Gorgeous Aussie setting for this mid 19th Century romance

The StationThe Station by Keira Andrews

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a re-release of one of Keira’s earlier historical novels and, like the rest, it’s heavily endowed with quality research and a real sense of place.

The place in this instance is Australia, in the mid 19th century when the British were still sending their criminals out to the ‘penal colony’ and where many settlers were able to make new lives for themselves.

This very much reminded me of the film starring Hugh Jackman and Nicole Kidman where she blazes a trail as a woman station owner in the Aussie outback – just with the addition of a gay couple.

And what a couple, Irish stable master Patrick was the perfect older man for the young aristocratic Colin as they struggled to deal with the harsh realities of a thousand mile journey across New South Wales.

I loved them both so much. Patrick doing his best to stay unconnected, Colin so enthusiastic to learn all he could from the older man. Their relationship slow burns its way through blow jobs, hand jobs and frotting until it eventually explodes in a beautifully tender first time.

This is a gorgeous example of how to do a historical romance.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Dramatic suspense romance kicks off new series from Megan Erickson

Zero Hour (Wired & Dangerous #1)Zero Hour by Megan Erickson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

Full review when I’m at the laptop.

ETA: Right, I love Megan Erickson’s work, especially the Cyberlove Series with Santino Hassell. I’ve also enjoyed her MF stories, particularly her recent paranormal Blood Guard and The Gamers Series (a mix of MF/MM).

This one’s a romantic suspense thriller type hacker adventure. The tag line of The Fast and the Furious meeting Mr Robot’s not far wrong. But I wasn’t as enamoured of this one as I have been with others.

Roarke is all alpha male and there’s a lot of “you can’t do this because you’re a woman” tropes sent towards Wren. In this instance it’s because he’s always been in love with her but thinks he’s not worthy, but I find the back and fro-ing between two people who both fancy the pants off each other to be really annoying, no matter how well written.

This is, in essence, a revenge story with a romance attached to it, and while the romance was a fairly slow burn, the hacktivist part of the book did work well to an extent.

There was never really any explanation given for how a team of hackers and (essentially geeks) doing jobs like investigating dodgy companies and looking into criminal activity computer trails, also ended up with shit hot weapons skills.

I liked the banter between the team though. There was another strong female character in Marisol and Wren herself wasn’t a pushover, although again there was too much of the “I want him but I can’t have him” arsing about for my liking.

There’s also second hidden secret missions involving the same targets and the – lack of communication leading to mistakes and mix-ups – is another trope which needs handling with care. I get why authors use the “lone gun” element and, in this instance, it mostly paid off.

The ending sets up the rest of the series and I am looking forward to finding out more about the rest of the crew and I believe there’s at least two others planned (another MF and an MM).

#ARC received from the publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest and unbiased review

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More awesome literary influences in the latest Ward Security release

Dantès Unglued (Ward Security, #2)Dantès Unglued by Jocelynn Drake

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Count of Monte Cristo is one of my favourite novels in classic literature. The revenge story unfolds as Edmond Dantès systematically takes apart the lives of the four men who betrayed him more than a decade earlier.

In Dantès Unglued, the references are subtle, but they’re an underlying presence in the story which I won’t go into in huge detail as it would spoil the enjoyment for the reader going in blind, suffice it to say, I squealed a lot each time one popped up.

The tone in this is completely different than that of Psycho Romeo, the first in the Ward Security series offshoot of Jocelynn and Rinda’s Unbreakable Bonds Series (and if you’ve not read those, rectify that immediately!)

However, there’s plenty of elements which identify it as part of that world – the banter, the sense of friendship tying the men together, the volcanic hot sex and emotional connectivity between the main characters, and the fast-paced plot which anchors everything.

Quinn Lake’s been in and around the series since the beginning working for Rowe as one of his IT geniuses and we first met Shane as one of Jude Torres’ exes running the PI firm Hollis now works for.
Together they were explosive. The door scene in Psycho Romeo might just have met its match in the office chair scene in this one, Lordy when these two give in to that chemistry there really is magic happening in the periodic table!

The relationship happens over a fairly short period of time before the “I love you’s” but it absolutely works within the narrative. There is an instant attraction which is palpable and the two men are so staggered by how easily they slot together, it’s a no brainer really that they sweetly slide into a relationship without even realising it.

There’s no unnecessary drama which isn’t central to the book’s plot line (as opposed to the romance element) and the twist there is beautifully done, so major kudos to both authors for smoothly pulling it off (even when you know the book has that Edmond Dantès influence), that’s going some!

I loved the casual glimpses back into the rest of this expanded world, we see Jude and Snow, Ian and Hollis, hear about Lucas and Andrei’s upcoming wedding and have a memorable encounter with Rowe during this book. It’s great to keep that connection even though these spin-offs definitely have a tone and feel all of their own.

