Tag Archives: books: !2013

Eeny Meeny by @mjarlidge

Eeny MeenyReceived an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

And so the honour of the final book read in 2013 goes to this little gem.

I am a huge addict of procedural TV crime dramas, especially Criminal Minds and I have always found that the most interesting cases are not the ones where someone’s asleep in their bed and randomly gets shot / stabbed / their head bashed in but where there’s a psychological element to it, say 1 gun, 1 bullet, 2 people, no food or water and enclosed in a room with no escape.

This book was like an episode of  Criminal Minds I wanted to happen and double points for it being set in the UK (and mentioning French Fancies!).

However, there was definitely a grittiness in it that you wouldn’t find in Hollywood and the characters were real and flawed, a far cry from the sexy cast of American crime dramas.

So besides the set-up and the characters what else can I tell you about this without giving the twists and turns away?

Having each chapter basically told from the POV of different characters (in 3rd person) was a bold move but it worked really well and helped keep the plot moving and the tension high.  The reveal of the ‘baddie’ was interesting and believable.  I like how you weren’t sure whose POV the chapters in Italics were told from (you guess the perp but could easily have been Helen Grace’s given what you know about her other activities).  Overall this is a really gripping novel which stays in your mind long after you have finished it (don’t do what I did and finish it off just before bed) and highly recommended.

A fair warning to you all: the book is quite graphic in some areas and for those of you who like a happy ever after to end their mystery/thrillers then this book might not be the one for you.

I read the uncorrected proof and there were lots of mistakes which did diminish the reading experience for me but will no doubt be corrected for the edition which goes to print:

pg22 – ‘Wheb’ = When
pg55 – ‘sole custody of Amy’ = sole custody of Elsie
pg149 – ‘Too much for Anna’ = too much for Marie
pg228 – Sandy calls Hannah ‘Helen’

Book: 5*

Cover: 4*

The Spice Merchant’s Wife by Charlotte Betts

The Spice Merchant's WifeReceived this book courtesy of a Goodreads Giveaway

I have read embarrassingly few historical fictions in my time, and never any set during the 17th Century. However, I am so glad that I won this book in a giveaway as it opened my eyes to the wonderful world of London during, and shortly after, the Great Fire of London.

This book is narrated in 1st person POV by the heroine, Kate Finche, and whilst I’m not in general a fan of 1st person POV, it worked very well in this case. It is a story of hardship, deceit, tragedy, friendship and forbidden love. The time-jumps help ensure the plot keeps moving forward and all the characters you meet are well defined.

A real page-turner. Highly recommended.

Book: 5*

Cover: 3*

2013 Top Contemporary Romance Series

Based on books released in 2013

1. Macy Beckett – Sultry Springs series Surrender to Sultry (Sultry Springs, #3)

How can this be her debut?  This whole series is pure perfection both in terms of writing style and plot.  I’m only sad that this series is only 3 books long and Macy has no plans to add to it for the moment.  For those looking of perfect small-town romance books?  I cannot recommend this series enough.

2013 additions: A Shot of Sultry, Surrender to Sultry

Always on My Mind (Lucky Harbor, #8)2. Jill Shalvis – Lucky Harbor series

Okay disclaimer: I am a huge Jill Shalvis fan and she is one of my favourite (if not THE favourite) contemporary romance author so of course this series was going to feature on my list.  Given that I thought this series was going to end with Book 3 and then with Book 6, books 7 + 8 were a real surprise.  Jill really raised the bar with these 2.  Whilst I am sure that I enjoyed books 4-6, I can barely remember them whereas she has definitely made her 2013 additions memorable.  The sexual tension in them.  Wow, scorchio.  Jack/Leah in #8 may be one of my favourite friends-to-lovers book ever.

2013 additions: It Had To Be You, Always On My Mind

Bungalow Nights (Beach House No. 9, #2)3. Christie Ridgeway – Beach House No. 9 series

I discovered this author through this series and what a wonderful series it is.  Books #2 + #3 are my favourite.

Also the covers are love.

2013 additions: Beach House Beginnings, Beach House No. 9, Bungalow Nights, The Love Shack

Autumn in the Vineyard (St. Helena Vineyard, #3)4. Marina Adair – St. Helena Vineyard series

This series is so beautifully written, I can scarcely believe that Marina is relatively new to writing.  You will fall in love with the series from the first book Kissing Under the Mistletoe.

