Category Archives: Contemporary Fiction

Book Review: ‘Loving Storm’ by Carian Cole

Title: Loving Storm (Ashes & Embers Book 5)

Published: 10th October 2017

Author: Carian Cole

Facebook: www.facebook.com/cariancoleauthor

Twitter: @CarianCole

 

Synopsis:

Evie

I met him in a snowstorm…
We spent forty-eight hours trapped in the back of his pickup truck.
We fought.
We touched.
We fell.
Hard.

 

Storm

She literally crashed into my life…
The last thing I wanted was a relationship. Especially with a quirky chick who drove me insane. But something about her got under my skin, and into my heart.
And I had to have her.
All of her.
Now.

Falling in love in the back of a truck, just the two of us, was easy.
Dealing with psycho fans, jealous exes, and demons from the past….not so easy.

 

Please note: Loving Storm is a novella that gives an extended look into Storm and Evie’s future. It is best read after reading Storm (and also Vandal, Lukas, and Talon, as those characters have short cameos in this book)

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book from your Goodreads ‘to-read’ list. Short, snappy, fun, sexy read.

Had this on my TBR list for a little while and had almost forgotten to go back to it. Only when I wasn’t sure what I wanted to read next did I have a sudden urge to go back over the Ashers & Embers series. Love our guys Storm, Talon, Lukas and Vandal – four very different men who would do anything for their women. Re-reading is fun, more so when you race through to get to the good parts. It’s after this that I then remembered about the short Loving Storm. A book to show you what happens after the ‘happily ever after’ and beyond.

I just loved how it started. You have just the right amount of naughty, crazy, saucy stuff from Storm to get Evie’s pulse racing. He knows what buttons to press and when to hold back to get just the right reaction from the woman he loves more than anything. The feeling is completely mutual from Evie:

“At least once a day I ask the universe how I got so lucky to have Storm in my life. Much like a storm, he blew into my life, created a bunch of unexpected turmoil, and then whisked me away from it all toward sunny skies.”

Reading the book was like coming back to old friends. Remembering why you loved them so much the first time round. Storm and Evie are such a great couple. Coming together in chaos to find what they were both looking for. Love is strong and so is the chemistry between them. Hot, hot, hotter when they get close enough to touch. It all started with her hands touching his, from that moment on he was hooked. He just needed to push her a little for her to confront what she was feeling. To get to be in a true loving relationship and not stuck like she was almost wasting away with Michael, and as she later finds out, his cheating ways.

Now we know our two lovebirds are getting married but there are a lot of things that need to get planned first. Theme being the starting point and what other one than Winter would they have chosen. I mean it matches perfectly with how they met in the middle of a winter blizzard. Getting lost in that blizzard was the best thing to ever happen to either of them. So perfect together, love them!

Planning a wedding can be stressful but planning one when crazy fans are out to cause trouble is a nightmare. Evie has done better with trying to ignore it all but sometimes they get to her. Her anxieties coming back every now and then but at least Storm knows how to handle her when she has her moments to bring her back to herself. Social media sure knows how to stir up a frenzy with the bands fans. If they weren’t bad enough to deal with their ex’s and demons from the past want to play a part in trying to cause trouble for our lovebirds too but they can just sod right off. No-one is messing with this love storm. They’ll have me to deal with first!

Can the wedding go off without a hitch so they can start the rest of their happily ever after? Well as Storm has always said, he always gets what he wants. From the moment he saw her she was his. So this is the start of forever. Not that she’s complaining one bit. She’s so ready to be Mrs. Storm Valentine.

Loved all the cameos from the characters from the other books. Talon and Asia, Vandal and Tabi, Lukas and Ivy, Storms parents, Grams, his other brothers Asher and Mikah, sister Rayne, and their friends Finn and Amy. All intermingling together creating a fun world to be a part of.

Loved it from start to finish, definitely one for the fans to see how their love story continues. Broke my heart a little when Storm opens up about his past, so glad he shared it with Evie so she could show him that he does deserve love. Get a cool time jump at the end to check back with how their life plays out. Also making me want to find out Asher’s story so much more now. He always turns up at just the right moment, knows so much about love and loss but we need to know why. Also feel the need to check out when Mikah gets a story. Now him and Amy could be interesting? Time will tell. Can’t wait for more to the series.

