Why I read it: One of my fellow reviewers at AudioGals recommended this one so I bought it.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) The top-selling, beloved indie author of Ten Tiny Breaths returns with a new romance about a young woman who loses her memory—and the man who knows that the only way to protect her is to stay away.
Left for dead in the fields of rural Oregon, a young woman defies all odds and survives—but she awakens with no idea who she is, or what happened to her. Refusing to answer to “Jane Doe” for another day, the woman renames herself “Water” for the tiny, hidden marking on her body—the only clue to her past. Taken in by old Ginny Fitzgerald, a crotchety but kind lady living on a nearby horse farm, Water slowly begins building a new life. But as she attempts to piece together the fleeting slivers of her memory, more questions emerge: Who is the next-door neighbor, quietly toiling under the hood of his Barracuda? Why won’t Ginny let him step foot on her property? And why does Water feel she recognizes him?
Twenty-four-year-old Jesse Welles doesn’t know how long it will be before Water gets her memory back. For her sake, Jesse hopes the answer is never. He knows that she’ll stay so much safer—and happier—that way. And that’s why, as hard as it is, he needs to keep his distance. Because getting too close could flood her with realities better left buried.
The trouble is, water always seems to find its way to the surface.
Warning: Ahoy! Thar be spoilers.
Trigger Warning: Domestic violence, rape.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I’m not quite sure what I was expecting when I started this book but I didn’t think it was going to be an adultery book. I probably should have realised that. My bad. I’m not big on the adultery trope. I had mixed feelings about it here. Alexandria Petrova is married to Victor Petrova a Russian mob type 20 years her senior. While she married him willingly, I’m sure he did take advantage of her youth and circumstances (she was poor and only had her mother for family) in getting her consent to marriage. Victor is rich and he left her presents and dazzled her with the promise of plenty. I gather that the marriage wasn’t entirely awful at the start, but gradually Victor becomes more and more controlling and physically violent with her.
Why I read it: I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Alex Sullivan may be the San Diego Barracudas’ resident playboy, but he hasn’t been able to forget the woman who kissed him like her life depended on it ten months ago. When he sees her again at a teammate’s wedding, he can’t think of anything but spending more time with her. Preferably naked.
Claire Marzano lost years catering to an overbearing husband, and she’s not going to answer to anyone ever again. A hot fling is just what she needs to get back in the game, and that’s exactly what sexy Alex offers—one wild long weekend away, with no promises or obligations.
But that one weekend changes everything. Despite knowing full well Alex isn’t the kind to ever commit, Claire is falling for him. And Alex secretly imagines a future with his strong, smart “accidental girlfriend.” Until a surprise announcement and an on-ice accident threaten to derail everything…or cause Alex to finally ditch his old ways and become the man Claire needs him to be.
What worked for me (and what didn’t): I really enjoy this author’s writing voice and I especially like the way she writes guys and the banter between the team mates. I liked On The Surface and loved Across the Line so I had high hopes for Out of the Game. More so because I liked Alex Sullivan in the earlier stories. He’s a charming rogue type character. A bit of a manslut but not in a cheaty way. I don’t have a problem with someone who wants to have lots of casual sex as long as they’re not making promises they can’t or don’t keep. If both parties are on the same page, it’s all good IMO. There is something great about watching a guy like this fall for “the One” and I was looking forward to what Ms. Willoughby would do with it. It had such a promising start but it went off the rails for me about halfway in and never quite recovered.
Why I read it: I bought this one because I need to catch up on the Kowalskis and my audiobook TBL is smaller. And, I was in the mood for a Shannon Stacey small town contemporary.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Josh Kowalski is tired of holding down the fort – better known as the Northern Star Lodge – while his siblings are off living their dreams. Now that his oldest brother has returned to Whitford, Maine, for good, Josh is free to chase some dreams of his own.
As the daughter of the lodge’s longtime housekeeper, Katie Davis grew up alongside the Kowalski kids. Though she’s always been “one of the guys”, her feelings for Josh are anything but sisterly. And after a hot late-night encounter in the kitchen, it’s clear Josh finally sees her as the woman she is.
Katie’s been waiting years for Josh to notice her, but now that he has, she’s afraid it’s too late. Giving her heart to a man who can’t wait to leave town is one sure way to have it broken. But Josh keeps coming up with excuses not to leave – could it be that everything he’s ever wanted is closer than he could have imagined?
What worked for me (and what didn’t): Josh Kowalski has been stuck running the Northern Star Lodge since his father died. It wasn’t what he wanted or what he chose – it was more that he was the one left standing when the music stopped. When this branch of the Kowalskis series began, Josh broke his leg and the various other family members came home to help him out. It then became clear just how unhappy and trapped Josh felt.
Why I read it: I was provided with a review copy by Audible Studios.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) He’s lost his edge….
Photojournalist Cache Calder lives to chase a great story. He’s just returned from the Middle East after surviving a suicide bombing that left him injured and grief-stricken. The last thing he wants is to travel to the wilds of Alaska on a “Where Is She Now” Assignment. But when his editor informs him that his subject is former kidnapping victim, Amelia Bennett who jump-started his career 20 years earlier, he packs his bags.
She lives on the Edge….
