Truly, Madly, Greekly

I had a wonderful couple of hours curled up in my chair, with the rain hammering down outside, imagining myself in a sunny resort in Corfu.

Truly, Madly, Greekly: Sizzling summer reading Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart…

Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy.

With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist.

But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she?

Another great book from Mandy Baggot and a bargain at only 99p – and the best cover of any of her books by far.

I always look forward to Mandy’s books and this one was no exception. Ellen and Lacey have gone to Corfu to start planning Lacey’s wedding. Ellen is glad to get away from her everyday life which is crumbling around her, but she finds it impossible to relax and enjoy the holiday. Enter Yan, a member of the hotel animation team who finds himself both irritated and intrigued by this uptight Englishwoman.

This is a great story for reading on the beach but you could read it anywhere and instantly be transported into sun, sea and sand. One of the things I love about Mandy’s books is the realism – forget billionaires falling in love with secretaries, this is something you actually could see happening. It was also interesting getting a bit of an insight into the life of the animation team – having been on package holidays I never really gave much thought to what they get up to on their time off!

I love Yan and Ellen and the fact they are normal people, they are both wounded, both hiding secrets and neither are looking for love. I am a sucker for accents on men and I had no trouble imagining the sexy accent Yan had – an accent always adds to the hero’s appeal. This is a story not just about a holiday romance but about trust, family, believing in yourself and not letting anyone hold you back.

The only thing that slightly irritated me about this book was Lacey.  I found it difficult to warm to her and wanted to give her a slap at times, but having said that it didn’t spoil the book for me. I had a wonderful couple of hours curled up in my chair, with the rain hammering down outside, imagining myself in a sunny resort in Corfu.

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mandy Baggot
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Bookouture
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Some Kind of Wonderful

This is perfect to read at home or on the sun lounger, hell if you like romance it is perfect to read anywhere! As I love romance this is the perfect book for me; I love the setting, I love the characters and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Some Kind of Wonderful (Puffin Island trilogy, Book 2) Her whole life, Puffin Islander Brittany Forrest has dreamed of adventure. And at the age of eighteen, she thought she’d found it in bad boy Zachary Flynn. But after just ten tempestuous, smouldering days, their whirlwind marriage went up in smoke, and Brittany resolved to put him out of her mind forever.

Zach knows he let Brittany down, but being back on Puffin Island and seeing Brittany again stirs up long-buried emotions. This daredevil pilot has never felt worthy of her, yet he can’t stay away—even when he knows the chemistry between them will only complicate his life.

Wow, just wow, I loved this book – sexy and romantic, what more can a girl want! This is the second book in the Puffin Island series and I think it’s better than First Time in Forever. While you do not need to have read the first book, I’m a great believer in doing so and I think you come to appreciate the characters more.

What can I say about Zach? Inside that luscious body, he is still a wounded and scarred child, thinking everyone is going to turn on him. The easiest way not to let anyone hurt him is to refuse to let anyone in.  I just wanted to give him a hug (among other things). Thankfully Brittany soon realised that trying to keep her distance was futile.

Brittany is frustrated that she is stuck back on Puffin Island while her broken arm heals, and seeing Zach again throws her completely off balance. Her mind says stay away, her body says go for it. Together they need to navigate their feelings and work out a way to cope with living on the same island.

I loved getting to see all the Islanders again and especially enjoyed the insight into summer camp. The addition of Jaws was a tense scene but it just goes to show again what an amazing guy Zach is. Shame he can’t see it himself.

This is perfect to read at home or on the sun lounger, hell if you like romance it is perfect to read anywhere! As I love romance this is the perfect book for me; I love the setting, I love the characters and I cannot wait to read the final book in the trilogy.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Sarah Morgan
  • Series: Puffin Island (2)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Mills & Boon
  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

The Liar

I think Nora Roberts is incapable of writing a bad book! This is another good one with believable characters who just drag you into the story. The story is slow to start as we get a lot of description and background with Shelby, but it is necessary for the rest of the story and gets you rooting for her from the start. I also have to confess to shedding a few tears! One of the great things about this book is seeing Shelby’s character development – moving from an abused cowed woman to one who knows what she wants from life for her and her daughter, and is determined to get it.

