Nalini Singh

Review: A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh

00:00

Title: A Madness of Sunshine
Author: Nalini Singh
Date of publication: 3 Dec 2019
Genre: Thriller 

Author's links:


Rating: 4 Stars

Blurb

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.

That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.

Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.

It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light. 

I love Nalini’s PNR, Psy-Changeling series in particular. THis is her first thriller and there were some great things in it but also some not so great ones. 

Review 

This is Nalini Singh's first thriller and since I am a big fan of her Psy-changeling series of PNR and I have enjoyed some her contemporary romances, I was curious to see her attempt to write in a completely different genre. I have mixed feelings, but it was a compelling read and I am here for more thrillers by Nalini Singh is she goes in that direction.

I loved the heroine, she is returning to her small town on the NZ coast, angry and bitter, rightly so and never just forgives the people who hurt her. I loved her voice, her strength and determination but also her empathy and compassion.

As a romance reader, I am glad that the author included a solid romance arc here. It worked well for me, I could see the connection between Will and Anahera and also understand their reluctance to start anything. Two people with difficult past, with lots of baggage caught in the middle of a small town murder investigation.

While I loved Anahera, I had some issues with Will. He was not very professional in getting her involved in his investigation and sharing info with her. He was quick to judge people and I was not always a fan of how he treated everyone but I managed to overlook this because of the way he treated Anahera - always respectful, supporting, never pressuring or dismissing her. 

Best elements in the story was the very strong atmospheric representation of the small town and the wild nature around it. Nature with absolute untameness was almost like another character in the story. 

Miriama was put on a pedestal by practically everyone in town because of her beauty and vivacity and I am not too happy about it. I would have liked more substance to her character, to be honest.

I guessed the murderer at some point but this is not really an issue for me. What bothered me though was the implication that what happened to him in the past made him the monster that he is. It’s lazy and stereotypical writing and also insulting to survivors of abuse.

The story also portrayed great female friendships, to see how people change and grow and their friendship changes with them, how difficult it is to make/keep friends.

It’s not a perfect book but captivating nevertheless. I think it shows it’s Nalini’s first attempt at thrillers. There were gorgeous bits in the story and her writing was as polished and engaging as I have to come to expect. Still, there were problematic aspects, deeply hurtful ones that could have been avoided. 

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

Book recs

10 Grumpy & Sunshine Romances

00:00




I have been meaning to try writing a series of posts with recs for romances with specific tropes, around specific topics, etc. I was inspired to for this list of 10 grumpy and sunshine romances after I finished Whiteout by Adriana Anders last week which fits this category - the heroine is a ray of sunshine and the hero is a grumpy loner. I will be reviewing the book in full next week.

10 Grumpy & Sunshine Romances

1. Austen’s Playbook by Lucy Parker. I’d say most of Lucy Parker's romances fall in this category but I chose that one because Freddy is just the sunniest sunshine possible and Griff is the grumpiest grump in the world and they ork together so, so well.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

2. Glitterland by Alexis Hall. Ash is not just grumpy, he is a true misanthrope and at the same I couldn’t help but fell for him. And Darian, well Darian is a glitter pirate through and through and that’s all you need to know him. And they make the unlikeliest, yet perfect couple.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

3. Ashwin by Kit Rocha. A genetically modified perfect soldier, how can he be anything but taciturn and grumpy, heroine is a healer (also genetically modified), most caring and selfless.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon (on sale for $0.99)

4. Love Experiment by Ainslie Paton, m/f contemporary romance. He is a big short investigative journalist, she is a new-on-the-job colleague, doing listicles and light content for the online version of the newspaper. They fall in love testing an experiment of 20 questions to see if two people are compatible.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

5. A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper, dystopian m/f romance, she is a badass assassin who is as grumpy as they come, he is the queen’s brother and military general who does his best to make her happy.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon 

6. Brooklynaire by Sarina Bowen, m/f hockey romance, hero is a self-made millionaire, tech geek who owns a hockey club, she is his office assistance. He is silent and brooding, she is an eternal optimist, happy and easy going.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon (on sale for $0.99)

7. Silver Silence by Nalini Singh, m/f PNR, first in a spin-off series. Silver is a powerful psy, Valentin is the alpha of the bear clan. She has her emotions locked tight, he is surprisingly playful for an alpha. They are total opposites but both care deeply for the ones they love and this brings them together.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

