Adventure into Romance with Shelley Munro
News About Shelley Blog Books Extras Contact Small Font Large Font

Archive for 'review'

Review – Death Below Stairs by Jennifer Ashley

Death Below StairsDeath Below Stairs is a historical mystery and it is set during the reign of Queen Victoria (after Albert died). It is the first in a new series.

Here’s the blurb:

Highly sought-after young cook Kat Holloway takes a position in a Mayfair mansion and soon finds herself immersed in the odd household of Lord Rankin. Kat is unbothered by the family’s eccentricities as long as they stay away from her kitchen, but trouble finds its way below stairs when her young Irish assistant is murdered.

Intent on discovering who killed the helpless kitchen maid, Kat turns to the ever-capable Daniel McAdam, who is certainly much more than the charming delivery man he pretends to be. Along with the assistance of Lord Rankin’s unconventional sister-in-law and a mathematical genius, Kat and Daniel discover that the household murder was the barest tip of a plot rife with danger and treason—one that’s a threat to Queen Victoria herself.

Review:

The main protagonist is Kat Holloway, a cook in Lord Rankin’s employ. Kat is new to the job, and she takes her work seriously. Her assistant is found dead—murdered—in the pantry, and Kat feels responsible for the girl. Everyone thinks the murder is a robbery gone wrong, but Kat thinks differently and starts to investigate. Along the way, she recruits people to help her learn who murdered Sinead—-her friend the mysterious Daniel, another friend of Daniel’s who is a whiz with math and accounts, and the eccentric Lady Cynthia who prefers to dress as a man.

Kat is a professional when it comes to her cooking and this book is full of interesting cooking details plus mentions of what the family ate for dinner. I enjoyed these fascinating snippets just as much as the mystery part of the plot.

The characters are fascinating since they run the gamut of social ladder, yet they pull together to solve the mystery of Sinead’s murder. Kat has strength and integrity while Daniel is a man of mystery. He loves and cares for his teenage son and it’s obvious he has a thing for Kat. The romantic thread between the two is subtle, but it’s there and made me happy.

The characters pull this story along and kept the plot moving at a steady pace until the climax when we discover why the murder happened and who did it. The plot kept me guessing and the way it intersected with the politics and problems of the time made this an entertaining read. If you enjoy historical mysteries with well-rounded characters and a fast-moving plot, you’ll enjoy Death Below Stairs as much as I did.

Scandal Above Stairs, book two in the series released recently, and I enjoyed that one just as much.

For a quick introduction to Kat and Daniel you can also check out A Soupcon of Poison, which is a short story.

A Soupcon of Poison – Amazon
Death Below Stairs – Amazon
Scandal Above Stairs – Amazon

Review: Collision Point by Lora Leigh #review #newrelease

Collision Point by Lora LeighFrom #1 bestselling author Lora Leigh comes Collision Point, part of the thrilling Brute Force series—packed with powerful men, steely women, and explosive passion.

SHE’S NOTHING BUT TROUBLE
Riordan Malone is more than a bodyguard. As an Elite Ops agent, he’s ripped, raged, and ready to rumble—a true warrior, inside and out. But no war zone can compare to the battle in Rory’s heart when he lays eyes on the only woman he’s ever loved—and thought he had lost forever. . .

HE’S EVERYTHING SHE NEEDS
As the daughter of a crime lord, Amara Resnova has endured the cruelty of her father’s enemies—and has tried to escape that world ever since. Now, she must reach out to the one man who saved her life, even if she’s never forgiven him for breaking her heart. But Amara is tougher today than she was then. She’s also more desirable to Rory—and dangerous to love. Can he protect her from her father’s enemies without surrendering to his own passions…or will love seal their fate for good?

Review:

Lora Leigh is one of the first authors I read when it came to erotic romance, and although I haven’t read her books in recent years, I grabbed the opportunity to review this one.

In a brief precis of the plot we have Amara Resnova who was abducted and badly injured six months ago. Also injured during her rescue, we have her lover Riordan Malone, soldier and protector. We meet our two lovers when they come together again. Amara doesn’t recall much about what happened or who did it and while Riordan knows more, he’s playing his cards close to his chest.

Amara is strong and determined. She’s feisty too, and her father’s overprotectiveness drives her crazy. She also has vulnerability due to the abduction. Now someone is attacking her anew and she seeks help from Riordan, bringing them together again.

Riordan is strong, arrogant and confident. He knows what he wants and that is Amara. He is determined to keep her safe. He and her father know more about her abduction, but they’ve been advised to let her remember on her own.

