What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, The most heartwarming and feelgood novel you’ll read this year, Lisa Hobman
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, this story…I’d loved Lisa’s A Year of finding Happiness, the only other book of hers I’d read, and was hoping for something similar, romance, with a solid story and some drama. I did get it but…in a much more muted way.
I couldn’t see why Cassie ever thought she was in love with Seth in the first place, he was clearly so arrogant and supercilious, and when he’s caught out his reaction is exactly as you’d expect. I also wondered why Seth was with Cassie. Did he ever love her or did he just want a complaisant wife he could mould, as he clearly was already shaping Cassie’s day to day behaviour. I like to think he loved her at the start at least, and just maybe it was Cassie’s low self esteem that let her stay with him when clearly he was trying to change her.
Then That happens, and Cassie’s off. Wow girl, you go! I was cheering her on even while I could feel her heartbreak, and up til now things kind of went as I expected.
When she reaches the new home though she’s really a first class b itch to Mac, she’s hurting I know, but it wasn’t Mac that hurt her. They have a few not so good interactions, but slowly she opens up, and Mac tries for a fresh start and to help her. He’s a genuinely kind man, one of the good guys, and for all Cassie’s rudeness he sees she’s hurt and still looks out for her. I loved Mac. And his uncle Rab, they felt like people I’d love to know. Cassie – well, I so felt for her at first but she was so outright rude to Mac I got cross with her. I hate plain rudeness.
Looking back at A Year of ….I can see what I enjoyed about that, and its the drama and the unpleasant ex that topped the story for me. We’ve both of those here, but Seth somehow didn’t engender the same feelings. I guess I felt the drama in the later part of the book just didn’t fit the character I felt he was, whereas in A Year of it was exactly what I would expect Alice to do. The actual drama itself was fine, added to the story, and worked to move things forward.
I adored Rab, was so emotional over him, the village setting and characters were perfect, Mac was just wonderful, Cliff gets a special mention, and an extra helping of imaginary dogs treats 😉 I guess its just the Cassie/Seth relationship and the actions that sprung from it that didn’t work so well here for me. Its a good read, but unlike a Year of, it was one I could, and did, put aside at times for other things. I did love the ending, kitsch, but still just perfect and left me feeling a little choked. The magic moment all we romantics dream of!
Its a perfect beach read, or one for those times when you need a story you can pick up and put down for a while, but it wasn’t a must-keep-reading five star for me.
Stars: Three and a half, some really great elements let down for me but a few things that felt out of place. As ever though, that’s just one opinion, it will be perfect for others.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Lawbreaker, Kat Bastion with Stone Bastion
Genre:, New Adult , Romance
I got caught out by this book, I’ve loved every other one in both series, adore the characters and usually get quickly sucked into the story and settings. This time though it didn’t work like that.
It started well, that antagonistic confrontation, that stand off, battle of wills between Ben and Shay promised so much. After that though I just felt a bit lost, not really convinced by the story that was unfolding in front of me. Somehow it seemed to be more about what wasn’t said than what was, that I needed to read between the plot lines, and I just felt I was drifting through the story confused.
It was great to catch up with the earlier characters, and see how their lives were progressing. I loved Ben, full on but not afraid to say when he’s wrong. I wanted so much to like Shay, I felt so sad for her, so sorry that she had a childhood like that. I just didn’t feel her story was plausible though, to be a runaway at such a young age, and in truth I admired her but didn’t really like her.
Once we got on to the big con, well, I was lost, hadn’t a clue how they did it, even the why was a bit out of reach. Was it really a good thing, the right thing? How could they be sure they had the right people? I couldn’t really see that working out in real life, couldn’t see hacking skills getting into that kind of security, and along with Shay’s implausible teen years I felt this book was just a story that wasn’t right for me. I’m sure others will love it, I was shocked that I didn’t , given how much I’ve enjoyed the others in the series.
Stars: Three, parts I really enjoyed, but as a whole it wasn’t a book that worked for me.
ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers
Laurel’s Choices, Exie Wilde Henson
Genre:, Women’s fiction, General fiction
* sigh..* Once more women’s fiction. Why? Men read books like this too.
Every now and then I like to dip into a historical read, especially ones like this where folk are living with nature. I really thought I’d enjoy this, and I did, but with reservations.
I loved the contrast of Laurel and Justin, two people in love who wanted such different things for their family, saw their futures in different ways. Laurel was an amazing woman for the time, very forward thinking, not content to let life just evolve around her, but wanting to fight for not just women’s rights, but for what was morally right every time. She wanted a stable home base, Justin wants travel and adventure, but he respected her in a way many men of the time wouldn’t, and together they do an amazing amount of good for so many people.
