Disobey by Jacqui Rose

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Bad things are going down in Soho. Someone’s going to have to pay the price…Alfie Jenkins breaks a lot of rules. When he sets up an illegal casino in Soho there’s bad will all round and soon Alfie and those closest to him become embroiled in an all-out war with a dangerous gang. Unfortunately this gang is a deadly enemy to have. When Alfie’s teenage niece Chloe is kidnapped and there are rumours she’s been enslaved in a sex gang it becomes a terrifying race against time to save her. Will Alfie be able to right wrongs, build bridges and protect his family, whatever the cost?

My Review: I have continually enjoyed Jacqui Rose books and have not yet been disappointed. My favourite however was Dishonour which was her best to date in my opinion. With this latest release featuring characters from previous books I was really looking forward to it. Alfie Jennings is a character that I didn’t like all that much at the beginning but eventually he grew on me. What I was chuffed about was the return of some fantastic characters from previous books such as Franny Doyle, Vaughn Sadler and Del Williams.

The book starts off really well and you are thrown straight into the dire situation it seems Soho is now in. With some of the well-known faces having all returned to London they have no idea that the Triads who they are up against are ready for an all-out war. Alfie seems to be at the middle of everything and when his niece Chloe-Jane rocks up it seems that things rapidly go from bad to worse.

There is plenty to keep the reader entertained pretty much from the get-go and there wasn’t a moment where there wasn’t something going on. As the book gets towards the halfway point it seems to ratchet up in terms of fear factor and when Chloe-Jane gets involved without realising it, you just know that the outcome cannot be good.

I found myself turning the pages quickly and totally immersing myself in this latest tale. I had a couple of minor niggles, but nothing much to write home about and thoroughly enjoyed this latest book. I must say though that I think this book should be where it ends for certain characters that are reaching a point where they don’t need to return. Although this wasn’t a 5 star read for me (that was most definitely Dishonour!) this was another cracking read and I will as always look forward to the next one.

Avenged by Jacqui Rose

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: You make a deal with the devil; you pay your dues…

Franny Doyle has always known that her father Patrick has been up to no good. After all you don’t become one of London’s number one gangsters without ruffling a few feathers along the way. Still, she adores her dad and she knows that he would lay down his life for her – she is his number one girl and he has taught her everything she knows.

But when something terrible happens to Patrick, Franny realises that he has some very dangerous enemies. Delving into Patrick’s past, Franny becomes involved in a high-stakes game. She’s not afraid. Patrick has taught her to be a fighter and she’s determined to make him proud, even if it means paying the ultimate price – her own life.

My Review: I think Jacqui Rose has taken a slight step in a new direction by setting the opener of her latest book in Ireland in the late 1970’s. When I started reading I was taken straight back to that time as we met Patrick Doyle as a young boy. I was initially thrown as the synopsis and prologue were set in present day. However a few chapters in and I wasn’t going anywhere. She has done a stellar job of taking the reader back to that time when religion played a huge part in the community and people’s lives were guided by their priests. I don’t want to delve too much into this element of the story (for fear of spoilers) but this was by far my favourite part of the book. Patrick’s childhood and how he came to meet his friend Cabhan Morton take up at least 35% of the book. This section of the book like I said is set in the late seventies in Ireland and in addition to Patrick and Cab, we also meet Father Ryan and Donal O’Sheyenne both whom play an important part in this book.

Just under halfway in and we are fast forwarded to just over 30 years later. 30 years on we get to know Franny Doyle as an adult. Her relationship with her father Patrick and Uncle Cab is the first thing that the reader identifies. Now at this point in the book I felt a crashing disappointment. I really felt like Jacqui Rose had found a new setting in Ireland in the seventies and I really didn’t want to leave that era. I felt like the jump from past to present was too quick and there was something that just didn’t sit right with me.

That aside we then see Franny Doyle start to make dangerous enemies. As we are now in present time the book falls slightly back into the standard ‘gangster’ genre. Don’t get me wrong there is absolutely nothing wrong with that (I myself am a fan of that type of book). However, the second half of the book although enjoyable, just didn’t compare to the first half. I think Jacqui Rose just proved how skilled a writer she is, because I literally didn’t put the book down. The realism of the characters and what they would have had to endure was just first class. Obviously she has a knack of taking you back without missing a beat.

