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Marleen (Cavan, Ireland)

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The Shroud Maker (Wesley Peterson)
The Shroud Maker (Wesley Peterson)
by Kate Ellis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful combination of past and present, 8 Jun. 2014
I received my copy from the publisher through Nudge

I’ve read most, although not all, of the previous Wesley Peterson mysteries and have to admit that even after almost twenty books I’m still intrigued with these stories. The way in which Kate Ellis manages to combine historical mysteries with present day crimes never fails to impress me. Of course it is a stretch of the imagination that every crime this police force investigates happens to bear striking similarities with crimes committed in the past but it is a conceit that works very well and gives the story added interest.

The mystery in this book intrigued me and kept me on the edge of my seat although I have to admit that there were times when the sheer number of characters and suspects confused me. In fact, even now that I’ve finished the book I have to think long and hard before I’m able to explain exactly what happened and why. In fact, it almost feels as if the author went a bit too far when she plotted this story. There are too many different angles that are too similar to each other. I’d like to expand on this point but since I’m unable to do so without spoiling the story for others I’ll refrain. Having said that, while the resolution may have been convoluted, it did work and fit the story perfectly. My issue is not with an unsatisfactory ending rather than a not clear cut enough one.

One of the things I enjoy about long running series is the opportunity they give the reader to really get to know the characters and watch them as time passes. Having said that, some plot points have been dragged out a bit too long for me by this stage. I just don’t buy Rachel still being obsessed with Wesley after all this time and while I appreciate it gives the story added spice I really think that particular storyline has been milked for all its worth.

I do appreciate Kate Ellis painting a more or less realistic picture of police work and the frustrations involved. While the mysteries are solved and the reader is given all the answers, it doesn’t always mean that those who need to be punished are also caught. And I like the way these books are written. The style is unhurried, almost leisurely, and yet there isn’t a boring or uninteresting sentence in the book. The star attraction in these books has always been and still is the very clever link between past (be it distant or recent) and present.

I am still glad I discovered this series several years ago and know that I will continue reading these mysteries for as long as the author continues to write them.

The Pleasures of Spring
The Pleasures of Spring
by Evie Hunter
Edition: Paperback
Price: £9.99

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars As Pleasurable as the title suggests, 27 April 2014
I received my copy from Penguin Ireland

Once again the two authors who are Evie Hunter have provided their readers with a fun, intense, intriguing and hot story. This is the fourth book in ‘The Pleasures’ series and didn’t disappoint.

Both Roz and Andy were wonderful characters, although Roz managed to captivate me most. None of Evie Hunter’s female characters have been shrinking violets or walk-overs but Roz is in a category of her own when it comes to independence and living life according to her own rules. Her slow progression from complete self- sufficiency and deep distrust of others to acceptance of her past and her own desire to share her life with others, was wonderful and almost overshadowed Andy’s journey from playboy adventure seeker to loving lord of the manor.

Did I mention that these two characters were hot together? Well, they were. Roz is a former professional dominatrix, convinced that she hasn’t a submissive bone in her body. Yet every time Andy takes control she finds herself not only, reluctantly and after a huge internal fight, submitting but also thriving on it. Andy has the time of his life giving this independent woman what she didn’t even know she wanted and needed. As for the reader, they are the lucky beneficiaries of Roz and Andy’s hot exploration of each other.

If I had an ‘issue’ with this book it would be that it took so long to get Roz and Andy together. Apart from a short interlude early on in the story they spend a lot of time apart while Roz is trying to hide and Andy is either trying to find her or spending time with his parents. It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with those parts of the story but more that the story was so much more fascinating when the two of them were together. And I don’t just mean in the biblical sense, hot as those encounters were. The way Andy and Roz spark off each other and the constant struggle between them for the upper hand was entertaining overall and panty-melting when they got to the sexy stuff.

This book has it all, adventure, danger, hot sex, angsty romance and quite a few laugh out loud moments. Not to mention two fascinating main characters as well as interesting secondary characters. I can think of quite a few less enjoyable ways to spend a spring day.

While this is the fourth book in this series it can, without any problem, be read as a stand-alone title. Having said that, all the characters from the previous three books make an appearance here and already knowing their stories would probably add to your reading enjoyment. Taking into account that the three previous books are wonderful reads in their own right I can only recommend that you read those books as well.

