Archive | August 2018

Mira’s Path, William Schlegel

Mira’s Path, William Schlegel

Mira's Path (Forever in Murphy Book 1) by [Schlegel, W. F.]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

*Sigh…Women’s fiction again? Why troy to exclude a section of possible readers, men write fiction, this book proves it, they read it too…..

Anyway, sadly this book didn’t really work for me. It was well written, well paced but somehow the characters and events never really caught on for me.
I think part of that is I started off disliking Mira, she was a real bitch to Bowie. I had a hard time getting past the role reversal too, where her wealthy family lost everything and yet despite allegedly being close she knows nothing about it. Then Bowie, Lawn Boy, is now a multi millionaire? How’d that happen? I didn’t see any real reason for either of these massive changes and it rankled me.

As I said I disliked Mira, she seems to have changed but I couldn’t help feeling is all hadn’t gone wrong in the City for her, if she hadn’t effectively been chased out of her life would she be back? Or would she still be posing among the richest, living their life, rubbing shoulders the the people at the Top of society.
Bowie was perfect. A little too perfect maybe? He seems to have lived the live of a saint, just waiting for Mira’s return and is that real? Would he do that, and take her back without any kind of discussion about how much she hurt him?

I dunno, it was all a bit too cute and sweet for me.

Even the suspense didn’t really work for me, I wasn’t sure of the reasoning, a man doesn’t up and do something like that out of the blue, with no one having a clue. He’d not seemed like that kind of man, what made him flip? It wasn’t as if he was desperately in love with her….hands on action seemed out of character for him, hiring someone to do the dirty work I could understand but do it himself?

Stars: two and a half. There were parts I liked but overall it wasn’t one for me. As ever I can see others love it, maybe I’m in just too picky a mood and if I come back to it another time I may like it better. Who knows?

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher.

 

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Cold, Hard & Heartless, M.V. Ellis

Cold, Hard & Heartless, M.V. Ellis

Cold, Hard, & Heartless: A Rock Star Romance (Heartless Few Book 2) by [Ellis, MV]

Genre: Romance,

well, in book one it was London’s looonng metal monologues that I found off-putting and now its Arlo’s….that’s just me though, its a niggle that I find irritating, but that others may be indifferent to or even enjoy. I do enjoy a bit of introspection, it lets me feel and understand a characters actions, work out why they do things a certain way. From the outside Arlo could look like a man-whore jerk, but from his thoughts I can see he’s more. I loved him in book one, and I’m glad I read that first as he doesn’t seem quite a likable here, somehow his actions come across as very selfish here, certainly his past with Marnie, even when Luke warns him he’s being a jerk and unfair, whereas I don’t remember feeling that way in book one.
This story really just covers the ground of book one, but from Arlo’s POV, there’s nothing I noticed that was new there, and I think if the two books had been combined into one it would have worked better for me. Maybe one of those alternating POV stories? So that though I’d be reading stuff I knew already it would still be fresh, and I could meld each POV and see the actions from both sides as it happens.
I love the way he realised he was in love with London, though somehow although the period was covering several weeks/months somehow that didn’t translate as well as in book one. It felt they went from meeting and the chaos of that to a kiss, then nothing until suddenly its weeks later and he’s planning how to continue with her in his life. It feels like there’s a gap in the middle were she keeps house but they don’t seem to interact much, and then he’s In Love…..
Book three should be interesting, hopefully they’ll be a bit more action as they’re on tour. I hope 😉 I love Tour books, with all the mayhem, bustle, music, traveling, groupies and chaos they bring. It would be good to get to know the other band members too.

Stars: Three and a half, didn’t quite like it as much as book one but it is a good read, though quite short. Melded together, so I got both sides at the same time they would have made a perfect five star, single book for me.