8. Once Upon a Rose by Laura Florand, m/f contemporary. Dominque is a top French chef, big and brooding, silent and only expressing his feeling through the chocolates he makes. Jaime is bruised and battered at this point in her life but her sunshine nature comes through.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

9. A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole, Portia is a firecracker, full of life and new ideas, Tavish is quieter, a bit sullen, somewhat disillusioned and they make a great pair bringing out the best in each other.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon

10. What Kind of Day by Mina V. Esguerra, hero is having the worst day, heroine is having her fair deal of problems but is rather optimistic and hopeful. Falling in love with someone on the worst day of your life, works amazingly well in this contemporary m/f romance set in Manila.
Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon


February 2020

February 2020 Releases on My TBR List

00:00



1/ Hearts on Hold by Charish Reid, m/f contemporary. I have not read that author before but I was drawn to the premise of a small-town romance between a Uni professor (the heroine) and the local librarian (the hero). Out on 3 Feb. 
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon

2/ A Heart of Blood and Ashes, fantasy romance by Milla Vane (aka Meljean Brook). I have read and enjoyed some of this author’s steampunk romance in the Iron King series. This is her first new book in a couple of years and I looking forward to trying it. Out on 4 Feb.
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon

3/ House Rules by Ruby Lang. The final novella in a series of three, all stand-alones, contemporary m/f romances involving city planners/architects/real estate agents. I like Ruby Lang’s voice and her writing generally works for me. Out on 10 Feb
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon

4/ The Unspoken Name by A. K. Larkwood. This queer adult fantasy is on my TBR list  because I want to read more fantasy and its cover is simply gorgeous. Out on 11 Feb
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon

5/ One Last Chance by Therese Beharrie, another final book in a series of m/f romances, standalones. I have enjoyed the first book and need to catch up with the second before this release. Out 17 Feb
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon

6/ Fire & Water by Alexis Hall is the next installment in his Urban fantasy f/f series. Alexis Hall is one of my favourite authors out there and I am here for all his books. The first two books in this series were published by Riptide and since then have been polished and re-released. This book is brand-new, never-before-seen and I am binge-reading them all starting at the beginning of February. Out on 24 Feb.
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon

7/ A Cowboy to Remember by Rebekah Weatherspoon. I'm not much of a reader of cowboy romances but I am intrigued by this one, it features a Black cowboy written by a Black author. Out on 24 Feb. 
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon

8/ Unforgiven by Jay Crownover, book 2 in small-town m/f romance series. Second chance romance. I liked the prequel novella (with a rodeo rider hero and a fashion designer heroine). Out on 25 Feb. 
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon - 
I already tweeted abut that book but I'm giving up on it after reading 70%. I just can't accept the romance between the MCs when the heroine was engaged the the hero's dead brother but both hero and heroine now claim to have been in love from the first time they met. Do not recommend!

9/ One Night with the Sexiest Man Alive by Ainslie Pato. Book 1 in a new series of contemporary m/f romance, described by the author as her attempt at category style romance. I already have the ARC and I can't wait to read it. Out on 27 Feb. 
Add on Goodreads / Pre-order on Amazon


Contemporary Romance

Review: Open House by Ruby Lang

00:00

Author: Ruby Lang
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance
Release Date: 11 Nov 2019

Author links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

My rating: 3,5 Stars



Blurb 

Love can take root where you least expect it.

Tyson Yang never imagined that one day he’d be the de facto spokesperson for an illegal community garden. But when the once-rat-infested-but-now-thriving Harlem lot goes up for sale, Ty can’t just let all their hard work get plowed under.

Even if he is irresistibly drawn to the lovely but infuriatingly stubborn real estate associate.

Magda Ferrer’s family is already convinced this new job will be yet another flop in her small but growing list of career path failures. But her student debt isn’t going anywhere, and selling her uncle’s historic town house and the lot nearby means a chance to get some breathing room.

Ty is her charming rival, her incorrigible nemesis, the handsome roadblock to her success.

