Dark Water by Jan Ruth

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Helllllo readers – hope you’re feeling a little better than I am. It’s been one of those days/weeks/months. I broke a mirror at new year and it seems to be doing its damned best to mess up my best efforts. Firstly my computer at work died a death which was horrible and then my laptop died a death too. Then, just to really upset me – I tried to buy a laptop online and it just wasn’t happening so I’ve been a little lost. But I’m back and ready to get back into blogging and this book is the perfect one to start me off.

The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; is there a future for him and Anna, or is the past too destructive? Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set and skilled juggler of complex relationships. Someone to break all the rules, or an unlikely hero?

 In this sequel to Wild Water Jack and Anna return to discover that history repeats itself. Anna’s long-awaited success as a serious artist is poised to happen, but her joy, along with her relationship with Jack, is threatened by old scores. 

Simon Banks is a depressed and unstable man with a plan. He wants to wipe out his past by buying a brighter future, but Jack Redman stands in his way. Will Jack ever escape the legacy of lies and deceit left by his ex-wife? Can Jack and Anna hold it all together, or will tragic repercussions from Jack’s past blow them apart forever?

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So as like the blurb suggests the plot is only going to get thicker in this second book. As we continue from the first tale we see Jack torn between wanting to be with Anna but also wanting to make the right decision in respect to his child/ren. Pressured by his ex-wife to move herself their daughter Lottie and her toddler son James closer to Lottie’s school and therefore closer to Anna’s home means that the stress on their relationship is reaching uncomfortable levels. With the confusion of parentage still lingering and Chelsea’s father Simon Banks – who has become increasingly unstable and now wants to reveal his true identity whilst also having a terrible grudge against Anna – it’s all getting a bit too much. It’s all mixed up family relationships and wobbles and that’s a pretty interesting tale to spin.

So, what makes this book exciting? Well for one I love the way that all the characters are of a slightly older age. This is like a grown-up chick-lit that doesn’t just deal with lust and excitement it is filled with responsibility, with baggage and with disillusioned characters and it feels so real. Each still has a sense of hope and as with the first book it made me feel for the characters so much more. Each character has also been developed so much more – Jack feels more haggard, more tired and I just wanted him to pull through and make the right decision. I thought the added characteristics, nothing really new from the first book but the elevation of the secondary characters traits helped to gel the developments in the characters lives.

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In terms of the writing – once again the description is beautiful. The landscape is Wales really allows for that, and it helps to add atmosphere, excitement and a deeper, darker addition to the tale. It almost becomes a character in itself. It’s not overwhelming but it just helps to put the characters against a really fully-fledged background. Places like the quarry, Patsy’s cottage and the art gallery just came to life in my mind and would in the imagination of any reader.

I liked the way that the author allows the reader to make up their own mind about what’s going on. Themes of love, loss, hope and stress are all developed and yet we get to see it from both Anna and Jack so we can develop are own ideas. Each character is flawed and in the wrong at one point or another which allows us to move between characters and not just dismiss them. As like in any book there are heroes and villains but here they’re allowed to be judged fairly? If that makes sense.

The only wobble may be there are a lot of characters and at the start I was a little confused as to who was who and what their relationship with another character was but once I got back into it I was just pulled into another exciting and rich tale. So would I recommend? Yes, it has such grit and realism and it speaks to numerous different readers. With beautiful characters, an intriguing plot and with an understanding of how to draw the reader in this book is a triumph.

Linnnnks

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Before the Dawn (Book Two) by Georgia Rose

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Helllllo readers, hope you’re well – I’m currently writing this snuggled up on the sofa, with a hot water bottle, Pepsi Max and some rice cakes with Nandos Hot sauce. I’m on a health kick and I can’t lie My Fitness Pal has been a real life-saver. Being able to see exactly the calories and the like within each meal is really helpful. As I add these rice-cakes to today’s diary you should catch up on my latest review of Georgia Rose’s Before the Dawn.

…he moved closer and slowly ran the point of his blade along my jaw line as he spoke softly, intimately, to me.

“So, you are Trent’s woman. Now that is very…appealing.” I glared back at him silently.

There are testing times ahead for Grayson and Trent as trouble threatens Melton Manor. When an attack is made against those on the estate, Grayson gets caught in the middle finding herself and those around her in terrible danger. Terrified when she thinks tragedy has struck again she fights to protect those she now views as family and, suffering bloodshed and pain, confronts her fears – both brought by the enemy and by the one she loves.

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As the blurb suggests the book follows off from the first in The Grayson Trilogy and as I was so hooked from the end of the first I just had to continue the story straight away. The second book follows the quite stressful life of Emma Grayson who although has come along bounds and bounds in her strength of character and her confidence is still struggling with her relationship with Trent. Although the trust is growing there Trent is still undeniably over-protective and it’s beginning to put large amounts of stress upon the two.

