Book review of Alluring Attraction by A F Zoelle

Alluring Attraction (Illicit Illusions #1)

Ryder and Hunter are in the same classes at university, but they don’t get along. They compete for the top grades and often get into heated debates that consume large portions of class time. One night Ryder reluctantly accompanies a friend to an exclusive brothel only to find that Hunter works there. He selects Hunter, to find out if it’s really him, and they both admit to being attracted to each other. They sleep together, and a few nights later, Ryder comes back for more. Hunter isn’t working at the brothel voluntarily, and Ryder’s visits are the highlight of his nights there. Until the brother owner, Hunter’s adoptive dad, realises that Ryder and Hunter are getting too close, and threatens them both. Meanwhile, Hunter has a new co-worker that he can’t resist.

This story is told in third person omniscient point of view, which would be fine, but the point of view changes from paragraph to paragraph, and sometimes even within a single paragraph. It took me a long time to be able to move past that. Aside from that, the writing style is very good, but I definitely think the book would be greatly improved if the author was able to maintain a single viewpoint for each chapter.

‘Ryder shrugged, not really caring one way or another. “I don’t know. I mean, I guess it could belong to a relative or something?” He sounded somewhat uncertain.’

 

I thought the characters were great, and I thought Hunter was particularly strong. It would be good to be able to see some balance in Hunter’s dad, because no one is totally evil, and yet we don’t see any balance there.

The author mentions multiple times that Hunter and Ryder are rivals, but we don’t really get to see that. It’s still being mentioned at the end of the book during sappy romantic or sexual times, when the characters are WELL past thinking of each others as rivals, and it feels a bit forced. Like the author can’t think of another word to use, because boyfriend and lover don’t quite fit.

‘Letting his thumb trail from the knuckles down to the tips of Ryder’s fingers, Hunter maintained eye contact as he slowly leaned forward and reverently placed a kiss on the back of his rival’s hand.’

Although Hunter works at a brothel, I was surprise by the steamy scenes between him and Cesare. The first one felt like it was moving the story along and letting the reader know more about Hunter and the situation he was in, but the more that Hunter and Cesare were together, the more Hunter seemed to be falling for Cesare. He thought Cesare was more satisfying in bed than Ryder. At that point I was like ‘Woah, where is this story going again?’ Actually, the title of the book, Alluring Attraction, seems more suited for Hunter and Cesare than Hunter and Ryder. But Cesare isn’t even mentioned in the blurb. I’m so confused!

‘Being with Ryder was its own form of incredible pleasure, but getting fucked by Cesare was physically gratifying all the way to the core of Hunter’s soul.’

The book finished without resolving anything. At this point, Hunter could end up with Ryder, he could end up with Cesare, or the three of them could decide to get together. Who knows?

I think the story has potential. If the point of view issue was fixed, it’d be an easy read. Aside from that one (major) issue, the writing style is great. The story has good pace and a perfect level of conflict to keep the reader engaged. The main characters are interesting and likeable, and it would be easy enough to add some depth to Christophe. I’m just not sure where Cesare fits into things. And ugh, cliffhangers. I gave the book two stars because I think it needs some more editing.

I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

Writing plans

Prompt: Have you set a writing plan for 2019? If not why not? Do you feel planning makes you more productive or less productive?

I haven”t made a writing plan yet but I think I will.  Generally speaking, plans help me avoid wasted time.  For instance, I might not write any more than I would have without the plan, but what I do write is more likely to be what’s on my plan than random waste-of-time writing.  Okay, I don’t normally have writing plans, I don’t think, but this is generally what happens to me with plans.

I did have a writing bucket list once.  Let’s see what was on that…

*Box* Handwrite all my poems into journals
*Boxcheck* Finish, edit and print Grand & Epic Adventures
*Box*Write a short story based on one of my ancestors
*Box* Write a short story based on my own life
*Boxcheck* Write a poem about Boxing Days
*Box* Write a poem about each of my family members
*Boxcheck* My dad
*Box* My mum
*Box* My older sister
*Boxcheck* My younger sister
*Boxcheck* My husband
*Boxcheck* My son
*Boxcheck* My daughter
*Box* My father-in-law
*Box* My mother-in-law
*Boxcheck* Complete National Poetry Writing Month
*Box* Complete National Novel Writing Month
*Box* Fill a journal with writing
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my younger sister in the UK
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my godson in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my goddaughter in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my grandmother in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my great uncle in the UK
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my uncle in Australia
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my friend Beth in the US
*Boxcheck* Send a snail mail letter to my old next door neighbour
*Box* Take a poetry writing or appreciation class

Hey, I’ve actually done quite a few of the things on my list!  When I was checking the list though, I realised I hadn’t updated any of my 2018 to-do lists and made 2019 lists.  I need to do that.  This is a great prompt, because I hadn’t thought about doing this earlier!

