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Reading Under the Willow Tree

Environmental Science student, book reader, big dreamer, Sailing/Kayak/Surf instructor, Film buff, Adventurer, Girl.

Currently reading

The Magic Between Us
Tammy Falkner
Midnight's Surrender: A Dark Warriors Holiday Novella
Donna Grant
Tom Leveen
My Favorite Mistake
Chelsea M. Cameron
Alexandra Ivy, Nina Bangs, Dianne Duvall, Hannah Jayne
The Reluctant Wag
Mary Costello
Girl Least Likely to Marry (Modern Tempted) - Amy Andrews

For this review and more visit my blog

Girl Least Likely to Marry was a short and sweet romance that I mostly enjoyed. It had some interesting characters that I didn’t always get on with but for the most part I enjoyed this one, it was a cute and entertaining read. The story is a familiar one but it was written well and had character. I was not bored by this even if I have read something like it before.

Essentially all my problems with this book began and ended with Cassie. There were times when I really liked her and I thought she was super cute but there are also times when she annoyed me. Cassie is not quite like other female characters. She is no wilting wall flower and no beauty which was fine by me and fine by her. She is not like most girls and if I had to compare her to anyone it would have to be Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon. She is super smart, like SUPER smart but socially awkward. There were times when Cassie seemed incapable of socializing normally and she seemed to have no idea about many things like socializing, relationships, sex and men. I found this aspect of her endearing and I loved reading her development.

I also loved that she didn’t care about beauty because she knew there was more to the world than that. When someone attacks her appearance she doesn’t care because to her it simply does not matter. I LOVED that side of her…yet despite being judged by others she could be terribly judgemental and I hated it. Her initial thoughts about Sam were terrible. She assumed because he was a sports man he wasn’t smart and that because he wasn’t smart he was a waste of time. She assumes that people with less than average brains are not worth time or attention. It irritated me so much and I never really saw her get out of that attitude.

Sam was great and I really liked him. He was sweet, charming and surprisingly vulnerable. He lays his heart out there for Cassie which was a brave move considering she doesn’t believe in love or relationships. The romance was great and the chemistry between the two of them was sizzling.

I thought the ending was a little rushed and that it the way things ended didn’t quite fit the feel of the book. It all moved to quickly and I struggled to believe that someone just getting to grips with her first real relationship would agree to marry so early. Apart from that I quite enjoyed this little book and will look for more from this author in the future.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Becoming (Red Rock Pass, #0) - Moira Rogers

For this review and more visit my blog

Becoming is a short, sweet, clean romance that was more an opening to a series than a book of its own. Mostly I enjoyed it but the length was a problem, by the time I got into it I was on the last pages.

I really would have loved a little more of this book. I really liked the storyline it was sweet and sad and I wanted to learn more. The characters were also great. Samantha had been through so much and it was great to see her get over that and move on with her future. Gavin was a great guy and a great leader, he was caring, sweet and protective but not in an overbearing way. I liked that he gave Samantha her space and never once rushed or crowded her.

The romance was a sweet one and I hated that this book was so short because you never really got to see it develop and grow. I would have loved to see their relationship move forward but it was still very cute.

Becoming is a sweet but short novella that took no time to read. I will definitely check out more from this series in the future.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
All of You - Christina  Lee

For this review and more visit my blog

When I started this book I was sure I was going to dislike it. I just found it super annoying and wondered how I was going to get all the way through it, but somehow this book grew on me and in the end I really quite liked it.

There were so many things I admired about this book. The first and the biggest with the genre role reversal. So many books feature an innocent woman and a reformed playboy, but this time it was the other way round. In this book Avery is a bit of a player she likes sex without commitment and is not looking for anything serious. Bennett is the opposite, he is a virgin and determined to wait until he has found love before losing his V card. It was really great to see this role reversal and to see it done so well. Avery could have come across badly but instead she was strong (maybe to strong) and empowered. It would have been nice if Avery was empowered because that was who she was but instead it was because of her past.

