Valley Of Secrets (#1) by Morgan Knight

Published: 9th October 2019Goodreads badge
Green Rhino Media LLC
Pages: 497
Format: ebook
Genre: New Adult Paranormal Dark Romance
★   ★   ★   ★ – 4 Stars

A secret past. An alluring stranger seeking to destroy her. A power she must harness and a truth she must uncover to stay alive.

Emilia never quite understood why her parents refused to talk about their past. She was just a child when they died suddenly, leaving her to wonder about who they really were and where she came from. When an attorney contacts her regarding a family estate matter in Europe, she seizes the opportunity to learn more, and ventures to an isolated village in the Tatra Mountains seeking answers.

Massimino is a sorcerer looking to use Emilia to advance his own powers and seek vengeance on those who banished him centuries ago. He knows she is the last of a powerful bloodline, so invading her dreams, he calls to her, seduces her, and makes her body respond in new, thrilling ways.

Can Emilia uncover her origins and the influence her ancestors once held over a hidden world of mystical forces? They kept the past from Emilia for a reason, but Massimino has found her anyway. Once he has made her fall in love, will she die for him?

Note: I received a copy of this book for review

I was wary when I saw this was a 500 page story, especially for what I thought was a fantasy but Knight has actually concocted an engaging story that keeps you turning the page. What it actually is is a contemporary new adult story that has elements of mystery and paranormal elements. There’s manipulation and magic, the dark romance is there too but Knight has done a good job making sure it isn’t too explicit or crude and every moment is there as part of the story and not only there for shock. The sex scenes are described tastefully as they can given the context, but even then there are strange relationship of acceptance, reluctance, and persuasion.

The mystery of this story follows Emilia’s past and her family she knows almost nothing about. When Emilia is given a chance to find out where she comes from she jumps at the chance which takes her on an unexpected journey. The details of the mystery are gradually uncovered and enough information is given to keep you engaged without being left in the dark with countless obscurities and vague answers.

The introduction to this world is good, something I’d expect from a story being this length, but there’s plenty to expand into more books without straining for additional narrative. The move from the contemporary to the paranormal felt natural and the gradual introduction meant there was a natural cross over and no sudden shifts. There is real world magic but I liked that there was a connection to the old world with castles and curses. The mix of the modern and the old was a great contrast and it was interesting to see how to two worlds lived side by side.

I believed the sister relationship between Amanda and Emilia, from best friends to adopted sisters it is a great demonstration of their friendship, especially one that has been long established. I also loved that the girls were in their early 20s and therefore not in the teenage category, which also makes the events in this story acceptable and believable.

Emilia’s strength and her intellect are a great combatant for what she comes up against in this narrative and Knight brings it out at the right moments when you think these girls are lost in an environment they may otherwise be out of their depth. Emilia is an adult and smart and you cans ee both girls’ personalities coming through in their interactions with one another and those around them.

Without spoilers I will say that the way Knight has made a contemporary story feel like one that has fantasy and magical elements was wonderful. Even a touch of the historical as well. At times I had to remind myself that this was still a contemporary story with internet and planes and modern evil but it was believable that there were magical ties as well. Knight has left plenty to move into the next story and I look forward to seeing where this series is heading.

You can purchase Valley of Secrets via the following

Amazon | Amazon Aust

Instant Karma by Donna Marie Oldfield

Published: 19th July 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: Sonic Pop Publishing
Pages: 325
Format: ebook
Genre: Contemporary romance
★   ★   ★  – 3 Stars

Do you believe in karma? Materialistic, selfish estate agent Siena Robinson doesn’t – until she hits a disastrous run of bad luck that makes her wonder if she has brought it upon herself.

In Instant Karma, Siena moves to the quiet village of Fenville, where the locals are opposing a development that will see a beloved hall and library replaced by new flats and shops. What her neighbours don’t know is that she is one of the developers and stands to make millions from the deal.

But then Siena discovers that her high-school sweetheart, Aiden, is leading the protest and she finds herself acting as a double agent who is torn between her neighbours’ plight and making lots of money.

Will Siena betray her new friends and let greed ruin a second chance with Aiden? And will she ever find out who or what is behind her run of bad karma?

Note: I was given a copy of this book for review.

After having time to think about it this is more 3.5 stars than 3 I think. The story Oldfield has created is all about the effects of karma and the message that what goes around comes around and bad karma comes to those who deserve it. While this idea could be very moralistic for the reader it works because Siena is a character who is very stubborn and selfish and can’t really see or accept that her bad luck is caused by her own behaviour. This brings the focus more on Siena’s character than on the karma itself so you can ignore the “you get what you deserve” message that flows through it.

Siena is a person you do kind of dislike, but without disliking her you can’t understand why she does what she does. You wouldn’t like someone who acts the way Siena does and to do so means the story does not work. It is not a strong dislike, more of an intense judgement about her and her behaviour. You judge her actions and get a nice feeling when she gets her comeuppance.

