Search results for as weekends go

As Weekends Go , Jan Brigden

 

 

 

Genre:  Romance, Woman’s Fiction

This was a fun read. a new to me author so I didn’t really know what to expect but got a story that was fun and realistic.

I liked Rebecca, she’s a loyal friend and family member, married for 18 months to Greg. Somewhere along that time he’s changed though, and now work and promotion consumes him, leaving little time for anything else. Each time Rebecca tries to talk he’s too busy. When he started criticising her, her clothes and style, her creative job, her friends and family it was hard to hear. You can see how slowly, insidiously, he’s chipped at her confidence. He really is an arrogant bore. Then there’s her friend Abi, who Greg hates. She’s full of fun, very outgoing, in love with her boyfriend Nick and does her best to help Rebecca. She doesn’t like what Greg is doing to her, it’s always easier to see from the outside, but Rebecca has always excused his behaviour. The last few months have been tough though, and she’s just beginning to realise how much of herself she’s given up.

Out of the blue Abi gets a weekend in a very elite and fabulous hotel. Her boss is unable to go and has asked Abi if she wants to take his and his wife’s place, so she persuades Rebecca to come. Greg’s away yet again for the weekend so they decamp to York. Its a wonderful place and Rebecca begins to relax. Then coming downstairs she trips, and gets caught by non other than famous footballer Alex. Right off there’s a sizzle between them and Alex just can’t get her out of his head. He’s also staying in the hotel for the weekend with a friend, Kenny. Before she knows what’s happened somehow Abi and Kenny have got talking and the four are out together. Its all very above board between Alex and Rebecca, he knows she’s married, but the conversations between them flow easily. Abi and Kenny arrange a dinner the next night with with a relative of his. His uncle and girlfriend were a great pair, very stereotyped but so funny and I’ve seen couples just like them. They added a nice touch to the colour in the novel, and a way to get Rebecca to look at Alex from another view.

Its a kind of slow build, with the deterioration of Rebecca’s marriage and Greg’s bombastic attitude and reluctance to see anything wrong. He just talks over Rebecca, ignores what she says and dumps more arrangements on her. She misses Alex, the easy chats they had, the way he listened to her in contrast to Greg just ignoring her or talking over her,  the attraction they both felt that can’t be ignored and it makes her take a stronger look at home. Greg really was a dislikeable person, but I enjoy a character like him in a novel – and his ex Nina, another great bi tch character. As things slowly build up we can see how easy it is for a relationship to crumble if both people aren’t on the same wavelength, how people change over time, how important friends are. Without Abi Rebecca would have struggled so much, in an unhappy marriage, trying to sort it and missing Alex all at the same time. The story and characters felt so very real, showed how easy it is to stray if that extra step is taken. Both Abi and Nick come close to the edge too despite being in love, and I liked the way it made them assess what they had instead, and move forward. Rebecca didn’t get that chance with Greg, he put the blame all on her and his plans were just to kind of upgrade her like a Stepford wife till she fit the role he needed. Sadly that happens, there are people like that 😦 husbands and wives.

Its a really fun and interesting read with a HEA. I loved the way it was paced, loved Alex and Rebecca, hated Greg and Nina….I do so love some strong characters in a novel and these worked so perfectly.

Stars: Four, a lovely gentle paced romance that made me think about people and issues

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

If you enjoyed my review I’d love it if you would please click “Like” and if you didn’t I’d love to know why, so I can make future reviews more helpful.

 

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Good Time Bad Boy, Sonya Clark.

 

Good Time Bad Boy, Sonya Clark.

