*BOOK REVIEW TOUR* – A New Dark Age: A Reckoning, by Ross Patrick

#Dystopian #Speculative

 “A dark vision of our coming future where the flickering glimmer of hope is the human capacity to form relationships and help each other. This is rebel fiction.”

 For readers who appreciate Cormac McCarthy,

Nicholas Matthieu & Margaret Atwood

Publisher: Brown Dog Books

Publication date: eBook – 14th December 2021

Paperback – 27th January 2022

Blurb

When the collapsing began, in a system where scarcity was a commodity, there was always a need for the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry. When most people could no longer afford consumer goods, there were riots. The rulers called it an attack on democracy.

The riots were met with militarised, armoured police. With falling tax revenues, companies took over financing the police, so the police increasingly functioned as capitalism’s own Praetorian Guard; sometimes supporting rival business leaders, sometimes bringing about their demise, and all the while living standards fell and the state started to crumble. 
For Esme Sedgebrook, growing up in the provinces, there is no future other than an arranged marriage, motherhood, and domesticity, fleeing to join the uprising is as much about personal transformation as it is political. 

My Review

Prescient and dramatic tale of a dystopian future – 5 stars

Set in the year 2061, this novel is a bleak and dramatic tale of a dystopian future, which explores the best and worst of humanity. I found it to be eerily prescient – I could easily imagine a future world where at least some of the events come to pass, given the trajectory the planet is on at this point.

It is also a story of the journey and enlightenment of seventeen year old Esme Sedgebrook, a downtrodden young woman from the provinces, who joins the rebels in their bid to shake the foundations of a society that has become sick, twisted and corrupt. Women have been reduced to chattels and the exploitation of the populace by those in power is cruel and stark. The read is a dark one but there are shafts of light in the bonds of friendship and the bravery and commradeship of many of the characters, often at great personal cost.

The world building was excellent – I could easily visualise the people and places Esme and others encounter as the plot progresses.  This future England is still recognisable, but it is scarred, broken and decayed and technology and medicine have all but disappeared. Society is divided between the obscenely rich, isolated from the common people who eek out a living and many have reverted back to the old ways of building local community ties and religion has once again taken hold. And then there are the lawmakers and the military, who do the dirty work for those in power and finally the revolutionaries, who baulk at the many wrongs in society and devote their lives to bring the system down. 

I found it to be a deeply thoughtful read which draws on our collective memories of the Peasants’ Revolt, enclosures, the Industrial Revolution and the development of capitalism. It contains rich characterisations and descriptions and a complex plot with dark undercurrents of violence and desperation throughout, interspersed with friendship, hope and the determination to bring about change. 

I enjoyed how the lives of the various characters encountered within the story became interwoven as the book progressed and reached its conclusion. Esme is not the same person at the end of the book as she was at the beginning and she is at various points a bystander, an active participant and a victim of some of the events in between. Indeed, there are a number of violent and disrurbing scenes which are integral to the story and the development of its characters.

I know that this read will stay with me for a long time, not least because of Esme’s personal journey but also as it cautions us about what could very well come to pass if circumstances allow.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of the book was given to me by the author and I am voluntarily leaving a fair and honest review.

Goodreads

About the Author

Ross Patrick was born in the Scottish enclave of Corby in the English East Midlands. When the Steel Works started shedding jobs he moved with his family to rural Leicestershire. Introverted, Ross drifted through a grey school of tired buildings and lingering temporary classrooms to provincial universities at Leicester and then Norwich, the University of East Anglia, where he studied Literature, having previously studied History. He then “lost a decade” working in wine retail and education before a breakdown and suicide attempt in 2014. Ross learnt that people’s sympathy for mental illness is often more generous in theory than in deed. During a housebound recovery from depression and PTSD, initially as catharsis, he began writing more seriously. 

Ross lives quietly in a house by a stream back in the English East Midlands with his cat, Graham. He admits to disliking numbers, though this could be a reaction to his dad’s work in accounting: Life isn’t to be measured but to be experienced, though he says he’s mostly experienced his vicariously. He finds distraction in long walks, studying the philosophy of consciousness and the hope that we are all one dream experiencing itself subjectively from infinite disassociated perspectives. Otherwise, Ross says he suffers persistent disappointments of following Nottingham Forest, and the joyous feelgood escapism of following Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild. He enjoys both cooking and eating Italian food, an inheritance from his mother’s family. He is also vegetarian; Graham the cat is not. Ross believes in the collective whilst Graham is frustratingly individualistic – these differences continue to bring some small amount of tension to their otherwise companionable existence.