Okay, let’s do writing, and then I’ll do the other ones after posting this entry.

Last year I set myself a goal of writing a poem and a short story every month.  I failed that pretty spectacularly.  I didn’t write any short stories at all last year *Shock* and I think I only wrote poems in about six of the 12 months.  Ugh.  So I won’t set that goal again.

Oh, I should probably mention that I also have a Writing.com list (for entering contests, etc) and a blogging list.  So I don’t count blogging as writing for the purpose of this writing list.  Sorry if that confuses you!

Okay, let’s set a goal of writing at least one short story in 2019.  That’ll be an improvement over 2018!  *Laugh*

I do wanna write some poems this year.  Maybe I should set a number instead of a timeline?  Like 10 poems in 2019?

The more I think about this, the harder it gets.  Because I was like ‘Oh, I need to do some book reviews too’, but that’s a different list as well (reading).  Clearly I have too many lists.  *Facepalm*

So I put this blog entry down, went away, spent half the day watching Youtube videos and making a rock playlist and I’m still no closer to answer.  *Laugh*

Okay, here goes.  Executive decision.  Write six poems and one short story by 30 June, and write a total of 12 poems and two short stories by the end of the year.  Done!

Now I gotta update my other lists…

You’re my density

My husband sent me flowers at the office today.  Gorgeous roses in an array of different colours, including a couple of really pretty variegated ones.  He’s so naughty.  The card said ‘After 16 years, you’re still my density’, referencing the Back to the Future quote.

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I worked out that next month, it’ll be 19 years since we got together.  I was 19 then, so that means I’ll have been with him for half my life.  Half my life!  That’s insane.  And married for 16 years.  I guess that’s the good thing about getting married young, you can celebrate some pretty epic anniversaries.   Ha ha!

Travel dreams

Prompt: Where in the world would you like to visit the most? Assume you are not worried about money in any way.

Ooh, fun. Travel with no money restrictions, yes please! Living in New Zealand, it’s so expensive to go anywhere. And some of the flights are so freaking long. It takes about 30-odd hours to get from Auckland to London. In cattle class, that sucks. You arrive so exhausted that you have to spend two days recovering before you can start exploring. So money-is-no-object travelling? I’m in.

I haven’t been to many places, although I’ve been lucky with where I have been. I’ve done most of the North Island of New Zealand. I’ve been to Melbourne, Australia and the Australian Outback. I’ve explored London, England, and Inverness, Scotland pretty well. I’ve been to Edinburgh and Aberdeen in Scotland as well, and Northampton and Keswick in England, but not explored, so only seen one or two specific places and a whole bunch of English and Scottish roadside.

When it comes to travel, I have some priorities I guess. Like everyone. Some people want to immerse themselves in a different culture. Some people want to get a sense of history. I’m a country girl at heart, and a photography enthusiast, so I tend to go for natural scenery.

I know, it’s insane that I can say that and yet I haven’t been to the South Island. People come from all over the world to see the scenery of the South Island, and I’m a Kiwi and I haven’t seen any of it!  My friend Charlie on Writing.com was talking about Norway’s fjords, but New Zealand’s South Island has fjords too. And glaciers. And mountains.

Why do we spell it fiords? That seems very American of us. *Wink*

So yeah, the South Island is high on my list. I also really want to explore the Lake District of England. I’ve been there twice, once as a child and once as an adult, but only briefly. I want to explore it.

Where else? I want to drive the Grossglockner High Alpine Road in Austria. Again, amazing scenery. And I love road trips. My mother and older sister rave about cruises, because you do all your travelling at night while you sleep and just wake up in the morning at your next destination, but I actually like road trips, and so does my husband. You get a feel for the country, and it’s interesting and relaxing. Plus, you can pull over anywhere you like and explore. That’s how we ended up in Gretna Green. *Laugh* Oh, and Stoke-on-Trent. That was a heck of a detour for what ended up being a walk around a pottery museum. *Smirk*

I’m sure no one will be surprised to know that I have a travel bucket list. No, I thought not. Me, the queen of lists, having a travel bucket list? Kind of a given, I know. So here you go:
*Boxcheck* Fly business class
*Box* Fly first class
*Box* Apply for a UK passport
*Boxcheck* Go inside St Matthews in the City, Auckland, New Zealand
*Box* Go to New Zealand’s South Island
*Box* Go to Larnach Castle in Dunedin, New Zealand
*Boxcheck* Go to England as an adult
*Boxcheck* See Buckingham Palace in England as an adult
*Boxcheck* Go inside Westminster Abbey in England
*Boxcheck* See the Tower of London in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Hyde Park in England
*Boxcheck* Go to Scotland
*Boxcheck* Go to Gretna Green in Scotland
*Box* Go to Dunfermline Abbey in Edinburgh, Scotland
*Box* Go to the Isle of Skye in Scotland
*Box* Go to the Orkney Islands in Scotland
*Box* Go to Ireland
*Box* Go to Wales as an adult
*Box* Go to ANZAC Cove, Gallipoli
*Box* See the Northern or Southern Lights
*Box* Go to Antarctica