Overall by the time I had finished I was (as usual) a little upset I had finished so quickly. This latest book of hers was a cracking read, but to be honest I so wish she would have maybe jumped between the late 70’s and maybe the 90’s rather than present day (everyone does present day). To have the skill as a writer to make the reader be able to imagine themselves alongside these characters is something special, and Jacqui Rose has that skill! I will await the next no doubt brilliant book from her, and would highly recommend this to people.

Betrayed by Jacqui Rose

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: She trusted the man she loved. It was the most dangerous things she had ever done …

No one can touch Del Williams – the hardest gangster in Soho. He’s got the monopoly on the drugs, the clubs and the girls – it’d be a mistake to underestimate him. The one person he’d take a bullet for is tough, beautiful Bunny Barker, mother of their daughter Star.

Bunny is determined to shield Star from ‘life’ but Del has a lot of enemies. When a familiar face appears from their past, their family is put into terrible danger. Can Bunny protect Star from the demons of her own past, and her very worst nightmare? 

My Review: I have read all of Jacqui Rose books and as a relative newcomer to the crime genre she seems to be climbing in both the charts and popularity very quickly. This latest book proves why she has managed to do that in a short space of time. This latest offering gives us a prostitute Bunny Barker living her life along with her daughter Star by her own rules. She is a pretty likeable character but there is a dark and twisted underlying problem within Bunny’s past which is evident pretty quickly.

Star’s father happens to be a gangster who pretty much runs Soho and although he is besotted with Bunny and Star, his lifestyle is not one Bunny is prepared to take on full time. Del was a great character and I liked him from the off. In addition to this Bunny and Del’s daughter Star was fabulous. Although she is only a young girl she plays a pivotal part in the story and is written so that you can just imagine this bright and bubbly girl being at the centre of everybody’s world.

Sadly, past figures emerge and between that and Del’s current business dealings with the Russians everybody seems to suddenly be in danger. I started this yesterday morning and absolutely refused to put it down until I had finished. There were a couple of things that didn’t quite flow as well as they could have, but it was still a brilliant book and one that will be loved by fans of Kimberley Chambers and Mandasue Heller. I for one will be eagerly waiting for her next book which is due out in August 2014…yay!

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Dishonour by Jacqui Rose

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: When Laila takes the chance of holding hands with her teenage crush Ray Ray on the walk home from school, she has no idea of the trouble she’s about to cause. Laila is sixteen years old and beautiful, kind and clever; traits liable to get her into trouble and make people dislike her. She doesn’t make her life any easier when she falls in love with an English boy, bringing shame on her family and attracting the attention of some very dangerous men. These men are always watching her and will stop at nothing to get things done their way.

Soon there’s a terrible ‘accident’ and Laila is forced to make a deal with the devil. And pay a very heavy price for breaking the rules. Laila has been forced to marry a cruel, controlling man by the people who are supposed to love her the most. Without anyone to help her, she has to find her own way out… 

Kat’s Review: Okay first off I am completely blaming Jacqui Rose for my tired and dishevelled state this morning. I only started her new book yesterday and found myself forcing myself to keep reading at 2am this morning! Her first two books were great, but this one…well it’s brilliant. Jacqui Rose is a relative newcomer to the Crime scene but with this book she is well and truly stamping her mark.

I started reading and was instantly taken into the shockingly controlling and abusive life of Laila. At sixteen she and her family are now living under the controlling ways of her uncle following her father’s death. I found myself horrified by the treatment she received and even more shockingly is that a case of this sort of treatment was recently in the news; proving this sort of thing still goes on. Following her treatment at the hands of her uncle Laila’s life takes a huge downward turn and things spiral out of her control.

On the other side of the coin we see Ray Ray and his family, with his father being the much feared gangster Freddie who is currently serving time. Jacqui Rose has created a story that had me well and truly hooked from the first to the very last page. SO much goes on with both Laila and Ray Ray and then add to the mix a crazed psychotic bloke named Arnold and you have yourself a tense read! There were some scenes in the book which were pretty graphic and made my stomach turn, but just proved that JR has done the job. If you haven’t read a Jacqui Rose book before maybe you should try because if you are a fan of people like Mandasue Heller and Kimberley Chambers, I PROMISE, you won’t be disappointed.

