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Helen Hancox "Auntie Helen" (Essex, England)
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Tsunami Blue
Tsunami Blue
by Gayle Ann Williams
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting debut novel, 16 July 2012
I was impressed with this debut novel in terms of its imagination and pacing. Gayle Ann Williams has put together an interesting story where our heroine, Tsunami Blue, has some kind of mystical communication with the sea and can tell when giant waves are coming. And there have been a lot of them that have wiped out a large proportion of the population - including Blue's family. She's living on her own with her dog Max, trying to broadcast on the radio when she knows that further waves are coming so that people are warned, and trying to keep away from the `Runners' - violent pirates in whose wake follow destruction, rape and death.

When a man washes up on the beach and Max finds him, Blue decides to see if she can rescue him. She brings him back from near death from hypothermia, only to discover that he is a Runner (he has the characteristic tattoos). But Gabriel Black is unlike any other Runner she knows of - he seems to be trying to keep her safe. But both of them are plunged into the middle of a power struggle between Runners with Blue as the prize.

This was an interesting take on a post-apocalyptic world - and a damp one at that. As mentioned before there was plenty of action and plot movement, lots of knife-fights and gore and death, some romance and more. I didn't feel that I ever really got to know the characters that well, and also found that I was never sure whether Blue's interventions were actually the right course of action or not. Still I enjoyed reading this story and it bodes well for future books from this author.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


The Proposal: Number 1 in series (Survivor's Club)
The Proposal: Number 1 in series (Survivor's Club)
Price: £5.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lady Muir's Story, 13 July 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I have read several reviews of this book which all suggested Mary Balogh was back to form (some of the more recent books have been less appealing than her earlier works in many readers' minds) and so I looked forward to reading `The Proposal'. In fact I read it twice with a month's gap in-between. And as much as I enjoyed the book I didn't feel it was actually all that special.

There was lots of potential in a story about Lady Gwen Muir who has featured as a minor character in many of Balogh's other books including the Bedwyn (Slightly) series and the Simply series as well. All we knew about Gwen was that she had a limp and was a widow who had chosen not to remarry. In this story we find that Gwen's marriage was certainly not easy and that she had no real intention to look for another husband - even after she meets Lord Trentham, the former Major Hugo Eames, hero of the army for fighting a Forlorn Hope at Badajoz.

Gwen and Hugo are from different social classes and a relationship between them seems impossible. But in this story we follow them as they get to know one another and as a proposal is suggested - that Hugo court Gwen - to see where it leads. Is there a chance for a happy ending between two such different people?

I'm struggling to identify what it was about this book that left me dissatisfied. One minor aspect is that Balogh seems to have recently got into the habit of italicising words in reported speech to presumably give you an idea of the stresses in what people are saying, but very often the way I am reading the sentence in my mind doesn't work like that, and the excessive italicisation just annoys me. The other aspect I find in this story is that we are continually being told what people think, there's a lot of repetition throughout the book, rather than seeing what they think by their actions. I also felt that the pacing wasn't always that effective, there were dull sections where nothing much happens except people think about things, often with italics.

We meet lots of characters from previous Balogh novels. I have read the books so know who they are but I do wonder about new readers and what they will think - there are lists of people and it can get confusing. Is this really necessary, except to encourage readers to buy her backlist perhaps?

Both hero and heroine in this story are almost perfect; in fact, the only imperfection we see in Gwen (apparently) is her limp. Hugo's main disadvantage is that he frowns a lot. Balogh's earlier books tended to be peopled with far more human characters who had many faults and made many mistakes in their book. I found the characters in this story almost a bit too good to be true and the `baddies' unrealistic in their portrayal.

Although I do still like Mary Balogh's books very much I don't find the more recent stories nearly as satisfying as some of the earlier ones (`More than a Mistress', `The Secret Pearl', for example). However, having read many reviews of this book it seems I am in a minority in this view - so go ahead and read it yourself!

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


Sweet Reward (Last Chance Rescue Novels)
Sweet Reward (Last Chance Rescue Novels)
by Christy Reece
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Another Last Chance Rescue story, 11 July 2012
I've read several of Christy Reece's Last Chance Rescue stories and so should theoretically be familiar with the main characters, although actually I find them not distinct enough to avoid muddling them as they appear in the story. There are lots of names of LCR people in this book and I wasn't really sure who was whom - all these individuals, who have previously had books about them, have merged into identikit characters.

