Wednesday, July 31, 2013


Pages: 463
Date: 31/07/2013
Grade: 3
Details: no. 4 Robert Langdon

The blurb:

“‘Seek and ye shall find.’

With these words echoing in his head, eminent Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon awakes in a hospital bed with no recollection of where he is or how he got there. Nor can he explain the origin of the macabre object that is found hidden in his belongings.

A threat to his life will propel him and a young doctor, Sienna Brooks, into a breakneck chase across the city of Florence. Only Langdon’s knowledge of hidden passageways and ancient secrets that lie behind its historic facade can save them from the clutches of their unknown pursuers.

With only a few lines from Dante’s dark and epic masterpiece, The Inferno, to guide them, they must decipher a sequence of codes buried deep within some of the most celebrated artefacts of the Renaissance – sculptures, paintings, buildings – to find the answers to a puzzle which may, or may not, help them save the world from a terrifying threat…”

And so we may have reached the point where Dan Brown / Robert Langdon and I have to part ways. I really enjoyed The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons when I read them a few years ago. When I read The Lost Symbol I was starting to think that maybe it was just more of the same and now that I’ve finished Inferno I know that I was right. Dan Brown appears to have one story in him which he keeps on rehashing and which, it would appear, the public is only too delighted to continue reading.

Up to a point I understand why his books are so popular. There is a huge threat to the world, with both the exact threat and the possible solution obscured by symbolic messages and riddles that only one, unlikely, hero can decipher and solve, thus, hopefully, preventing disaster. Written down like this it should be a winning formula and if sales figures are anything to go buy, it is.

So, why isn’t it really working for me any more?

If I’m honest, I have to admit that I have a hard time explaining exactly why the story just didn’t work for me this time, but it didn’t. I found it too easy to put the book down. This should be a page-turner and compulsive reading but proved to be anything but for me. I got bored with the long descriptions, the writing felt clumsy and I never experienced that sense of urgency that I get when I read a good book, especially a well plotted thriller.

And that is a shame because I was intrigued by the whole mystery revolving around Dante’s Inferno and fascinated by the philosophies behind the threat Robert Langdon is trying to avert. I can’t help feeling that this could have been a captivating read if only it had been about 100 pages shorter, if the interruptions of the action had been fewer and/or shorter, if there had been less repetition in the story, if the writing had felt less clumsy, if…

It doesn’t seem fair to castigate an author for finding a successful formula and sticking to it. Lots of authors have built very successful careers on doing exactly that; James Patterson and Nora Roberts are two high profile authors that immediately spring to mind. And while my feelings with regard to Patterson are not too far of those I expressed above about Brown, I have nothing but admiration for Nora Roberts who can use her formula and still give me stories that feel fresh and new.

Still, the way things stand, and given the amount of new and exciting books being published every month, I think it is unlikely I will pick up the next Robert Langdon adventure when it comes out. Having said that, it will probably be at least two years until that moment arrives and knowing myself, there is a good possibility that by that stage curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll be tempted anyway. Time will tell.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Pages: 157
Date: 29/07/2013
Grade: 4-
Details: No. 1 Members only
             Received from Smith Publicity –
             Ellora’s Cave Publ. through
Own / Kindle

The Blurb:

“She knows it’s wrong. Cyn shouldn’t have feelings for fraternal twins Jared and Chris, her best friends. She shouldn’t want them to tie her up or strap her down, to take her one at a time—or together. The only way to control her taboo desires is to write them down and lock them away in her diary. Guys like Jared and Chris could never be interested in someone like her, or in the kind of sex she craves.

But Jared and Chris have read her diary, and sweet little Cyn is in for the shock of her life. The brothers not only own a members-only BDSM club, they want her. Need her. And now, with their unlimited funds and an entire establishment devoted to fulfilling her darkest pleasures, they’re going to claim Cyn for their own.

Inside Scoop: If you have a kink, this book probably has it too. If you like your ménage romances extra hot with a side of male-male romance, spanking, voyeurism and girl-on-girl action, come and get it.”

Cyn has been in love and lust with fraternal twins Chris and Jared for as long as she can remember. She has never told them that though or that she has very kinky fantasies involving the two of them. She’s too afraid that admitting to her feelings or acting on them would spoil the wonderful friendship they have. But, if they could read her mind, the twins would soon discover that there is only one reason why they never see her with a man:

“Because I’m in love with you and your twin. Have been for almost a decade. I’ve got a journal at home filled with what I want you to do to me and I’ll never be brave enough to show it to you."

Cyn would rather do without than disappoint herself as a result of sleeping with somebody who isn’t Chris and Jared and so:

“My sex life…well, visualize the Titanic sinking and you get the gist.”

Nothing can convince her that her fantasies could come true:

“Chris and Jared were my every fantasy and I ached for them. I craved something dark and dangerous I had no right to want – not from them both.”