5 out of 5 stars

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Book Review: ‘Dance Like You Mean It’ by Jeanne Skartsiaris

Title: Dance Like You Mean It

Published: 10th February 2017

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Author: Jeanne Skartsiaris

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Jeanne-Skartsiaris-Author

 

Synopsis:

What if you wrote a steamy, erotic novel that was so hot bookstores couldn’t keep it on their shelves? What if you couldn’t tell anyone you wrote it?

At night, nurse Cassie Calabria pens a bodice-ripper novel, using an alias. She sends it to a few agents, then forgets about it. She’s more than surprised when she gets an offer for a publisher to include her book, Wild Rose, in a “summer-of-love special.” Wild Rose becomes a blazing bestseller. Suddenly she realizes she can’t let anyone know that she wrote it. What would her children think? Or her own mother, who “taught her better,” and, worse, her husband who would question her made-up fantasies of sex on the beach. How could she be thrown into the “red-light district” spotlight and still be a good mom?

Unless she went incognito.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2019 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book you can finish in a day. Well this was a fun read to storm through in a day, almost like a two for one deal too.

So Cassie is middle-aged ER nurse supervisor who feels like she needs a change. To do something new and exciting comes to mind after seeing an article in a newspaper saying that everyone has a story in them but few write them down. Looks like she is about to.

The starting point is always the most fun as its where you decide who the characters are and what they do. She is building a life for her characters to do things that she may not have had the confidence or will power to do in her real life. Almost like her main heroine is her alter ego coming to life. Rosemary is a fun, strong, carefree, adventurous character who lives life by the day but still wants that connection with the right someone. Can she find it or will tragedy strike? Well I guess that all depends on how Cassie feels. She gives Rosemary a few options to choose from, will you guess correctly?

‘Wild Rose’ is the name of her book, set in the 70s where sex and being carefree was the norm. Rosemary’s a photojournalist, which just happens to be something Cassie always wanted to be. It’s interesting to have parts of ‘Wild Rose’ put within the ‘real’ story itself so you can see how Cassie grows as a writer. It’s like a story growing within another story. These parts are what Christine is proofreading for her, along with giving notes. Theirs is a great friendship, one where you can see how she will be there for her when she needs her most, and not just to do with the book.

Her writing became a form of escape to get away from her relationship with Mitch. They used to be so close when they were younger but have grown apart in the last few years. She doesn’t see it at first so is completely blindsided when he says he wants to separate, all because he’s not her sole focus. Selfish prick comes to mind. You have a family to look after and you are feeling left out because you’re not the sole focus of your wife’s life. He took her and their children for granted but can he make it right? He might not be their only problem either with trouble brewing around their daughter.

Now to begin with writing the book was just something that she wanted to do for herself with her friend Christine proof reading the result. She fears that if the book got picked up and people found out that they would look down on her for writing a sexy romance book. She solves this by writing under Cardia Loving. Fears at the ready when her book gets added to a trilogy set, one that happens to take off like a rocket with the focus turning to her. Get ready for a bit of fame and people wanting to know you’re now a writer. Shock to see the book in shops, so much pride but also worry that someone will find out she wrote it. Seems a book tour is in her future so be ready for it. An extra load of make up and hair gel might be a bit of a disguise but not for long.

Fun well rounded characters that draw you into both stories. You are drawn to Cassie and how she creates Rosemary. Evolving her character and letting her grow to the person she is truly happy with. Cassie’s life has a few twists, turns and heartache along the way. The story was therapeutic in a way and gave her the outlet she needed. When all is revealed she almost wonders why she kept it hidden for so long. Coming full circle and seeing things with fresh eyes old feelings come to the surface and renew what was once thought lost. Seems trying something new and exciting was the best decision she ever made, for her and her family. Mitch showed his true nature after fearing he would lose it all. Ashley was the classic stroppy teenager but did grow after all she went through and Gabby was the innocence childlike energy needed. Interesting humorous read that you should check out.

