I just like my books to leave me with a few things to think about instead of neatly wrapping things up far too quickly. 

Love the One You're with (Sex, Love & Stiletto #2)
Publisher: Ebury Digital
Publication Date: October 28th 2014

Her mission: six-months without men. But he has other ideas. As Stiletto magazine's foremost relationship expert, Grace Brighton should have seen it coming - her boyfriend has been having an affair right under her nose. Jake Malone is one great story away from editor, and the company challenges him to a little friendly competition with Grace Brighton - who has a better read on the opposite sex? Only Grace isn't the pushover that he anticipated, and Jake sees something in her he never expected. Can the city's number-one heartbreaker convince a woman who's given up on love that he's worth the risk?

I had a lot of fun getting to know Julie and Mitchell in After the Kiss, so when I found out the second book would be about Grace I wasn’t so sure as I didn’t know Grace’s character that well, but once again Layne was able to turn things around and Grace quickly become a favourite. Layne so far has had a unusual set up when it comes to our characters getting to know one another, In Love the One You’re With Grace and Jake are told to go on five dates with one another, write an article about said date for their respective magazines and then let the readers decide and vote who was really falling for the other. It was a strange situation for our characters to find themselves in, but Layne really made it believable and work for me. Especially as Jake and Grace got to know each other more and the sexual tension started simmering right through the roof. Whereas in After the Kiss it took me a while to like Mitchell, I was a fan of Jake from the very beginning; he was charming, funny and just oozing sex appeal! Also after everything that Grace had been through she’d deserved a decent guy. And then when the trip to Wisconsin happened, I was utterly convinced Grace and Jake was perfect for one another. Their scenes together were smoking hot! The only thing that bugged me was the little doubts that they allowed to cloud their judgement and each other’s feelings for one another. If only they openly discussed their feelings, a lot of heartache could have been prevented along the way. That being said Jake and Grace quite quickly took top spot for favourite couple for me in this series so far! Over to Eva now to see how she got on with this book...
Jake was a bit too slick for me from the beginning but I will admit that Grace and Jake's meet-cute was fun.  I agree with you Jasprit that I was interested to see how Layne would develop Grace because her character in the first book is hung up on her boyfriend of many years (who just can just tell is going to be bad news).  Without getting into what happened in that regard, the magazine assignment for Grace and Jack was pretty laughable , at first as it turned into a way for each to one-up and embarrass the other on each date.  I agree that the trip to Wisconsin was the highlight of this one for me and the turning point.  I wasn't fully on board with this ship until that moment!  The ending, again, felt way too crazy serious and rushed to me but that's romance for you.

Just One Night (Sex, Love & Stiletto #3)
Publisher: Ebury Digital 
Publication Date: December 17th 2014

New York's hottest "sexpert" has been living a lie - and it's up to one man to keep her honest ... all night long. Riley McKenna knows sex - good sex, bad sex, kinky sex. Her articles in Stiletto magazine are the publication's most scandalous - and the most read. But when Stiletto's fiftieth anniversary issue requires her column to get a lot more personal, Riley is forced to confront a long-hidden secret: her own sexual experience is limited to one awkward college encounter. Now Riley is about to call in the favour of a lifetime from the one man who's always held her heart...

This was the only book I already owned prior to deciding to do this series/buddy read! I had heard it fell into the brother's best friend trope (one of my favorites) so I purchased it earlier this year but hadn't had a chance to get to it. I will say that I'm glad this wasn't the start of the series because it was my least favorite and I'm not sure I would have continued had I read it first. For some reason, I just didn't get Riley. Sam was okay but a huge part of the book was both of them, especially Sam, so focused on keeping whatever they have from Riley's brother. When it's revealed, as it inevitably would be, it was a big let down. Each of these books centers around the MC doing something kind of personal and/or outrageous for a story in the magazine. Without giving anything away, Riley's story and reasoning seemed the least tenable to me - I was just a big put off and bored by this one, especially compared to the fun of the other books in the series. I'm pretty sure this was also Jasprit's least favorite but I'll let her take it away with her thoughts . . .

