Book Review · Fantasy · MM

#BookReview #Fantasy // The Final Masquerade by Ariana Nash

The Final Masquerade
by Ariana Nash


Oh my, what an emotionally turbulent, intensely evocative and utterly mesmerising story this is. I fell down a rabbit hole with Brice into a swirling, dizzying and ultimately soul-shattering melee of magic, mystery and mayhem. Lies are layered upon lies whilst deceptions, tricks and misdirection abound until you can no longer trust anyone or anything – not even the evidence seen with your own eyes.


Ariana Nash delivers up a dark, twisted tale of fae madness. An intriguing story of machination and manipulation, where every word is deceptive, every look meant to seduce. Whilst hidden desires may be fulfilled, it pays to remember that nothing is given freely and most things are not as they may seem. The story is by parts raw, vicious and heartrending, yet also delicate, gentle and loving.

He tasted of fae sweetness. Of sweet wine and bitter sadness. He didn’t believe anything would change; he didn’t believe Brice would succeed. He thought this was goodbye.

I adored Brice and his slippery fae paramour, couldn’t get enough of this wonderful pair truth be told. Their chemistry was explosively hot, though the path to a HEA was littered with pain, sadness and heartache. Each damaged in their own way, this pair of star-crossed lovers battled long and hard against the power of the Masquerade, but when truth and illusion are impossible to differentiate then suffering and angst are sure to follow.


Every moment in the masquerade held an air of peril and threat, blinding me with its devious illusions and leaving me unable to even begin guessing as to the twists that would unfold and the truths that would be revealed. It held me spellbound with its brilliance, tossed me on the stormy seas of its emotional intensity and left me wanting to never leave the world that had been created. If a golden-edged invitation should happen to fall on my doormat I’m not sure I could resist its siren call.



Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

MM Fantasy Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59739580-the-final-masquerade

Synopsis
The winter solstice. The darkest day, the longest night. Every year the solstice heralds the return of the masquerade ball. Fae and human dance and drink and make merry, so long as they remain masked. But there’s a darker side to this night. Should a guest lose their mask, their life is forfeit, cursed to dance forever for the entertainment of the masquerade’s cold and cruel fae host.
Ever since he was a boy, Brice LeChoix’s mother had warned him of the terrible fae. But it wasn’t the fae who took his parents from him. Madness did that. Years later, now Lord of the crumbling LeChoix estate and buckled by debt, he has more important things to think about than fairytales. Until the masquerade comes to town. Every year on the solstice it appears, and every year the townsfolk frolic with the fae. Some never return.
Brice warned his brother not to go. And when the masquerade vanishes like mist at dawn, it takes Charon with it. Now Brice must return to the masquerade, the very place he vowed never to set foot in again. The fae know his desires, they know his weaknesses. Forbidden lust will lure Brice from his world, into theirs. To save his brother, he must survive the masquerade’s beautiful lies and avoid the host’s wicked ways.
But the fae have other ideas. One in particular has his eye on Brice… The trickster, Raoul, will stop at nothing to seduce Brice because he knows, more than anyone, that the masquerade is a trap from which no soul truly ever escapes.

The longest night is upon us. Can you hear their call? Take my hand, come with me, to the masquerade ball…



A stunning adult MM dark fairytale standalone novel of 115,000 words. Coming Autumn/Winter 2021. Warning: this book contains devious fae, dubious consent, coercive rape, sex with multiple partners, suicide, and violent punishment, and is advised for readers aged 18+




Book Review · Contemporary Romance

#BookReview #ContemporaryRomance #TBT // A Holiday Romance Duet by GG Andrew

Somwhere Warm
&
Someplace Secret

by G.G. Andrew

A “blast from the past” review.


Somewhere Warm

The only thing that made me pause just a fraction (and led to the loss of half a star) was the incredible speed that things developed between Zoe and Evan. The entire book is set over a handful of hours, I’m more of a build-up to it over time girl and it’s totally a personal preference *thing* rather than a criticism of the book or writing.

So talking of the writing, it’s brilliant. I was drawn into the mood, atmosphere and setting of the scene immediately. The story had me captivated from virtually the first page. The story is written just from Zoe’s POV so Evan, in some ways, remains a bit of a mystery. However, the detailed and evocative writing of the author had me invested in and caring for, both of them fairly quickly.

Whilst the ‘end point’ is almost inevitable, how they got there and the journey taken was anything but predictable. There is some intense chemistry, which confuses Zoe and leads to much ‘to-and-‘froing’ and an ending that leaves you wanting more. This is good because there is a follow-up book called Someplace Secret.




Someplace Secret

This is a continuation of the story started in Somewhere Warm and you really need to have read that first to fully understand and appreciate this story. GG Andrew has a way of writing that conveys a real emotional punch, whilst the book was hugely satisfying it definitely pummelled my emotions!