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
Genre: Romance,
I adore Sonya’s Paranormal reads, Red House/Mojo Queen and the Magic Born series, and wondered how I get on with her contemporary novels. I do love this Deep South gentle type romance, and found that its clearly a style that works well for Sonya, producing a story that I very much enjoyed. Coming from the rainy UK, where even now on Jun 20, just the day before midsummer its still cool, with the sun being very shy, and rain creeping in all too often. Outdoor events here are always planned with caution, so to read of a place where the sun seems to shine constantly, and the evenings are long and warm is such a treat….I kind of sit myself mentally in the background and watch.
So, we’ve Wade – who at first meet seems to be a typical arrogant, washed up ex star, living on his glory days. He’s gone on stage and got drunk once too many times and now his agent can’t get him work, and she’s told him to go home and sort himself out. He’s not really got much family support there though, in the small town where everyone has heard the stories, where his brother is the local cop and hates him, where his parents live and seems to judge him. Then there’s Daisy, who struggled being brought up as one of three kids to single mum Alice, who’s coped by drink, drugs and a procession of men. Daisy’s childhood was food banks, evictions and shabby clothes. Daisy’s sister is now a single parent, though far better and responsible than their mum, their brother is a local pothead dealer. Daisy wants more so she’s working as a waitress while paying her way slowly through school. I love Daisy, she’s open and genuine and just wants what so many take for granted, a nice home and security, and she’s learned that the only person to provide it is herself! A run in with Wade though now he’s home results in her getting sacked. Wade is mortified once he’s sober and finds out what happened, and persuades the bar owner. a long time friend and the man who gave Wade his start playing there, to give her the job back, but he’s caught in a tough bargain – he has to play there weekends through the summer.
Thrown together Daisy and Wade become friends, and then slowly get closer. They’re each holding secrets though, each marking time and they both set out to enjoy just a summer fling. It becomes more though they don’t want to admit it to themselves at first, but still at the end of the summer Wade will go, and Daisy can’t/won’t do long distance relationships. I so felt for her – she knows if she asked Wade to stay he probably would, but that long term he’d resent it, and knows her heart will break once he’s gone.
Its a great story, full of people who feel real, small town gossip, we have that here in the UK too – it’s universal I guess, where secrets don’t stay hidden for too long. Then there’s the way people are judged, on money and background and Daisy is always going to have that “trailer” tag attached, both in her mind and in actuality. Guess it’s like the “council house” tag here – I was brought up in one of those and know just how attitudes change when some people find that out. Its as if some won’t allow anyone to work to rise above a certain level, resent it, and it’s tough living with those attitudes around. Been there. Done that! The stories behind their secrets were heart-breaking, and I so felt for Daisy. Her mum was a real b itch to her about what she’d done, and yet she has the best of motives. Its amazing how for a reformed – well mostly – person and supposedly church going Christian her mum could be so awful to her. What about Forgiveness and all that, but it’s that kind of mixed attitude that makes the story and people so real. That does happen, people aren’t perfect, some show one face on the surface and another underneath. My ex GP is a pillar of the local church, held up as a model Christian, and yet when he was involved in a court case against me, he was prepared to lie on oath despite all that. I guess for some it’s all about appearance and not actions…
So the summer goes on, they have a steamy, sensual romance, and then decision making time comes. I could feel that tension building up especially in the last third of the story, and was wondering how on earth Sonya was going to work things out for them. To me in a good novel the people feel real, and I care for them, want a HEA for them, and I couldn’t see how it was going to work out for a long time. The only reason this isn’t a five star from me is my love of the downside, the sad drama part, which was here but was over a little too quickly for me. I like that to be drawn out, over days or even weeks and then when it comes together it seems so much sweeter. It was well done here, but everything resolved just a little too quickly for me hence the half star drop.
Stars: Four and a half, a fun summer read that feels very real.
ARC supplied by author

Girlfriend, Interrupted, Patricia Caliskan

Girlfriend, Interrupted, Patricia Caliskan

Girlfriend, Interrupted: From carefree twenty-something to instant mother-of-two... by [Caliskan, Patricia]

Genre: Romance, Humour.

I hate it when book blurbs promise “you will cry with laughter/hilarious/laugh out loud” etc. Too often I find its forced comedy at best.
This book though is different, the humour was perfect, typical British understated, so carefully tucked in I almost missed parts 😉 and that’s what I love. Subtle humour, words and actions that make me smile, while still delivering a story that’s interesting.

Its a slice of modern day life, “blended families” as the self help books and Sunday supplements so often say. What they mean is that part where families break up, parents meet new loves, kids are caught between two homes, two sets of parents, and can play the emotions to their best effects sometimes. Its tough, my mum used to have a saying “you can’t do right for doing wrong” and I guess that fits these scenes. Whatever you do is wrong with someone.

