The Week: 1st – 7th April

Happy Canberra Wine Week! The – erm – week goes from the 5th to the 14th, which isn’t exactly a week as much as it is an excuse to have two weekends of drinking wine!

I have a big announcement to make in a few days…

My review of Need Me, Cowboy (Copper Ridge #6) by Maisey Yates

need me, cowboy (copper ridge #6) by maisey yates

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Need Me, Cowboy (Copper Ridge #6) by Maisey Yates

need me, cowboy (copper ridge #6) by maisey yates

He’s not a man to be played with.

Not without consequences.

For five years, Levi Tucker had no control over his life, locked up for a crime he didn’t commit. Never again would any woman—any desire—overtake this cowboy’s common sense. Now Faith Grayson, the sexy, brilliant architect he’s hired to design his grand new house, is sorely testing his resolve. Faith is too young. Too innocent. Maybe just too tempting.

Need Me, Cowboy (Copper Ridge #6) by Maisey Yates

If you’re looking for a solid, well-written contemporary romance, Maisey Yates is a good bet. I was a bit alarmed that after I downloaded this review book I discovered it was number six in a series, but – apart from some obvious “past couples” factoring into the plot – it works as a standalone read just fine.

For me, and I assume many other readers, the reason Need Me, Cowboy appealed was because it has a hero who is fresh out of prison (he was wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder). I know themes like this fascinate many readers.

(Unlawful Contact by Pamela Clare, A Not-So-Perfect Past by Beth Andrews, and young adult book Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles come to mind, if you want books with similar themes.)

In truth, the cowboy aspect of the story is minimal, which was fine with me. I was more interested in the characters dealing with the “hero out of prison” conflict. He has a lot of anger to deal with, and no idea what to do about it.

I haven’t read a book in this Harlequin line for ages, and had forgotten the heat level – it’s fairly steamy, but doesn’t rule the story.

The hardened, jaded hero-meets-innocent, hardworking heroine trope is popular, and can be done really badly or be really well. In this case, I think it worked. Yates is good enough at her characterisation that she gives everyone unique personalities and quirks.

I especially loved that the heroine was very inexperienced in some aspects of life, but that it worked in a modern context. I didn’t, however, like the stereotyped promiscuous blonde woman named Mindy (of course) who was with the hero at the bar. On the other hand, I did appreciate that she wasn’t made out to be nasty.

These books are quick reads, which means a tight focus on the main two characters and a relationship that has to move rather fast. In this case, I was convinced by the pairing.

Recommended for anyone who finds these tropes appealing in their romance reads.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 24th – 30th April

Gorgeous Friday afternoon in Canberra.

Autumn colours this week.

Autumn Flowers Garden Canberra Australia After the Rain Sonya Heaney 26th April 2017 Nature

After the rain. Wednesday afternoon. We have autumn flowers everywhere all of a sudden.

Autumn FINALLY hit us this week. So annoying that Tuesday – Anzac Day – was not a nice day, when we’d been having summer weather until now. We apparently had 38 000 people at the dawn service at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra, thousands more than other cities with populations six or more times ours. Not a bad effort!

Christopher Heaney Australian Army Vietnam War 1968 1969 IMG_0078My father in Nui Dat (Vietnam) in the 1960s.

We went to lunch with my war veteran father, who’d been planning to march this year (he never does), but then changed his mind. The place we chose was almost completely booked out for a reunion of military intelligence people – so many men and women with their medals! My father impressed them, however. One actually commented he was a “real” veteran because of all the combat he’d seen.

On Saturday evening I went to buy some wine – and got asked for ID again (or “carded”, as I believe Americans say). Now, I’m closer to forty than thirty, and the legal drinking age here is eighteen. I first worked in a bar in the year 2000. Exactly what point in time are people going to stop asking me if I’m older than schoolchildren?! People keep saying: take it as a compliment. But… Especially when it’s a teenager at the cash register! I think: I am literally old enough to be your mother!

The bombed car on the back of a truck after the attack.

This week an American citizen was killed in a Russian car bomb in Ukraine. (RT News – the Kremlin’s English-language propaganda channel – was on the scene within three minutes of the bombing, because that’s NOT suspicious in any way!!). Whereas Donald Trump was all over Twitter about the American killed in the Westminster terror attack, calling him a hero and all of that, there was deafening silence from the US government over what was essentially a political assassination in Ukraine.

I guess the president only values some Americans…

My review of Blindsided (Men of Steele #3) by Gwen Hernandez

Anzac Day – Recommended Reads

Lisa Kleypas Interview

Vintage War Romance

Free read over at Harlequin

The Handmaid’s Tale Premieres

A note on something that happened last week.

Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

Book #2 in the Fifth Avenue trilogy

TEN YEARS AGO ONE DEVASTATING NIGHT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR AUSTIN, HUNTER AND ALEX. NOW THEY MUST EACH PLAY THEIR PART IN THE REVENGE AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHO RUINED IT ALL.

Hunter Talbot Grant III, sports figure du jour, wealthy beyond measure and disreputable by choice, has cultivated a reputation that masks the shadows of his past. When the opportunity to ensure financial destruction for Jason Treffen arises, he can’t refuse. But first he must shake off the woman sent to tame him!

Zoe Brook, PR agent extraordinaire, never fails to transform a tarnished star. And Hunter’s no different. Except there’s a catch. Beneath their scorching mutual attraction, Zoe has a secret—she’s also been on the wrong side of Jason Treffen, and she has as much of a taste for revenge as Hunter does!

