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Swallowtail Summer, Erica James

Swallowtail Summer, Erica James

RSwallowtail Summer: This summer escape to the country with bestselling author Erica James by [James, Erica]

Genre: general fiction (adult)

I’ve read a few of Erica’s novels in the past, and those all had a romance slant, so even though this wasn’t billed as romance I somehow was expecting one. My bad, its not romance. It is however, and accurate, sharp look at us as people, how we turn a blind eye to what we don’t want to acknowledge, and how differently people react when the truth is forced in front of them.
I liked the strength of the characters, the way they felt real. I can’t say I really liked any of them as people though, and I wasn’t really invested in the outcome of events. Its not a book that really worked for me, very well written, but the actual story just didn’t resonate with me. Possibly because I was waiting for a romance to develop somewhere….totally my fault. I do read stories other than romance, but my mindset wasn’t in the right place. Maybe at a different time I’d enjoy it, but right now I didn’t. I found it a very sad story, almost depressing in how people could be let down so bsdly by those close to them.

Stars: Two, just not one for me, but I’ll happily read others from Erica.

Arc via Netgalley

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Persistent Intruder, Kay Brooks

Persistent Intruder, Kay Brooks

Persistent Intruder by [Brooks, Kay]

Genre: Romance

I saw the romance tag, didn’t realise it was also suspense, but that’s fine, I like romantic suspense for an occasional read. I enjoyed this story, though I felt the actual romance side wasn’t particularly strong.

Brian, well, when we first meet him and learn of his plans for a child I thought he was pretty cold, didn’t really like him. I know he’s had a problematic past with women but even so, he seemed so clinical about the whole thing.
Its back to my personal feelings about how children show be welcomed to be loved, not to be an accessory or simply an heir for someones genes, and I got the impression that heir was what Brian really wanted, not a child to love.
Still, there’s a quick burst of passion between him and Natalie, and of course the pregnancy that results. There isn’t a relationship though, will Brian just want the child and not her, if she tells him she’s pregnant? He has the money to do what he wants. Can she take that risk?
Then of course there’s that passion that they both thought would be easy to leave behind after the weekend, but feelings aren’t that easy, don’t fall in with our plans do they?
Of course that’s all complicated by the deranged stalker Brian has, and that suspense angle was excellent in the main, even though I did feel actions from all of them stretched credulity at times.

It was a fun read, interesting but I felt the romance side wasn’t as well worked as the suspense. For me I prefer the romance to be the stronger part of the story and I wasn’t totally convinced in Brian and Natalie.

 

Stars: Four, an easy read, but I would have liked more emphasis on relationship building, the romance side, to balance the very cold Brian we first met. I wasn’t convinced he could change that easily.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Amazing Grace, A heart warming feel good romantic comedy, Kim Nash

Amazing Grace, A heart warming feel good romantic comedy, Kim Nash

Amazing Grace: A heart warming, feel good romantic comedy by [Nash, Kim]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

Gah, once more, Women’s Fiction – just why? Men read and write romance, don’t lets exclude them.
Anyway, this proved to be a fun read, I wouldn’t call it comedic, but it certainly had some lighthearted moments. The characters felt very real, like people I could know, and that’s important for me to enjoy a story.
Mark, what a complete ar se. Sadly there’s a few like him, think their job, their needs take precedence over everything, and like a fifties throwback they assume their wives and kids should take a back seat. He cheats, gets caught and thankfully Grace gives him the heave-ho.
I found it a bit slick how easily a woman years out of the job market swept into a perfect job, and can manage a mortgage too on the perfect house. Real life is a bit tougher than that, at least here in UK it is. She’s picking herself up though, and building a new life for her and Archie.
Monica, her friend, encourages her out of her safe zone of job, Archie and home into a new look and updated wardrobe, and signs her up for internet dating. I loved the dating experiences, could see them being very accurate. Of course romance when it comes is from an entirely coincidental contact, via Vinnie who comes to see her trees that need cutting back.
I loved Vinnie, a perfect gentleman and so good for Grace. He was a real treasure, genuine, kind, good to Archie and perfect for Grace. The garden transformation made me so jealous, even though its fictional!

