Review of Haven by Lindsay J Pryor

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Well, I have to say that my blog has been rather neglected of late. With 2017 seeing the launch of my own author career during which I’ve published three novels and a short story, time has been a commodity I haven’t had nearly enough of.

That being said, what a book to come back with!

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 . . .

My Review

I cannot tell you how long I’ve been waiting to sit down with the long-anticipated ‘Haven’ in my hands. Put it this way…. it’s been a while.

I’ve been a fan of Lindsay J Pryor for some time, but I’ll admit I did have a little nervous anxiety going on in the pit of my stomach as I opened this book. I love her Blackthorn series, and I’m highly anticipating the finale, Blood Broken. But to sit down with something completely new… well, would it meet my expectations?

So for those reading this review, I’m going to put you out of your misery really quickly… it did. It most definitely did.

Now although all of Lindsay’s novels are dark and gritty, I would say Haven was much more urban fantasy than PNR. Sure, the story focuses on two characters, and you could say there are hints of attraction between the pair, but I wouldn’t put this strictly in the PNR category.

Lindsay transports you right in the middle of the world she has created. She takes you into the heart of the action. You can smell the desperation of what it’s like to live in Lowtown, you can feel the terror, the hopelessness of being one of the unlucky folks who happened to be born into the wrong family, the wrong area.

But you can also be uplifted by the spirit of the people who live there, and none more so than our heroine, Ember, who, on the cusp of getting out of Lowtown to the more affluent Midtown is pulled into what I can only describe as a nightmare not of her making. But instead of crumbling, our girl leads from the front, inspires, thrills, digs her heels in, and stands up to those who seek to oppress.

At the beginning, I read slowly, keen to make sure I followed the story, for Lindsay J Pryor’s writing is not only absorbing, but it’s also intelligent. You have to pay attention. And gradually, I was pulled into Ember and Nate’s world, not like a voyeur, but as an active participant. I could have been Ember. I felt everything she did, I fought right alongside her, I urged her to triumph. From about the fifty percent mark, I couldn’t flick the pages fast enough.

I tried to work out how Ember was going to make it all okay when all seemed lost, but once again, as the author has done many times before, Lindsay J Pryor surprised, shocked, and astounded me with her storytelling, her guts, her ability to make the tough calls. Her ability to pull out something amazing… and when the covers are peeled back to reveal the outcome, she definitely provides that ‘What the heck’ moment!

Make no mistake: Lowtown is dark and gritty, and gives us more than a glimpse into the depths of human depravity. But it’s also uplifting, inspiring, and shows the strength of humanity, of how there are still those with determination to do the right thing, no matter what it costs them.

Lindsay J Pryor – I salute you. Please hurry up with the next in the series. I can’t wait.

Spellbound

About Lindsay

Lindsay J. Pryor

Lindsay J. Pryor is the author of the Amazon bestselling BLACKTHORN series, her dark, complex and gritty urban paranormal romances having achieved numerous Gothic and PNR number ones in both the UK and the US. LOWTOWN, a spin-off from the Blackthorn world, is her upcoming urban fantasy series of standalone books.

Quickly deciding that fantasy was more interesting than reality, Lindsay has been creating stories since she was nine years old. She holds a BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology and Communication and is a qualified Psychology lecturer and English teacher. She taught for eighteen years before becoming a full-time author.

Lindsay was born and grew up in Wales and now lives in South West England with her husband, their rescue bunny and a plethora of wild woodland creatures.

BLACKTHORN is published by Bookouture. Her LOWTOWN novels are being published by Piatkus (Little, Brown Book Group).

To find out more about Lindsay and her books, please visit her website: lindsayjpryor.com

Website http://www.lindsayjpryor.com
Facebook http://www.facebook.com/lindsayjpryor.author
Twitter http://twitter.com/lindsayjpryor
Pinterest http://uk.pinterest.com/lindsayjpryor
Instagram – http://www.instagram.com/lindsay.j.pryor

Haven: A Lowtown Novel 

Buy Links
iBooks http://apple.co/2uOjXkl
Waterstones http://bit.ly/2un4iYI
Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2udfh5t
KOBO http://bit.ly/2tSm9Dj
Amazon US (for eBook) http://amzn.to/2vzifl4
Amazon US (for paperback) http://a.co/cT6hwyt
Amazon http://a.co/9hmDloA
Amazon ANZ http://amzn.to/2uN9CFW
Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2yoeSxC
Amazon.ca http://a.co/eZ6XoQP
Indigo http://bit.ly/2jXHbRe

 

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Double Jeopardy by M.A. Conley

Double Jeopardy

So, a bit like buses, no reviews for ages and then two come along at once! For my second review, I have a novel from the hugely talented M. A. Comley who, for those who know me, will be aware of how much I LOVE her Justice Series

Now this series is new to me. Double Jeopardy is the first novel in the ‘Hero’ series that I’ve read, although it is the fourth novel overall. I was assured this could be read without reading the others, and that is absolutely true. However for those who prefer to know what comes before, I’d encourage you to read the others in the series.