Emotion drips off the page, and the heat between Amara and Riordan is combustible. They push each other, yet the love between them is palpable, especially toward the end of the book.

The layers of this story unpeel slowly as Amara recalls the things that happened before and during her abduction. Danger lurks in this suspenseful read and everything comes to a suspenseful climax. The epilogue gives us the seeds of the next romance in this action-packed series.

There is a fated mates feel to this series that I like very much. I mean who doesn’t want to find the soul that completes them? This is the first book in a new series, but it feels as if it is the second because it ties into another one of Ms. Leigh’s series.

My one criticism is that the type of characters and the dynamics between them are very similar to those in other Lora Leigh romances. While I enjoy the bossy arrogance of the hero and the spirited heroine, I’d love to see something slightly different from Ms. Leigh.

I enjoyed this romance for its suspense, the heat and the emotion, and I ended it wondering why I’d drifted away from this author. Big mistake! She writes a steamy and highly enjoyable, highly emotional romance. 4 stars.

Grab your copy today!

Review: First Touch by Laurelin Paige #review

first touch cover

Laurelin Paige is a new-to-me author, and I enjoyed this book very much.

Blurb:

When Emily Wayborn goes home to visit her mom while on hiatus from her hit TV show, she receives a voicemail from her former best friend, Amber. Though the two were once notorious party girls, they haven’t spoken in years. Although the message might sound benign to anyone else, Amber uses a safe word that Emily recognizes, a word they always used to get out of sticky situations during their wild days. And what’s more chilling than the voicemail: it turns out that Amber has gone missing.

Determined to track down her friend, Emily follows a chain of clues that lead her to the enigmatic billionaire Reeve Sallis, a hotelier known for his shady dealings and play boy reputation. Now, in order to find Amber, Emily must seduce Reeve to learn his secrets and discover the whereabouts of her friend. But as she finds herself more entangled with him, she finds she’s drawn to Reeve for more than just his connection to Amber, despite her growing fear that he may be the enemy. When she’s forced to choose where her loyalty lies, how will she decide between saving Amber and saving her heart?

Review:

Emily Wayborn teamed up with her friend Amber when she was a teenager. Together, they sold their company and their bodies in exchange for somewhere to live and other material possessions. Then, one day, everything changed. Six years later, Emily receives a phone call from Amber, one in which Amber utters their secret code word that means she’s in danger and requires help. Thus starts Emily’s journey into the world of wealthy hotelier and mystery man Reeve Sallis as she searches for her missing friend.

Things I enjoyed about this book:

1. The main characters, Emily and Reeve. Emily is a multi-layered character with a definite dark side while the reader is never really sure about Reeve. We’re kept guessing. Is he a sexy, bad boy or is he a sinister murderer?

2. The author peels back the layers of the plot with a delicate touch, making it a real page turner.

3. The element of danger. As I mentioned, because this book is first person, we never know exactly what is going on with Reeve. He’s a real mystery man and he has dark and alpha tendencies.

4. The author is an excellent writer with an enticing style and voice. She pours on the emotion.

Things that gave me pause:

1. A couple of the love scenes were very dark and hard to read, although I will point out that they worked within the context of the story.

2. The ending. It really sucked for me and the cliff-hanger left me thinking, what? Now I don’t know anything more than I did when I started reading. While it’s obvious that this story will continue, the ending left me frustrated.

When it came to weighing up the story as a whole, I decided on 4 stars. If the ending had have been different, the rating would have been higher. Still, if you’re a fan of contemporaries with a darker edge, and you don’t mind a cliff-hanger, give this one a try. It’s an intriguing page-turner.

Review copy received via Netgalley.

Purchase: Amazon | Kobo | iBooks |

Review: Hard to Forget by Bella Jewel

I enjoyed the first two books in Bella Jewel’s loosely connected series, Alpha’s Heart. Hard to Fight and Hard to Break were both great books, so I was excited to read Hard to Forget, the final book in the series.

HardToForget200x300

HARD TO FORGET

An Alpha’s Heart Novel, #3

By Bella Jewel

St. Martin’s Paperbacks

On Sale: December 15, 2015

eBook only

$3.99 USD

Goodreads

About The Book

The third book in the sexy Alpha’s Heart series by USA Today bestseller Bella Jewel.

Delaney, a professional bodyguard, has spent years trying to prove herself in a male dominated industry.  Now she’s facing her greatest challenge yet. 