Until she discovers that the twins have read her diary and not only know all about her fantasies but also share them. While she always knew that Chris and Jared liked her and wanted to look after her, she never imagined that their feelings could be any deeper. But now that the secret is out the men don’t waste any time making sure that Cyn is theirs and knows it:

“You’ve always been more important than any house or club and that was before we claimed you.”

Cyn may have had fantasies about submitting to the twins for as long as she can remember, she isn’t sure she will actually be able to do that. Her background and past experiences make her weary of that which she graves. The twins however recognise something in her; they know that she is more than capable of fulfilling her fantasies:

“You were born to take pleasure so all-consuming it threatens to steal your mind, and mine. You were made strong enough to submit to not only one Dom but two. Two men who want to push every sexual limit you’ve every conceived of and fall with you over the precipice into something you never knew existed.”

Or, as a new found friend in the twins BDSM club puts it to Cyn:

“Submission is a beautiful thing. Giving yourself so freely to someone else. Trusting them. Believing in them. It takes a strong woman to be able to do that.”

It takes time, reflection, long overdue honesty and being forced out of their comfort zones for this trio to become what they were meant to be. For Cyn it means accepting, at last that:

“…they needed me to be nothing more than myself.”

I’m not quite sure what to say about this book. I liked the idea behind the story, I liked the characters in it and loved the very hot sex scenes. On the other hand, because I liked the story so much I would have loved to see more of it. As much as I enjoyed the enticing descriptions of everything Cyn gets up to with her two lovers, I wanted to read a bit more about her back-story and the mental battles she went through as a result of what had happened to her. I longed to read more about what she had to work through in order to really give herself to the brothers. As it is, we don’t find much about her thought-processes. And the same is true for the twins, especially Chris. As it is written it feels as if the back-story is only there to give the author an excuse to write very steamy and delicious sex scenes. And in this book the back-story is just too good and intriguing to be treated in that way. 

But, and I know I’m starting to contradict myself here, I’m also grateful that the author didn’t turn this book into one of those angsty stories in which the heroine is forever second guessing herself and we seem to play the “will she – won’t she” game for pages on end. 

I guess that what I’m saying is that I could have done with this book being maybe fifty pages longer. Fifty pages which could have told us more about the characters back-grounds and everything that Chris and Cyn went through in order to overcome their issues and reach their happy ending. As it was written both Cyn and Chris went from feeling completely incapable of submitting to or inflicting a certain act, to jumping, feet first, into a rather extreme version of exactly what they were so afraid of. That turn-around, while intriguing, would have been far more believable if there had been a bit more of a build-up to it.

For me this was one very hot, very explicit and extremely sexy story; an easy and enticing read that could have been more with just a bit more attention to the background story and the characters’ thoughts and feelings. If, however, you are looking for a steamy story filled with sexy scene after enticing sexy scene than this is just the book for you. Jennifer Casey does know how to write hot sex very, very well.


Pages: 238
Date: 27/07/2013
Grade: 4.5
Details: no. 3 Finding Anna
           Received from Writer's Coffee Shop
           Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The Blurb:

For the last two months, Brianna has discovered something she never thought she would again. Hope. After the horror of being Ian’s slave for ten months, a fate she never imagined she’d escape, it feels as if she is living a dream. She has freedom she hadn’t expected to have again, and she wakes up every morning not fearing what the day will bring. There is also Stephan. The man who saved her from the daily torture she had to endure at the hands of Ian and his friends. The same man who makes her heart race with just the thought of him. Life is good. 

Outside forces are determined to conspire against them, however. When Brianna’s father shows up on her doorstep, it sends her world spiraling out of control. He brings with him new information about how Brianna ended up in Ian’s clutches, but will it make a difference? Will Stephan be able to find a way to make Ian pay for all he made Brianna suffer? 

As Brianna and Stephan try to find out the truth, their relationship is tested. She is forced to face her past head on, and deal with the ugly reality of what happened to her. Will Stephan’s love be enough to see her through her newest challenge, or will the fragile trust they’ve built come crumbling down around them as the truth makes itself known.

This is the third book in the Finding Anna quartet and really shouldn’t be read unless you’ve read the first two books, “Slave” and “Need”. 

Brianna has come a long way since Stephan rescued her. While she is still easily scared and has little or no self-confidence she does feel completely safe with Stephan and trusts him implicitly. The arrival of her father on Stephan’s doorstep almost manages to set her back to the scared and withdrawn girl she was only a little while ago. But once that threat appears to have been dealt with Brianna and Stephan are able to continue on the slow but steady road to her recovery. 

And Brianna is making real progress. While she is still deeply insecure she is slowly starting to trust that Stephan really does want the best for her. And though she may not always like his methods, she knows that his demands on her are made only to help her. Watching Brianna while she discovers that being intimate with a man - having sex with Stephan - was pleasurable and rewarding rather than demeaning and painful was beautiful. The moment when she realizes that she loves him put a huge smile on my face.