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author via PR contact for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Two Hundred Very Short Stories’ by Helen Keeling-Marston

Title: Two Hundred Very Short Stories

Published: 15th April 2015

Publisher: JMD Media

Author: Helen Keeling-Marston

Twitter: @helenkeeling

 

Synopsis:

Two Hundred Very Short Stories is a collection of stories each so short that the reader can start … and finish … a whole one in one night – some even in a minute! Recognising that many people don’t have enough time for regular reading – and thus can easily lose the thread of a novel – Helen Keeling-Marston set about writing a collection of short stories. Two Hundred Very Short Stories – Helen’s first book – features an eclectic mix of short stories and flash fiction: flash fiction being works of extreme brevity. Similar to a musical mix tape, the collection of stories aims to elicit a range of different emotions from the reader: joy, sadness, amusement, befuddlement, intrigue and fear. Be warned, however, that you’ll need to have your wits about you when reading this book, as Two Hundred Very Short Stories isn’t always a passive experience!

 

Review:

This is an interesting collection of short stories from the simple to the strange. Each one is a little different from the last but there are a lot to get through. I think I liked more of the stories in the first 100 than the last as they have stuck with me a bit more.

Some of the stories are like you are stepping into it halfway through. It helps as it feels like you are diving in with complete characters so are happy to be lead along with what they are doing. The others, at times, are more like spare thoughts thrown in to mix things up. A few lines or a thought isn’t really a story but more of the starting point for creating one. You could almost try to think up ways to complete it yourself, depending on the one you get to.

As you have so many stories within this book it would be hard to write something on them all but on the feel of the book as a whole instead. A few have a poetic feel to them while others give you a pause for thought. Creative thinking throughout and a bit of everything for everyone as nothing is the same. Lots of genres are mixed together so hopefully there will be something you might like. Thought provoking, insightful, quirky, humorous, to name a few. Well there are 200 of them so odds are you will find a few.

I think this book would be best read while dipping in and out of though and not in one go like I did as getting closer to the end I was just getting a bit bored with them. It’s the type of book to read while on your lunchbreak or if you have a few spare minutes throughout the day with these short snappy reads to explore.

It might not be for everyone but is an interesting collection all the same. If you make it to the end, no matter how long it takes you, I’m sure you will find a few that you will like too.

3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Dining and Driving with Cats – Alice Unplugged’ by Pat Patterson

Title: Dining and Driving with Cats – Alice Unplugged

Published: 30th June 2017

Publisher: Ion Publishers LLC

Author: Pat Patterson

 

Synopsis:

Dining and Driving With Cats – Alice Unplugged is a heartwarming and beguiling adventure of a couple who shares a love that most of us only imagine. Pat Patterson is a born storyteller and makes readers feel as if they are part of the road trip. This book is as much a story of sweet devotion as it is an exquisite example of discovering life’s hidden joys in the smallest of everyday experiences. Not since Michael Ondaatje’s hypnotic voice in The English Patient has a book spoken with such an allure for the reader. You might even spot a bit of Irish in the author and his spouse’s detailed arguments comparing a dish from one restaurant to the same of another restaurant.

They, along with the cats, dine frequently during a sometimes hilarious but always romantic auto trip across the South. As the miles flip the odometer, we are given insight into how this unusual relationship between the couple came to be, evolved, and gradually, at the end revealed in a secret you didn’t see coming. What, you say? There is a twist in a dining dialogue? Yes! And you’ll just have to read it for yourself–no spoilers here. Dialogue is so natural between the two; you’ll swear he recorded the entire trip. Alice is revealed in the first pages as a real life brainy, successful business woman enjoying life in San Miguel de Allende a small cathedral town high in the Central Mexican foothills. For over thirty years she lived in Washington D.C.. When she was fresh out of grad school and managing her firm’s D.C. office she captured the  heart of a young man who came in from the rain. He fell hard. He pursued her.  She said no –she told him she had cats. What she didn’t tell him was that she also had a secret. Over thirty years have passed since Alice revealed her secret. The young man is no longer young but he still pursues her. She calls him hubby. This is their story of a shared love for travel and history, for food and for their sweet and wily cats Munchie and Tuffy.