The Liar When her husband Richard dies in a freak accident, Shelby Pomeroy is devastated. But his death reveals a horrible truth – Richard was a liar and a cheat. Now Shelby is left with the consequences – huge, terrifying debts and mounting proof that her late husband betrayed her in every conceivable way.

Heart-broken but unbowed, Shelby is determined to fix her problems – if only for the sake of her gorgeous little daughter Callie. Returning home to Tennessee and the family she thought she’d lost for ever, she discovers a new sense of strength and freedom. And hope, too, in the handsome form of carpenter Griffin Lott – a straight-dealing man who couldn’t lie to her if he tried. 

But not everyone is thrilled to see Shelby Pomeroy back in town. And when a shocking act of violence is traced back to Richard’s shady business, it becomes clear that she is not safe from him, even in death. With her life in danger, Shelby must face the lies of the past – or lose everything.

I think Nora Roberts is incapable of writing a bad book! This is another good one with believable characters who just drag you into the story.  The story is slow to start as we get a lot of description and background with Shelby, but it is necessary for the rest of the story and gets you rooting for her from the start. I also have to confess to shedding a few tears! One of the great things about this book is seeing Shelby’s character development – moving from an abused cowed woman to one who knows what she wants from life for her and her daughter, and is determined to get it.

Griffin is of course hot, as with all the author’s male leads but in this case, he is the one who seems struck by lightning at their first meeting, rather than Shelby (although the attraction is definitely there on her side too!) The interactions between him and Callie are wonderful and I love them. There is a great cast of supporting characters and I loved Shelby’s family and the small town gossip.

This is a completely stand alone book, but I would love it if the author wrote another novel with these characters.

The suspense element moves along a bit slower than with some of Nora Roberts’ other non series books, and while I guessed where it was going quite early on, it didn’t ruin it for me.

Overall another good book from this very prolific author and while some people may think the suspense element is too slow to develop and easy to guess at, the romance and small town goings on are more than enough distraction while the plot develops.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Format: Hardback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Irreverent Questions With… Mandy Baggot

MandyBaggotYes you can believe your eyes, we are bringing back our Irreverent Questions!  Mandy Baggot, in the midst of her blog tour was kind enough to answer our questions.  She is a particular favourite of Tracey’s and if you haven’t read anything by her yet, what are you waiting for – go get Made in Nashville now!

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads.

Represented by Kate Nash of the Kate Nash Literary Agency she is also a contributor to writing blogs, magazines and short story anthologies and regularly takes part in fiction festivals and literary events.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, Corfu, shoes and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

And now, on with the irreverence!

How did you celebrate when your first book was published?
I always celebrate the same way whenever I bring out a new book. I always have a party on Facebook throughout the day and try and mix it up with hot men and competitions. I like to give things away and just enjoy chatting and celebrating the launch with my friends.

Then, in the evening, it’s opening white fizzy wine (champagne if I’m really lucky) and eating Chinese food. Last time, when Made in Nashville was released, I got flowers from my husband, Mr Big too!

Do you get fully dressed to write?
Not all the time! If it’s a normal day then it’s up and dressed to do the school run. In the holidays I have been known to still be in my PJs at lunchtime writing at my desk. There was also one crazy day when I had about 20 people posting clues to a James Bond competition for the launch of my novel, Security. I don’t think I got dressed at all that day. Scheduling tweets takes a while and tweeting is important you know!

How do you deal with negative comments?
I think I spilled the beans and answered this question at the Festival of Romance in September. I read ALL the reviews for my books on Amazon and Goodreads. There are some that make me cry with joy and there are others that irk, BUT I appreciate every review I get, even the stinky ones. If someone has, not only taken the time to read my book, but taken time to review it too, I am thankful for that. I often tweet the best of the one star reviews because that’s someone’s valid opinion and as authors we can’t please everyone. And it’s good to laugh, especially if someone’s called your work horseshit! I really need to make t-shirts.

