Archive | January 2020

The Bromance Book Club, Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club, Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club: The utterly charming new rom-com that readers are raving about! by [Kay Adams, Lyssa]

Genre: Romance

Y’know, so very often books promise “you will laugh out loud” or maybe “gut clenching humour” and I find that actually they don’t, the humour is forced and more slapstick than comedic. This one promises nothing and yet was incredible. Clever subtle humour at times that had me smiling gently, and at other times ? I was snorting at the mental images.

Wonderfully written, you feel for both characters, and I adored them even if I could see where they were harsh with each other in expectations and of course, saying just the wrong thing at the wrong moment!
Gavin, he was wonderful. Top baseball star, dad of adorable twin girls, and thinks he has the perfect marriage and then….That comes out. Poor guy, all this while he’s been thinking he’s keeping his wife happy sexually, and then suddenly he finds out she’s never reached the big O. He (IMO) over reacts, a mix of feeling humiliated I guess, and feeling that she’s lied to him the three years they’ve been married.

Thea, suddenly found herself pregnant early in her relationship, and twins demand all your time. She loves Gavin, that’s clear, but feels an outsider in his closed Baseball world. I can see that, many wives/partners grow up alongside their partner, from junior ranks to the big time but Thea got dropped straight in, and it feels like she’s always trying to blend in, to belong, and yet never really fits. Of course there’s the classic mean girl, the type who says one thing while making it clear its not praise but an insult, Rachel, wife of one of the other stars, and I do love a character like hers. I wish she had a bigger part. I love the drama that follows people like her.
Then with the arrival of the twins Thea’s own career has ground to a halt too. She adores Gavin so how do you say “actually Gav, you’ve not hit the spot” and when? Once you’ve let that magic, hidden moment pass its gone. How can you respond when he says “why didn’t you tell me before?” and so it becomes a long secret.
The book club guys, they were just wonderful. I love First Rule of Book Club, you don’t talk about Book Club. The sheer silliness of modern day men, bug Alpha males, taking tips from fictional Regency Lords and their problems. And yet it was working…I guess times never really change. I love the way they convinced themselves the book was relevant to modern society, the way they used words to parallel it to modern feminism…and of course the wonderful Regency style insults and phrases that pop into Gavin’s head. It was the little touches like that which add so much depth and fun to the story
Its one step forward and two back for Gavin as both he and Thea learn slowly about the issues from their own pasts that have influenced their marriage. If they had dated for longer then maybe they wouldn’t have had issues, would have known more about each others triggers but…the twins came.
I think my favourite bit was the night Gav was looking after the twins and the book club lads had a meeting at his house. Thea and sister Liv came home early to find decorated beards and hair, big burly guys with painted nails, and of course The Russian and his stomach and flatulence issues. I actually had tears of laughter at the mental images in my head.
Its a great read, lovely romance with incredible humour that was just perfect for me, fitting to the story, not squeezed in regardless for a cheap laugh as in so many books. I look forward to the next in series.

Stars: Five. A wonderful read, romance, humour and sharply modern issues that were helped with ancient advice….

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Truth Hurts, A captivating, breathless read, Rebecca Reid

Truth Hurts, A captivating, breathless read, Rebecca Reid

Truth Hurts: A captivating, breathless read by [Reid, Rebecca]

Genre: Mystery and Thrillers, Women’s Fiction

Moan: women’s fiction – why alienate potential readers? Men write books enjoyed by women and men alike, and they read the same.

Secrets, its a novel about secrets and of course they never stay hidden. I kept wondering: what was Poppy hiding, what was Drew’s secret? I was puzzled at first when we met Drew and Poppy, and then moved on to Agnes and Caroline….but it all comes together slowly, though the secrets don’t come out until almost the end.
Its told in past/present format for Poppy, but Drew remains an enigma, a man who adores Poppy, seems to be just too good to be true. Gina, Poppy’s friend certainly thinks so, but she’s guardedly cautious, after her first open enthusiasm about him.
I loved when Gina was staying with Poppy at Thursday house, and they do the makeover, transforming it in the few days Drew was away. Then Drew’s friends arrive for a weekend and that was fun, the old friends come to meet ( aka gossip and judge…) Drew’s surprise new, young wife….some great snark there.

