Flawed (Mercenary Series Book 3) by Marissa Farrar

Flawed

I took to this series from the very first page of Skewed, Book 1 in the series. They are thrillers at heart but with relationships at the forefront of what drives the main characters and I really enjoy reading those type of books.

I loved the old covers, but for some reason, the author has changed them. Maybe the old covers weren’t attracting the right audience, but I do miss them. They were things of beauty in my humble opinion, but this is a business after all, and if things need to change to appeal wider, then that’s what must happen.

If you want to see what the old covers looked like, or to check out my review of the first two in the series, you can do so  here (Skewed) and here (Warped)

Flawed follows on from where Warped (Book 2) left off. Vee is left reeling from receiving some unexpected news and her father, mobster Mickey Five Fingers is still very much out for vengeance. Vee and X flee into the Catskill Mountains north of New York to hide out until X can figure out how to get her father off their trail – and being a hitman, that doesn’t involve taking him out for a pint and hoping he’ll be reasonable!

But before X can achieve his mission, the couple are hit from left field. X has enemies. Lots of them. And they are out for revenge.

My Review

Marissa crafts what i would term an easy read; the prose flows and the chapters skip by. She uses description well; it is easy to slip into the minds of her characters as though you are right there with them.

Vee is a great character; she drew me in from the very beginning of this series. She’s ballsy, tenacious, tough and isn’t afraid of taking risks, but at the same time, you see her vulnerability come through, her deep love for her sister driving a lot of her decisions, and her desperate desire to be safe and free from the clutches of her hateful father.

X is just fabulous. I love the way Marissa shows how his love for Vee softens him, but only where she is concerned. When it comes to taking out the bad guys, there he is a merciless as ever.

This is quite a short novel and so the action moves very fast, leaving you little time to get bored or to start flicking through pages; if you do that, you’ll miss a pertinent point. But you don’t need to put aside a whole day to read it, so if it’s a quick, easy fast-paced read you’re looking for which centres around a strong woman and a hot guy, then this is the series for you.

X and Vee’s story will conclude in a fourth novel (something which surprised me as, for some reason, I had assumed only 3), but fear not if you’re not a huge fan of cliffhangers. The final instalment is due in July 2017!

Buy Links

The Mercenary Series so far is currently available in a three book boxed set

Individual Novels
Skewed – Amazon UK
Warped – Amazon UK
Flawed – Amazon UK

All titles are also available at Amazon US

 

 

 

 

Watch Her Disappear by Eva Dolan

Good morning all! I’ve had the pleasure today of being hosted for the second time by the lovely Emma Welton over at damppebbles.com. This time, I’m reviewing thriller novel Watch Her Disappear by Eva Dolan.

Watch Her Disappear

I absolutely loved this novel. Check out my review over at Emma’s blog. Thanks again, Emma for putting up with me twice!

Never Alone by Elizabeth Haynes

Never Alone

I first discovered Elizabeth Haynes some years ago when I stumbled across her first novel, Into The Darkest Corner which is just brilliant! But then I seemed to lose track of her and only recently came across a review for this new book. I have since discovered that she has written a few others, but part of a series, whereas this is a standalone.

Never Alone is written from the point of view of Sarah (third person POV) and Aiden (second person POV which is a style I normally don’t like), but is done so brilliantly and really fit the character of Aiden. We also see a few sections in first person from a hidden ‘baddie’. The whole thing probably breaks most writing rules, and I love Ms Haynes for pushing those boundaries. For this book, it works. Really, really well.

From the very first chapter, the story grabbed me. There’s something about the way Ms Haynes lays words on a page which makes my eyes sing with joy.

Sarah lives in a remote cottage in Yorkshire, alone now since her husband died after an accident and her daughter and son left home. When she spots a Facebook post from an old flame (and ex-best friend of her husband) Aiden, asking if anyone knows of a place for rent, she sends him a message. Pretty soon, the two are rekindling their old relationship, but there’s something secretive and fishy about Aiden, and Sarah won’t quite let her guard down.

