Ellie reads fiction

20 Nov 2014

Review: Retrace by Sigal Ehrlich

Title: Retrace
Author: Sigal Ehrlich
Date of publication: 6 Nov 2014
Genre/Themes: Romance, New Adult

Author's links: Website / TwitterFacebook / Goodreads

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My rating: 3 stars


Synopsis

Nia Martins believes a fresh start will help her leave her traumatic past behind. Moving to a different country, she seeks to shake off her demons by doing the one thing that sets her free from her destructive thoughts – teaching dance. But change doesn't come easy, and all Nia really wants is to take the next breath without the perpetual suffocation that follows.

Reeves Mitchell has looked death in the eyes so many times it’s become habitual. That is, until his best friend's life was on the line. When the one thing he feared the most turns into reality, all he can do is pick up the pieces of his loss. As Reeves tries to live with the constant thought of “what if” gnawing at the back of his mind, he persistently and steadily builds a thick wall around himself.

Their solitary lives are all they have—until fate brings them together. Nia and Reeves’ new friendship helps make life, shadowed by the ghosts of their past, more bearable. But as their relationship deepens and new, suppressed feelings emerge between them, are they willing to retrace their steps back to where wounded hearts can be broken once more?

Review

This is my first book by this author and I was drawn to it by the beautiful cover and the premise of a romance between a dancer with a broken soul and a dangerous, tortured hero What a got was a nice, albeit passionate romance but I felt the story lack depth to be a more memorable read. 

It's told from dual POV which I quite liked since we get to be in the head both of Nia and Reeves. Their voices were rather distinctive and revealed their background and personalities quite well.

There is a lot of telling in this story and not enough showing. We learned certain facts from the character's background but they are told as simple facts and their impact in the characters' present was not shown. Nia's dancing was supposed to be central to the story but it didn't feel that way to me - she could have been doing anything else. On the other side, Reeves' military/FBI past was rather violent but it was also toned down a lot. The emphasis was just on their growing attraction and it didn't feel very authentic to me

They both developed feelings for one another beyond the strong chemistry and lust, yet they kept denying them at every occasion, both to themselves and to the others. It was immature and it didn't fit two grown-up with turbulent pasts and some/considerable life experience.

There a bunch of secondary characters appearing in this story - some with considerable page time, others - just making a brief appearance. They were interesting but didn't add much to the story of Nia and Reeves. I was particularly annoyed with Kate, Reeves' best friend's sister. She was this shy girl with a crush on Reeves, then we see her acting completely out of character, being mean and spiteful and doing some crazy things.

The story started, the prologue especially was very powerful, but things slowed down considerably towards the middle. Both Nia and Reeves were stuck, not admitting their true feelings. This said, the book ended on a positive note with a great epilogue.

Overall, it was a nice read, though it had a bit too New Adult feel to it - a lot of angst and some melodrama. I expected a more adult romance with deeper/darker emotions but fans of stories with tortured, broken heroes and heroines finding their HEA, should give this story a try. I believe they will enjoy it more than me.


Purchase link: Amazon

18 Nov 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Burned by Karen Marie Moning


Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Burned (Fever #7)
Author: Karen Marie Moning
Genre/Themes: Paranormal roamnce, Urban Fantasy

Release Date: 20 Jan 2015

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Pre-order link: Amazon / B&N 


Synopsis


It’s easy to walk away from lies. Power is another thing.


MacKayla Lane would do anything to save the home she loves. A gifted sidhe-seer, she’s already fought and defeated the deadly Sinsar Dubh—an ancient book of terrible evil—yet its hold on her has never been stronger.
When the wall that protected humans from the seductive, insatiable Fae was destroyed on Halloween, long-imprisoned immortals ravaged the planet. Now Dublin is a war zone with factions battling for control. As the city heats up and the ice left by the Hoar Frost King melts, tempers flare, passions run red-hot, and dangerous lines get crossed. Seelie and Unseelie vie for power against nine ancient immortals who have governed Dublin for millennia; a rival band of sidhe-seers invades the city, determined to claim it for their own; Mac’s former protégé and best friend, Dani “Mega” O’Malley, is now her fierce enemy; and even more urgent, Highland druid Christian MacKeltar has been captured by the Crimson Hag and is being driven deeper into Unseelie madness with each passing day. The only one Mac can depend on is the powerful, dangerous immortal Jericho Barrons, but even their fiery bond is tested by betrayal.

