Ellie Reads Fiction

24 Nov 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Happily Ever Ninja by Penny Reid

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: Happily Ever Ninja (Knitting in the City #5)
Author: Penny Reid
Genre/Themes: Romantic comedy
Release Date: 19 Jan 2015

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Pre-order: Amazon


There are three things you need to know about Fiona Archer… I would tell you what they are, but then I’d have to kill you.

But I can tell you that Fiona’s husband—the always irrepressible and often cantankerous Greg Archer—is desperately in love with his wife. He aches for her when they are apart, and is insatiable when they are together. Yet as the years pass, Greg has begun to suspect that Fiona is a ninja. A ninja mom. A ninja wife. A ninja friend. After fourteen years of marriage, Greg is trying not to panic. Because Fiona’s talent for blending in is starting to resemble fading away.

However, when unexpected events mean Fiona must take center stage to keep her family safe, her response stuns everyone—Greg most of all. It seems like Greg’s wish has come true. 

Except… not. 

When all is said and done, can Greg handle this new version of his wife? Will his irrepressible cantankerousness push her away? Or can the couple find a way forward without either being forced to step back into the shadows?

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - It's Penny Reid. nough said. Seriously, I love her romantic comedies so much, she write the bestest awkward characters and they all get involved the craziest shenanigans ever.

Side note: The standalone prequel novella, Ninja at First Sight is available early and it's just 0.99 on Amazon. I highly recommend to read it as well, because you get the meet the young Fiona and Greg and they are so cute young loves!

Review: Real World by Amy Jo Cousins

Title: Real World (Bend or Break #5)
Author: Amy Jo Cousins
Genre/Themes: M/M romance, Holidays
Release Date: 17 Nov 2015

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 4.5 Stars


When talking fails, it’s time to break out the big guns.

Five years ago, Tom Worthington busted his ass to overcome the fear and paranoia that led him to withdraw from the world and nearly lose his boyfriend. He never thought he’d find himself right back there, shutting Reese out, keeping secrets again.

Reese Anders is ready to try anything to get Tom to talk: if he can’t seduce his boyfriend with food, he’ll get Tom to open up in bed. But even Tom’s confession that his dad is getting out of prison soon doesn’t clear the air between them. And as the holidays approach, intensive mentoring from a new British boss creates more distractions, until Reese is keeping secrets of his own.

At a company Christmas party, it only takes Tom one look at Reese’s new boss to figure out how much danger their relationship is in. But he’s not about to let the connection that started all those years ago at Carlisle come to an end. It’s time to deal with their problems like adults. Face to face. Or back to front. Starting in the bedroom.


This is book 5 in Ms Cousins' Bend or Break series and it's a sequel to the first book, Off Campus, bring us back to Tom and Reese, now an established couple, a few years after graduation.

I find Ms Cousins has the uncanny ability to steal some of my thoughts and give them to her characters. It was Rafi in Level Hands who could be my twin in so many ways and here I felt deeply connected with Tom, so much that it felt surreal at times.

This is not just a sweet follow up story. Both Tom and Reese had a lot of issues to deal before they came together and we see them still struggling with the hurt/burden of their pasts. Things get especially difficult for Tom and because he is the quieter, more introverted of the two, he reacts rather badly the situation, at least initially. He finds himself under so much pressure, most of which he places on himself and refusing to talk about it with his partner. He comes really close to losing everything and this possibility becomes his wake-up call.

I loved everything about this story, it felt real and natural and there were some sweet romantic moments that brought happy tears to my eyes.

I could relate to Tom's anxiety and nerves about everything happening in his life. His reaction to shut everybody out, to solve every problem on his own so as not to be a burden to the people who love him, his fear he might be a burden to Reese/or any of his friends came so very close to some of my own fears.

I got deeply immersed in his struggles, felt bad for him, rooted for his HEA!

Reese was great as well, more mature than in Off Campus, yet still vibrant, full of life and emotions. His enthusiasm was truly infectious. We see him doing everything he can think of to help support Tom and to save their relationship. Seeing how they made mistakes, yet never gave up on each other was inspiring. they were aware of the difficulties in  their relationship and tried to work things out. I loved that they manage to speak openly, despite it being so difficult for Tom to open up.