Scandalize Me by Caitlin Crews

I get twitchy spelling Scandalise with a Z!

This is the second book in the Fifth Avenue trilogy. I think people should read them in order, because they are connected stories, all based on the suicide of an abused woman ten years ago.

With this trilogy, the Harlequin Presents line has done something really different. This line is defined by rich and powerful men, but instead of the standard (not particularly nice!) tycoons and sheikhs, these men are more realistic, more along the lines of powerful men you might actually find in real life. On top of that, the women are strong. In the case of the heroine of this book, she is also an extremely successful career woman in her own right.

I really like the style of these books. I’m not usually a reader who goes for the whole rich and powerful cliché in contemporary fiction, but these are much more approachable reads.

Caitlin Crews is an author I’ve read before. Her books tend to feel very “wordy”. Of course, the word length is no different to other books in the line, but they feel that way. There’s a great deal more in the way of internal monologues and thinking about emotions than there is dialogue. I know she’s a favourite author among many, but I found the first book in this series – by Maisey Yates – to be more interesting.

Overall, this is turning out to be a very interesting series. I’m glad the newer, less sleazy cover designs convinced me to take a chance on a type of story I usually run away from!

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.

The Week: 19th – 25th May

Euromaidan Kyiv Ukraine Tryzub

I’m back reading my historical books, and as usual loving some parts and then ten seconds later being driven mad by the anachronisms and Americanisms! I need to move on and read another genre for a while, I think. Variety is definitely the key to staying sane.

It’s Ukrainian election day, and we’ll be spending it protesting outside the Russian embassy in Canberra. People are coming from all over Australia for the demonstration. This was not a good week for Ukraine. Many Ukrainian soldiers were killed. It could all be resolved if Russia just pulled their troops out of Ukraine and stopped reminiscing about the Soviet Union, but Putin is too much of a megalomaniac for that to happen.

I’ve got to say, it’s unsurprising but also disheartening how many stupid, rude people there are on the internet, and how any mention of Ukraine brings them crawling out of the woodwork.

My review of 200 Harley Street: Her Perfect Stranger by Carol Marinelli

harlequinmedicalromance

My review of Scars of Betrayal by Sophia James

Scars of Betrayal by Sophia James

My review of 200 Harley Street: The Proud Italian by Alison Roberts

200 Harley Street The Proud Italian by Alison Roberts

My review of Testing the Limits by Kira Sinclair

Testing the Limits by Kira Sinclair

My review of Fortune’s Prince by Allison Leigh

Fortune’s Prince by Allison Leigh

My review of Avenge Me by Maisey Yates

 Avenge Me (Fifth Avenue #1) by Maisey Yates

Avenge Me by Maisey Yates

Avenge Me (Fifth Avenue #1) by Maisey Yates

Book #1 in the Fifth Avenue trilogy.

TEN YEARS AGO ONE DEVASTATING NIGHT CHANGED EVERYTHING FOR AUSTIN, HUNTER AND ALEX. NOW THEY MUST EACH PLAY THEIR PART IN THE REVENGE AGAINST THE ONE MAN WHO RUINED IT ALL.

Austin Treffen was born into a world of privilege, but behind its gilded doors lies a corruption so sordid New York’s elite would never believe it—especially as his infamous philanthropic father is at its core! With everything he believed in shattered, how can Austin take down his father—risking his family name and those he loves—without any proof?

Until one earth-shattering night with Katy Michaels unlocks not only their deepest, most passionate desires but also the key to bringing Jason Treffen’s reign to an end. But with an intense sexual attraction that combines a heady mix of exquisite pleasure and sublime pain, will they satiate their thirst for revenge and each other…or lose themselves forever in the darkness?

Avenge Me (Fifth Avenue #1) by Maisey Yates

Sarah’s name would have been in it ten years ago. So many women. “Binders full of them,” she said.

Wow, what happened to the Harlequin Presents line?! New (better) covers, modern characters, feminism and a distinct lack of the usual imaginary Prince Antonio Savage Delgado of Made Up Country on the Mediterranean who demands an heir from his virginal stable hand secretary!

I had no plans to read this series, because Presents books aren’t usually my thing, but I’m glad I took a chance. This is a steamier book than I expected, but it has a strong heroine who, yes, comes from the usual Presents background (poor, down on her luck) but who is in many ways an equal to our rich and powerful hero.

There’s a prequel to these books, but at the time I read the review copies it wasn’t available. It might be interesting to read it first.

All three books in this series are connected to one horrible event ten years ago, where this hero’s father drove his heroine’s sister to commit suicide. I think the story was resolved enough in this book to make it a complete read, but there is definitely room for more of the story in the next books.

A couple of things I wasn’t so sure about were some of the more typical Presents aspects.

The first was Austin making Katy lose her job (and then her apartment) so that she had to move in with him for protection. I wasn’t thrilled about that!

The second was the fast relationship and obligatory declarations of love and the marriage proposal at the end. It happened FAST. But then this is pretty much a staple of these books – it might even be expected by both editors and readers.

However Avenge Me was a nice surprise. The contemporary settings and dialogue pretty much blew away the old-fashioned feel these books usually have. I immediately downloaded the next book in the series (written by a different author) when I was done with this one.

Oh, and I love this:

“Have you ever heard anything stupider than that?”

“Other than you saying stupider?” Hunter asked.

LOVE it. It has been driving me crazy how many people now think stupider is an acceptable word to use!

I’d love it if this is the way of the future for Harlequin Presents.

 

Review copy provided by NetGalley.