Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Mini Reviews, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Thing About Love by Julie James

Jasprit and I are big fans of Julie James' romances, and so we were thrilled to get our hands on a copy of her newest: The Thing About Love! We're pleased to share our reviews, an excerpt, Julie James' book tour schedule and A GIVEAWAY (open internationally-see details below) of The Thing About Love! I hope you love this romance as much as we did!

The Thing About Love by Julie James
Publisher: Berkley
Publication date: April 18th 2017
 Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Kobo

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her
Two undercover FBI agents can hide who they are from everyone but each other in the latest novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Suddenly One Summer.

FBI agents Jessica Harlow and John Shepherd have a past. The former lawyer and cocky Army ranger clashed during their training at Quantico, gladly going their separate ways after graduating from the Academy. Six years later, the last thing either of them expects is to run into each other again–assigned to work as partners in a high-profile undercover sting.

For both of them, being paired with a former rival couldn’t come at a worse time. Recently divorced from a Hollywood producer and looking for a fresh start, Jessica is eager to prove herself at her new field office. And John is just one case away from his dream assignment to the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team. In order to nail a corrupt Florida politician, they’ll have to find a way to work as a team–a task that becomes even trickier when they’re forced to hole up at a romantic, beachfront resort as part of the investigation. Suddenly, the heat behind their nonstop sparring threatens to make the job a whole lot more complicated. . .


Rachel’s Thoughts:
Jessica Harlow was one of two women in a class of forty-one FBI agent trainees, exceptional in the academics portion, but just okay in the physical part, making her insecure over those abilities.  John had the opposite problem, being a former Army Ranger he excelled at the physical exams and skills on the firing range, but felt intimated by all the postgraduate degrees.  At first they both really admire each other, but their respective insecurities played a factor in putting them at odds by the end of the class, and they left on bad terms.

Six years later, they’re both back at the Chicago office, and assigned to work with each other; neither very excited at the prospect. I enjoyed being in on the procedures preparing for their case, and the actual undercover work. I was a little on edge over the inherent danger with their assignments, especially with one of Jessica’s cases.

I liked how the past misconceptions that led to their mutual dislike were clarified quickly, and handled early on. After that, John and Jessica’s mutual respect grew, both admired how adept and good each were at undercover work, and the initial attraction they felt six years back starts to ignite all over again. Very hot! But with John leaving for a new assignment in only a few weeks they agree to keep things simple with no strings attached.  After having problems with past relationships over the job, they’re happily surprised at the understanding and support each one provides when difficulties come up, and they just clicked on so many levels!  Loved these two together!  I was thrilled there was no unnecessary angst or drama with this realistic romance. What originally starts out as a temporary affair turns into yearning for more, and I was crossing my fingers they’d be able to make things work long term.

Julie James rarely disappoints! The Thing About Love grabbed and held my attention, from FBI procedure and casework, to John and Jessica’s past relationships and their current romance I wanted to last forever, I was captivated.




 Jasprit’s Thoughts:
I have always loved James books, her antagonistic slow burn romances have always been favourites of mine, as she just makes them work really well! It had been sometime since I last read a book by James and when I heard about The Thing About Love honestly I couldn’t wait to get stuck in. Second chance romances are another favourite trope of mine and James once again does another great job of it in The Thing About Love. It was clear to me that there was something between Jessica and John underneath all the snarky and trying to wind each other up comments, although it seemed like they didn’t like one another, I just wanted them to drop all the pretences that they had been building these last six years and just see what could happen. Who knows maybe it could be something more wonderful than either could have imagined. I loved the situation that John and Jessica found themselves in, this situation really forced them to work in close contact and try and forget any issues that they might have had over the last six years. I knew this could be tough for them, as they were used to continually throwing jibes back and forth, but this undercover situation also required them to be as professional as possible. I loved watching the development of their relationship over the course of the investigation, the slow burn and intensity was a delight to see unravel. After the first explosive scene between Jessica and John I wanted more right away! And James truly kept me on my toes in the best possible way. The Thing About Love was a nice mix of suspense and romance, as you never knew which way the investigation would go and whether John and Jessica could finally find a way to be together. The Thing About Love was an absolute delight to read, I loved following John and Jessica on their investigation and the build up of their slow burn romance. This book has definitely put me in the mood to read more of James books right away! 








Excerpt:
Steeling himself, John turned around and smiled as Jessica approached. “Yes, Agent Harlow. How can I be of service?”