As much as I liked Reese and Tom, I also loved seeing Cash and Steph again, even a glimpse of Denny and Rafi and their happy, healthy relationships all made my heart full.

And we gets bits of Cash (and Steph) and they were such fun!

This story has the perfect perfect romance HEA and to avoid spoilers I will just say that it was so sweet and romantic, yet never sappy, just real for these two guys. 

Fans of the series should not miss this book! It's a sweet and sexy holiday romance, engaging and real, in this magical of Ms Cousins creating a story and characters that stay with you long after you finish reading the book.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / iBooks / Samhain

You can find my reviews of the previous books in the Bend or Break series in my Review Policy and Archive tap above.

20 Nov 2015

Friday Favourites # 15: Joanna Chambers

My guest in the Author Spotlight on the blog today is the fabulous Ms Joanna Chambers, author of Enlightenment series (review) of historical MM romance. I was late reading this series but I read the three books one right after the other and I can't tell you how much I enjoyed them all. 

Ms Chambers shares her Friday Favourites - a curious mix of Scottish, British, French and American favourites. Make sure to read her great recommendations for queer historicals (I haven't read any of them yet, but I'm adding most of them to my TBR list right away).

Interview Q&A with Joanna Chambers

1. Favourite place
I love to visit new places but my favourite place remains the city I live in, Edinburgh. I feel a romantic attachment to it. It's not just that it's beautiful with wonderful architecture, a dramatic landscape, and a fascinating history. To me, it's so much more than that. When I first moved here, at seventeen, it was from somewhere I didn't want to be, a place that I longed to escape. So Edinburgh is freedom to me. Sanctuary. And I love it with all my heart.

2. Favourite food and drink
This is too hard!! I love to eat. And drink. Okay, so, one of our family games is to say what we'd pick to eat if we could only have one meal for the rest of our lives, so I'll answer it along those lines. My pick would be a perfectly cooked (rare) steak with green beans and bearnaise sauce. And a nice glass of red wine.

3. Favourite music/genre/artist/song
These questions are hideous, Ellie! I adore music of all kinds. I can't pick one genre or one artist! I do have a tendency, though, to obsess - I will listen to the same thing endlessly for a couple of weeks before moving on to the next thing. My current obsession is the music of Jacques Brel (performed by him and others). His songs are super dramatic and filled with emotion (which I love!) - rage and longing and crazy happiness. And they have this extraordinary poetic sensibility. I'm presently trying to find the very best versions I can of all my favourites.

4. Favourite movie/TV series
I don't watch much TV - maybe 1 or 2 hours a week, less now that Great British Bake Off has ended - but I like This Week with Andrew Neil, especially when he's got Alan Johnston and Michael Portillo on. I love movies too but don't watch as many as I'd like to. I prefer the big screen but with kids rarely get to the cinema. I recently loved a Swedish film called Force Majeure.

5. Favourite hobby besides writing, if you consider writing a hobby
Easy. Reading. I feel bereft if I don't read at least a little every day. 

Favourite books - please list at least 5 books you'd recommend to everyone....

Ellie, you're killing me! OK, I'm going to pick 5 queer historicals (not necessarily romance) that I love because of how immersive they are:

1. As Meat Loves Salt by Maria McCann - to me, this is the gold standard of historical fiction. It's set at the time of the English Civil War, when there was no real concept of sexual orientation and eternal damnation was an ever present danger. This is NOT a romance, be warned. What it is, is wonderful and wrenching and fierce. It wrecked me. Took me days to recover from reading this one

2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters - my favourite Waters book is probably Tipping the Velvet, but in terms of historical immersion, this earlier Victorian piece is a very rich broth indeed.

3. The Only Gold by Tamara Allen - turn of the century New York. Allen has a wonderful ear for this time and this fabulous story, set in a bank, and looking at themes of honour and responsibility is typical of her. Rich and beautifully structured.

4. Captain's Surrender by Alex Beecroft - age of sail perfection.

5. Maurice by EM Forster - I'm really shoe-horning this into my self-styled parameters because this was a contemporary-set piece when first published. Now, it's a period piece. Set in Edwardian England, this is the story of a man redeemed by his queerness. Doomed by birth and nature to a stodgy, narrow-minded, middle-class life, Maurice is forced to question and examine his nature by his homosexuality and thereby redeemed.