“Swallowing I looked into his eyes. What I saw only confirmed what I already knew. I’d do anything for him. Be anything he needed me to be.”

Something I really appreciate in these books is that the author takes her time. There are no miracle cures in this story. Hopefully the last book will proof that love does conquer all, but the first three books show us that it is a long way to recovery. Brianna has been through a soul-shattering experience that left her fearful, prone to panic attacks and withdrawn. It is taking lots of time, patience and love to get her to build up her sense of self again, to give her the confidence she needs to face the rest of her life and to make her belief that she is good enough; good enough for Stephan and good enough in her own right.  It is a psychological journey fraught with fear and pain but one that shows that with love and patience overcoming the unthinkable is possible. 

Too many authors take short-cuts when dealing with a scenario like this. Too often I have read about broken and scarred characters who meet their true love and almost instantly put their past behind them. Sherri Hayes, thankfully, doesn’t. She takes the reader along the road Brianna has to travel and shows us the tiny steps she takes towards trust and love. She is not afraid to tell her story slowly, at a pace that matches Brianna’s progress and includes all the inevitable set-backs she encounters.

Stephan is an equally realistic character. While, for a long time, it seems that maybe he is too good to be true, this book shows he is “only” human after all. He makes mistakes while trying to help Brianna and he has his own fears and insecurities. He needs Brianna to guide him as much as he needs to help her. The result is a heartbreakingly realistic and beautiful story that will have you smiling and crying, hoping for the best while fearing the worst and rooting for Stephan and Brianna all the way.

Another thing that really works for me in these books is that it gives a wonderful insight into the world of BDSM. It doesn’t shy away from exposing its evil excesses while showing that in its true form it is all about love, communication and trust. Because there are characters in this book of both the BDSM and Vanilla variety, the reader sees both the prejudices against the lifestyle and the beauty of what it is when indulged in by two loving partners. And because Brianna, as a result of her horrendous experiences in the past, has to be introduced to all the various aspects of this relationship at a very slow pace, the reader is eased into the concept as well.

I’m really glad this book didn’t end on a heart-stopping cliff-hanger like “Need” did. While it certainly ends on a crucial plot point and does leave the reader with a desperate need to find out what is going to be happening next, there is no sense of doom this time, only a profound sadness, and for that I’m eternally grateful. 

Having said that, I’m not going to enjoy waiting for the final installment in this series. I read somewhere that Sherri Hayes hopes to have it out in the first half of 2014 and I can only hope that by that she means January 1st. Because everything in this book indicates that the final installment is going to be intense and filled with developments. A lot still needs to happen if Stephan and Brianna are going to find their happily ever after, and keeping in mind the ending of this book, the road there is going to be anything but easy for this couple.

The Author:
Sherri is the author of five novels: Hidden Threat, Slave (Finding Anna, Book 1), Need (Finding Anna, Book 2), Behind Closed Doors (A Daniels Brothers Novel), Red Zone (A Daniels Brothers Novel), and a short story, “A Christmas Proposal.” She lives in central Ohio with her husband and three cats. Her mother fostered her love for books at a young age by reading to her as a child.
Stories have been floating around in her head for as long as she can remember; however, she didn’t start writing them down until she turned thirty. It has become a creative outlet that allows her to explore a wide range of emotions, while having fun taking her characters through all the twists and turns she can create. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found helping her husband in his woodworking shop.

Click her name to visit Sherri Hayes’ website.

Monday, July 29, 2013


Pages: 424
Date: 28/07/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: No. 3 Reilly Steel

The Blurb:

A Fallen Angel. A Devil on the Loose.

When a young girl is discovered dead on an isolated Irish country road, it seems at first glance to be a simple hit and run. Then the cops see the tattoo on her back - a pair of beautifully wrought angel wings that lend the victim a sense of ethereal innocence. Forensic investigator Reilly Steel is soon on the scene and her highly tuned sixth sense tells her there is more to this case than a straightforward murder.

But with almost zero evidence and no way to trace the girl's origin, Reilly and the police are at a loss. Then the angel tattoo is traced to other children - both dead and alive - who are similarly marked, and Reilly starts to suspect they have all been abducted by the same person. But why? And will Reilly get to the bottom of the mystery and uncover what links these children together before tragedy strikes again?

This is the third book featuring Reilly Steel, our Quantico-trained forensic investigator working in Dublin, and, just like its two prequels, it provides us with a fascinating and bone-chilling mystery, a realistic and fascinating investigation and convincing conclusion. But, while the mystery and the work involved in solving form the main story line, there is more to these books. We get exactly enough story about the characters, their personal lives and the interactions between them to get a real feel for them without it ever taking away from the page-turning force of the story. And it is not just through what we are told about them that we get to know the main characters in these books better; Casey Hill shows us what our characters are really like through scenes that are at times wonderful and inspired. Chris’s time with the young, silent boy, for example, gave the reader a better idea of who he actually is and Reilly Steel the opportunity to see him through different eyes.