In response to his dry tone, she threw him a glare so cold it could’ve frozen all nine circles of Dante’s Hell. Fittingly, just nine of the many places he would rather be than stuck working with her on this investigation.

 “Look, I’m not thrilled about this, either.” Keeping her voice low, she came to a stop next to him at the elevator bank. “I thought you were supposed to be on the Hostage Rescue Team already.”

“And I thought you were supposed to be in L.A.”

There was a quick flash in her eyes before she shrugged off his question. “Change of plans.”

The elevator arrived at their floor, and they both stepped inside. She hit the button for the seventh floor, where the public corruption squad was located. Standing on the opposite side, he pressed the button for floor five.

They faced off as the doors shut. She folded her arms across her chest and studied him with those crystalline blue eyes that could so cleverly mask her emotions.

As he knew well.
“We’re going to have to figure this out,” she said. “We’re supposed to be business partners in this.”
Thank you, yes, being a professional, he was aware of that. He took a step closer. “It’s called “undercover” work, Harlow. If I can pretend to be a gun-buying, murder-for-hire thug, I think I can handle playing some rich investor-type who wants to skirt a few measly zoning laws.” Even a rich investor-type who was apparently masochistic enough to get in bed with the likes of her.
Professionally-speaking.
“Measly zoning laws?” she repeated.
Ooh, now he’d gone and pissed her off. How nice it was, really, that they could pick up like this, right where they’d left off.
She drew in closer, tilting her head back to meet his gaze. He was over a foot taller than her, although he noticed that she was heightening a bit with those expensive-looking three-inch heels she wore.
“Our target in this investigation is the mayor of the thirteenth largest city in the United States. That’s a pretty big deal in my book.” She gestured to his facial scruff and hair. “And while I appreciate that this . . . Sons of Anarchy motif you’ve got going might ingratiate yourself with the gun-buying, murder-for-hire, organized-crime thugs of the world, that’s not quite going to fly with this sting operation.”
 “’Thirteenth largest city in the United States?’” he scoffed. “Just how many hours did you spend reviewing the case files last night?”
She smiled sweetly as the elevator arrived at her floor. “Enough to get the jump on you.”
Then the doors sprang open, and she gave him a friendly wave, once again stepping into the role of Ms. Congeniality. “So glad we got to catch up like this, Agent Shepherd. We’ll talk again soon.”
He watched her stride confidently down the hallway as the elevator doors closed between them.
Enough to get the jump on you.
Not for long, sweetheart.
Time for him to get cracking on that case file.

 


Tour Schedule: 


Connect with Julie James:





We're giving away a copy of The Thing About Love to one Readers Den follower.  The giveaway is open Internationally as long as The Book Depository ships to your country.   If you live in the US you may chose to have an e-copy through US Amazon or US Barnes & Noble. Just fill out the rafflecopter below for a chance to win. Good luck!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Review: The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: September 27th 2012.
My rating: 5 stars.  


What happened to the girl you left behind? In 1916 French artist Edouard Lefevre leaves his wife Sophie to fight at the Front. When her town falls into German hands, his portrait of Sophie stirs the heart of the local Kommandant and causes her to risk everything - her family, reputation and life - in the hope of seeing her true love one last time. Nearly a century later and Sophie's portrait is given to Liv by her young husband shortly before his sudden death. Its beauty speaks of their short life together, but when the painting's dark and passion-torn history is revealed, Liv discovers that the first spark of love she has felt since she lost him is threatened... In The Girl You Left Behind two young women, separated by a century, are united in their determination to fight for the thing they love most - whatever the cost.

I first met these set of characters when I read a mini story from them in Paris For One and other stories and honestly all I wanted was more from them straight away. Thank goodness when Ksenia told me that they had their own full story in The Girl You Left Behind. Whereas I did find myself more absorbed by Liv’s side of things in Honeymoon in Paris, things couldn’t have been more different with this book. I loved Sophie’s part of the story, only a handful of historical fiction stories have swept me away with their wonderful story building and I’m pleased to say that this was exactly the case here when we were given Sophie’s story in 1916. Sophie was such a tough character, with the war going on and the Germans occupying her town, she still held her own, people were quick to talk and make judgements, but I fully back the decisions that Sophie made, some may say that she put her trust too much in people, but really throughout it I wanted Sophie to get her happy ending what she rightly deserved. At times I honestly felt like this wasn’t going to happen, with everything stacking up against her and with the sprinkling of her story that we were given throughout the book. I’m not going to say how things did end for Sophie, but her story was one which utterly moved me, she was a resilient character that easily won over my heart.