Naughty Bits Part I: The Lingerie Shop
Naughty Bits Part I: The Lingerie Shop
Price: £1.89

4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 15 April 2014
I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

“Relinquish control – on your own terms”

This is going to be one of those reviews containing numerous quotes. I did try to restrain myself but found myself highlighting section after section. In the end I had to leave quite few very wonderful quotes out of this review because it was just getting too long. Joey W. Hill has a wonderful way with words and explains the intricacies of BDSM in a way that embellishes the beauty of the life-style without ever making it sound dark, scary or dangerous. I hope that the quotes I share below show both the beauty of her words and the depth of her knowledge.

“When a woman gets out of the way of her instincts, and doesn’t let the baggage she brings from her day-to-day life drag her down, she’s the one who leads. As her Master, I put her in touch with those instincts; she’s the one who uses them to take us both to a deeper level of connection.” – Logan

It goes even further than that. Hill is the first author I’ve come across to take the time to explain why the idea behind a Dominant/submissive relationship is so tempting even for those who have no real desire to explore such a dynamic.

“Deep inside all of us are vulnerabilities, (...). Things we only reveal to the person capable of stripping us bare and yet cherishing the nakedness they find, not exploiting it. That’s a common threat beneath a lot of the Dominant and submission sexual fantasies people have, whether or not they’re actual Dominants for submissives.”- Logan to Madison

Quotes like the two above took my breath away. I found myself re-reading them just to relish in the beauty of the words and contemplate them before moving on with the story. In fact, truth be told, I enjoyed these insights and the sheer beauty of the words more than I did the story as such. I just didn’t like Madison that much, she infuriated me at times. Her actions, past and present, as well as her defensive stance towards the world rubbed me the wrong way and left me wanting to slap her or give her a good talking to.

Logan on the other hand was almost too good to be true. His Dominance rose of the page and flowed through me. I could hear his words, feel his hands and couldn’t get enough of him. I found myself resenting every single page he didn’t feature on and was very impatient to spend more time with him even while I wished that didn’t mean having to put up with Madison as well.

“She felt like a book he was reading, every word a page full of information about her.” Madison’s reaction when she first meets Logan

Alice leaves her lingerie shop, ‘Naughty Bits’ to her sister Madison who is like a fish out of water with her inheritance. But Alice goes one step further; she also – more or less – gives her sister to Logan, the Dom who owns the hardware shop next door.

“I’m giving her to you, Logan, but you might just give yourself to her too. For the first time in your life.” Alice, talking about Madison to Logan before she dies.

Madison has been dreaming about submitting to a man for as long as she can remember but all the men in her past have belittled her dreams before leaving her. After all the pain those relationships have caused her, Madison is about ready to admit defeat and concede the man and relationship she’s dreaming about don’t exist, at least not for her. Combine that with the guilt she feels about being estranged from her sister when she died and a desperate need to be in control of everything in her life, Madison is one bundle of insecurity and defensiveness, and it isn’t long before Logan finds himself on the receiving end of those emotions.

“I get that you have trust issues with men, Madison. But until I specifically deserve it, I’d prefer you not lash out at me because of what someone else has done.” Logan

Logan is the prototype of a perfect Dom; completely in control, reasonable, apparently able to see and understand everything his subject is thinking and feeling and, to top it all off, graced with a wicked sense of humour. In fact, he’s not just the perfect Dom, in my book he comes pretty close to being the perfect man.

“I’d give one of Troy’s testicles to know what’s going through your mind right now.” Logan to Madison

What impressed me most in this book was how very hot Logan and Madison were together even though they don’t remove a single item of clothing while together and don’t even share a kiss. The heat between them just from Logan’s apparently casual touches and the way he talks to her blew me away and left me wanting more.

“In D/s, chains are magic. Binding the body frees the soul, lets it fly. A woman stops thinking. She just feels.” Logan to Madison

I’m looking forward to finding out what will happen next to Madison and Logan. While I’m certain that Madison will continue to irritate me, I know that Logan’s presence and the way he deals with her will make up for any frustration I feel when I read about her. Logan combined with Joey W. Hill’s words and her wonderful descriptions of the world of BDSM have hooked me on this story with no chance of escape.