As far as the mystery in this book is concerned all I can say is that it was fascinating. I don’t want to give anything away but I do want to mention that the revelations at the end of the book took me completely by surprise. I do love it when an author brings me a credible conclusion I didn’t see coming at all. And boy did I get one (or should I say two) of those in this book.

What I really liked in this book is that the story is more layered than you often see in mysteries and thrillers. During my very first class when I started studying law the professor told us that anybody who was under the delusion that law and justice where synonyms was in for a nasty surprise. To see that sentiment echoed in this book made the story that much more realistic for me. Sometimes doing the right thing leads to outcomes that are far from ideal; that doesn’t mean you stop doing the right thing, as this story shows in an inspired and very thrilling way.

While this book, or the mystery it contains, can easily be read and enjoyed in and of itself, I would encourage anybody to read the first two Reilly Steel titles first. The mystery in this book may be a new one, the development of the characters is a story that continues through the subsequent books. Do yourself a favour and read “Taboo and “Torn first (and in that order) before picking up “Hidden”. Trust me; you will thank me for it.

As with the two previous titles, the writing team that is Casey Hill (Melissa Hill and her husband Kevin) has given us a thrilling, well-plotted, fast-paced and intriguing mystery in a well written story peopled by fascinating characters. I can only hope that Reilly Steel and her colleagues will continue their investigations for a long time to come.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

THE DARWIN ELEVATOR; A review by Dermot Kennedy

Pages: 475
Date: 26/07/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: no. 1 The Dire Earth Cycle
            Received from Titan Book
            Through Nudge

The builders came to Earth and constructed an elevator from Darwin, Australia into space. No one knows why, or if they will return”

Following the arrival of the cable, humankind has built space stations at various altitudes along the space cable. Living in the space stations are scientist, agriculturalists and other, privileged people. Several years later a plague envelopes the planet turning humans into feral animals. The only ones protected are the rare “immunes” and the people who live within a 9 mile radius of the space elevator which exudes an Aura of protection. Of course those living in the space stations are also protected, due to their isolation from earth.

Skyler Luiken is one of a group of scavengers who roam the planet in mothballed ex air force aircraft, searching for anything useful which can be sold to the elites who live in orbit. What’s unusual about Luiken’s team is that they are all “immunes” meaning that they don’t have to use cumbersome haz-mat suits while out plying their trade.

The political balance of Darwin sits on a knife edge with Neil Platz in control of the orbital habitats and Russell Blackfield controlling the ground station of Nightcliff, the anchor point for the space elevator. The orbitals control food production, owned by Platz, who has his own dark secrets, and the ground-station controls the supply of Air and Water to the orbitals.  

This is the setting for this debut novel from Hough. First thoughts are that I liked this first book in the “Dire Earth Cycle”. There have been a plethora of dystopian/post-apocalyptic novels released in recent years and it is reassuring to finally find one that doesn’t make me want to “slash my wrists” after reading it. The main characters are well developed and, unusually for such a novel, actually have a sense of humour, something severely lacking in a lot of other books of this particular genre such as Hugh Howeys “Wool” series. Skyler Luiken is a reluctant hero, who more or less by accident finds himself drawn into the political battle for the ultimate control of mankind’s destiny. He has to pit his wits against Blackfield who is a “baddie” in the true classical sense of the word.

And still, the power struggle may only be the start of humankind’s problems; for the builders are returning…

The gulf in the quality of life between the “Orbitals” and the Darwinians is huge. The orbitals live in relative luxury, completely removed from the daily and constant struggle for survival which is the lot of most of the earthbound population, all of whom are dreaming of one day ascending to space to a life without fear of starvation or premature death.

This was a fast-paced and thrilling read. And while it is clear that there is more story left to tell I am grateful that the author didn’t leave me stranded on one of those heart-stopping cliff-hangers that seem to be all the rage these days.

I was very pleasantly surprised with this first offering from Hough, who managed to instil a sense of hope and optimism, and not a little humour into a subject which too often is portrayed in a truly grim manner, and I look forward to the next two instalments in the series, “The Exodus Towers” and “The Plague Forge”.

Thursday, July 25, 2013


Pages: 250
Date: 24/07/2013
Grade: 4+
Details: No. 1 The Secret Life of Amy Bensen
            Received from Julie Patra Publishing
            Through NetGalley
Own / Kindle

The blurb:

Infinite possibilities….
Infinite passion…..
Infinite danger….

His touch spirals through me, warm and sweet, wicked and hot. I shouldn’t trust him. I shouldn’t tell him my secrets. But how do I not when he is the reason I breathe? He is what I need.”

At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loves to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten–even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets down her guard, the ghosts of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run.

On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give? And what if there is more to Liam than meets the eyes?