It’s fun read, cleverly paced so you’re always wondering what did happen, what are they hiding. Was it so bad, was it what I suspect, why are the locals so unfriendly?
There are lots of little clues, but I was never quite sure where they were leading, or if I was down the wrong track.
Then all is revealed, very suddenly near the end, but that’s not all the surprises, there’s one last one that really caught me out, shocked me and changed how I’d begun to see everyone. I really didn’t like what happened, yet it was the perfect ending, really unexpected, and something that made me feel somewhat uncomfortable about it.

Stars: five, a cracking read, surprises all the way and an ending that caught me out. Its not one I’d reread, for a long while at least, knowing the secrets now but its still an amazing read.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Captain & the Squire, (The Captivating Captains 5) Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain & the Squire, (The Captivating Captains 5) Catherine Curzon,
Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain and the Squire (Captivating Captains Book 5) by [Curzon, Catherine, Harkstead, Eleanor]

Genre: Humour, LGBTQIA

Well, I’m late to this series and have only read the previous book. I struggled with that so was hoping this would suit better – and it did. It was timing in last book that was wrong for me. I don’t really gel with books where everything takes place over a few days, but this one is longer, still short, just a month except for the epilogue, but it worked so much better for me.

I loved the way Tarquin and Chris are at odds from the moment they meet, and yet that magical thread of attractions pulls to them both. That meeting should have clued me to what sort of story this was going to be, but it took me a few more pages to realise that it really was tongue in cheek stuff, perfect schoolgirl humour that somehow I’ve never outgrown!
Chris is new to the area, although his family and Tarquin’s have been in Bough Bottom for generations. Tarquin is a long standing resident, local farmer, with the most horrendous fiancee, Petunia. She was so perfect in the book, adding a nasty edge to the spice and nice 😉 along with her boss, the awful Bryan.
If you’re thinking Romance, sensuality and emotional story – well, the emotion you’ll be feeling is tears, but tears of laughter. At times this feels like a Brian Rix ( now I’m showing my age) farce, it’s slapstick type comedy, so overdone that it works. There’s a fine line between slapstick funny and in your face OTT jokes, and the authors have found it perfectly.
From the countryside squire Tarquin portrays, trilby, tweeds and tractors, very typical stereo-type, Chris’ wide boy city financier, Petunia’s grasping, greedy social climber to the real star, Orry, otherwise know as The Oracle, cleverest pig on the planet its all so silly that it somehow works, and had me sniggering at the unlikely events.
Of course there’s a serious side in that Tarquin is engaged – to a woman, and his other inclinations go unknown, and what will come of that. Then there’s the terms of Chris uncle’s will, Chris has only a short window to act if he’s to keep the house and money, and it not go to his elderly uncle’s latest floozy… And just what did happened between the Hardcastles and the Boughs all that while ago?

The boat race and Orry’s actions – wonderful writing, had me sniggering at the though of super intelligent pig racing with a priceless antique dildo to help…..
Then there’s the semi serious side of the looting of precious historical artifacts in other countries, that’s a reality that sadly happens too much, and was good to see mentioned in the context of dealers and collectors. Some people have no morals, fortunately Chris and Tarquin do, and all ends well. Wish real life was like that.

Stars: Five, Its a wonderful, sniggering farce, with a spicy and sensual romance wrapped up in it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A fun read to drive away winter blues.

Arc via authors

The Lady of the Ravens, Joanna Hickson

The Lady of the Ravens, Joanna Hickson

Genre: historical

I loved this, it was a book I savoured over several sittings, not devoured in one go. I find for me that works better with historical reads, gives me time to mull over events, to think about the characters and actions, with them being so far from how we live now.

I really enjoyed the day to day bits, what they wore, what they ate, Joan chatting to her friend in the sewing trade, what each person did in the duty of the royal household. I loved it when we finally got the Raven connection, that seemed to take time and I found the story a little slow at first.

Henry 7th isn’t someone I’ve read a great deal about, I know him from the periphery of stories about his son, and of course the whole York/Lancaster issues. Turbulent times to live in when one could be royal one day, deposed and in the tower the next. Of course that stood for followers too, one day landed gentry, the next everything goes to the crown and they were out, let live if lucky, tower or death if not.
Hard decisions, yet as Joan sees, however one sympathised if a potential heir was living the followers would always be a danger, even if there was no intention on the potential heir’s part to rule.