It’s a world where staying alive is a constant struggle, the line between good and evil gets blurred, and every alliance comes at a price. In an epic battle against dark forces, Mac must decide who she can trust, and what her survival is ultimately worth.

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - The Fever series is my favourite PNR/Urban Fantasy series and the wait for this book has been so long (over a year). Danni is not favourite character but she will be all grown up in this book and I'm curious how her story will develop. And we will get to see more of Mac and Barrons which is always a good thing. Ms Moning has started sharing excerpts from this book over on Fb and I can tell you just one thing about them - HOT!

Review: Shadowed Heart by Laura Florand

Title: Shadowed Heart: A Luc and Summers Novel
(Amour et Chocolat #5.5)
Author: Laura Florand
Date of publication: 3 Dec 2014
Genre/Themes: Romance, French chocolatiers

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 3.5 stars


Synopsis

Three words, to shake a man’s existence.

Three words, to call on all a man’s strength, all his courage, all his love, and all his ability to hope and dream…and trust.

Three words, to wake up every fear a man has ever had.

“I’m pregnant, Luc.”

Now how could a man be perfect enough for that?

Romantic Times calls Laura Florand's writing "sensuous and sumptuous", awarding her their Seal of Excellence and nominating her for Best Book of the Year, and NPR says it's "explosive, sensual . . . and utterly sweet".

Now in this sequel to The Chocolate Heart, Florand takes us into the heart of happily ever after with a story full of love, hope, and friendship. Struggling to get their new restaurant off the ground in the south of France, newly married top chef Luc Leroi and his wife Summer must face all their demons at the prospect of becoming parents. Fortunately, Summer's cousins and Luc's rival chefs join forces with the couple to prove that not even a top chef has to handle everything alone and happiness really can last ever after. 

Review

Note: The blurb is rather vague and I'm afraid I won't be able to avoid some minor spoilers in my review. Furthermore, this is sequel to The Chocolate Heart, and I will be refering to some events and characters from that novel as well. 

I like romances about married couples especially ones involving pregnancy/children and I was excited to read this one. Luc and Summer are one my favourite couples in the series and I was happy that Ms Florand decided to continue their story after the Happily ever after.

We get the typical sensual and beautiful writing which is characteristic of Ms Florand's novels. The story flows gently, a bit slow at times, and it's overflowing with emotions as the characters struggle to keep up with the changes in their lives. 

Luc and Summer are trying to set up their new life as a married couple in Provence when an unexpected but very much wanted pregnancy adds yet another level of stress and anxiety to both of them. Both Luc and Summer have far too many issues/insecurities to deal with and as their natural reaction, they withdrew deep into themselves instead of talking. Their confusion, fears and deep desire to be there for each other and to be perfect parents (when neither of them had good role models for parenting) felt authentic and was easy to understandand relate to. Yet, I got frustrated with them for not taking to time to talk to each other. 

Even after they began opening more to each other, I felt that the big conflict came about because of a simple misunderstanding that could have been easily avoided.  

We see the whole gang of the Cade sisters and their French chocolatiers, Patrick and Sarah and some other chefs as well. A true of support for the new expecting couple. I enjoyed how the seriousness of the concerns of raising a child was coupled with lighthearted humor and sense of silent/unobtrusive camaraderie. Of course, much of the focus was on food which is generally a strong and ever present metaphor in this series. 

And the ending was perfect, full of optimism and totally looking forward to the future. I appreciate how Ms Florand didn't belittle or swept away the challenges in a perfect HEA. There will be struggles ahead for Summer and Luc, yet finally they are ready to face them together and to rely on the support of the people who care about them. 

I expected the story to cover a longer period and I was surprised that it was condensed in such a short time span. I was looking forward to seeing the couple further along in their family life. After thinking it over I realized that I had started this story with certain fixed assumptions related to the unexpected pregnancy trope in romance and while they were not (fully) met, I found the story enjoyable and refreshing. The depth of feelings and the way the character deal/fail to deal with their complex issues made a very engaging story. A recommended read for fans of the series!