When her best friend, Sophie, the wife of an MP and all-round lonely housewife, starts having a fling with Will, a young man who used to hang around with Sarah’s son, things take a quick downward turn, especially when we discover that Sarah has her own secret to hide.

As the weather closes in, things get very dark and very scary. Ms Haynes ramps up the tension brilliantly and I found myself trying to read faster and faster, a sure sign I’m ‘in the zone’. The isolation of Sarah’s farmhouse, and the wonderful description of the bleak and cold surroundings makes you feel as though you are right there, watching events unfold before your very eyes.

Is ‘Never Alone’ as good as ‘Into the Darkest Corner’? In my opinion, no, not quite. But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t a brilliant book in its own right. Ms Haynes does dark tension better than most I’ve read, and I can’t wait for her next tension-filled novel.

Go grab yourself a copy, but make sure to keep the lights on!

 

 

Happy Publication Day Incy Black!

I am beyond thrilled to welcome Incy Black to my blog on this most exciting of days, the publication date for Hard To Protect, Incy’s third novel in the Hard To series.

hard-to-protect

Incy was kind enough to answer some questions that I’ve been dying to know. Whether you’re a fan of Incy’s work, or haven’t discovered her immense talent yet, I hope you enjoy reading my interview

Thanks for joining me here at Passionate About Books, Incy. Tell me, what led you to becoming a published author?

It was short, sharp and shocking. It was not supposed to happen. About four years ago, I wrote a book—and hid it. Wrote another. Hid that one, too, because writing was my little secret. Then, bored one night, I entered a Twitter 40-word pitch competition. Next thing I know, I’m in the company of an ostrich, a bat, a spider and a ghoul (I’m dressed as a bolt of lightning) and I get ‘the call’ or, in my case, ‘the email’—and I damn near threw my phone into a hedge in fright. The fact that I was offered a publishing contract whilst trick or treating on Halloween sums up my journey to publication—and I’m still in recovery

Hard to Protect is the third book in your ‘Hard to…’ series which focuses on Will Berwick and Angel Treherne.  Can you describe Will and Angel using only three words each.

Will: Lethal, wily, cock-sure
Angel: Loyal, spirited, guarded

What kind of research did you do for this novel?

Stuff that probably got me put on some ‘watch list’. Weapon making, bio-chemical terrorism, double agents, political conspiracies and sleeping with the enemy, non-combat related deaths in the military, the Ministry of Defence, urban explorers, the law of trespass, the hidden web of tunnels beneath London, the Rolling Stones and Nine Inch Nails, the history of absinth, Members of Parliament and their mistresses, brothels…there were a lot of weird tangents I followed.

How long did you spend researching this book before you began the first draft?

No time at all. I research post the writing process, only so as to avoid being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Once a draft manuscript is written I spend weeks on the ‘Could this happen?’. Wonderful weeks because the internet is a worm hole that sucks you in and spits you out in the most unexpected and bizarre of locations. Did you know that otters hold hands to avoid drifting apart, that rats laugh if tickled, that one of the highest paid female escorts earns $24,000 a night or that during the Cannes film festival the most prized female escorts can demand upwards of $40,000 a night.

Who do you prefer to write – men or women? And why?

The male bastard is by far the most fun to write because they can get away with behaving badly whilst remaining heroic. Unfortunately, if a woman has a sharp tongue (and even sharper intelligence), or her actions are questionable, she is labelled a bitch or a slut—so annoying. I like hard bastards, bitches and sluts, there’s a real challenge to redeeming them.

How long, on average, does it take you to write a novel?

It used to take me about five weeks until I took up studying the craft of writing, had a crisis of confidence, and now it can take me a year and about a gazillion drafts. I mourn the days of the spontaneous word spew.

What are your top three favourite books?

