Nicole Reads A Lot

so many books, so little time

Like a Fly on the Wall by Simone Kelly

Title:
Like a Fly on the Wall
Author:Simone Kelly
PublisherHarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date:July 11, 2017
Publisher's DescriptionFrom talented debut author Simone Kelly comes this suspenseful novel that crackles with intrigue, sex, and plenty of surprises—perfect for fans of Eric Jerome Dickey and Carl Weber.

Meet Jacques Berradi. Moroccan-born and Manhattan-raised, his genuine, sexy-smooth allure goes hand in hand with a unique gift. Since Jacques was young, he has had the ability to read peoples’ energies, communicate with spirit guides, and even catch glimpses of people’s futures. Now a professional “intuitive counselor,” Jacques’s clients pay him handsomely for his insight. Unfortunately, Jacques’s psychic abilities don’t come with an off switch to tune out the world’s noise, nor do they always provide him with easy answers; recently Jacques has begun having dark, alarming dreams about his beloved father, a Moroccan immigrant who died when he was a boy.

Meet Kylie Collins, an adventurous, Miami twentysomething who is trying to find her footing after being laid off from a cushy music industry job. When a mishap brings them together, Kylie is instantly mesmerized by Jacques’s cool demeanor and intuitive abilities, and he’s captivated by her outgoing charm and breezy good looks. Seeking to learn more about her family history—including the identity of the father she’s never known—Kylie visits Jacques’s office to gain some insight about her future, and about her free-spirited and headstrong Jamaican mother, True.

But on the night that they meet, a rolling blackout cuts off power throughout Miami. Kylie and Jacques, and a few of his clients, head to the only place in the neighborhood with enough light to see: Like a Fly on the Wall Detective Agency. There, Kylie serendipitously lands herself the perfect new job as an apprentice private eye.

As partners, Jacques and Kylie are an unstoppable duo. Can Jacques’s intuition reveal the scandalous history of Kylie’s mother and father? Will Kylie’s newfound detective skills uncover evidence about the death of Jacques’s father? And will the chemistry that charges their friendship bubble over into something much, much hotter…?
My rating:***

I couldn’t figure out the point of this novel for at least the first quarter of it. It was certainly well-written, which I always appreciate, but the connection between Jacques and Kylie never felt real to me. While the book’s blurb gave me the impression that they were going to end up closely tied to one another, I didn’t feel that this was reflected in the actual novel. They were initially sexually attracted to each other and then became each other’s best friends? I know that they eventually each helped the other uncover long-buried family secrets, but I didn’t really buy that they would have remained in contact long enough to reach that point. I didn’t feel as though the author gave a good enough reason for the elevation of their chance encounter from random to meaningful. While this was obviously the basis for a lot of what happened subsequently in the book, it always felt slightly off to me.

Of the two protagonists, Jacques was, to me, clearly the more compelling character. I enjoyed the author’s matter-of-fact treatment of his psychic abilities. I was also quite interested in his family drama, way more than I was in Kylie’s. Along the pathways to self and family discovery, both characters exercised appalling judgment. I engaged in a fair bit of eye-rolling and my exasperation with their foolishness definitely detracted from my enjoyment of this novel. The author’s writing style did intrigue me and the second half of the book worked much better for me than the first, but Like a Fly on the Wall definitely did not leave me clamoring to read more by Ms. Kelly.

I received this book free of charge for Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.

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Nothing Left to Lose by Kirsty Moseley

Title:
Nothing Left to Lose
Author:Kirsty Moseley
PublisherSelf-published
Publication Date:November 5, 2013
Publisher's DescriptionAnnabelle Spencer’s life is every girl’s dream. She has wonderful parents, great friends, and of course the perfect boyfriend, Jack Roberts. That all changes on her sixteenth birthday when her life comes crashing down around her. Her dream night turns into a nightmare when Jack is murdered right in front of her, and she’s kidnapped by his murderer, Carter Thomas, a big time drug and arms dealer.