Siena has an attitude along the lines of “if they don’t care about me I won’t care about them”, but even if they do she brushes them off, finds the bad in people and always assumes the worst. She has her group of friends but they are similar to her and she cannot see the problems with herself as a result. The few realisations she has come after she tries to improve her attitude and a few home truths slowly start to change her way of thinking but it is a long road and she falls more often than she succeeds. But as much as it irked me it took her so long I liked that there was no instant turn around. Doing one nice thing does not change Siena; it takes time and some severe bouts of bad karma for her to truly start to change, and not just for her own benefit, real genuine change. And it is the attempt that makes you start to hope for her, that maybe she is better than the selfish and nasty person she has turned into.

When she reconnects with Aiden Siena tries to improve herself but this is purely for selfish reasons, to make him think she was a better person rather than to actually improve herself. But in doing this Aiden helps her remember the person she was eight years ago when they were together, the nicer, kinder person rather than the snobby and judgemental person she has become. Siena tries to be good for Aiden, to impress him and to show him she is a nice person, but her desire to do better is also powered by her attempt at better karma, but when there is no instant gratification she feels she deserves, she falls back into her old ways.

What I liked was that Oldfield gives us a hint at how Siena became she person she was, and how she gradually changed from the person Aiden knew to the person she becomes. Events in her past and conscious decisions have shaped who she has become and this helps understand her more, and makes you pity her slightly.

One review I read described this story like A Christmas Carol in modern real estate which is the perfect description, but with fewer ghosts. There is definitely something that keeps you reading even though Siena gets up your nose. I think I kept waiting for her to come to her senses and realise the impact her bad decisions and selfish ways were having on her life. I kept expecting that the next chapter would be where she changes her life and sees her fortunes improve.

The changes do come about though and I think at just the right time. Oldfield concludes the story pretty well with some surprises but it works in a way, without being too incredulous or unbelievable. The ending is dramatic but exciting and after the gradual build up in anticipation about the development as well as Siena’s bad karma, it all comes to a head in a wonderful fashion. There are some unexpected surprises that add a bit of mystery to the mix but they manage to work out well. There are a few things left unanswered at the end that I would have liked to see outcomes and consequences of but other than that there is a good concluding sense about Siena’s future. She knows it is not going to perfect but she is going to face it and embrace it as it comes.


Purchase Instant Karma via the following

Amazon USA

Amazon UK

 Amazon Australia

 Amazon Canada

Cover Reveal: Cross Me Off Your List (#2) by Nikki Godwin


Today is the cover reveal for Cross me of Your List (Saturn series #2) by Nikki Godwin. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours.

Cross Me of Your List (Saturn series #2)
By Nikki Godwin

Genre: Contemporary
Age category: Young Adult

Spring break in Los Angeles with her BFFs has been Marisol’s driving force to get through senior year. But when a falling out dents her plans, Marisol tucks the broken friendship into her back pocket with her cell phone and spring break bucket list.

Surf city Crescent Cove isn’t exactly LA, but once she meets a tattooed brunette named Noah in the hotel elevator, Marisol really doesn’t mind crossing off the items on her list without her friends – especially after Noah offers to help. Unaware that Noah fits the criteria for item #3 (meet a celebrity), Marisol is instantly thrown into the world of paparazzi, wild nights, and a spring break she’ll never forget.

While her friends are making memories in LA, Marisol is making tabloid headlines. But after slipping a Spaceships Around Saturn secret to the media, Marisol has to fight hard to survive her fifteen minutes of fame and get back on Noah’s good side before he crosses her off of his list for good.


cross me of your list

You can find Cross me of Your List on Goodreads

NikkiGodwinAuthorPicAbout the Author:
Nikki Godwin is a YA/NA/LGBT author. She can’t live without Mountain Dew, black eyeliner, and music by Hawthorne Heights. When not writing, she internet-stalks her favorite bands and keeps tabs on surf competitions. She adores pro surfer John John Florence and has made it her life goal to meet David Desrosiers of Simple Plan.

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Adrian Lessons by L. A. Rose

Published: 24th August 2014
Goodreads badgePublisher: Self Published
Pages: 237
Format: ebook
Genre: New Adult Contemporary Romance
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

AdrianLessonsCoverIf there’s one thing Cleo Reynolds knows, it’s that she’s not into Adrian King.

The son of a model with the looks to prove it, the experienced author of her school newspaper’s sex advice column, the cocky playboy with a hint of darkness. That Adrian King.

Nope. Nuh-uh. No way.

The problem is, he’s very into her.

After accidentally flashing him, and slightly-less-accidentally-but-still-totally-unintentionally making out with him in front of the whole class, she expects to be called crazy. Instead, he asks her out.

Cleo’s determined not to end up as another notch on his bedpost. Except she hasn’t done…you know…it in a while. (Read: ever.) And as a girl who pays her tuition by writing all the sex scenes in her roommate’s bestselling romance series, the lack of inspiration has served up a fat slice of writer’s block.

Until her roommate proposes that Cleo and Adrian act out all the steamy scenes in her book.

