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.

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

Book review of A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

A Chosen Man by Jaime Reese

This is the 6th book in Jaime Reese’s Men of Halfway House series.

Wall is a secondary character we’ve encountered previously, who talks very little.  Like, ridiculously little.  So I was curious to see how Jaime would portray his story.

I loved Dylan.  He reminded me of Cole, a previous character.  Dylan has a powerful memory and can remember virtually everything he reads.  The author didn’t explicitly state that it was a photographic memory, but it obviously was.  He’s also a tech genius, specifically a hacker.  But then comes the similarity to Cole – the habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time because he doesn’t fully understand the nuances of normal, everyday social situations.

Both Dylan and Wall have had previous relationships that scarred and/or traumatised them, and led them to being wary of new relationships.  Built into this is the explanation of why Wall is so quiet, and how Dylan ended up in jail.

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.

Like with Cole, the author doesn’t try and pretend he’s squeaky clean, an innocent man who did time for an honest mistake.  Dylan broke the law, but the author cleverly entices the reader to fall for him anyway.  I mean, for Wall to fall for him anyway.  Ahem.

I felt that the relationship between Wall and Dylan healed both men to a point where I felt like some of their stronger personality traits weren’t so obvious anymore.  Wall talked a lot more than I expected, and Dylan learned how to concentrate on his surroundings and what reactions were best in a given situation.  I was a little disappointed that they became more ‘normal’.  I didn’t feel like that happened with Cole, or even Adrian, who were strong characters that remained strong characters but found someone who loved them anyway.  Wall and Dylan changed each other.  For the better, sure, but…  Anyway, I dropped a star off my rating for that.

I added a star to my rating for the humour.

He imagined he would be crapping sugar cubes at any moment.

I kept laughing aloud as I read, and I love a book that can do that for me.

Wall didn’t know shit about computers, programming, and wouldn’t be able to find the dark web in a well-lit room.

The relationship between Wall and Dylan didn’t have enough tension or conflict to really keep my interest.  Their relationship was very sweet.  There was external conflict, which came from the men chasing Dylan.  The ‘escaping the bad guys’ sections of the book were easily my favourite, although Wall’s mum was very cool and I liked her a lot.  If there had been more conflict, I think the book would have been stronger.  As it was, I felt it was a three star read, taken to four stars with the humour.  If you want a sweet read that will make you smile, check it out.

‘Snow, tenderly caught by eddying breezes, swirled and spun in to and out of bright, lustrous shapes that gleamed against the emerald-blazoned black drape of sky and sparkled there for a moment, hanging, before settling gently to the soft, green-tufted plain with all the sickly sweetness of an over-written sentence.’ ~ To Reign In Hell, Steven Brust

‘Rows and rows of books lined the shelves and I let my eyes linger on the sturdy spines, thinking how human books were, so full of ideas and images, worlds imagined, worlds perceived; full of fingerprints and sudden laughter and the sighs of readers, too. It was humbling to consider all these authors, struggling with this word or that phrase, recording their thoughts for people they’d never meet. In that same way, the detritus of the boxes was humbling – receipts, jotted notes, photos with no inscriptions, all of it once held together by the fabric of lives now finished, gone.’ – Kim Edwards