In Honeymoon in Paris I was utterly baffled, as I’d assumed that Liv and Sophie’s stories were completely separate. But once I understood, I loved how Moyes had weaved them together. In The Girl You Left Behind Moyes goes into more depth about the connection between Sophie and Liv. And because Liv and Sophie had been through so much, (right at the beginning when we met Liv, I felt like I’d been sucker-punched in the stomach). Their stories were really hard to take in at times, so many times I’d believed that things would be going right for them, but only or something else to come and put a dampener in their plans. My heart truly went out to Liv, she really did have it all to deal with, but I loved her perseverance or fighting for what she believed in despite nearly everyone going against her and the likelihood of her losing everything she had in the process. I also adored the support she found along the way in the most unexpected of places. The relationship that emerged in this story although tinged with sadness, hope, reluctance and a lot of trust issues, I just knew in my heart that it had a way of working itself out.

Liv and Sophie’s stories couldn’t have been anymore different, but the way Moyes linked the stories together was majestically done. The Girl You Left Behind was just a story that was beautifully written, it really was a story full with a lot of heartache, and I did find myself nearly a sobbing mess at times. But it’s a story that really resonated with me and one which I won’t forget for a long time. 



Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Review: Trust Me by Laura Florand

Trust Me (Paris Nights #3) by Laura Florand
Publication date: April 4th 2017
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her
She's nobody's damsel in distress...
Top Parisian pastry chef Lina Farah is used to fighting for her success. But when a violent attack shatters her security, she needs a new tactic to battle her dragons. What better way to banish the monsters under her bed than by inviting a sexy SEAL to tangle the sheets?

He's a professional dragon slayer...
Elite operative Jake Adams has never stayed in one place long enough to form a lasting relationship. Lina’s fire and beauty tempt him to give her the hot affair she craves. But her spirit and courage make him long for more. Can he convince a woman seeking forgetfulness to dream of ever after...with him?


My Thoughts:
Lina Farah fought and survived a terrorist attack, and it’s shaken her. But she’s a pastry chef for a two-star Michelin rated restaurant, and you don’t get to that position in life without courage, persistence and drive all of which make her determined to get past the overwhelming fear that creeps up when she thinks of what could’ve happened.  Lina would rather distract herself with the sexy American guard, Jake, stalking her kitchens to keep her safe.

Jake is used to meaningless one night stands with his work as a Navy SEAL, a permanent relationship has been a tough thing to pursue, but he’s ready for a change. He doesn’t just want to be used for sex as a distraction by Lina.  Her braveness, loyalty and beautiful spirit make him long for a future with her, but he’s not even sure she likes him.

Jake and Lina are tentative and careful, because at first they have trouble deciphering each other’s true feelings.  I really felt for Jake, he was a total sweetheart; a sexy, possessive, protective sweetheart and he was ready to lay it all out on the line for Lina! I connected with him more than Lina. She wasn’t really taking a good look at Jake, the man beneath all that hard, sexy appeal, instead she was just thinking of a way to forget her fear.  Granted, Lina was traumatized, and she did sort through her feelings for Jake pretty quickly once she clued in. Even with the more serious feelings Jake and Lina have, there is a playfulness to their relationship, counteracting their vulnerabilities and doubts.  Their relationship was passionate and fun, as well! 

Jake’s teammates provide some laughs as they torment him over his obvious feelings for Lina.  I especially love the book club and Ian’s fake nerdy glasses in response to Lina’s supposed attraction to shy, geeky guys.

As usual, Laura Florand astounds me with her writing.  She delves in deep, getting right to the center of her character’s hearts, (and mine in the process!), she writes beautifully without overly wordy and distracting prose. Lina and Jake’s romance was heartfelt, and just so lovely!





ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Florand burst on the contemporary romance scene in 2012 with her award-winning Amour et Chocolat series. Her international bestselling books have appeared in ten languages, been named among the Best Books of the Year by Romantic Times and Barnes & Noble, received the RT Seal of Excellence and starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and Booklist, and been recommended by NPR, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal, among others.

After a Fulbright year in Tahiti and backpacking everywhere from New Zealand to Greece, and several years living in Madrid and Paris, Laura now teaches Romance Studies at Duke University. Contrary to popular opinion, this means she primarily teaches French language and culture and does a great deal of research on French gastronomy, particularly chocolate. For more information, please see her website: www.lauraflorand.com.  