When we left Zoe and Evan we had a HFN ending that clearly didn’t go as planned. Hayley’s lies managed to cause a lot of damage and Zoe has moved on both physically and emotionally. At least that’s what she’s tried to do. A chance meeting and a snowy few days in Boston leave Zoe more confused and unsure than ever. Evan is trying to win back her heart but Zoe is happy with Fischer, or so she thought.

This is a longer read than Somewhere Warm, and it built really well on that story. I’m not sure if you would understand and feel the connection between Evan and Zoe in the same way without reading it first. There were times I could have shaken Zoe, with her quest for ‘safe’ and her dithering and lack of action. However, her trepidation and worry of being hurt were also so very understandable.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Christmas Contemporary Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25799454-somewhere-warm

Synopsis
What if you fell for your best friend’s ex—the one that had made her life a living hell?
She didn’t expect her car to get hit by a snowplow. She didn’t expect for the icy Maine blizzard to start early. She didn’t expect to be stuck inside Evan’s warm cabin—alone with him—on New Year’s Eve.
And, most of all, she didn’t expect to come undone by the heat in Evan’s eyes.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Christmas Contemporary Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25799454-somewhere-warm

Synopsis
What happens when you can’t get over the past?
It’s been two years. Zoe has moved on. She’s got a great teaching job in Boston, friends, and the sweetest boyfriend.
She shouldn’t still be thinking about the man who turned her life upside down two winters ago…
Trouble is, he’s staring at her from across the bookstore.

Book Review · Omegaverse · PNR

#BookReview #Omegaverse #PNR // The Alpha’s Salvation by Marlowe Roy

The Alpha’s Salvation
by Marlowe Roy



I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started this book – particularly as I hadn’t read the blurb. Added in to that was that this is a debut book, and reading those is very much a win-some/lose-some situation. Thankfully this was very much the former, so much so that I was more than a little astounded by the high standard of writing and cannot wait to read more by this author. Not only was this a great story, it was a wonderful romance too.


Kess is an Omega-in-hiding which, along with slick, knotting, heats and nesting (though we don’t see the latter in this book), is almost de rigueur in OV stories. Hunter was a no-nonsense Alpha, in charge, tough and of the opinion that Omegas belong with Alphas. However he didn’t believe in making decisions for them and was willing to accept Kess was her own person. Both protagonists are immensely likeable, with flaws that only add to their appeal. Life hadn’t been kind to either one of them, and a lack of understanding leads to difficult times.


The development of their burgeoning relationship was so finely crafted, emotions were believable as were actions and reactions to situations. Both characters underwent growth, needing to let go of past hurts and reach a point where they could not only hear what the other said, but also believe in the veracity of it. Those scenes at the ocean – oh my they tore at my heart! They also convinced me beyond any doubt that this pair truly were meant for one another.


Set in a dystopian future where the world felt a little wild west and a touch Amish, with a sprinkling of tribal society thrown in for good measure. Little reminders were woven into the story to remind us that there had been technology, electricity, cars etc in the past. Kess wore pants, not a skirt and, due to having lived pre-disaster, Hunter used “baby” as an affectionate nickname. I liked how it kept the story future-dystopian rather than fantasy or alternate reality. The world building was carefully layered throughout the story, slowly revealing different facets of this new “society”. Extra points to the author for Old Tacoma, which perfectly answered the very few doubts/questions I had about the dystopian world.


The omegaverse elements are done with a very light touch by a gentle hand, so I would happily recommend this book to all romance fans, not just those who enjoy the sub-genre.



Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Dystopian PNR

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59350540-the-alpha-s-salvation

Synopsis
Kess found a haven in this remote Beta town, but it would only last if she could keep her Omega nature a secret.

Abused by Alphas, unwanted by Betas, she scraped out a quiet, lonely life and tried to heal her broken spirit. But one fateful glimpse of a grizzled Alpha ended her fragile ruse forever. Catching an Alpha’s eye was a fate she had feared… Until him.

Hunt was tired. A holdover from another time, an Alpha with no family or mate, life had little joy or warmth to offer him.

But he was still the most formidable Alpha in these parts, and a sense of duty to his men kept him moving forward. He couldn’t have known a stop-over in a small Beta village would change the course of his fate, and certainly never pictured himself with an Omega of his own… Until her.



Book Review · Contemporary Romance

#BookReview #HolidayRomance // Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop by Rebecca Raisin

Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop
by Rebecca Raisin


f you are looking for a heart-warming, schmaltzy, seasonal romance then Flora’s Travelling Christmas Shop certainly fits the bill. The characters were endearing, the humour pleasingly subtle, and the pace engaging. Flora’s escapades had me smiling and giggling, whilst her emotional vulnerability took me to the edge of tears.


