An Ashlez Review: The Story of Us by Barbara Elsborg

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Rating:  5 stars out of 5
 

The Story of Us is a new adult contemporary romance. It deals with family and social issues, violence and cruelty towards children, sexual situations though not sexual abuse, and has dark elements and suspense. The events and locations are a mixture of real and fictional. The characters are fictional.
 
“Are you okay?
The first words Zed says to Caspian, and the first time someone has cared about the answer. On a hot summer’s day, the lives of two boys are changed forever. A rebel and a risk taker, Caspian doesn’t give a damn for the consequences. Studious and obedient, Zed is the good boy who is never good enough.
 
The two couldn’t be more different, but there’s one thing they share, a need to belong to someone who understands them, someone who cares. Their friendship goes deeper than either can possibly imagine. They’re young, in love, and planning their future when an act of betrayal tears them apart.
 
Fate has dealt its hand. Seasons pass. Zed’s words follow Caspian through pain, fear and into the darkest of places. Friendships last a lifetime, even when the world conspires to crush them. But this is more than friendship. This is love and they’re not going to let it slip through their fingers.
 
This Is Our Story is a tale of love and survival, and the triumph of good over evil against the odds.
 
It’s a long story – 158,000 words that takes place over ten summers.
 
This book is very heavily focused on religion from the get-go, Muslim, I was fascinated honestly, reading about it was no hard feat, though I’m sure it’s not going to be the book for everyone just based on the religion aspect alone.  It’s throughout the whole book but not prominent focus after the first bit.
 
I found Zed to be quite a boy, he starts off scared and with a hard home life – studying – trying to deal with the religion aspect, the character evolution is just astounding
 
I thought Caspian was a confident boy who gets in a lot of trouble, for all that I think he’s a good kid, just wanting to find his own path in life and deal with the hand fate dealt.
 
This book was amazingly written and sucked me in from the start – there were hard times and good times and times you just wanted to cry for them. I didn’t want to put it down.  This book will stick with me for a while.
 
I liked the secondary characters, the evolution of everyone over the course of such a long time – each storyline and each outcome was well thought out and worked so well I can’t even!
 
A definite must read!!!!!
Cover:  Cover fit well, it was sweet and innocent and a picture of things
Sales Links:  Amazon link to come
Book Details:
ebook, 353 pages
Expected publication: November 1st 2018 by self-published
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Dirty Angel by Barbara Elsborg

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Art profile portrait of beautiful man with body of athlete. Photo.

Art profile portrait of beautiful man with body of athlete. Photo.

Dying Sucks

Particularly when you discover there really is a hell. Aden thinks there’s no way he can avoid going down, but when an angel and demon can’t agree over his fate, Aden is given one more month to gain redemption. He doubts he can find a way to become a better man in so short a time. But it’s worth a try, right?

Living sucks

Particularly when you can’t shake free of an obsessive ex. Brody might be managing to hold down his job as a vet, but his personal life is a mess. If he doesn’t pull himself together soon, he’s going to be sliding downhill too fast to stop.

One wet night, on a dark country lane, two worlds collide and destinies change forever.

Barbara Elsborg did a great job with this story.  Aden is getting a second chance to try and be a better person by living up to his potential.  Brody is ready to give up and doesn’t know if it’s worth it to pull himself together.

 

Aden has had the worst luck when it comes to his life, his parents didn’t love him and he was constantly abused by others when they died.  He was never loved and doesn’t know how to or why you would want to love someone.  Brody thought he loved his ex and when things go too far he finally breaks free only to have him come back to try and get him back.

 

Both Aden and Brody have heartbreaking back stories that greatly affect their lives.  They both connect with each other and the reader quickly.  They don’t hold back their emotions and are willing to just let everything out which makes understanding the characters easy.  There is a great HFN ending looking a bit in the future which gives hope for both of the characters.

 

Cover art Joe Raven is perfect for this book.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 255 pages
Published: June 1, 2016 by Barbara Elsborg
ISBN: 9781682521274
Edition Language: English

 

A Free Dreamer Review: The Demon You Know by Barbara Elsborg

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

the Demon You know coverA good demon?

Ezra is a timekeeper in Hell, responsible for building and maintaining the clocks that tick away eternal torment. He’s never believed he deserves to be in Hell, and when the reason he’s there is revealed, he’s horrified…yet filled with hope. But is this just another form of torture? When Ezra’s given a chance to go to the surface, he’s determined to uncover the truth, but his fellow demons seem just as determined he won’t survive the journey.

A bad angel?

Roman doesn’t understand why an angel who failed his training the first time round has been given the job of policing paranormals in the UK’s capital city. He’s consumed by unhappiness. He might not be in Hell, but sometimes it damn well feels like it.