Bad boy billionaire Jax Shields has made plenty of enemies on his climb to the top, but being in the wrong place at the wrong time has put his life at risk. Now he’s putting his life in the hands of Delaney and her team. He demands the best in everything, and he doesn’t think she has what it takes to protect him. He’s also made it clear he’d rather have her on her back then covering his. Will Delaney be able to prove herself to the most arrogant-and devastatingly handsome-man she’s ever met?

Review

Delaney wanted to be in the military but bad eyesight means she needs to think of an alternative occupation. Her second choice is to become a bodyguard and she gives her all to become a fully-fledged bodyguard. She works for Thorpe Security, and her boss says she must get the better of him or a senior bodyguard before she can do a job on her own. Delaney is determined to get there, and when she finally does, she’s thrilled, but she hadn’t counted on falling for the man she’s paid to guard or that he might not want a woman guarding his body.

This book is written in first person

Things I liked about this book:

1. Ms. Jewel always writes heroines with unusual occupations, and this book is no exception. It’s a fun read watching Delaney go after her dreams in the male dominated bodyguard field.

2. It’s a page-turner. This was a book that kept me turning the pages in order to learn what happened next. It’s easy and pleasurable reading.

3. The hero, Jax. An alpha hottie with an attitude to match. I hearted him.

Things that didn’t work quite as well for me:

1. There were a few things that happened in the plot that made me think “Really?” Some of the plot edges toward over the top. That said, they didn’t bother me enough to stop reading.

Ms. Jewel takes an unusual occupation for the heroine and makes it work. A fun, sexy read with likeable characters and a suspense element. Recommended.

Note: review copy received via NetGalley.

About The Author

Bella Jewel is a USA Today bestselling author. She lives in North Queensland where she’s working on her next novel.

Social Links

Author Website | Goodreads | Facebook | SMP Romance

Buy Links  Amazon | iBooks | B&N | Kobo |

Review: Flowers From the Storm by Laura Kinsale

Flowers From The StormI read Flowers from the Storm many years ago and loved it. This year, I noticed there was an audio version, and I grabbed a copy. I wanted to see if the story had stood the test of time and was as good as I remembered. It was narrated by Nicholas Boulton.

Here is the blurb:

The Duke of Jervaulx was brilliant – and dangerous. Considered dissolute, reckless, and extravagant, he was transparently referred to as the "D of J" in scandal sheets. But sometimes the most womanizing rakehell can be irresistible, and even his most causal attentions fascinated the sheltered Maddy Timms.

Then one fateful day she receives the shocking news – the duke is lost to the world. And Maddy knows it is her destiny to help him and her only chance to find the true man behind the wicked facade.

But she never dreamed her gentle, healing touch would alter his life and her own so completely – and bind them together in need, desire…and love.

Review:

The Duke of Jervaulx is a scoundrel. Quaker, Maddy Timms knows this, yet the man still fascinates her. Christian, the duke is suffering from headaches, and when he’s called out by an enraged husband, he collapses. In truth, he has suffered a cerebral haemorrhage. The doctors and his relatives think he is a lunatic and he is sent to an asylum. The asylum, an old country estate, is run by Maddy Timms’s Uncle Edward, and she is astonished to discover the duke is a patient. Most people think he is dead.

The duke is confused and finds it difficult to speak and communicate. He’s chained or bound in a straight jacket and despairs of ever getting out of the asylum where his family have sent him. His mother, sisters and brothers-in-law are after his money and property and are willing to have him legally declared a lunatic to seize the prize. Maddy spends time with Christian, nurses him and gradually, she gets him to trust her. He falls in love with her, but Maddy tries to stick to her Quaker faith.

Things I loved about this story:

1. The plot.

There are hundreds of historical romances featuring dukes. Mostly, the heroines are young girls of good families. Flowers from the Storm has a duke. He’s intelligent and enjoys advanced mathematics, he likes hot chocolate and he has a terrible reputation. He’s having an affair with a married woman. Maddy is a Quaker. She speaks with thee and thous, she dresses plainly and believes all are equal. No courtesy titles for her. Everyone is addressed in the same manner. Much of the story takes place in the asylum and the duke is unable to communicate. The plot is so far removed from balls and the London season that it stands out as original.

2. The characters.

The duke is arrogant even though he can’t communicate. He’s in a dangerous position and fears spending the rest of his life in the asylum. His family certainly want him there. Maddy is prim and proper and the contrast between the hero and heroine really works. Watching them fall in love is amazing.

3. The sense of urgency.

Throughout the story, Christian’s family want to take control. Maddy needs to help him prepare to pass the competency hearing. There is a sense of the ticking clock.

4. The narrator.

He was very good and did a great job.