I am not going to lie Avery was not always easy to like, at first I couldn’t stand her. She thinks she is so amazing that men drop to her feet in order to have her and when Bennett isn’t instantly drooling over her she is positively shocked. I thought she was arrogant and selfish and I couldn’t really understand why Bennett was so hot for her after that first meeting. I also hated her best friends, one of them in particular was awful. They call each other ‘bitch’, ‘whore’ and ‘slut’ all the time. I just don’t like that. The ‘bad’ friend was so awful I couldn’t understand why anyone would be friends with her. She didn’t care about peoples feeling including her friends.

Then Bennett come along and everything changed. Bennett is a great character, full of personality and charm. I loved his innocence and I loved that it didn’t define him. I admired him for his stance and that he didn’t break down under Avery’s (mostly unintended) pressure. He was honest & open and really, really hot. What I loved more about Bennett was the effect he had on Avery, how he helped turn her from a person I didn’t like into someone I did. He was so patient with her and taught her that intimacy and relationships shouldn’t come at a price.

The romance was great and there was a ton of chemistry and sexual tension between them. It could have been a little more emotional and passionate but for the most part it was just right.

All of You wasn’t perfect and it did annoy me in parts but I did enjoy it and I found it to be a very sweet New Adult book.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Thin Space - Jody Casella

For this review and more visit my blog

Thin Space was an interesting book that kept me entertained but I found it a little transparent and despite there being many twists and turns it never managed to surprise me.

Overall I enjoyed Thin Space but there were loads of niggley little things that took away from the reading experience. The opening was vague and it took me a while to get into, I wasn’t really sure what was going on or why things were happening. It was simple things like why Marshall walked around in no shoes that should have probably been explained a little early in the book so I didn’t spend half my time wondering why he was doing it. The writing, pace and plot were all really good but I never managed to lose myself in it. For some reason I remained detached and although it was entertaining I never really cared what happened. One big reason for my detachment was the fact that pretty early on I knew all this books secrets. I do not know if that was intentional but either way I think I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if it did something I wasn’t expecting.

The characters were alright but again there was something missing. Marshall is really mixed up and I did feel for him a lot. I cannot imagine what he went through and I did manage to relate to him but he was just so cold. In the book he can’t let anyone get close to him and I felt that feeling so strongly that I couldn’t either. Maddie was alright but I didn’t really get her. There were moments where she seemed strong and moments where she was a bit of a push over. Again, getting to know her was hard and I would have liked a little more insight into her situation as not all of it made sense to me.

I liked the romance, it was sweet but not terribly important, and it was very much in the background. I could see the chemistry building between Maddie and Marshall and knew that them getting together was inevitable but it was not what this book was about at all. Maddie changes Marshall, she opens him up and it is their friendship and not the romance that begins to fix him.

Thin Space was an interesting and enjoyable book that needed a little more depth and emotion to truly grip me. I will look out for more from Jody Casella in the future.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
All Bets Are On - Charlotte  Phillips

For this review and more visit my blog

I have read a lot of books like All Bets are on and I ultimately have the same problem with all of them. I don’t like the whole bet storyline. It just ruins everything for me. There are pages and pages of sweet romance but I can never get into it because I can’t get rid of the fact that one person has made a wager about the other, that their feelings may not be true and that at one point they felt so little disregard for the other person that they made a wager in the first place.

That was my issue with this. Frankly, Harry is awful at the beginning of this book. He has no regard for woman and especially Alice. Setting up an office betting ring to see who can bed her first is the lowest of the low and it put me off of him and the story because I knew that if someone had done something like that to me I could never forgive them and I would struggle to get over it.

Other than that everything else was fine, the writing and pace were good but nothing amazing. I loved the London setting and enjoyed many aspects of the story but that dark cloud of betrayal hung over everything for me.

The characters were alright. Alice was likable but far to up tight, there were times where she got on my nerves a little bit but I did feel really sorry for her. Harry was fun and charming but his revelation about love and woman came a little too late for me. There was not enough time between that realisation and the end of the book for me to forgive him.

