Tuesday, 9 October 2018

REVIEW - THE GIRL FROM BERLIN - LIAM TAGGART & CATHERINE LOCKHART BY RONALD H BALSON

Title: The Girl From Berlin
Series: Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart 5
Author: Ronald H Balson
Publisher: St Martins Press
Release Date: 9th October 2018

BLURB from Goodreads
In the newest novel from internationally-bestselling author, Liam and Catherine come to the aid of an old friend and are drawn into a property dispute in Tuscany that unearths long-buried secrets

An old friend calls Catherine Lockhart and Liam Taggart to his famous Italian restaurant to enlist their help. His aunt is being evicted from her home in the Tuscan hills by a powerful corporation claiming they own the deeds, even though she can produce her own set of deeds to her land. Catherine and Liam’s only clue is a bound handwritten manuscript, entirely in German, and hidden in its pages is a story long-forgotten…

Ada Baumgarten was born in Berlin in 1918, at the end of the war. The daughter of an accomplished first-chair violinist in the prestigious Berlin Philharmonic, and herself a violin prodigy, Ada’s life was full of the rich culture of Berlin’s interwar society. She formed a deep attachment to her childhood friend Kurt, but they were torn apart by the growing unrest as her Jewish family came under suspicion. As the tides of history turned, it was her extraordinary talent that would carry her through an unraveling society turned to war, and make her a target even as it saved her, allowing her to move to Bologna―though Italy was not the haven her family had hoped, and further heartache awaited.

What became of Ada? How is she connected to the conflicting land deeds of a small Italian villa? As they dig through the layers of lies, corruption, and human evil, Catherine and Liam uncover an unfinished story of heart, redemption, and hope―the ending of which is yet to be written.



REVIEW
This book was brought to my attention by Staci, a publicist at St Martins Publishing and I have to say thank you so much Staci I totally adored this book and its characters. I have read quite a few books set around the time of World War 2 and the Holocaust, both non fiction, and fiction that is based on documentation from that era. I read the blurb for the book and though I was initially a little put off because this is book 5 in the Liam Taggart & Catherine Lockhart Series but each book is based on a different case that Private Detective Liam and Attorney Catherine are involved with.

The cover shows a woman standing looking out of a large window which upon reading the book could easily be one or more scenes from within the book. I'll be totally honest I am not sure this cover would make me want to pick it up from a bookstore shelf, though the blurb itself would really draw me into wanting to read the book.

The genres listed for this book are historical fiction, mystery, and thrillers. I would also add suspense, war, and holocaust to describe its genre and content. You can tell this author has done their research and the book comes across as very realistic. When you have read other titles based in and around World War 2 and the Holocaust. To me it is this type of book that keeps the relevance and horror of the Holocaust alive and make sure this information is passed on and down through the generations.

I fell in love with the character of Gabrielle who is the elderly lady who is about to be thrown out of the only real home she has had by a large faceless company. Gabrielle sends a translated manuscript all the way to America to an Attorney, and Private Detective her relative Tony has found and talked into seeing if they can help Gabrielle in proving that the land she lives on is genuinely hers. 
It's quite amusing how Tony kind of coerces his friends to take a look at Gabrielle's case, saying if nothing else they will get to stay in a beautiful home in Tuscany for a couple of weeks. Despite initial misgivings the pair agree, saying if needs be they can hire someone to act as a lawyer/attorney as because Catherine is from America she will be unable to practice law in Tuscany. 

The manuscript sent from Gabrielle is written by someone called Ada. Apparently when they have read this book the proof they need to help Gabrielle to stay in her Tuscan home will be revealed. Ada's story is revealed as first Catherine and then Liam read the manuscript. As soon as Ada is introduced into the book, I grew attached to her. Initially you don't know who Ada is and what her relevance to Gabrielle or the property dispute are. Everything is revealed as it is read by Catherine. I felt immediately drawn to the character of Ada and by the end of the book I loved her and Gabrielle. 

To say there are some seriously dodgy dealing going on and people being paid off or killed to maintain their silence around the true ownership history of Gabrielle's home is an understatement. Catherine and Liam really do have their work cut out in a country they don't particularly know very well and have to ask for the language to be translated too. However both Catherine and Liam are determined to help Gabrielle and soon discover that the ownership paperwork pertaining to title line of her property has been hidden or destroyed. Gabrielle  is distraught about her history and does not wish to speak about it, simply reiterating all will be revealed in Ada's story.