I loved the characters, so very real, not perfect despite first impressions, and I could see this story happening easily.
I so felt for poor Ella, she loves Dan, is trying so hard to be what the family need, to help the kids, to push her career at work, to be a good friend and sometimes it seems there just aren’t enough hours. Among all that where’s the time for Ella?
Pippa, Dan’s mum, delights in encouraging the kids memories of idyllic times with perfect Bryony, pulls out perfect family photos, refers to the home as Bryony’s still, but time sneaks in the truth. Perfect Bryony though is struggling in her new marriage. Then Ella’s mum and the wonderful Jeremiah, I want to be her….and maybe have a toyboy like him 😉 The kids, Ethan is a great lad, so loving and accepting while like so many kids his sister, Grace, is struggling. Of course she wants Bryony and Dan back together, most kids want their parents together, and its beyond their understanding why that can’t happen. She’s awful to Ella, who tries valiantly to step forward, to help her, to hold the kids weekends as something precious. Ella however spends so much of her time flying round, mending events, picking up pieces, arranging things others have dropped, forgotten, ignored, and runs herself ragged trying to be all things to all (wo)men.
Then there’s Dan. Oh how I wanted to slap in at times, he loves Ella, loves his kids but seemed blindly ignorant to just how hard it was for her. The chaotic party was so illustrative of everything she was fighting. It made me wonder how often scenes like these play out every weekend.

Its a fabulous story, subtle, perfect humour, so much emotion, a feeling of real love between Dan and Ella in danger of being broken by the pressures of step parenting and fractured families. The only part that stops this from being a five is the end, its too quick, too rushed and for a romance I need, if not a HEA, then at least a very, very solid HFN. This ending suggests things will work out but I need it to be written in stone 😉

Stars: Four, a little more on the ending and this would be a five.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

This Secret We’re Keeping, Rebecca Done

This Secret We’re Keeping, Rebecca Done

Genre:  Romance,

What an incredibly heart breaking read, a haunting, aching, emotional read – its going to be hard to review, but its a book that’s blown me away, its such a beautiful, realsitic but sad, sad story of love.

I read the blurb but missed the Norfolk connection…I read a lot and usually if Norfolk is mentioned its the USA Norfolk, not my little corner of the UK, North Norfolk; a rural area that’s maybe 40 x 30 miles max…Clearly Rebecca knows it well ( looking her up just now to ask about a sequel I found she lives in Norwich, a city just outside N Norfolk and about 25 miles way from me – small world) All through it mentions places I know, towns I’ve visited and I so recognise the Type of Natalie and Zac, rich Londoners who think everything here is quaint or unspoiled, then proceed to moan the corner shops doesn’t sell the particular type of olives from Tuscany they prefer, or they can’t get quails eggs, white truffles or other “essentials”…. Wells and Burnham market, areas mentioned in the book are known locally as Chelsea-by-the-sea, and it often seems Holt has more London second homes than locals, it even has a shop that stocks the quails eggs ect… Known as the Holt Harrods it’s full at weekends of the London holiday homers, carrying wicker shopping baskets over one arm, while exclaiming loudly how the peace is wonderful, but the dawn birdsong wakes them, and the air wonderfully fresh if it wasn’t for that horrible farm aroma from just down the road. Somebody Should Do Something, and will they sign the petiton. If you’re a people watcher it can be fascinating….

Anyway, back to Jess and Matthew. I so felt for them. There’s a world of difference to me between an older teacher deliberately grooming pupils and what happens here. If he’d been a builder, a shop worker, a taxi driver it would have been fine. Yes she’s only 15 and sex is illegal but let’s be honest, many kids, boys and girls, are having sex at an age far younger. It doesn’t make it right, and personally I don’t feel they are emotionally ready at 13 and 14 though many are active at that age, but Jess is 15 and just a few months off 16. She made all the running and in a way with her home background she was far older than her years. Then there’s the age gap, ten years. Its a big gap but if they’d been 16 and 26, 17 and 27…people don’t really see it as an issue. I met Him Indoors when I was 15, though we didn’t date till just after my 16th birthday, we married when I was 18 and 10 days, and have been married now 40 years next May. There’s 6 years between us, and I’ve many friends where the gap is larger – in either direction. People mature at different ages, Jess was (IMO) mature for her age while Matthew was quite young for his. Its back to that are they just two people in the wrong place who fall in love, or is he taking advantage of her? For me the answer is no, he didn’t,  for others it may be different. To me that is crucial to how you’ll feel about the whole story.