Although the Manor appears to be quite a gentle place, underneath the people who live and work there are involved in supporting MI6 with their undercover operations and when they are targeted due to Cavendish and Trent being involved in the disbanding of a Russian criminal organisation everyone is terrified that they will also be targeted. When the danger really appears can Emma and Trent hold together? What will happen to Melton Manor? All will be revealed.

I guess the biggest question when it comes to sequels is – was it as good as the first one? I did have a couple of wobbles with the first book and for that reason this one kind of worked for me more. I liked that the relationships especially between Emma and Trent were getting worn into. I think with some books the immediate connection with characters is exciting to follow but relationships don’t just happen and get maintained – they take time/effort/patience/love/acceptance/negotiation (I could go on, and on.) I like that here we continued to see the two almost evolving with each other and trying to work on their own personality traits accordingly.

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The action is a really exciting addition and I thought it definitely added the action I thought was missing a little in the first. Georgia as with the first book has a really wonderful way with words and the way that she describes the characters, the landscapes and the action is beautiful. Both books are seamlessly intertwined in terms of style which is so important when moving from one book to another. A quick point also – I loved that the author openly said read the first and then this one because the first isn’t rewritten into the second to help us, instead we plow straight in.

There are still a lot of unanswered questions especially surrounding Emma’s childhood and her parents and I found that the intrigue around the manor being attacked helped to pique my interest and make me more and more involved in the tale. The plot really builds towards the third novel and I definitely found myself trying to pace myself as not to get to the end too soon because something was telling me I wasn’t going to be getting the answers I needed in this book. I think the author has really worked the information reveals well between the books as so to keep the reader intrigue and to build between the books.

I’ve found it a little difficult to review this book because there is so much more too it than a 700  ish word review. Basically if you’ve read the first book there’s no questioning you  should read the second. If you’re intrigued as to whether to – I would say I’ve adored both books by this author and will 100% be reading the reviewing the next. Spot on.

Linnnnks

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Wild Water (The Wild Water Series 1) by Jan Ruth

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Hellllllo readers, hope you’re all well and happy bunnies as of today! It’s getting soooo close to Christmas and I’ve had no time at all to get any festive books read. In trying to get my review inbox clean and sorted I’ve had to really put my TBR on hold and that means lots of Christmassy books aren’t getting read *boo* – however I’ve had the chance to read some utterly fantastic books too. Without delay – the review.

The tragedy and comedy that is Jack’s life; secrets, lies and family ties.
Jack Redman, estate agent to the Cheshire set. An unlikely hero, or someone to break all the rules? Wild water is the story of forty-something estate agent, Jack, who is stressed out not only by work, bills and the approach of Christmas but by the feeling that he and his wife, Patsy are growing apart. His misgivings prove founded when he discovers Patsy is having an affair, and is pregnant. At the same time as his marriage begins to collapse around him, he becomes reacquainted with his childhood sweetheart, Anna, whom he left for Patsy twenty-five years before. His feelings towards Anna reawaken, but will life and family conflicts conspire to keep them apart again?

As the blurb suggests the book follows Jack Redman – a successful and wealthy estate agent who realises that something is terribly wrong as he and his wife’s relationship takes a tumble. As his life begins to sway and he finds himself struggling to juggle the balls in his life – one person, his first love, Anna is keeping him sane, but she’s involved with another and she would be crazy to try anything with him again after he left to marry Patsy? Wouldn’t she?

This novel is utterly wonderful – the characters are so strongly built and created that I really felt emotional investment towards them. Patsy is a deplorable character and to see Jack trying so helplessly to keep it all together it really pulled on my heartstrings. I really rooted for Jack throughout and that is a real merit to the author. To create something that makes the reader believe it is almost real, shows serious writing strength and I found myself sucked into the book and the characters. Jack, is also a little bit of a hot mess but in an utterly rogueish way. I could imagine him surrounding by the Welsh landscapes, hair blowing in the wind *sighs.*

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The plotline although not swift moves with a reliable pace and that helps with the overall story line. This tale is unfortunately one that we hear over and over again. Affairs, heartbreak, broken families this novel doesn’t try to do anything clever and that’s why  I think it works so well. The writing is strong and smooth and feels mature. There is no bitty writing and it feels so real. The story, the characters, the location it all jumps off the page and envelopes you in a wonderfully bookish fug.  My only fault could be that there is does feel a little predictable, there aren’t many twists and turns to really confuse the reader. But, and it’s a big but, I didn’t feel like I needed that here – it tells a tale and beautiful one at that.

Would I recommend this book – yes? It is the perfect mix between a lighter romance and a truly distressing romantic tale. It makes for a really lovely telling tale, with great characters, a well thought-out plot and a real understanding of describing a landscape and transporting the reader to another place.

Linnnnnks

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