Ellie Reads Fiction

29 Sep 2016

Review: A Change of Heart by Sonali Dev

Title: A Change of Heart
Author: Sonali Dev
Date of publication: 27 Sept 2016
Genre/themes: Contemporary romance, India/USA

Author's links: Goodreads / Website / Facebook / Twitter
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My rating: 4.5 Stars




Blurb

Dr. Nikhil 'Nic' Joshi had it all—marriage, career, purpose. Until, while working for Doctors Without Borders in a Mumbai slum, his wife, Jen, discovered a black market organ transplant ring. Before she could expose the truth, Jen was killed.

Two years after the tragedy, Nic is a cruise ship doctor who spends his days treating seasickness and sunburn and his nights in a boozy haze. On one of those blurry evenings on deck, Nic meets a woman who makes a startling claim: she received Jen’s heart in a transplant and has a message for him. Nic wants to discount Jess Koirala’s story as absurd, but there’s something about her reckless desperation that resonates despite his doubts.

Jess has spent years working her way out of a nightmarish life in Calcutta and into a respectable Bollywood dance troupe. Now she faces losing the one thing that matters—her young son, Joy. She needs to uncover the secrets Jen risked everything for; but the unforeseen bond that results between her and Nic is both a lifeline and a perilous complication.

Delving beyond the surface of modern Indian-American life, acclaimed author Sonali Dev’s page-turning novel is both riveting and emotionally rewarding—an extraordinary story of human connection, bravery, and hope.

Review 



This is Ms Dev's third book and I have loved the first two with the second, The Bollywood Bride being my favourite. I have to say now that I have read A Change of Heart, it's a serious contender for that #1 spot in my heart. Ms Dev is definitely becoming a favourite author of mine.

All three novels are loosely connected, each telling the story of a character we met in the previous book but they work perfectly well on their own.

Ms Dev gives a look at life of Indians in the US and India through a beautiful but painful love story, that can only happen when broken souls meet and help each other heal.

I have to admit this story started slow for me and I had a somewhat hard time getting into it but once I was in the story, I couldn't put the book down. Unlike the previous two books here we have the romance mixed with a strong suspense/criminal plot. Like them it's a powerful character driven story with a slow growing romance, with an emphasis on personal growth and change and how one deals with disaster and moves on with their life.

Both Nic and Jess are broken in very similar, yet very different ways. It seems that she has moved on but in her interaction with Nic she sees that she is as stuck in the past and in her own pain and suffering as he is. You see two people who have suffered great losses trying to deal with that, they stumble forward, they fall, they make mistake but with the silent, almost intuitive support of the other they do manage to forge a way forward for themselves.

This is not a love triangle but there is a strong third person present in this romance, Jen, Nic's death wife and having notes from her diary at the top of each chapter worked well in connecting everyone and everything that happened to them.

Ms Dev is a master storyteller and she creates a captivating which moved me in so many ways (I've never highlighted so many passages in any other book on my Kindle). It will stay with me for a long time and I heartily recommend it to any romance readers looking for a mesmerising story, masterfully narrated.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / BAM / IndieBound

27 Sep 2016

Release Day Promo for The Trouble with Mistletoe by Jill Shalvis

It's never too early for some Holiday romance reading and you cannot go wrong with this one. I was lucky to read an ARC of The Trouble of Mistletoe and let me tell you it's so good - fun and sexy and heart-warming, cat shenanigans, meddling best friends and some great hero and heroine falling in unexpected but deliciously perfect love around Christmas time.



Synopsis


If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .


Author Bio and Social Links


New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website, www.jillshalvis.com, for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.



Excerpt


“You want to come upstairs, Willa?”

What she wanted was to put her hands back on his chest now that she knew it was as hard as it looked. Instead she gripped either side of her seat with white knuckles. “Of course not.”
“I think you do. I think you want something else too.”
“What I want,” she said as coolly as she could, “is dinner as promised.”
“Liar,” he chided softly.
“Well that’s just rude, calling your date a liar.”
“So it is a date.” His tone was very male and very smug. It should’ve pissed her off but instead it did something hot and erotic to her insides.
Clearly knowing it, he smiled at her and then dragged his teeth over his lower lip as he contemplated her.
Gah. She wanted to do that. And she wanted to do more too. She wanted him shockingly badly and suddenly she couldn’t remember why she shouldn’t. She tried to access her thought processes on the subject but her brain hiccupped and froze. Which surely was the only reason she let go of the death grip on her seat, slid her fingers into his hair, and . . . brushed her mouth over his.
He didn’t move, not a single muscle, but when she pulled back, his eyes had gone dark as night, piercing her with their intensity.
“Don’t read that the wrong way,” she whispered.
“Is there a wrong way to take it when a beautiful woman kisses you?”