After five months of being with Carter, she’s found, but the experience has totally changed her. She’s no longer the happy-go-lucky girl that everyone used to know and love; she’s now cold, hard and suffers from night terrors. It appears that Carter broke not only her body, but her spirit too. A shadow of her former self, her slogan for life is now: ‘If you don’t care about anything, then you have nothing to lose’.

Carter is currently serving time for the murder of Jack, a conviction that Anna helped secure. But his retrial is coming up because some key evidence appears to have been tampered with. Unbeknown to Anna, death threats are being received by her father, the Senator. It appears that Carter is still interested in Anna and will stop at nothing to get her back.

Ashton Taylor is brought in to protect her. He’s a newly qualified SWAT agent, a bright spark, the agency’s new golden boy. He is assigned undercover, posing as her boyfriend. His job is to help her through college and keep her safe until the end of the trial in eight months’ time.

For three years she has been the broken, damaged girl, refusing to feel emotion or pain, but can Ashton help her rebuild her life and finally deal with the grief of losing her childhood sweetheart? Will he be the one to make her see that life is, in fact, worth living and that not all men will hurt her?

All the while, the shadow of the trial looms over the both of them, taunting them, reminding them that it isn’t over yet. After all, Carter Thomas will stop at nothing to be reunited with his ‘Princess’.

Due to heavy subject matter and sexual content, this book is recommended for ages 17+
My rating:***

nltl

This is one for the feelings, not so much for the head. There were a lot of thing in this book that didn’t make sense logistically, but I did enjoy the story itself. Annabelle was a sympathetic protagonist, and although her transformation seemed a little too much like magic, it was nice to see such a damaged character allow herself to heal. Ashton really tugged at my heartstrings with his earnest attempts to understand Mia, and his patience with her. Annabelle’s parents annoyed me quite a bit and I wanted to shake them, but I don’t have much patience for overbearing people, even when their intentions are good.

I wasn’t expecting a detailed description of what close protection is like or anything, but let’s be realistic: the child of a front-running presidential candidate has NO privacy. The entire world would have known what had happened to Annabelle, or at least that she had somehow disappeared for a while immediately following the murder of her boyfriend. She would have been watched like a hawk in the months leading up to her father’s election, and even if she wasn’t on the campaign trail with him, she would not have been able to live anonymously.

A large percentage of the dialog sounded British, which makes sense, given that the author is British. Why must all new adult books be set in the United States? Why couldn’t Annabelle’s story have taken place somewhere else? So much dialog/setting weirdness distracted me from the story.

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David: Lord of Honor by Grace Burrowes

Title:
David: Lord of Honor
Author:Grace Burrowes
PublisherSourcebooks Casablanca
Publication Date:March 4, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionDavid Worthington, Viscount Fairly, has inherited a brothel he does not want, but hesitates to sell for fear his employees will not be treated well by the establishment’s next owner. He hits upon the idea of hiring Letty Banks, a courtesan currently without protector, to serve as madam, but soon finds himself attracted to her on more than just a physical level.

When serious harm befalls Letty as a function of her role at David’s brothel, he realizes he cannot continue to exploit a woman he cares for. He arranges a way for Letty to return to obscure respectability, and prepares to walk out of her life, only to find he cannot leave her undefended against the trouble bearing down from her past.
My rating:***

david

I enjoy Grace Burrowes’ writing, and I’ve read most of the previous books in this series, so I was excited to read David. I don’t understand why exactly, but this book left me a bit cold; somehow even the greatest emotional upheavals in this novel didn’t move me the way I felt they ought to have done.

I didn’t get the sense that I understood Letty very well. I think that although the clues about her past are spread throughout the book and are there for anyone to see, the behind the curtain revelation happened too late. Also, wanting to believe the best of others is one thing, but it felt that a good deal of willful ignorance (not to mention a baffling refusal to converse) was necessary for the situation that Letty found herself in to have come about. Some of the conversations that did take place rang false, as people without reason to do so left out extremely relevant information. It felt as though too much manipulation had to take place for events to unfold as they did.

If you’ve read the previous books in this series, I can see how you would want to know what happens here, but I can’t imagine that reading this book would convince too many of the uninitiated to check out past titles.