It’s movie night, the credits are just about to roll, Happy Ever After, Everyone Dies, Or…?
Ooo that’s a tough one. My favourite films of all time are Dirty Dancing and Die Hard. Die Hard is part of a Christmas Eve ritual. We watch, we eat Chinese food – are you noticing a take-out theme in these questions? I like the hero and heroine to be happy in the end – the good guys beating the bad guys, but there has to be drama and conflict all the way through or I get bored. Who wouldn’t want to be swept up by Patrick Swayze and Bruce Willis?

Do you have any phobias?
Astronauts. They bust into Elliott’s home in ET and it frightened the life out of me when I was a child. Luckily, in my line of work, I don’t have to encounter them very often. Yes, I know it’s a person in a suit but…they give me the creeps!

Many thanks to Mandy Baggot for taking the time to answer our questions, and if you want to know more about the author, visit her Website, Twitter, Goodreads or on Facebook!

Pictures provided by and used with permission of Mandy Baggot


Made in NashvilleMandy’s latest book is Made in Nashville (you can read Tracey’s 5 star review here)

An on-stage attack left Honor Blackwood with more scars than just the one on her face. It’s been ten years since she left her spot as Nashville’s brightest country music star. Is now the time to return? And is she brave enough to do it?

Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall is hot property on the Tennessee music scene in more ways than one. He’s wild, he’s sexy and everybody wants a piece of him. But when he sets his sights on Honor, is it pure attraction or just distraction on his mind?

Honor’s record label sign the ex-boyfriend that dumped her and suddenly going back to her old life is harder than she thought. And when a secret from the past becomes public knowledge it’s no longer just about the music. Are all the people in her life lying to her to get what they want?

Join the country scene to find out!

Made in Nashville – where the off-stage action’s as hot as the music!


Irreverent Questions is BookThing‘s fun, irregular feature where we ask a series of random questions that popped into our curious heads. If you are an author and would like to take part, please get in touch!

The Winter Lodge

The Winter Lodge (The Lakeshore Chronicles, Book 2) Jenny’s lived her whole life in Willow Lake, finding safety and warmth running her little bakery. Until one winter she loses everything in a devastating house fire. Sifting through the ashes she finds a chance for a different life…

I really enjoyed this contemporary romance by Susan Wiggs – the first book I have read by this author. The protagonists Rourke McKnight and Jenny Majesky share a history which is explored at various points within the book. I  liked the way we were taken back and forth as their past was revealed bit by bit, just enough to keep you wanting more.

There are various recipes throughout the book which I didn’t really take much notice of and skimmed over after the first couple not being much of a baker, but if you enjoy making cakes I am sure they are very interesting.

While Jenny and Rourke are the main characters there are lots of other characters who have things going on in their lives and I am looking forward to reading more in this series of books.

This book is not just about the romance, it’s about finding who you are and what you really want when everything has been pulled out from under you. I did experience many emotions and yes, I cried!

Jenny and Rourke are both a tad irritating at times and at some points in their past I wanted to shout ‘get a grip!’ Ultimately though, you cannot help rooting for them and of course there is the required happy ending.

I will definitely be looking for more books in this series.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Susan Wiggs
  • Series: Lakeshore Chronicles (2)
  • Format: Kindle
  • Publisher: Harlequin
  • Genre: Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Blue Smoke

Blue Smoke Ever since she witnessed the fire that destroyed her family’s restaurant when she was eleven, Reena Hale knew what she wanted to be.  She wanted to find out what caused fires. As she got older, fire continued to play a significant role in her life and she worked hard to achieve her dream while sacrificing her personal life along the way. Bo Goodnight came into her life and called her “dream girl” after seeing her for a few seconds years ago, and he now has no intention of letting her out of his sight again, not even when it becomes clear someone is using fire to taunt Reena and everyone she cares about has a target on their back.

This book had me drawn in right from the beginning. It starts when Reena is 11 years old and rather surprisingly it got to the middle of the book before reaching the present day having gone through snapshots of her life where fire plays a part. For me this added to the story and I liked the fact I had so much background information about Reena and her very large Italian family. While some people may feel the story is slow to get going I do feel it is integral for setting the scene and giving an indication of how long this person has been stalking Reena. We are introduced to Bo Goodnight (what sort of surname is that!) in this period and it is cute how he keeps glimpsing Reena but never actually meeting her until the present day.

