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.

 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)

Obsession in Death

Thus begins another case for Eve Dallas and the gang; another great book with all the characters we know and love and a strong plot-line. How does J.D. Robb manage to consistently bring out such great stories?

 A crisp winter morning in New York. In a luxury apartment, the body of a woman lies stretched out in a huge bed. On the wall above, the killer has left a message in bold, black ink: For Lieutenant Eve Dallas, with great admiration and understanding.

Thus begins another case for Eve Dallas and the gang; another great book with all the characters we know and love and a strong plot-line. How does J.D. Robb manage to consistently bring out such great stories?

This time, Eve is struggling with the fact that the killer is someone who wants to be her best friend – she has enough trouble keeping up with the friends she has without a murderer wanting to join the ranks. Despite outward appearances, Eve takes murders that happen on her watch very personally, and even more so when it is claimed they are done in her name. There are some difficult moments for Eve while trying to reconcile this but she still manages to kick ass and plough on.

Having to worry about her friends more than usual makes Eve once again try to reconcile her desire for a quiet life, with the number of people she has acquired! There are instances here where Eve lets her softer side shine through more so than usual.

The regular gang are all present and Peabody is definitely coming into her own now, more confident in her role as Eve’s partner rather than aide. Some of the interactions between them are golden.

besides” – on impulse she slung an arm around Peabody, cuddled her stunned partner in – “my partner’s got the better tits.”

Roarke is of course ever present and as usual he and Eve remain the at the centre. Never mind Eve though, where can I get me a Roarke?  Always there reminding Eve to eat and look after herself, knowing what she needs almost before she does. The dynamic between them does not get old (neither does the sex!) despite the 40 books they have been in, and if anything was to happen to him I would be devastated.

J.D. Robb is an amazing writer and despite this series having so many books, you could easily pick up here and not be disappointed. I would urge anyone who might be daunted by reading 40 books to catch up – just don’t. Read this one then you will want to go back and read the rest.

I love this series, I love these characters and I will eagerly await the next book. I cannot get enough and really, really, encourage people to read it.

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Book Information
  • Author: J. D. Robb
  • Series: In Death (40)
  • Format: Hardback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Crime
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

Dark Witch

… this is a wonderful story of love, family and legacy and a very engaging read.

 Iona Sheehan has always felt a powerful connection to Ireland. So when her beloved grandmother confesses an extraordinary family secret, she can’t resist visiting County Mayo to discover the truth for herself. Arriving at the atmospheric Castle Ashford, Iona is excited to meet her enigmatic cousins, Connor and Branna O’Dwyer. And when she lands a job at the local riding school she is soon drawn to its owner – the charismatic, fiercely independent Boyle McGrath. Perhaps she has found her true home at last…

But Iona’s arrival is no accident. The three cousins have each inherited a dangerous gift from an ancestor known as the Dark Witch. And they are about to discover that some old legends can return to haunt the present.

This is a book that ticked several different boxes for me.  The magick and its legacy, the characters and the ties that bind them together and a wonderful romance woven around it.

The first two chapters focus on the past and the birth of the Dark Witch legacy and this was truly heartbreaking.  Sorcha’s choices were limited and the ultimate desire to keep her children and their future bloodlines safe despite the cost to herself was heroic and made me tear up.

The rest of the book is in the present day and the main characters are descendants that resonate very strongly with the magick of the Dark Witch.  The legacy means there must be three, one for each of the original children and together they can make up the power that Sorcha bestowed on the bloodline.

I loved the setting, rural Ireland, and the home of brother and sister Connor and Branna is very close to the site of the tragedy, so many centuries before.  Iona is American but never felt as if she belonged there and gave up everything to come to live near her cousins.  When the two became three and each bonded to an animal the same as the original children, events kicked off and the great evil that destroyed their ancestral mother is after them again, blind in his hatred for Sorcha’s line and greedy for their power.

Along with the cousins are Meara and Boyle – two non magickal characters but with a fierce bond like family to the three.  Finally there is Fin, a descendant of the Crobhan, and a powerful Witch in his own right.  He fights against his nature and the destiny chosen for him by his evil forefather and remains loyal to the three.

All the characters have their own charms and eccentricities that I came to love in very short order (including the horses) and this is one of Nora Roberts’ greatest talents.  Her writing is nothing short of sublime and it’s so easy to read and so hard to put down.

