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Review: One Road In

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review*

One Road In is a stylish and pacy thriller from an author who has a true affinity for her genre. The cast of characters is intimate and close-knit, as is the setting – the anonymous seaside town of Rose Bay which, in the 1990s, hides a dark secret. We follow Sadie as she returns to Rose Bay to confront the past that she’d tried to escape from when an unexpected figure comes home.

The setting is unashamedly the 1990s, and Hannah seeds the time period effectively throughout the very DNA of this story. The alternating viewpoint – split the “present” in 1995 where Sadie confronts the past, and 1990, where the events that Sadie dreads to recollect are set in motion – and this is effective as the story unfolds. There’s a ominous mood throughout the book which I found gripping and had me reading to the last page to find out the true nature of the mystery.

The characters are tight and every one we meet has a meaning. Sadie and her friends Callie and Vedat are forced to confront the past through the events of the book with a growing sense of unease, with a twist at the end that is seeded earlier but the payoff is very satisfying, and the creepy, decrepit vibe through Rose Bay and the history is thick and enveloping. The story oozes tension and dread.

Hannah has an absolute verve and affinity for the thriller genre and One Road In shows she knows the conventions well, producing a taut and gripping thriller story that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of the greats and is a high-quality, suspenseful and impactful book I can’t recommend highly enough, from an author whose future work I’m sure to devour.

Rating: Highly Recommended

One Road In is available from Amazon as a Kindle eBook and paperback.

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Articles, reading, Reviews

Review: Wild Spirit: Huntress

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review*

Huntress up the stakes once again with Victoria Wren’s compelling and highly-readable Wild Spirit series, and with Huntress, everything that was so compelling about the first book – the story, the characters and the world Victoria has created – was ratcheted up another notch in Huntress, which expands and extends the saga that Win Adler finds herself in.

Victoria again impressed me with her breezy and easy-to-read prose that doesn’t shy away from being stylish, and it really brought me along with the story as it pulled me along! There’s some breathtaking moments that shatter the status quo we are introduced to in Huntress, and with a compelling prologue that’s beautifully written and well-integrated into the main story and with an equally exciting prologue that makes your heart do somersaults knowing you’ll have to wait for the next book.

The Wild Spirit universe is a wonderfully crafted and inspired universe and Huntress expands it magnificently.

I also bought the paperback version and once again was blown away by the beauty of the design – quality work that is deserving of such a fine book.

Articles, reading, Reviews

Review: The Love Story

Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of The Love Story ahead of release by the author, C. Kenny, for review purposes.

It may surprise you to see me reviewing a book with this title. It surprises me too, for I am not the expected consumer of this book’s proffered genre.

However, the fact that I read this book largely in one sitting stands testament to this book, which possesses a rare and incredible ability to traverse genre boundaries and preconceptions and tell a genuine, heartfelt and captivating story.

The Love Story, is, as the title suggests, a story of love. It introduces us to John Buckston, a twenty-something jack-the-lad who enjoys all the trappings that age presents: beers with friends down the pub, football, nights out. However, John is unlucky in love – until he visits the Winter Wonderland just before Christmas and has a chance encounter with a woman – Elena, who works on a kitsch gift stall there –  who will change both of their lives.

Where The Love Story is perhaps trite – a chance encounter between two star-crossed people who are immediately attracted to each other, and the trials and tribulations as these characters invariably miss each other through a cavalcade of misunderstanding and mistiming – it makes up for this in several areas.

First, the characters are well-developed, and it was their exploits that I became quickly invested in. John and Elena are the most well-developed. Starting with John, we learn about his family and his friends, and we find out he’s likeable and relatable. Pretty much the idealised version of the young man we all thought we were. However, he is not perfect and is not infallible, but it is through a harrowing misadventure having missed out on a chance, not just to be with Elena but to even tell her his true feelings for her that we learn his real mettle. John barely comes out of the spiral events take him down but when he does, he cements himself in the reader’s mind as a flawed but doubtless good and noble character beyond his years.

Elena, too, is a well rounded and complex protagonist – for The Love Story is told through duelling points-of-view – with her own skeletons that we see tantalisingly hinted at throughout. Her own journey is one that takes her to dark places, the opposite of where we, the reader, want her to be. She becomes torn between her head and her heart, a sense of duty glossing over the obvious faults in her situation.

I studied romance fiction at university, so I am aware that there is a familiar formula always at play. Of course, the star-crossed lovers do get to be with each other. It’s never a smooth ride. But with this book I felt taken on a journey in a very captivating and engaging way. The Love Story includes the best trait of the thriller genre in how the story is told – you just find yourself wanting to read the next page to find out what happens next. I think ultimately, we know that our lovers eventually get their happy ending from the outset, but the journey they go on – both physical and mental, plumbing some low moments, just makes that ascent to their happiness all the more rewarding and enriching.

The story is genuinely thrilling, with the stakes being upped with every moment – some moments took me by complete surprise, with a “how is the story going to get around this?!” reaction, which is in each instance deftly, but not implausibly or unsympathetically, countered, but it still makes you pause and reflect. Some moments came out of the blue, narratively speaking, and I felt my stomach dropped but the story ratcheted up from those points. It was impressively and stylishly accomplished.

There’s some truly moving moments contained in The Love Story, some harrowing moments and scenes where you’re hooked on every word, wanting to know what twist happens next. This is an ambitious and bold blending of two genres – romance and thriller – often seen as mutually exclusive, but this book presents a modern fusion that shows the versatility of both the author and the genres themselves.

The Love Story is written in fresh, unobtrusive prose that really takes you on the story of John and Elena, but doesn’t obstruct the view out of the window. That said, it’s stylish and precise, clearly written with care and attention to detail. Reading this book, especially when you push aside any notions of how “romance” books read archetypally, is a breath of fresh air. There’s no stodgy prose, or overwrought writing. The airy prose matches the story’s mood and tone rather wonderfully. The precise, delicate and intricate prose is by no means tawdry or maudlin, but takes the reader on a believable and compelling journey.

I feel that The Love Story also presents an important point and seeks to challenge a popular belief: that men do not write (and do not read) romance books. There’s a clear audience that this book aspires to satisfy and I foresee no issues in that goal. However, this book is approachable to those unfamiliar to the romance genre; it reads in a lot of places like a thriller and should appeal to those readers too.

I am not a romance reader by any stretch, yet I burned through this book in an evening – I was quickly gripped by the characters, situation, and story, like I would be with any good thriller. So don’t let your preconceptions about a love story dissuade you, and I see many good things coming from this author to come!

My rating: Highly recommended

Find out more information on The Love Story on C. Kenny’s website.

Purchase The Love Story on Amazon today! (Also available on other ebook platforms)

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