Thursday, August 25, 2016

Review: Speakeasy: A Novella (Speakeasy, #1) by A.M. Dunnewin


Print Length: 117 pages
Publisher: A.M Dunnewin (December 21, 2011)

From Goodreads.com: 
The novella is centered on Eddie Durante, owner of a speakeasy who's supported by his mobster uncle—the boss of the Durante family. Eddie is a young widower after his family's rival, the Caprice family, murdered his wife over a territory dispute. After devising a plan that retaliated against four of the rivaling capos, Eddie is left with the daunting task to try and move on. That is, until he's notified that the Caprices have put a hit man in the speakeasy—and Eddie's name is on the list. But things take an unexpected turn when Eddie instead starts to find the dead bodies of his relatives, the ones who had helped in the retaliation. 

Behind the backdrop of jazz music and glistening flappers, murder after murder begins to unravel as revenge takes center stage, and Eddie soon learns that some secrets can’t be taken to the grave.


                                                         *******************

My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

For a novella, this story sure turned out to be full of action and surprises. In fact, it was so good that I read it in one sitting - I just couldn't put it down without seeing what came next. The action begins immediately and doesn't let up until the shocking ending. Set in one of my favorite eras (the roaring twenties) - the fact that all of the action takes place in a speakeasy made it all that much more enjoyable. 

Although the ending was a bit predictable, I still enjoyed the way the author carried it off. I would read more from this author, and I think those who enjoy a fast paced gangster story will enjoy this one as well. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                                          ********************
Speakeasy: A Novella is available from Amazon.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Review: Bella Vol. 1 (Sagatori Family Saga #1) by Kimberly Blalock


Print Length: 120 pages
Published: December 21, 2015

From Goodreads.com: My name is Isabella Sagatori. To my father I’m a princess, to others I’m an opportunity. They call me the mafia princess. 

My life had been beautiful, I’d never wanted for anything. I took each day as it came and embraced it with Insight, laughter, and love. I chose not to live in the dark shadows, 
until now. 
Skip ahead and here I am running for my life, for my father’s life, and for my freedom. Darkness lingered and my father offered my hand to the boss of the Chicago outfit to ensure my protection. 
Jax Moretti came into my life as a hero and then claimed me as his own. He claimed he'd only wanted to protect me, but the dark shadows that lingered in his told a different story. 
Nothing that belongs to this earth is ever free. Until I met Jax Moretti I couldn’t have known how true that could be.
                                                         *******************

My Rating: 1 star out of 5

When I first started reading this, I wasn't aware of the fact that it was considered a "serial" novel. In my opinion most (if not all) serial novels are simply a money grab by the author. Instead of putting together one full length novel with the option to continue the series, these stories (again in my opinion) are nothing more than new chapters added to the original story under the guise of the next "book" in the serial. Sometimes you get an author who is able to pull this off.

However, that was not the case with this story. 

It started off interestingly enough with Jax coming to Bella's rescue after she is supposedly kidnapped by a man who believes himself to be her intended. However, that was probably the most interesting part in this entire story. After that, the story completely seems to fall apart. There is absolutely no romance whatsoever between Jax and Bella. In fact, I found myself wondering just why he did agree to marry her if not to claim the "throne" so to speak when her father passes on. There is very little getting to know these characters, and even the couple of would be major plot developments in this story seemed under played. I wish the author had taken her time and given us a fully developed story. 

Overall - This is not a series I will be continuing with. I simply cannot justify spending two dollars for an ebook that is only 70 pages long. This one was just not good enough to spark my interest in these characters. 

                                                          ********************

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Review: The Cinderella Governess (The Governess Tales #1) by Georgie Lee


Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Harlequin (August 23, 2016)

From Goodreads.com:  Joanna Radcliff has always dreamed of the day when she'd become a governess and finally be part of a proper family. Except, instead of a warm welcome, she's given a frosty reception by her employers—and her charges! The only person who pays her any attention is the dashing Major Preston… 

Despite their stolen conversations and tantalizing glances in the ballroom, Luke and Joanna know that their stations in life are just too different. But when this Cinderella governess's life is transformed and their roles are reversed, will they risk everything to be together?



                                                         *******************

My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

When I saw the title, I was thinking it was going to be more a "rags to riches" kind of story than one that left me thinking it was more an attempt at giving the Cinderella story a regency twist. 