When Roman meets Ezra his failings come back to haunt him. Ezra makes him want to break the rules, but an angel protecting a demon? Discovery would bring an eternity of suffering, and with a boss none other than the archangel Michael, it’ll take more than a miracle for the lovers to stand together.

Let me start off by saying that while this is part 3 of a series, it works perfectly fine as a stand alone. I didn’t even read the blurbs of the two other books before starting this one and I had absolutely no trouble understanding what’s going on.

You should also be aware that this is a pretty dark book. There’s rape, there’s dub-con, there’s violence and there’s depression and potentially suicidal thoughts. If that’s not your kind of thing, back away slowly.

So, there’s Ezra, sweet, gentle, good Ezra. He lives in Hell but has no idea why. Usually you have to be at least 16 before you’re sent to Hell. But not Ezra, who was apparently born in Hell. He works as a timekeeper, making sure the countless clocks that are part of the eternal torment of the demons are in working order. He’s different from the other demon. For one, he’s far smaller than even the females and he looks unusually normal. That makes him a prime victim to the other demons, who delight in making his life miserable. He was also chosen as one of a handful of demons to go to the surface and corrupt humans for a week. But Ezra has other plans: He wants to run, to hide, to never go back down to Hell again. He wants to see snow, see clouds and for once in his life to experience what it means to be cold.

Then there’s Roman, the jaded head of supernatural London, who makes sure the other supernatural beings (vampires, werewolves, faeries, gargoyles) stick to the rules and remain undiscovered. He’s an angel, but not a very good one. Angels are supposed to be free of sin, yet he always lusts after other men. He’s very unhappy with his life. Maybe not exactly suicidal, but definitely close. He doesn’t care too much about whether he’s dead or alive one way or another.

Of course Roman is part of the team that has to catch the demons before they can do any serious harm. When Ezra and Roman meet, it’s lust at first sight. But why can’t Roman sense Ezra’s a demon? And how can an angel and a demon ever have a HEA?

For the most part, I enjoyed this book.

I liked both Roman and Ezra from the beginning. They were nice guys. Though in Ezra’s case, I’d have to say he was too nice. He was so very sweet and kind, even though he’s only ever known sorrow and pain. He’s been raped countless times, yet he’s all too happy to have a sexual relationship with Roman. The past abuse seems to have no effect on him whatsoever, except that he’s kind of sad and occasionally flinches back when Roman makes a sudden move. That’s something I definitely don’t like. If you’re going to include traumatizing events such as rape and abuse, make sure your character actually is traumatized. Rape doesn’t make you go all sweet and submissive and happy to be of help to strangers. Though I did like the way he acted otherwise, he was funny and witty and had an interesting story to tell.

Roman is jaded through and through. He’s hurt, he’s lonely and he hates his life. It’s a little hard to understand just why he is so miserable in the beginning, but I promise there is an explanation eventually. I thought he was far more realistic that Ezra.

Since the two of them fall in instant lust, there’s plenty of sex. Almost too much, really, even if it is very hot. A little less sex and a little more world and character building would definitely have helped me really like this story though.

I’m generally none too fond of insta-love/lust and “The Demon You Know” was no exception. I get that they found each other attractive from the very beginning, so I understand all the sex they had, even at the most inappropriate moments. What I had a hard time understanding though was what made them fall in love with each other. It’s understandable that Ezra falls for the first person to have ever treated him kindly. But I have absolutely no idea what made Roman return those feelings. They barely knew each other. They only spent a few hours together, really. And why would Roman risk everything for a demon, when he knows it will only be trouble and that Ezra must have done something truly awful to be sent to hell?

Usually, I avoid books about angels, simply because there tends to be a strong element of religion and belief present most of the time. Being an atheist, this tends to bore or annoy me easily. “The Demon You Know” had very little religion and belief for the most part. Sure, there was a bit of talk about God and the devil, and about the Seven Deadly Sins, but for the most part, it just focused on the two MCs. I liked that.

To sum it up, “The Demon You Know” is a quick, hot read, without a lot of depth. With more depth, this could have easily been a truly great story. As it is, I had fun and I finished it within two days. If you don’t mind the darkness of this and are willing to suspend your disbelief for a bit, you’ll most likely enjoy this too.

And I’ll definitely take a look at the previous book, Bloodline, which is about two of the minor characters in this book.

Fiona Jade’s cover is just wow. Breathtakingly beautiful. I think it matches the story well, you can see Roman’s anguish and the flames from hell licking at the bottom of the cover and his wings show Ezra’s influence. The background shows various famous sights in London, so it does not only reflect the protagonists but also the setting. It’s one of the most beautiful covers out there, one that I’d love to have in my physical bookshelf.