All Bets Are On is an enjoyable romance which I am sure other fans of the genre will enjoy but the whole ‘bet’ aspect really put me off.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Redemption - B.J. Daniels

For this review and more visit my blog

Redemption was more or less what I expect from a B J Daniels romantic thriller. The storyline was complex, the romance was sweet and relatively clean and the pace fast. But the characters didn’t feel as well developed as I have seen from her in the past.

Redemption is first and fore most a thriller which is what B.J Daniels is great at writing. The romance always comes in second place which is great for creating a exciting and fast paced thriller. If I am honest, although I enjoyed Redemption it was not as exciting as some of her previous works and I felt like some of the POV’s a sub plots could have done with a little tidying up. I do love that she focuses on so many characters but this time it didn’t work as well. I think all in all the same could be said about the main plot. It was good but not the best. Daniels is the queen of writing deception and in the past her books have put me on edge but this one didn’t. There was a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming which was very well done.

Characters were also a bit of an issue. I liked Jack, I thought he was a sweet and caring cowboy and I liked him but I couldn’t really connect to Kate. She was so cold and I never really warmed up to her at all.

Redemption is a good western romantic thriller but it is not as good as other B.J Daniels books.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
After the Kiss: The Stiletto Series - Lauren Layne

For this review and more visit my blog

It is very rare for me to fall head over heels in love with a romance book. That is not to say that I don’t like romance books, I love them and I read loads of them but I can probably count the number I have given five stars to on one hand. Normally I need more than a nice romance and good characters to unleash the hard to achieve five stars. Most romances deliver on chemistry, characters and sexual tension but for me to fall head over heels in love it has to have something ‘more’ and After the Last Kiss had it in spades.

It is hard to explain what the elusive ‘more’ is. I guess it is a feeling. The ‘more’ comes when I care so much about what happens that I almost can’t bear to read anymore. It comes when even though I know the characters will get their happily ever after I can’t stand to go through the fall out that is bound to come before. The ‘more’ is when I get so lost in a book I fail to notice anything going on around me and I am more in that world than my own. A book can be well written, have a great storyline and characters, be aesthetically perfect but if it doesn’t grab me in that ‘more’ kind of way then I cannot give it a five star. I would rather have a non-perfectly written book that grabs my imagination than a perfectly written book that doesn’t.

After the Kiss just got everything right for me and I can’t think of one negative thing to say about it. I loved the storyline, it is something I have read before but not enjoyed as much as I did this time. The pace was perfect, it didn’t dawdle but there was enough time for the chemistry between the characters to grow. I really enjoyed the writing and the dialogue between the characters was witty and entertaining.

The characters were great. At first I didn’t think I was going to like Julie she seemed selfish and uptight but she quickly grew on me. I liked her attitude and personality but wasn’t as fond of the woman she was trying to force herself to be. It was great to see her come out of herself. Mitchell was amazing and I think I might be a little in love with him. He was sweet, charming and fun.

By far the best part of this book was the romance. I liked that there was not this instant ‘I want to rip your clothes off’ attraction between them. When they first meet they are not overcome with lust and they don’t find each other that attractive. Then they spend time together and the chemistry grows. They were amazing together and are by far my favourite book couple of the year so far. They sizzled in and out of the bedroom and I could have read a thousand pages of them together.

After the Kiss is without doubt the best romance I have read this year. It did everything right and somehow it manages to make me care about its characters and what happened between them. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys romance.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Game  - Neil Smith, Anders de la Motte

For this review and more visit my blog

Game was a really interesting thriller that I really enjoyed. There were twists and turns at every corner and the concept was original but the characters could have been easier to relate to.