ARC supplied by Author

 

Last of the Summer Moët, Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët, Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët: A sparkling rom-com that will make you laugh out loud (A Laura Lake Novel) by [Holden, Wendy]

Genre:, Women’s fiction, General fiction (adult)

Women’s Fiction? Once more – why? Why alienate a good section of possible readers.

My bad, I missed that this was a part two, and that I’d read the previous book about Laura. That was a three star for me, and I noted that though I enjoyed Wendy’s stories years ago either her writing or my tastes have changed.
This story is if possible even more OTT, frenetic and at times plain silly. There’s a point when poking fun at a selection of folk in humorous, and then there’s trying to ram fun down readers throats( you Will laugh!! Everyone else has… ) that’s the vibe which came across here, I like subtle humour, what this book delivers is a thin story peppered with not just oddball eccentrics, but totally off the wall unreal characters, and situations that are so extreme as to be impossible to believe. If that’s what you like in a story good for you, you’ll love this book. I don’t. I gave up at about 40%, skimming through to see if there was any change but not finding enough to hold my interest and continue.

Stars: Two, a DNF for me. If you like overdone humour and situations that are really OTT you may love this story, I can see others already do. My taste doesn’t run that way though so it was a fail for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Hollywood Heir, Westerly Billionaire Book 4, Ruth Cardello

Hollywood Heir, Westerly Billionaire Book 4,  Ruth Cardello

Hollywood Heir (Westerly Billionaire Book 4) by [Cardello, Ruth]

Genre:, Romance, General fiction (adult)

I didn’t notice til about to write my review that the blurb classes this as comedy – and I can’t recall finding any of it comedic, unless you count things like Sage being a plant psychobiologist and Eric being a huge film star but slap on a fake scar and he can go unknown….

sadly this book was a fail for me. I did finish it but it was a hard slog. That’s not the book’s fault, its just not to my taste. I found the plots sounded good but in practice were thin, and the characters were frankly dislikeable. Sage is a bit of a doormat, Eric is a bit self obsessed, distrusts everyone and came over as pretty cold and big headed. As for Delinda, his grandmother, she’s a rich, manipulative awful woman. I know she appears to have the best interests of the family at heart, but its what She feels is best, not necessarily what actually IS best.
I got so annoyed at Sage, got away from shallow parents and creates her own way, and yet lets Eric walk all over her. This idea too that she’s walked away from serious money, has an ad hoc income where she can barely meet rent and yet lives as if she’s got money was strange. If you’re short on rent, short on cash its something that you’re aware off constantly, everything you do has an eye to can you afford it, and yet Sage came over as never really considering her cash situation, a rich girl playing at poverty.
Eric and the disguise, wouldn’t work. Then he tells her the names of his four siblings, and given they are worldwide famous that should have been a giveaway.
I loved Reggie though, he was the comedy element I guess, but for me he was the star of the book! The bat-cave, I want one!

Stars:Two, sadly a slog to finish, maybe if I’d liked the characters it would have been different. As always that’s just my view, I can see others love it, and you may too.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Martinis and Memories, A.L. Michael

Martinis and Memories, A.L. Michael

Martinis and Memories: A fun, feisty novel of love and chasing your dreams (Martini Club Book 3) by [Michael, A. L.]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Women’s Fiction