Sales: Loose Id LLC  |  All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 233 pages
Published April 28th 2015 by Loose Id LLC (first published April 27th 2015)

In the Spotlight: Falling (Fall or Break #1) by Barbara Elsborg (author interview and contest)

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STRW In The Spotlight Header

Falling (Fall or Break #1) by Barbara Elsborg
Samhain Publishing

Falling cover

Author Barbara Elsborg is here today to talk about her book, Falling, and the Fall or Break series.  Check out our interview below and the book details  that follow.

Contest: Enter to win a eBook from Barbara Elsborg’s library.  Leave a comment below, along with an email address where you can be contacted.  And also click on the Rafflecopter link below as well.  Contest ends midnight, April 21st (2 weeks from today):
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

An Interview with Barbara Elsborg on “Falling”….

1. What prompted you to write Falling?

I hate the idea of someone being put in prison for something they didn’t do. I hate the idea of someone being accused of something they didn’t do! It made me think how awful it must be to be in prison and be constantly encouraged to admit your guilt and how hard it must be to stand against that pressure. It used to be the case that if you didn’t admit your guilt you spent more of your sentence behind bars. That’s not really true now BUT since a parole board has to agree to your early release, if you haven’t accepted your guilt it can be a reason to deny you the chance of life outside on license. I had to do a lot of research to check I had my facts right!

2. Where do you draw your inspiration?

Everywhere. Things I’m told, things I read or see. An addiction to Google! Another inspiration for Falling was when a friend told me of a young man she knew who was a teacher in Scotland – accused of abuse by a pupil. He was innocent. The accusation was withdrawn but the damage was done and he left teaching. I think in these days of political correctness, you have to be so careful what you say and do and in a way, it’s a shame. We need a better balance.

3. Falling is the first in the Fall or Break series. Will you continue with the couple in Falling or will each subsequent book feature a different set of MCs?

The next book Breaking – features Conrad – a minor character out of Falling. It’s a stand alone book but it does help to know who Conrad used to be with. Malachi and Harper have a little part in Breaking – out in July. I prefer writing books that tell the story of one couple, and end it rather than let it run to several books.

4. Or will the series chart the progression of the relationship?

So no – LOL – the series will be about different MCs!

5. Were you a prolific reader as a child?

Huge reader. I used to be trouble with the local library because I took books back to change them for new ones before they’d filed the cards for the ones I’d taken out. (that dates me!) I read very fast. 80 pages in 30 minutes of a paperback – often even quicker. I also read up to 3 books at the same time – not actually at the same time but I have 3 by the side of the bed now, all part read, plus the one on my Kindle. I read according to mood! I’m not always in the mood for romance. I like suspense and thrillers.

6. If so, what book or author made a impact on you as a child reader?

That’s really hard. I think I might pick the Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I loved the idea of another land up a tree!I was scared of heights though so I never climbed trees.

7. And has that impact continued into adulthood, as a reader and writer?

No. Enid Blyton was of her time. Some stories like the Magic Faraway Tree can be read now, but the others are dated. I didn’t have a favourite author. I just read anything. Once I was in my teens I was addicted to James Bond books. Then I branched out to the classics. There aren’t many genres I won’t try. The one I have the most difficulties with is hard core sci fi. It’s too technical for me.

8. Who do you consider your influences as an author today?

Impossible to say. I’ve read so much and loved so much- Adele Parks, Jennifer Crusie, Fiona Walker, Freya North – but I love thriller and suspense writers like Mark Billingham, Tom Wood, Karin Slaughter, Harlan Coben, Mo Hayder – so many. I also love regency romances – Eloisa James, Mary Balogh, Julia Quinn… too many to mention. I think any good author that you read has to have some influence if only to encourage you to write better.

9. What drives you to write? And have you always written?

What drives me? The love of telling a story, the need for a happy ending, a belief in love, an interest in what makes people tick. I have always written. I started with fan fiction as a teenager for TV shows and wrote my first novel in my early twenties. I found writing was a way to escape a not very happy time at school. I could dive into my own world, make myself the heroine and give myself a HEA.

10. What’s next for Barbara Elsborg?
I have an MM called The Demon You Know out in April. An MMF called Talking Trouble out in May. Breaking out in July and I’ve just finished writing an MM tentatively called Give Yourself Away. It’s going to be a year of many releases!! But on a personal note, I’m going to be at RT in Dallas if anyone would like to meet me!

STRW Author BookSynopsis

About Falling…

Falling is easy. Landing without breaking your heart? Impossible.

Harper is no longer behind bars, but it doesn’t feel like it. Ten years serving time for a crime he didn’t commit have left him shut down, numb, and a frozen wreck over the simplest of choices.

He’s acutely aware of the dark-haired young man checking him out in the supermarket, but he’s too deep in panic mode to even meet the guy’s gaze. Afraid the slightest move will trigger a fall that will never stop.