2013 additions: Summer in Napa, Autumn in the Vineyard

Pitch Perfect (Boys of Summer, #1)5. Sierra Dean – Boys of Summer series

It is hard for me to express my love for this book: it is definitely my favourite sports romance of 2013 and also the favourite review I’ve written of the year.  This book quotes lyrics from my favourite artists (Fleetwood Mac, Hall & Oates) and is set in one of my favourite cities (Chicago).  Perfection.

2013 additions: Pitch Perfect

Wild Child (Boys of Bishop, #1)6. Molly O’Keefe – Boys of Bishop series

Molly O’Keefe has been one of the authors I’ve really fallen in love with this year.  Starting with her Crooked Creek Ranch series and now the start of her new series.  Don’t believe how awesome Wild Child is?  I started my review by saying: If there is one contemporary romance novel you must read in 2013, this is it. I know that is a pretty bold statement to make as an awful lot of great romances have been published this year but this book, this book.

2013 additions: Wild Child

Love Irresistibly (FBI / US Attorney, #4)7. Julie James – FBI / US Attorney series

Julie James is the author who made me discover and fall in love with contemporary romance so this series holds a special place in my heart.  My only complaint is that she’s apparently on a 1 book/year release schedule which is TORTUROUS.

2013 additions: Love Irresistibly

Sleigh Bells in the Snow8. Sarah Morgan – O’Neil Brothers series

An amazing start to a new contemporary romance series.  The perfect festive read as well.  I can’t wait for more books to follow.

2013 additions: Sleigh Bells In The Snow


The Christmas He Loved Her (Bad Boys of Crystal Lake, #2)9. Juliana Stone – Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series

The first book is great but the second book …. Gosh it made me have so many ~feelings~.  The ‘falling in love with brother’s widow’ trope is just so angsty and twisty and just …. Wow.

2013 additions: The Summer He Came Home, The Christmas He Loved Her

Some Like It Sinful (A Perfect Recipe, #2)10. Robbie Terman – A Perfect Recipe series

The first book took us into the world of reality cooking shows but it is the second book in the series that really stole my heart.

2013 additions: Some Like It Spicy, Some Like It Sinful


All Fired Up (Hot in the Kitchen, #2)11. Kate Meader – Hot In The Kitchen series

Family and cooking.

2013 additions: Feel the Heat, All Fired Up




Falling For Her Fiance (Accidentally in Love, #1)12. Cindi Madsen – Accidentally In Love series

The series starts off with an amazing friends-to-lovers + fake romance book which I highly recommend.

2013 additions: Falling For Her Fiancé, Act Like You Love Me


Last Groom Standing (The Wedding Season, #4)13. Various – The Wedding Season series

I think it’s unlikely that you will ever find a series where each book is written by a different author as good as this one.

2013 additions: The Unexpected Wedding Guest, Girl Least Likely to Marry, Maid of Dishonor, Last Groom Standing


Wilde for Her (Wilde Security, #2)14. Tonya Burrows – Wilde Security series

Sexy series about a security firm run by a group of brothers.

2013 additions: Wilde Nights in Paradise, Wilde For Her


All He Ever Dreamed (Kowalski Family, #6)15. Shannon Stacey – Kowalski Family series

All He Ever Dreamed was a bit too predictable for me but I’m a fan of the series as a whole.

2013 additions: All He Ever Dreamed, Love A Little Sideways (still to read)

Fighting Love by Abby Niles

Fighting Love (Love to the Extreme, #2)Received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Wow, just wow.  Probably the best transition from friends-to-lovers story I’ve read.  The chemistry and the friendship between Tommy and Julie just touched me to the core.  I fell in love with them as friends and also as something more.

I loved the Brody/Julie dynamic and really hope that we get to see Brody and Mac’s Happy Ever Afters (separate, not together, although that would be an interesting twist!)

It was a 5* read for me all the way through (though I think Tommy was really stupid to run back into his burning house) until the final quarter.  I just felt at that point in the story, the author shouldn’t still be trying to come up with reasons to avoid the inevitable HEA.

This is my first read by Abby Niles (I haven’t read the first book in the series and you definitely don’t have to in order to enjoy this) and I’ll definitely be coming back for some more.

