Sunday, 31 August 2014

ARC Review ~ To Catch a Star by Romy Sommer

To Catch a StareARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: September 25th 2014

Publisher: Haper Impulse

Description:
Teresa Adler is the ultimate Ice Princess, with a heart as frozen as the winter landscape of her beloved home, Westerwald. All her life, she’s belonged to the ‘inner circle’ of wealth, privilege and position.

Christian Taylor: Heartthrob. Movie Star. Bad boy. The mischievous actor sets temperatures soaring in the picturesque baroque principality – and with a wicked glint in his eye and a chip on his shoulder he sets his sights on the one thing he’s told he can’t have. Teresa.

While Tessa holds the ultimate clue to the secret of Christian’s parentage, it is the heat of his touch that will make this Ice Princess feel more alive than she ever has before…

Another magical, gorgeously romantic modern fairy tale from Romy Sommer!

My Opinion


I think this was my favourite from the whole series. When I downloaded it from NetGalley I didn't realise it was the third book until I saw the mention of rings. It was the "ice queen" personality that caught my attention and I couldn't wait to start it.


I loved the start and it set everything up nicely. It was engaging and made me laugh quicker than I expected. It also set the scene for Christian's lifestyle incredibly well and I thought the chaotic and busy nature of his work was continued and carried out well throughout the entire book. Similarly I thought the development in the book was well paced and believable. I loved Christian as he was a mixture of strong, leading male but was battling inner conflicts about his past and beliefs. I'm glad he decided to fight for what he wanted and he got what he deserved.

I'm not sure I can say the same for Teresa. She's one of those characters who's split my opinion. I liked her for most of the book, and thought how she became less of an ice princess was believable and developed well. However I just didn't agree with some of her decision and at times thought she was being stupid. I'm glad it all works out but I'm not sure I like how it got to that point due to personal preferences on subject matter.

Saying that though, in general everything progressed well and was believable. I liked the movie backdrop and that the author made it more realistic than the Hollywood glamour you sometimes see. There were also moments that made me laugh--the balcony scene being the first that comes to mind. It balanced the heartache and troubles well making this an enjoyable read. I would definitely recommend this book.

4.5
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Saturday, 30 August 2014

ARC Review ~ The Year I Met You by Cecelia Ahern

The Year I Met YouPaperback recieved via Love Reading in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 9th 2014

Publisher: Harper Collins

Description:
A thoughtful, captivating and ultimately uplifting novel from this uniquely talented author

Jasmine know two things: one, she loves her vulnerable sister unconditionally, and will fight to the death to protect her from anyone who upsets her. Two, she's only ever been good at one thing – her job helping business start-ups.

So when she’s sacked and put on gardening leave, Jasmine realises that she has nothing else to fill her life. Insomnia keeps her staring out of her bedroom window, and she finds herself watching the antics of her neighbour, shock jock Matt, with more than a casual eye. Matt is also taking a forced leave of absence from work, after one of his controversial chat shows went too far…

Jasmine has every reason to dislike Matt, and the feeling appears to be mutual. But not everything is as it seems, and soon Jasmine and Matt are forced to think again…

My Opinion

I know I will probably be in the minority here, but I just couldn't bring myself to like this book. Having read a few other novels by this author, I thought I'd give her one more chance to sway my opinion on her work. Although I haven't disliked the other books I've read, they have never been something that have excited me. 

So, I went into reading The Year I Met You really hoping I liked it, especially when I saw the beautiful cover. Sadly though, it didn't engage or connect with me. My biggest problem was that I find this author to be very text-heavy and not use speech as often. Personally, this makes it very hard for me to connect with characters and stay interested as I feel they don't really have a voice. I never felt connected to Matt or Jasmine in the way I like when reading.

I had the same problem in with Ahern's other books. Things do get better towards the end, but it's always too late in the story for me. I find myself asking why it couldn't have started earlier with this author and it does becomes frustrating.

Moreover, I read to escape the troubles of real life, and even though there are some novels by this author I've liked, most don't do much for me as they are too close to normal lives. I like more drama in books and to read about exciting things. I just feel the whole of this book was too calm and normal. I don't want to say boring, but it really was a slow read for me.


I hate to say that about books and I really did want to like it but I just couldn't bring myself to care about the characters. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be reading more by this author as I don't think her work is right for me. I have no doubt other people will probably enjoy this read if you like this author and kind of book, it's just not my kind of read.

2.5

Friday, 29 August 2014

ARC Review ~ Black Ice by Becca Fitzpatrick

Black IceeARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: October 7th 2014

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Description:
Sometimes danger is hard to see... until it’s too late. 

Britt Pfeiffer has trained to backpack the Teton Range, but she isn't prepared when her ex-boyfriend, who still haunts her every thought, wants to join her. Before Britt can explore her feelings for Calvin, an unexpected blizzard forces her to seek shelter in a remote cabin, accepting the hospitality of its two very handsome occupants—but these men are fugitives, and they take her hostage. 

In exchange for her life, Britt agrees to guide the men off the mountain. As they set off, Britt knows she must stay alive long enough for Calvin to find her. The task is made even more complicated when Britt finds chilling evidence of a series of murders that have taken place there... and in uncovering this, she may become the killer’s next target. 

But nothing is as it seems in the mountains, and everyone is keeping secrets, including Mason, one of her kidnappers. His kindness is confusing Britt. Is he an enemy? Or an ally?