Things I didn’t like quite as much:

1. Maddy’s insistence on sticking to Quaker ways. I think it is hard for the modern reader to understand her insistence on sticking to the plain way of life and her beliefs. Most readers would wonder why she held out for so long and didn’t return the duke’s love. The reader needs to buy into her strong beliefs, I think, and trust that she will do the right thing, no matter what.

Conclusion:

This is a stand-out historical romance and one that deserves all the awards and excellent reviews. The audio version was just as good as the book I read all those years ago. I loved it. Highly recommended.

Authors, Grab a Coffee and Tackle Social Media

Last year, author Amy Denim visited my blog with a post about Business Plans for Writers. It’s an excellent post and I recommend that you check it out. After hosting Amy, I decided to check out some of her other books, and I purchased The Coffee Break Guide to Social Media for Writers: How to Succeed on Social Media and Still Have Time to Write (Coffee Break Guides Book 1).

Coffee-Break-Guide-to-Socia-200x300I read it during my recent holiday, hoping for help, since I’m struggling with social media. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, and I don’t have time to get sucked down an internet hole!

Amy’s book covers all types of social media, some of which I’ve never heard of. It’s easy to understand and set out well. The book starts with an introduction and explains the concept of the coffee break mentality. We take short breaks for coffee in order to relax and recharge before we start our writing session again, and Amy says this is the length of time we should spend on social media – five to ten minutes at a time.

With the swift-moving world of social media, some of the information is slightly out-of-date, but that doesn’t take away from the usefulness of this book. There is a list of resources, an example of a social media plan plus a glossary of social media terms.

This book is perfect for the beginning author who wants to solidify their position. While I’m not new to social media, I found this book very useful and busily bookmarked sections to refer back to at a later time. I’m a convert and intend to put what I’ve learned into practice this year.

Amy has written several other books in her Coffee Break Guide series, and posts useful promotional tips at her website Coffee Break Social Media.

Purchase The Coffee Break Guide to Social Media for Writers: How to Succeed on Social Media and Still Have Time to Write (Coffee Break Guides Book 1)

Other Coffee Break Books:

The Coffee Break Guide to Business Plans for Writers: The Step-by-Step Guide to Taking Control of Your Writing Career (Coffee Break Guides Book 2)

The Coffee Break Guide to Self Publishing: The Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Writing, Publishing, and Promoting Your Own Books (Coffee Break Guides Book 3)

I recommend The Coffee Break Guide to Social Media and urge you to check out Amy’s post on Business Plans.

Lone Wolf and Yellowstone National Park

Fotolia_303874_L

I’m visiting Harlie’s books and talking about wolves, Yellowstone National Park and my gay romance Lone Wolf. Check out the review for Lone Wolf and enter the giveaway while you’re there.

Follow on Bloglovin

Review: Knit Your Socks on Straight by Alice Curtis

Straight Socks cover

Back Cover:

Not interested in knitting in the round? Wary of double-pointed needles? Now you can knit comfortable, attractive socks on straight needles. Alice Curtis shows you the secret to straight-needle sock knitting with her elegant technique for turning the necessary seam into an appealing design element.

Step-by-step instructions and photographs introduce the stitches and explain how to make a beautiful seam. Twenty unique patterns feature a variety of yarn weights and motifs and include instructions for a range of sizes.

Review:

This book contains instructions for making socks on straight knitting needles—an innovative idea for sure! There’s the basic sock pattern plus nineteen others for keen knitters. I was thrilled with the way this book is set out in a clear and concise manner with little tips and troubleshooting throughout. Details of gauge and pattern notes are shown with each pattern. The photographs illustrating the socks and the different methods used in the making of each pair of socks are beautiful and enticing.

The socks come in different sizes, which is a bonus for me with my big feet!

This book made me want to start knitting immediately. The patterns are suitable for immediate to advanced knitters. Knit Your Socks on Straight would make a great addition to the library of keen knitters and an excellent gift for the knitter in your family. Highly recommended.

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Knit Your Socks on Straight

Review: Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm ForceStorm Force

Omega Force #1

Susannah Sandlin

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Date of Publication: March 19, 2013, in serial form for Kindle; July 9, 2013, in print, digital, and audio.

ISBN: 978-1477807576

Word Count: approx. 90,000

Amazon

Book Description:

As leader of the elite counter-terrorism team Omega Force, former army ranger Jack “Kell” Kellison is always focused on getting the job done. So when a Houston high-rise is bombed and the governor killed or missing, Kell’s mission is clear: infiltrate the group suspected of the bombing and neutralize the threat by any means necessary. But once Kell meets beautiful chief suspect Mori Chastaine, he realizes there’s more to this case than meets the eye. And more to Mori than any man—any human man—could imagine.