“You can be what you want with me, as long as you’re true to yourself.” Logan to Madison

Only Love
Only Love
Price: £4.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Masterful, 13 April 2014
This review is from: Only Love (Kindle Edition)
I received my copy from the publisher through Love Romances and More

Thirty-two year old Sergeant Jed Cooper knows his days in the Army are numbered due to a chronic stomach condition when an ambush in Iraq all but destroys his team, leaves him seriously injured and kills his best friend. A lengthy recuperation later, he finds himself back in the hometown he fled years ago, living with his brother Nick and his family. Nick was part of the reason Jed left all those years ago and hasn’t turned into a nicer man since. While Jed likes Nick’s wife Kim and adores the couple’s two daughters he doesn’t think he can stay in town until he moves in with Kim’s brother Max; the lakeside cabin and Max are exactly what Jed needs.

Max has dealt with epilepsy all his life and it isn’t long before the two men form a bond. Looking out for each other while allowing the other the space they need is an ideal situation for both of them.

The bond between Max and Jed grows stronger and deeper by the day until long held secrets force a separation both men detest yet fail to address. When Max next sees Jed, all the soldier’s health issues have caught up with him and it may well be too late to for the two men who have grown to love each other. As friends, family and unexpected brothers in arms gather to be by Jed and Max’s side, the only question still to be answered is whether or not love can be stronger than dead.

This book all but killed my while I was reading it. Max and Jed are wonderful characters to read about; well developed, fully rounded and completely realistic, I found myself in their thrall from the moment they were introduced. Their slow progression from roommates, to friends to so much more was smooth, realistic and beautiful. The secondary characters in ‘Only Love’ made it easier for me to understand Max and Jed and added warmth and realism to their story.

While I don’t want to spoil the ending for anyone who hasn’t read the book, I have to say that I’m grateful that while the author gave us an optimistic ending, she kept it real. Thankfully there are no miracle cures on these pages; ‘just’ two strong yet vulnerable men finding each other and the strength to build a future together.

But none of the above is enough to completely explain the deep and very emotional reaction I had to this story. The reason I had to put this book down on several occasions, despite the need to find out what would happen next, was that this story hit too close to home for me. I won’t go into the details in this review but I do want to say that a lot, if not all of Jed’s medical struggles mirrored things I’ve had to go through in the past. And Max’s helpless bedside vigil gave me a new insight into what those times must have been like for my husband and a renewed appreciation for his endurance.

I can’t thank Garrett Leigh enough for the way in which she managed to combine harsh realism with thoughtful sensitivity. She took two men who might well have been broken by their medical circumstances and showed that the limitations health issues can throw in your path don’t mean you have to stop living, never mind loving. In fact, I don’t think I have the words to express how much reading this book has meant to me.

To avoid any confusion I should add the following. I would have loved this book if I had never been ill in my life. I would challenge any reader to pick up this book and not feel ALL the emotions. If you find yourself in need of a well written, thought provoking, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting love story, you can’t go wrong with ‘Only Love’. The book will take your breath away.

“For him, Max was the early morning sun, a cool springtime breeze, and a blanket of fresh white snow. His warm eyes were a guiding light in the dark, and the love they held was the only thing Jed would ever need.”

Charlie, Rentboy (Working Boys Book 1)
Charlie, Rentboy (Working Boys Book 1)
Price: £2.03

5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Sweet and Sexy, 3 April 2014
I thought I knew what to expect when I started this book. I recently read Andy, Go-Go Boy, the second book in the ‘Working Boys’ series by JP Barnaby and thought I’d be getting more of the same in this novella.

Up to a point that was indeed the case. This too is a story about a man who makes his money in the sex industry and finds an unexpected connection when he least suspects it. But that is where the comparison ends.

While Andy’s story was mostly dark, Charlie’s is funny. Andy’s character was very hard to like until the story was well on the way. Charlie on the other hand had charmed me before I’d finished the first two pages of his book.

This story is told in the first person by Charlie and it doesn’t take long before the reader knows they are dealing with a funny, sweet, cocky, at times cynical and self-deprecating character.