Laurel’s faith is very strong and often bring god into a story irritates me, depends how its done. Here’s its necessary, part of Laurels character, and of course back then people faith often was stronger than today, life was tough and they needed to believe in some form of higher power I think. I felt in that context, even though the religious parts got stronger as the novel continued it was necessary as its was so much a part of Laurel.
Where the book fell down for me was that it lagged in parts. I know it can’t be adventure and suspense all the while, and I do love day to day minutiae, but there were times here when I just felt disconnected and put the book aside.
I’m not really sure why, there were plenty of events that brought the “what now?” questions to the fore, the dangers of living in a rural situation, the differences of opinion in folk living so closely together, the medical catastrophes when there’s no hospital nearby…I liked the characters too, it just seemed to be a little flat for me. Still, as ever its perfect for others and its a well written novel that certainly brings forward all the dangers and hardship of living in those times.
Stars: Three and a half, parts I really enjoyed, the roughness of rural life, the difficulties they faced but its a one off read for me.
ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers
River of Shame, (A Winston Radhauser Mystery 3), Susan Clayton-Goldner
Genre:, suspense, General fiction (adult)
My third book from Susan, and its as fabulous as the other two. I missed the first Radhauser mystery, but feel as if I know him now. He’s the kind of policeman all should aspire to be, won’t give up, seeks the truth, not the convenient answer and is such a genuine caring man.
When we meet him at the start of this book I understood why his wife was angry, and yet like her I understood that he’s the kind of man he Had to go in to work, couldn’t just leave justice when he knew he was needed to help pursue it. Yet his wife has just given birth to their son, and is also undergoing chemotherapy. Such a hard decision, and he’s trying to do both, do what’s right for Grace and their family and also try to stop more crime and hatred being spread.
I love Radhauser, he’s a great man. He’s been through such a lot with the death of his first wife and son in a tragic accident, and been given another chance at happiness, which is is so pleased about, but Grace knows he wouldn’t be the man she loves if he just ignored something when he could help.
Of course what seems a simple case expands to include others, to include murder and to show up an evil thread of bigotry running through the locality.
Its at times a harrowing read, not because its overly graphic but because its so real. Sadly I could imagine this happening, not just in US but here in UK too. We too have our share of bigots and hatred 😦 I had to put it aside a couple of times because the characters feel so real that I was really upset when certain things happened. That’s a testament to good writing, not a book I put aside because I’d lost interest, I just needed to take time to read something lighter, give my mind a break.
Its a gripping, suspensful story, and so easy to believe in the reality of it. I so felt for the characters, was so angry at the bigots, felt for the kids, brought up by such narrow minded folk, they’re almost bound to follow their thinking and actions. It takes a brave child to break away from such strong minded parents.
Radhauser is his usual thorough self, and I love the way Susan explains his thinking, why he takes certain actions, that allowed me to come to my own conclusions. The ending though – that came as a shock, really didn’t expect that and yet looking back I can see how the threads were seeded out, but so carefully that I missed them.
Stars: five, a scarily real novel, written with very genuine feeling characters. Its a story I could very well see played out in real life.
ARC supplied by author
Wolf Unleashed, Jessica Meats
Genre: General fiction (adult), Sci-fi and Fantasy.
I really wanted to love this book, it sounded so interesting, a unique take on the genre.
It has some excellent characters too, and an interesting plot-line that I can see developing further within future books.
And yet….it was interesting, it was well written, paced to keep the reader engaged and yet somehow I kept putting it to one side.
Possibly it was the sheer unpleasantness of the idea of keep werewolves as pets/slaves, and of breeding them for that purpose, taking away the children and selling them. Its all too reminiscent for me of the human trade in slaves where non whites were considered sub-humans and we used and abused them.
Although it made for a great main plot it did make me feel incredibly uncomfortable and guilty as a human for the past atrocities white people forced onto non-whites.
If you can set that aside and enjoy the story for what it is, fiction and well written, then this is a series you’ll enjoy. I might try later books as they come out, I know once the imbalance starts to get addressed I’ll be happier reading about these people.
Its an excellent look at human nature, how ready we are to believe what “the authorities” tell us, which of course is what benefits a few powerful people the most, but gets dressed as if its helping everyone. Cynic? Me? There’s a quote from Edmund Burke that suits this book really well, it goes something like this… “all that is needed for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing”. Here we’ve a handful of good people, starting with Crystal, doing something which hopefully will grow, but it isn’t going to be easy.
