Cross My Heart by A.M. Hartnett

cross My Heart book coverBook: Cross My Heart

Author: AM Hartnett

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Evie Potter and Ryan Kline have been neighbours for months and a couple for 3. They spend every moment they can together and are sure that what they have is leading somewhere important. Evie would do anything for Ryan and since he told he about his sexuality she’s determined to get him what he wants.

Ryan worried that telling Evie he was bisexual would send her running in the opposite direction. She’s the woman of his dreams and the most important thing to him. He wants to introduce a man into their bedroom, but he doesn’t want Evie getting hurt. Ever.

After a disastrous first try at a ménage, Ryan is ready to give up – until Seth, their friend and landlord steps in. He’s not looking for ties since his wife’s death and doesn’t want to get between the happy couple, so things should go smoothly…right?

Why you should read this: I really liked these characters – I felt as though they knew each other as well as they were supposed to and the dialogue read well – sometimes book dialogue can be stilted and not real at all. This wasn’t the case here. Evie was a strong and likeable heroine who was her own person. Ryan was sweet enough but his insecurities created a lot of the complications in the story. For once the hero causes all the trouble! This was an interesting study into a new relationship.

What you might hate: I don’t think there was anything to hate as such. It seemed a bit odd that in such a new relationship (they’ve only been together 3 months) they wanted to add in another person to complicate their lives, but hey it made for an interesting read! It was a steamy, sexy read that made me smile more than once.

Rating: 3/5 for an interesting and grown up look at relationships. I’ll definitely be reading more from this author.

The Ground Rules by Roya Carmen

 

TheGroundRules_CoverSMALL

Book: The Ground Rules

Series: Book 1 in the Ground Rules Trilogy

Author: Roya Carmen

Review by: Onnica

 

Basic story: Mirella and Gabe are very happily married. They adore their little girls and have been together since high school. After nearly 20 years together, the spark still burns bright between them. Mirella couldn’t wish for more.

On a date night at a swanky restaurant, the couple are obliged to share a table with sophisticated couple Weston and Bridget. Where Mirella and Gabe are down to earth, Weston and Bridget Hanson are straight off the cover of Vogue. Despite their social differences, the foursome hit it off. Mirella finds the enigmatic, nerdy Weston fascinating and Bridget clearly appreciates Gabe.

When the Hansons explain that they’d like to explore an ‘arrangement’ with them, Mirella is mortified. She can’t imagine sharing Gabe with anyone, nor can she imagine being with another man. But Weston’s eyes are so so green and he seems to get her in a way no-one else ever has. The rules are simple: don’t sleep with anyone outside the group, don’t tell anyone about the arrangement, don’t moan about your partner to the other person, don’t contact each other in between dates and above all – don’t get attached. Simple, right?

Why you should read it: This is seriously one of the sexiest stories I’ve read in a while. The characters were well-drawn and I adored Mirella. She’s so human and I understood her feelings and her irrationality only made her more human in my opinion. Weston is enigmatic and perhaps on a spectrum of genius – he doesn’t cope well in social situations so I found it really interesting that he courted this kind of lifestyle. Book one (yes I just found out it’s a trilogy) has set out the characters nicely and raised quite a few dilemmas already. I cannot wait to see how it will all pan out.

What you might hate: I don’t know. I know a lot of you hate cheating, but it’s not cheating if everyone’s consenting is it? Maybe this particular kink isn’t to your taste but I can only recommend it wholeheartedly.

Rating: I was bowled over by this story. In a sea of books that are just meh, this one beckoned to me like a beacon! I want more! 5/5

Tell Me by M. Jane Colette

Tell MeBook: Tell Me

Author: M. Jane Colette

Publisher: Mischief (Harper Collins)

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Jane is a thirty-something wife and mother, holding down a job and apparently doing a damn good job at all of those things. When she receives a text from Matt, a past lover, in town, wanting to meet up, she figures ok. They both have significant others – it can’t hurt can it? The pair exchange one text, which turns into two, which turns into nightly sessions in front of their laptops discussing everything they’d like to do to each other. Jane is happy in her marriage, but only Matt knows her quirks and her kinks – what makes her tick.

During the run up to Christmas they reignite their relationship, while all around Jane, relationships and family obligations become fraught and buckle under the pressure of the season. Her friends are also unhappy in their marriages and are looking for excitement elsewhere. Her parents who always seemed so steady are also headed for trouble. Jane finds solace and excitement through Matt’s emails and phone calls and realises that she has always been, from the very start, his.

Will the yuletide season bring peace or hell on earth to Jane’s door?