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*REVIEW* – Perfection, Kitty Thomas

#DarkRomance #Contemporary

Blurb

Everyone thought I was married to the perfect man. But if Conall Walsh were perfect, I wouldn’t have killed him.

I thought I got away with it until I received an anonymous note at the ballet company I dance for:

You were a very bad girl. If you don’t want me to report what I know about last night, meet me at the old opera house after rehearsal. I will tell you the price of my silence when you arrive. If you speak of this or bring anyone with you… no deal.

But his price isn’t money. It’s me.

THIS BOOK IS A STANDALONE contemporary dark romance.

My Review

Beautiful and suspenseful dark read – 5 stars

This is a dark romance containing murder, blackmail and eroticism set within the beautiful world of ballet and I read it in one sitting. I particulary liked the Phantom of the Opera vibes of the setting where much of the action takes place.

Having rid herself of her controlling and abusive husband, Cassia falls prey to a blackmailer who threatens to tell all if she does not pay the price he demands. Rather than money, the blackmailer insists that Cassia submits to him at a specific time and place and in a manner of his choosing…

I will not reveal any more, suffice to say that there are plenty of deliciously erotic scenes where Cassia is compelled to surrender to the will of her blackmailer. What starts off as understandable fear and trepidation on Cassia’s part soon turns to compulsion as she becomes wrapped up in his twisted game. I was on the edge of my seat throughout wondering what would happen next. I also found myself craving the growing connection between the couple, despite the obvious wrongness of the situation.

The read, which explores control and submission, also contains plenty of mystery and suspense as Cassia strives to come to terms with her new reality. The twist at the end completely blindsided me! It is a super read for fans of the genre.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

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**MY TOP READS OF 2021**

We are still living in strange times and once again reading has been a welcome escape and at times a balm to my senses. That authors have continued to create such amazing stories in the middle of a pandemic is  definitely something to be celebrated. In this post, I have highlighted my top reads of the year (in no particular order), followed by extracts from the blurb for each book and from my review. Click on individual book titles to read its review in full and find out more, including author and purchase links.🙂

Her Baseborn Scot (The Highland Warrior Chronicles #3), Christina Phillips

A warrior with cursed royal blood. A princess who will never submit to the enemy. A forbidden love that could cost them everything…

Romance, Secrets and Intrigue – Romance, secret identities and royal intrigue abound in the latest instalment in Christina Phillip’s Highland Warrior Chronicles. Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favourite tropes when it comes to romance so I just loved the pairing of a Scottish warrior with a Pictish princess and the push/pull of their relationship. There is also a supernatural element to the story which adds depth and interest. #Scotland #HistoricalRomance

The Isle of Sin and Shadows, by Keri Lake

This island alone boasts more ghost stories than all of Louisiana combined.
And I’m one of them.

Southern Gothic par excellence – If you fancy a walk on the dark side, The Isle of Sin and Shadows by Keri Lake, a standalone Southern Gothic Romance fits the bill perfectly. This suspenseful and atmospheric read features ghostly goings on, voodoo, crime lords and a slow burn/tension filled romance which set alight my Kindle when the couple finally get it together. I loved it!  #Romance #SouthernGothic #Mystery #Suspense

Ensnared: The Spider’s Mate #1, Tiffany Roberts

He’s spent years as a hunter, but now he’s the one ensnared in a creature’s trap.

Original, Sexy and Fun! – When I started to read this book, it was not without some trepidation as I am a HUMONGOUS arachnophobe. Yet, whilst the male lead is well and truly spider-like, the author writes in such a way that by the end of the story it mattered not as his character and his relationship with Ivy transcended any physical attributes and differences between them. #MonsterRomance #Romance #SciFi #Fantasy

The Last Hour of Gann, R Lee Smith

It was her last chance: Amber Bierce had nothing left except her sister and two tickets on Earth’s first colony-ship. She entered her Sleeper with a five-year contract and the promise of a better life, but awakened in wreckage on an unknown world. For the survivors, there is no rescue, no way home and no hope until they are found by Meoraq—a holy warrior more deadly than any hungering beast on this hostile new world…but whose eyes show a different sort of hunger when he looks at her. 

In a word EPIC! This sci-fi/fantasy is a long and intense read and one to truly savour. The tale, which also contains a beautiful love story, is mind blowing and emotional and I was totally sucked into the world and the characters created by the author. #DarkFantasy #Scifi  #Epic #Romance #LoveStory

The Rake of Hearts (A Lady to Suit #2), Emily Windsor

Sensual Regency romance with warmth and wit, this tale also includes a seductive rake, an icy widow, a castle, a disreputable aunt with a secondary love story, Cotswold country fairs, sinful masquerades and…a goat.