To begin with, I felt as though the author took the "Cinderella" vibe a little too far by giving Joanna the employer equivalent of a wicked stepmother and wicked step-sister. In fact the first time we meet the oldest daughter Frances, she is angry with Joanna for interrupting her tryst with someone (never mind the fact Joanna was in the room before Frances and her admirer come in). Added to that, the first time Luke and Joanna set eyes on each other is a ball where Joanna is dressed much nicer than she should have been considering her position. 

That aside, this story had its moments. 

I enjoyed Luke's character the most out of all of them. He came home from war to do his duty to his family, but once home began to work towards bettering the lives of his soldiers families. He was one of the few people who didn't overlook Joanna due to her station in life, and who actively sought out her company. The attraction between them was undeniable, and I enjoyed watching the romance also bloom.

However - the constant back and forth between 'we will make this work', to 'we can't be friends' was almost enough to give the reader whiplash. I understand a romance given the difference in their stations was something that was just not done, but this was more than that. Just when it would seem as though these two were able to get their happily ever after (especially when Joanna's true heritage was revealed), the author would throw another twist into the story continuing to drag it out. To be honest, as much as I did enjoy the author's writing style - I was glad when this one finally ended. 

Overall, I believe this story  may still appeal to those who enjoy historical novels. I enjoyed the author's writing style enough that I would give them another chance. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                                          ********************
The Cinderella Governess is available from Amazon.com

Monday, August 22, 2016

Review: The Bargain (Vargas Cartel #1) by Lisa Cardiff


Print Length: 186 pages
Publisher: Limitless Publishing LLC (March 17, 2015)

From Goodreads.com: Three weeks, twenty-one days, or five hundred and four hours…

That’s all it took to derail my life and twist it into something unrecognizable. One moment I had Evan, the man I thought I’d marry. The next moment shattered the illusion.

Now I have no one.

Except him. 

Ryker Vargas, and I don’t really have him. He’d never belong to any one but himself. He sucked me into a web of lies and now it’s too late. I took the bait. I’m a prisoner of the Vargas Cartel.

I never thought I’d be another statistic, another girl abducted in a foreign country, my entire future washed away by an impulsive, split second in time.

But it’s true. 

My name is Hattie Covington and I’m a statistic, but statistics never tell the whole story.

                                                         *******************

My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

This is one of those stories that I am 100% certain will get a lot of 4 and 5 star reviews. It started off strong, the premise and setting were both unique, and the ending came with a twist I did not expect. However - the entire "romance" aspect of this story is so pathetically unbelievable that in my opinion, it cost the story an entire star. 

I understand that Stockholm Syndrome is a real thing, and that could very well have been what was going on here. However the fact that Hattie fancies herself in love with him after everything he put her through? There were a lot of other ways that he could have gone about this kidnapping that would not have landed her in the middle of a war between cartels. This stunt could have very easily ended Hattie's life, but did anyone care? Also, I don't believe that Ryker had any sort of feelings for this girl. He avoids her for days to "protect her" when in reality he wants to keep her for himself? I found myself shaking my head more often than once when trying to bring back the "reality" of this story.

The strong writing style of this author just could not save the weak romance. She would have been better off keeping it out of the picture until the next installment. Then perhaps it would have seemed more realistic than it did. 

Overall - I probably will continue on with this series at a later date if just to see if my assumption of the author's ability to make a strong story is true.

                                                          ********************
The Bargain (Vargas Cartel #1) is available from Amazon.com


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Review: Too Wicked To Kiss (Scoundrels & Secrets #1) by Erica Ridley


Print Length: 398 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press (July 19, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: 
His Touch Holds Her Captive. . .
From the ravens circling its spires to the gargoyles adorning its roof, Blackberry Manor looms ominously over its rambling grounds. And behind its doors, amid the flickering shadows and secret passageways, danger lies in wait. . . 

To His Every Dark Desire. . .
Evangeline Pemberton has been invited to a party at the sprawling estate of reclusive Gavin Lioncroft, who is rumored to have murdered his parents. Initially, Gavin's towering presence and brusque manner instill fear in Evangeline. . .until his rakish features and seductive attentions profoundly arouse her.

But when a guest is murdered, Evangeline is torn. Could the man to whom she is so powerfully drawn, also be a ruthless killer?



                                                         *******************

My Rating: 4 star out of 5

This isn't the first story I've read by Ms.Ridley - and it certainly won't be the last! Each story I read by her gets better and better, and Too Wicked to Kiss kept me absolutely captivated. 