The plot is intricate in the way the legacy works and I did get a little confused as to where Iona’s Nan fit (other than being one of the line) but it wasn’t a big issue, it was enough to know she was there and was the only person before Iona came to Ireland that truly loved her.

The romance between Iona and Boyle was extremely sweet, quite hot and often funny.  She loves with all of her heart, has an endearing innocence and a tendency to jump in both feet first.  Her habit of speaking before she thinks was again something that I liked about her and maybe as a character she resonated quite strongly with me.  Boyle himself was her opposite, doesn’t say much and is wrong-footed by the strength of his attraction to Iona.  As a couple they were believable and I loved them a lot.

The magick side I thought was very well done, very ‘traditional’ and the spells and abilities all grounded in history.  Whether you believe in it personally or not, it works very well for the story.

The thing you can believe in, is that this is a wonderful story of love, family and legacy and a very engaging read.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: Nora Roberts
  • Series: The Cousins O'Dwyer Trilogy (1)
  • Format: Paperback
  • Publisher: Piatkus
  • Genre: Paranormal Romance
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

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)

 

 

Festive in Death

 The kitchen knife jammed into his cold heart pinned a cardboard sign to his well-toned chest. It read: Santa Says You’ve Been Bad!!! Ho, Ho, Ho!

It’s Christmas, but Lieutenant Eve Dallas is in no mood to celebrate. While her charismatic husband Roarke plans a huge, glittering party, Eve has murder on her mind.

The victim – personal trainer Trey Ziegler – was trouble in life and is causing even more problems in death. Vain, unfaithful and vindictive, Trey had cultivated a lot of enemies. Which means Eve has a lot of potential suspects. And when she and Detective Peabody uncover Trey’s sinister secret, the case takes a deadly turn.

Christmas may be a festival of light, but Eve and Roarke will be forced once more down a very dark path in their hunt for the truth.

I honestly don’t know how J.D. Robb does it.  Thirty-nine books in and the stories are still fresh, gripping, emotional and funny. I keep expecting some dip in form, some ‘haven’t I read this before’ feeling but no, Festive in Death was just unique and brilliant.

The full cast we’ve come to know and love are back and as colourful as ever.  Peabody is a favourite of mine in particular, because of how she copes with Eve’s acerbic nature.  She gives as good as she gets but in her own style which makes me laugh.

Eve herself makes a lot of progress in this book, realising just how important the connections with her friends are and there are several moments that made me a bit weepy but with a big grin at the same time. Her bafflement with social norms never fail to make me laugh and Roarke’s fierce love and patience with her are wonderful.  She is her usual sarcastic and kick-ass self but her sharp edges are getting just a little softer.  Not that she would admit to it!

The crime is a sneaky one, J.D. Robb is a master at getting you to look one way while she sneaks something in elsewhere and in this book she does it wonderfully well, keeping you guessing until the last minute.  As always, the police procedure elements are extremely well written and give you the sense that it’s not all action; cases also get solved through hard work and digging through evidence, witnesses and backgrounds until you get to the truth.

The pace of the book gives you a sense of urgency; with Christmas approaching the need to get to the answers before things shut down or people go away to visit relatives is a mounting pressure.  Also looming is the party, and that was just so good I had to read it again.  Cue weepy joyful things and Eve’s antisocial tendencies, run ins with Summerset and you have one amazing read.

This book just hit all my buttons and as usual I absolutely can’t wait for the next.

Just sensational!

If you want to start with this series (and you really, really should!) then Naked in Death is the first book.

Book Information
  • Author: J.D. Robb
  • Series: In Death (39)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

Thankless in Death

 Murder doesn’t stop for Thanksgiving. As the household of NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas and her billionaire husband Roarke prepares for an invasion of family and friends, an ungrateful son decides to stop the nagging from his parents – by ending their lives. Soon Jerald Reinhold is working his way through anyone who has ever thwarted him in his path to an easy life.

This is the 37th full length offering from J.D. Robb and it does not disappoint. Yet another murderer cutting down people for his own twisted pleasure, but in this story we spend a lot of time inside the murderer’s head as he justifies his actions – what a selfish sick bastard he is. There is no mystery as to who has done the killings, the plot is all about trying to catch him.

This book is much more about the main police story and does not focus so much on the relationships of our favourite characters, although we do get to see Eve and Roarke in their home environment and of course they have sex!  Eve has a big decision to make in this book and comes to an acceptance about herself and her role in the NYPSD.