My Opinion

I wasn't sure what I was going to get with with book as it sounded so different from the other books I've read by this author. I enjoyed the Hush Hush saga though so I was excited to see how the author handled the genre change and what her writing was like when not using paranormal beings. I really did squeal when this came up on NetGalley as 'UK requests preferred' as it almost never happens with popular books/authors like this--or at least I don't see them. Anyway, despite a few issues that I'll get to in a minute, I thoroughly enjoyed Black Ice and Becca's writing.

When reading Black Ice, there was no point at which I thought it was dragging. The plot kept me engaged the whole way through and kept me turning pages quickly. I will admit that I had to stop reading once it got dark, as although it isn't scary, my mind likes to play tricks on me and kidnapping isn't the safest subject to go to sleep on. I thought that the characters were great and I liked how they were all individually strong, yet had their flaws. The guys definitely had a clear sense of their own personality and motives for doing what they did and this came across well. I also liked how Britt reacted when things got bad. At the start I thought she would fall apart like most of her family would have expected, but she really came into her own and you can't help but admire her for her strength. As well as this, I liked that Becca didn't make her continually strong; she did break down and nearly give up and this felt realistic, making her human.

Similarly, I liked the whole backdrop. Usually when I read books set in snowy scenes, they are winter romances so it was a nice change to read a darker, thriller. It added another level of danger as not only were the girls at risk from other characters, but the weather could easily kill them too. The survival skills felt believable and I'm glad it wasn't over done.

There were only two issues I really had with Black Ice. The first was the small romance that develops. I didn't get it. I know he wasn't the bad guy really, but if someone kidnapped me, dragged me through a snow-covered forest, aided in killing someone etc. then I don't think the first thought on my mind would be kissing him. Normally I'm all for romance, but here I think it detracted from the overall effect of the book and wasn't needed. It made the ending a bit cheesy for me. 

The second thing was that I did find it a bit predictable. It was kind of obvious who the killer was and although I enjoyed watching everything play out, I would have liked for it to be concealed a little better so I didn't connect the dots so early.

However, overall I enjoyed Black Ice more than I thought I would. It was a nice change from the usual books I've read and it's definitely different from Hush Hush in more ways than one. If you like thrillers, darker books, or fast-paced reads you may want to check this book out.

4

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Review ~ Just to Be With You - The Instructor by J.A. Cooper

Just to Be With You - The Instructorebook downloaded for free from Amazon

Description:
Leigh Baker’s finally gotten rid of her mooching, long-term boyfriend. But one is turning out to be a lonely number. 

A new hobby, her good friends, a sexy man…that's what Leigh needs. When Leigh meets Carter Malone, the attraction’s immediate. But as quickly as the romance heats up, it cools off. The thing is, Leigh can't figure out why. 

When Carter pops back into Leigh's life, it turns out he's the new English professor. According to Carter, getting involved with her would bring risks he doesn't need. But something keeps drawing them together. 

And when love comes knocking twice, sometimes all you can do is open the door.

My Opinion

DNF at 27% - I thought I'd give this a chance seeing as it was free on Amazon, and I'm looking for novellas due to time constraints at the moment. However, this didn't hook me. There were too many short, simple sentences that 'told' rather than 'showed' what was going on, and I ended up skimming. Too many sentences started with "I" and it just became repetitive. I can't comment on the story as I didn't get far enough to find out what happens but the writing wasn't engaging enough for me to push through to the end.

DNF

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Review ~ Help Me (Seduced by Danger #1) by Clara Bayard

Help Me (Seduced by Danger, #1)ebook downloaded from Amazon for free

Description:
All grown up and all alone...

Amanda Devlin steps of an airplane to an exciting future after her college graduation. But within minutes her dreams are dashed and her life is thrown into confusion and fear. Her sister is missing. A suspicious man seems to be following her.

Her only hope is a scrap of paper...
When she finds her sister's apartment ransacked and the police are reluctant to help, Amanda latches on to a single clue - a mysterious phone number.

The number leads her to a private club like nothing she's ever seen before. The only thing more shocking than the wealth displayed there is the club's true purpose.

...And a man she barely knows.

As she embarks on a dangerous journey, her only ally is sexy young billionaire Trey Heller. He's her guide and her greatest temptation as Amanda enters a world of sex and danger to save her sister. Their attraction is undeniable, but his true intentions are unknown.
My Opinion

This was an okay read but I did find myself skimming sections, as it didn't always hold my attention that well. I think the premise is interesting and it sets everything up nicely, with some interesting characters, however it hasn't enticed me enough to pay for the next 2 books when they are so short. I think it could have been longer and don't really see the need for it to have been split up into 3 novellas.

On the positive side, it was free so I can't complain too much. It was an easy read that killed the time while I was waiting for something.

2

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Review ~ Knocked Out by Ty Langston

Knocked Out
eARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 25th 2014

Publisher: Solo Publishing Co

Description:
Fresh out of Grad School, Hayley Monroe gets the chance of a lifetime when her boss gives her the opportunity to produce and host a reality series on finding MMA’s “Next Great Hope”. 

Enter former MMA contender Evan Bates. His sudden re-appearance into the sport after a mysterious five year absence not only raises eyebrows, but also temps both in and out of the Octagon. 

Can Hayley keep everything in check? Or will she be Knocked Out?

My Opinion

This was an okay novella. It was the MMA aspect that caught my eye, and I'm particularly interested in short stories at the moment as I have little time to read. However, I kind of expected more and I felt there was a lot more that could have been done with this story.