Purchase link: Amazon

13 Nov 2014

Mini Review: Scenes from the City by Penny Reid

Title: Scenes from the City (Knitting in the City #5.5)
Author: Penny Reid
Date of publication: 1 Dec 2014
Genre: Romance, short stories

Author links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 5 Stars


Goodreads Blurb

Scenes from the City (Knitting in the City #5.5)
aka... the Festivus Surprise
100% of proceeds go to Toys for Tots.
This book cannot be read as a standalone. It is a collection of short scenes following the ladies from the 'Knitting in the City' series and will only be available in eBook format from December 1 - December 15, 2014.
'Neanderthal Seeks Honeymoon' - Janie and Quinn
'Friends Definitely With Benefits' - Elizabeth and Nico
'Hacking the Hacker' - Sandra and Alex
'Beauty and the Beard' - Ashley and Drew
'Ninja at First Sight' - Fiona and Greg

Mini Review

Scenes from the City, aka Festivus Surprise is a collection of  5 short stories about the already published four books in the Knitting in the City series and the upcoming release of book 5, Happily Ever Ninja

I loved all the snippets into our favourite knitting club ladies and the men in their lives. The stories are written with the trademrk sense of humour of Ms Reid and her appreciation of the awkward . They read easily and all show the characters in all their awesomeness. 

We get at glimpse of Janie and Quinn on their honeymoon - and as can be expected with these two, it's full of passionate lovemaking and the wierdest/funniest conversations in the meantime. 

Sandra and Nico's story is tender and touching and absolutely loved it. There is more seriousness to it, even some sadness but it's also beautiful and intimate.

Sandra and Alex show their love for one another in the most unconventional way which is also they only way they both know how and while most people would find it strange, even unacceptable, it works well for them. 

Now, what can I tell you about Ashley and Drew? I loved their story the best - it's so full of raw passion and deep emotion. It made me want to go back and re-read Beauty and the Mustache for more Drew deliciousness.  I'm sure it will stay with me for a long time. 

In the final snippet with get to meet the young Fiona and Greg while they are in college. They both seem intriguing characters, especially him, and I'm now getting really impatient to read their story. 

This book is available for pre-order for 0.99$ on Amazon and will be available for purchase only between 01 and 15 December 2014. A recommdended read, one which I'm sure, fans of the series will enjoy a lot.

Pre-order link: Amazon

11 Nov 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Give It All by Cara McKenna


Waiting on Wednesday is a book meme hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and it features books that we are eagerly awaiting to be released.

Title: Give It All (Desert Dogs #2)
Author: Cara McKenna
Genre: Contemporary romance, Bikers

Release Date: 3 Feb 2015
Add on Goodreads
Pre-order links: Amazon / B&N





Synopsis 

Keep your friends close—and your enemies closer....

Bar owner Raina Harper can’t say for sure what Duncan Welch is to her. With her small Nevada town under siege by a ruthless casino development and still reeling from a spate of murders, she knows that trusting the public face of the corporate invaders is risky to say the least. Though, damn, it’s one fine-looking face.…

Duncan may be a mercenary when it comes to getting the job done, but he’s no villain. In fact, the calculating fixer soon finds himself in the bad guys’ crosshairs, framed and facing professional ruin. To clear his name, he’ll need help from Raina and her roughneck motorcycle club, the Desert Dogs. Gaining their trust won’t be easy, and the molten sexual tension between Raina and Duncan only makes things more complicated—especially since Miah Church, Raina’s friend and ex-lover, would sooner strangle Duncan than shake his hand.

One thing’s certain, though: If they don’t deal with their incendiary attraction soon, the whole damn town might go up in flames.…


*** *** *** 

Why am I waiting for this? - Cara McKenna is a favourite author of mine. She writes intense erotic stories which I absolutely love. The first book in this series, Lay It Down, was a 5-star read for me and I don't expect any less of this one. Duncan was not my favourite person in book 1 and I feel bad for Raina choosing him over Miah but I hope that Ms McKenna can win me over on their side.
Aaaand, Ms McKenna will be giving us a novella of Miah and Raina when they were together. I can't tell you how excited all this makes me. You can read more about this over at Wonk-o-Mance.

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