I enjoyed reading about his royal household, the children, though was sad at how fragile life was even for royal families. Disease and death was very prevalent then, and even royals succumbed far too often.

Reading too about how children were sent away from families at such a young age, for politics, for family power, for alliances and of course for their personal futures was hard. Seemed really sad to me, that close family contact was rare in wealthy households, that parents had children they rarely saw, and who could be sent hundreds of miles away, to other countries even when still only very young. They grew up quickly then, as we see from their speech and education while still little more than toddlers.

I loved reading about Sim and the Ravens, about Joan’s championing of them and the issues she faced. Its a fictional snippet of history with roots in reality, and certainly the Raven/Tower legend is still strong. I believe the Ravens actually have their own guardians officially now.

Joanna is an author new to me, I’d be happy to read more from her when in the mood to get lost back in history for a few hours. She writes in a way that had me totally immersed in what was happening, feeling it was real, and that’s always the best stories for me.

Stars: Five. I thought at first it was a little slow, but that’s really scene setting as I discovered when I read further, and its a book I thoroughly enjoyed.

Arc via publishers and Netgalley

A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr

A Throne of Swans, Katharine Corr, Elizabeth Corr

A Throne of Swans by [Corr, Katharine, Corr, Elizabeth]

Genre: Sci Fi & Fantasy, Teens & YA

Well…Wow, what an amazing read. It’s classed as teen and YA, but one of those rare few that really appeal to all ages, not just the younger generation. Like Vic James Dark Gifts, or Sarah J Maas a court of ….reads, they are reads to treasure, to reread no matter what age you are.
I’ve never actually read/seen Swan Lake but I guess everyone knows the basics, and I was hoping this wasn’t just going to be a retelling of the story. That doesn’t work so well for me, but I was happy that its Swan Lake inspired but has a story of its own. There were magical scenes, interspersed with some pretty horrific stuff. The Corr sisters don’t shy away from some solid hard facts in the world they’ve created, where those With get to do pretty much whatever they want to those Without ( flighted and flightless in the main). There’s some harsh rules in this world, some that feel almost arbitrary and yet for decades, centuries they’ve been uncontested.
I loved the world created, with its mix of characters, with its people that can transform into birds, with the sheer political intrigues, when grew almost faster than I could read them. Just as I was thinking one thing something happened that threw that chain of thought into disarray.
There were some fantastic characters. Aderyn’s clerk Lucien, tells her “trust no-one” but its hard for her. Lucien has been used to the cut and thrust of royal politics, of the machinations and intriguing that take place constantly, but Aderyn hasn’t spent time at court, hasn’t actually been anywhere since her mother was killed years ago and the injuries and shock left her unable to transform into her Swan shape. In this world that’s something that would get her removed as protector and could even threaten her life if it gets out.
When they first go to the Royal Castle Aderyn is just determined to find out who killed her mother, who was behind it, but the first day isn’t over before she discovers she’s treading on very thin ice, that she needs her wits constantly. Lucien had warned her but she doesn’t like him, and hadn’t realised just what danger she was in. She’s good hearted but at first had been so sheltered she’d never realised just what else was going on in her world, how the flightless were treated in other dominions. She assumed all were like her father, that they were treated fairly, but soon sees unhappiness and cruelty surround her. She grows up very fast, from that naive 17 year old we first meet, to the girl at the end of the story who’s had a sharp shock about the world she inhabits, who now realises just what it means to be a Protector.
And speaking of the end, what an incredible bounce of surprises those last chapters brought. They kept coming, one after another, after another! I hope book two is around soon, I am desperate to know just whats going to happen, how things are going to come through, and suspect its going to get worse before it gets better.

Stars: Five, an amazing read, full of a magical world, intrigue, politics, interesting characters, and one to reread when part two is out.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You: Deliciously romantic and utterly hilarious - the funniest romcom of 2020! by [McFarlane, Mhairi]

Genre: Romance

I loved this book, romance, humour, pathos and drama, loads of drama, the stuff of tears, long lasting not the two pages on all is well type. All the ingredients for a five star read from me.