The first thing I'll say is that I loved Everly and her relationship with Evan (her dad). I'm not usually a fan of kids in books but she was adorable and full of life. I loved that she was so confident and you could feel her love and admiration for her dad. As well as this I liked the devotion to her that Evan showed back. I found their relationship to be believable and well created.

Similarly, I liked the overall concept of the book. The competition aspect intrigued me as I've not seen it done with MMA before. However, this was where my biggest problem was created. There was hardly any detail about the competition and what happened when Evan joined. One minute he was leaving to start it, and the next he was in the final!! I wanted more detail, more fights and more hardship. I wanted to read about his journey but that's not what I got--I felt things were too easy, and there's a lot of potential for a great full-length novel. As it stands for me, the concept feels too big for a novella, because added to that there is a random sex scene thrown in with no warning. It all felt a bit disjointed because of the length and lacked detail.


Overall, it was a quick easy read and Everly was definitely the best part. I would have loved for it to be longer as I feel there is so much more the author could have done, but it's alright to break up the time.

2.5

Monday, 25 August 2014

Review ~ Unravel Me (Catch My Breath #2) by Lynn Montagano

Unravel Me (The Breathless Series, #2)ebook received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: July 17th 2014

Publisher: Harper Impulse

Description:
Lia’s meant to be on cloud nine: ever since she and Alastair finally confessed their love for one another, their relationship has never been so good.

Her British-born Adonis is all intent on sweeping her off her feet, showering her with gifts and affection more than worthy of the girlfriend of an international, millionaire businessman!

But their past seems to be intent on dragging the both of them down, and the hushed gossip of a dark secret begins to cause havoc to Lia’s life…

With an ocean separating her from her love, Lia can’t help but wonder if she can ever feel secure with a man who still plays everything so close to his chest, including her.

My Opinion

While I rated the first book in the series 3 stars, it was enjoyable enough for me to want to find out more about Lia and Alastair and give this book a go. I was interested to see where the author would take the story and even though overall I enjoyed this easy read, it has left me with mixed opinions.

I liked the pacing of the book. Everything moved at a quick speed, keeping my interest, but there was also plenty of detail. I like Lynn's style of writing. It has its quirks, and humorous remarks that kept putting a smile on my face while reading it. I especially liked it when it was during Lia's speech. It made her likable and I enjoyed that she was independent. Even though Alastair tried to be the protective male, and at times was a little controlling (not in a bad way), she still kept her own mind, stubbornness and was determined to see things through. I will admit her naivety about her ex irked me a little as it happened a few too many times for me to not question why she didn't just cut him out and why she believed him after his history.

Similarly, I think I liked Alastair. He's a bit cheesy for me, but I think the fact that the author works the fact that he know this into his character helps lessen the cringe factor. However, I still am undecided on how I really feel about him. He's a strange character in that you never really see his true colours as he's very guarded. I'm also not a fan of the constant British references--but that's a major pet peeve of mine. 

As for the plot, it did hold my interest and I did enjoy the book as a whole. I did find the secret a little predictable so I was waiting for things to happen a lot of the time. And I did feel maybe it could have been condensed a little a few times things became repetitive. However, I'm curious to see what is going to happen in the final book and this one held my attention well enough for me to want to complete the series. All I hope is hat there is a bit of a different plot line.

Overall, these books are fun, easy reads. I like the author's style and although it has split my opinion, I did enjoy it.


3.5

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Sunday, 24 August 2014

Review ~ The Real Thing by Cassie Mae

The Real ThingeARC received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: 19th August 2014

Publisher: Random House (Flirt)

Description:
Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world. 

When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

My Opinion

I knew this author sounded familiar when I saw this book on NetGalley but I couldn't put my finger on where I had seen her before. In fact it has taken me the whole book, and only when I got to the end did I realise it was because I read Friday Night Alibi and loved it, at its release. Therefore, I was pleased that this was a book by an author I've liked in the past and it was nice to read her other work and love it just as much!

I was slightly unsure whether I would like this so it came as a pleasant surprise to fall in love with some of the characters and their story. I adored Eric. Out of all the characters I expected to find him the most annoying because of his anxiety as I normally like alpha type guys. However I found him completely endearing and sweet. His anxiety was an important part to his character and the story, but I felt the author did a great job of balancing it with the rest of the book so it didn't become overpowering. Similarly, he was a really genuine guy and his progress was believable. I liked how he was around Mia and thought their relationship couldn't help but draw you in. It was a sweet relationship that had its ups and downs, and I loved the little jokes between the two.

Surprisingly, it was Mia that caused my only problem with this book. She wasn't my favourite character and I did find the constant online thing annoying. She also transformed when Scott came along and I didn't like what she did. I know this is the main thread to the story but I've never understood the need to post everything to the world on social media so I found her a hard character to connect with. Saying that though, I did like how she brought out Eric's confidence so she did have redeeming qualities.


Overall, this was sweet read that kept me engaged. I did feel the ending was slightly rushed but it was nice to read a book based solely on emotions rather than sex. The characters are realistic and it's a simple, easy read.


Saturday, 23 August 2014

Book Spotlight ~ Guilt Trip by Maggy Farrell

Guilt TripGuilt Trip

Genre: YA Paranormal Thriller

Description:
The voice on the wind. 
The presence in her dreams. 
The feelings she can’t control. 

Sixteen-year-old Melissa has been diagnosed with Survivor Syndrome, the guilt of having escaped from a car crash in which her mother died. 

However, when on holiday in the rugged moorlands of the English countryside, she begins to see and hear things she can’t explain. And so she must ask herself: are these also symptoms of her illness? Or are they signs that her mother is reaching out to her from beyond the grave?