Why you should read it: Wow, this is a whole lot to this book. Where to start? Nobody’s happy, nobody is terribly likeable, as each and every one of them is completely self-obsessed! So why read it? Well, because it’s clever. I find that I don’t really need to like characters in order to find them interesting – this is true of this story. Jane and Matt’s obsession with each other is very selfish but all-consuming too. I enjoyed the way they interacted with each other, the way she kept her family side separate was appalling yet compelling. We think of men as cheaters – able to compartmentalise their lives, but clearly women do it too. Their motivations interested me more than anything in this story.

What you might hate: We have characters in their late thirties and forties acting like 13 year olds. Does he like me? Why hasn’t he called? It reminded me that high school is never over – which is a depressing thought. Jane grows tired of her friends’ whining as much as I did and for that I felt like I understood her, at least in part. I doubt you’ll really ‘like’ Jane as she’s also at times incredibly selfish and hypocrital – but I truly believe there’s enough there to make her believable and real. She’s flawed, as are we all. What about Matt – the object of her obsession? I didn’t feel like we got to know him as a real character, he was more of a device. Maybe that was intentional – this is after all about Jane’s world. The book also felt a wee bit long – I could have done with fewer messages between Matt and Jane towards the end of the book. After a while it didn’t move the story on and I wanted desperately to get ‘somewhere’. All in all a very torrid, interesting read about some messed up people in Canada. You wouldn’t want to know any of them!

Rating: The story was a jolt to the system and I had to adjust my world view while reading it. 3/5 for a non- judgey, titillating read about flawed people doing crazy things.

Tell Me is out now.

Night Edge by Jessica Hawkins

night edgeBook: Night Edge Series: Night Fever #4 Author: Jessica Hawkins Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Lola has made good her escape from Beau and is on the road. She’s determined to stay under the radar, so her location remains secret. She also sets out to find herself – deciding who she is and what she’s going to do with the rest of her life.

Beau at first thought that Lola’s departure was a misunderstanding or that she was taken away against her will. As the realisation dawns that she has left of her own volition and may not want to be found, he is distraught, angry and bewildered. He will find her – and when he does, he doesn’t know whether he’ll kiss her or wring her neck…

As the pair work through their feelings separately, they’re both surprised by what they discover. Love means getting hurt and being willing to forgive. Will they manage it?

Why you should read it: If you’ve been enthralled with the Night Fever series, then you owe it to yourself to see how it all ends. Beau and Lola have been on quite the journey and here is where their adventure ends. Lola and Beau do A LOT of soul searching in this last book, and find out tons about themselves as people in the process. I enjoyed the game of cat and mouse between them, Lola always one step ahead, seemingly. (I may have hummed the theme tune to Catch me if You Can while reading…)

What you might hate: I should caution you now, the main characters spend most of their time apart in this book. This surprised me a lot. I keep checking the time left in book on my Kindle thinking, when are they going to reconnect? I got a little impatient with Lola and Beau’s inner monologues too if I’m honest, as they went back and forth, back and forth. I wanted them to have these conversations together.

Rating: 3/5. Yes, it was a satisfying end to the series, however, for me did not match the passion and the intensity of the previous books.

Night Moves by Jessica Hawkins

night moves cover

Book: Night Moves

Series: Night Fever #3

Author: Jessica Hawkins

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Lola was left reeling when Beau finally admitted his true intentions to her. She was weak to have fallen for him but she resolves to make him pay. She may love him, (and she knows that underneath it all he loves her too) but she’s also determined get even with him for his manipulation.

Having left her boyfriend Johnny for good, she feels alone in the world and so needs to plan her revenge. The aim: to make Beau Olivier as weak and vulnerable as he made her. To achieve this she’ll have to fight her feelings and return to him, making him believe she’s ready to let bygones be bygones. Once she has him where she wants him, he’ll wish he’d never met Lola Winters.

Beau Olivier’s plan was a success. Making Lola fall for him, essentially buying her affection worked out better than he could have hoped. It worked so well that he didn’t realise he’d become as dependent on her as she on him. Reluctant to admit that her departure has affected him, he carries on as usual. When she returns to him however, he’s desperate for them to try again. This time on a more honest footing…

Why you should read this: if you’ve been following the Night Fever series, then you know it’s been quite long a wait for book three, but it was definitely worth it. The story was woven exceptionally well between past and present and it felt like an exercise in delayed gratification. Everything was so restrained and the chemistry between Lola and Beau was palpable. Beau’s desperation to have Lola is described vividly and the whole book felt like foreplay.

Lola is really coming into her own – she’s tired of being taken for granted by the men in her life and finally decides enough is enough. I liked how she avoided becoming a victim and went on the offensive instead. Beau is still an enigma – his obsession with status and owning Lola are all-consuming but there is hope for him yet. But will Lola’s revenge derail his progress?

