Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Devil's Game (Reapers MC #3) by Joanna Wylde

What it’s about

Liam “Hunter” Blake hates the Reapers MC. Born and raised a Devil’s Jack, he knows his duty. He’ll defend his club from their oldest enemies—the Reapers—using whatever weapons he can find. But why use force when the Reapers’ president has a daughter who’s alone and vulnerable? Hunter has wanted her from the minute he saw her, and now he has an excuse to take her.

Em has lived her entire life in the shadow of the Reapers. Her overprotective father, Picnic, is the club’s president. The last time she had a boyfriend, Picnic shot him. Now the men in her life are far more interested in keeping her daddy happy than showing her a good time. Then she meets a handsome stranger—a man who isn't afraid to treat her like a real woman. One who isn't afraid of her father. His name is Liam, and he’s The One.

Or so she thinks.


Kristen’s Review

I love this book! It's full of all the things that I enjoy when reading a edgy romance. It has a tightly constructed and compelling plot, intelligent and humorous dialogue, and characters so richly developed they feel authentic and tangible.

This story has a slightly different feel from the first two book, as the heroine, Em, was born and raised in the MC world and understood exactly what that entailed. She brought an enlightened perspective to the lifestyle. I absolutely adored Em's character. She was tough as nails, endearing, courageous, determined, and completely down to earth. She's a character that's easy to love and hard to forget. I also loved Hunter. He's jaded, cocky, and has a devil-may-care attitude. He's everything I love in a bad boy with a hidden golden heart.

My favorite aspect of this story was the relationship between Hunter and Em. Not only did these two have incredible chemistry—which made for delightful interactions and heated love scenes—but they were such a force to be reckoned with. Their commitment and love for each other was a breath of fresh air. There is nothing better than a couple who unite and stand by each other through thick and thin.

Devil's Game is a fantastic book filled with a perfect blend of grit, angst, steam, humor, action, and romance. From start to finish, this story had my full attention and I had a hard time putting it down. This is a book I would definitely read again. If you enjoy raw and gritty reads that give a fairly realistic and frighteningly compelling look into the outlaw biker world, then I highly recommend this series.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Is It Worth A Listen? Audiobook Review of Saving Saffron Sweeting by Pauline Wiles ~ Narration by Lesley Parkin

What it’s about

Grace Palmer’s British friends all think she’s living the American Dream. But her design business is floundering and when she discovers her husband is cheating with her best client, she panics and flees home to England.

The tranquil village of Saffron Sweeting appears to be a good place for Grace to lick her wounds, but the community is battling its own changes. Reluctantly, Grace finds herself helping her new neighbours as they struggle to adjust and save their businesses. However, not everyone has the same opinion on what’s good for the village. The charismatic new man in her life may have one speculative eye on Grace, but the other is firmly on profit. How will she navigate the tricky path between her home and her happiness?

With gentle humour and generous helpings of British tea and cake, Saving Saffron Sweeting explores one woman’s need to define herself through her career and community, before she can figure out who should be by her side.

 Karla’s Review

Story rating ~ 4.5 Stars! Wonderful debut book!
After realizing that her husband cheated on her and not willing to hear anything he has to say, Grace packs her bags, leaves California on the spur of the moment, and heads back home to England to sort out her life. Not sure what she’s going to do, and knowing she can’t stay with her brother and sister-in-law forever, she decides to settle in Saffron Sweeting, a small town that is on the verge of financial collapse. While it’s close to a large American company and that should bring people to the town to shop, they choose to go to the larger cities for their needs. Grace starts to offer the town's shop owners advice on how to lure the Americans to their shops.

I loved this story! Without even realizing what she’s doing Grace lends the shop owners her expertise on what Americans are looking for in a foreign country. While many of the Americans are all but willing to embrace a new culture and small town life, they miss some of the creature comforts of home and find themselves heading to the larger towns to shop. Being that Grace lived in the states for many years she is able to bring new life to this small town through her suggestions on how make the shops more appealing to the transplants. She's so kind and sweet, a very endearing and charming character, easy to relate too. She's also a dog lover, and she won me over when she befriends what she thinks is a stray.

Not only do the Americans appreciate the small changes, the locals enjoy them too. Once they understand that the town is suffering the American residents rally around the town they now call home. The  American residents unite with the locals, and use their brains and resources for a town that has a hold on their hearts. This whole sense of community is something that I enjoy in a read and it was at the core of this story. The author did a great job connecting the reader to the residents and their plight, I just couldn't help but root for them. There are some characters that I would love to go back and re-visit with and wonder if they have a story to tell.

While she's unconsciously saving Saffron Sweeting, Grace is also finding herself. She looks at her past and what she left behind and realizes that she might be able to save more than a town. She meets someone else while she's in Saffron Sweeting, and while their relationship is sweet and sexually charged, there is something missing. Grace needs to decide whether she will start over with someone new, or if her relationship with James is worth saving. 

I’m not a fan of cheating storylines, but this one worked for me in a big way.  The focus of the plot was mostly on Grace and her journey, and how moving to Saffron Sweeting brought purpose to her life and gave her the time to contemplate on how to move forward. Ultimately she needed to dig deep and see if her marriage was worth salvaging. The author put a lot of thought into the ending, and while I was somewhat surprised where it was going, in the end it felt right! Sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find your way back to the top! 

Narration rating ~ 3 Stars!
Narrated by: Lesley Parkin
Length: 10 hrs and 6 mins
Format: Unabridged
Release Date:11-26-13
Publisher: Pauline Wiles
Available for purchase at: Audible
While Lesley Parkin was able to bring a distinguishable voice to each of the characters, the narration was without emotion and almost too refined for this read, most particularly for Grace’s voice, she came off as stuffy when she was anything but.  There were so many fun moments that could have had more zing had the narration been more animated and not quite so rigid.

So, is it better to listen or to read the written word? I’m going to have to go with reading the written word. While the narration wasn’t horrible, it lacked the emotion and spirit that this story was trying to illustrate. The fun was missing and with a wonderful cast of quirky characters at her disposal, Lesley Parkin didn’t embrace their personalities as much I would have liked.

Final thoughts
Saffron Sweeting is an amazing debut book. The fact that I’m not a fan of the cheating storyline, but liked this story, speaks volumes about the author’s writing and storytelling!   But, don’t listen…read it instead!  

*A copy of the audio version was provided by Audiobook Jukebox in exchange for an honest review*

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