Even then if Crystal’s brother hadn’t been bitten she would still have gone along with the official line that this treatment of werewolves is essential for them and us.
It mirrors what happens so often, as humans we mostly ignore or turn a blind eye to distasteful practices and injustices until we’re forced to confront them personally.
Stars: Three, a really well written story, but which made me feel so guilty for similar human past practices it affected my enjoyment of the story
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.
True Colours, Elly Redding
Genre: General Fiction (adult), Romance
I liked the sound of this, I love a second chance romance so dived in eagerly but it wasn’t a great fit for me. Amazon describes it as 224 pages but its just under 2600K kindle locations and felt far shorter than 224 pages. Those usually come out about 4K+. I think that brevity is one reason it didn’t work for me, it seemed as if they were enemies one moment lovers the next with no real build up. It felt quite disjointed in that one moment I was reading about the present and then we were back in the past and it wasn’t always obvious which was which. I’m a fan of past and present sides to a story, but they need clear definition.
I didn’t understand why Kate wouldn’t listen to Saul either time, why she just looked at ran. That’s always (almost) going to be most folks’ reaction but once emotions cool we usually want to know the how and the why. It seemed weird that Kate didn’t. Then there’s the long gap, and why is Saul still in love. Why not try harder earlier to get her to listen. Of course this story wouldn’t exist then but for me I needed some kind of explanation, some reasons for these gaps.
As ever though this is just how I feel and of course its a perfect read for others, and may be exactly what you want. Reading taste is very subjective.
Stars:Two, one of those that looked a great fit for me but proved not to be 😦
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Home to McCarron’s Corner, Lily’s Story, Sharon K. Middleton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
I love this kind of novel, one which has day to day minutiae of life in times long past and was eager to get started.
I found a number of things that bothered me though. Lily takes going back in time in her stride, to the point where she acts as if its perfectly normal, and those back in the past act as if her appearance is an everyday thing. I know they’ve the advantage of superstition and a prophecy but it felt kind of wrong somehow that everyone was so open and accepting. Then there’s the stuff she just happens to ave on her that play such an important part in the story. Does she really always carry stuff like that around with her. The blood cards in particular, just how many of them did she have? The way people in the past just happily let her test them in a time when anything out of the ordinary was viewed with suspicion was a little weird too for me.
Then there are the many parallels with the Diana Gabaldon Outlander stories. Having read those books several times over I noticed a number of themes that crop up in both…..nothing in fiction is every really unique, but sometimes there were parts that for me felt a little too close. The language and idioms used, I accept Lily would use 21st century speech but the way so often no one queried it? And even used expressions themselves felt a bit wrong.
The story itself was interesting, but I wished there was more from the McCarron’s Corner and the prophecy in it. The first part of the story is there but it seemed to move on to town very quickly.
If you can get past these barriers then its a story you may love, there are some inviting parts but for me the quirks were more than just a minor irritation and the story fell short because of it.
Stars: Two and a half, a story with great potential but which was let down for me by the things I’ve mentioned.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
The Rise and Fall of Becky Sharp, Sarra Manning
I hadn’t read Vanity Fair, but I’m a sucker for romance and this sounded a fun read – plus I’ve loved some of Sarra’s past stories.
I’d not class it as romance though…there is some romance via secondary characters but that’s just a tiny fraction of the story, and for me sitting it in the romance genre was wrong, and I was disappointed at that part of the story.
I struggled at first, maybe if I’d read Vanity Fair I’d have found the start easier. I almost gave up at one point, the characters all seemed irredeemably dislike-able, but persevered and once into the story found myself hooked on Becky’s actions.
Was she right in what she did? Was she fair? Was she treated fairly by others? So many questions this book threw up and its easy to judge Becky as amoral and avaricious, but with a past that gave her nothing was she just making her way in the world as best she knew? Would be have felt better about her if she accepted her lot and lived on the street begging? Pretty much sure that’s a No from what gets said in current news. Or maybe if she took a zero hours contract and lived day to day on min wage sharing a room with someone else. Why should she just accept that as the best she can hope for though?
Some of the other characters didn’t act any better but their actions – as happens so often in the real world – get excused under work pressures, family issues, social obligations etc. Its only accident of birth that placed George, Amelia, Dobbin etc where they were and not where Becky was in life.