The setting for the novel is Manchester which is close to my home town. I loved the local feel of it especially when something was written that I recognised, like a landmark, or a particular road. It’s always so exciting to me when that happens!

Okay, so on with the review. Hero Nelson is a hard-working Detective Inspector with a lot on his plate. Juggling a challenging job and a growing family isn’t easy.

When the owner and CEO of a very successful private company is brutally murdered, Hero and his partner, Julie, are in a race to find out what happened before the killer strikes again. The motive eludes them. It can’t be robbery because the victim was found with a large sum of cash about his person, but then if that wasn’t the motive, where is his car? And what does his (if I may say) shifty partner have to do with his death.

The pace of the novel isn’t so fast that you struggle to keep up with goings on, but it does increase towards the climax – as all good novels should, and I found the ending extremely satisfying.

I have Torn Apart (the first novel) on my Kindle, and I’ll definitely be going back and reading it.

Forbidden Bonds by Lexi C Foss

Forbidden Bonds

Well, I have been jolly remiss of late in posting my reviews. My sincere apologies! But for my comeback, what a book I’ve got for you…

So, Forbidden Bonds is the second book in the Immortal Curse series, and although I really enjoyed Blood Laws (book 1) Forbidden Bonds is that much better. Maybe because the world of Ichorian’s and Hydrians is already set up so I don’t need to learn the complexities of the environment…yeah maybe it’s that. But I actually think it’s more to do with the characters of Tom and Amelia (particularly Tom).

In Blood Laws, Tom came across as a bit of an arse (to coin an Amelia term lol), and so it was with a little trepidation that I opened the pages of Forbidden Bonds….within a chapter, I was hooked. Tom is FABULOUS. He’s certainly got a chequered past which has moulded the man he is today, but the growth in his character was a joy to watch. And phew….the man is HOT and SWOONWORTHY.

Amelia too, goes on quite a journey. I’ll warn you now, there are some pretty difficult scenes with Amelia – but the fact she comes out of the other side stronger, more tenacious, more amazing is testament to Lexi’s development of her character throughout the novel.
It was also brilliant to get more of Balthazar who is my absolute fave…bar none. While the next two books in the series aren’t going to focus on B, I am not averse to begging…..yes begging (and possibly bribing) the author to consider giving us B’s story.

I highly recommend Forbidden Bonds, but do check out Blood Laws first to get a true understanding of the story and world building.

 

Unscripted by Lisa Swallow

UnscriptedWow, it’s been a while since I posted a review. Life’s been pretty hectic recently. A couple of weeks ago, I visited a close friend of mine in the US (she emigrated last year) which was a lovely break, if a little far to go for a long weekend!

Today’s review is a lovely, easy read romance by Lisa Swallow. It’s the first novel I’ve read by Lisa. I picked up a sample from Instafreebie and the premise and Lisa’s writing grabbed my attention so I preordered the full novel.

The book follows Tate Daniels, Hollywood superstar and Myf (Myfanwy) Roberts, a struggling Welsh-born actress. Myf and Tate met six years ago when they were both studying acting in London, but despite their smoking hot chemistry, Tate was a player and Myf wasn’t willing to be the next instrument he fiddled with for a few days before tossing her aside.

The two went their separate ways, but six years later, when Myf is jilted on her wedding day (when her best friend finds the groom and the best man in an, ahem, compromising position), she takes an ill-fated trip to Vegas where she and Tate meet once more.

I really enjoyed this novel. The chapters flowed into one another very nicely and the characters are well-rounded and fully developed. Myf was great. I loved the realness (is that even a word….) of her. She makes mistakes, and she owns them. She’s contradictory at times, but unapologetic for it.

Tate gives a good impression of the devil-may-care playboy, but Lisa shows us his vulnerable side which makes you root for him to get the girl.

Tate and Myf’s story continues in Spotlight which is out later this year, a release I’m very much looking forward to.

Last Breath by Robert Bryndza

Last Breath

I’ve had Last Breath on pre-order for ages. Unfortunately, when it finally dropped onto my kindle two weeks ago, I had a few other books upon which promises had been made, and so I had to leave it for a while. And boy, was that like an itch you were desperate to scratch. Every time I opened my kindle, there it was, beckoning me to ‘Go on, open it’.

I resisted (somehow) and yesterday, on a plane to the USA to visit a friend, I began to read.

Last Breath sees the return of Detective Chief Inspector Erika Foster. Erika is still cooling her heels pushing paperwork when a call comes in about a girl found in a dumpster. Erika happens to be with Peterson at the time he receives the call so, of course, our intrepid detective can’t help poking her nose in (one of the many, many things I love about Erika).