As always, the author manages to inject emotion into the story and I found myself laughing and crying at some points particularly towards the end when we have Roarke’s entire Irish clan descend, along with some characters from previous books.

It is really difficult to keep coming up with things to say about this series as each book is as good as the last. There is little to no romance in this book, just Eve and her team doing good police work and as always having just a bit of luck – although at times it seems luck is very much with the perpetrator and against Eve.

Overall another great ‘In Death’ story with smatterings of humour that do not detract from the main story and indeed the books would not be the same without the quirks that make up Eve and Roarke’s life.

Book Information
  • Author: J.D. Robb
  • Series: In Death (37)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★½ 

 

Concealed in Death

 There is nothing unusual about billionaire Roarke supervising work on his new property – but when he takes a ceremonial swing at the first wall, he uncovers the body of a girl. And then another – in fact twelve dead girls in all. Luckily for Roarke, he is married to the best police Lieutenant in town, Eve Dallas…

Another good story from J.D. Robb,  I am amazed at how she continues to think up different stories 38 books in.  While I don’t think this was as good as some of the other ones in the series, it is still up there. The story was much slower paced than usual and it was clear who the murderer was well before the end of the book – even I guessed it! There were the inevitable parallels with Eve’s childhood when it turns out the building was a centre for delinquent teens, but fortunately this is glossed over rather than made into a mountain.

I love Eve and Roarke, they are one of my favourite fictional couples, they are very settled in their relationship now and this is evidenced by the interactions between them in this book. One thing I did miss though, was the inclusion of the larger cast that we’ve grown to love – very little even with Peabody. On the plus side there were some new characters introduced (both shady and not so shady!) who I think will be featured in later books.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and J.D. Robb remains one of my must read authors, anyone new to the series could easily pick up here with no problems and enjoy it. I would definitely advise making time to read the earlier books in the series however, to truly appreciate the individuals that are Eve and Roarke.

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Book Information
  • Author: J.D. Robb
  • Series: In Death (38)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

 

2013 – A bookish year

 So another year is behind us and in spite of the personal life stuff going on resulting in the dearth of reviews, reading was still going on behind the scenes.

So what books made us sit up and beg?

Grete

The Daylight War by Peter V. Brett – The fantastic third book in the Demon Cycle.

Fortress Frontier by Myke Cole – Military sci-fi with superheroes.  This second book was an excellent addition to the Shadow Ops series.

Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey – This series needs to be on either the big or small screen – any screen!  Until then it’s an amazing sci-fi story and this third book was a brilliant addition to the Expanse.

Parasite by Mira Grant – An amazingly creepy but riveting novel. If you liked her Newsflesh trilogy, you are going to love this!

Kevin HearneThe Iron Druid Chronicles was a series that entranced me so much, I ended up romping through and didn’t take time to review.  It’s a fantastic series and one I will be re-reading, slower this time, so I can actually do reviews!

Bound by Night by Larissa Ione – The first in a new series by Larissa and just as exciting as her Demonica/Lords of Deliverance.  Speaking of which, the next book in that series, Reaver, is on this list too as it was utterly fantastic and had my jaw dropping several times as things were revealed.

Fifth Grave Past the Light by Darynda Jones – This is another series I love so much that I keep racing through them and end up not reviewing.  It’s a habit I really have to stop as my memory is just not up to it these days!  Charley Davidson is one of my favourite paranormal heroines and I just can’t get enough of her!

Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon – I loved, loved, loved this book.  I cried, I laughed, I may have shouted a few times.  A worthy companion to Acheron and a brilliant addition to the Dark-Hunter’s series.  It does take you through the wringer though!

The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty – I absolutely loved this light hearted approach to the paranormal and look forward to the next one, out this year!

Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan – A gritty and powerful epic fantasy debut.  I loved the magic system he devised and I hold high hopes for the second book.

Ice Forged by Gail Z. Martin – First in a new series by Gail and it’s off to a promising start.  I loved her two previous series a lot so it had a lot to live up to!  Looking forward to book two!

J.D. Robb – Thanks to Tracey, I discovered the In Death series and devoured the whole lot one after the other.  It amazed me how good they are and how, even 35+ books in, they are still extremely enjoyable and great reads.