See? IrelandWalesthe islands of Scotland and Antarctica. That’d be fucking awesome. I’m so jealous of my friend Jody from Writing.com who is going to Antarctica. Again, so close to New Zealand (ironically, that one we’re actually close to whereas you’re all so far away from it) and yet it might as well be on the other side of the world. No, I’ve been to the other side of the world, but still haven’t been to the South Island or Antarctica. *Facepalm*

Where would you love to travel to if money was no object?

My dream library

Do you ever dream about winning the lottery?  I do.  Probably more often than is healthy for me, but whatever.  I was re-reading an older post recently about my plans to spend my millions if I one day won, and one of my dreams was to build a house with a library in it.  And I was thinking to myself ‘Since I read all electronic books these days, what books would I fill my library with?’  So that’s what I was pondering last night as I drifted off to sleep.

Here’s what I came up.  It’s a mix of the books I’ve rated 5 stars, series I’ve really enjoyed and books I’ve already found myself re-reading.

The Midnight Breed series by Lara Adrian
The Kick series by Lynda Aicher
The Seer trilogy by Maree Anderson
The Innkeeper Chronicles series by Ilona Andrews
Idle Bloom by Jewel E Ann
Belonging series by A M Arthur
The Perspectives series by A M Arthur
Restoration series by A M Arthur
The Mackenzies and McBrides series by Jennifer Ashley
The Highlander series by Maya Banks
The KGI series by Maya Banks
The Wild series by Maya Banks
The Montgomery and Armstrongs series by Maya Banks
The Others series by Anne Bishop
The Kingmaker Chronicles by Amanda Bouchet
The Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs
The Duke’s Obsession trilogy by Grace Burrowes
Ridiculous by D L Carter
Mackerel Sky by S Jade Castleton
Let It Go by Mercy Celeste
The Aftermath series by Cara Dee
Auctioned by Cara Dee
The Camassia Cove series by Cara Dee
Song for Sophia by Moriah Densley
The Gifted Ones series by Dianne Duvall
Immortal Guardians series by Dianne Duvall
The Ruin series by Rachel Van Dyken
Give Yourself Away by Barbara Elsborg
The Cyberlove series by Megan Erickson and Santino Hassell
The Reed Brothers series by Tammy Falkner
The Shadow Quest series by Kiersten Fay
Edge of Honor series by Lori Foster
The Poetry of Robert Frost by Robert Frost
The Ode Less Travelled by Stephen Fry
The Senses series by Andrew Grey
For Real by Alexis Hall
Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison
The Scoundrels of St James series by Lorraine Heath
The MacNachton Vampires series by Hannah Howell
The Murray Family series by Hannah Howell
The Wherlocke series by Hannah Howell
Morganna by Jackie Ivie (I already own this in paperback)
The Essex Sisters series by Eloisa James
The Pleasures series by Eloisa James
When Beauty Tamed The Beast by Eloisa James
The Royal Brotherhood series by Sabrina Jeffries
Letters to the Lost series by Brigid Kemmerer
A Taste for Scandal by Erin Knightley
The Urban Soul series by Garrett Leigh
Enemies Like You by Annika Martin and Joanna Chambers
The Brainship series by Anne McCaffrey
The Catteni series by Anne McCaffrey
The Pern series by Anne McCaffrey
The Talent series by Anne McCaffrey
Desires Entwined series by Tempeste O’Riley
The War Poems of Wilfred Owen
The Men of Halfway House series by Jaime Reese
The Search and Rescue series by Katie Ruggle
The Cynster series by Stephanie Laurens
Devil of the Highlands series by Lynsay Sands
The Sanctuary, Texas series by Krystal Shannan
The Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh
The Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
The Healer series by Maria V Snyder
The Broken City series by Jessica Sorensen
Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor
Static by L A Witt
Sin Brothers series by Rebecca Zanetti

What books would you buy for your dream library?

Looking back over 2018 and forward to 2019 (but it’s all about the books)

I’ve seen a few ‘recaps of 2018 reading’ posts, and a few ‘reading plans for 2019’ posts and I figured I’d just combine them!