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Before We Fall by Courtney Cole

Title:
Before We Fall
Author:Courtney Cole
PublisherForever
Publication Date:December 2013
Publisher's DescriptionSometimes, one dark moment is all it takes to turn your world black...

For 24-year old Dominic Kinkaide, that moment took place on the night of his high school graduation. One dark incident changed him forever. He's a hardened actor now, famous in the eyes of the world, but tortured in his own. He doesn't care about much of anything, except for losing himself in the roles that he plays.

23-year old Jacey Vincent doesn't realize how much her father's indifference has affected her. She is proof that sometimes it isn't one specific moment that wrecks a person, but rather it's an absence of moments. She's like a bird with a broken wing-strong yet fragile, as she tries to float through life, finding acceptance in the arms of random guys, one after the other... to fill the void that her father left in her.

Until she meets Dominic.

After jaded Dominic and strong-willed Jacey are thrown together, his secret and her issues create a dark and damaged energy that will soon turn their attraction to each other into an explosive storm.

Even though when the clouds have cleared and the dust has settled, both of them are almost obliterated... they've learned a priceless lesson.

Sometimes, before we fall... we fly.
My rating:***

bwf

I haven’t read the previous books in this series, but I enjoyed Before We Fall. I thought that Dom was an interesting character, and his particular hangup and kinks were not things that I’d run across before. I disliked that they were made out to be solely about how he coped with his previous tragedies. There are people who enjoy voyeurism and Dom’s other activities, not because they are atoning or compensating for past hurts, but simply because they like it. Jacey’s pop psychology wore on me, although I do think that Dom would benefit from some real serious attention from a mental health specialist.

Although I liked this book well enough, it didn’t pique my interest enough for me to read the previous entries in this series.

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My Sweetest Escape by Chelsea M. Cameron

Title:
My Sweetest Escape
Author:Chelsea M. Cameron
PublisherHarlequin HQN
Publication Date:January 28, 2014
Publisher's DescriptionThe past will always find you

Jos Archer was the girl with the perfect life—until the night it all came crashing down around her. Now, nine months later, she still hasn't begun to pick up the pieces. Even transferring to a new college and living under the watchful eye of her older sister, Renee, isn't enough to help her feel normal again.

And then she meets Dusty Sharp. For reasons Jos can't begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. And if she's not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she's no longer sure she deserves.

But even as Dusty coaxes Jos to open up about the past, he's hiding secrets of his own. Secrets about the night her old life fell apart. When the truth is finally revealed, will it bring them closer together—or tear them apart for good?
My rating:***

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Neither terrible enough to scar you for life nor well-written enough to be memorable, this story brings nothing new to the New Adult genre. A lot of what happened here felt manufactured and unnecessary. From little things (Dusty is introduced to Jos as Dusty, but she knows his name is Dustin – how?) to looming problems (why is Renee so insane about Jos; one and a half lost semesters hardly explain her jailkeeper mentality toward her only slightly younger sister), so much about this book felt off to me. Dusty was actually a pretty stellar character, although I found his see-sawing to be tiresome and annoying. There’s such a thing as genuine confusion, but at some point, his behavior toward Jos felt needlessly hurtful. Likewise, both of their needs to assume the blame for something that was not their fault made me want to say, “Girls! Girls! You’re both pretty.” (or “Boys! Boys! Your penises are exactly the same length.” I’m not a sexist.)

This is the second book in the series, but I haven’t read the previous titles, so maybe I’d like Renee and the other housemates better if I was already familiar with them. As it was, I found them a bit cloying and far too involved in Jos’ life. Renee I sort of understand, but everybody else needed to take a giant step back and mind their own beeswax. Hannah, who I suspect will be the subject of a future installment in the series, also annoyed me, but for different reasons [Nevermind, just read that this is a two-book series. My apologies!]. She betrayed Jos’s confidences twice; while I know that this came from a good place and the results were ultimately favorable, if I were Jos I’d never tell Hannah anything that I didn’t want anybody else to know.

If you’ve already read the previous book in this series, I would think that you’d like to read this one, too, but reading this book left me with no desire to read the previous title.

I received this book free of charge from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review and my last clean pair of undies.

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