Review: Hide your Heart (Far North #1) by Tracey Alvarez

Hide Your Heart TA

Title: Hide Your Heart
Author: Tracey Alvarez
Series: Far North
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Genres: Contemporary Adult Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Love will bring them together. Distrust will tear them apart…

Alexandra Lauren Knight has reinvented herself in the safety of her rural New Zealand hometown to become Lauren Taylor. She’s cut all ties with her past as a former model whose ex-husband turned out to be ruthless in both the boardroom and the bedroom. While Alexandra allowed other’s expectations to propel her into the spotlight, Lauren prefers the safety of anonymity; restoring classic cars with her brother, and snuggling with her four-year-old son.

Nate Fraser, a burned-out photojournalist, plans to fix up the property next door to Lauren and sell it as a celebrity retreat. Always on the move, Nate is only comfortable with short-term assignments and even shorter-term relationships. But it’s not just his buyer’s tight deadline or that the restoration is far beyond his expertise which turns a short-term project into an ordeal. Nate’s plan of travelling the globe is in jeopardy—created by the intensity of his growing feelings for Lauren and her little boy.

As the sparks of passion ignite between them it reawakens Nate’s long forgotten dream of having a home and family. Lauren must find a way to trust Nate not only with her secrets, but with her heart—before her safe haven is exposed and she can no longer hide in the shadows.

My Review:

This is book one in Tracey’s new Far North series and as a massive fan of her Due South series I was really looking forward to getting stuck into this book.

Hide Your Heart tells the story of Lauren and Nate. Lauren is an ex-model hiding from a troubled, dark past. She will do everything to protect her young son Drew, including ignoring her growing attraction to hot newcomer Nate.

Nate is a photojournalist who has purchased the nearby house as an investment. Taking time out from his busy career, he plans on fixing up the house and selling it to a developer who intends to use it as a celebrity retreat.

Lauren, naturally, isn’t happy about his plans as she is desperately trying to shield herself and her son from that world. As their paths intertwine, she finds it harder and harder to deny her feelings for him. The attraction is mutual and Nate is also trying to avoid giving into his heart. Nate’s plan for the future is to travel the world taking photos and he has never entertained notions of tying himself down. Until Lauren.

As the story progresses both Lauren and Nate are on a journey of self-discovery. Learning to trust in themselves and each other is a challenge they embark on together.

This book is written in Tracey’s usual enthralling style and the words flow beautifully on the page. The setting is again a small rural community but it’s evocative and visual and I found myself wishing I lived there. Sigh  🙂 The characters are complex and well written and I was definitely rooting for Lauren the whole way through. Her son Drew is an adorable character and so desperately in need of a father-figure. I was hoping that Nate wouldn’t let him down.

The only slight issue I had with this book was I felt the pacing was a little slow in the first third. However, thereafter I was drawn in and it galloped along at a great pace.

If you are a fan of Tracey Alvarez’ Due South series, or you like well-written contemporary adult romance, then I highly recommend this book.

Review Obsidian (Lux #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ObsidianTitle: Obsidian
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #1
Rating: 4 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Starting over sucks.

When we moved to West Virginia right before my senior year, I’d pretty much resigned myself to thick accents, dodgy internet access, and a whole lot of boring… until I spotted my hot neighbor, with his looming height and eerie green eyes. Things were looking up.

And then he opened his mouth.

Daemon is infuriating. Arrogant. Stab-worthy. We do not get along. At all. But when a stranger attacks me and Daemon literally freezes time with a wave of his hand, well, something… unexpected happens.

The hot alien living next door marks me.

You heard me. Alien. Turns out Daemon and his sister have a galaxy of enemies wanting to steal their abilities, and Daemon’s touch has me lit up like the Vegas Strip. The only way I’m getting out of this alive is by sticking close to Daemon until my alien mojo fades.

If I don’t kill him first, that is.

My Review:
I only recently discovered Jennifer L. Armentrout as an author, and I purchased the Lux series after I devoured the entire Covenent Series in less than a week (I seriously did nothing else all week but read, couldn’t drag myself back to normality at all).
While I definitely enjoyed reading Obsidian, and I’m dying to continue this series, I was a teeny bit disappointed. I didn’t connect as well with the characters as I had with Alex, Seth and Aiden from the Covenent Series.
However, it still contains all those amazing qualities that I have come to expect, and love, from JLA: compelling dialogue, addictive prose and swoon-worthy romance. It has all that in bucket-loads. And I’m totally down with the whole hot-alien thing.
I had a few issues though. Katy starts off being described as timid, but quickly turns quite sassy without really any explanation. Daemon was totally rocking an Edward Cullen type funk, you know – nasty and mean on the surface, but secretly yearning for Katy underneath it all, and just trying to protect her. Not a big deal for me as I love Edward Cullen, it’s more an observation. The biggest issue for me was that a lot of the stuff that came out of Daemon’s mouth was pure Seth, so much so, that I actually kept thinking of him as Seth which was jarring at times. Also, in the Covenent series a ‘demon’ is spelt ‘daimon’ and in the Lux series the character ‘Damon’ is spelt ‘Daemon’. For that reason, I kept reading demon in place of Damon and it bugged me. I know it’s minor (and it wasn’t an issue in the later books) but I wish she had just spelt it Damon.
Overall, my issues were quite minor, and this is still a very good book and I would suggest it as a recommended read.