“... I’ve been blessed with an amazing ass. Besides my brain it’s by far my best asset.”

Charlie works as a rentboy to earn his way through college. After all it makes him a lot more money in far less time and he enjoys sex.

When Charlie gets a booking for a weekend with a man named John he is fairly sure he knows what to expect. He’s sure John won’t be the man’s real name, but that’s okay, he’s not really called Charlie either.

John however turns out to be nothing like Charlie’s usual customers. For starters he is actually called John and doesn’t make a secret of who he is and his background. He wants Charlie to pretend to be his boyfriend for the weekend and Charlie agrees. It won’t be his first time and after all, he who pays decides.

It isn’t long before Charlie has to admit that his feelings about and for John are very different from the lack of feelings he usually has for clients. But when s*** hits the fan and it looks like both Charlie and John may be outed in a way neither of their reputations will survive, the ball game changes completely.

I adored this story. Charlie’s transformation from cynical but funny to sensitive and vulnerable was beautiful and John has to be one of the sweetest characters I’ve come across in my books recently.

I guess this novella was pretty close to the perfect read for me, with just the right balance of humour, angst, love and sex. I only discovered JP Barnaby a week ago but it is safe to say that she’s found a fan for life in me. It won’t be long before I’ll be making my way through her back list.

The Secret Loves of Julia Caesar
The Secret Loves of Julia Caesar
by Noelle Harrison
Edition: Hardcover

5.0 out of 5 stars A Work of Art, 2 April 2014
From the author’s website:

“The Secret Loves of Julia Caesar is a search for the true nature of love in all its glorious and terrible manifestations. It can be read as a companion book to my 2009 novel, The Adulteress since The Secret Loves is the book that Nicholas finds in his attic,
penned by June Fanning, a young wife who lived in his house during the Second World War.

At the same time this novella is a complete book in itself; my re-imagining of the true story of Julia, infamous daughter of Emperor Augustus of Rome, who was exiled to a deserted island for her adultery. It will take you on a sensory journey to Ancient Rome; and further perhaps, to your own heart and fantasies?”


My thoughts:

This small but utterly beautiful book contains the story of Julia Caesar, the fabled beauty who was the daughter of the Emperor Augustus of Rome. The reader watches as Julia loses her mother at an early age. We witness a few months of happiness when Julia, aged only 14 marries her cousin Marcellus who loves her enough not to take her to his bed for fear that childbirth will kill her. We are with Julia as her heart breaks when Marcellus dies and despair with her when she’s forced to marry the much older Agrippa. We rejoice for Julia when she at last discovers the comforts of sex with her lover, the poet Sempronius Gracchus and mourn for her as comfort turns into addiction.

It is heartbreaking that Julia only discovers the joys of intimacy and sex after the husband she loved deeply has died, while she is pregnant with her first child by the husband she detests, and from a man who can only be her lover.

“This is the secret of love. It is sex.”

And because the man who teaches her about love is also a man who will never love just her, Julia tries to find that elusive feeling again and again through meetings with difference lovers and prostitution. It is the forbidden love with and from her slave Phoebe that teaches Julia her second lesson about love:

“This is the secret of love(…). It is trust.”

But years of being used by her husband and allowing herself to be used by others have turned Julia’s once pure feelings into something cynical.

“Love is a game (…) which we humans like to play, and sometimes it is fun and sometimes it hurts. Like any game, there is a winner and a loser.”

And yet, Julia’s need for love and the pleasure she derives from sharing that love with men bring her an endless amount of satisfaction.

“Yes, I am a whore in the goddess sense. A vessel for physical pleasure, a priestess for the body.”

Exiled by her father for her promiscuous behaviour, it takes Julia a long time before she comes to terms with her fate and the solitude that will be hers for the rest of her life. And yet, it teaches her the next lesson about love:

“This is the secret of love (…). Forgiveness.”

It is exile that will take Julia from utter despair and depression:

“And when she replays these scenes they weigh like lead upon her heart, because she regrets everything.”

to the lesson about love:

“Yes this is the secret of love, giving.”

