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

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Impeding Justice by Mel Comley

Impeding Justice

You know when you discover a new book and then find out there’s a whole series of them just waiting for you to devour? Well that’s what happened to me when I read Prime Justice by Mel Comley. And so, of course, I just had to go get the next, and the next and the….well, you get the picture.

Impeding Justice is the second novel following DI Lorne Simkins. It’s about a year since the end of Prime Justice (think I’ve got that right) and this time, Lorne is tracking ‘The Unicorn’ an evil terrorist who she’s been trying to capture for eight years. Eight long years. But every time she gets close, he slips through her fingers.

The novel opens with Lorne, once again, having cornered ‘The Unicorn’. She and her partner have him trapped in an alley, but backup is too slow to arrive and without the ability to return fire with fire, The Unicorn escapes. But not before he’s put a couple of bullets in her partner, Pete.

With her confidence shaken at the death of her partner, Lorne remains nonetheless determined to bring down this ruthless killer. But then her daughter, Charlie, is kidnapped.

My Review

After finishing Impeding Justice twenty-four hours ago, I’m still struggling to organise my feelings and calm my pulse. Brutal. That’s the word which immediately comes to mind to describe the mill that Mel Comley put me through reading this book.

The Unicorn, at times, comes across as almost a caricature of a villain, but he is far, far from that. Evil isn’t a strong enough word to describe him, and Mel Comley does not shy away—not one little bit—from the hard stuff here. She deals with the reality of a heinous criminal and the lengths these type of people will go to in order to continue their life of crime.

I’m trying to write a review which won’t give away any spoilers, but it isn’t easy. I’ve written and deleted several paragraphs which some reviewers may not have an issue with, but for me, they just give away a little too much. The twists and turns and downright shocks come thick and fast as Lorne gets closer and closer to reeling The Unicorn in. But this is no ordinary criminal. He’s several steps ahead of Lorne at all times. And he has a personal vendetta against her, one he’s going to make sure she suffers through.

And the ending…..I’m shocked and saddened…and shocked some more.

Lorne isn’t your average cool, calm and collected police detective. She wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s real. She reacts, at times when she shouldn’t, but she doesn’t apologise for her faults. She uses them to drive her, to ground her, to keep her moving forward.

I can already see this series is going to get better and better. I need a break. I need to recover. And then I’m diving straight back in.

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.