Its told in turns by Matthew and Jess, from the past when they are 15 and 25 to the present when they are 32 and 42. By a series of events they are both now in Norfolk and meet each other – with a bang! That starting line certainly had me hooked. Its an incredibly sad, very emotional story, had me on the edge of tears in the last parts, I so felt for them. Right from the start you can see how they’re just kidding themselves it can work out – and yet who wouldn’t when they are so in love? To me that was it, it wasn’t infatuation, wasn’t grooming, wasn’t Matthew taking advantage of Jess but just two people who fell in love. There’s more to the story though, so much more, twists and tunrs, hiddens secrets, people who are not as they appear and as the book goes on in the present timeline more and more things from the past come out. We see how much what happened has affected them both, even to how they act, think and feel today. Its a time neither can forget, and yet once again they seem unable by circumstances to be together unless something incredible happens.

There are some fabulous characters here, teacher types I recognise, places that are so real to me as I know them well. I guess that’s part of why it all felt so real to me, though the writing is so well done that I think I’d still feel the same even if it was somewhere I didn’t know.  I’m not dissing all teachers here BTW – but there are ones just like those in the book. I attended a girls grammar school back in the early 70’s, it was clear that teaching for some was, as with Matthew, a real vocation and for others a boring job to be got through as soon as possible with least effiort. Ironically our maths teacher was obsessed with all things sex after his wife left him. Our lessons consisted of working out scale plans for the perfect bedroom, complete with of course, room for a double bed, and he spent the lesson throwing out sexual innuendos to some girls, asking about their boyfriends and love lives. He had a crush on the PE teacher and she spent her time pleading with groups to tell him she’d gone somewhere, whilst hiding whenever she spotted him approaching. He did get sacked or moved on eventually! My maths is still awful 😉

Then there’s Zac and Natalie, two people  I really didn’t like, and Jess’ sister who was horrible but so very realistic. I did love when she was exhorting Zac to say something in Spanish and he tells her she’s clinically obese, while she preens thinking he’s being very flattering to her…  Anna I just felt really was obsessive and not a great friend to Jess, either in the past or the present and as for her yoga guru, it seemed obvious to everyone except Anna she was a charlatan. There’s a few like that around, ready to work on people’s fears and gullibility to part them from their money. Then Smudge, poor, loyal Smudge. I was heartbroken for Jess over him.

The book gentles along, dipping into the past, showing us the view from two perspectives and moves forward showing us what they are thinking and feeling now. All the while I felt on the edge for them, even knowing the past had happened I was waiting for the axe, for someone to whistle blow, and wondering just who, how and when it would happen. Then in the “now” section it seemed as though they were still so in love, and I so wanted things to work for them but even after all they’d been through – and it was  a lot on both sides – they still weren’t in a position to be together, the past was still haunting them.

That ending though – it was so abrupt, and I just can’t feel the story stops there. I need more, need to know what happens and I really, really hope there is more to come from them. It just feels unfinished to me. I’m sure it will be a perfect ending for others but I like things to be defined, to be certain and not ambiguous as it is here. *Shrug* that’s me, not everyone, but its why I want more.

Stars: Five, all the way. Please let there be more though, don’t let this be the end.

 

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

If you enjoyed my review I’d love it if you would please click “Like” and if you didn’t I’d love to know why, so I can make future reviews more helpful.