Allow me to start my review with a confession: this book is marketed as a New Adult title and I’m not entirely sure what that means. I get Young Adult and I get Adult Fiction but I can’t quite get my head around this new concept; I couldn’t before I read this book and I’m not any clearer about it now.

Be that as it is, and leaving genre issues aside, I did really enjoy this book. Lisa Renee Jones once again brings us an intriguing story and compelling characters. And she builds the story up in such a way that it isn’t instantly clear to the reader what exactly is going on. Why is Amy on the run? What has happened in the past? And why is Amy still in danger, six years after a rather mysterious but obviously devastating event destroyed her life?

If Amy has learned one thing over the past six years it is that she is alone. She can’t trust anybody because she doesn’t know exactly what or whom she’s running from and because she realizes that everybody associated with her will be in as much danger as she is. And while she has, in the past, successfully kept people at arms length, she finds this is something she can’t do with Liam after she meets him. With him she feels an instant connection, although that doesn’t stop her from deflecting his questions and feeding him convenient lies:

“I’m so good at lying. I almost convince myself it’s the truth.”

Liam, a prodigy billionaire architect with a reputation for being reclusive takes an instant interest in young Amy and seems determined to stay close to her, despite her best efforts to run away from him. He appears to be aware that Amy is holding back on him but doesn’t push her to reveal more than she feels comfortable with while at the same time insisting that she accepts his help and attention.

For Amy, her attraction to Liam and his interest in her leads to confusion:

“You’re you, he’d said. Only that’s the whole problem. I’m not me.”

Because the biggest problem Amy faces is that although she knows she is in danger and suffers from horrendous flashbacks, she isn’t entirely sure what exactly happened six years ago and has no idea why her life was hit by disaster:

“This man who knows where he has been and who he is. I know nothing of me, not even where I have really, truly been and why I am here. Why I exist.”

And while Amy knows that it would be better, safer, for both of them if she could just stay away from Liam, her attraction to him and the way her mind and body respond to his attention seem to make this impossible:

“I am naked before this man but I am so much more. I am exposed, vulnerable, and somehow I feel protected and safe.”

Liam seems to see, to understand, that Amy is lost, alone and afraid. He seems to instinctively know what she needs - an escape from her problems - and he is determined to give it to her:

“The lack of control is control. When you’re hanging on to each moment, anticipating what comes next, it leaves room for nothing else. That’s what I want to do for you.”

Liam makes Amy feel things she’s never felt before and never expected to experience. And while his need to control her and her life is both scary and overwhelming he also brings her the peace she needs to sleep without suffering from nightmares and sexual pleasures she didn’t know she could experience:

Your new territory to me, Liam. I have never met anyone like you. You’re overbearingly generous and overwhelmingly male, or maybe it’s the reverse.”

Liam seems to be well aware that Amy is at all times only one step away from disappearing from his life and does what he can to make sure she doesn’t:

“And baby, I want you, and all I can say is you might be smart to run before I get any more into you, but please don’t.”

Until Amy overhears something that makes her question everything she thought she knew about this man, something that makes her take a radical decision…

This is another one of those books that ends on a cliff-hanger. And while it completely achieves its intended goal and leaves me yearning for the rest of the story it also leaves me a bit frustrated. Lisa Renee Jones writing and stories are more than good enough to make me go back for more without being “forced” to do so by cliff-hangers. Yes, I completely get why books end on cliff-hangers but that doesn’t make me like them any better.

Initially I had one or two questions marks about this story-line. I just wasn’t convinced that somebody who has been on the run for six years and has built her life around not trusting anyone and constantly looking over her shoulder would instantly trust a stranger, like Amy did when she meets Liam. I also felt that all the mysteries surrounding her new life and the coincidences she suddenly notices would have worried her more. After finishing the whole book though I’ve come to accept that after six years in the dark Amy has probably reached the point where she needs to change her life, take control of it, and Liam just happens to be the trigger. And once I accepted that, the whole story made perfect sense.

Lisa Renee Jones has given us a story that delivers on several levels. This is one hot love story as well as a compelling mystery. Add to that some fascinating characters and lots of tension and you have yourself a book that is almost impossible to put down.

So, cliff-hanger not withstanding, or thanks to a very gripping cliff-hanger – who knows – I will be trying to get my hands on “Infinite Possibilities” as soon as it becomes available. I’m looking forward to finding out exactly what has happened in Amy’s past and why, and can’t wait to discover exactly what is going on with Liam. It appears that this sequel is planned for October and that date can’t come soon enough. Taking into account all the questions that need answering, I’ve got a feeling “Infinite Possibilities” is going to be even more exciting than this book was.

Monday, July 22, 2013


Pages: 464
Date: 22/07/2013
Grade: 6
Details: no. 4 Original Sinners,
            The Red Years
            Received from Harlequin
           Through NetGalley
The blurb, from the author’s website:
There's punishment-and then there's vengeance. 
Nora Sutherlin is being held, bound and naked. Under different circumstances, she would enjoy the situation immensely, but her captor isn't interested in play. Or pity. 