Buy Now: Amazon UK | Amazon US

Excerpt

'It comes to me in my dreams, over and over. Intruding. Invading. Haunting.

In slow motion, almost frame-by-frame, the scene unfolds.

The sharp bend.

The black ice.

Mum unable to control the wheel as we skid across the road, crashing through the fence, careering down the bank, the car flipping over onto its side as we descend.

Mum is below me now as we hurtle into the deadly-cold river which quickly steals through the cracks in the windscreen.

It isn’t a lot of water: the river isn’t deep, and we’re not far in. But it’s enough.

“Help me!”

I am aware of her thrashing about, struggling to unfasten her seatbelt.

But it’s jammed.

And so I watch as the water begins to pool around her, filling up the spaces - the air pockets - gradually taking her into its freezing, smothering embrace.'

Maggy FarrellAbout the Author
Maggy Farrell is an English Literature teacher and author, currently living in the Netherlands. When not writing YA thrillers, her favourite pastime is to curl up on a rainy afternoon with a good book, a cup of Earl Grey and a packet of chocolate digestives. Luckily, the Netherlands is a very rainy place...

Friday, 22 August 2014

Book Spotlight & Excerpt ~ Imago by Jack Reyn

ImagoImago

Genre: Alternate-history thriller

Description:

An ancient legend. A deadly race.

The clouds of war gather over a world bitterly divided by science and religion. As steam locomotives thunder past the temples of Norse gods, and religious extremists terrorise the industrial powers of Europe, three very different people are pulled into a sinister conspiracy.


For Julian Harvey, a government agent tasked with controlling religion, a simple murder investigation becomes a fight for his life against a dark cult that threatens to plunge Europe into chaos.

For Freyja Barrett, a bounty hunter for hire, a secret breathed by a dying priest leads to a race against time to find an ancient relic of legendary power.

And for Zoe Rousseau, a devout believer, her preparation for initiation into an underground cult becomes a test more lethal than anything she could have imagined.

In a world where ancient pagan religion flourishes in an age of rationalism, all three will find their deepest beliefs under attack in a desperate struggle for survival.




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Excerpt

Prologue

√Čtretat, France – 11:23pm RST (Rational Standard Time)