Ada's story is the historical story of how Gabrielle came to live and own her property and award winning vineyard. Part of the vineyard is actually named Ada's Vineyard and it contains the most impressive plants that make the highest award winning wines. To begin with it seems the company wanting Gabrielle's property want her vineyard, however that is not the only reason they want the land yet at the same time they do not want to reveal exactly who they are or what and when they came to "own" the property.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, both the story of the present time of Gabrielle, Catherine and Liam and then the past which is mainly about Ada's life, who in the beginning is happily living in Berlin with her parents. Her father is a famous violinist and plays in the orchestra, whilst Ada plays in the junior orchestra. Ada has a hard job to become art of an orchestra as the majority have only male players. Life seems pretty good for Ada and her family and then things begin to change Hitler begins to make his political bid. At first Ada's family think nothing will change for them that soon Hitler and his campaign will quieten. Sadly this is not the case and Ada and her family miss many opportunities to get away to a new life. Ada is a very talented violinist and this talent does prove to be a valuable one that enables her to escape the Nazis clutches on more than one occasion. 
I could go on and on about this book, it covers such a difficult era of history, and the holocaust is still rightfully seen as such a shocking occurrence. 

I loved the characters of Ada & Gabrielle and their stories of survival. This book took me through a plethora of emotions, from the shock and horror of the Holocaust, the disbelief of how the Nazi's got away their treatment of the countries and the people that had lived in them all their lives. I felt disgust at the Nazi's and their laws that alienated the Jewish people and anyone seen as a sympathiser to them. The book had a little romance between the young Jewish Ada and Kurt a fellow musician in the junior orchestra who ended up joining the German army. Their love for each other was strong and continued throughout the book even when they didn't see each other for years and the fact they were from opposite side of a war. Ada's story also had me both, in tears and yet also smiling. Ada really was a resilient young woman who put up and beat many vile hardships the Nazis put her her through.

I honestly hated having to put this book down. It pulls on your heartstrings, yet also has young sat at the edge of your seat. Ada's story reveals some of the small precious happy memories the Jewish people managed to have/create despite the never ending onslaught they faced from Hitler and his men. It seems that one Nazi officer has a very long memory and seriously bears grudges, he is out to destroy Ada.

My immediate thoughts upon finishing this book were that it was Amazing! A tale that is sad, horrific, tear jerking and yet it is also a heart warming, uplifting tale of hope, love and triumph over unimaginable adversity.

Prior to reading this book I had been in a bit of a reading rut. However I picked this e-book up to read and was hooked by just 7%. What more can I say? I loved Ada, Gabrielle and their interwoven lives. 






Tuesday, 2 October 2018

REVIEW - IN THE MOOD FUR LOVE ANTHOLOGY BY EVE LANGLAIS, MILLY TAIDEN & KATE BAXTER

Title: In The Mood Fur Love
Series: Fur Bk2
Authors: Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden & Kate Baxter
Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy
Publisher: St Martins Griffin
Release Date: 2nd October 2018

BLURB from Goodreads:
Three hot stories about sexy shifters from a trio of today's hottest paranormal romance authors, headlined by bestselling authors Eve Langlais and Milly Taiden!


Bearing His Touch by Eve Langlais
When Becka manages to escape her kidnapper, she finds herself asking help of the man with the nice brown eyes. Stavros can’t say no, not when he knows Becka is his mate, but he does have one dilemma when it comes to claiming her. He'll have to find a way for her to bear his touch.


Fake Mated to the Wolf by Milly Taiden
Looking for a mate to bring to a party? Wedding? Holiday gathering? Mates Fur Hire is right for you? But what happens when your fake mate ends up being your real one, from New York Times bestselling author Milly Taiden!


The Witch, The Werewolf and The Waitress by Kate Baxter
For centuries, Lowman, Idaho has been Ellie Curtis's prison. A vengeful witch cursed her with immortality and locked her within the confines of Lowman's borders, sealing Ellie off from most of civilization for eternity. She's learned to make the most of it. But when she meets a cocky werewolf who's part of the elite supernatural law enforcement group, all bets are off...
Colin instantly knew that Ellie was his mate, but when he discovers her secret, he's determined to help set her free. But in doing so, he might just lose the one thing he knows he can't live without...