Until one hot Harlem night blurs the hard line drawn between them, and the seeds of possibility in this rocky garden blossom into love…

Review

It was a nice, somewhat subdued city romance. I loved the focus on community, coupled with some interesting and very real family dynamics. I  liked how none of the characters are perfect, they have their strengths and weakness and makes mistakes but learn from them. It's not some preachy story, rather, it's about kindness and supporting, uplifting each other. 

It's very much focused on unlikely friendships and love connections. all about building, something, creating. I liked seeing the heroine acting like an adult, dealing with very real issues of dealing with dept, struggling professionally. While I loved seeing her as a newbie in her job, I never felt like she settled properly in her job. It never read to me like being a real estate agent was her dream job and despite being good at it, it never felt properly satisfactory to her. I have mixed feelings about this to be honest. Lots of people do a job that they are good at without loving it, but still I would have preferred to see her happier/more optimistic about her career choice. 

It's a true enemies-to-lovers, they were literally at the opposite sides of the fence. There was no real hate though, both understood the position of the other. Lots of angst there and a feel-good, working resolution of the conflict. 

While I liked the overall writing, I wanted more character development, stronger connection between the MCs, more focus on their romantic relationship. I didn’t really buy the whole plotline with her uncle and his neighbour/classmate. It seemed far-fetched and at odds with the very real, down-to-earth feel of the rest of the book. 

Add to Goodreads / Buy on Amazon


Contemporary

Review: Headliners by Lucy Parker

00:00

Title: Headliners (London Celebrities #5)
Author: Lucy Parker
Genre / Themes: Romance / TV presenters/ British
Release date: 20 Jan 2020

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Goodreads

My rating: 5 Stars


Blurb

He might be the sexiest man in London, according to his fan site (which he definitely writes himself), but he’s also the most arrogant man she’s ever met.

She might have the longest legs he’s ever seen, but she also has the sharpest tongue.

For years, rival TV presenters Sabrina Carlton and Nick Davenport have traded barbs on their respective shows. The public can’t get enough of their feud, but after Nick airs Sabrina’s family scandals to all of Britain, the gloves are off. They can barely be in the same room together—but these longtime enemies are about to become the unlikeliest of cohosts.

With their reputations on the rocks, Sabrina and Nick have one last chance to save their careers. If they can resurrect a sinking morning show, they’ll still have a future in television. But with ratings at an all-time low and a Christmas Eve deadline to win back the nation’s favor, the clock is ticking—and someone on their staff doesn’t want them to succeed.

Small mishaps on set start adding up, and Sabrina and Nick find themselves—quelle horreur—working together to hunt down the saboteur…and discovering they might have more in common than they thought. When a fiery encounter is caught on camera, the public is convinced that the reluctant cohosts are secretly lusting after one another.

The public might not be wrong.

Their chemistry has always been explosive, but with hate turning to love, the stakes are rising and everything is on the line. Neither is sure if they can trust these new feelings…or if they’ll still have a job in the New Year.

Review

This is another great installment in the London Celebrities series. It works as standalone but we see a lot of the MCs in the previous book, the Austen Playbook, so I would recommend reading it before you pick up  Headliners (and all the previous books while you are at it :)

Lucy Parker's writing is outstanding as usual, the many laugh out loud funny moments were unexpected but highly appreciated. A very moving enemies to lovers romance, two professionals in a rough place, forced to work together to save their careers.

I found the main conflict believable, their animosity and dislike felt real and I was convinced in their growth as people which led them to see each other in a different light. The simmering physical attraction between them had always been there but the needed to be ready to admit it to themselves and act on it. His regret was heart-felt, came after deep soul searching and facing some inconvenient truths about who he was/ was becoming. She had heavy family issues to to deal with, and ex-partner who kept causing problems.

It's a fast paced story, a minor suspense plot and lots of holiday feels, sense of family and togetherness. It all felt natural, they way their families were present in their lives. I loved seeing him staying friends with his ex (and he new husband). The complexity of the relationship between siblings, parents was very interesting for me to read.

Some of the plot twists towards the end felt over the top. The "baddy" got their dues but felt too contrived and didn't fit with with character in my opinion. I am purposefully vague because here because I want to avoid spoilers.

Highly recommended read!

CW: loss of a parent (in the past), grief, minor incidents

Add on Goodreads / Buy on Amazon


Flickr Images