Intimate Geography, Book 2 of The Compass Series, Tamsen Parker

Intimate Geography, Book 2 of The Compass Series, Tamsen Parker
Genre:  Romance, Erotica.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
This picks up where book one left off, and India has dropped everything to be with Cris in the hospital. She barely moves from his side while he’s unconscious. He’s of course delighted to see her after she broke things off once he wakes, and it seems as though she’s taken a huge step forward with what she can give emotionally. Soon he’s home with a private nurse staying, and though India stays at first she has to return to work. It seems hard now being away from Cris, but they phone frequently and she’s back to visiting when she can. Cris cautiously makes a huge breakthrough with her when she agrees to meet his parents, but the anxiety it causes is huge, even though she was fine talking to them in the hospital.
Work is giving her problems too – she’s doing really well but two key staff members leave at a really bad time. It means she has to take on even more, and of course Jack is always seeking new work – that’s the point of owing a business of course, so there doesn’t seem to be any let up. Pressures mount and what she’s been avoiding for many years happens, she gets sent to troubleshoot a problem in Chicago…..the city which she swore never to return.The work pressures are mounting, her worry over Chicago is taking over her thoughts, and its only her time with Cris that keeps her going. This continues over the next few months, and its hard for both with her free time being very restricted.
Its an on-off round about romance. They’ve moved forward a few steps but India seems to Cris to drag her heels every step, and there comes a time when it looks like she can’t or won’t move forward any further. In the midst of this she and Cris split. He wants more than she can give, of course he does. They’re clearly far closer than just Dom and sub, but India is clinging to her rules, to the format that’s kept her mentally sound for so long. Cris wants more – or at least the hope of more, and she just can’t give it. He has to decide – is this weird half life romance going to be enough for him or is it time to cut loose? Its comes at a harsh cost for both of them. She’s heartbroken all over again and the wonderful Rey once more steps up. She can’t go back to her old casual one off weekends though – Cris has changed her and that just doesn’t appeal any more. It means she makes what could be a very dangerous decision.
I love Cris, he’s a really wonderful, thoughtful, giving man and what he wants is really very simple, someone to share his life as a partner, not as a sub with rules and restrictions on what he can do and say. Its not really so much to ask is it – especially as he’s clearly very understanding of India and her problems? After all if you love someone you don’t want to hurt them do you? I so felt for him, he seemed to be the one doing all the giving, making time to understand India, to work with her and help her and she seemed to me to be all take.
India – I found it hard to like her to be honest, and I think that’s the root of my problems with the novel. I know she’s had a traumatic childhood, and then the disastrous years with Hunter, but one can’t keep hanging on to hurt forever, and using it as an excuse to keep others at a distance. That’s putting the blame on them for things they haven’t done.  She seems to do just that though.
Rey, what an incredible friend, he gives up so much for her, drops everything to be with her when she needs him, no matter how important it is. He’s looked after her for so long and yet I can’t seem to pinpoint anything she’s actually done for him – it’s a very one sided relationship, much as I see her relationship with Cris. Her need to keep her life compartmentalised just isn’t working any more, but she’s stubbornly clinging on. Then Rey does something, it’s needed and had a good outcome but she’s distraught, angry at him, hurt, and she cuts him off. He knew this would likely result and yet as a true friend he put what she needed first. She can’t see that, can’t see how much she’s hurting him and once again I get the feeling she’s very self centred.
Can she find a way forward with Cris, can she find the right life/work balance and can she ever forgive Rey, and get back their friendship? Its all in the balance, and we see much more of her life at work and outside the sexual side, in this part of the story. We see how she’s slowly changing, how she overcomes some of her huge fears that have held her back, and through that she looks at herself IMO and sees how difficult she makes life for others, even her subordinates at work.
I enjoyed this book more than the first, there seemed much more story, and I enjoyed that, looking between the lines, the events, to see what I thought would be the outcome. There’s a brief epilogue too, showing the reader how things turn out. I like those, they satisfy my curiosity about things – that the HEA really is going to work and isn’t just a quick fix that falls apart once again.

Stars: Four. I felt this had much more balance and story that part one and I enjoyed it. I could see India moving forward but TBH I still found her hard to like, and that’s probably why this isn’t a five star for me.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.

Personal Geography, Book 1 of The Compass Series, Tamsen Parker

 