Mori Chastaine is running out of options. Suspected for a crime she didn’t commit, forced into a marriage she doesn’t want, she sees no escape—until Kell walks through her door. A lifetime hiding her true nature warns her Kell might not be who he seems. But he could be the only one able to help save more innocent humans from becoming pawns in an ancient paranormal power play. If Mori reveals her secret, will Kell join her fight? Or will she become his next target?

Review – Storm Force by Susannah Sandlin

Storm Force is episode one of a serial.

A terrorist attack starts Kell and his paranormal team, Omega Force, on a new assignment. He’s new to the job and new to the reality of shifters inhabiting the world along with humans. The team members are feeling their way and gradually growing into a cohesive force. Mori Chastaine is part of an environmental action group who are suspected of the terrorist attack. Kell arrives to join the group and hopefully learn the truth from the inside. Meanwhile the FBI arrest Mori.

This first episode introduces us to a lot of characters, both human and paranormal, plus the aftermath of the terrorist attack. There’s a lot happening in a short time. The last chapter really shook things up, raising my curiosity. I ended the serial thinking, “What????” so the author did her job well. She’s made me ponder what happens next. How will Omega Force handle the situation? What happens to Mori, to Kell? I’m presuming that there might be a romantic connection between Mori and Kell, but so far it’s not hinted at. I’d definitely like to read the next episode.

This serial was provided by the author in exchange for a honest review.

clip_image004_thumbAbout the Author:

Susannah Sandlin is the author of paranormal romance set in the Deep South, where there are always things that go bump in the night. A journalist by day, Susannah grew up in Alabama reading the gothic novels of Susan Howatch and the horror fantasy of Stephen King. (Um…it is fantasy, right?) The combination of Howatch and King probably explains a lot. Currently a resident of Auburn, Alabama, Susannah has also lived in Illinois, Texas, California, and Louisiana.

Website: http://www.susannahsandlin.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susannahsandlin

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/susannahsandlin

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5828129.Susannah_Sandlin

Indie Bound: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781612183541

New Episode Release Schedule for Storm Force

March 19–episode 1

March 26–episode 2

April 2–episode 3

April 9–episode 4

April 16–episode 5

April 23–episode 6

April 30–episode 7

May 7–episode 8

May 14–episode 9

The release date for the complete book is July 9.

Recipe Review: Fix-It and Forget-It Vegetable Soups, Stews and Chilis by Phyllis Pellman Good

Fix It and Forget It Vegetarian Soups, Stews and Chilis

Today I’m reviewing a vegetarian cook book.

Blurb:

Fifty scrumptious and savory soup recipes for any season

These time-tested, easy-to-manage recipes for soups of all flavors have one thing in common: loads of healthy vegetables. Whether you’re looking for a hearty supper or a light weekday lunch, Fix-It and Forget-It Vegetarian Soups offers delicious choices to make in your slow cooker or on your stovetop, such as:

Vegan Chili·      Corn Chowder·      Homemade Vegetable Soup·      Sweet Potato and Ginger Soup

And much more!

Review:

As the title suggests, this book contains a collection of vegetarian recipes for soups, stews and chilis. The recipes are from home cooks and most of them are perfect to cook in a crockpot/slow cooker.

What I liked about this book:

1. The recipes give an indication of preparation and cooking times.

2. The ingredients were all things I’d find in my fridge or pantry.

3. As a New Zealander I often find American recipes use measurements that I need to convert. This book is easy to follow with no maths required. Measurements used are cups and spoons.

4. The recipes were appealing. I’d be happy to try most of them, and they weren’t overly complicated.

5. They’re mostly recipes that can be made ahead and are perfect for busy cooks.

6. It’s a vegetarian cook book!

What I didn’t like about this book:

1. The title suggests that there are soups, stews and chilli recipes. While this is true, the majority of the recipes are for soup with only about four chilli recipes and one or two stews.

2. Not every recipe has a photo to go with it. I think that most cooks like a photo so that they can compare their final dish with the one in the recipe book. At least that’s what I do when I’m cooking. I like to think that my dish turns out just like the one in the book.

Conclusion:

This is a handy and inexpensive book to have in your cooking library. It would be a great gift for a busy parent or maybe a student who flats and doesn’t have much time to make nutritious dishes. It would also be excellent for a beginner cook since the instructions are clear and concise.

Received via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Purchase Fix-It and Forget-it Vegetable Soups, Stews and Chilis



  • Page 1 of 2
  • 1
  • 2
  • >