As the reality of her impending peril unfolds, Nora becomes Scheherazade, buying each hour of her life with stories-sensual tales of Søren, Kingsley and Wesley, each of whom has tempted and tested and tortured her in his own way. This, Nora realizes, is her life: nothing so simple, so vanilla, as a mere love triangle for her. It's a knot in a silken cord, a tangled mass of longings of the body and the heart and the mind. And it may unravel at any moment. 

But in Nora's world, no one is ever truly powerless-a cadre of her friends, protectors and lovers stands ready to do anything to save her, even when the only certainty seems to be sacrifice and heartbreak....

I found myself strangely reluctant to read this book. As much as I was desperate to find out how everything was going to unfold, as much as I couldn’t imagine how a happy ending could be designed for all of these characters, as much as I needed to have these questions answered, my reluctance to have the story end was greater.  

So, I made – forced – myself to read this book as slowly as possible. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss a single thing. Not that I am under the illusion that I succeeded in achieving that. I know that I almost certainly will have missed tons of references, nuances, jokes… But I also know that I got enough – for now. Because I know that I will re-read this book and that when I do I will discover more in it than I did this time, just as I did on my re-reads of “The Siren”, “The Angel” and “The Prince”.

And now that I have finished “The Mistress” I find myself facing a huge dilemma. I want to rave about this book; share the story and my thoughts and feelings about it with the whole world, and I can’t. Oh, I can tell you that I loved this book, that the story took my breath away, that I laughed and cried while reading it, that my heart stopped beating on several occasions only for it to accelerate a few paragraphs later. But I can’t tell you why. Or at least, I can’t tell you anything about the story beyond what it says in the official blurb. Revealing anything else wouldn’t be fair on anybody who hasn’t read this book yet. Everybody who has grown to love the Original Sinners books the way I have, every reader who has been counting the days until this book will be available deserves the pleasure of making all the discoveries that are contained in this book completely unspoiled by me or any other reviewer.

So, what can I say? To start with I could repeat something I said in earlier reviews; Tiffany Reisz is pure writing-genius. Her characters are larger than life, live in a world I can’t completely get my head around and yet are among the most relatable characters I’ve ever come across. I want to know these people, talk to them and spend a little bit of time in their world. And, while we’re on the characters, it was wonderful to re-acquaint myself with those I encountered before and spend a little (at times too little) bit of time in their presence. And the new characters, those whom we didn’t encounter before and those who we’d seen very little of so far, they were as inspired as the old familiars were. 

And we learn so much more about all these characters. The stories Nora is forced to tell show us new details about the past and thus explain the characters to yet a greater extent. And the interactions between the other characters, both old and new, show us more of who these people are. The reader may have thought that after three books they had a pretty good idea about who exactly these characters were, and what motivated them, but they will discover that there is more to know, deeper to dig, greater wonders to experience. If you still had issues or question marks about one or more of the characters in this book I can almost promise you that they will have gone by the time you finish “The Mistress”. I’d be surprised if that wasn’t the case.

I’ve said it before, but I’m not ashamed to say it again, Tiffany Reisz’ writing is beyond compare. I love the way her dialogue sparkles and the profound statements she makes in such an, apparently off the cuff, manner. I’ve got a list of quotes as long as my arm to support this statement but will share only a few (the risk of spoilers is rearing its ugly head once again):

“Calling this man handsome would be like saying Einstein was fairly decent at his sums.”

“You were in love, not stupid. They’re two very different diseases with identical symptoms.”

“This was love, what they did together. Two people saving each other from a night spent alone and lonely. They brought their pain to each other and each accepted the gift. This was love, keeping watch together until dawn. This was love, not letting the people who hurt them win. This was love, taking a risk for someone else.”

“There is nothing I wouldn’t trust you to do to me. I don’t care if that’s the wrong answer. It is the truth. And it’s the only answer I have.”

“Love versus love, King, you’re comparing infinities. There is no ‘more’. That’s not how love works. If it’s love, it’s infinite. You can’t count it.”

And no, I’m not going to expand on these quotes, or tell you whose mouth they sprang from. You’ll find out when you read the book and trust me when I say you don’t want me to tell you; the pleasure is in discovering the origins of these, and many other, treasures yourself.

This book brings the Red Years of the Original Sinners series to an end. For months now Tiffany Reisz has been telling everybody who follows her on Twitter that they would love the way the story concludes and approve of the solutions she’d come up with for all the relationship entanglements. I have to say I didn’t quite believe her. While I could see a positive ending for some characters I just didn’t see how she would pull it off for all of them. Oh me of little faith…

Let me tell you; reassure you, that she has indeed managed to deliver the impossible. This book ends on a perfect note for everybody concerned and yet is filled with surprises. And, it wouldn’t be a book by Tiffany Reisz if it didn’t end on one final shocker. I won’t say anything else about that except that I love the name Fionn; well, I would since I’m living in Ireland, wouldn’t I? 