Like Eva mentioned, the brother’s best friend trope is another favourite of mine too, and with the excessive bickering between Sam and Riley in the previous book and threats of Riley’s brother kicking off if Sam ever made a move on Riley, made the build up to their relationship that much more delightful to see unfold. Sam was such a great guy, always looking out for Riley and her family, things were tough with his own family, so having Riley’s family around made him appreciate them that much more. And I could get why he wasn’t confident enough in his own ability to succeed, he put so much pressure on himself to make Riley’s family proud, that he just wouldn’t allow himself to take the risk and put himself out there. I really liked this vulnerable side of Sam that we got to see, whereas Riley just came across a bit in your face and brash for my liking, and I just didn’t get that connection with her that I did with the previous characters. Their relationship however I was a huge fan of, the build up was great, but the whole nature of it being forbidden and keeping it hidden from Riley’s brother (the part I was most eager to see unravel), ended up being a whole lot of build up for no reason. And then once again we had the whole plot where things were resolved quite easily and wrapped up nicely once more. Unfortunately like Eva this was my least favourite of the series so far.

The Trouble with Love (Sex, Love & Stiletto #4)
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: March 3rd 2015

As Lauren Layne’s salacious Sex, Love & Stiletto series returns, a jaded columnist discovers a steamy way to get over an old flame: falling for him all over again. As Stiletto magazine’s authority on all things breakup-and-heartache, Emma Sinclair writes from personal experience. Five years ago, Emma was Charlotte, North Carolina’s darling debutante and a blushing bride-to-be. Now she’s the ice queen of the Manhattan dating scene. Emma left her sultry Southern drawl behind, but not even her closest friends know that with it she left her heart. Now Emma’s latest article forces her to face her demons—namely, the devilishly sexy guy who ditched her at the altar. After giving up everything for a pro-soccer career, Alex Cassidy watches his dreams crumble as a knee injury sidelines him for good. Now he’s hanging up his cleats and giving journalism a shot. It’s just a coincidence that he happens to pick a job in the same field, and the same city, as his former fiancée . . . right? But when Emma moves in next door, it’s no accident. It’s research. And Alex can’t help wondering what might have been. Unlike the innocent girl he remembers, this Emma is chic, sophisticated, and assertive—and she wants absolutely nothing to do with him. The trouble is, Alex has never wanted her more.

The Trouble with Love actually featured another of my favourite tropes; second chance romances. And although I had started this series not really liking Emma, (that may have been because I liked the original three ladies that worked at Stiletto and didn’t want anyone else jumping on the bandwagon), she really grew on me as the series progressed. Especially when I found out about the curveball that she was hiding, I needed more of her and Alex Cassidy and their back story immediately. What I liked about their previous relationship was that we were just given snippets throughout the series about it and never really knew what the complete truth was either, usually this sort of thing bugs the heck out of me, but I really loved this aspect, that when I finally went to pick up this book, I just couldn’t wait. Alex Cassidy my gosh was smoking hot (I did keep recalling this guy from the show Power which was super annoying when thinking about Alex, but Alex really was all around the much better guy!). The relationship between Cassidy and Emma was one of my favourites, I loved how they could go from being standoffish to having so much heat, the banter was also great and their back story and where they found themselves today really went on to show that their being together was meant to be. Also the ending of this book wasn’t the typical fashion that we’d come to expect with the last couple of books, this I was a huge fan of! Over to Eva and her thoughts...

I agree that this was definitely my favorite of the series and such an awesome slow-build (relatively speaking for this series, HA) second chance romance! This trope is also one of my favorites and was done well here! Although we didn't know what happened completely between Emma and Alex in the past, it was always lurking and hinted at in all of their interactions. It was a bit unbelievable that they would fall into this situation together, working together in a city thousands of miles away from where they met, but it just worked. Alex and Emma were so great together that I was rooting for them so much! My one qualm was Emma's family and, particularly, her father and twin sister that played a big part in her first break from Alex. Not that Alex was not also in the wrong for that, but it's always upsetting when family creates drama and it's unresolved for so many years. I was glad when everything was revealed and worked out. This book also had the best (most realistic) ending of the series! And now, I think it's time to read the spin-off to this series, the Oxford series!

Thanks for reading our series joint review!!
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