Laurie, poor Laurie, she’s reached that age where the baby decision is looming, and thinks Dan, her partner since uni, is there with her. And then he drops the bombshell, its not just a baby he doesn’t want, but the whole life he and Laurie have created.
She’s heartbroken, gutted, and although he does the “its not you its me, of course there’s no-one else, I wouldn’t do that to you”, she’s nitpicking her way through their past interactions, trying to see where she went wrong. Because of course it must be something she did, or didn’t do in her eyes. Her friends tell her no, things happen, and she fast discovers that the mutual friends they have soon divide off into his and hers….
Its made worse by the fact they work together, Dan asks her to keep their breakup quiet and she does, sobbing silently in the loos when it gets too much. Only her best friend Emily knows the truth.

And then – Dan comes to see her, the man who wasn’t ready for a baby yada, yada, yada, to tell her his new GF is pregnant and of course Laurie starts counting just how long they’d been together, was it all lies he told her. She’s gutted, stricken, heartbroken just when she was getting on with life without him.
She gets stuck in the lift one evening with Jamie, a man from the office she only knows by rep, and that has him as a classic jack-the-lad Lothario, and sees he’s not quite as he’s portrayed. He’s a little younger than her and devastatingly good looking. He’s ambitious too, and wants to make partner despite his age, but has been given the hint that if he had a steady partner it would help. He proposes a fauxmance, he’ll impress the bosses, Laurie gets to keep her head high in the office, and stick it to Dan. Win win.
Of course it never works out that easy and along the way to happiness lies some real angst, tears, embarrassment and soul searching. Both Laurie and Jamie learn a lot about themselves.

The office politics was played perfectly, offices always seem to be hotbeds of gossip, taking every little hint and embellishing it “in confidence” of course, and there’s always an office gatekeeper who takes his/her role very seriously and has favourites. I loved that Bharat wasn’t put in that overworked, tired, bitch queen role, but was instead a loyal, funny and sharply intellectual man. He had wit but not the cruel type gays so often get tarred with. Laurie being mixed race is dealt with well, those questions “ where are you from”, “ Yorkshire”, “ no I mean where are you from…”.
Emily, her best friend, had her share of woes in the story, and we see just how friends support each other, and that’s one of the things that made this such a special read for me. It was about people, real folk we meet day in day out, not some book trope caricatures. The humour fell naturally, there were subtle little quips that had me sniggering, then the next line would be something that had me on the edge of tears. There one section towards the end, that being me had me really happy, a feeling of reap what you sow schadenfreude! Loved it.
We learned so much about what made the main characters the way they were, about why they were seen a certain way, and of course what their hopes for the future was. Its a wonderful read, I love Mhairi’s stories, had a little hiccup with Don’t you forget about me, but this one is anther solid five star keeper.

Stars: Five, fantastic read, great mix of life, people, drama and humour, and a wonderful HEA.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

This is Not How it Ends, Rochelle B. Weinstein

This is Not How it Ends, Rochelle B. Weinstein

This Is Not How It Ends by [Weinstein, Rochelle B.]

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction.

And my usual moan, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Men read romance, men write romance. We call out for equality and then slap in this outdated and ludicrous category 😦

Anyway, my first read by this author so I didn’t know what to expect, but I really liked the sound of the description. It proved to be a book that was way above what I anticipated, a thoughtful and moving read.
There were times I found myself irritated with Phillip, when he was away so much even though he knew Charley was upset by it, when he never offered to take her. I didn’t feel he was the sort for an affair – he adored Charley and I couldn’t see him ever wanting anyone else, but why wouldn’t he suggest she come with him? Why did he keep going away for work when financially he didn’t need to, and it ought to have been clear his absence was causing issues between them. As I got further into the book all became clear and made me love him even more.
Then there’s Ben, and what a wonderful guy he was too, and he’d been through such heartbreak. Circumstances put him and Charley together so much, and I was torn for what might happen, and in tears when I got towards the end. Its not a conventional love triangle, though there is such a lot of love in the book, its tempered with incredible sacrifice too. Its does have a HEA among all those tears.

Stars: Five. It was incredibly moving, a story I really didn’t anticipate enjoying as much as I did. Those characters, Phillip, Charley, Ben and the secondary ones with stay with me for a while.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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