I didn’t realise this was part of a series of connected books, though each are stand alone. I think maybe if I’d read the first two maybe I’d have got more from this. As it was its a sweet story, made me wonder a bit about life, coincidences, the six degrees of separation thing, and what I would do in the same situation.
Its got some great characters, I loved how we see Bel’s mum from her thoughts and memories and then seeing her differently, passage of time, through Sam’s eyes etc its like two sides of the same person. I loved Bel, slightly brittle with all her “darlings” and insistence on sweetness and light and sparkle and glitter ( I’m with her on the sparkle and glitter – always makes life brighter). I was heartbroken for her when it looked like everything was going to fail….and yet Practical Me was saying “ where’d she get the money for all this revamp when she was wondering if she had enough to even continue as it was?” I don’t like things like that, even if we knew she was getting a loan or something, but to believe that someone struggling with a business can just revamp like that without telling me where funding comes from feels somewhat unreal. And it was the Realness of the book that I loved so that let it down.
On that Realness, that was what gave the book an edge for me, those characters with their problems were like friends to me, we all have issues, have to struggle with life and I enjoy reading how people make it through those struggles. Apart from the financing, the rest of the changes were perfect, where Bel let the others put forward ideas, and the way they were a little cautious at first, as if past Bel would have just dismissed their ideas as not on-brand or something.
There was lots to like in this story, but it wasn’t a tale that grabbed me, made me devour the book. More one of those where I read a few chapters, put aside, and come back to when I want something real but light to read.

Stars: Three, a good book, and enjoyable story but not one I’d re-read

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The Plus One, Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One,  Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One: escape with the hottest, laugh-out-loud debut of summer 2018! by [Money-Coutts, Sophia]

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah! Once more “women’s fiction”, and as usual I have to have a quick moan – why do we do this – cut off potential readers? Who says men won’t/don’t read romance, they certainly write it, so why exclude them this way?

So, the book. A debut novel and one that’s really well written, and I loved the dry humour, and the realness of it.
Loved Polly and her friends, her job at the magazine, very typically British Tatler style 😉 Poor Polly is approaching 30 though and feels that her time is running out, she wants a husband and family, but fears she’s destined to be the mothball scented, elderly, maiden aunt…especially now her bestie is getting married and she’s Matron of Honour and doesn’t have a Plus One.
I loved her relationship with her mum, and her support when her mum gets ill, the fears they both have that anyone who’s been ill can understand.

Its a fun read, made me smile in parts, sad in others and very very typically British. As a Brit I love that, we seem to have a slightly different sense of humour and the more subtle approach as here worked so well for me.

Sadly the about turn at the end didn’t work for me, I didn’t feel it was real, hadn’t got a sense of it coming throughout the novel, and TBH really let it down for me. With a different ending, the one that I kind of felt had been building I’d have given this a five, but as it is that change really let the story down IMO. Not the resolution I wanted 😦 I felt kind of unsatisfied, and cheated of what I’d expected it to be. Surprises are good, this one was just too much of a shock, IMO, and didn’t gel with the rest of the story.

Stars: Three and a half, a terrific book right up to that turnaround at the end!

ARC by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

A Suggestion of Scandal, Catherine Kullmann

A Suggestion of Scandal, Catherine Kullmann

A Suggestion of Scandal: A Regency Novel by [Kullmann, Catherine]

Genre: Romance, Historical fiction

I only dip into historical novels occasionally, sometimes its nice to eascape to a different age. I’d say a gentler time, but that really depended on where you stood in life, and of course for women the cards were already stacked, something made very obvoius in this story.

Its a fun read, a gentle romance with a backstory that was engaging, added that bit extra to the Lord meets Governess romance. I really enjoyed the day to day descriptions, the planning what do do for the day or evening that was done. A lady’s life was very different then, very dictated by societal mores, and doing the right thing and being seen to do it was so very important. It would have driven me nuts! Having servants for the daily drudge left them with free time that needed occupying, but there were strictures on what they could do.

I loved the characters, Rosa’s scenario was very believable, Chloe and her family fairly typical of the time and Julian, ah Julian was a perfect gentleman. Then when they stay at Swanmere we meet his cousin, the widowed Mrs Overton, and her children and their friend Robert. She was such a delicious character, I love ones like her in a story. She’s decided Julian will do for husband number two, and is making her play, but thwarted by Rosa, who she sees as an interloper. Determined to get her way she does her best to oust Rosa by whatever means necessary.