The main characters, however, were easy to keep up with as the book focused very heavily on them. Jared Livingston is a loner with a permanent scowl who works for LCR. When he's sent to meet Mia Ryker, who works to rescue stolen children, it's because they think her child abduction case might be related to that of his ex-wife's. When it seems that this is not the case, he assumes this is the last he will see of Mia, a woman he has found very attractive.

But Mia returns to Paris to Last Chance Rescue as it looks as if the cases were linked after all. Working alongside Jared it's hard to keep her distance - but she needs him to trust that she knows what she's doing. The stakes are high with several missing children, murders and more. Can Jared and Mia find something special?

I enjoyed this book although with some reservations. It felt rather formulaic and seemed similar to several of the previous books. The plot aspect was rather weak (and coincidental) and I found the central villain rather unbelievable. I liked the character development we saw with Jared but overall I felt the story wasn't individual enough and the plot was too shaky.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


Caught in the Act
Caught in the Act
by Jill Sorenson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable romantic suspense story, 9 July 2012
This book does a very effective job, early on, of showing how a previously law-abiding young woman might get dragged into smuggling people and perhaps even drugs. When Kari Strauss's friend Maria Santos asks for help to cross to the US, Kari agrees. She's terrified as she crosses the border, but not so terrified that she fails to notice dishy border control policeman Adam Cortez.

Adam notices Kari too - and it's not just her looks, but her surname. Kari's sister is the girlfriend of the local drug lord, someone whom Adam has been trying to catch for several years. So Adam starts trying to get to know Kari in order to find out what part she's playing in the drug operation. At the same time Kari's sister is being threatened and Kari is instructed to transfer some drugs across the border in order to keep her sister safe. Will Kari go ahead with the drug running? Can she rescue her sister? Can Adam keep his focus and his job?

I really enjoyed this story. I found the setting (the border between Mexico and the USA) worked really well to illustrate some of the difficult choices Kari has to make and her sense of responsibility to Maria. In fact, for me Maria was the outstanding character in this story - a really strong young woman who appears to have overcome some awful events in her life and who is loyal, hardworking and brave. The way this story ended it looks as though there might be a further book focusing on Maria - I hope so.

The book focuses on the issues of trust and responsibility and weaves a good story around this. I found there were a few sections where I felt there were some plot holes but overall I really enjoyed reading this and I hope that this author continues on with the story of Maria.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


Born to Darkness (Fighting Destiny)
Born to Darkness (Fighting Destiny)
by Suzanne Brockmann
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £20.08

5.0 out of 5 stars A great suspense story, 7 July 2012
Having read one of Suzanne Brockmann's Navy SEALs books, I wasn't entirely surprised to discover a Navy SEAL, Shaun Loughlin, in this book. However this is a different genre of story, set perhaps a little in the future (I wasn't too sure about this aspect) and with people who have special talents - telekinesis, telepathy and more.

Shaun's just a regular chap who has been blacklisted from the Navy for disobeying orders (and going with his conscience instead). He's run out of money so decides to take up an offer to participate in some kind of trial at the Obermeyer Institute. Drug trial? Who knows, but it's worth a look. The evening before he goes in for the trial he hooks up with an attractive woman at a bar, Mac, for a night of amazing passion.

When he arrives at the Obermeyer Institute he discovers Mac works there. And he also finds out about this whole new world of Greater-Thans (those with enhanced abilities), Potentials (those whose abilities could develop) and Fractions (the rest of the world). Although he was assessed as a Potential, he seems to in some way boost Mac's power levels and this has to be investigated.

Unfortunately everyone is caught up in investigating the disappearance of a young girl, Nika, who looked to be one of the most promising Potentials. Nika's sister Anna is brought to the Obermeyer Institute for her own safety and to try to help in the search for Nika.