Book: 4*

Cover: 3*

Some Like It Sinful by Robbie Terman

Some Like It Sinful (A Perfect Recipe, #2)Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I loved this book even more than the first one in the series.  Chloe was lovely, Griffin grew on me and I just all around enjoyed it.

Now I want more books in this series (and I want them NOW!):

– Jenna and her firefighter from the past (presume this is going to be next)
– Riley
– Taryn

The possibilities are endless with this series …. <3.

Love for the Holidays Anthology

Love for the Holidays (five book Christmas bundle)Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I absolutely adored stories 1,4 & 5 but unfortunately, 2 & 3 really let this anthology down for me.

HOLIDAY HEAT by Noelle Adams


A lovely story about how 2 damaged people find love again with each other



Unfortunately this was a bit childish, both the plotline and the writing – too much pouting for a start.  The dialogue between Cam and Lily was childish most of the time



No more pouting I beg you!

Ava was the biggest brat EVER.

I skimmed most of this which is something I rarely do.



I loved the time lapses in this story and the way we saw the relationship between Cyrus and Helen change.  I think the time jumps made this story unique and gave an unusual perspective to a developing relationship.



This was wonderful.  I felt like I really got to know Kyle and Laney (both what they are like now and also what they were like during their first relationship).  Laney’s relationship with her sister, mother and nephews was cute as well.  Although I like a HEA as much as the next person, kudos to the author for keeping it real and having them deal with real problems like relocation and finding a job up until the end.

Although pet hate – please learn to spell fiancé correctly when referring to the guy.  🙂

Book: 3*

Cover: 3*

Recipe for Attraction by Gina Gordon

Recipe for Attraction (Madewood Brothers, #2)Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Unfortunately there were a number of things I didn’t like about this book:

1. Carson offering to sleep with Neil every time he thought about racing to distract him.  This is the worst idea of a deal ever.

2. Carson’s relationship with her father.  Yes, it is half-heartedly explained at the end but I’ve read a lot of romances with overbearing, cold, distant fathers and the depiction of that dynamic in this book didn’t do it justice.

3. The illegal racing – you would have thought something like that would be central to the story but it is half-heartedly thrown around like an afterthought.

Book: 2*

Cover: 3*

Wilde for Her by Tonya Burrows

Wilde for Her (Wilde Security, #2)Received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

A sizzling hot friends-to-lovers trope with some fantastic selling points:

1. It’s the guy who has been in love with his best friend for five years, not the usual woman pining over the man.

2. It’s the woman who is the cop and what a kickass, strong cop she is.

3. Burning hot chemistry.

I did guess who the bad guy was from the start so it was a bit disappointing that the reveal took so long but apart from that, a perfect romance!

I am hoping that there will be at least another 3 books in this series, please can I get my hands on them now, pretty please?!

Book: 5*

Cover: 3.5*

Her Sexiest Mistake by @JillShalvis

Her Sexiest MistakeReceived an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

When I started to read this book I felt for sure that my review was going to be along the lines of “I definitely prefer Jill Shalvis’ more recent books as this was sadly lacking.”  However, a third of the way in I got hopelessly caught up in Mia’s relationships with Hope, Tess and Kevin and by the end I realised that this book wasn’t lacking at all.

I love the way Shalvis explored the different relationships … Kevin/Mia, Mia/Hope, Kevin/Mike, Mike/Tess, Tess/Mia, Hope/Kevin, Hope/Cole and how we saw all the characters grow and accept their shortcomings and strive to make things better.  Shalvis portrayed the different dynamics really well and this story definitely tugged at my heartstrings.

Book: 5*

Cover: 5*

Tangling with the CEO by Annie Seaton

Tangling with the CEO: A Half Moon Bay NovelReceived an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

I really wanted to like this a whole lot more than I did as the summary looked really promising (and kudos for giving the heroine an unusual job (for a woman anyway)).

However, I just didn’t ~feel~ anything.  The plot plodded alone but I wasn’t invested in the characters  The conversation which needed to happen between Blake and Ana where she explained why she had the appointment was put off one too many times.  The takeover by Blake’s nephews and niece (and animals) was pretty overkill.

Unfortunately this just wasn’t for me.

Book: 2*

Cover: 4*