Personal Geography, Book 1 of The Compass Series, Tamsen Parker
Genre: Erotica, Romance.
Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I do like erotica but for me it needs to have solid story backing it, and that was missing for me here.
India copes with her past problems by treating herself to some very special weekends away. I felt for her once we knew what her past problems were. That was some time coming though, and til then we just see her as a very talented, hard working, ambitious person who uses her weekends to deal with the stress her job causes. Until we knew what had happened I just couldn’t really get a sense of her, what kind of person she really was, I couldn’t seem to relate to her. Her friend Rey – he’s a real star, a gem of a friend and just what she needs. He picked her up and helped her the first time her life fell apart, and even now he’s always there when she needs him and does so much to look after her, and he’s the ones that organises her weekends away, who checks out the Doms and ensures she will be safe. Everyone needs a Rey in their life, but few get it.
Cris, he’s a Dom through and through, and enjoys their weekends. Up til him India hasn’t done repeat ones, but somehow they’ve developed a regular routine and they are both only sexual with each other and no one else. Its pretty clear he wants more, but her rules are very strict and anything personal is out. He slips up one time and she almost cuts him off, so he’s very careful. Her reaction then seemed OTT to me, and even though I by then knew some of her past it still felt too much, and I just felt they were developing a relationship where she was calling all the shots, and apart from sex Cris wasn’t really getting anything else out of it. I’d have liked to know more about his past, about his previous sub, we’re told they were together five years but not why they split and I’m curious…maybe that will come later. I feel somehow we haven’t seen the last of Hunter too, and wonder if India’s job is somehow going to interact in some way with her private life. .
Towards the end there’s a huge shock, something really serious, an event that follows after more sparks between them, and opens up the way forward for the next book. It felt very real and I understood Cris then, and it did seem to fit what I thought about him, and what I thought could happen with India if she let it. Overall though I felt there was lots of D/s, lots of BDSM but the actual story, the parts that make me see the characters as real and wonder what can happen wasn’t enough. I got a taste when I needed a full meal. I felt they really only had sex in common. As ever though this is just me, and others will feel very differently. I did enjoy this enough to want to read more, it was a good read, just not enough for a five star one for me.
Stars: Three and a half . Its good read, but I needed more story, more relationship potential.
ARC provided by Netgalley and publishers.

Awakening, Sydney Holmes

 

Awakening, Sydney Holmes

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews
I liked the description and quickly got into this book. Nora’s a person it’s easy to like, hard working, ambitious, has good friends, a responsible job and a boyfriend of three years. She’s trying to spice up their sex life, and he thinks she’s lost it, as far as he’s concerned they’re fine and she’s some kind of sexual oddity to want more….Slowly the disenchantment grows – the plan was for her to take time out while he built his career, then she’s start law school but as time has passed her plans seem to get dropped by him, and have become a kind of pipe dream. The vibrant, energetic Nora, the one who wanted so much from life, has been put on the back burner and from only seeing her once midweek, and at weekends, and being horrified when she suggested they move in together, he’s now talking about marriage, kids and ignoring her want for a law career…Poor Nora, its not til things really go wrong that she can see what her friends have long noticed, her boyfriend isn’t interested in her for herself, has no intention of helping her get to Law School, just sees her as an accompaniment to him, and for what she can do to support his career.
Then she meets Ryan…he’s incredible, but they get off to a bad start when he’s being hot and cold, and she doesn’t know what to make of him. Neither did I at times 🙂 She and Darren have a row and he says it’s over. So with a clear head she does what she wants, and starts dating Ryan. Wow – he is one hot, spicy man and all the adventurous ideas about sex she’s had are game on for him. They have some really torrid, erotic experiences. Then as always doubts set in, Darren tries to get back with her, Ryan’s ex girlfriend gives her some cagey, non specific warnings about what Ryan likes sexually, and what was a beautiful and exciting relationship seems to be toppling..
I loved this book, full of great characters and real situation – the wedding invite the “wrong” shade of red. Can just imagine that….Some people become obsessive about tiny, immaterial details for what they feel is an important event. Bridezilla and all that!! Ryan and Nora have an off the charts chemistry, and these scenes are written in a very sensual way, erotic and passionate without any of that squirky, stomach churning stuff that creeps into many books when writers add sex to a story. Here it’s perfect, fits well and makes the book so much more than just a romance. My only criticism is that when things started to go wrong I felt the drama was lacking a bit – I felt for Nora, but didn’t get moved to tears or anything close to it, and the ending – it was good but just felt very abrupt. I turned the page expecting more and…that was it. End of story. Its a complete ending, it’s just that I thought there would be a bit more to it.
Stars: Four, little more drama, stronger ending and this would have been a five.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

 

Edit: I’ve since seen that there is a follow up book planned, so we’ll see more of Ryan and Nora

Dating Cary Grant, Emelle Gamble

Dating Cary Grant

 