I found the tension in this book very high and could not put it down, was desperate to keep turning pages – not necessarily to find out who did it, but more to see what was going to happen next, when would Reena put it together and where would the next fire be? The romance between Bo and Reena became hot and heavy very quickly – after all Bo had been in love with her since glimpsing her in college and it was almost as if it was fate that bought them together. Some people may find that a bit sickly but I loved it, I am a great believer in destiny where love is concerned.

If I had a criticism it would have to be the surname Goodnight! When you have blokes calling each other by surnames having Goodnight as a name can get very confusing – huh he just said goodnight so why he is he still talking to him!!!! Maybe just me because I read quick and get confused easily.

Reena’s family play a large part in the story which is only right as it started at the family restaurant all those years previously and  I particularly enjoyed some of the interactions between the male members of the family and Bo.

Despite what I have said above the romance is not the main story element and the main plot is brilliant starting with a slow burn and building up to a roaring inferno with action coming thick and fast towards the end.

Another great book from Nora Roberts with action, suspense, romance and of course a killer whose mind is so twisted it is a wonder he can see straight!

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

 

Loving Rose : The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair

Loving Rose: The Redemption of Malcolm Sinclair: Number 3 in series (From the Casebook of Barnaby Adair) Miraculously spared from death, Malcolm Sinclair erases the notorious man he once was. Reinventing himself as Thomas Glendower, he strives to make amends for his past, yet he never imagines penance might come via a secretive lady he discovers living in his secluded manor. Rose has a plausible explanation for why she and her children are residing in Thomas’s house, but she quickly realises he’s far too intelligent to fool.

After the disappointment of the previous book in this series, Ms. Laurens has returned to form with this one. The only thing I didn’t like was the confusion over Thomas Glendower/Malcolm Sinclair. I gathered he had appeared as a villain in a previous Cynster book (I later discovered it was the ‘Taste of Innocence’), but as it was not one I’d read I found it a bit confusing over what he had done that was so bad. I therefore started the book feeling like I was missing half the story. It would have been useful if the book blurb had stated where we first met him, so readers could go back to that book if they chose.

Once I put that aside though, it didn’t take me long to get into the story and I really enjoyed it. The first half of the book is very much about Thomas and Rose, their developing relationship and the secrets they both hold. Rose is guarded and unwilling to trust but finds it difficult to resist Thomas, particularly with how he is with the children. Thomas is also surprised at how quickly he feels protective towards them, and seeing his younger self in Homer, he seeks to guide him as he himself never was.  Once Rose trusts Thomas with her problems they move to London, and that is when Barnaby Adair and his (growing) team get involved to solve the mystery. For me this book is a perfect blend of intrigue and romance, and focuses very clearly on the protagonists whereas the previous one didn’t.

Ms. Laurens does not disappoint with her bedroom scenes – steamy as always! But at least this time they focused on the characters that matter.

Overall a great book and having prepared myself for this one to be another thriller with little romance as in The Masterful Mr Montague, I was very pleased to find that was not the case.

Book Information
  • Author: Stephanie Laurens
  • Series: Casebook of Barnaby Adair (3)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★½ 

Watch Your Back

Watch Your Back (The Baltimore Series Book 4) A cold case reopened. A murderer re-emerging more deadly than ever before…
 
Baltimore Homicide Detective Stevie Mazzetti has suffered losses no woman should have to endure. And, despite it all, she’s still a fighter. When she learns that her ex-partner might have miscarried justice, she’s determined to put the past to rights, even when she becomes a target.
 
It’s former Marine Clay Maynard’s job to see the risk in every situation, but he doesn’t have to look hard to find the danger surrounding Stevie. Since the minute he first saw her, Clay has wanted to protect the wounded officer, and he started loving her not long after that. So when Stevie attracts the attention of a vicious psychopath, Clay will do whatever it takes to keep her alive. That is, if he can stay ahead of a killer with everything to lose—and something terrifying to hide…

Wow, this was one breathtaking, heart stopping, gut-wrenching ride!

Stevie is a character I have loved for the longest time and have been both frustrated and tearful both with her and for her.  Clay is just a sweetheart and is no different in this book.  When he does the powerful man thing though, it makes my knees quite weak!