This book is beautiful in more ways than one. I’m not sure I would call this book a novel. I think “The secret loves of Julia Caesar” could be better described as a work of art. Between these covers we find Julia’s story but we also discover beautiful drawings, fragments of history and wonderful poetry. This is not the sort of book you pick up and read from cover to cover in a few hours. This is a publication that should be treasured, reflected upon and slowly devoured. I can only hope that the upcoming e-book release of this story will be able to bring all these aspects of the story to the reader.

NoŽlle Harrison has discovered the secret of beautiful words, made it her own and then, generously, decided to share it with the world:

“We are the same Phoebe (…). We have already cried the tears of many lifetimes. We are saltwater sisters.”

Trust (Finding Anna Book 4)
Trust (Finding Anna Book 4)
Price: £5.36

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Satisfying End to a Fabulous Series, 20 Mar. 2014
I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley and rated it 4+ stars.

I had very high hopes for this book. I’ve been following Brianna’s journey from the very start and devoured ‘Slave’,’ Need’ and ‘Truth’. The way ‘Truth’ ended nearly killed me. I couldn’t believe the author would leave us hanging just after she’d forced Brianna apart from the man who has been holding her fragile life together. So to say that I was awaiting this fourth and final instalment with baited breath and great expectations would be an understatement.

And, in many ways this book lived up to my hopes. It was wonderful to watch Brianna as she very slowly grows stronger, less prone to panic attacks and, eventually, determined to do whatever it takes to make sure that those who harmed her will get what they deserve. I loved that Sherri Hayes didn’t try to turn this into a magical recovery during which the girl transformed from someone afraid of her own shadow into a sort of kick-as heroine over night. The steps Brianna takes are small and not without their setbacks, and that is what made her journey believable and fascinating, to follow not to mention heartbreakingly emotional at times. The way she slowly learns to recognise and accept herself and her feelings was uplifting and beautiful.

“Stephan may not own me in the way that Ian had, but he owned my heart and, with it, my body and soul.” - Brianna

I wasn’t quite as impressed with Stephan in this book. For a character who, up until this book, had been a prime example of one who is in total control of his life and always trying to think ahead to the possible consequences of his actions, he made one or two strange, not to say, unlikely decisions. I completely get that they added to the tension in the story but they seemed too out of character for me.

On the other hand, I don’t think I’ll ever get enough of Stephan’s patience when it comes to Brianna and her recovery and his love for her is the stuff dreams are made off.

“You are the bravest person I know, and I love you. You could never disappoint me.” – Stephan

It is not easy for me to say this but this may well have been the ‘weakest’ book in this series for me. What attracted me to this story from the very start was the interaction between Stephan and Brianna. With the couple being apart for about half the book, it seemed to lack something. Their separation made perfect sense at this point in the story but I feel that maybe that period apart could have been shorter. As soon as Brianna and Stephan were together again the reading experience picked up for me to the point where I couldn’t put the book down until I knew exactly how their story was going to end.

Another thing I was really impressed with while reading these books is the care the author has taken to make the distinction between BDSM and abuse very clear. While I did at times get frustrated with the characters in the story who were unable to see the difference between the two, their reactions made sense, especially keeping in mind everything Brianna had been through, the damage that had been done to her and her state of mind. More than that, BDSM is far from an accepted practice as far as the general public is concerned and hopefully books like these will go some way to explaining that BDSM does not equal abuse; that power-play within a loving relationship is beautiful provided it is what both partners want and need.

Please don’t get me wrong. While ‘Trust’ may not have been my favourite of the ‘Finding Anna’ titles, this series stands with some of the best I’ve read. The four books together give the reader a beautiful, well written, heartbreaking and ultimately uplifting story about the damage people do each other and what it takes to heal a broken life. Parts of this story are so dark you might want to read with all the lights on while others are so beautiful they lift the reader up. I fully recommend this series to anyone who enjoys a story that will touch them, give them something to think about and will leave them satisfied by the time they reach the end. Just remember to read these books in order. Most series benefit from being read from start to finish; these books can’t be read any other way if you want to feel the full impact of this powerful story.

Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run Series Book 7)
Touch & Geaux (Cut & Run Series Book 7)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars WOW, 13 Mar. 2014
Well...Okay...Wow...I mean...