Trapped by Jacqui Rose

My Rating: 4/5
Jacqui Rose came to my attention last year in 2012 with the release of her debut novel Taken. It was a brilliant debut and I have been looking forward to and hoping that this new release is just as good. Maggie Donaldson is a young girl who has just come back to her hometown. Growing up with her father Max certainly wasn’t easy. Max is a face and he and the family the Taylor’s have a bit of rivalry going on that show no sign of letting up. When Maggie returns home, she realises that her time away has changed nothing. Her Dad Max seems even more violent than before, but Maggie is determined to get on with her life.

Jacqui has that knack that certain writers such as Cole, Heller and Chambers have. She creates a character that is believable and Maggie is no exception. Brazen and with a filthy temper, you can almost imagine what her reputation is like. Having said that she is a really likeable character, if only I could say the same about Max! On the opposite side to the Donaldson’s is the Taylor’s. Frankie and Gypsy Taylor have been married for years and their grown up son Tommy is part of Frankie’s firm. The Taylor’s are a much more likeable family but with the sheer violence the Donaldson children see every day it was no surprise that the family members are all slightly deranged in their own way.

With the feud between the two families getting worse, Maggie fears that her secret will be exposed and there will be no turning back from the repercussions that will take place if people found out. It’s clear to the reader what the big secret is from the early days (but I dislike spoilers so will refrain from mentioning what that is!). As the story continues there are quite a few plot twists that involve extended family members from both sides making the suspense raise another notch. By the halfway mark I found myself constantly getting twitch when you just know something is going to happen, but not quite sure when. BY the last quarter I was practically sitting on the edge of my seat and got that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
I must say by the time I had finished (it took me just a day and a half!) I was so pleased that Jacqui Rose has proven she can write just as well as some of the others. The violence in this book was worse than in the previous one, or maybe she has just done a stellar job in creating a monster with Max Donaldson (what a vile man!). I truly loved this book and would recommend it to anybody who favours the likes of Mandasue Heller, Kim Chambers and Jessie Keane. A class book that kept me reading and I can’t wait for the next one!

Taken by Jacqui Rose

My Rating: 4/5

After seeing various recommendations from people about Jacqui Rose debut novel Taken I bit the bullet and downloaded it onto my Kindle. I promptly forgot about it and it got swallowed up into my stupidly extensive list of books I have yet to read. However, her name kept popping up and with her exceptional rating on Amazon (4 out of 5 over 100 reviews) I picked it up. I must say that I am very glad I did now. What was I thinking leaving it that long?

One thing that must be hard as a new author is standing out from the crowd. The crime genre is generally littered with the longer standing authors and it must be hard work for the debut novelists out there. Thankfully with the word spreading amongst readers I am glad to see Jacqui Rose come up frequently. She has chosen to write her debut novel based in London and featuring some heavy `hard-men’. With a London Gangster feel to it I wondered if she would be well remembered with authors that are practically legends such as Martina Cole, Mandasue Heller and Kimberley Chambers out there.

I started reading and met the main character of the book Casey Edwards. Casey had turned up in Soho following a hard life which involved giving away her child at 15 and then turning to alcohol, men and drugs to get through her life. She is hoping for a fresh start and the ability to find her child and put things right. After arriving in London she meets Mob boss Alfie Jennings, the cruel and vindictive partner of his Oscar and before long is caught up in their world. She also meets Vaughn who is an ex-gangster and an absolutely brilliant character.

The first half of the book takes us into the murky world of Alfie and Oscar and I would be lying if I said that some parts of the book are not pleasant reading. However, it makes it all the more authentic (and a hell of a lot more exciting to read). The topics covered involve money, drugs, trafficking and sex and that’s just to name a few. If this sort of thing doesn’t rock your boat in terms of fiction then this may not be the book for you. One thing I want to point out is that there IS swearing and violence in this book. It grates on me occasionally when I read reviews with people complaining about this. Would you expect a London Gangster to point to the door and politely ask his arch rival to vacate the building because he can’t bear to speak to him? Err I think not…point made!

The second half of the book was a lot more exciting as Casey finds herself in the middle of a very dangerous situation. Oscar Harding was a vile character and I was crossing my fingers and hoping for the worst for him from start to finish. Towards the end things became even faster paced and the ending was wrapped up with the right amount of excitement and drama. It would be nice to see a couple of the characters again in future books but we will have to wait and see what Jacqui Rose has in store for us next time. As I said before, with the British crime writers out there already it must be hard work to join the dizzy heights of the `Crime Queens’ we have out there, however with this debut novel Jacqui Rose is well on her way! I look forward top her new release in March 2013