Fresh off a long-term relationship with a controlling man, Malachi is stuck living with relatives who think he’s a waste of oxygen. The tall guy in the long, gray coat is the first bright spot he’s glimpsed in a long time…though the man’s unblinking stare at a bottle of shower gel is a touch alarming.

Hard experience tells both of them to turn away before lust turns to hopeless attraction, and inevitably to disaster. But once their sparks connect, the arc of electricity is too strong to deny. Even if the cost is too much to bear.

Warning: Contains an ex-con with disaster written all over him, a boy toy who’s trouble with a capital T, a damp old British house, compulsive meddling, and enough hot sex to cure the severe case of nervous babbling.  Read an excerpt here at Samhain.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing           Amazon       Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 282 pages
Published March 24th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
original titleFalling,ASINB00Q33IKYG
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.barbaraelsborg.com/book/falling/
seriesFall or Break #1

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

About Barbara Elsborg:

Barbara Elsborg lives in West Yorkshire in the north of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide.

After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop.

Her books feature quirky heroines and bad boys, and she hopes they are as much fun to read as they are to write.

Contact/follow Barbara at her blog/website:  http://www.barbaraelsborg.com/

A Sammy Review: Falling (Fall or Break #1) by Barbara Elsborg

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

“I’m well aware I should just accept the things I can’t change. I know the mantra—live one day at a time, enjoy one moment at a time, accept hardships as the way to peace, accept the world for what it is. But I don’t believe in God.”

“You don’t need to believe in God, you need to believe in yourself. There’s another line in the Serenity Prayer about having the courage to change things that you can. It’s not just about acceptance.” Malachi inched his fingers closer. “Start the rest of your life right now.”

Falling coverNeither Malachi nor Harper have necessarily had it easy. Life, for each of them, is a series of missteps and stumbles. Ten years ago, Harper managed to not only stumble, but crash. Convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and serving time that wasn’t his to serve, the world outside looks to be a jaded place, not an easy release from the literal and figurative bars he’d been living behind for years.

Malachi, on the other hand, has escaped a prison of his own. Out of a long-term relationship defined by control, he’s lost his job and is left with no money. He has a roof over his head, but even that is suffocating.

One happenstance meeting doesn’t bring them together, but a second one does. Their connection is instant and strong, but is it strong enough to withstand a world so stacked against them and a guilty conviction that is burned within Harper’s skin?

He’d spent so many years swamped by waves of bleakness that he’d grown to accept them as part of him. He’d been in a prison of his own making as a boy, and barely escaped it as a man before he’d lost his freedom again. The only thing imprisoning him now was the past. It was up to him to put it behind him and let the man in his arms be his future.

I’m a picky reader at times, but I can honestly say that from the very start, this book had me and it never let me go, not once. I had to take a long break in reading, and when I came back, it hadn’t let up at all. I was captivated and enticed and I loved every second of it.

The novel itself isn’t a light, fun story. It has a lot of heavy subject matter that doesn’t quite sit right in the pit of your stomach, and that’s part of what I liked so much about it. The author put the characters in places others would be too afraid to. She made both characters wrecked but able to stand. They weren’t weak, they were damaged and beautiful.

It’s funny, though, because this is one of the first books I’ve read, at least in a long time, where there was laughter during sex, and I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed that until here. It was as if their intimate connection and the release that came with it was truly an escape from the shadows surrounding them. I truly enjoyed it. Not to mention each scene was steamy and lovely and though there were plenty, I never got bored of them.

The mystery element of this was also pretty good. Typically I figure it out within the first fifty percent, and then I spend the rest of the book just waiting for the characters to open their eyes. In this one, I found out about the same time the characters did. I had an inkling, but I had many of those, so it was nice to still be waiting toward the end, as opposed to having a “well now you get it” moment.

I also have to say that it takes a special author to take a character, build them to be disliked, and then make you feel for them, to the point where you want them to have their own story. This is how I am with Conrad. I want to read his story, I want to learn to feel with him.

This story has many good points, and it has left me ready to seek out more by this author.

I enjoy the cover art by Kanaxa. I think the dark shade of it fits the mood of the story and I appreciate the use of texture. What I’m not so sure of is the choice of fonts. For the title, I get that the L’s are meant to simulate the act of falling, but instead all I can think of is the symbols for the world trade centers. Whoops.

Sales Links:  Samhain Publishing      Amazon   Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 335 pages
Expected publication: March 24th 2015 by Samhain Publishing
original titleFalling, available for preorder prior to 3/24
ASINB00Q33IKYG
edition languageEnglish
url http://www.barbaraelsborg.com/book/falling/
seriesFall or Break #1