Monday, 3 April 2017

Mini-reviews: The End of Our Story and Strange the Dreamer

The End of Our Story by Meg Haston
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 4th April 2017
My rating: 3 stars


BEFORE: Bridge and Wil have been entangled in each other’s lives for years. Under the white-hot Florida sun, they went from kids daring each other to swim past the breakers to teenagers stealing kisses between classes. But when Bridge betrayed Wil during their junior year, she shattered his heart and their relationship along with it. AFTER: When Wil’s family suffers a violent loss, and Bridge rushes back to Wil’s side. As they struggle to heal old wounds and start falling for each other all over again, Bridge and Wil discover just how much has changed in the past year. Though they once knew each other’s every secret, they aren’t the same people they used to be. Bridge can’t imagine life without Wil, but sometimes love isn’t enough. Can they find their way back to each other, or will this be the end of their story?

The End of Our Story was really different to what I was expecting, I don’t know what I really expected to leave with, but I didn’t think I’d be left reeling and a little upset, Wil and Bridge’s relationship was beautifully done. I liked how Haston didn’t give us their complete story in one go, but switched between past and present in the chapters. I was quite gutted when I found out how things had ended between Wil and Bridge, as to me their relationship was a beautiful one, and also It’d sort of made me want to take a step back from Bridge’s character. But over the course of the story Bridge was able to win me back once more, she did make a couple of mistakes along the way, but she was one character who I’d wanted to get their happy ending. It was unfortunate the turn of events that bought Wil and Bridge back together and the back story that emerged from it did take me by surprise, as it had me constantly questioning whether I could trust every single character. The End of Our Story was a really beautifully written story with a lot of emotional punches along the way and although I was able to guess a couple of things, this didn’t take away the enjoyment of the book at all. I just wished that we’d got some sort of epilogue, just so that I could have peace of mind about how things ended. Despite this minor qualm aside, The End of Our Story was a poignant story and one I’m glad I didn’t miss out on reading this year.

 


The End of Our Story by Meg Haston
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication Date: 4th April 2017 


The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever. What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving? The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I really don’t know what to say, I’m actually quite gutted that I didn’t end up enjoying Strange the Dreamer as much as I’d hoped. I was a huge fan of Taylor’s daughter of Smoke and Bone series, her writing was rich and complex and the story was woven utterly beautifully and I couldn’t help but become attached to such wonderful characters. Unfortunately this was not the case with Strange the Dreamer. I found the beginning such a struggle to get into, I’d heard from many readers that if I could stick out the beginning, then I had so much to look forward to. And although aspects of the book did pick up for me, I enjoyed the journey we experienced with Lazlo and the group of characters he came about. And I did become super intrigued by Azareen and Eril-Fane and what happened between them and made them become this way? I still however found the book to be a struggle, I found myself not fully able to lose myself in this world that Taylor had created and it really was one that imaginative and so creative, but at times it felt a little complex for me. Also I found that I could not connect to the characters as much as I’d hoped, they all really were a diverse bunch, with such mixed personalities, secrets and so much to offer, but I found I couldn’t care less about them (except for Lazlo, Azareen, Eril-Fane and even Thyon who’d won me over by the end). But don’t be put off by my review, as I think I fall in the minority of people who this book didn’t work for. Which I’m still bummed about, as Taylor’s writing was majestic once again, but this time around her book was just not for me.




Sunday, 2 April 2017

The Readers Den Weekly Wrap Up #6

Hi everyone, with Rachel and I's crazy work schedules, we miss sharing whats going on with us. We used to have a lot of fun with our Showcase Sunday posts, so thought we'd do something regular on the blog, where we share bookish news and life news in general as a weekly recap!

WHAT I READ/REVIEWED

Jasprit 
(Click on Book for Goodreads link).



A mixed reading week for me this week, books I was expecting to enjoy I didn't end up liking them and one book I really ended up liking. However all of the above didn't get more than 3 star ratings from me :(

Rachel:
 (Click on title for Goodreads link)


>


 I haven't reviewed much on the blog lately, partly because I'm too lazy lately to write a full on review for some of the books I've finished and partly because I've be on a re-reading (listening to the audio books) binge of the Mercy Thompson series! I'm almost done with Fire Touched now and then I'm re-reading Silence Fallen. I love this series even more after the 2nd time around! On Second Thought, The Rosie Project, and One Fell Sweep were wonderful, even though I wish there was more at the end for the respective romances in On Second Thought. Everything You Want Me to Be was entertaining, but predictable, and I didn't like the sad feeling I had in the end. Can't just one of these psychological thrillers have a good (romantic) ending?! 