There was lots to like about this book. We follow Mac and Shane and also another couple whose relationship develops through the story. There is a third potential relationship as well which adds to the interest. The telling of the story varies between different characters so we get a different view of events at times. There's also a range of situations including time in the labs, trying to storm a fortress and more. The romance side of the story is well handled without taking up too much space, although I found some of Mac's behaviour rather irritating as the story progressed. However I enjoyed reading about the other relationships and characters and it seems as though the story was left open for subsequent books in this series - books that I will definitely be reading!

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


Eat Prey Love (Love at Stake Book 9)
Eat Prey Love (Love at Stake Book 9)
Price: £3.77

3.0 out of 5 stars Great title, OK book, 5 July 2012
What a clever title for a book about a shapeshifter (werepanther) who falls in love. And Carlos Panterra the shifter was an interesting character, strong on the dark mysterious nature if a little short on communication ability at times. He meets his foil in Caitlyn Whelan, sister of Shanna, the heroine of the first book in this series (How to marry a millionaire vampire). Caitlyn knows that Carlos is the man for her but he needs a werepanther, not a mortal, and so resists his feelings.

Kerrelyn Sparks' writing has felt rather samey to this reader over the last few books. This one was a little different which improved it for me, although I still felt we had too large a cast of characters (OK if you've read the other books, which I have, but still confusing) and repetitive events (people learning about vampires/shifters and having everything explained to them). But what I liked about this book is that some of it took place in the jungle of South America with a bit of a nod to the Indiana Jones films.

This series is always an easy read and there are moments of amusement within the writing. However I feel it's getting just a little stale now and the huge cast of characters rather blurs the reader's focus. We didn't really get to know Carlos nor Caitlyn that well and I felt both of them were appealing and interesting and would have liked to know more of their thoughts. Caitlyn's supernatural language acquisition ability would be really handy to have, though!

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


Breaking the Rules (Troubleshooters)
Breaking the Rules (Troubleshooters)
by Suzanne Brockmann
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable action romance, 4 July 2012
I've not read any books by Suzanne Brockmann before and I realised, before starting this one, that it was part of a series. Fortunately it didn't matter that I hadn't read the previous books as this story worked well as a stand-alone novel with just a few references to events which I imagine were featured in a previous book.

"Breaking the Rules" follows two couples and their ups and downs as they find themselves drawn into a complex situation trying to remove an adolescent boy from his awful parents to trying to rescue a shy and terrified victim of trafficking for prostitution. The two men, Izzy and Dan, are Navy SEALS who have come back to the US after injury in Afghanistan. Izzy got married a year before but his marriage barely lasted a week; he plans to go and see his wife Eden to see her one last time before divorcing her. Dan is trying to decide whether his relationship with Jennilyn has a future, as well as worrying about his younger brother Ben and his sister Eden. But when Ben stumbles upon Neesha who has escaped from imprisonment in a prostitution ring he finds himself as a witness in the middle of a lot of trouble.

This book was always exciting with a fast-moving plot (no-one seems to ever get more than a couple of hours' sleep before the next disaster) and it was never predictable, apart from perhaps the romance aspect. I liked all four lead characters although I wasn't always sure that I worked out what was going on in Eden's head. I struggled with Izzy's name - "Izzy" for me is short for Isabel and so a woman's name and I kept getting confused when the name was applied to a muscular, confident SEAL.

I liked the fact that our heroes weren't always on the right track when following leads and that things didn't always work out well. I wondered if perhaps Ben's parents were a bit unrealistic but it was useful for the story. All in all I enjoyed this book very much and I look forward to reading more by this author.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


Ideal Man, The
Ideal Man, The
by Julie Garwood
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £6.99

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finding love in deadly circumstances, 3 July 2012
What must it be like to have not one but two men out to kill you? This is a question that our heroine, Dr Ellie Sullivan, presumably asks herself, although we don't get a great deal of introspection in this book. What we get instead is a fairly standard romance story with various subplots to keep it moving.

Ellie hasn't really thought of what her ideal husband would be but Max Daniels would definitely not fit her initial idea. He's an FBI agent who lives 4,000 miles away in Honolulu but who is on the scene of a failed FBI arrest when Ellie finds herself a witness to the shooting of an agent - and to the shooters. She finds herself heavily involved when she operates on the agent (she's a trauma surgeon) as well as trying to identify those behind the shooting.

