Sunday, 31 August 2014

Kathy May Davies

Hint of Satin

A nice bright cover that shouted women's fiction. The only thing that ruined it for me was the tweed cap. It didn't match the 'satin' in the title or material at the bottom of the cover. I'd have liked to see her hair for a more sophisticated look--but, hey, maybe she's a tomboy!

The title Hint of Satin has an erotic feel to it, and I'm wondering what I'm about to read. The blurb, however, indicated mystery crossed with a bit of horror. 

The first paragraph of the blurb is excellent, but then the  second paragraph contradicts it all and ruins it. 

First paragraph: she 'finds herself in a house with strangers and then the lights go out'. Second: as a taxi driver Lee is safer driving the streets of Texas 'than being with her two new acquaintances who are as leery of her as she is of them'.

The 'leery' part undid the strong first paragraph and made the strangers appear like loutish youths, and where I felt the book was going down the erotica route (not a problem if that's what you're after).

The very last line in the paragraph could be perceived as having an error: Hint of Satin has mystery, intrigue and just a tad bit of romance to spice the adventure.The 'tad' and 'bit' mean the same in this context so one or the other should be removed.

The look inside has no acknowledgements or praise to scroll through, which is a bugbear of mine, so I'm thrilled at getting straight into chapter one and into the mind and actions of protagonist Lee (we never find out her last name). 

She's late for her university finals, and when she notices a case on the back seat of her car she takes it in with her rather than leave in in the cab--at this point I couldn't understand if the case belonged to Lee or had been left by a customer (she's a taxi driver, and is a allowed to use the taxi for personal use), but when I read on it becomes apparent that the case had been left by a customer.

So Lee takes the case back to its owner, and disregarding her own safety, enters a house occupied by two strange men, and my interest in this book wanes a little as I expect this is where the 'erotica feel' comes into play, but I'm wrong. Other than a strong sexual attraction between Lee and Blake Stone nothing happens.

Instead, Lee is embroiled in a sinister run and hide from someone trying to kill her. Blake, thinking it's because of him, becomes her protector.Together they set out to find out who is responsible for this reign of terror and the mystery surrounding the case.

So over all, Hint of Satin is a sweet romance, nothing erotic (not even a sex scene!), between two people thrown together in exceptional circumstances.

Lee and Blake are well-rounded characters and both easy to visualise, but the supporting cast (with the exception of Jimmy) appeared cardboard. Secondary characters such as Jennifer and Macho popped up from time to time but added nothing to the story. I felt Macho was only there so Blake had someone to shout at and be the 'formidable' character I felt the author wanted him to be.

Due to the formatting of this book, it is at times, hard to follow. With the changes of POV between Lee and Blake it was difficult to know when a scene or POV change happened, so sometimes I was merrily reading thinking I was in Lee's POV but it was Blakes--and it was the following day!

There wasn't many grammar or spelling errors as such, but there were punctuation errors--mainly missing speech tags or errant commas, so I would suggest a good editor for this novel to correct that and to tighten its structure.

That aside, the book was visual and it did have two very likeable characters who you routed for throughout the book. There were some terrific lines and scenes of intense sexual tension, and even comedy with Blake and Macho as they argued and teased one another.

Hint of Satin had a HEA and it suggested at more to come, maybe they will be a Hint of Satin 2, there was certainly enough intrigue and plot for more with Lee's background history.

Kathy May Davies is an author who can only grow and get better. Hint of Satin has lifelike characters embroiled in intrigue and sweet romantic moments.

Taxi driver and student, Lee, finds herself in a predicament that could be sinister - in the same house with an unusually large man and another who wears dark glasses, black clothes and has a scar on his face that very probably runs the length of his torso. She can only guess, of course, but the ragged line is fresh. And then the lights go out.

Driving the streets of San Antonio, Texas is safer than being with her two new acquaintances who are as leery of her as she is of them. But, they need each other to discover why their lives are in danger, or at the very least, which one is the intended target.

Hint of Satin has mystery, intrigue and just a tad bit of romance to spice the adventure.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Successio by Alison Morton


This is the last of the Roma Nova saga. I can't say much about the cover other than it's similar to the last two books, and although I found the covers dull, together they make an impressive collection.

The title Successio, in Latin, means
descent, inheritance, succeeding etc so I think this book could focus on the main protagonist's family life. Maybe the grandmother, Aurelia Mitela (Nonnie), elderly in the last book, has died and Carina inherits? Shall have to read to find out.

The blurb nicely includes a first line hint at the troubles of the previous episodes before drawing me back into Carina's life. The blurb also reinforces my belief that this book will concentrate on troubles brewing in the Mitela household.

The look inside is again (almost) the same as the others--background story--which because I commented on before I shan't do so here.The only difference was the illustration of Carina. A nice touch.

Straight into the review of the story...

The beginning hinted at friction between Carina and her stepdaughter, Stella, which was nicely done. Nothing heavy handed. Then Conrad received a mysterious letter where Carina, instead of asking him about its contents, decided to be sneaky and follow him.I've always come away feeling that Conrad and Carina aren't a strong match for one another. They seem to mistrust the other, and in Book 1 and 2 I felt it was because he'd picked up on the sexual spark between Carina and Apollodorus--maybe he'll just never forgive her. Maybe I read too many romances!

Anyway, instead of asking her husband what the hell is going on Carina follows him and discovers he has a daughter from a past relationship laying claim to his affections. Nicola Sandbrook is resentful of Conrad's other family (Carina and her children) but worse, she is now the heir to the throne after the beloved death of Grandmother Nonnie (I came to love this character, and it was a sad moment when she passed).

Nicola is a nasty, flawed character, and intent on destructing the entire foundations of the Mitela household. She first causes trouble by trying to lead Carina and Conrad's oldest daughter, Allegra, astray, but then settles on Stella (another daughter from Conrad's past) and uses Stella's jealously over her stepmother Carina to worm her way into the Mitela household.

Then her destruction gets steadily worse as Carina and Conrad drift even further apart.

Successio, like the others in the series, is a plot driven book rather than character but I preferred Successio to the others because in this one, Carina seems more human and less of a superwoman. Conrad was allowed emotions as well, but so much so, I began to think he was a wimp! Neither could I understand why he was blind to Nicola's evilness and turn his back on Carina and their other children.

Subtly, Morton had dropped into the story that Conrad had had an accident and although recovered physically I felt his mental state was still in rehabilitation (because of his eagerness to side with his villainous daughter), but whether this was intended or not, I wasn't sure.

Even so, Carina was cruel to break the news in front of others about the activities of this bad daughter. She should have waited until they were alone. Their massive bust-up over it could still have happened, but the reader would have been more in Carina's court. Instead, I lost sympathy for her a little.

It's a tight read, tighter than the others, which seemed to have many little sub-plots feeding through. I did think that Carina would have had more respect at work by now, and the constant put downs she received was unnecessary because she'd proved herself time and again that she was an effective solider.

Successio is probably the only book out of the three that you could read as a stand-alone novel. It's genre is an alternative history (and well thought out) but first it's a crime story with a strong emphasis on thriller.

Very well done. Another strong 4/5.


Roma Nova – the last remnant of the Roman Empire that has survived into the 21st century – is at peace. Carina Mitela, the heir of a leading family, but choosing the life of an officer in the Praetorian Guard Special Forces, is not so sure.

She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat is real.

Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun to the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…