Dating Cary Grant, Emelle Gamble
Review from jeannie zelos book reviews
I loved Emelle’s Secret Sister, and was keen to read this book Once again she delivered more than just the simplistic novel the description suggests. You’d think this book was a simple, easy to read romantic comedy, and it is but its also much much more, making the reader think about what’s truly important in a marriage and how best to achieve it.
I loved both Tracy and Mike, they’re like many people, so in love and yet also devoted to their careers and jobs and in this case the two just won’t merge. They married thinking time would sort it, Tracy tried commuting at weekends and that didn’t work, so she moved to living full time with Mike, and staying with friends etc when work commitments were too strong. That hasn’t worked either, with her being overtired and still seeing little of Mike as he’s been so tied up with Mayoral problems. Feeling she comes last in his priorities she signs a six month lease on a place in the city….hoping they can work things out. Mike isn’t happy, he cant see why she can’t live at home and commute, and maybe do less hours. He says he’ll cut back too but she doesn’t think he will follow through, she knows how he cant bear to leave a problem. She can’t see why he lets everything, people, town problems, even stray animals, take priority over her, or even why they can’t move to the city and he commute….I couldn’t see how on earth they could solve this, and yet it was clear despite the weeks spent away from each other, the missed dates, the angry phone calls that they were deeply in love. As her mum says at one point – Mike is still the person she married. It was his selflessness, determination to do the best for people, lack of selfishness that drew her to him….and then too it was probably her independence and strength that drew him to her…they’re like magnets which won’t connect when aligned wrongly. There’s attraction and yet a strong force keeping them apart.
Along the search for answers Tracy meets the delightful Philip; Cary Grant lookalike. She’s banged her head recently in a collision with a Katherine Hepburn lookalike too and wonders if that’s why she’s seeing him…but he eats and drinks so how on earth can she be imagining him….They were a great duo, and like Tracy I’ve a love for the old movie stars…Cary Grant, David Niven, Gregory Peck. They were such gentlemen. Him Indoors is a great old-film addict so though I don’t watch them very often I know bits of them well…they sneak into my concentration when I’m reading 🙂 Tracy tells Philip about her marriage, but is still attracted to him..add in some work problems for her, and the awful reality TV show that’s making a programme about Mike, he thinks its about Mayoral duties and they’ll show that side of his work. Poor boy, he really is a good man, an innocent, naïve, because of course what they want is dirt and Mike and Tracy’s problems are gold to them. They follow Tracy around recording all her despair and conversations with friends..I hate reality TV in the same way as Tracy does…its a nightmare for her and at first Mike thinks she’s exaggerating.
Its a fun read, full of humour and yet it has these moments when its really bitter-sweet, when her conversations with Philip make her miss Mike, when she talks to her friend Posey and everything seems so impossible. You just want there to be an answer, and yet feel there isn’t one. Right to the end I was still wondering how on earth they could make it work without one of them giving up everything, and of course that would bring resentment in time. It takes collective help and advice from the ghosts, from the friends and family, and from some unexpected sources before it all works out.
Its a fun read, and one I enjoyed. Its a lot more than just the light surface read it appears, and makes the reader think about what life priorities really are.
Stars: Four and a half.
ARC supplied via Netgalley

After the Fall L.A. Witt.

 

After the Fall L.A. Witt.