The action fairly quickly moves to Ellie's hometown in South Carolina where she is meant to be attending her sister's wedding - the sister who seduced Ellie's fiancé when she first took him home to meet her family. But Agent Max Daniels is concerned for Ellie's safety as a witness so travels with her, only to discover that she has a danger from her past also reappearing in her life.

I enjoyed reading this book and found it a light, easy-to-read story. We don't delve that deeply into anyone's characters, there are various subplots that keep the interest (such as Ellie's sister Annie and her love life) and the hero is suitably manly, if rather indistinct. I found both Max and Ellie rather standard for this kind of book (Max the tall, dark, handsome, virile man and Ellie the caring, generous doctor) but I liked their interactions and the fact that Ellie seemed to be coping well with a really rather dramatically difficult series of events in her early teens.

It's a good story and will undoubtedly appeal to Julie Garwood's fans.

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


The Au-Naturel Girls
The Au-Naturel Girls
Price: £0.00

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rather vague, 20 Jun 2012
This book was a free download on iBooks so I decided to give it a go.

The first thing to note is that it's set in England with a British author so the spelling and setting are good (I read lots of books set in England written by Americans that have lots of errors and it gets right up my nose).

The description of the book says "it does contain some mature language and discretion is advised" and this is good advice - there's quite a lot packed in to this story in terms of people's lives including naturism (obviously!), lesbian sex, childbirth and more.

The story looks at three girls who are naturists and share a house. They have a spare room and against their wishes the landlord rehouses a man, Adam Hodson, as his flat has been damaged in a fire. Adam is chauvinistic, comes across as quite dim at times and has a friend who is a racist. However Adam seems to settle in remarkably quickly to living in a naturist house (and joins in, of course).

This was billed a a romantic story although I didn't find it so. I found it surprisingly bitty and rather directionless. The racist friend angle seem to be boiling up to something significant but it didn't really happen. I found it hard to distinguish between the three girls Tabitha Natalie and Sarah who kind of merged into one and found Adam's change of personality less of a change of personality, more evidence of his chameleon-like ability to merge into his surroundings or his lack of any genuine ideas/principles. We had vignettes into the lives of several side characters but for some reason the story didn't gel together for me.


The Wish List (Time of Transition Trilogy)
The Wish List (Time of Transition Trilogy)
by Gabi Stevens
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
Price: £5.74

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun and lighthearted tale, 15 Jun 2012
The cover of this book - with a little fairy and a woman holding a wand - gives a bit of a clue to the subject matter: our heroine, Kristin Montgomery, discovers one day that she is actually a Fairy Godmother. What this means isn't clear to her initially (or to us the reader), but she has been assigned a magical arbiter - a sort-of trainer and mentor - to help her learn her role. He is called Tennyson Ritter and isn't particularly keen on his new task as he was in the middle of some scholarly studies.

Tennyson and Kristin don't exactly hit it off straight away and Kristin finds new experiences and information hitting her from all sides. Her new friend Callie the fairy, Lucas the sorcerer and of course her mad aunts can't tell her exactly what she should be able to do and how to do it - it appears she has to find most of this stuff out herself.

But there's more going on than a new Fairy Godmother finding her feet. Kristin might just find that she's more important to some people than she has previously realised.

This book was good fun from start to finish. There was a good mix of characters, Kristin was a good heroine and the plot was interesting. I felt the sex scene that occurred felt a bit unnecessary at that point in the story - it was as if the author had been told she had to have a sex scene by chapter 8 and so she put one it but I felt it was too soon in the story and didn't add anything to it - possibly the opposite. However, once the story had moved on a bit more and the relationship between the characters felt more grounded the story picked up well and I enjoyed it.

I have a slight issue with witch/wizard/sorcerer stories which is that the reader is never actually sure what the witch/wizard/sorcerer can do in terms of their powers. They may find themselves in a locked room but for all you know they can easily teleport out or blow a hole in the wall or whatever. In this story there were a few cases where there was an easy magical way out of a situation, although the author also put in a number of interesting non-magical options too.

Overall this was a very good story and it was written as if it was the first in a series. I hope so as it was good fun!

Originally published for Curled Up With A Good Book © Helen Hancox 2012


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