PURCHASE LINKS

REVIEW
As I had already read and loved a couple of novella anthologies The Big Alpha In Town and Thanks Fur Last Night Bk1 of the Fur Series by the same three authors Eve Langlais, Milly Taiden and Kate Baxter I was eagerly awaiting for more from these authors. As soon as I heard about this it went straight on my "must read" list. As I had enjoyed Thanks Fur Last Night so much I did have high expectations for this novella. Having never read anything by these authors prior to The Big Alpha In Town I have quickly became a an of their work. I am adding some of the novels by the individual authors to my WTRWL (want to read wishlist).

The cover has tones of orange and yellow on it giving it a dappled daylight feel. The two main prominent features of the cover are the large bear that appears to look in the direction of the couple getting rather close to each other. I love the title and love the ply on words. The substitution of the word for being Fur works really well and I am sure will help to make the book stand out and you'll instantly know which series it belongs to as Fur will appear in every anthology title.

The genre listings for this anthology are Paranormal, Fantasy & Romance which it perfectly and give you a general idea of what the novellas will be about. I would also add shape-shifter, bear shifter


BEARING HIS TOUCH
by
EVE LANGLAIS

The first novella is called Bearing His Touch and is written by Eve Langlais. The main character Becka has been kidnapped, though no one is looking for her as her last living relative was killed by her kidnappers. Becka is subjected to abuse everyday, forced to sleep on the floor, not permitted out where she could be seen and spoken to alone, so she is unable to ask for any outside help. When she is allowed out she has to use clothes and make up to hid and disguise her bruises and injuries. So when she gets the chance to flee when her kidnappers are attacked she takes it without thinking of what to do next. It seems two sets of people want her, her kidnappers of course want her back, then there is the group all dressed in black and bike helmets covering their identities appear to want her back too. She doesn't know where to go or what to do until she meets Stavros a bear shifter who's mate instinct kicks in the minute he sees Becka. Now all he has to do is keep her safe and convince her they are meant to be together.

I became fond of Becka and her naivete and the fact she doesn't want to put Stavros or his family in danger. However once she meets the rest of her protector, Stavros' family they will not take no for an answer and insist on protecting her. Stavros repeatedly reassures Becka that he can hold his own in a fight and he is tougher than he looks. I adored the romance between Stavros and Becka. I also loved the scenes between Becka and Poppa. I found the scenes between Stavros and his sisters amusing as they wheedle, persuade, and order him around.

I have always loved werewolf shifter stories but have now discovered other types of shifters and have to say I am becoming partial to bear shifters. 

FAKE MATED TO THE WOLF
by
MILLY TAIDEN

The next novella is Fake Mated To The Wolf by Milly Taiden. In this novells we revisit the setting of  Owned By The Lion In The Big Alpha In Town, and Bought By The Bear. I have grown fond of the characters in these three novella's. The main focus in this novella is Shawna who is working, in fact more or less running the Mates Fur Hire part of the larger business. Shawna is working all the hours she can to send money to pay off a family debt and then help her mother and her step brothers free. Shawna has moved into a cheaper apartment in a not so great area. There is an old homeless guy called Robbie who watches out for Shawna and also her friends when they visit by escorting them from the car park to the apartment and back. Shawna is upset at work as her immediate boss Clark is very chauvinistic and sexist. He has been putting more and more pressure on Shawna to do more work. He actually times her toilet breaks and notes down how many she has during each day. Clark loves to write Shawna up and give her warnings, then one day he finally sacks her. Shawna determinedly hides her emotions and actually feels a sense of freedom initially, then it hits her how will she send money to her mother now? In act how will she afford to pay for her apartment in the dodgy area of town. 

When the Mates Fur Hire business stops getting the good matches and its success figures dramatically drop its time for Hawke to investigate. In fact he thinks it will kill two birds with one stone as he might get to see the hot woman he met at a party about a month ago. He has been pondering how to approach her, he doesn't want to come across stalkery he had felt something sort of click and he wanted to get to know her more. In fact it turns out she is his true mate but he cannot come out and say this as he realises she probably wouldn't believe him.