It’s just research. No feelings involved.

Nope. Nuh-uh.

No way.

Note: I was given a copy for review

Adrian Lessons is a new adult contemporary romance and after finishing this book I can certainly say it is certainly more adult than not. The story revolves around Cleo, writer of erotic fanfiction and ghost writer for the sex scenes in her friend’s romance novels, soon finds herself infatuated by a guy in her class, Adonis-like Adrian King. Conflicted and lustful she tries to fight her feelings but is soon drawn into those green eyes.

Adrian is a character that knows that he is hot and isn’t too shy to admit it, but in a strange way it doesn’t make him come across as vain, or arrogant. He knows what he wants and surprisingly it isn’t what you expect. His affection and admiration for Cleo makes him charming, something that works well having getting to know him and seeing his perspective. I think if Rose had chosen to have Adrian as a character we see only from Cleo’s perspective there would not be the same connection and feeling he brings to the story, especially where dialogue is concerned, and his character would not be as likeable. His affection for Cleo and the fact he does so many things just for her warms your heart and puts you on his side almost immediately, you really can’t ignore how sweet and thoughtful he is with her. You soon realise he isn’t what you expect and there is more to him than meets the eye. To quote Cleo: He’s not just a gorgeous playboy with a cocky smile and an empty head.

She does have her reasons for her initial reluctant approach. She is working from reputation rather than acknowledging her true feelings or trusting him. The fact that he is hiding a secret and an advantage doesn’t help but it makes it an interesting read watching the two of them interact, picking up the references and information Rose drops along the way.

Cleo thinks Adrian is only there for the sex, but he proves her wrong and it is quite sweet and thoughtful, though he does have desires of his own they aren’t the sole focus of his courtship. Being inside his mind and knowing this from that start gives us an advantage and only helps our opinion of him, we are on his side from early on, hoping he’ll succeed.

I liked Cleo; she is self conscious, always doubting herself and her looks, but is also a little wild and crazy at the same time. She talks to her organs, gives herself pep talks, and she has a relationship and conversations with inanimate objects. This I understand. She also has enough sense to be cautious and wary, but not so much that she won’t take chances and have fun.

Adrian is also not the jovial character he seems with his dark side being uncovered and with secrets he’s reluctant to share. Even though we are given a deeper, darker side to Adrian that only added to his character, I wanted more. I could sense there was more hiding behind that smile and charm, something Cleo picks up on and I knew there was more to be revealed, but nothing else came. I know it wouldn’t have added to the story any more than it had already, but it would have been nice to explore it more deeply, not to make him dark and broody, but to show another depth to him, but this was already done well so I may just be greedy.

The story Rose has written is real and feels natural to a point. Yes it is mostly about a college girl helping to write sex scenes for her roommate’s novels, sometimes by acting them out to a point for inspiration, but there is greater reality in the narrative as well with character emotions and the relationships feel natural and suit the characters well.

With a story like this you can’t ignore the romance and the desire but it isn’t the flowery romance, at least not initially and what comes later is less flowery, more passion, lust, and desire. With things like that Cleo has the advantage given that she writes erotic fanfiction and the scenes for her roommate but it doesn’t take over her life and she doesn’t speak or think like that. The focus on desire and sex may be ongoing to varying degrees but it fits well with the story and if you don’t mind a few sex scenes that are detailed but not too crass then it is easy to get caught up in the romance side and the connection and affection between Cleo and Adrian.

The sexual nature and details increase as the novel progresses, I liked that Rose established the non sexual connection first though, this gave you something to build from and it gives it a lot more meaning. I don’t read romance or stories with a lot of sex in them often so I’m not sure what the rules are regarding this or adequate amounts included and detailed, but Rose works it into the story well and with believability. While I think I enjoyed the romancing side rather than the sex side I understand its importance. It isn’t there for the sake of it and it is pertinent really to the relationship between Cleo and Adrian, it shows their developing relationship as well as the intensity of their emotions. I will say it is often told in great detail and is clearly of an adult nature, nothing is implied it is all there, but while it does get quite detailed, it also never feels out of place. Cleo’s and Adrian’s relationship isn’t based on sex, but in a strange way it also is and it really does work well.

In terms of style, the writing and voice is good. It is engaging and the switch between Cleo and Adrian gives you more of the story and adds to the character’s relationships by offering both sides. What I found interesting was that they both are written with the knowledge that a reader is reading it, something I was surprised by, especially considering some of the content. It doesn’t take away from anything but it was interesting. There are narratives written like they are being told to someone, but it is another thing to break the wall and acknowledge it.

Overall I enjoyed the book. It was what I was expecting while not at the same time. With an interesting narrative concept it focuses on the characters with Rose using the plot well to highlight each of them, even if only momentarily. The characters have depth and are unique, bringing something of themselves into many moments making it light and humorous, while also grounding it and showing the complexities of relationships and the people involved. Adrian’s Lessons is a novel for those who want a touching story filled with adoration and the joys and complications of young love, but one that is also filled with the passion and desires that go with it.