Author Bio and Links

Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. In between studying, finding a proper grown up job, getting married and having kids, she spent many hours staring at blank sheets of paper and chewing pens. That changed when she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna's muse likes red wine, coffee and won't let Joanna clean the house or watch television.

Joanna Chambers' latest book, Unnatural, a spinoff of the Enlightenment series, releases on Nov 24. I was lucky to read an ARC and I can tell you it's one truly beautiful, very romantic and passionate story. 


Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter. 

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down. 

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another. 

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Pre-order links: Amazon/ B&N / Samhain

17 Nov 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Sunset Park by Santino Hassell

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: Sunset Park (Five Boroughs #2)
Author: Santino Hassell 
Genre/Themes: Contemporary romance, M/M
Release Date: 11 Dec 2015

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Pre-order link: Dreamspinner


Raymond Rodriguez's days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

*** *** ***

Why am I waiting for this? - Because I'm a big fan of Mr. Hassell's writing and I just loved the first book in this series, Sutphin Boulevard so much. We meet both David and Raymond there and I must admit I'm really curious how they get together as a couple. 

16 Nov 2015

Review: My Kind of Wonderful by Jill Shalvis

Title: My Kind of Wonderful (Cedar Ridge #2)
Author: Jill Shalvis
Date of publication: 22 Dec 2015
Genre / Themes: Small town romance

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
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My rating: 4 Stars


Bailey Moore has an agenda: skiing in the Roc
kies, exploring castles in Europe, ballroom dancing in Argentina. Now that she has a second lease on life, she's determined not to miss a thing. What she doesn't realize is that item #1 comes with a six-foot-one ski god hot enough to melt a polar ice cap. She doesn't want to miss out on him either, but Hudson Kincaid isn't the type of guy to love and let go. And as gorgeous as Cedar Ridge is, she's not planning to stick around.

As head of ski patrol at his family's resort, Hud thinks he's seen it all. But never has he run into someone like Bailey. She might look delicate, but her attitude is all firecracker. And her infectious joy touches something deep within him that he's been missing far too long. Now he'll just have to convince Bailey to take a chance on her biggest adventure yet . . . something rare and all kinds of wonderful.


I needed a comfort read and as usual, Jill Shalvis' romances came to the rescue. My Kind of Wonderful (in the second book in her latest series, Cedar Ridge, set in a mountain ski resort, a setting the works great for me.

This story had so many of may favourite tropes in romance - a heroine who is fragile on the outside but all tough and determined on the inside, a hero who is protective and caring, loving fiercely his family and friends but pretty clueless when it comes to his personal life.

The story touches of serious issues (serious illness), family obligations and support, moving one, accepting the past with your mistakes and really, really looking to the future.

Bailey was a great heroine, a woman trying to find her place because up to now she has been forced to look on life from the sides and make no plans for the future. She has a list of things to do but then life happens and she has to quickly adapt her list. I love how fierce and determined she was. The way she went about being honest about her feelings for Hud, not playing games, acting coy or clingy was touching and real.

Hudson was a complex character on his own. He carried so much guilt and burden on his shoulders, yet he always took time to help the other, to be there for his family and friends. Life had thought him not the rely on anyone, even the family he so dearly loved. It took him quite a while to accept the change of plans life threw at them. He did not think there was a place for a woman in his life (and heart) but Bailey surprised him and took residence in his world without really asking.

The romance was hot and tender at the same time. It started as one time thing which soon became a few more times till the forever kind of relationship. The road to Bailey and Hud's HEA was not that easy though. The constant going back and forth, especially on the part of Hud, got tiresome and annoying towards the end. I wanted him to realise what he had and what he needed in life so much sooner but alas, he just needing some more prodding and good natured ribbing by his siblings to get the picture.

I absolutely love the family dynamics Ms Shalvis builds in her stories - there so much fun and love and warmth and caring about each other - which makes me all warm and fuzzy inside.

Overall, after loving the first book in the Cedar Ridge series, Second Chance Summer (review), I really enjoyed this one too. It hit all the right buttons for me and left me happy with a smile on my face. A recommended read for Ms Shalvis' fans and any other lovers of contemporary romance.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iBooks

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