Goodreads reading goal:
120
Total number of books read in 2018:
112.  Yeah, it’s not bad, but I missed my goal by a mere 8 books!

Average rating for 2018: 3.7 out of 5.  That’s pretty good for an average actually, I think!

My five star books for 2018:
A Promise of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Breath of Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Heart on Fire by Amanda Bouchet
Touch of Power by Maria V. Snyder
Written in Red by Anne Bishop
Auctioned by Cara Dee
Riven by Roan Parrish
For Real by Alexis Hall
More Than We Can Tell by Brigid Kemmerer
Archangel’s Enigma by Nalini Singh

The big disappointments of 2018:
His Obsession by Violet Noir
Match Day by Mercy Celeste
Cowboy Outcasts by Stacey Espino
Dragon Desire by Amelia Jade
No Fear by Nora Phoenix
No Shame by Nora Phoenix

Favorite passages/quotes from books I read in 2018:

‘Upon entering, we were served champagne, which I sipped once before putting it down, because it tasted like a thousand smarmy assholes.’ – Lev by Belle Aurora

‘There in the distance was St Paul’s Cathedral, pointing up into the sky like a silicone-stuffed Hollywood breast.’ – Miranda’s Big Mistake by Jill Mansell

‘It wasn’t the guy, or his smile, or the sound of his voice. It was the promise of the dream. And, at the time, he probably would have accepted that from a three-legged iguana shifter if it had been able to speak that promise to him.’ – A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

‘He imagined he would be crapping sugar cubes at any moment.’ – A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

‘Wall didn’t know shit about computers, programming, and wouldn’t be able to find the dark web in a well-lit room.’ – A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

Goodreads reading goal for 2019: 120 (because I’m an eternal optimist!)

Books on my TBR pile:
Unwritten Law by Eden Finley (56% read)
Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Shadow Touch by Marjorie M Liu (87% read)
Dark Longing by Aja James
One Fell Sweep by Ilona Andrews
Globejotting by Dave Fox (67% read)
Play of Passion by Nalini Singh (21% read)
The Proposal by Mary Balogh
The Healer and the Warrior by Bekah Clark
Tiger Eye by Marjorie M Liu

What’s on your TBR list for 2019?

Volume 1 of the family recipe book DONE!

“Mum would make porridge for breakfast every morning. My brother used to run down the stairs every morning to see what colour porridge it would be today – maybe blue or green, perhaps red or purple or could be coconut. Mum made everyday porridge an everyday surprise.”

I haven’t been very active online lately.  I started a new job in December, which kept me pretty busy, and when I wasn’t working, I was trying to make progress on the family recipe book.  I’d reached that point where I wanted to change projects, but I refused to go back to my old modus operandi.  That was the reason it’d taken me five years to write a children’s novel, although I did finally finish that last year.  That was the reason it’d taken me eight years so far to create a family recipe book.  No more!  No more flitting from project to project and crowning myself the Queen of Unfinished Projects. I was determined to finish the projects, and I’d prioritised them, and the recipe book was next cab off the rank.

“When my dad used to get off work, I used to go and meet him and he’d give me a penny to go and get chips at the chip shop, hot chips. We also used to get a ha’penny worth of batter bits – it was all the crunchy bits that had dropped off the fish.”

Well, I finally gave in to popular opinion and agreed to make the recipe book in volumes.  It makes it more affordable for people (including me), it’s more practical to actually use in the kitchen, and it allows me to do it in stages which makes it less daunting.

Don’t get me wrong, I do all these projects because I want to, not because I have to.  They’re not a chore.  But I tend to get bored of a project after a while and start a new one, and some of these projects are important to me and I actually wanna finish them.

“My family always used to have a roast dinner on Sunday. Mum used to do cabbage, which I didn’t mind. We used to drink the cabbage juice which was put in a green glazed china jar on the table with salt and pepper and I used to like that. When she cooked a chicken, she always used to boil up the neck and put herbs and things in and make a beautiful gravy.”

Well, by staying off social media for the past few weeks, I’ve made good progress.  The first volume is ‘Meals’ and includes Breakfasts, Starters and Snacks, Soups, Main Meals, Side Dishes and Desserts and Puddings.  It’s done.  I uploaded it to Blurb, and ordered myself a copy.  It should arrive in about 3 weeks or so.  Exciting!

I can’t sell the book commercially, because they’re not all my recipes.  Indeed, some of them are recipes from famous chefs.  It’s a combination of heirloom recipes and family favourites and some of those family favourites are from other recipe books or websites.  But it was never intended to be available commercially.  Just for family.  Just all our favourite and heirloom recipes collated in one place.

You can have a look if you like.  Hopefully the preview function is working, I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with it.

Click here to check out the preview at Blurb