Impossible, but off the top of my head:

To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
Papillon – Henri Charrière
The Collector – John Fowles

And….
Absolutely nothing, ever again, by Jane Austin.

What’s your favourite, unappreciated novel or series?

I’m not too sure they’re unappreciated, but:
John Connelly’s Charlie ‘Bird’ Parker series
Carol O’Connell’s Kathy Mallory series
And because I refuse to be confined by quantity or to the page, the TV series ‘Luther’.

What is the one thing you would give up to become a better writer?

My soul? Kidding. The only thing I’d give up to improve as a writer is my time.

What piece of advice would you give aspiring writers?

Learn the rules of writing just to break them, then slice your veins and bleed all over the page.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on next?

Well, take five anti-hero hard bastards locked together by a shared childhood crisis of conscience, position them on the wrong side of the law, torture each of them by making them fall in love with ‘almost normal’, throw in a few dead bodies and multiple threats, and you have the five book Skulk Vulpes (a skulk of foxes) series.

 

And now for some non writing related questions – just for fun!

  1. Cake or Biscuits:  Liquorice humbugs (because no dietary advice ever specifically mentions those as best avoided)
  2. X-Factor or The Voice:  Both make me laugh, but The Voice ‘appears’ to have more integrity.
  3. Facebook or Twitter: I understand Facebook—sort of.
  4. Coke or Diet Coke: Real coke, none of that sugar-free crap.
  5. Dogs or Cats: I quite fancy a goat, but goats smell so I’ll settle for a couple of Bengal cats.
  6. Coffee or Tea: So long as there’s a tonne load of sugar in each I don’t much care.
  7. Walking Dead or Game of Thrones: Sons of Anarchy—though it had a really stupid ending.
  8. Mac or Windows: Mac Not that I give a damn about the operating system but Macs take ‘stunningly beautiful’ to a new level.

 

I can’t thank Incy enough for taking the time to answer my questions.

Hard to Protect is out today, 20th March 2017. Grab your copy here

 

My Reviews of Incy’s work

Hard to Forget (Book 1)
Hard to Hold (Book 2)
Hard to Protect (Book 3)

 

About the Author

It took a swan dive from a roof to convince Incy (aged 5) that she could not fly. Bruised but undefeated she retreated deeper into her make-believe world of superheroes and arch villains where good always triumphs over evil—eventually. When her imagination gets too crowded, and the voices in her head too loud, she depopulates by spilling her characters and events onto paper.

When not fighting injustice and righting wrongs on ‘Planet Incy’ she works as a Marketing Director, and slaves as a cook, cleaner and homemaker. Unfortunately, her law degree languishes unused, the distinction between good and evil proving too worrisome in real life.

Now living in the West Country (UK), her five children are well versed in what scares her (most things) and delight in pushing her neurotic buttons—at their peril.

Want to connect with Incy? Follow the links below

Facebook   Twitter   Website   Newsletter   Goodreads   Instagram

 

 

Review of King by T. M. Frazier

King

Okay, I’m going to be honest here. I downloaded this for two reason; 1) It was on offer and 2)  A couple of my friends who I trust LOVED it.

I’m honestly struggling to write a review of this book, which is unlike me. Even with books I didn’t particularly like, I usually find the words flowing, but with ‘King’, my fingers are hovering, directionless, over the keys.

I think part of the difficulty comes from the schizophrenic nature of the novel. Strong language and even stronger sex mixed with what I can only describe as childish reactions from the main character, Doe, a girl who has lost her memory and ended up in King’s world, a just-out-of-jail bad boy who, on the surface you’d want to avoid at all costs, but beneath the veneer was simply a confused and messed up dude.

The whole novel lurched between over-reaction layered on over-reaction, driven from the motivation of Doe, a starving girl without her memory who makes bad choices, but then we find out that King knows who she is from the very beginning of their association by….a simple Google search. And so that begs the question; couldn’t Doe have done that for herself? Of COURSE she could, hence the more than ridiculous premise of the novel.