If, after all my raving you still have doubts about how much I loved this book just look at how I rated it; I don’t give 6 out of 5 stars very often, in fact this may well be the second time ever. 

Finally, for everybody reading this review who hasn’t read the three prequels; do yourself a huge favour and read “The Siren”, “The Angel” and “The Prince” first. This is one of those series you MUST read in order. Anything else would be a total waste of a superb story. As for me, now that I’ve learned all there is to learn about the “Red Years”, I guess it’s time to test my virtuousness again. The release date for “The Priest”, the first book in the “White Years”, hasn’t even been announced yet, so my patience is to be tried once again. I guess that is what makes it a virtue.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Pages: 304
Date: 18/07/2013
Grade: 4-
Details: no. 1 Max Tudor
            Received from Constable & Robinson

On the surface, the village of Nether Monkslip is idyllic and peaceful; the perfect place for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life. It certainly seemed the perfect escape for Max Tudor, a former MI5 agent, turned vicar after a horrible incident made him question his job and his life.

You don’t have to dig very deep beneath the surface though to discover that Nether Monkslip, like most places, is nowhere near as perfect as it might seem. And the root of all of the village’s issues can be traced back to just one woman, be it a very formidable example of the gender.

Wanda Batton-Smythe is the sort of woman who needs to be in control of everything and everybody around her and only capable of securing her imagined position by putting down everybody she encounters. And, with the Harvest Fayre only a few days away, nobody escapes the attention or the wrath of this very unpopular president of the Women’s Institute.

When Wanda’s body is discovered in the village hall on the day of the Fayre, it appears at first that she died as the result of an accident involving her allergy to peanuts. Max Tudor’s secret service instincts kick in almost immediately though. He can’t quite put his finger on it, but something appears wrong and he is convinced he is looking at the results of foul play rather than misfortune.

The police share Max’ concerns and pull him into the investigation. As the vicar, Max has better insight into the villager’s lives and more opportunity to sound them out than the police could ever have. But, with nearly every person in the village having a reason to dislike if not hate the victim and everybody’s comings and goings confused as a result of the Fayre it will take a lot of talking, time and some deep reflection before the mystery is solved. 

I’m not quite sure what to say about this book and feel a bit ambivalent about it. To start with the positives, I really liked Max Tudor as a character. The contrast between his past as an MI5 agent and his present as the village vicar make him a fascinating protagonist. It also allows the author to portray him as a seasoned yet gentle investigator. I also enjoyed the village setting and the various characters living there. And the mystery was well developed and presented; all the clues where there, available to the reader. The solution, while being a bit convoluted, made sense and fit the over-all story line.

On the down side, I wasn’t too fond of the authors need to describe everything mentioned in the book in almost tedious detail. Max Tudor didn’t enter a room or house without the reader being treated to long, and often irrelevant, descriptions of what could be found there. I found that these descriptions tended to drag me out of the story rather than pull me in and made me want to skim passages.

Another thing that failed to convince me were the numerous references to other works of fiction such as:

“For it was a truth universally acknowledged that a single vicar must be in want of a wife.”

“The woman who liked to stir hornets’ nests.”

“She wondered if it were too soon to put the cat among the pigeons.”

I’m sure there were quite a few other references but these stuck out for me. I can’t quite make up my mind whether the author was trying to be clever or funny or something else altogether. On the other hand, this didn’t iritate me so much as bemuse me, and it is quite possible that other readers would get a kick out of looking for and finding these references.

Overall though I thought this was a cute and fun cosy mystery. The book is well written, the mystery and its solution worked and were well plotted and Max Tudor is an interesting character. There are at least two more books to come in this series and I will definitely read the next book, “A Fatal Winter, before making up my mind about this series.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Pages: 229
Date: 15/07/2013
Grade: 5-
Details: no. 3 Wicked Play
            Received from Carina Press
            Through NetGalley

The Blurb:

Lawyer Allison English never planned to return to The Den—despite her naughty fantasies about being bound by owner Seth Matthews. But when club guest Tyler Wysong is injured in a scene, Seth turns to Allie for help. Aroused by both men, Allie should turn the case down. But she can't.

After his bad experience, Tyler has no interest in being with another Dom. Yet he can't deny his attraction to Master Seth. When Seth offers him a place to stay, Tyler agrees—if Allie will stay too. But what good is a chaperone who adds to his temptation?

Living with two subs brings out Seth's protective instincts, though Allie insists she's not into the lifestyle, and Tyler swears he's done with it. But the chemistry between the trio prompts them to agree to submit to him for one week, and he'll show them both the true pleasure that a Dom can provide.

