Book Review: Haven, by Lindsay J. Pryor 


She’s done it again. 

It never fails to amaze me the incredible skill that Lindsay J. Pryor has for creating a world – a world that’s been in the making for a very long time. Settings and plot lines and districts and locales, full-bodied characters with enough history to fill a library. 

The dedication she’s made to her stories; her characters, and the world in which they are embroiled, is incredible. 

Haven is the first standalone book in Ms. Pryor’s new series: Lowtown; a spin-off to the incredibly addictive Blackthorn series. 

Except herein lies the difference. The Blackthorn novels span an 8-book series (the desperately-awaited finale currently in the making), with overarching storylines weaved within an incredibly intricate plot. And while each book leaves you with that odd thrill mixed with a sense of desperation, of NEEDING to know what happens in the next book in the series, sometimes you need a well-rounded novel to give you that fully-satisfied feeling of starter, main course and dessert. A novel like Haven. 

However, the gratification we crave is always just that one step ahead where Haven is concerned; there are plenty of sharp twists and turns and shock revelations to leave you guessing right up until the last minute, to keep you turning the page and in danger of a serious lack of sleep. 

True to form, Ms Pryor has beautifully gift-wrapped (and the wrapping is certainly appreciated when it comes to one particular male lead) and delivered us some wonderful characters with issues akin to real life – and they’re not your average human-nature problems. These character flaws go deep – she’s not afraid to pack the layers. 

Because this novel is not just about romance. Or the paranormal. It’s about power, about real-life struggles. About danger. Death. Destruction. And all the crap the universe could possibly throw at you in one lifetime. 

It’s clever. It’s dark. It’s intense. 

Honestly? You need to read this book now. Click here for buy links. 

(Thank you to Piatkus Fiction for supplying me with a no-obligation paperback copy of this delicious novel, in return for which I gratefully leave my review.)

The blurb

A spin-off from the bestselling Blackthorn series by Lindsay J. Pryor, set in Lowtown, the neighbouring district to Blackthorn. The product of a brutal class system, the dark, gritty world of Lowtown will grip you and never let you go.

Every few days the handsome stranger comes into the café in Lowtown for an hour a time. Most of the time he keeps himself to himself – one drink and he leaves. Sometimes people meet with him but about what remains elusive, the edge of mystery and danger adding to his allure.

Not that Ember is allowed to think about him. She’s finally on the cusp of gaining her citizenship and escaping Lowtown for good, so she can’t be seen to be involved with a vampire – evidence of one single bite would be the end of her prospects. But when those prospects are rocked by her links to the district’s dark underbelly, the stranger she must avoid could be her absolution – and she could be his . . .


Book Review: Hard to Protect, by Incy Black

Hard to Protect (Black Ops Heros #3)Hard to Protect by Incy Black

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Incy Black delivers once again!

Our third hero in the Black Ops Hard to… series, Will Berwick, is about as penetrable as a rock, and his therapist, Dr. Angel Treherne really doesn’t like him with his egotistical alpha-male temperament, even if he does have a grief-stricken past.

Then there’s the rather awkward matter of Will’s orders from The Top to seduce the doctor, to find out whether she’s harbouring her fugitive brother; something Will has absolutely no intention of doing. Not only is she evidently repelled by him, Angel Treherne does ice better than Queen Elsa. And anyway, that’s DEFINITELY NOT his style.

Despite this obvious conflict, the chemistry between them is rife; he’s a mass of iron filings to her magnet (and vice-versa) even if they can’t see it themselves.

True to form, Incy writes a cracking suspense novel with a conflicting romance bubbling underneath, threatening at any moment to boom or bust. When the guards are lowered, passion and intimacy is heightened, but not for long. Both Will and Angel have their own secrets to hide, and their defences are as tough as a relentless winter; you’ll be left wondering if there’s enough heat to melt their hearts indefinitely.

Incy Black writes fast-paced, action-packed romantic suspense novels. If you like intricate thrillers featuring alpha-males and feisty heroines, a touch of dry-humour and a healthy dose of sexual chemistry, you’ll love Hard to Protect. ♥

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Book blurb and buy links below:

“Some Black Op missions are too dark—even for him.

Volcanic hot and ambitious Special Agent Will Berwick doesn’t give a damn what his orders are; he’s not taking the enemy—the lovely but arctic Dr. Angel Treherne—to bed. Oh, he’ll root out her secrets, but on his own terms.

Caught up in a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, Angel trusts no one—certainly not alpha-cocky, cunning Will Berwick. First he’s hostile, then he’s charming. Why? What’s he hiding? With her life on the line, she needs to know. Preferably without losing her heart in the process.”