I would have given this novel the swerve at less than 25% in, were it not for my friends loving it so much. Therefore, I pressed on. My interest was piqued at around 75% and I did enjoy the rest of the novel (apart from one ridiculous scene which I won’t mention due to spoilers), but really, a novel needs to do more than make you wait until 3/4 of the way through before it delivers promise.

King had all the elements of a great bad-boy, but didn’t quite hit the heights he could have, while Doe made all the right noises of a tough ‘I can take care of myself thank-you-very-much’ kind of girl, but I found some of her decisions frankly laughable. The best character was Preppy, King’s best friend, and I believe he has his own books later in the series.

This novel has a fabulous number of 4 and 5 star reviews on Amazon, and, as I mentioned, friends who have a very similar taste in books to me absolutely loved it. Therefore, I’ll end this review by encouraging you to make your own mind up….but this wasn’t a novel for me.

 

The Liberation by Kate Furnivall

The Liberation.jpg

I’ve never read anything by this author as, for those who follow my blog, I’m not a massive fan of historical fiction. However, after a recommendation by a friend, and a quick glance at the blurb, I took a punt and downloaded The Liberation.

I will admit a slight dampening of my palms and an increased pulse rate when I saw the page length—560 pages according to Amazon—about double the size of my ‘go to’ novel length (give or take).

The Liberation is set in the south of Italy in 1945. The war is over and the Allied Forces have moved in to ‘fix’ a broken and bankrupt country. But not everyone is living on their wits and little else. Some well connected folks are making a fortune by plundering Italy’s spectacular resources – Artwork, marble statues, intricate wood carvings.

When Caterina Lombardi is questioned by army Major, Jake Parr, who seems to be indicating that her dead father knew more about the movement of these stolen goods, she leaps to her father’s defence. He was a good man. An honest man….wasn’t he?

As Caterina gets drawn further and further into the desperate underbelly of a starving and desperate nation, her life and the lives of those most precious to her are called into danger.

But Caterina is driven to find out the truth – even at the cost of her own life.

My Review

Let me start with the huge positives of this book. The author clearly has a wonderful knack of imagery and scene setting. She took me right there, to Italy, directly after the war. I could see everything. Hear everything. Feel everything. I could almost smell the desperation, the need, the starvation and deep-seated sadness of the Italian people. Her ability to describe the world she’s transporting you to is, in my opinion, right up there with the best of the best. Wonderful.

Caterina is a very worthy heroine. Spunky, determined, full of vitality despite her predicament and so, so tenacious. Like a dog with a bone, she gets a sniff of an attack on her family’s honour and whoosh, she’s off to defend the Lombardi name. I took to Caterina very early on, and she kept me rooting for her to the very end.

Major Jake Parr is one of those hero’s that you’d love to meet in real life. Steady, dependable, oozing with the ability to make you feel safe even as all around you is falling to pieces.

Most surprising of all for me was that I did like the historical element – especially surprising given my comment at the very beginning of this post. I put that down to Kate Furnivall’s wonderful writing. This is clearly a very talented author, and some of her descriptions made me stop and reread the line several times, such was my awe at how she’d taken words and organised them into a truly magnificent sentence. I often like to pick out a sentence which I love in my reviews, and for this novel, I’ve chosen a sentence from Jake’s POV; this describes Jake’s personality perfectly:-

“He liked facts, he liked logic, he liked to take hold of a tangled thread and inch by inch unwind it until he found what the dirty end was looped around.”

And now for the thing I didn’t like quite so much….in the main, it was the pacing of the novel which, for me, was far too slow. I almost gave up at about 30% in because I felt we weren’t getting to the crux of the story fast enough, but I pressed on – and I am glad I did. In my opinion, parts of scenes/whole scenes could have been cut in that first third without changing the overall direction of the novel or understanding of the story—but I hasten to add that some people LOVE the slow burn of a novel. Me, I prefer the pacing to be such that I can barely catch my breath.