Plot wise Game is genius. It was original and different and I have never read anything like it before. It could have been unbelievable, it could have gone too far but Anders De La Motte gets his delivery just right and turns something that you shouldn’t believe into something that could potentially be possible. The thought of something like this being real is nothing short of terrifying and I spent far too long between pages questioning if this could happen or even if it was happening already. I loved how this kept me guessing, I was never really sure what was going on or how things were going to end. There were moments when this book truly managed to surprise me which is rare. The writing was rich and entertaining. Time wasn’t wasted on flowery prose, this wasn’t that kind of novel. Instead it was cold, detached almost which gave Game an instant and powerful atmosphere.

The characters were the only problem I had with this book. I don’t need nice characters, I don’t even need characters I like but in some way, shape or form I have to relate to them and that was a struggle for me in this book. HP is one of the most self-centred, annoyingly delusional, waste of space characters I have come across in a while, yet I preferred him to the other characters in this book. He had some substance and despite how annoying I found him I got to like him in the end. The problem was that it took such a long time. I had to grit my teeth to get through some of his sections way past the half-way point of this book and by the time I finally began to change my mind about him I was nearly finished. Becca was a lot more settled and a lot nicer than HP but I struggled to relate to her at all. All I really got from her was coldness, she wanted to be strong but I found her quite weak. The part she played in this book was interesting and I still have so many questions about her storyline and the other people in her life that I hope will be answered in the next book.

The ending was awesome and it went somewhere that I never saw coming. I have so many unanswered questions and I cannot wait to see where this series goes from here. Game is a smart and entertaining thriller with buckets or originality that I recommend to thriller fans.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Animal Heat - Adrianna Dane

For this review and more visit my blog

Animal Heat was a fast paced and sexy read but lacked a general sense of depth. I liked the beginning and thought I was on to a winner but the more it went on the more I disliked it. Erotica comes massively down to taste and this was not mine.

The issue comes from the fact that although the main characters were in love and in a relationship with each other she also had sex with the two other members of the werewolf pack and at one point was with all three of them at the same time. Good for her if that is what she likes but I am more of a one man kind of girl so I lost interest when it got to sharing time.

Another issue was the sex to plot ratio which leaned heavily towards sex. Simply put there was a lot of it so if you are looking for a little more substance then look elsewhere because this one will not be for you.

All in all I enjoyed the characters and the storyline but it was a little too crowded for my taste.

Acid - Emma Pass I just can't do this anymore. This one is not for me for several reasons that I might get to another day.
Accidental Cowgirl: A Loveswept Contemporary Romance - Maggie McGinnis

For this review and more visit my blog

I really wanted to like Accidental Cowgirl it sounded just my kind of thing. It started well and I thought I was onto a winner but then things started to rapidly decline and in the end it was a struggle to finish it.

Accidental Cowgirl started as a sweet romance between and man and a woman who were carrying around a whole world of hurt. There was more baggage between them then a luggage pick up at Heathrow and I was looking forward to reading about them working through their problems and coming together. But instead of being a nice romance this took a turn for the bizarre and ended up being so over the top and unbelievable that I lost any interest I had in it.

It just all seemed to go crazy. There is an insane ex-girlfriend who won’t leave Decker alone, tells everyone in the town that they are getting marries, threatens Kyla and even has wedding invitations printed out. There is a ranch resort that sends guests who have never been out of the city before into the wilderness on their own when there are bears around. The Kyla gets thrown off a horse, breaks her leg, a few days later she is driving and about an hour after that running into a burning building to save a horse. Add in all the baggage and the most inconsiderate and annoying best friends in the world and it was all too much! I just couldn’t deal with all the stuff going down.

The characters were ok but both Kyla and Decker seemed incapable of communicating with each other. I wanted them to talk more but instead there was crossed wires and miscommunication. I would have liked Kyla to stand up for herself a little more especially where her two friends were concerned. She has been through a coma, has to have physiotherapy because of a badly injured leg, lost her grandparents, lost her job, been through a massive court case where she was on trial and they take her to a ranch where she is expected to ride horses despite her leg and her fear of horses. She wants a relaxing spa holiday they don’t listen. I also felt that they were constantly patronising her and one of them could not complete a sentence without calling someone ‘sweetie’ it drove me made, every time she said it which was constantly I got angrier and angrier.