BOOKS RECEIVED 

Jasprit 
(Click on Book for Goodreads link).


I'm hoping The Names they Gave Us will finally be a winner of a book for me from Lord, the reviews for this book from friends have been fantastic so far. And I saw Nick reading a copy of Hate to want You and I knew I needed to get a copy asap! 


Rachel:
(Click on title for Goodreads link)




NEW TO MY TBR

Jasprit 
(Click on Book for Goodreads link).


When I first heard about The Girl Before I was super excited about reading it, it sounded like something that I would enjoy, but I'm like number 20 in the holds line at the library, and since then more and more mixed reviews keep coming in, so whilst my excitement might have died down a bit, I still can't wait to read this book. 

Rachel:
(Click on Book for Goodreads link)





WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Jasprit 


Season 2 of Jane the Virgin is finally on Netflix, whilst I haven't been able to binge watch the episodes as I'd like to, I'm super happy to return to these characters once more. 

Rachel:



It doesn't stay completely true to the book, but I'm enjoying it anyhow. The scenery is beautiful which is a perk. I live about 5 hours south of Big Sur and Monterey, and it really is that beautiful.


EVENTS OF THE WEEK

Jasprit:

I've finally been on top of my fitness these last few weeks, I've been able to go to at least two circuits classes a week and a visit to the gym too. I just wish I could have been a bit more better at controlling my eating though, I can never resist scarfing Doritos chilli heat wave or some chocolates! And I've been loving all the pretty flowers in bloom, I'm excited about using a lot more of these in my bookstagram photos. 

My bookstagram account can be found here.

Rachel:
I've got back into running which is good because I've been eating the same amount of calories even when I had to take a break because I kept getting sick.  I'm not happy with what has resulted in my body, and hope to shed the extra pounds soon, because I'm going to Stage Coach, a country music festival later this month and during the day we lay out by the hotel pool!  Ack! I'm going to have to cut back calories in addition to running. 
I've been working a lot and doing some home improvement as well. 


How was your week?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Review: Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: March 14th 2017
My rating: 4 stars 
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | TBD | Kobo

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25644437-find-her

Eleven years ago, Lindsey Nash escaped into the night with her young daughter and left an abusive relationship. Her ex-husband, Andrew, was sent to jail and Lindsey started over with a new life.
Now, Lindsey is older and wiser, with her own business and a teenage daughter who needs her more than ever. When Andrew is finally released from prison, Lindsey believes she has cut all ties and left the past behind her. But she gets the sense that someone is watching her, tracking her every move. Her new boyfriend is threatened. Her home is invaded, and her daughter is shadowed. Lindsey is convinced it’s her ex-husband, even though he claims he’s a different person. But has he really changed? Is the one who wants her dead closer to home than she thought?
With Never Let You Go, Chevy Stevens delivers a chilling, twisting thriller that crackles with suspense as it explores the darkest heart of love and obsession.

My Thoughts:
Never Let You Go is a suspenseful read, one that will keep you anxious and guessing! The first third sets the stage with past and present chapters, giving a glimpse into Lindsey’s life and marriage, how it devolved into a terrifying mess. Lindsey gets away, we know this right away from the first chapter, and Andrew is sent to prison.

Lindsey was so in love with Andrew at first, and he was the perfect husband.  Even in those blissfully happy days, Andrew showed signs of controlling behavior; gradually isolating Lindsey and chipping away at her self-confidence. The tension grew as he became increasing abusive!  

Eleven years after her escape Lindsey has built a nice life for her and Sophie in a quiet, picturesque seaside town.  She has her own business, and is dating an fun, easy going man, but now that Andrew’s been released she fears it’s just a matter of time before he catches up with them.  Strange things begin to happen and Lindsey is convinced Andrew is responsible.  Her daughter Sophie is not so sure. Was her dad really that bad?

It’s really hard to write a review without spoiling things, so I guess I’ll just say the story was riveting! I read late into the night to see how it all played out.  I have mixed emotions about how it all ended up romance wise, but the mystery was thrilling.



Connect with Chevy Stevens:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


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