Watch Your Back by Karen Rose – So many of Karen’s books have characters that appear or are related to people in other novels and this one felt like it had been a long time coming.  It was utterly amazing and prompted me to go back and read ALL the previous books!

Blood Song by Anthony Ryan – This book honestly surprised me and I’m annoyed at myself that I didn’t do a review after I read it, as it so very much deserved it.  It’s an amazingly gritty fantasy, written with a single focus and I urge anyone who loved David Gemmell’s work to pick this up.  I will be re-reading this (and reviewing this time, dammit)!

Unseen by Karin Slaughter – Every time I think Karin has outdone herself, she releases the next book and raises the bar even higher.  I can’t get enough of Will Trent and Sara Linton!

Lover at Last by J.R. Ward – The latest book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series was hotly anticipated and I was not left disappointed!

Tracey

While my list has some similar ones to Grete, I also have some totally different genres to her.  Being much more of a romantic sap, it will come as no surprise that I have a number of romances on my list.

The books I share Grete’s love for are :

Styxx of course – the most anticipated book of the year for me and one that did not disappoint. Probably my book of the year!

Reaver by Larissa Ione – another eagerly awaited novel that ticked all the boxes for me.

The In Death series by J.D. Robb – I read all 35 books in 4 weeks and absolutely loved them.

For me though the year was all about romance! There were books from my favourite romance authors: Stephanie Laurens, Eloisa James, Julia Quinn, Sarah MacLean and Sarah Morgan.

I really cannot express all the books that I loved this year, I read well over 100 of them! Since I tend to read books I know I will enjoy, it is so hard to only pick a few.

If I was to recommend a few books to other readers I would go with the following:

Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan – I have been a fan of Ms. Morgan for many years, reading all her Mills and Boon books and it was great to have a longer book to enjoy. This is romance at its best and a great start to a new series.

Nora Roberts has featured heavily in my reading this year but a trilogy I particularly enjoyed was the Key Trilogy – Key of Light, Key of Knowledge and Key of Valour. This has a paranormal slant with Ms. Roberts’ usual excellent romance story.

Sarah MacLean’s Rules of Scoundrels series is recommended reading, particularity if you enjoy historical romance. I have loved all the books in this series and look forward to the next one hopefully coming in 2014!

Will definitely be doing more reviews this year, even if only a few lines, there are so many great books I want to share my love of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York to Dallas

 As a rookie cop with good instincts and a dose of luck, Eve Dallas was instrumental in bringing the notorious Paedophile Isaac McQueen to Justice. Twelve years on Eve is a decorated homicide Lieutenant when McQueen escapes, determined to carry on where he left off  – but this time it’s personal, this time he wants Eve. The action moves to Dallas and the monsters from her past have to be confronted head on, along with the monster of the present.

Wow, well what can I say that I haven’t already said about this series. This is a pivotal book in the Eve Dallas series and really lays to rest the story of Eve’s background that has been rumbling and revealed, piece by piece in the previous 32 books.

Eve is taken out of her New York comfort zone and has to assist in the investigation in Dallas.  While this gave a whole new host of characters to love, I did miss the old favourites back in New York. We do get to see snippets of them in the latter half of the book though and there are also some humorous moments as Eve comments on the differences between New York people and Dallas people.

This was a very intense and emotional book to read – there is a major link to Eve’s past revealed, and for once I saw it coming! Yay me! Eve and Roarke develop an even deeper relationship as a result of what happens and through dealing with the intense emotions that get brought up. Seeing the character development across the previous books is one of the great things about this series for me.

Unlike previous books there is no murder to investigate, at least not until the latter stages (and then we know who did it) but it is all focused on a kidnapping. As a homicide cop I am surprised Eve is able to take such a lead in another city, in an area she does not normally deal with, but McQueen makes it very personal.

If you have never read this series before and did not fancy reading 30+ books you could theoretically pick it up here and have a good idea of where the characters came from. You might even be better starting with the first book after this – Celebrity in death because New York to Dallas really feels like the end of an era. In fact if I did not know the story had continued I would be worried this was the end!

If you do start with this one be aware this is not really typical of the series. The usual stories are much more focused on murder and the solving of it although the character relationships do play a big part.

In summary I still love this series, this is the most emotional book yet and if you have read any of the previous In Death series you do not want to miss this one!

Book Information
  • Author: J.D. Robb
  • Series: In Death (33)
  • Buy on Kindle (UK)Buy from Amazon (UK)

Rating: ★★★★★