Mel Bennett’s carefully maintained control unravels the moment she meets Cache Calder. Attraction flares for the man who seems to really “know” her. No one at the Edge of Reason Lodge is aware she was the young teenager who’d survived one of the most publicized kidnappings in recent history, and she wants it to stay that way. But she starts to question her heart and her sanity when unexplained incidents begin to happen and a deadly threat returns to finish what he’d started so long ago.
Trigger Warning: Rape (of a child, off page. NOT detailed, but mentioned in the story).
What worked for me (and what didn’t): First, let me say that I’m really glad I listened to this one because, at least in Australia, we pronounce “Cache” with a long “a” (ie Cay-sh) and I just don’t think I could have coped with a hero named after a place you hide things. Thankfully the narrator pronounced the name in the American way so I heard “Cash” which is just fine as a hero name! (*laughs at self*)
I’ve been a fan of romantic suspense for a long time. Perhaps because I love it so much, I have become very picky about it. I don’t mind a heightened reality but I want the world building to be consistent. I prefer more romance than suspense, or at least an even balance, rather than the other way around and I’m becoming averse to “torture porn”. I had high hopes for this book from a new-to-me author (and narrator as it happens). While parts of the book didn’t work for me that well, I did enjoy it and, in terms of the mix of romance and suspense, I think the book got it about right.
Why I read it: I heard about this book on a DBSA Podcast so I bought it. I didn’t share the view of the two Smart Bitches who read and loved it. I can’t tell how much of that exactly was due to the audio format but I think if I’d read the book it still would not have been a resounding success, even though I’m sure I’d have liked it better. As it was, it was just okay for me.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) Miss Prudence Merryweather Payton has a secret.
Everyone knows that she’s the only graduate from her finishing school to remain unwed on her fourth season—but no one knows why. With her romantic illusions shattered after being compromised against her will, Prudence accepts a proposal even though her betrothed is not exactly a knight in shining armor. When he cowardly pushes her out of their stagecoach to divert a highwayman, she vows never to trust another man again.
John Roark, Viscount Castleton, is nobody’s hero.
He’s a blue-eyed charmer with a mysterious past and ambitious plans for his future—that do not include a wife. When he finds himself stranded at a country inn with a captivating young woman, a delicate dance of seduction ensues. He knows he should keep his distance. And he definitely shouldn’t start falling in love with her.
When Prudence’s dark past comes back to haunt her, John must protect her—even though he risks revealing his own secrets that could destroy his future.
Trigger Warning: Sexual assault
What worked for me (and what didn’t): There’s a thing that happens sometimes when a book is “translated” into the audio format. There are things which don’t work as well aurally as they do visually. What A Wallflower Wants is a perfect example of when something doesn’t translate well to audio. It has a somewhat unusual structure. At the end of some chapters (but not all, let’s not worry about consistency) there is a section which I’ve seen (because a friend screen-capped a couple of pages and tweeted them to me) is in italics. It has a section break before it and it is clearly out of phase with the rest of the story. Even so, there is no time/date stamp above it. It is apparent that these events take place a few days into the future – eventually the book catches up with itself. They are always in John’s POV. This is made even more odd because when Prudence has a flashback they are always marked with a date/time to orient the listener (for example, “Four years ago”). It is only these odd little sections from the future which aren’t so marked. On audio they come out of the blue. There is no aural representation that we are moving into the future and that the section is not in phase with the rest of the story. It took me a while to work out what was going on. At first I thought it was a flashback but that didn’t make sense the more I listened. Eventually I asked on Twitter and my guess was confirmed. When I’m listening, I have only my ears to orient me to the physics of the story. I can’t easily skip around sections like I can in a paperback or a digital file and I can’t see the visual cues on the page. I can’t see the italics. This story flips about quite a bit – in fact, there was one part where I’d accidentally left my iPod running and I missed a couple of chapters and when I started listening again I didn’t immediately realise my mistake – I thought it was just the book messing with me again. (I did realise after a while and went back and listened to the bits I’d missed).
Why I read it: Various friends of mine have been telling me I need to read this book. I was warned about possible ugly-crying and an emotional wringer. It seems to be a much beloved book. I bought it a while ago and finally decided to actually read it. From a quick survey of my Twitter friends, it seems I’m a bit of an outlier. So, YMMV. A LOT.
Warning: This book has been out a while so I feel less guilty about spoilers. What I most want to talk about is very spoilerish. So, ALL THE SPOILER WARNINGS. If you haven’t read Jellicoe Road and you want to, don’t read this review. It’s a very plotty book and while the structure of it didn’t always work for me, I think it probably works best not knowing all that much going in. (It is “safe” for romance readers to read.) I also think that if you haven’t read the book you won’t get a lot of out the discussion below and it could colour your view because I have Things. To. Say.
What it’s about: (from Goodreads) I’m dreaming of the boy in the tree. I tell him stories. About the Jellicoe School and the Townies and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. I tell him about the war between us for territory. And I tell him about Hannah, who lives in the unfinished house by the river. Hannah, who is too young to be hiding away from the world. Hannah, who found me on the Jellicoe Road six years ago.
Taylor is leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She has to keep the upper hand in the territory wars and deal with Jonah Griggs – the enigmatic leader of the cadets, and someone she thought she would never see again.
And now Hannah, the person Taylor had come to rely on, has disappeared. Taylor’s only clue is a manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. She needs to find out more, but this means confronting her own story, making sense of her strange, recurring dream, and finding her mother – who abandoned her on the Jellicoe Road.
I’m putting the entire review under the jump because: SPOILERS