The house itself was surprisingly modest. Three stories high, with an old-fashioned gable roof and shuttered windows, it suggested wealth and restrained good taste.
Its location, however, suggested nothing of the kind.
On three sides of the house, the land fell suddenly in chalk cliffs to the sea far below. Nothing but thin strips of grass lay between the house and the sheer drop. On the fourth side, an immaculate, narrow lawn stretched away for a hundred metres, perfectly bisected by a gravel driveway. The house had been built at the end of a perilously thin finger of land thrust out from the cliffs, a craggy, natural pier of chalk. Where the finger connected with the mainland, a security fence neatly cut it off from the outside world.
Beyond the fence and its attendant guardhouse, a private road wound towards the village half a kilometre away, where the cliffs sank down into a wide, golden beach. In the summer it filled with holidaymakers, who squinted up at the house at the end of the cliffs and wondered who could possibly live there.
Someone wealthy, they thought. Someone who appreciated a good view. And on this they were quite correct. But what was less obvious to the casual observer was that the house’s remote and lofty location made it much more than just a highly desirable summer home.
It was a fortress.
And tonight, it was being breached.
Below the house – beyond the end of the finger of land – a massive buttress thrust further into the sea, creating a natural archway. A chalk pillar stood even further out, the rock seeming to glow faintly against the moonless night sky. Below, invisible to anyone on the cliff top, the surf crashed remorselessly against it.
Halfway up the buttress, a grey-clad figure moved equally invisibly, methodically climbing the cliff with two small picks.
The climber reached the top of the buttress, and with difficulty scaled the remaining, sheerer distance to the top of the cliff. Clambering onto the strip of grass at the top, he darted to the back of the house and flattened himself against the wall.
He paused, listening for any sounds above the roar of the surf far below, before carefully edging around the building until he reached the front.
Standing motionless, invisible in the darkness, he could see a light in the window of the guardhouse at the end of the drive, a hundred metres away. After waiting a few minutes, and seeing no visible movement, the man stowed his climbing picks in his backpack, then darted up the short flight of steps leading to the front door, and bent to inspect the lock.
From a pouch on his belt he took two slivers of metal, barely visible in the darkness, and inserted them carefully into the lock. He rotated them minutely, the motions of his fingers as delicate and practised as those of a surgeon, until the tumblers clattered into place. Standing, he pulled on a pair of thin gloves, cautiously opened the door, and slipped inside, shutting it behind him with a quiet click.
The hallway was pitch black. The intruder, now apparently confident that he was alone in the house, took off his backpack and pulled out a small oil lantern, which he lit with a match. The dim light which it produced revealed a large, impeccably furnished room. Potted palms cast spidery shadows which crept across the black and white walls as the intruder moved his lamp in a wide arc, peering at his surroundings.
Directly opposite the front door, a burgundy-carpeted staircase led up into the darkness. The intruder climbed it, his movements quick and careful. It led to another hallway, where he pushed open the first door he came to.
He found himself in a large study, where an untidy desk stood before tall, shuttered windows. On the far side of the room, an elegant set of quilted chairs was grouped around a coffee table, on which two large books of photography had been tossed. The whole room was dominated by mahogany shelves which lined the walls from floor to ceiling, crammed with leather-bound books.
Like the rest of the house, the study spoke of wealth and casual good taste. But it also bore a hint of something else, something both headier and infinitely more ephemeral: the indescribable aura of power.
Closing the door, the intruder placed the lantern carefully on the desk, and began to sift through the papers lying on it. His face, now lit by the soft glow of the lantern, revealed little. The intruder was a thin, wiry man in his forties. Deep lines ran, prematurely, across his high forehead and from his large, narrow nose to the corners of his mouth.
After a couple of minutes, having failed to find what he was looking for, he moved from the desk and began to inspect the shelves that lined the room. Glancing only briefly at the books they housed, he instead ran his fingers along the shelves themselves and their supports.
When he reached a portion just behind the chairs and coffee table, there was a soft click, and a narrow section of shelving swung out slightly. For the first time since he had entered the house, the intruder smiled.
But at that moment, the front door slammed. The intruder started in shock and moved swiftly to the study door and opened it ajar, listening intently. From the hallway below he could make out two voices – two men – speaking.
It seemed that the owner of the house was not going to be absent tonight after all.
Moving with desperate haste, the intruder closed the study door once more, then snatched up the lantern from the desk and scanned the room for a hiding place. Only the secret door in the bookcase offered any refuge. He yanked it open, stepped inside, and pulled the door to behind him as he raised the lantern.
Abruptly, a face leaped at the intruder from the darkness – a terrifying apparition with long hair, a bushy beard, and wild eyes. Most monstrous of all, the man had enormous antlers, spread menacingly like outstretched arms, dominating the room and lunging towards the door. In one hand he wielded a curved blade, which he thrust at the intruder.
Staggering back, the intruder stifled a cry, raising the lantern to defend himself. But the antlered man stayed rooted to the spot, suddenly motionless. It was just a statue, given temporary life and movement by the swinging lantern. Nevertheless, the intruder gaped at the statue in astonishment. For it was one of the most familiar figures in the world: the Horned God, an object of veneration to millions. And what he had, in his panic, mistaken for a blade was nothing more than a symbol of the crescent moon. In the other hand, the figure held a circle, representing the full moon.
Similar statues could be found all over the world. But images of the Horned God were illegal in this country, and had been for centuries. Some existed, certainly – mostly hidden away in the homes of clandestine worshippers, who faced imprisonment if discovered.
Hardly an object you’d expect to find in the home of someone as powerful as the man who lived here.
As his eyes adjusted to the gloom, the intruder saw that behind the statue the room was little more than an oversized cupboard. But it was crammed with religious images of every kind. Icons and small idols were packed onto narrow shelves, and huddled together on the floor. Gods of every description stared unblinking in the flickering lamp light: willowy women in flowing robes; helmeted warriors, proudly raising ancient weapons; squat, cross-legged characters smiling gnomically; sun gods, moon goddesses, and green men. The stubs of candles were littered among them, dribbles of hard wax staining the floor.
Blowing out the lantern, the intruder was plunged into darkness. Barely a moment later he heard the study door open and light blazed through the crack in the bookcase door as the room’s electric light was turned on. Moving silently forward, the intruder pressed his eye to the crack in the doorway and looked out at the room beyond.
The owner of the house, immaculate in a black evening suit and spats, was holding the study door open for another man. His guest was also dressed in black, but there the resemblance ended. He wore a heavy dark robe, the hem of which swished around his ankles as he strode into the room. Long, elaborately styled ringlets escaped from under his turban around the back and sides of his head. His features were Middle Eastern, and his black beard was tinged with grey.
The intruder recognised his face instantly. He was the leader – in this country – of a dangerous sect, a foreign religion with a bloody past. He was a fanatic, a terrorist, one of the country’s most wanted men. And here was one of the most powerful and influential members of the establishment and his sworn enemy, welcoming him into his study.
The owner of the house motioned his guest into one of the chairs, before sitting down himself and pouring two glasses of wine from a carafe on the coffee table. As the man in the black robe moved to take one, the religious symbol which hung from a chain around his neck swung forward and caught the light, sweeping away the intruder’s last remaining doubts about the man’s identity. There could be no doubting that symbol or what it meant.
The owner of the house took a sip from his own glass, before replacing it on the coffee table and sitting back. Crossing his legs and folding his hands in the attitude that the intruder knew too well – an attitude of control, poise, and slightly amused disdain for whoever he was talking to – he began to speak.
Trapped in the secret room with the statue of the Horned God and the host of icons, the intruder listened to their conversation with mounting fear.
For he knew that what they were planning would change the world forever.
*