Just bear with me while I catch my breath and try to find the words I need to write this review because...Jaysus what a book.

In my review of ‘Stars & Stripes’ I said that while I liked that book and enjoyed my time with Ty and Zane it missed the WOW-factor for me because the relationship element of the story was just too smooth and – shock horror - wasn’t angsty enough. Well, in a perfect example of ‘be careful what you wish for because you might just get it’ this book made up for that lack of angst...and then some. In fact, I’m not sure ‘angst’ is the right word to describe everything that happens between Ty and Zane; all out warfare might be a better description.

Ty and Zane find themselves in New Orleans. And while this place holds happy memories for Zane, it is not somewhere Ty should be. When he was pulled out of New Orleans after spending two years there while undercover, he left a lot of unresolved issues and enemies behind. Issues and enemies that seem to know he’s back and are determined to bring him down once and for all.

And it is not just Ty’s past haunting him. Zane’s undercover past has descended on New Orleans as well and appears to match Ty’s when it comes to their need for vengeance. It soon becomes clear that Ty and Zane’s pasts are far more interwoven than Zane could ever have expected. The revelation that Ty has been keeping secrets from him for the past two years despite their, apparently strengthening, relationship crushes Zane. During the ensuing fight things are said and done that can never be taken back, leaving both investigators teetering on the edge while various groups are still out to kill them. It also becomes clear that someone is relaying information to their enemies. This may be one investigation too far for this couple; even if they manage to survive the attempts on their lives, their relationship may well be beyond repair.

This was, at times, a very hard book to read. The passages where Zane and Ty fight nearly broke my heart because it was so easy to understand both men’s point of view. The betrayal Zane felt made as much sense as Ty’s conviction that he had been doing the right thing all along. And that is the reason this particular version of angst didn’t upset me or put me off the book. I’ve read too many romances in which the issues between the two main characters seems contrived; only there because the author needed something to create tension. In this case it all made sense; not just in the context of this book but in relation to the story-line over all seven books. And while that didn’t make the whole mess any easier to read, it did get me even more involved with and attached to these two investigators.

There was one instance of coincidence in this book that went a bit too far for me. It seemed very unrealistic and I could see it coming a mile off. Having said that, it also brought me an ‘ah, isn’t that sweet’ moment in what was, otherwise, a tough and heartbreaking story, so I won’t hold it against the author.

Ty and Zane have over the past year or so joined the very small and select group of favourite fictional characters. They have become almost real in my head; I find myself dreaming about them and can easily imagine meeting them face to face. This doesn’t happen very often and I’m delighted every time I am lucky enough to stumble upon an author with the power to make their world real for me. I think it is safe to say that Abigail Roux has found a life-long fan in this reader.

Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run Series Book 6)
Stars & Stripes (Cut & Run Series Book 6)
Price: £4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars Fast becoming a favourite, 10 Mar. 2014
I rated this book 4.5 stars.

Before I start on my review proper I want to make something perfectly clear: I adore Ty and Zane who are fast joining that small and elite group of fictional characters who refuse to stay fictional in my mind. I love their antics, the quick fire dialogue between them, their relationship as it is steadily growing stronger and the mad adventures they find themselves caught up in. And as far as all of that goes this book was a very welcome addition to the series and a wonderful read.

And yet...While I had a wonderful time reading ‘Stars & Stripes’, this book missed the oomph factor for me. The previous books in this series somehow managed to hit me hard, made me want share my adoration for the series and the characters in it with the world in SHOUTY CAPS and refused to leave me alone.

This story on the other hand wasn’t more than a highly enjoyable read. While I loved every minute I spent with Ty and Zane, this book didn’t have the ‘can’t put it down, have to keep on reading’ urgency for me. And I think I know why that is. For me these books have always been about the relationship between these two men. I enjoyed the thriller aspect of the stories and can’t deny it added some much appreciated spice to them, but I didn’t read them because that particular kind of action.

In this book the relationship between Ty and Zane is rock solid and never in any doubt. They love each other and are so sure about their relationship that they actually find the courage to come out to those closest to them. With one exception this revelation didn’t cause the tension it might have and although that was heart-warming in a ‘if only that was true for everybody coming out’ sort of way it didn’t add a lot of emotional depth to the story.