What you might hate: the fact that you have to wait for book four? Fear not – it’s out on June 5 and we’ll get some closure at long last! I disliked Beau’s obsessive side at times – his priorities and sense of entitlement are all over the place, but I believe there’s hope for him. It will certainly be interesting when he catches up with Lola!

Rating: a resounding 4/5 for me – it was sexy, suspenseful and well-written. More please!

Veiled Obsession by Dori Lavelle

Veiled obsession

Book: Veiled Obsession

Series: His Agenda #1

Author: Dori Lavelle

Review by: Onnica

 

Basic story: Hayley is the envy of women everywhere. She lives in a beautiful mansion, with a successful, handsome man. What more could she possibly ask for? The night Jude Macknight helped her escape a situation that could have gotten her put away forever, she thought she’d finally met her knight in shining armour. He tells her he will handle everything and she should forget all about her past. The closer they become, the more she feels she loves him.

Things are perfect for a while and Jude can’t show her enough attention. Until she makes an innocent mistake. Then the real Jude Macknight shows his true colours. He’s controlling, prone to fits of rage and determined to isolate her so that she relies solely on him. Hayley’s love for him has died and she’s resolved to leave. But Jude isn’t used to being left and is clear that he won’t let her go. Ever…

Why you should read it: I know this is a romance blog, but don’t be fooled – this isn’t a romance. It isn’t dark romance – it’s a thriller and damn good one at that. Hayley is amazing. She doesn’t descend into one of those heroines with Stockholm syndrome, making excuses for Jude’s volatile behaviour. You live the action with her and root for her completely. She never gives up and I can’t wait to see how she evolves as a character going forward. Jude. What can I say about Jude? There is no danger of my falling for this ‘hero’. Dude is cray-cray. I can’t wait to see him get his comeuppance.

What you might hate: Ok – this is a survivor story. That means there is brutality, there is offensive language, there is rape and very, very uncomfortable scenes of violence. You’ve been warned. If this is not your bag, then for the love of God – don’t go there! This is not a hero with control issues. He is not Christian Grey, there are no redeeming qualities. This is why I said this is not a romance. What it is is a gripping read. I really want to see where things will lead and whether Hayley will remain the strong heroine I like so much.

Rating: 4/5. This is a new author for me and I like her style of writing. She doesn’t over-complicate, but weaves a story well. I cannot wait for the rest of the trilogy. Oh yeah, did I mention it was a trilogy?!

 Veiled Obsession is out now.

Sweet Agony by Charlotte Stein

sweet agonyBook: Sweet Agony

Author: Charlotte Stein

Format: Kindle ARC

Review by: Onnica

Basic story: Molly Parker is in need of a job. Desperate to leave her overcrowded home, she applies for a housekeeping job at a crooked, ancient house, which doesn’t bode well. Inside it lives Mr Harcroft, a crotchety, cruel and callous man. He’s not old but conducts himself like a Gothic anti-hero. He’s cutting with his comments, determined to drive Molly away with his jibes and general cantankerous behaviour. But he’s met his match in Molly. Nothing could compel her to return to her barren childhood home, with her uncaring family. She’ll put up with the jibes, but she’ll give as good as she gets.

The odd couple begin a strange relationship, consisting of handwritten notes and endless discussions on 19th century literature. Molly slowly gets to know her way around Cyrian Harcroft, but will he let her in fully to see the whole person?

Why you should read it: oh Charlotte, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways… This is a smart, classicly funny Stein book. Our heroine is plucky, likeable and has gumption. No victims here. Cyrian is the coldest of cold fishes – you may not like him but his wit and his mannerisms hark back to bad-tempered heroes of the nineteenth century. He’s part-Heathcliff, part-Rochester and all smouldering aloofness. I loved him. The story develops at a nice pace and there is plenty of sexy times to enjoy. It wouldn’t be a Charlotte Stein read otherwise, now would it? This is a slow build which is also fine with me. Not convinced? Well, here’s an extract of her brilliance:

That sounds like hyperbole to me, and Cyrian despises it. He told me so only last Wednesday, when I said Brussels sprouts were worse than biting into something Satan pooped out. ‘If Satan took a shit in your mouth, Molly, you would probably dissolve from the inside out. Honestly, you exaggerate with such flagrant disregard for sense, you make me discuss a made-up religious icon simply to set you straight.’

What you might hate: Hmmm. Not sure. If you dislike banter and quirky humour, you may struggle with this book. If you like your heroes open and not repressed then again, this may not be the read for you. I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfying read, which took elements of Jane Eyre and wove them into the fabric of the story.

Rating: A hot 4/5 for this story. I loved the dialogue and the main characters’ slow circling of each other.

Sweet Agony is out on 28 May.