Boulogne, France - 11:50pm RST

‘So it’s true,’ said the man in the long, clerical robe.
His two companions nodded grimly.
‘Everything was smashed,’ said the man to his left. ‘The temple wrecked, the holy icons broken.’
‘And Father Florian beaten and left for dead,’ added his other companion, a woman with greying hair tightly curled around her head.
‘The third in less than a fortnight,’ said the man in the vestments. He shook his head, his hand moving unconsciously to touch the brooch on his shoulder that pinned his robe together. It was a simple design in silver: a circle flanked by two crescents, representing the waxing, full, and waning moon.
Their shadows bobbed and flickered on the rough, grey walls and the low ceiling as the cheap candles on the cloth-covered table in front of them sputtered fitfully.
There were no other lights in the small, windowless room. A dozen or so chairs filled the little space. The two men and the woman sat on the front row, facing the table and, beyond it, a large, stylised statue of a bearded man holding an upright cartwheel.
‘Who is it, Father Louis? The police?’ The man’s features were hard to make out in the dim light, his dark eyes lost in the gloom.
The man in the robe shook his head again. ‘I don’t think so. This isn’t how they do things. There’s no message here, no government crackdown, no announcements. It’s as if they’re looking for something.’
The other two exchanged alarmed glances.
‘You don’t think – ’ began the woman.
‘They’re trying to find it? It’s possible,’ Father Louis replied.
‘But they can’t – ’ stammered the other man. ‘If it should be found…’
‘I know.’
‘Can’t the hierarchy do something?’ said the woman.
‘What can they do?’ said Father Louis. The candlelight cast the deep lines on his face into shadow as he glanced around at her. ‘Rome has no power here. Each temple must look out for itself.’
‘Then what are we going to do?’
Father Louis drummed his fingers on his knee for a moment. He seemed to reach a decision.
‘There’s someone who might be able to help. An investigator. With the skills to find out who’s behind this and what they want. Who might know how we can stop them.’
‘Who?’ demanded the other man. ‘Do you know him?’
‘Her,’ corrected the priest mildly. ‘I knew her in – in my past life. I’ll contact her. Anonymously, to start with. If anyone can get to the bottom of this, she can.’
‘And if she can’t?’
Father Louis gazed at the statue at the front of the room, the candles massed in front of it. His eyes moved to the lowering shadow it cast against the wall and ceiling behind. ‘Then even Taranis won’t be able to save us.’

1

London – 5:12am RST

Father Thames was the most welcoming of gods. People had been making offerings to him for thousands of years, and he accepted them all on equal terms. No supplicant was ever turned away.
The corpse was no different.
It had entered the river some way up, around Pimlico, perhaps, or Lambeth was probably more likely. Perhaps it had already been a corpse when it was offered to Father Thames, or maybe it was still a living person at that stage. It made little difference to the river, which treated all human bodies equally, and reduced them to the same condition no matter what state they were in when it received them. No wonder so many people had venerated the winding, grey ribbon as a microcosm of life itself.
The body floated past West Temple, the centuries-old palace on the bank of the river where the government still sat, as it had since time immemorial. The incongruity of the name invariably amused and puzzled tourists, who did not understand the peculiarly English solution to embarrassing anachronisms: make no effort to do anything about them for so long that they become venerable traditions, and then fight tooth and nail to preserve them unchanged for posterity.
As the palace receded on the left, the body bobbed past Southwark on the right – past the art galleries and theatres, and under the great bridge that linked the magnificent railway stations on either side of the river. The iron spans of the bridge still shone, but the brick pillars that bore its weight were already discoloured green and black where the Thames slopped around them. The body navigated its way around the pillars in the awkward but unerring way that such objects always do, before rejoining the main stream in the centre of the river. Small boats steamed past it, swamping it with their wakes, but every time the body disappeared beneath the choppy grey water, it would re-emerge moments later further downstream.
It picked up speed as it passed the Royal Museum on the left, with its mock-classical pillars and great dome. It was still an imposing structure, even though it was now overshadowed by the massive bulk of the towers and ziggurats of the City, oddly ethereal-looking with their white stone and concrete. In the right light, the City looked as though a vast bank of cotton-soft clouds had descended upon London and tried to make an effort by straightening their edges out somewhat. At night, it sparkled with a million gas and electric lights. But on grey mornings like today, the City merely contrived to look greyer still.
The body swirled and span as it passed the Tower of London, where another gleaming new bridge mimicked the castle’s medieval turrets with two taller, spikier, and thoroughly tackier towers of its own. As it passed Surrey Docks on the right, and the northern skyline gave way to a series of enormous brick warehouses, the light river traffic became a chaos of altogether more serious ships, churning the water of the Thames as they steamed upriver to the docks, turning, manoeuvring, reversing, and heading back again towards the sea. The air was blue with the curses of sailors and dockers, and the water was thick with oil and debris, bobbing tirelessly in the choppy waves in which the corpse floated. It was flung into a series of eddies as a black iron barge thundered by, pushing it towards the north bank where, eventually, it washed onto the steps of a small dock at Lymhoste.
And there it ceased to be the concern of Father Thames, and became instead the problem of Julian Harvey.

About the Author
I'm an academic at a leading British university, specialising in religion. It's a job I love - I get to teach some of the brightest minds of the next generation and question a lot of my own ideas and beliefs along the way. I’m not religious, but I’m fascinated by the way religion works and the questions it raises about both the world and the way the mind works.

The academic life also means research, and I've spent many years publishing research on a range of subjects to do with religion and philosophy. It's not easy, but there's always something thrilling about uncovering a new idea or piece of history that no-one has noticed before, and making my own small contribution to what we know.

I've also published a number of books on the history of religion and theology, for a wider readership.

So I had a lot of writing experience, but had always had an ambition to write fiction, using my academic knowledge to create a believable world. One day I found myself with more spare time than usual, and had a go. Some years later, Imago - my first novel - is the result. There will be more on the way…

When I'm not doing all that I like to go for walks with my wife (or, more often, have lazy evenings in), and read - preferably thrillers, science fiction, and fantasy.

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Thursday, 21 August 2014

ARC Review ~ Deliver us to Dublin...With Care (Summer Flings #7) by Aimee Duffy

Deliver us to Dublin...With Care (Summer Flings #7)
eARC received from the author in exchange for an honest review

Release Date: August 28th 2014

Publisher: Harper Impulse

Description:
The final instalment of Summer Flings – a fun, flirty and laugh out loud rom com series of short stories.