But…I digress…Erika begins to dig, even though it is not her case, and she finds another murder committed a few months before which appears to have been carried out by the same killer. In order to be considered for the case, Erika has to eat some serious humble pie, but she does it in true Erika style (Have I mentioned I love Erika Foster?)

My Thoughts

My goodness me, Robert Bryndza, you’ve only gone and done it again! Last Breath is a thrilling rollercoaster of a ride that will strap you in, send you spinning, and won’t let go until you’ve turned the last page.

It’s an intricate piece of storytelling, beautifully structured with all the twists and turns of a classic.

Erika is back with all the dogged determination and insubordination that I’ve come to love her for. There are times (many of them) where I actually cringe at the things she says and how she rails against authority. She’d be an absolute nightmare to manage. But what her superiors can’t deny is the results she achieves.

If I had a mother, father, sister, brother, lover or friend go missing, I’d want Erika on the case. The woman is a force of nature.

Bring on Book 5!

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

The Girl Before

I really wanted to read this novel, especially with all the hype surrounding it, but at £6.99 was a little rich for my blood (I’ll only push the boat out that far for an ebook from my very favourite authors. As I’d never read a novel by JP Delaney before, I didn’t want to take the risk.

But then a BookBub email came into my inbox. Excellent! It had been reduced to 99p. I grabbed it (and told a bunch of my friends to grab it too), before it went up in price.

And of course, it shot straight to the top of my TBR pile.

The novel is told in a THEN and NOW style. Then, is about Emma, a young woman who has met an untimely death and Now, following Jane, a woman who rents the same house Emma lived in three years before.

The house has very strict rules, applied by the architect and owner, Edward Monkford. As the story progresses, Jane becomes obsessed with the house and its secrets as her past becomes intertwined with Emma’s.

My Thoughts

I finished The Girl Before a few days ago but left it until now to write my review, because I wanted to reflect. It didn’t blow me away, as I’d expected. I found the storytelling from Emma’s perspective a little strange, especially as the author chose not to use quotation marks for speech, making it hard to follow when someone was actually speaking versus having internal dialogue. I know why the author did it—to differentiate between the voices of the two women, especially as there does end up being some repetition—but all the same, I didn’t get on with that style.

There are some good twists and turns, and I loved the vivid description of the house which is central to the story, but I was looking for more punch, more tension, more drama, and I’m afraid The Girl Before didn’t deliver on the hype surrounding it. This is something I’m finding more and more. Certain books seem to attract huge attention (I’m thinking Girl on the Train and Gone Girl here), and yet don’t quite deliver on the promises that hype makes. I began to wonder if the term ‘Girl’ was the problem (joke), but having read Robert Bryndza’s The Girl in the Ice, which is a superb novel, I know that not to be true.

The book is being made into a movie, directed by Ron Howard, who is superb, and thinking about how the story unfolds, I think this is one of those that may translate better to screen than reading the written word.

 

The Chosen by J. R. Ward

The Chosen

Xcor, leader of the Band of Bastards has been captured by the Black Dagger Brotherhood for treason against The King, Wrath, son of Wrath.

After a lifetime of hardship and abuse, Xcor accepts his death sentence, his only regret the loss of The Chosen, Layla, a female who was never his to begin with.

Only Layla, The Chosen, knows the truth that will save Xcor’s life, but can she risk everything she holds dear for the male she loves?

My Review

I admit to being rather disappointed with the last BDB novel, The Beast, although from fellow fans I’ve spoken to, that novel certainly polarised opinions, and I get the sense that The Chosen will suffer the same fate.

However, for me, I LOVED it. I have been waiting for what seems like a lifetime, virtually frothing at the mouth to get my hands on Xcor and Layla’s long awaited story – and it didn’t disappoint. Full of angst, regret, revenge, love, sorrow and loss, The Chosen really put my feelings through the wringer – without apology. Xcor’s backstory broke my heart and I was praying for him to catch a break, although with a death sentence for almost killing The King hanging over him, I couldn’t see a way for him to survive.

Layla really comes into her own in this novel. She risks everything, and by everything, I mean EVERYTHING for the man she loves, but more than that, she leaves her Chosen status well and truly behind her. And I loved it. There’s a specific scene with Tohr (no spoilers), where I actually found myself cheering her on. What a woman!

Now Qhuinn…don’t get me started on him. I wanted to reach into this novel and give that male a good shake, and let him feel the sharp edge of my tongue. He makes a lot of judgemental errors in this book, and I was most certainly NOT on his side.

And now for the things I didn’t like. For me, there are still too many other threads. I’d have loved this book to be about the main foursome (Xcor, Layla, Qhuinn and Blay), but several other threads took the attention away from the main story. Of course, there has to be some set up for the next novel (which we now know to be Assail’s), but I sometimes long for the BDB novels of old where the other threads were kept to a minimum.

Still, that’s a minor gripe, and apart from Lover Awakened (Z’s story – ahhh Z, my love, my life), this is probably my favourite, mainly because of Xcor.

I await Book 15 with interest.