I have read a few reviews saying that this isn’t Kate Furnivall’s best work and that, along with the wonderful way with words she has, makes me want to seek out more by this author.

 

Happy Publication Day – The Silent Wife by Kerry Fisher

the-silent-wife

Thank you to NetGalley and Bookouture for a chance to read an advance copy of this novel

I didn’t have a clue what TheSilent Wife was about, but it didn’t matter. I LOVE Kerry’s books, and so, for me, it was more a question of ‘pick me, pick me’ when I saw it was up for request on NetGalley. Thankfully, those wonderful people at Bookouture saw fit to grant my request.

My Review

The book begins at Maggie’s wedding to Nico, whose first wife, Caitlin, sadly died of cancer, leaving him to bring up their young daughter, Francesca.

Maggie met Nico after her mother, Beryl, nursed Caitlin through her final weeks and months, leading everyone in the family, not least of all Nico’s formidable (and cutting) mother, Anna, to hold the firm belief that Maggie was nothing more than a gold digger, especially as she was brought up ‘on the wrong side of the tracks’.

Maggie doesn’t really know what she’s let herself in for, marrying into the formidable Farinelli family, but suffice to say, it doesn’t take her long to find out, and when she is sorting through some of Caitlin’s things, she stumbles upon a secret that, if released into the perfect Farinelli world, had the potential to tear the family apart.

Lara, her next door neighbour and new sister-in-law is married to Nico’s brother, Massimo, the life and soul of any party. Maggie hopes that Lara will become a confidante, another ‘outsider’ who she can lean on for support when being the ‘far from perfect second wife to the very perfect first one’ becomes too much. Unfortunately, Lara has a secret of her own, and Maggie soon realises that Lara isn’t going to provide the support she needs.

I loved Maggie from the get-go. She was warm, funny, real, brilliantly written and beautifully brought to life by Kerry. I initially struggled with Lara, but as the novel progresses, you understand why she is the way she is, and I was cheering for her by the end.

Maggie’s mother Beryl is awesome (yes I know that word is overused, but Beryl earns that description and then some). Some of her put-downs to Anna have you yelling ‘You Go Girl!’

Maggie has some wonderful inner monologue that had me laughing out loud. I’d love to share a whole bunch with you, but some of them would contain spoilers, so you’ll just have to read the book. However, I can share one, which describes Maggie’s personality perfectly.

‘I could think of things I’d rather do. Like sniff chilli up my nose, mistake Deep Heat for Canesten, sever a limb with a cheese wire.’ Just fabulous!

This is Kerry’s fourth novel, and it has all the hallmarks of her wonderful voice that makes me unquestionably read her books in the firm knowledge that they will draw me in and keep my attention to the very end. Even so, there’s always that bite of fear when you start a novel by an author you love. What if this one is ‘the one that doesn’t live up to the others’. We’ve all been there – and felt the disappointment, but I’m delighted to say that by the end of the first chapter, I was smiling so hard, my cheeks hurt.

I thought The Island Escape, Kerry’s last novel (Link to My Review), couldn’t be matched for having brilliant characters and wonderful prose filled with laugh out loud moments as well as heart-felt ones. Wrong. If anything, The Secrets of Second Wives beats The Island Escape (it’s marginal though), but Kerry’s consistency in punching out fabulous stories continues its relentless journey.

The Silent Wife (previously called The Secrets of Second Wives) s is up to buy NOW. Get yours here.

Amazon UK

Amazon (US)

Cruel Justice by M. A. Comley

cruel-justice

cannot believe how long it has took me to get around to reading this book, but for some reason it just kept dropping further and further down my TBR pile. I’m so glad it finally clawed its way to the top.