You might also say the book is unusual in that it totally engages the reader from the first page without a hint of violence, bloodshed, graphic sex, drugs or language. The author’s main character (besides the two cats) Alice, does say “you bastards” once. Alice is supremely self-confident and comfortable in her own skin as we learn early on when she promises the author a vehicle of his dreams if he will join her in a multi-state road trip from Mexico across the South and help wrangle two cats into restaurants, diners, cafes and hotels. He expects to find a Suburban or maybe an Escalade in the drive. Alice surprises with a Japanese sub-compact – a Honda Fit. She says it’s “flexible”. They drive – Scott La. & the Boudin War.  They dine – New Orleans at Gautreau’s, Clancy’s, and Herbsaint. They laugh – the Carousel Bar.  They cry – tragic death. If you come along on this moveable feast you will find yourself caught up in a romantic love story that involves the Other Woman and a secret that Alice cannot keep. You will dine on scrumptious creations from America’s most acclaimed chefs from Austin and New Orleans to the Procope and Odeon Relais at Buci Market in Paris. Along the way you will laugh at cats stuck in boxes, fight with a Pirate, terrify a US Vice-President, discover cat smuggling, and learn how the Other Woman persuaded Alice to accept the author’s ring. So what’s keeping you? Hop in ‘cause these cats don’t bite. Besides, “The Get In Here and Eat” pop-up food truck is waiting just up the Austin highway.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with action and adventure in it. Well for the cats anyway! Pat and Alice are on a road trip with a difference. Namely by having two extra travel companions in the form of their cats Munchie and Tuffy. Two laid back girls who can get themselves into quite a pickle at times. They are just a couple of house cats getting ready for a whirlwind adventure.

I liked the quotes at the beginning because they are so true. British author Sir Terry Pratchett “In ancient times, cats were treated as gods; they have not forgotten this.” And another from unidentified person “Dogs have owners. Cats have staff.” Love it and every cat owner will understand it too. We are their staff/servants to pander to them whenever the need arises.

So this is a journey book as well as trips down memory lane for Pat and Alice. Needing a trip of some kind as feeling a bit antsy at home in San Miguel they decide to go on a road trip. The plan is to make their way to see their new grandchild but the long route rather than a flying visit. For the plan of action they need a route, places to see and eat and a car the handle their entire load, including two people and two cats. A fun way to decide on places to stop at, mainly food related, was when they put up their plan ‘Dining and Driving with cats’ in the local paper to see if they could get some suggestions. I’d say a few hundred is a good place to start. So Alice was to look after the food and sleeping part and Pat to look after the route and driving. With plan sorted its off they go.

The antics that the cats get into while on route will have you chuckling along with them. Especially if you own cats, as you will constantly be saying, “yes mine has done that too!” Well maybe not everything, as Tuffy gets a little too happy at one point when ingesting something she shouldn’t have. Panicked for a moment there, then soon went into a fit of giggles. You’ll know the part when you get to it. The trick they have to get in and out of the car without said cats escaping was amusing. Not so sure I would have let mine roam around in the back while driving but they seemed to behave most of the time. Was funny to read about them in new hotel rooms, claiming the bed right away. Whether you had room to get in as well was not really their concern. I have heard of dog-friendly restaurants but cats, now that was something new. Would be a bit strange to suddenly hear a cat meow loudly while eating. You’d just be thinking where the hell did that come from.

Now cat treasures aside you get interesting facts about the places they saw while on the trip as well as lists and recipes of some of the food ordered. You might not want to read while hungry as might make you want to get a snack. All making this a fun, light, quirky read that will have you wondering what will happen next on this cat inspired road trip – can only go places where they are welcome. You might want to try taking your cat to a restaurant near you to see how they’d cope. As long as mine got some food he might be ok but would much prefer to chill out at home – well they do did their catnaps!

4 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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Book Review: ‘Cotton Candy and Tangerines’ by MR Chevalier

Title: Cotton Candy and Tangerines

Published: 7th December 2016

Publisher: Cyber Rose Design

Author: MR Chevalier

 

Synopsis:

The great lover, Casanova, once remarked that he loved a multitude of women, not for the experience alone, but in a genuine effort to find the one woman who was truly worth loving.