Decker was easier to handle but I felt like he wallowed in self-pity a little too much. He didn’t seem sure of what he wanted or what he was doing. The romance was ok but I didn’t feel all that much chemistry probably due to everything else that was going on at the time. There was mention of the sexy stuff but it was a fade to black which is fine but is worth mentioning due to some readers dislike of the fade to black. The ending was rushed and everything seemed sorted extremely quickly.

At the end of the day Accidental Cowgirl was not for me. I am sure other romance fans will really enjoy it but I wasn’t one of them.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Italian Affair - Annie Seaton

For this review and more visit my blog

Italian Affair was a romance that delivered on sweetness but lacked a good dose of reality. Despite its cuteness the plot line of Italian Affair is unlikely to ever happen but that was fine, these types of romance are not supposed to be the most realistic of stories anyway and I still really enjoyed it.

I really enjoyed the setting of this book. Annie Seaton bought this tiny Italian island to life for me and I thought the world building and descriptions were strong. There were loads of lovely little details that really added to the general feel of the book.

The characters were strong and lived well within the slightly unbelievable plot. Tomas could be a little brash and cold in the beginning but he quickly warmed up as this story got underway. I thought he was very thoughtful and extremely kind. It was what he was prepared to go through for an almost stranger that made this book unbelievable. It is sad that it is a characters kindness that makes a book seem not all that real but there are not many people in this world who would marry a stranger as a favour and expect barely anything in return.

Brianna started strongly and often reminded me of myself. She was loud, clumsy and completely disorganized which mirrors myself quite a bit so instantly I identified with her. I thought I would prefer her over Tomas but her actions towards the end really angered me and I wanted to smack her. After everything Tomas had done for her she could just walk away with no explanation or warning.

The big downside to this book was the ending. Italian Affair has one of the most rushed endings I have ever read. One page Brianna is in Scotland looking up divorce lawyers the next she is back in Italy declaring her love for Tomas. I didn’t really understand why she had the sudden change of heart and it wasn’t explained for to the reader at all. I couldn’t really believe that it just picked up speed so suddenly.

Despite the ending I really enjoyed Italian Affair it was short and sweet. It is not going to blow anyone away but if you are looking to bring a little summer into a rainy autumn day you could do worse than this.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Maybe One Day - Melissa Kantor Review to come...when I finally stop crying.
Warrior of the Nile - Veronica  Scott

For this review and more visit my blog

Warrior of the Nile is the first Egyptian romance I have read. I was quite excited to get stuck into this because I have always had a love affair with Egypt. I find the history and mythology fascinating so it was about time that I got reading some Egyptian romantic fiction. Warrior of the Nile was entertaining enough but it wasn’t quite what I was looking for, the idea was interesting and I loved many aspects of the plot but there was something missing for me.

My copy of this book was an advanced reader’s copy which sometimes makes it hard when judging the execution of a book because ARCS are often uncorrected. None the less I can only judge a book on what is in front of me and unfortunately Warrior of the Nile had quite a few mistakes. Most noticeable was the way it kept swapping from first person to third. I do not know if this was because the author unconsciously kept changing from one to the other, or if the parts in first were supposed to be thoughts that were unpunctuated. Either way it was a massive distraction and kept pulling me out of the book.

The story itself was really interesting and I liked the idea. I liked the gods and goddess’s and how influential they were in the story. It showed the ruthlessness of the time period and culture and I loved those aspects of it. It was relatively fast paced and kept my attention most of the time. The world building could have been a little stronger, I would have loved a little more from the setting but it was adequate.

This books main issue was characters. Tiya and Khenet were perfectly nice and didn’t annoy me at all but they lacked personality, there was not much to them and I wanted more character. They have these big parts to play and there was a lot of destiny around them which was interesting but they themselves were a little bland. The romance was sweet but moved a little quickly. There was some chemistry between Tiya and Khenet but I would have liked a little more.