Beautiful – I absolutely adored Hebe and Ernest’s story. It is full of wit, charm and romance and such an emotional read – It brought a tear to my eye on more than one occasion, but also a gladness to my heart as it is such a love affirming tale.

The young widow Hebe despises rakes and she has very good reason to. She has decided that Lord Ernest Brook, a shallow and self-confessed libertine, is a man to avoid at all costs. Ernest is attracted to Hebe and sees her icy demeanour as a challenge. Yet as soon as the couple inadvertently find themselves spending the summer together at Ernest’s childhood home in the Cotswolds, it becomes clear that both are not what they seem and the scene is set for a heartfelt and unforgettable Regency romance. #RegencyRomance #HistoricalRomance

Cut and Run. A Contemporary Reverse Harem Romance Novel. (The Dreadnoughts #2), Lucy Felthouse

Kim’s on track to save the world—but will she pay with her life?

Kim Medhurst, ex-British military intelligence officer turned scientist and climate activist, has a vitally important project on her hands. The mysterious object she set out to retrieve from the remote Scottish island has the potential to power the entire planet. All she needs to do is figure out exactly how to make it happen, and the Scottish Highlands seems the perfect place to complete her research in peace—as well as enjoy the company of the gorgeous Greig twins.

Superpowered and sexy! – Cut and Run is the second book in the Dreadnoughts series and I found it to be a suspenseful, sexy and action-packed read. I recommend that you read the first in the series, Search and Rescue, before this one to get maximum enjoyment as this instalment starts off where the previous one ended: Chastain goes missing in London and Kim and the Greig twins go all out to rescue him, calling on their recently acquired superpowers to do so – I just loved these scenes! #Romance #ReverseHarem #Suspense #Superheroes

Blood Money, Dinero de Sangre #1, Lana Sky

In this twisted dark cartel romance, revenge and hate collide with the past… Ten years after a devastating betrayal, revenge has come back to bite Ada Pavalos. Literally. Once her family’s trusted bodyguard, Domino Valenciaga is out for blood. Or her heart. Whichever goal takes more violence to achieve…

An Emotional Tsunami – This book is DARK, an emotional tsunami of hate, anger, despair, violence and lust and I LOVED it! I am familiar with the author’s work, having read most of her back catalogue, and it is one of the darkest reads she has penned to date. I devoured it as soon as I got my mitts on it, in one single read. #DarkCartelRomance #TwistedRomance #RevengeAndHate 

Stolen Lust: A Diamond Magnate Novel (Beauty in the Stolen Trilogy #1), Charmaine Pauls

Ian Hart is the most notorious criminal in the country. Like the thief he is, he came in the dark and stole a night of my life. He left me with souvenirs. Disaster and fear are my new realities. I’ll forever look over my shoulder, terrified he’d return, because when he took me, he stole more than just a few hours of my time.

Hot and Intense – Hold on to your hats! This is one hot and intense ride from start to finish and as a huge fan of the dark romance genre, I lapped it up! I loved both the heroine Cassandra (Cas) and the anti-hero Ian. Cas is vulnerable in so many ways, but despite this she stands up for herself and does so with plenty of sass and is nobody’s fool. Due to Ian’s actions, her life speedily spins out of control as the truth of who he is and his deeds come to light I hugely enjoyed the story and their evolving relationship and found Cas to be a plucky character and a perfect match for Ian. #RomanticSuspense #Crime

Flame to Frost (The Last Triton #1), Myra Danvers

The Last Tritan is perfect for fans of the Grishaverse. Those who fell completely in love with the Darkling―a smoldering villain we wanted to see win… 

Amazing Dark Fantasy – I absolutely inhaled this amazing dark fantasy read. It is the first book I have read by the author Myra Danvers and  is one of her earlier works, reworked as part of her Triton Evolution series. I have now found another awesome author to add to my list!

I loved the central character of Mila and her journey from a pampered and orphaned escapee to when she becomes a thorn in the side of her enemies, until she is finally captured. She is strong, empathetic and kick-ass, but with a secret that she is at great pains to conceal, lest it lead to her downfall. The contrast between her frugal existence in hiding in the forest and the debauched life of the world she is thrust into is well done, as is the worldbuilding. #DarkFantasy

Dirty Dealings (A Zeta Cartel Novel #3), A J Adams

Enrique ‘Quique’ Ramas is having a bad time. Back in Mexico his marriage has fallen apart and his wife has made him a laughing stock by cheating on him. Now he’s in London and out of his depth with a complex commercial deal. To make things worse, Natalia Truelove, a chef and pub manager, is blackmailing him. Quique is ready to commit murder and he’s pretty sure who his first victim will be.