Pierre White’s primary desire had always been to embark on a quest to find an intelligent, passionate woman to love and adore, a soul mate, a Guinevere. His very own Guinevere, even if it meant that Pierre would have to search the entire world for her.

From the elegant restaurants of Soho to the glittering hotels lining the Rive Gauche, Pierre searches for the one thing that will make his life complete. His soul mate. Life doesn’t hand him that wish, but instead gives him the opportunity to search for it. His travels take him from the arms of one beautiful woman to the next. Will he find himself looking into a lover’s eyes and seeing forever in their depths or will the search continue, one exquisite passionate exploration at a time?

This book is intended for mature audiences.

 

Review:

Goes down as another off my 2018 Bookworm Bingo Challenge – A book with food in the title. Come meet Pierre, the Casanova of the skies with being a first officer pilot. He may be looking for the one but that doesn’t mean he isn’t having fun along the way. Here we follow his sexual escapades, though a pattern is soon seen.

Emotions and passions are flying high when Pierre meets Kirsten for the first time. Just when he thinks he has missed his chance with a beautiful stranger she all but lands in his path twice in one day. He thinks it’s a happy coincidence that she is a flight attendant on his plane. Could she be someone for keeps or for fun? As she’s the first you know it won’t go smoothly. A chance encounter puts the breaks on this hot fling. Could it have been more? Time will tell. The one he really wanted but a random meet with a stranger puts a stop to that.

Seems our Pierre likes a woman in uniform and a Navy one ticks a lot of boxes. Lust at first sight seems to be more of his style. This crazy connection is leading to hot sex and a fabulous five-day holiday. He knows how to spoil a girl. He just thinks he needs a little fun after his disaster of a ‘would be’ romance with Kirsten.

After a Navy uniform he just wants to go back to what he knows best – flight attendants and perhaps even a pilot. He does like dipping his toe in the office ink so to speak. Get ready for a string of them and each with a slightly different reaction to the last. Some might be more but others just want to have fun.

A spark of attraction for some but again Pierre may see too much into what is in front of him. Some appear to be looking for a night of fun, nothing more. You then have one bold enough to bring him a drink to his hotel room on their layover, getting a nice reward for doing so. Could the reason for doing so be really what it seems? Even crazy flights don’t seem to put a dampener on his style with his layovers ending in the same way.

A chance encounter at his hotel sees him bumping into Jessica, someone in the business but this time corporate flight attendant instead. He might be offering to show her around Harrods to be a nice guy but you know he wants something more. She resists him for a while but a late night knock on the door changes it all. Could this one be ‘the one’? They both seem to be falling for each other this time and he could really help her out career wise. A spanking good time for both it seems, but will it last?

Seems he then wants to go up in the world – pun I know – this time with setting his sights on the Captain of a flight. She may be older but he doesn’t seem to mind. It doesn’t stop his lightning fast attraction he seems to get with most women he meets. This time his wayward thoughts might be all he’s going to get. He gets quite creative with his thoughts, which wouldn’t be so bad, if he wasn’t flying a plane when having them. Spacing out is not a good idea.

He likes to play with fire and closer to the end just kind of comes off as a womanizer and a bit of a hypocrite who doesn’t really care other than getting himself off. He does tend to think with his dick no matter how many times he says he’s looking for love. Seems to be that his heart was lost a while ago to someone he shouldn’t have let go of. Can another chance meeting put him back with her or will he just play the field forever?

Funny how he always seems to miss or mess up the first chance meeting with someone new but second times always the charm. His luck or fate might be holding. Is it love or lust at first sight? When it repeats over and over he may need to rethink his views on finding the one. Just because a woman sleeps with him shouldn’t mean he goes a hundred miles per hour in thinking on what their life could be. Some of these women are relationship material while others just want fun. He is a bit of a Casanova but longs to find his forever girl. With the amount of sex he’s been having he’s not very concerned with contraception though. It seems to slip his mind or not even register until after the fact. It’s a wonder accidents haven’t happened.

Interesting fun read but did get a little repetitive with his antics with any attractive woman he sees. Namely on his flights so he has someone to be with on his layovers. A few relationships along the way but you always knew which one he really wanted to be with. Whether he can keep her is another thing entirely.

3 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

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