Warrior of the Nile was an entertaining enough romance but it could have done with more polish and depth, it was a nice introduction to Egyptian romance and I will look for more in this sub-genre in the future.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates - Jane  Linfoot

For this review and more visit my blog

How to Win a Guy in 10 dates was one of those books that was entertaining enough but not memorable. Before writing this review I had to go over all the notes I took because I just couldn’t remember much about this one. As a book blogger I read an insane amount of books and if it doesn’t stand out then it will just be forgotten.

The storyline was interesting enough but nothing particularly new. I thought the writing and world building was generally strong but it wasn’t enough to really grip me. I have a long history of struggling to like romance where bets are involved. Throughout all the romance and relationship build up in the book I always have in the back of my mind am always painfully aware that one of them is being terribly used and it tarnishes everything for me. I can’t really back the romance in these books because I know one of the characters is pushing for the sake of a bet. It just gives me a nasty feeling.

The characters were ok. Millie was a little too wishy washy for me. I couldn’t really get to the heart of her and I don’t even think she was really sure what she wanted. There were a few times where I thought she was a tad over dramatic but she had an awesome independent streak that I really admired.

I didn’t like Ed as much. Most the time I found him arrogant. He knew straight away that Millie was vulnerable, that she had been seriously hurt in the past and had problems but he pursued her in order to win the bet anyway and she ended up getting hurt. He is lucky she took him back in the end because I don’t think I could have.

The romance was alright but like I said the bet thing was a turn off. It was hot where it needed to be but the sweet parts missed the mark for me.

How to Win a Guy in 10 Dates is entertaining enough but I had issues with it and will probably not think about it again after posting this review. If you are a fan of the genre and want a short read than you could do worse than this.

The publisher provided me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
Seize the Night - Sherrilyn Kenyon
For this review and more visit my blog

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Seize the Night, I have only read a few Sherrilyn Kenyon books before and I haven’t really liked them. I was determined to read more from her because she is so loved by many other readers, I wanted to see what they all see and I think finally I am getting there because I really enjoyed Seize the Night.

I have only read one other Dark Hunter book (Fantasy Lover) and I had some issues with the world Sherrilyn Kenyon created. I still have those issues. I love fantasy especially if it has paranormal elements and I have no trouble suspending reality for a little while whilst reading but I do not like it when things happen just to make the plot a little easier. There are loads of moments like that in this book, things suddenly happen to make life easier instead of the characters working it out or it being properly woven into the plot. It is a shame because some of the issues in this were really good but the characters worried about them for a few pages before someone suddenly popped up with the power to sort it out.

Other than that I really enjoyed the writing. I loved the New Orleans setting and it bought back a lot of memories from the time I spent in the city. It was dark and violent which I enjoyed, often authors struggle creating atmosphere in books like this but it wasn’t a problem for Kenyon.

What this book really gets right and the reason I enjoyed it so much was the characters and the romance. Tabitha was bubbly, over the top and a little erratic. I loved her outgoing personality and the way she treated everyone equally. She could have easily got on my nerves but she didn’t at all. Val was just adorable and I developed quite the soft spot for him. He was uptight and pompous but terribly vulnerable. Everyone hated him due to the fact he was a roman and because his family had done terrible things in the past but he was honest and kind yet people refused to see that. Everyone apart from Tabitha. She is the only one prepared to look behind the mask to the man, she not only sees him for what he truly is but she also isn’t afraid to knock him down a peg or too when he gets to snotty.

They make an unlikely couple but for some reason it really works. Tabitha becomes fiercely protective of him and defends him against her friends and family. It was great to see a female character take that role. There was loads of chemistry between them and they just suited really well. I really enjoyed their odd dynamic.

Seize the Night wasn’t perfect but it had strong characters and a strong romance that made this book really enjoyable. I will read more from this series.