Was the book perfect? No, but the sheer warmth and delight that it imbued made up for its very minor faults. The Flora we meet in the first few chapters was quite annoying, stubborn, and more than a little dense. It took rather a stretch of the imagination to believe she could move to another country and set up a market stall! Once Flora reached Finland I found her to be a much more amiable character, one I could warm to and get behind.


The story is told entirely from our heroines perspective, which did leave me unsure of Connor’s feelings towards her, for a very long time. The clever use of different scenarios allowed us to see the type of person Connor was, but this is a romance and in that regard, it felt very one-sided. The story ended far too soon for me, I needed more time to experience the actual romance between Flora and Connor. Flora was not the most reliable of narrators, which didn’t help matters, though the author did attempt to give us an insight into Connor’s thoughts and feelings via conversations.


Whilst the whole story is about a Hallmark-crazy heroine getting her own Hallmark-style romance, I loved that the author didn’t over-cook some aspects. For example, the conflict with Aine was kept fairly low key, used sparingly to avoid an overload of unnecessary angst. Hallmark movie without the kitsch. Flora, Connor, Noel the van and aurora have completely gotten me into the Christmas spirit.


Rating: 4 out of 5.

Contemporary Romance

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58859600-flora-s-travelling-christmas-shop

Synopsis
Tis the season for mulled wine, mince pies, and magic under the mistletoe…
Flora loves Christmas more than anything else in the world, so she’s gutted when her Scrooge-alike boss fires her from Deck the Halls Christmas emporium. But now she finally has a chance to follow her dreams – and what better place to start than the home of Christmas?
Before she can say ‘sleigh bells’, Flora’s on her way to Lapland in a campervan-cum-Christmas-shop. She can’t wait to spend her days drinking hot chocolate and taking reindeer-drawn carriage rides, but something Flora didn’t expect was meeting Connor, a Norse god of a man who makes her heart flutter and snowflakes swirl in her stomach. There’s just one problem: Connor hates Christmas.
Can Flora convince Connor of the joys of Christmas – and will she find a festive romance along the way?

The perfect Christmas romance for fans of Debbie Johnson, Holly Martin and Jenny Colgan.




Book Review · Suspense/Mystery

#BookReview #MagicalRealism // A Spell of Rowans by Byrd Nash

A Spell of Rowans
by Byrd Nash


From the blurb, I was expecting something a little more paranormal, a little more fantasy, for want of a better word. It turned out to be a much more contemporary, a murder mystery with minor magical elements, and I was surprisingly very OK with that. I really liked the author’s voice and could connect with the main characters, so that their feelings were my feelings.


We experience the entire story through the eyes of Victoria (Vic) Rowan, a headstrong and impulsive character with a complex history. There are many truths to be uncovered in the town of Grimsby and at times it felt as though each time we discovered the answer to one question two more mysteries were spawned. The author had many different threads to weave into the story and whilst I loved the richness this provided some elements did feel a little underdeveloped.


In the story, Vic is joined by her siblings, Pip and Liam, as well as a couple of ex-boyfriends and several suspicious, and unwelcoming, town folk. The romantic element is very minor, a second chance from the protagonists teenage years. However, I felt there was a missed opportunity to convince the reader of the depth of Vic and Reed’s feelings, particularly given the huge time interval that had elapsed since they had last seen one another. Whilst I could find myself believing in the emotions Victoria was experiencing it was more difficult to imagine that those feelings had survived fifteen years apart.


I very much enjoyed the mystery element. There wasn’t a huge amount of foreshadowing, certainly no obvious pointers as to the culprit even with hindsight. We are aware of all the main players within the story, though some feature more heavily than others. All in all the story readily held my attention and left me wanting to read more of the authors work.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Paranormal Women’s Fiction

Goodreadshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58454895-a-spell-of-rowans

Synopsis
Raised by a narcissistic mother, the Rowan children’s magical talents were twisted to fit her needs. When Rachel dies, her children must confront the past to have a future.
Rachel Rowan could sniff out secrets and her antique shop, Rosemary Thyme, was a front to torment the residents of Grimsby. When she dies, her children are faced with the deadly fallout of blackmail, murder, and magic.
Victoria, whose empathic talent knows everyone’s hidden feelings; Philippa, whose glamour can bewitch; and Liam, the brother who touches objects to reveal their secrets, all find themselves in danger.
When her autistic brother is arrested, Vic needs to discover the truth to set him free.
A successful art restorer in the big city, Vic’s made a career of ignoring her past and hiding her strange powers. But with Rachel’s death, she must gamble away her secrets to face down forces determined to destroy her and her siblings.
And that hometown boy she dumped way back? He’s in Grimsby, and knows the truth about her.