I really enjoyed this story, the action, with first the events at The Place which led to Rosa’s leaving and then at Swanmere, made for an interesting tale. I learned more about history and how it affected people in their daily life. Not just those above stairs but the staff too had rules, even simple things like Polly being addressed as Lambton. One of the other staff tell her she must get Rosa to call her Lambton, not Polly, as the other staff will regard her differently. From Lord to scullery-maid, everyone seems to have a hierarchy quite rigidly adhered to, and ways of behaving and doing things that were fixed.
The romance was very gentle, as would have been at the time, though I’m not convinced that someone so highly placed in society as Julian would have looked at, or got away with marrying, a governess. Still, this is fiction and I love a downtrodden girl makes good story 😉
Rosa was a lovely lady but not one of those so sweet they set my teeth on edge. She had a subtle wit and a way of turning round slights thrown her way by Mrs Overton. Those scenes were great to read, I could imagine the genteel gnashing of teeth, while insults were carefully placed, and then cleverly deflected.

Stars: Five, a gentle read, but with action that lifted it from just a lord meets governess simple romance. I’m not sure I’d re-read it but it was a perfect one off story for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

In Too deep, Dani Collins

In Too deep,  Dani Collins

In Too Deep (Blue Spruce Lodge Book 3) by [Collins, Dani ]

Genre: Romance

I haven’t read book one ( but will sometime), really enjoyed book two and we got a hint about Trigg and Wren there. I was hoping they were next, and it proved to be a fun read, with some very real characters and situations.

I really felt for Wren, she’s been a parent to Sky since she was little more than a child herself, and her parents were not any help. They dealt badly with the death of Wren’s brother when he was a child, and her father became an awful, violent man. Wren now hates confrontation, has mental scars from the beatings she took. Yet all that, plus the loss of her loved sister Mandy, Sky’s mum, and she’s still a lovely person, and has given so much up for Sky.

Sky’s an obnoxious pre-teen, but TBH many of them are. It’s like a rite of passage for some, my own daughter made a calendar when she was 12 listing the days til she was 16 and could move out, and religiously crossed off each day. Of course poor Wren gets the “if my mother was alive…” jibes, and harassment about Sky’s father, with Sky desperate to meet him. When they up sticks and do just that though its not all fairytales.

Trigg is a household name in snowboarding circles, and a rich playboy to boot. Having a 12 year old daughter has come as a shock, he was just 17 and Mandy had said she was having an abortion. Now he meets Sky and she’s not some sweet, adoring kid, but a bundle of confusion, irritation and resentment.

All that was so real, and the way the other characters reacted to Sky’s moods and rudeness felt very genuine. Its easy to say “she’s a teen, ignore it, she’s been through a lot”, but harder to actually do just that when she seems to be going out of her way to be difficult. Of course poor Wren feels guilty for that too. She moved there as Sky wanted to get to know her father, and now she’s wondering if it was the right course to take.
There’s a slow turnaround, some really funny moments, some issues that were very emotional, and of course the characters’ stories from earlier books continue. I loved the way there’s not a moment when I can pinpoint Sky’s mood change, but that its a natural progression, that Trigg slowly became a caring parent, loved Sky and was key to understanding her.

Trigg wasn’t the greatest to start, knows nothing of bringing up kids and this rude ball of fury comes as a shock. He’s inclined to blame Wren for everything, and she already does enough of that herself. Slowly things change, he begins to feel like a dad, and of course the attraction that’s always been there between him and Wren simmers.

As well as the romance there’s the story of the Lodge, the characters that live and work there, and the issues they’ve been having with accidents that are beginning to seem like deliberate sabotage. Someone doesn’t want the lodge to succeed but who? And what can they do about it? It comes to an explosive climax, with some sharp edged actions, and made this story have that edge over just a simple romance. I really enjoyed it.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, terrific real characters, and the story of the Lodge and the sabotage added such a lot.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Bad Reputation, Stefanie London

Bad Reputation,  Stefanie London

Bad Reputation (Bad Bachelors) by [London, Stefanie]

Genre: Romance

I hadn’t read the first book, in fact haven’t read any of Stefanie’s novels, however this series is connected via characters and theme but each are stand alone reads and easy to follow, even if like me you haven’t read book one.