Purchase links: Kindle / iBooks / Nook / Paperback / GooglePlay / Kobo / BAM

22 Sep 2016

Review: Dirty for Me by Jackie Ashenden

Title: Dirty for Me (Motor City Royals #1)
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Date of publication: 26 July 2016
Genre / Themes: Contemporary romance 

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add to Goodreads
My rating: 4 Stars





Blurb

Ezekiel "Zee" Chase has a complicated past. Born into a family whose wealth grew from the seedy world of big-time crime, he ran away as a teenager and made a home for himself on the streets of Detroit. By day, the mechanic works at a local garage. But by night, he throws down with the best of them in Detroit's gritty underground fighting scene. With all those muscles, he's never had trouble with women--until he meets one who challenges him to the greatest fight of his life. . .

Tamara Eliot is a hardworking corporate high-flyer who appreciates the finer things in life, from her expensive perfume to her designer handbags. More than anything, though, she likes to be in control--and when Zee explodes into her life, she feels anything but. He's the definition of a bad boy: brash, fiery, and of course, irresistibly hot. And there's a darkness about him that keeps her coming back for more. As Zee takes Tamara deeper into a world she never knew existed, she just might prove to be the one opponent he won't be able to dominate--at least not without some pleasurable convincing . . .


Review 



The first book by Ms Ashenden which I tried, Take Me Deeper, did not work for me but I wanted to give this one a chance as well because I was curious what the author could do with the familiar (and not particularly favourite trope of mine) bad boy meets good girl and wins her over.

I really enjoyed this story. It's nothing ground-breaking or new but rather a familiar trope done well. It's a sexy, emotionally charged romance between Zee, the rough and tough street fighter from the wrong side of the tracks and the little miss perfect, daddy's good girl Tamara.

They start with unrestrained lust and acting out their fantasies and gradually move to opening up to emotionally and sharing secrets and dreams. They both change throughout the story and neither is what they initially appeared to be.

I really liked Zee, I won't say much more about him in order to avoid spoilers and keep the suspense but he turns out to be a pretty descent guy - loyal to his friends, involved in his community, trying to run away from a past that can only lead to a future of crime. He is wonderful with Tamara, helping her figure out herself without pressuring her.

I admit I didn't like Tamara as much as Zee but still, she did make the right choice in the end. It took her longer than I would have liked, some of her actions came off as childish and immature and she made some mistakes along the road, but I feel they are understandable, part of her journey to be a better person, to make up her own mind and follow her heart rather than just blindly do what is expected of her.

The supporting cast of Zee's friends are well-developed characters who fit the story perfectly. There is also a strong element of suspense that kept the plot going forward and a secondary conflict between Zee and his father which I also found rather fitting overall.

It's a fast paced, action-packed romance that draws the reader in and keeps them captivated till the very last page. Interesting characters, strong chemistry and sexual tension, unexpected plot twists make one irresistible package.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / iTunes

20 Sep 2016

Review: Overexposed by Megan Erickson

Title: Overexposed (In Focus #4)
Author: Megan Erickson
Date of publication: 20 Sept 2016
Genre / Themes: Romance / New Adult / MM

Author's links: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 4 Stars




Blurb

Levi Grainger needs a break. As a reality show star, he’s had enough of the spotlight and being edited into a walking stereotype. When he returns home after the last season of Trip League, he expects to spend time with his family, only to learn his sister is coming back from her deployment in a flag-draped casket. Devastated, Levi decides the best way to grieve will be to go off grid and hike the Appalachian Trail—a trip he'd planned to do with his sister.

His solitary existence on the trail is interrupted when he meets Thad, a quiet man with a hard body and intense eyes. Their connection is stronger than anything Levi has ever experienced. But when Levi discovers the truth about what Thad is hiking to escape, their future together looks uncertain, and uncertainty is the last thing Levi needs...


Review



I've read and reviewed the previous three books in this series of NA road trip mm romances and my favourite so far is Focus on Me which tells Colin and Riley. This one, the story of the reality TV star Levi and mysterious and quiet Thad he meets while hiking the Appalachian Trail comes in a close second place, and I'd even say rather it is a tie with Focus on Me.