This was however the first novel I've read where the heroine is clairvoyant, so it was interesting to see how she used her "gift" to help people (at first), and then almost horrifying to see how people kept trying to use that against her for their own gain. In fact, that gift and the exploitation of it is one of the reasons I enjoyed the story as much as I did. 

Some of the characters are a bit too "over the top", but somehow the author made it not only work, but work in such a way that once the killer was revealed, I found myself sitting there with my mouth hanging open trying to figure out how I didn't see that one coming! 

Overall - I was intrigued enough by this story to continue on with at least the second one in this series, and I would recommend this novel to anyone who either is a fan of historical romances, enjoys a good "gothic" style romance, or who doesn't mind a bit of the "unknown" playing a factor in their stories. 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                                          ********************
Too Wicked To Kiss (Scoundrels & Secrets #1) is available from Amazon.com

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Review: To Kiss a Thief (Runaway Desires #1) by Susanna Craig


Print Length: 264 pages
Publisher: Lyrical Press (August 16, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: Can a marriage made for money blossom into something more?

Sarah Sutliffe, Lady Fairfax, dreams of love—until she overhears her new husband proclaim his heart will never be hers. Devastated, she offers no defense when a sapphire necklace disappears during a ball and she is accused of its theft. Instead, she runs away from the scandal…and the heartbreak.

St. John, Viscount Fairfax, has sworn never to love again. How could a mousy merchant’s daughter tempt him to break that vow? Three years after Sarah vanished, St. John uncovers her hiding place. Now, he’s out to prove she’s a thief before she steals his heart.

                                                         *******************

My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

It was hard to believe when reading this that it was a debut novel! I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this novel! It was set up nicely in the beginning (with the jewels going missing and the scandal in which that was discovered), and only continued to improve from there. It was obvious pretty much from the start that this author has a gift in story-telling. She was able to weave together the different events and locations in such a way that the reader actually felt that they were there. I could almost smell the salt water as they stood on the quay. 

As for the characters? It was evident during the entirety of this story, that there was character growth (even when it wasn't completely evident) - and I enjoyed watching these estranged lovers (for lack of a better word) find each other all over again. Even the "minor" characters (aka the ones who weren't in every scene) were well thought out and added something to the overall plot of the story. I especially liked the outright gossip that came about - everyone knows gossip was an important part of life back then (and even now), but these characters did nothing without a reason. And even that caught my interest - trying to figure out just why. 
Overall - I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a good historical novel . I would definitely read more by this author! 

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                                          ********************
To Kiss a Thief is available from Amazon.com


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Review: Lord of the Sea (Heroes of the Sea, #6) by Danelle Harmon


Print Length: 400 pages
Publisher: Danielle Harmon (June 30, 2016)

From Goodreads.com: 
A Sea Devil Who’s Reckless At Heart. . .

Captain Connor Merrick’s thirst for danger has brought him fame and fortune as one of the most brazenly successful privateers of the War of 1812. But deep beneath his swagger, derring-do and charm, the handsome American captain is hiding a devastating secret, and he’ll go to any lengths to protect it . . .

A Beauty Who Gets More Than She Bargained For. . . .

Rhiannon Evans has longed for an adventure—and a mysterious, dangerous man to sweep her off her feet. While enroute to the tropical paradise of Barbados, she never dreams that her heart will be captured by the dashing American privateer who rescues her from bloodthirsty pirates. Only Rhiannon can see beneath Connor’s reckless fa├žade to the man beneath. But when tragedy strikes, can Rhiannon’s love save Connor from himself? Or will the secret he guards so carefully, end up being the undoing of them both?


                                                         *******************

My Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Let me begin by saying that this was both my first time reading a story from this series, as well as it was my first time reading something by this author. That being said, I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything by not having read the other stories first. It was a completely stand alone novel, in fact it wasn't until the end that I discovered that there were other books detailing the relationships of some of the secondary characters. 

As for this book itself? I enjoyed it for the most part. Yes, there were some parts that seemed to drag on longer than others, and their relationship isn't one that I would call "red hot", but I did enjoy watching these two completely different people come together and make a life that included better and worse. Also the privateering scenes were a lot of fun (as was the banter between Connor and his shipmates). 

Also, bring tissues! I can't say too much without giving away a crucial plot line, but there were parts of this story that had me crying those big, fat ugly tears. It was a beautiful testament to love and family - and completely not what I was expecting. 

Overall, I would recommend this story to anyone who enjoys a well written story about life, and living every day to the fullest.
DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.

                                                          ********************
Lord of the Sea is available from Amazon.com