Which leads me to a statement I didn’t think I’d ever make; I could have done with more angst in this story. Yes, you heard me right. Me, who always proclaims that she is not one for angsty reads, is bemoaning the lack of that aspect in this particular instalment. No, I don’t quite get it either and can’t begin to explain it.

Now, you may have noticed that I did give the book 4.5 stars. Everything I said above doesn’t mean that I didn’t like this book – I loved it – just that it lacked the WOW factor earlier titles had. There is a lot to love in this book; most of all the insight we get into Zane, his background and everything that made him into the person he is. My heart broke for him as his mother refused to give even an inch, knowing it would cost her the relationship with her only son. On the other hand, I adored Zane’s father.

“Had a gay bull I had to sell last year. That was a damn nuisance. Gay son? That don't cost me nothing.”

And as always there are the jibes between Ty and Zane to bring light relief even in the direst of circumstances. I also loved Ty’s relationship with the animals he encounters, unrealistic as it may be.

I would probably read these books if all Ty and Zane did in them was talk to each other and have sex. I love these characters individually but adore them as a couple which makes me very glad that I have at least two more books of their story to look forward to. This brings me to something else I rarely do; read two books in a series immediately after each other. As soon as I finish this review I’ll be starting on ‘Touch & Geaux’. I realise that book number eight in this series, ‘Ball & Chain’ is already available. The official release day was March 17th though, and my aim was always to be ready for that story on St. Patrick’s Day. The way things are looking right now, that won’t be a problem. I’m looking forward to an Abigail Roux filled reading week and can’t think of a more enjoyable prospect right now.

“There are...there are so many paths in life. Some we choose, and some are chosen for us. We walk our paths without looking down and that’s the life we lead. The only things you’ll get from guessing where another path would have gone are questions you can’t answer and heartache you can’t ever soothe.”

Unravelling Oliver
Unravelling Oliver
by Liz Nugent
Edition: Paperback
Price: £12.99

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating psychological thriller, 8 Mar. 2014
This review is from: Unravelling Oliver (Paperback)
I received my copy from Penguin Ireland.

What a way to start a book:

‘I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.'

And it sets exactly the right tone for this book. This story is really a mystery, although not one in which we anxiously read on to find out who perpetrated the crime. No, the big question in this book is what on earth possessed Oliver to beat up his wife. The answer to that question is revealed at a slow, almost leisurely pace.

This book is told by Oliver as well as several people he has encountered during his life. Oliver tells his story after he has been arrested for putting his wife into a coma and doesn’t, at any time, try to make himself look or sound nice.

“I’m aware that I am not the easiest of people. Alice has told me so. I have no friends, for example. I used to, many years ago, but that really didn’t work out. We drifted apart and I let them go – voluntarily, I suppose. Friends are just people who remind you of your failings.”

Having said that, if you ignore the very first chapter, in which Oliver rather coolly describes how he hit his wife and his surprise at his own action and the lack of reaction on her part, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot wrong with him.

“My wife had finally brought out the worst in me. It was most unexpected. I had always been fond of her, in my way.”

For a long time it was almost possible to feel sorry for Oliver and the life he lived before he got famous. In fact, that is probably the only thing that stopped this book from getting five stars; I fully expected to be horrified by Oliver by the time I reached the end of the book, and I wasn’t. I didn’t like him, didn’t approve of the things he’d done and couldn’t sympathize with him, but he never quite turned into the monster I was expecting him to be either. And, to be honest, I’m not sure if that is a missed opportunity on the author’s part or a very clever and balanced portrait of a socially unadjusted personality.

Having said that, this was one of the more fascinating and well plotted books I’ve read this year so far. I got completely caught up in the story and had to keep on reading in order to find out what had caused this man to turn violent. The writing in this book is very good. I was impressed with the very distinctive voices the various narrators had. For example, Veronique, the French lady, sounded distinctly French, even if her story was told in English.

Ultimately this is a story about secrets and the damage they can do, both to those who can’t find the answers they need and to those who are hurt as a result of that. This was a very impressive debut by an author I will be keeping an eye on from now on.

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