NB: The above book blurb is taken from Entangled Publishing‘s website.

Book Review: He Said/She Said, by Erin Kelly

He Said/She SaidHe Said/She Said by Erin Kelly

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book grew on me. At first I found it a little slow-going (hence four, rather than five, stars), but the storyline was intriguing, with an uneasy undertone.

But like most great books, once embroiled in the story, I couldn’t put it down.

The story follows a back-and-forth timeline, although it is quite easy to determine the past or present from the narrative if you (like me) often don’t pay attention to the chapter title.

The research and work that has gone into this novel is commendable. To write about such a grave (and often taboo) subject, the pin-balling of human emotions, court-cases and all the legalities with such detail cannot have been a walk in the park, and I feel the author deserves recognition for that.

What I loved most about this book was the feeling that something wasn’t quite right in what each of the characters were portraying, and that’s what kept me turning the page; I felt each one of them had a secret to hide.

It’s definitely a He Said/She Said case – who do you believe?

***I received an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review***

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Book Review: Can’t Live Without by Joanne Phillips

Can't Live WithoutCan’t Live Without by Joanne Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Single mother Stella Hill wakes up one morning to find her kitchen on fire, which in no time at all has spread throughout the house and her home is up in flames. What isn’t destroyed by the fire is ruined by water damage and Stella loses everything she ever thought she couldn’t live without. What follows is an amusing account of her journey to put her life back together and the obstacles she encounters along the way, including some disastrous dates and a healthy dose of self-discovery.

This is the second self-published novel I have read and I am delighted to say I thoroughly enjoyed it. The author has set the book in Milton Keynes, a town with which I am very well acquainted having spent a large chunk of my adult life living and working there, so it was good fun to read about settings so familiar to me.

The novel is cleverly written from both the first person and third person viewpoints, so you not only get to read the story through the heroine’s eyes, but Joanne effortlessly transports the reader inside the minds of the other main characters too.

The story arc itself is also very well constructed, with an adequate amount of enjoyable sub-plots; just enough to make you temporarily forget about the underlying love story until you are reminded in one of those ‘ooh yes!’ moments (a bit like the cliff-hangers you’re reminded of at the beginning of a program you’ve not seen for a week). All pending questions and loose ends are naturally and neatly sewn together for a pleasing and thought-provoking ending.

If you’re a fan of chick-lit, with dry humour, lots of inciting moments and an underlying romantic element, then try Can’t Live Without and support a very inspiring, hard-working Indie Author. Well done Joanne Phillips on a great first novel.

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I have joined the NaNoWriMo winner’s circle!

It’s official, I have actually crossed the finish line and completed my 50,000 word NaNoWriMo novel within 30 days.Winner - NaNoWriMo 2012

For those of you who want to know how I did it; not only have I been writing furiously alongside #NaNoWordSprints on Twitter, snatching sessions when I can, I’ve even taken to writing on my smart phone in the car (while my husband is driving of course, not me). There are some wonderful apps you can download on Android (I was using Polaris Office) and there’s even wordcount software you can utilise in the absence of MS Word. Oh, and there has been a distinct lack of television watching (with the exception of my favourite TV show The Vampire Diaries – what can I say, I’m devoted).

Most of the work has been completed in the evenings, when the house is (relatively) quiet and I can focus. Cue me emerging three hours later from my make-shift office of the cramped corner of the bedroom – with just a candle for company – with tired, pink and bloodshot eyes.

With the word target being 1667 words daily, there have been days where I’ve written nothing at all (family commitments and a teething toddler), and days where I’ve written over 4,000 words (thank you @NaNoWordSprints). It’s not an easy task; anyone who says otherwise is either an eternal optimist (and deluded), or lying.

With words pouring onto the page, the inner editor barred for the month and the clock ticking, it’s amazing how much rubbish you can churn out. I’m dreading next month, after leaving it for a few days, when I will unearth the story and read it in preparation for the second draft. It’s terrible; it’s got holes all over it, the writing sucks and I have been visibly cringing as I’ve been racing against the clock.

I realise I’m putting myself down here and need to stress the point that It Doesn’t Matter if it’s not OK. Because as I said before – I have a wonderfully flawed, completed, first draft which I can work with; I have the bare bones, the skeleton, the foundations on which to build. And actually, some of it’s not bad. In fact, I have surprised myself with some of the paragraphs. Especially some of the intimate scenes. 😉

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a prior novel which I started in NaNoWriMo 2010 which needs my attention.

As for the rest of the participants: Keep going, Wrimos! You can do it!!