Review Shadows (Lux #0.5) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

ShadowsTitle: Shadows
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: Lux #0.5
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Links:

Blurb:
The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane.

Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in.

Captivated. Lured. Loved.

Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence…and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself.

My Review:
At first I wasn’t that interested in reading about Dawson and Beth, mainly because I felt we really didn’t get to know them that well during the course of the series. However, Shadows was included in the print copy of Opposition that I bought so I wasn’t going to not read it.
I’m so glad I did because I loved it, and it really helped me to connect with Dawson and Beth and I adored hearing their back story. It was also interesting to witness Daemon’s response to their relationship, and it helped put his initial reaction to Katy into perspective.
A thoroughly enjoyable read in JLA’s usual addictive prose. I really dig all the bonus material Jennifer includes with her books, it brings the overall reading experience to a much higher level and has given me ideas for doing similar ‘add-ons’ with my own series.
Definitely worth a read.

Review Wait For You (Wait For You #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Wait For YouTitle: Wait for You
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout/ J Lynn
Series: Wait for You #1
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Links:

Blurb:
Some things are worth waiting for…

Traveling thousands of miles from home to enter college is the only way nineteen-year-old Avery Morgansten can escape what happened at the Halloween party five years ago—an event that forever changed her life. All she needs to do is make it to her classes on time, make sure the bracelet on her left wrist stays in place, not draw any attention to herself, and maybe—please God—make a few friends, because surely that would be a nice change of pace. The one thing she didn’t need and never planned on was capturing the attention of the one guy who could shatter the precarious future she’s building for herself.

Some things are worth experiencing…

Cameron Hamilton is six feet and three inches of swoon-worthy hotness, complete with a pair of striking blue eyes and a remarkable ability to make her want things she believed were irrevocably stolen from her. She knows she needs to stay away from him, but Cam is freaking everywhere, with his charm, his witty banter, and that damn dimple that’s just so… so lickable. Getting involved with him is dangerous, but when ignoring the simmering tension that sparks whenever they are around each other becomes impossible, he brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Some things should never be kept quiet…

But when Avery starts receiving threatening emails and phone calls forcing her to face a past she wants silenced, she’s has no other choice but to acknowledge that someone is refusing to allow her to let go of that night when everything changed. When the devastating truth comes out, will she resurface this time with one less scar? And can Cam be there to help her or will he be dragged down with her?

And some things are worth fighting for…

My Review:
Avery is desperate to escape her past, and her neglectful parents, so she enrolls in college in West Virgina. Sweet and innocent, she’s still struggling to deal with the events from five years ago that irrevocably changed her life forever.

She literally bumps head-first into Cam Hamilton on Day 1, and they both feel an instant attraction. Initially weary of him, due to his player reputation, she comes to enjoy his company and has to fend off his near-daily requests to take her out. Cam was so sweet in the way he did this, and the protective manner he displayed towards Avery.

It’s very obvious what happened to her, but we don’t hear the full story until the latter part of the book. We also find out that Cam is harboring his own secret, and he’s scared that Avery will take off running for the hills when she finds out.

The romance plays out like a lot of JLA romances – constant flirtations, near brushes, getting together and falling out etc, but ultimately they end up together and you can see how perfect they are for each other.

The themes are quite dark in this novel, it’s definitely not for young teens. I thought Jennifer handled the traumatic event that Avery experienced very delicately, and the emotions she experienced were very real. I could totally imagine how she would feel the way she felt, and her fear of intimacy was completely understandable. I loved how Cam was so patient, and so willing to wait for her until she was ready. Always willing to put her needs above his own. Her parents on the other hand, made me want to hurl.

As usual I raced through this :)And I loved it. I’ve always felt that Jennifer writes romance so well, now I can add sex to the list.

The only thing I didn’t like was how Cam called Avery sweetheart all the time. Now this is kinda signature Jennifer. Daemon called Kat Kitten, Seth called Alex Angel etc. To me ‘sweetheart’ is something a sleazy old bloke says, not a hot young stud-muffin. It just felt so unnatural for Cam to call her this. It’s my only gripe though, and it’s really minor.

Jennifer has been quoted as saying she writes books very quickly – I believe she wrote this in 20 days. I’m in awe of her talent. As a writer I wish I could deliver such quality so quickly. I’m holding out hope that she’ll master the art of writing a book a day so that I constantly have a JLA book in my hand. That would be the stuff dreams are made of!! (Laughing at my own cheesiness!)

Review The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our StarsTitle: The Fault in Our Stars
Author: John Green
Series: standalone
Rating: 5 stars
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Links:

Blurb:
Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.

Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.

My Review:
This book is total genius, I absolutely loved it and I have read it four times at the last count. I adore John Green’s writing, he is so witty and eloquent and there are so many quotes that stand out for me. I personally really liked the dialogue between Hazel Grace and Gus and it was so easy to get invested in these characters. I’ll happily admit that I spent parts of this book laughing out loud and others sobbing into my pillow (always the sign of a brilliant book in my view). I have seen some criticism which has stated the dialogue is unbelievable for kids of their age and I couldn’t disagree more. While I appreciate that not every teenager would converse like that, I think to assume that some aren’t capable of articulating in such a fashion is insulting to the intelligence of teenagers. I found it very refreshing. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book.