I didn’t like Becky but in way by the end I did admire her. She was tough, grabbed life’s opportunities when they came and worked the to her best advantage. Its would be easy to say she took advantage of others and yet weren’t they doing that to her? Did Amelia and her family treat Becky fairly? What about the Pitts? What about George’s actions, the way he treated Amelia? I think the only person I liked was Dobbin…and Amelia by the end. The section with the news magnate had me thinking “News of the World anyone? Murdoch and the scandals there…”
Its easy to sit in judgment if you’ve never known homelessness, never gone hungry, never had to shop in jumble sales and charity shops. I have. Would I act like Becky if the chance arose? I’d really, really like to think my moral compass points in a different direction but until it happens who knows what we’d do.
Marie Antoinette’s apocryphal “quote” of “Let them eat cake” when told the peasants had no bread sums up so many governing figures attitude to those in need now. They genuinely have no idea of the issues facing so many people, and yet sit in positions making judgments that affect the lives of those people.
Stars: Four, a slow start for me, that may have been better had I read VF, an annoyance that its not what I’d call romance, but a story that was a fun read.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.
Love at First Hate J.L. Merrow
Genre: Romance, LGBTQIA
Porthkennack and Garret Leigh – real treat to read.
Like the Bluewater Bay series, also from Riptide, Porthkennack covers books written by different authors about the same place.
For me it means even when books are approaching double figures they still retain that freshness first books in a series have, as each author puts their own ideas and spin to the stories.
I didn’t connect this book with Wake-Up Call at first, Dev and his story rang a bell when it was mentioned, and I had to flick back and look it up. Its really interesting to see it from the other side, and I understood so much more about bran’s awful reaction to Dev in that book.
I felt for Bran here, he’d had a tough upbringing, just duty, duty, duty really, and he comes over as quite aggressive almost, very taciturn, and not an easy man to get along with. Yet when we learn more of him I felt I understood him, and that the front he presented too often was just that, almost as if that he makes himself dislikeable then he’s controlling others reactions, not them disliking him when he’s trying to be nice, but in an almost unconscious way. Well, that’s how I see him, garbled though that explantation is…
The plots were as always very intriguing and multi layered. The romance though, well, here it fell short for me. Bran and Sam don’t even meet til a good way into the book, and its as the title says, hate at first sight, and second and third. Slowly though that changes, but I found the slip from dislike to lets get together didn’t really give me the feelings they were invested in more, they could have just been a one night hook up, and then suddenly there’s indications for a future…possibly…maybe…when the stars align, then a big blow-up and its all off.
They do get past that and have a possibly HFN but I didn’t ever get that sense of passion, of emotions other than lust, and I needed that for the five.
Stars: four, fabulous plot(s) but somewhat understated on the romance side
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Pushing Arlo M.V. Ellis
I’ve just read back my reviews of parts one and two of this series, and what stands out is I love Arlo, he’s thoughtless with Marnie, selfish at times, very focused when it comes to music and business, and thinks he’s always right. There’s no room for doubt in his life. Then he meets London…
London. I felt for her in book one, she had a tough backstory, and was one of those work through it folk, determined to get there however hard it was. Arlo was a wrench in her plans, and she so annoyed me on books one and two with her back and forth feelings. Poor Arlo must have had whiplash.
Finally they’re on the cusp of agreement, finally Arlo has broken through London’s tough barriers, and then – the proverbial sh it hits the fan and its back to basics, actually worse than that, Arlo really does have a fight on his hands if he wants London.
I got really annoyed at her in this book. She holds Arlo to blame for events that happened before they met, clinging to this idea he’s in control of his fame, she wants him but not the notoriety he brings. She’s kidding herself though, he’s falling over backwards to do his best, but he can’t change the past, and Fame – well, that’s part of who he is, what makes him the man she loves and I was so angry at her knee jerk reactions. Well, I guess to begin I understood, it was a shock, but she holds onto anger like some kind of puritan. I just kept thinking “hasn’t she ever done things she regrets? Is she really going to throw everything away – or threaten to anyway – yet again” There’s only so many times someone can say sorry, try to make things better and Arlo really was a saint here IMO. London behaves in a really callous way a couple of times here and I so felt for Arlo. Usually I’d be the other way, all for the girl, angry at the heart-breaker rocker, but he’s really trying his best and he just gets rammed back every time. Gah, was I annoyed at the woman. Arlo must feel dealing with her is like walking on eggshells.
I really struggled at times with how Arlo felt about her because she was so horrible to him, judgmental, callous, blaming him for his fame, when she’s known all along who he is…
Stars: Four. I think London’s attitude is one of the things that stopped this being a five star for me. The other is the lack of real band connection, the touring, the mayhem, the groupies, the concerts. All those make a rock star book special and TBH Arlo could be any rich famous guy here, as all those trappings were missing. Overall though its been an exciting trio, and Arlo was just perfect.
ARC supplied by Author