I think this might be the final book focussing on this grouping of characters – I hope I’m wrong because I love them dearly but I’m not sure what direction it would go in now.  Having said that, Karen Rose does have the most amazing ability to connect characters and story-lines across books so there may well be some mention to see how they are doing.  I can only hope!

The story was fast paced and I thought it was extremely well judged to keep me right on the edge of my seat. The plot reveals came thick and fast and I don’t think I could have stopped reading even if I’d wanted to – there was just so much I had to KNOW.  I lost count of the number of times my heart was in my mouth and my husband had to keep checking I was OK, as I would make an audible sound (not that I was aware of it!).

The bad guys were actually really bad and Ms. Rose cleverly wove several elements from previous books into this one and the big reveal at the end – I thought I knew, but wow, I really didn’t.

Just phenomenal and as usual I am desperate for her next book, even if it does involve different characters.  In fact I think I need to read them ALL again!

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Karen Rose
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Made in Nashville

Made in Nashville: The perfect feel good country music romance for fans of TV show Nashville (Harperimpulse Contemporary Romance) 10 years ago Honor Blackwood was Nashville’s brightest country music star until an attack on stage left her with scars both physical and emotional.

Country rebel and rock star, Jared ‘Jed’ Marshall hears Honor singing and wants her on his tour but she hasn’t sung publicly for 10 years and is determined not to start now. Will he wear her down, and is his interest in her, or her voice?

Well at the end of this I was melted in a puddle on the floor and wanted me a Jared of my own!

This story has everything I could wish for – romance, sex, emotions both high and low and of course more romance.  Oh yes, plus a very sexy guy!

Jared and Honor are both flawed emotionally and their development throughout the story is believable and emotional. They seem to get together fairly quickly and all seems to be going well then bam, you get hit from left field with something. There were two moments in the story I didn’t see coming at all (and I’m not going to give them away and spoil it) but I will say that one part was so cleverly done, it had me expecting something totally different.

I love Jared, he is hot, sexy, a total romantic and a bad boy – what’s not to love? Honor could easily have become an irritating character who was a bit of a wuss, but as her self confidence increased, so did her spine and she grows into a great character.

At the heart of Made in Nashville is the romance, but it becomes so much more with the angst and strong emotions running through it. I went through all the emotions you could possibly think of but, importantly for me, I finished the book in a very good state of mind.

Some people might be put off because it’s heavily based in the country music scene in America, and the book blurb talks up the country music angle. Well I am from the UK and know nothing about country music and I loved it.

Overall, this really is a great story – I cried, I laughed, I sighed and I smiled and I could not put it down (I was even reading while cooking tea). This is the first book I’ve read by Mandy Baggot and I need more!

As at 26th March 2014 the Kindle version is only 99p on Amazon – go buy it if you love romance.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: Mandy Baggot
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)

Truly, Madly, Deeply

Truly, Madly, Deeply From wedding days to special anniversaries, steamy one night encounters to everlasting loves, Truly, Madly, Deeply takes you on an unforgettable romantic adventure where love really is all you need.

This is a collection of 24 new stories from some of today’s best romantic authors including Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Miranda Dickinson. There really is something for everyone here, but I must confess I did not like all the stories, and some authors that were new to me and I will not look to read again. However, there were also a number of authors who I had never read before that will definitely have me looking for more of their work – Nikki Moore (she made me cry!), Alison May and Heidi Rice to name but three.

I have to say I’m not a big fan of short stories like this, as there is not enough time to really develop characters or a story. Having said that, I am amazed at how well some authors could drag me into their story in only a few pages.

I am also an extremely quick reader so short stories like these can take only a matter of a couple of minutes to read. Probably why I prefer a longer story I can get my teeth into. I do like a drawn out romance 🙂

This is however a great collection of stories and if you are the sort of person who likes to read in bite sized chunks this is perfect. Romance abounds and as mentioned you may discover some new authors to add to your reading shelf.

Please note this is a review of the paperback version, the e-book contains a number of bonus stories which I have not read.

Book Information
  • Author: Sue Moorcroft
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★½☆