Remi, oh I loved her. Let down so very badly by her former lover and employers she’s given up her dream, moved to a new country, seems content tutoring dance where she used to love ballet, always striving for top place.

She is still incredibly talented and when Wes catches her dancing alone one day he knows she’s the star her needs for his new off-off Broadway production. Its very non traditional, a gamble really and goes against his very traditional style of ballet his parents teach in their school, where he formerly worked.

Persuading her isn’t easy, and added to that there’s a white hot spark of attraction she says must stay closed if she agrees.

Wes is a fabulous man, so very fair, so full of dreams for his show, so caring about his team of dancers. He really wants the best for everyone, wants his show to be a success, and wants the dancers to enjoy in it.

Its so unfair when against all the hard work he’s done, against all the striving for fairness and equality the bad bachelors reviews are doing such harm. Its not that they criticise him, far from it, he’s praised, has a reputation as caring and a real gentleman, its just…well…size that gets attention, and given his family’s fame the media jump on the story, potentially scaring off his backers.

Its a great story, fabulous characters, good guys, fence sitters and bad ones, just as in real life.

There’s a mix of plots, from Remi’s cautious return to the world of dance, from the fabulous and innovative show Wes is producing, the harm the media and websites can do to reputations, secrets and -well, not lies but omissions of truth, romance of course, and the trials of friendship.

It makes for a multi-layered story and towards the end I just couldn’t see how things could work out for people. Rock and hard place for Wes in the decisions he needed to make, love or heart break for Remi, and of course the whole Bad Bachelors thing and the devastating secrets revealed.

Whichever way I worked I just couldn’t make everyone happy, but Stefanie does, wraps it up perfectly and in a believable way that made a terrific ending.

Stars: Five, a one off read but one which was great fun with some real surprises for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Lost Letters, Sarah Mitchell

The Lost Letters, Sarah Mitchell

The Lost Letters: Absolutely heartbreaking wartime fiction about love and family secrets by [Mitchell, Sarah]

Genre: historical fiction, Women’s fiction

*..sigh…* women’s fiction again, I so hate that category. Why rule out men, why decide they won’t like this story. Its so short sighted.

Anyway, the story…well, I expected to love it, it sounded perfect but somehow it didn’t quite sparkle, didn’t have the magic that I anticipated.
I found myself putting it aside and reading something else several times when with a book that really interests me I’m glued from start to finish.

I’m not really sure what the issue is/was. The characters were great, the time lines felt very real but I did feel the book was very slow to start.
I enjoyed the past sections more than present day, somehow I was so gripped in the story of Connie and Sylvia. Reading about the wartime experiences too, seems so unreal and yet it was life for so many. Houses and workplaces bombed, nights in air-raid shelters, kids evacuated. An awful time, so desperate in many ways. Could I evacuate my kids? I don’t know, all loving parents want their kids safe but would they be?
My mum was evacuated from Norfolk to Wales for a year, her mum went with her, they stayed with the family of someone granddad met in Army. Imagine just packing up for a year or more with total strangers, must have been hard but at least she had her mum, so many kids didn’t.
That harsh time spun the beginnings of some huge and complex secrets that spilled forward to the present day, and when they came out I had to do quite a bit of mental back tracking working out who was who and how they connected.
It was well done, and I could see just how that could have worked out, everything was so muddled and chaotic back then. Tough choices, and how heartbreaking for the people involved.

I did enjoy this story, but wouldn’t re-read it, and its one of those hard to rate books. Its perfect for those who like slowly unfolding stories but at times the pacing was just too slow for me.

Stars: three. A good read but a little flat in parts for me. I enjoyed the past more than the present which surprised me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

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