ARC supplied via Netgalley and Riptide.
I love L A Witt and Aleksandr Voinov Market Garden series (Esp Nick and Spencer ) so when I saw this I wanted to read it – and of course its got the bonus of being horse themed and I love horses, and have my own here at home.
So Nathan finally gets his dream – his own horse. I well remember that feeling when I’d also worked extra and saved for mine – euphoria. I’d three teens, a full time job and I waitressed at weekends to pay for Sylvester…But poor Nathan is in for a bad time as out on his first ride he runs into Ryan, literally – and ends up with broken leg and hand after Tsarina fell on him. Living seven floors up doesn’t help either – and Nathan hates asking for help. Fortunately Ryan steps in and offers to help with Tsarina if Nathan teaches him to ride..and after checking him out when he sees him again Nathan is only too happy to do just that. He’s had two had breakups, and doesn’t want to get serious again with anyone and Ryan isn’t staying in town for more than a few months…so they should be save, even if he is gay, which Nathan’s not sure of, and even if they do get together, which of course he has no plans to..
But as anyone knows best laid plans and all that 🙂 and the two become closer and closer almost without realising. I recognised some familiar writing style here – when Nathan has this internal dialogue its just like I recall Spencer from the market garden series doing the same. And it works so well, that musing, thinking speech internally, giving yourself a pep talk. One of the reasons it resonates with me is that I do it all the while 🙂 I imagine lots of people do when they are nervous about something – or even the mental rebuke – I didn’t do that right, what was I thinking I should have done/said/tried….or maybe people don’t? I’ll have to ask friends and hope they don’t look at me as if I’ve really lost the plot!
Anyway – back to the book, Nathan is a great guy, just wants to get on with his life, have friends, be happy, enjoy his horse and now he’s injured it means time off work, less money, depending on others and not being able to ride for a few months ( been there done that for same reason Nathan. Though it was broken hip in my case – and like him when it was time to get back on it was a terrifying prospect even though I dearly wanted to) so poor guy is really, really down. Then Ryan steps in like the hero he is, and the two just gel together, enjoy each others company and gradually get closer and closer. Then reality steps in, Nathan panics, Ryan isn’t staying, he always travels from place to place, staying a few months here and there – its what he’s always done so what are they doing, and does he want that heartbreak all over again when Ryan leaves? ….and as usual all goes ti ts up!
Can they work things out – and how – and what will they do? Its all the usual excellent romance we’ve come to expect from Riptide authors, with tender love scenes and the chaos and heartbreak that come with many relationships. A great read, good story, and realistic setting with an emotional romance keeping things interesting. A bit softer than the best ones, sort of romance lite 🙂 but still another for the keepers file. I can’t yet find it on kindle but am sure it will be there soon. It’s a decent length at 184 pages – as always I really like longer books but this is enough to keep the interest and back a decent story.
Stars: four, its a sweet romance but not quite up to the market garden ones.

The House on Persimmon Road. Jackie Weger

The House on Persimmon Road

 

The House on Persimmon Road. Jackie Weger

ARC supplied by author.

The fourth I’ve read from Jackie and another fabulous romance. A great stand alone novel, as are all the ones I’ve currently read from her. After the endless romances where readers have to wait months/years for a conclusion, getting left with those awful, horrible, hated cliffhangers it’s such a treat to read a good story, and feel satisfied at the ending, instead of incredibly frustrated. I do like many of the current duo/trilogies but feel they are beginning to dominate the romance genre and that’s a shame.
Anyway, this book we meet mum Justine and her family, mum and mum in law and the two children, Lottie, a ghost haunting the house they’re leasing, and sexy neighbour tucker and his dad. Jackie’s characters are always so well described I feel I know them. Justine, in her thirties (hurrah – another older lady, its not just teens that look for romance) is trying to have a new start after her husband divorced her to become a monk! Money is tight, the kids are unsettled by the changes to their lives, and she has mum and mum-in-law to deal with too. They bicker worse than the kids. Then there’s sexy neighbour Tucker also in his thirties, his dad is another great character, and after an accident involving fire he lives in a home during the week, and with Tucker on weekends. Its a typical family mix that could be found on many streets, and a change from the perpetual millionaires/innocent young ladies, bad boy MMAs and high school/college romances that seem to be controlling the genre at the moment. There’s a place for them of course, and I’ve read some cracking ones, but many of us want people we can personally identify with.
I felt for Justine, she was so caring even with the bickering older ladies, and trying to do her best for everybody. I think what she wanted for herself was getting lost in the needs of all the other people depending on her. Tucker was just perfect, typical (in my imagination anyway ) southern gentleman, he was attracted to her right from the start, but didn’t want to involve himself with a ready made family, especially ones so full of drama. Yet somehow without him realising they all wormed their way into his heart and home. He then had the tough job of convincing Justine she could rely on him, that he’d be a help and support to her, not just abandon her like her husband did. That he wanted more than just sex from her, he wanted to be part of the family, to love her and be loved if only she could let herself go and let him in.
There’s a one step forward two steps back feel about their romance, its hot and sensual but not graphically, its the magic way with words that authors such as Jackie have that create heat and eroticism without needing to be graphic in every scene. Oh – and heart shaped ones? They made me wonder how they worked too!!
Once again a real romance, a story to get engrossed in and feel you’re there , over -looking the people, laughing (and I did – lots) and crying with them. A great mix of people and emotions to make a perfect romance once again.
Stars: yes – five of course 🙂

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