Hawke gets his first "date" by hiring Shawna to be his "fake date" or a business party. We catch up with some characters from the other installments in this series, Keir, Xander, Josie, Ally and the two tough females at the head of the families and business, Bess and Julia. When Hawke learns of her mother and step brothers he vows to help her free them. 

This one is a great catch up with some of the fantastic characters from the previous novellas as well as introducing some new characters such as Henry and Robbie. I loved the way when Robbie thinks Hawke is the source and cause of Shawna's upset he stands up to a bigger fitter man. When danger strikes Robbie shows how much he cares for Shawna and is ready to literally lay down his life or her if needed. This novella felt like visiting old friends, I truly adore the setting of this novella and the previous ones in The Big Alpha In Town and Thanks Fur Last Night.


THE WITCH, THE WEREWOLF AND THE WAITRESS
by
KATE BAXTER

The final installment in this anthology is called The Witch, The Werewolf And The Waitress by Kate Baxter.  The central male character is Colin Courtney who is a werewolf shifter and is fairly new to the area. He has rather reluctantly moved to this little place that feels like it is in the middle of nowhere. Colin, along with the rest of his pack were not impressed with their Alpha, Liam. Colin is peeved, its okay or Liam, he has his mate. Colin feels its highly unlikely he will ever find a mate here in nothing town in the middle of nowhere. That is until he is on his way to a job interview and calls in the sourdough and sets eyes of the waitress there. Ellie is the waitress working at the Sourdough, shes worked there for a couple of years now and knows all the locals and their requirements and foibles. So when Colin takes the first cinnamon roll and actually dares to eat it, Ellie loses the plot shouting and scowling. Her boss and owner of the Sourdough tells her to calm down and apologise. After Colin leaves he tells Ellie's she needs to take a few days off work. Ellie is truly fed up o living in this area but is unable to leave as she was cursed by a witch to stay within certain borders she has enchanted. 

Colin isn't bothered in the least about the hostility Ellie gives him because when he looks at her he just knows. . . .knows she is his mate. So Colin thinks things are looking up. A mate, and the possibility of his dream job. However things go rapidly downhill when the job is offered to him on the condition that his Alpha, Liam is okay with the arrangement. As for Ellie when he learns of her curse he vows to help her break it despite the fact if they break it she will be free and can travel wherever she wishes. Colin wants her to become his mate and live in Stanley with him and his pack. Despite the dangers of literally dying of a broken heart if when freed Ellie takes off and leaves him behind. There is also the chance that when all the boundary enchantments are broken Ellie will lose her immortality and die. Both Ellie and Colin face tough decisions. They discuss, argue and contemplate their options before finally coming to a mutual decision.

I would love to revisit this book setting that Kate Baxter has created, perhaps learning more about Liam, the Alpha or the pack, or maybe following another shifter finding his/her mate.

ANTHOLOGY AS A WHOLE

So as a whole the Anthology of novella's was a great read for me, a real winner. I will definitely be looking for more like this. This anthology featured three similar stories in that they have the true mate theme running through them, as well as the romancing of a possible reluctant mate. 

I was immediately pulled in and hooked to Bearing His Touch by Eve Langlais, the whole abuse/violence aspect of the book is done well. I loved the idea of the protector, Stavros and the closeness of his bear clan family. I think I'd say this had less detailed intimate scenes which I enjoyed.

I adored revisiting the same "world/setting" in Fake Mated To The Werewolf so fell straight back into that world very easily. This book was a bit more steamy than the other novella/anthologies I have read by Milly Taiden but the intimate scenes were well within the plot of the book and not just or the sake of them. The one thing that irritated me was the name of the central male character Hawke Hawke! Apart from that I loved every part especially the fact Clark got his comeuppance! 

I admit that it took me a little while longer to fall into the setting and plot of The Witch, The Werewolf And The Waitress. Though once I persevered I did enjoy it.

I loved the epilogues at the end of the first novella's, Bearing His Touch and Mates Fur Hire they answered the "I wonder how this/that worked out" scenarios you have after the initial story. The Witch, The Werewolf And The Waitress did not have an epilogue which was a tad disappointing though I guess Kate Baxter was leaving the "what happened after" to the readers imagination.

So when can I expect the next novella anthology please? These anthologies are the perfect length to read one a night, though I couldn't resist reading it in just two halves. I honestly didn't want to put it down.