All I can say is this series, along with the earlier one it springs from, are right up at the top of my tree for books which do exactly what they say on the tin – provide me with a thrill of a ride and a beautiful romance with all the emotional feels I need alongside the (admittedly) hot sex.

#ARC kindly received from the authors in return for an honest and unbiased review.

PS: If you’ve never read  the book by Alexandre Dumas, père, it’s worth it. The 1975 film adaptation starring Richard Chamberlain is my favourite of the many.

The_Count_of_Monte-Cristo_(1975)
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I hate cliff hangers! This AU historical has two of them…

Lost_in_Time (1)Lost In Time by A.L. Lester

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Bloody cliff hangers, I hate them with a burning rage hotter than the sun. This book finishes with two of them – the paranormal element with a deadly creature on the run and also the potential relationship between Alec and Lew.

Other than that, it’s an intriguing story with its alternative reality London setting and the odd dislocation in time of one of the MCs in a post WWI setting.

I liked a lot of the narrative but there’s an awful lot of setting up going on in this book and no real conclusions for anything which left me a little frustrated and sometimes the time travel aspect of the story felt rushed or events just popped in to try highlight the “history”.

One example being the Sidney Street Siege, which oddly I know quite a bit about from my day job creating content for the new UK Police Memorial Trust’s digital version, which includes a history of British Policing.

I’m not sure why Sidney Street was picked as an event involving “creatures” given it was a straight up anarchist revolutionary conflict between Latvian criminals and the Met Police, which resulted in the deaths of three policemen, one gang member and a poor fireman who had the house collapse in him.

Hopefully book two will be out soon and we’ll get some further movement on the main thrust of the otherworldly elements. There was a sneak peek at the end of this one and Fenn from The Gate makes another appearance.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Whimsical and quirky – I absolutely loved this new book from Sam

Blackbird in the Reeds (The Rowan Harbor Cycle, #1)Blackbird in the Reeds by Sam Burns

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve never read Sam Burns before but this is her first venture into paranormal apparently anyway and all I can say is that she’s done a damn fine job with it.

It’s difficult to review this book without giving away too much but let’s just say whimsical and quirky could have been made to describe it.

There’s a gorgeous sense of the ethereal and an otherworldly air about everything which happens when Devon returns to his child good home after his gran calls to say she needs him.

From giant wolves, a mysterious tapestry, strange dreams and odd occurrences, it becomes clear there’s something just not quite normal about Rowan Harbour.

The sneak peek of book two just made me want to know more!

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Angsty but sweet debut romance from Londra Laine: Trigger Warning for sexual abuse

Forever With YouForever With You by Londra Laine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

There is a trigger warning on the release blitz for this book and there is a trigger warning in the ARC, but for some reason it’s missing from the Goodreads entry.

There is an on page flashback to a scene of serious sexual assault (view spoiler) which is described in detail and I think it needs to perhaps be a bit clearer on the listing here.

Now, having got that out of the way, this debut novel from Londra Laine is okay, it’s very dramatic and a wee but angsty but not overwhelmingly so.

There’s a 7-year-old who acts his age rather than being a genius, which is always a bonus, and there is a sweet romance in which it seems the fates continually conspire to put obstacles in the way.

I did find myself skim reading a bit as it all just became a bit samey with not a vast amount going on until all of a sudden everything but the kitchen sink was chucked in the way of Kelly and Drew’s relationship.

Still, while it wasn’t really for me, it’s well edited with no major typos or grammatical errors that I noticed and it does have a very nice ending and epilogue and – outside of the conflict craziness – I did believe in them as a couple.

#ARC kindly received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review.

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Absolutely loved this second instalment in the Nira Chronicles

Zercy (The Nira Chronicles, #2)Zercy by Kora Knight

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

So book one would have had more stars if it hadn’t been for the cliff hanger, this one has a sort of cliff hanger but I honestly don’t care because the rest of it was brilliant.

I love me a good sci-fi story and Kora Knight is excellent at the world building needed to make a narrative work when it involves humans and seven foot tall horned aliens!

There’s some ridiculously hot and downright dirty sex in this one too, the bed scene with the living plants in particular was wonderfully kinky, but there’s also a truly beautiful love story at the heart of this book.

Alec and Zercy were an incredible pair, finding common ground in spite of their differences in not only species but also in their station. I loved the slow building of their friendship outside of the insane sexual chemistry.

There’s the same load of action and humorous asides in this as the first one and the book is very “visual”, I would love to see this on the screen but it’d no doubt be too erotic for mainstream audiences!

Now I want to know what’s going to happen next, who plotted to kill the Krie, will Gesh and Noah sort things out, did Bailey end up with his merman and is Chet not quite as adverse to Roni as he claims to be 🙂

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