Lorne Simpkins –  recently been promoted to Detective Inspector – suddenly finds herself thrust into the worst case of her career when a headless body is found in the woods. They eventually identify the woman as a wealthy widow living nearby, but it’s when they go to break the news to her sister that the case takes a strange turn.

Before Lorne can start to piece together the macabre murder, a young girl goes missing. Are the cases connected or does she have two killers on the loose?

My Review

This book grabbed me from the prologue which, I won’t lie, is utterly brutal. The author pulls absolutely no punches showing you the depths of depravity that the killer in this case will go to, the levels of torture he will inflict on his victims. It is somewhat of a relief when the prologue ends and you are thrust into Lorne’s life.

Lorne’s newly promoted status is putting strain on her marriage; sixteen hour days, a madman on the loose, a boss to impress and a team to lead doesn’t exactly leave a lot of time for house-husband Tom or their child, Charlie and as the cracks begin to show, Lorne time and again chooses her job over her family.

I empathised with Lorne’s plight, but there was the odd time I wanted her, just once, to delegate and choose instead to spend a night with her poor husband who was suffering from a distinct case of cabin fever.

As the victims grow and the puzzle deepens, Lorne is drawn further away from her family and deeper into the horror of the case unfolding before her.

The pace felt just about right – the killer’s motivations were unveiled piece by piece and as Lorne closed in, I found myself reading faster and faster, desperate to get to the end. For me, that’s a key sign of a book that has me hooked.

And the best thing – I’ve discovered a series which has a whole load of other books out that I can devour.

 

 

Review of The Facilitator by Tracie Podger

the-facilitator

I’d never read this author before, but when I saw the book on THE Book Club on Facebook, I offered to read and review as the blurb sounded intriguing.

Now before I start my review, I will say this book is not for those easily offended or with sensitive dispositions. The language is graphic and the sex is frequent, descriptive and includes M/M, M/F/F and light BDSM. Of course, as I’m not easily offended, I dived right in!

Lauren Perry is going through a painful divorce. Her husband (and childhood sweetheart) Scott, cheated on her with his assistant at the company they both work for. She feels worthless, unattractive and worst of all, she’s terribly lonely.

And then she has a chance meeting with a stranger at a bar and, taking a risk for the first time in her life, she sleeps with him.

Filled with regret, Lauren runs out on the mystery man while he is sleeping, only to later find out he is Mackenzie Miller, the man who her boss, Jerry, has sold the majority share of his company to.

But Lauren can’t stop thinking about Mackenzie, and when he offers to fulfil every sexual desire Lauren has (including those she doesn’t even know she has yet), she reluctantly accepts. Horrified at her reaction to some of her darkest desires, Lauren continually fights her feelings, her emotions, but what started out as a game becomes something much more, much deeper and Lauren finally begins to realise who she really is.

Whilst this book is badged as contemporary romance, it is much more erotic than that, but unlike some erotic romance novels, this novel has a believable and progressive plot and is much more about discovery and growth through sexual fantasies than purely graphic sex.

Lauren intrigued me as a character. For someone who, although married for a long time, had limited sexual experience, she jumped really quickly into what Mackenzie was offering, but I didn’t find her decision far-fetched, rather that Mackenzie was terribly persuasive.

Now Mackenzie, ahh Mackenzie, where do I find one of those? I loved the way his character was slowly revealed. We gradually see the onion layers peeled off to reveal the man behind the mystery. I thought he was a brilliant character, well crafted, well developed and hot, hot, hot.

I had one pet peeve – the use of the word panties from an English girl. But that is just a personal pet peeve and in no way detracted from my enjoyment of the book.

I really enjoyed being a part of Lauren and Mackenzie’s journey. The Facilitator is an easy read, the story flowed well, and I didn’t get bored at all – and Tracie Podger has a knack for writing very hot sex scenes!

Mackenzie and Lauren’s story isn’t over. I can’t wait for part 2.