Dirty Dealings is an enthralling tale of deceit, murder, cartel violence and finding love in the darkest of times.

One crazy cartel read – loved it! – I just inhaled this crazy cartel read and I found it impossible to put down. If you are a fan of this genre and alpha heroes who develop a soft spot for strong and feisty heroines with a vulnerable side, than you too will love this enemies to lovers romance. It has oodles of suspense and action, great banter and sexual tension between the main couple and some super sexy scenes. #CartelRomance #Crime

*REVIEW* – Logistics: A Christmas Story, by Chris Coppel

#ChristmasRead #Mystery #Fairytale #SciFi #Romance

Blurb

After being abandoned at the age of two and a half, Holly Hillman was raised without whimsy or fantasy. She was taught that there were no such things as Santa Claus, fairies, elves or any other accepted fantasies that help a child deal with the harder realities of life. Now in her forties, she is the CEO of a Fortune 400 company. She rose to the top through hard work, but also by living without distractions or social attachments. Despite her rigidly ingrained dedication, Holly was content with her life, having never lived by any other tenet. Everything was perfect until she was required to give her DNA as part of a health check leading up her company’s merger with an Asian conglomerate.

The results of her test unlocked the secret of her unique ancestry, leading to her having to confront a fantastical truth that would forever change her views on life and reality itself.

Goodreads

My Review

Uplifting and Original – Loved it! – 5 stars

In Logistics: A Christmas Story, author Chris Coppel seamlessly blends mystery and romance with a sprinkling of humour to create an original and page turning read which I loved. The protaganist, businesswoman Holly Hillman, has her life upended, after the results of a simple DNA test reveal her unique ancestry, in what is one of the most surprising plot twists I have ever read. This leads to her re-evaluating her own existence and the world around her – indeed, the book also ventures into the world of physics, but not as we know it!

I do not want to give the plot away as Holly’s origins are truly fantastical and it would take away the pleasure of reading the book. Suffice to say I enjoyed the personal and life changing journey she goes on and how she interacts with the other characters as the story unfolds. At the start of the novel, I found her to be a rather singleminded but colourless character with a tragic back story, and I was heartened by how she was slowly but surely transformed by events and her interactions with those from her past, present and future.

Logistics is a modern-day fairy tale which speaks to the reader on many different levels. I found it to be an uplifting read which underlined that it is never too late to seize what is truly important in life.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of the book was given to me by the author and I am voluntarily leaving a fair and honest review.

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*REVIEW* – Delirium (Atom and Evil #1), by Myra Danvers

#Sci-fi #Romance #DarkHumour

Blurb

Living on the fringe of deep space, Iris is nothing like the woman she was Before.
She’s broken. A shadow. Running from a shady past filled with trauma and unspeakable pain, she’s lost and trying not to be found. Numbing her anguish with boredom and opium.
Because she knows he’s coming.
A vicious criminal.
The enemy she used to love.
Her biggest mistake.
Fifteen years wasn’t nearly long enough to dull the ache of what they lost. Scars branded too deep, wounds that never healed.
They say pain is temporary, that it leads to personal growth. But Iris is a creature remade in blistering agony. Forged by a drive to wreak havoc. He should have known better than to abduct and blackmail her.
She will claim vengeance, or die trying.
There are no heroes here. Only a pipe full of the good stuff and villains fighting over scraps.

My Review

Action-packed and crazy tale of vengeance – 5 stars

This is one crazy ass read from start to finish and I certainly enjoyed the ride. Iris, the protagonist, has little sense of self-preservation and even less concern for the lives of others, the men who have dared to kidnap and blackmail her. Vengeance will be hers and I just loved how the read contains scene after scene of destruction and mayhem, steeped in dark humour.

I was glued to the pages to see what she had planned next for her abductors who want to use her for her technical wizardry. There are a number of laugh-out-loud moments – her methods are certainly twisted and violent and designed to take no prisoners. If you have ever dreamed about taking revenge on your enemies then this book will feed your fantasies!

Big Evil, her ex lover, now  her sworn enemy, with whom she has a history, is the only one who understands her version of crazy and he too does not appear to be of sane mind. We are given snippets of Iris’ past and their relationship, gaining more understanding as the book progresses and I found myself trying to work out what had happened to propel her to her drug filled and solitary existence and make her despise him so.

The book ends on a cliffhanger and I am looking forward to the next instalment to see how the plot and the intense relationships unravel.

Recommended for fans of sci-fi reads who like strong, crazy anti-heroes and heroines.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author ad I am voluntarily leaving a review.

Goodreads

Purchase Links

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Author Links

https://myradanvers.com/