Miserable, lonely and broken hearted, Ciara returns to Dublin on a mission to sort out her life. A job is at the top of the list but a visit to the doctor has surprising repercussions.

She refuses to drift apart from her friends now that real life has begun, struggles to fit new relationships into her life and still has to deal with everything else fate throws her way.

But even Ciara should know that there’s always something a little bit special to be found at the end of the rainbow…

The ideal summer treat for those relaxing days soaking up the sun!

My Opinion

I'm going to miss reading one (or maybe two) of these daily. They have been a perfect way to relax in the evening and I'm sad this is the last one.

I was curious about how Aimee would keep all the characters present as the girls have reached the end of their holiday and Ciara is back in Ireland, but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought the emails distributed throughout the book were a nice touch and kept everyone together when they weren't in the same county. The girls' personalities also came across well via the messages.

As well as this, I'm so please I got the HEA I was looking for! Yay for Zack! It was great to read they were following what they wanted and I enjoyed their re-connection. There were also a few twists, which came as a surprise. I'm not totaly sure how to feel about the way it ended altogether: on one hand it was good and on the other I wanted more, but I'm glad it left me with a smile on my face.


Overall this series has been a joy to read and has kept me smiling throughout the evenings, even on a few hard days. I would highly recommend!



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Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Book Tour ~ Tempted by a Rogue Prince by Felicity Heaton

Tempted by a Rogue Prince - Paranormal Romance Book
Tempted by a Rogue Prince, the third book in New York Times best-seller Felicity Heaton’s hot new paranormal romance series, Eternal Mates, is now available in ebook and paperback. To celebrate the release, she’s holding a FANTASTIC GIVEAWAY at her website.

Find out how to enter the Tempted by a Rogue Prince international giveaway (ends August 24th) and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website, where you can also download a 6 chapter sample of the novel: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/tempted-by-a-rogue-prince-paranormal-romance-novel.php

Felicity is hosting a Facebook release party for Tempted by a Rogue Prince on August 17th, so join her then for amazing giveaways, Q&A, teasers and more. All the details at: https://www.facebook.com/events/532238736898993/

Tempted by a Rogue Prince and the Eternal Mates series is set in the same world as the Vampire Erotic Theatre series, so if you’re a fan of that series, you will love Eternal Mates. Throughout this series, you’ll have a chance to catch up with the cast of the Vampire Erotic Theatre series and learn more about their world. In Claimed by a Demon King, you’ll get to visit the theatre, and some of the favourite characters in the Vampire Erotic Theatre series.

Here’s more about Tempted by a Rogue Prince, including an excerpt from this paranormal romance novel.


Tempted by a Rogue Prince (Eternal Mates Romance Series Book 3)
Felicity Heaton
An elf prince on the verge of losing himself to the darkness, Vail is maddened by the forty-two centuries he was under the control of a witch and forced to war with his brother. Now, he roams Hell seeking an escape from his terrible past and the heads of all who bear magic. When demons of the Fifth Realm capture him, he sees a chance to end his existence, but when he wakes in a cell to a beautiful female, he finds not death but his only shot at salvation—his true fated mate.

Captured by the enemy of the Third Realm when the war ended, Rosalind has spent months in the cells of the Fifth Realm with her magic bound, forced to heal the new king’s demon warriors, and haunted by the lives she has taken. When she’s brought to heal an unconscious man, she discovers her only hope of escape has come in the form of her worst nightmare and the first part of a prediction that might spell her doom—a devastatingly handsome and dangerous dark elf prince.

Unwilling to fall under the control of anyone ever again, Vail must escape before the Fifth King can use him as a pawn in a deadly game of revenge, but he cannot leave without Rosalind, the woman who looks at him with dark desire in her stunning eyes and awakens a fierce hunger in his heart. A witch who drives him mad with need even as the darkness within whispers she will enslave him too.

Can Rosalind escape her fate as they embark on a journey fraught with danger and resist the temptation of her rogue elf prince? And can Vail overcome the memories that madden him in order to seize his chance for salvation and the heart of his fated female forever?

Tempted by a Rogue Prince is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback. Find the links to your preferred retailer at: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/tempted-by-a-rogue-prince-paranormal-romance-novel.php



Tempted by a Rogue Prince – Excerpt
Rosalind stared at the unconscious male lying on the stone slab in the middle of the cell. Torchlight from the corridor beyond the thick metal bars lining one side of the dank windowless room flickered across his battered and bruised body, darkening every ugly mark and deep gash, and all the blood that stained him.

Was it his or had he hurt the bastard demons who had put him here?

She liked to think he had given them hell. Mostly because she couldn’t.

He hadn’t stirred in the five minutes she had been kneeling beside him, transfixed by the sight of him. He lay as if dead. Only the slight rise and fall of his chest was indication otherwise.

His hands rested on his stomach, his wrists bound by the same heavy metal cuffs that held hers. She wanted to find whoever had discovered this metal and how to impregnate it with a spell and blast them to hell. The manacles weakened her, stripping her of her powers. The only one available to her was the ability to heal, and she only had that one because the new Fifth King of the demons had given it back to her so she could heal all of the warriors who had been injured in the war with the Third King.

A war the Fifth Realm had lost when the old Fifth King had lost his head.

A war she had fought in on the side of King Thorne of the Third Realm.

A war that had changed her forever.

Since returning her ability to cast healing magic, the new Fifth King had used her whenever he had needed someone fixed, forcing her to do his bidding, and up until today, all of her patients had been demons belonging to his army.

But this man was no demon.