The intimacy could break them all, or bind them together forever…

This is the third book in the “Wicked Play” series and I think it is my favourite. While “Bonds of Need” and “Bonds of Trust” dealt with one-on-one relationships, be it in a BDSM environment, this book centres on a threesome.

Master Seth, one of the three Doms owning and running The Den BDSM club, and Allison (Allie) English haven’t seen each other since Allie made her one and only visit to the club a few months ago. Unbeknownst to them, they haven’t been able to get each other out of their minds.

Tyler Wysong is a new character. As a male prostitute working through an agency he finds himself submitting to a powerful and abusive Dom in one of the private rooms of The Den. When the Dom goes too far in his abuse, the owners of the club intervene and stop the scene. Their action comes too late though to prevent Tyler from being seriously injured.

Allie is called into the club by the three Doms for Tyler’s sake. If he wants to press charges, they want to make sure he has the best possible representation.

As soon as Seth, Tyler and Allie find themselves together it becomes clear that there is a strong chemistry between the three of them. But with Tyler being injured and very stand-offish and Allie having all sorts of doubts and misconceptions about the BDSM scene, Seth’s plan to introduce the other two to the pleasures of submission appear doomed from the start.

“The pull to Tyler was just as strong as the one to Allie – and just as wrong.” (Seth)

A week together under Seth’s gentle yet dominating guidance awakens strong and unexpected feelings in all three of them. Despite his resistance to Seth’s attentions and his doubts about why he is actually in the Dom’s loft, Tyler can’t deny that Seth’s presence has a profound effect on him:

“Just one touch, right there, and all of the tension dripped from him, leaving behind nothing but calm compliance.”

Tyler may have been renting himself out as a sub, he has never, ever truly submitted to anyone. And now, in his vulnerable position, he finds himself wondering:

“What would it be like to truly, honestly, surrender and trust this man before him?”

And Allie has a lot to come to terms with as well. She can’t deny her attraction to Seth and Tyler, in fact:

“Whether Allie admitted it to herself or not, she needed this. They all did for one reason or another.”

And she has to admit that submitting to her partners is not something that stems from her being weak or Seth and Tyler taking advantage of her.

“She wasn’t bound, she was freed. And with a long, slow exhale, she let go.”

Allie, like many a new submissive before her, has to learn that submitting isn’t about giving up your power to someone else. As Seth explains to her so very eloquently:

“It takes more courage to willingly give yourself to a Dom than it does for the Dom to tie you down…I can only have what you give me. In that way, you control me.”

But it is not just Allie and Tyler who have to come to terms with their new feelings. Seth may be an experienced Dom, the feelings he has for his two guests and the hopes these raise within him for the future are new and confusing:

“Seth bit back a groan. They were so close and damn, but he wanted this threesome to work. He wasn’t sure why or how it would succeed of if he wanted two subs, but he wouldn’t let this slip away. Allie seemed to give something to Tyler that Seth couldn’t and he wanted Tyler to have that. The man needed to know that he was more than his occupation. That there were people in the world who wanted him for who he was. And Allie stirred something in Seth he wanted to claim just as much as Tyler.”

Their one week together is magical for all three of them. But after that week the real world awaits them again. A secret act of kindness from Seth manages to upset Tyler so much that he breaks all contact with the Dom and Allie. And Allie and Seth don’t have a future if it doesn’t include Tyler as well. It will take a near disaster to bring the three together again and give them another opportunity to embrace the unconventional but oh so tempting relationship.

“Yeah, she really could have them both. The future would sort itself out and it’d be okay, because not trying, not seeing, would be worse.” (Allie)

There was a lot I loved in this book. First and foremost I really like Lynda Aicher’s writing and characters. The story runs smoothly and has the perfect balance between general story and (very) sexy scenes. These characters are real and completely normal people and it is easy to identify with them, even if you may not be able to imagine yourself in a similar situation.

I also liked that this book shows that there is another side to BDSM. A side that doesn’t involve pain or public displays of humiliation:

“Have faith in the three of us. No one is here to hurt the other.”

In fact, the author goes one step further. What started out as a power-exchange has turned into something completely different but equally wonderful by the time all conflicts are resolved:

“But he wasn’t their Master. He was their lover. That was perfect.”

It is wonderful to see the characters grow and change while at the same time staying true to themselves in this story. And the change is biggest for Allie with her very traditional and conservative background and career-driven life. She has to grow a lot but it is worth every struggle when she realizes that:

“More importantly, she needed them both. They gave her balance where she hadn’t known she required it.”

And I delighted in the hotness of this book. While a ménage may be a bit much for some readers, it worked very well for me. I’m impressed with the way in which Lynda Aicher managed to write a very sexy story about a three-some without ever making it feel cheap or over the top.

Although these three books take care of the three Doms who own The Den, I really hope that Lynda Aicher continues with this series. And it does appear that she has created a wonderful opportunity to do just that in the epilogue. My fingers are firmly crossed that she will continue with this very entertaining, if slightly wicked, series.