It's a very emotionally intense story, my favourite type of romance - lots of heat with lots of deep feelings. 

Levi was grieving and Thad was at a crossroads in his life, both at vulnerable positions, they had to work through a lot of feelings, fears, dreams, hopes. Their unlikely pairing on the Appalachian Trail really helped them move on, accept some things (about themselves and the others), make decisions about the future. 

I'm very happy to see that Levi is not the spoiled celebrity he seemed to be when we first met him in the previous book. There is so much about him that is hidden behind the surface and the reader gets to see it he gradually opens up to Thad. 

They are complete opposites on the surface, Levi is outgoing and talkative and friendly and very much obviously gay who can't pass for straight. Thad is everything Levi isn't - he is quiet and broody and doesn't like people and could easily be mistake for straight. They become unlikely companions on a physically and mentally demanding trip which they both have undertaken for painful personal reasons. 

I liked how the chemistry between them was there from the start, ready to burst out yet not quite until it finally does. They don't fall into a relationship right away, but rather form an unexpected friendship which becomes a source of comfort and support they both desperately needed. Levy and Thad grow and change in the course of the story, each helping the other see his true potential. 

I have only one minor quibble with this story and it has to do with some of the presentation and discussions of the characters' sexuality. It felt forced, too focused on sending a message for acceptance and social justice. I had the same feeling regarding J. R.'s bisexuality in Out of Frame.

This story has the perfect ending and it made me so happy. I loved the sense of community, support and most importantly, hope for the future it gave to all the characters in this series. 


Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / iTunes


15 Sep 2016

Review: Wild Embrace by Nalini Singh

Title: Wild Embrace (Psy-Changeling # 15.5)
Author: Nalini Singh
Date of publication: 23 Aug 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Shapeshifters, novellas

Author's links:
Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads
Add to Goodreads

My rating: 3.5 Stars



Blurb

Echo of Silence 
In a deep-sea station, Tazia Nerif has found her life’s work as an engineer, keeping things running smoothly. But she wants nothing more than to break down the barrier of silence between her and her telekinetic Psy station commander...

Dorian 
A changeling who can never shift lives a life of quiet frustration—until he learns how to let his leopard come out and play...

Partners in Persuasion 
Still raw from being burned by a dominant female, wolf changeling Felix will never again risk being a plaything. But for dominant leopard Dezi, he’s the most fascinating man she’s ever met. She just has to convince this gun-shy wolf that he can trust the dangerous cat who wants to take a slow, sexy bite out of him…

Flirtation of Fate 
Seven years ago, Kenji broke Garnet’s heart. Now the wolf packmates have to investigate the shocking murder of one of their own. And the more Kenji sees of the woman Garnet has become, the deeper he begins to fall once more. But even his primal instincts are no match for the dark secret he carries...

Review


This is a collection of 4 novellas set in the world of the Psy-changeling series. They can be read as standalones except for Dorian which for me functions as a sort of epilogue to Hostage of Pleasure.

I love Ms Singh's writing and this series is really fabulous with an intricate world building and intriguing characters and challenging relationships.

I very much enjoyed all the stories in this collection with the exception of Partners in Persuasion which just did not work for me. 

Echo of Silence was just delightful, a slow burn romance between a human female and a psy male. Tender and sweet, this story was a pleasure to read. I find the psy really interesting and all the plotlines about breaking their silence and learning to feel is like catnip for me. This story placs a strong emphasis on forming connections, the importance of family, friends, people who will stand by you and share both your happiness and your sorrow. 

Dorian is the undisputed jem in this collection. We see Dorian finally being able to shift and it's glorious. Ms Singh shows us this big, confident and smart ass sentinel we already know, stumble like a baby, learning to walk, run, live in his animal form  and it is so much fun. This storyi's full of love and tenderness and good humour and true sense of friendship which are tardemark features of the whole series. 

Partners in Persuasion plays with the dom/sub dynamic in a reversed order and while I appreciate the idea, the execution did not quite work for me. I felt disconnected from the characters, couldn't see the chemistry between them. 

Flirtation of Fate is my second favourite novella in this collection. It's a second chance, friends-to-lovers story with a strong suspense element which just added richness to it. We have already met Kenji and Garnet in earlier books where they were younger and it was nice to see them all grown up, finding the road to each other. They both struggle with their feelings for each other, try desparately to deny them, only to come together in the end as a strong meant-to-be couple.

Purchase links: Amazon / B&N / Kobo / Penguin

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