Her knees ached from pressing into the damp uneven stone floor but she couldn’t take her eyes off him. He radiated dark energy that warned her away, telling her that he was dangerous, even as she felt drawn to him, snared by an unbreakable pull towards him.

Shuffling caught her attention and she looked across the unconscious man to the cell opposite his. A handsome man with long dark brown hair flecked with gold tied back with a thong and an unkempt beard leaned against the thick stone wall close to the bars of that cell, as bare-chested as her companion, although his skin was flawless with the exception of the fae markings that tracked up his arms and over his shoulders.

An incubus.

Rosalind muttered a protection spell beneath her breath, even though it wouldn’t work. It was a habit with her. She preferred to arm herself against an incubus’s charms before he could use them on her, luring her under his spell and having his way with her. Code of honour, her arse. These men pretended in public that they upheld their vow to never use their powers to seduce a woman who didn’t want to be seduced, but in private they employed those powers without a flicker of regret or care about their victim. She had seen it.

The man eyed her patient, blue and gold spotting his green irises, a sign of his incubus nature as much as the markings that announced his lineage.

“Let him die,” the man said, his voice a low growl of warning without a shred of compassion, and the swirls, dashes and spikes of his fae markings shimmered in hues of dark blue and burnished gold. Not anger. She knew that an incubus’s markings flared crimson and obsidian when they were angry. Judging by the look in his green eyes, this was something more like apprehension.

Why?

Rosalind glared at him and flicked her knotted blonde hair over her shoulder in defiance. “It isn’t in my nature to ignore the needs of another, especially if I feel I can help them, and I do feel I can help this man.”

He was gaunt though, sick and not from his injuries. His skin was sallow and grey, and he was too thin, the bones visible in the backs of his dirty hands. Many of his nails were cracked, caked with grime and dried blood.

“Let him die,” the incubus whispered. “This one isn’t worth saving, Little Girl.”

Rosalind turned her glare on him again. “Why do you say such nasty things? Do you know him?”

The incubus dropped his green gaze to the man, narrowed it, and then shifted it back to her. “Only by reputation, and if I were in your place, I would kill him and not save him. By killing him, you could be saving many lives, one this man may take if you allow him to live.”

Rosalind looked at the man in question, a cold heavy feeling pulling her insides down. She knew he was dangerous, but she knew nothing else about him. She didn’t know the incubus from Adam either, and for all she did know, he could be a compulsive liar or a sadistic bastard itching to get a hit of pleasure from watching her kill an innocent man.

She lifted her hand with the intent of touching her patient’s arm and funnelling a spell into him to sense whether the incubus was telling the truth about him, and remembered that such spells were beyond her right now. Locked away. She had never been without her magic. It was unsettling, strange, and left her feeling vulnerable.

The man on the cold stone slab before her twitched and moaned, the sound strained and filled with agony that tore at her and compelled her to help him.

“I don’t have power over this man’s life,” she whispered to him in reply to the incubus, her eyes fixed on his face, taking in the dark circles beneath his eyes and the hollows of his cheeks. “I don’t have the right to choose whether he lives or dies.”

“Because the demons told you to heal him?” the incubus said.

“No.” Rosalind shook her head and looked across at him. “Because it isn’t in my nature to do such a thing. I will heal him.”

The man scoffed. “And you will live to regret it, Little Girl.”

“I’m not a girl. I’m over one hundred years old… and do I look like a girl to you?” Rosalind stood and ran her hands down her tattered black dress, the traditional garb of a witch on duty.

The incubus’s eyes followed them, the blue and gold in his irises increasing, and he muttered, “No.”

He turned away, pressing his bare back against the bars of his cell and revealing the twin lines of markings where they joined between his shoulders and formed a line down his back that ended in a diamond above the waist of his low-slung black jeans.

At least he would be quiet now. She hoped. Healing always required focus, and something told her that this time it would need the highest level of concentration she could manage.

Something else told her that the incubus might be right. She might regret healing this man. If he was as dangerous as he felt, he might well kill her upon waking.

But maybe that would be what she deserved after the things she had done.



Tempted by a Rogue Prince is available from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Also available in paperback.

Find all the links, a fantastic 6 chapter downloadable sample of the book, and also how to enter the giveaway and be in with a shot of winning a $75, $50 or $25 gift certificate at her website: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk/tempted-by-a-rogue-prince-paranormal-romance-novel.php


Books in the Eternal Mates paranormal romance series:
Book 4: Hunted by a Jaguar – coming in 2015


Felicity HeatonAbout Felicity Heaton:
Felicity Heaton is a New York Times and USA Today international best-selling author writing passionate paranormal romance books. In her books, she creates detailed worlds, twisting plots, mind-blowing action, intense emotion and heart-stopping romances with leading men that vary from dark deadly vampires to sexy shape-shifters and wicked werewolves, to sinful angels and hot demons! If you're a fan of paranormal romance authors Lara Adrian, J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Gena Showalter and Christine Feehan then you will enjoy her books too.

If you love your angels a little dark and wicked, the best-selling Her Angel series is for you. If you like strong, powerful, and dark vampires then try the Vampires Realm series or any of her stand-alone vampire romance books. If you’re looking for vampire romances that are sinful, passionate and erotic then try the best-selling Vampire Erotic Theatre series. Or if you prefer huge detailed worlds filled with hot-blooded alpha males in every species, from elves to demons to dragons to shifters and angels, then take a look at the new Eternal Mates series.

If you want to know more about Felicity, or want to get in touch, you can find her at the following places:

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