Its a cute story, predictably once Grace has someone Mark gets jealous and tries to interfere. Fat club, been to them like many ladies and Kim is spot on. I gave up on one where a huge discussion evolved over whether a tin of tuna was half a fat gram or quarter of a fat gram. Life is just far too short! A club like the one Grace and ruth started would be perfect.
I didn’t like the snippets from beyond, where her deceased mum is talking, didn’t see the relevance at first, and later when it became relevant it still jarred on me a bit. Its not that I don’t believe, more it just didn’t feel right to me.
I guess my biggest disappointment was the ending though, its a huge drama, and that was great and then…next page and wham, we’ve moved waay forward. I wanted a bit more wrapping up of that drama.
Also there’s a secret Vinnie is holding which is taunted all the way through, brought up at relevant times and seems something that could be big, huge, a deal breaker, but when we get to last few pages it almost feels like the author though “oh, what shall I do about xxx? Oh I know, this will do…” the big reveal, the answer, just didn’t fit the mystery and secrecy of it for me, I expected something much bigger, much better.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun read, very easy to follow and at times very real but there were a few minor points that didn’t feel right to me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Girl He Used to Know, Tracey Garvis Graves

The Girl He Used to Know, Tracey Garvis Graves

Review from Jeannie Zelos book reviews

Genre: Romance, women’s fiction.

Usual moan, women’s fiction – just why? Why assume men won’t want to read something? Isn’t that as sexist as assuming women’s wont/can’t do something, enjoy something?

I adored this story, refreshing, unique and satisfying on the romance front, its a simple plot but has so much contained within it. My only criticism ( well my only two crits!) were I wasn’t convinced by the break-up, I know it was a pretty dark time for both, and Annika’s unique perspective made it harder, but it didn’t feel right to me. I didn’t think they’d end just like that. Then the actual ending felt a bit rushed, hurried, especially given the intensity of the preceding few pages, taking in 9/11 and really making the reader feel events on a personal level. I’d have liked a bit more detail, maybe an epilogue a few months/years later. As it was I got to end and was tapping Kindle, convinced there was still more to read.
I loved Annika, felt for her as I have the same, though on a much smaller scale, issue with social occasions and people. I don’t always “read” conversations, spend time wondering just what to say and practicing different lines in my head….Poor girl has it so much more though, for me its just a nuisance, for her its coloured her whole life. As we read further we begin to see just how much, just how hard it was for her mum to balance protecting her child against teaching her independence in a cruel world. We only get one shot as parents and for kids like Annika most parents just have to do what they think best.
I loved her roommate who became a life long friend. She helped Annika so much, at college and years after, but what folk often miss is seen here, she also gained from knowing Annika, made her understand others better, gave her a different way of seeing the world. Life for someone with disabilities isn’t all depending on others, we have a lot to give too and Tracey shows that so well here. It comes over too when she finally meets Jonathon, he needs to be different with Annika, to work at it if he wants a relationship with her, and he can see how vulnerable in ways she is and yet how her openness and way of saying exactly what she means is refreshing, there’s no game playing, no deception in dealing with people like Annika. Some can’t take it, others value it for the gem it is.
Jonathon is wonderful, patient when getting to know Annika and loves her uniqueness. I found it hard, knowing how close they were, how in love, that he would let their relationship end but he did, it did. Then when they meet ten years later, despite all that’s happened t o both of them in between they still have that same attraction. Jonathon has been married and divorced though, he’s not sure he wants to open to Annika again, nit sure he can deal with getting his heart broken again if it goes wrong. Annika has done so much though, really worked at her issues in the intervening years, and sees a therapist. I loved those insights, when the therapist is helping her decide what to do, helping her analyse what action, what worked, what didn’t. That was a great insight into how she’s coped with life, and also just how hard and tiring it was for her. Everyday issues become major hurdles and when one’s brain is full on constantly it is very exhausting.
Its a fabulous story, some gentle but very real romance, some valuable insights into life as a person who thinks differently to most others, and some realistic events over 9/11. I could imagine that playing out exactly as Tracey has written it.
I don’t know if she knows anyone with Annika’s issues or if its from research but from someone who shares a few traits though on a much lesser scale I can say its incredibly well written and made Annika and her problems feel so believable.

I wasn’t sure about requesting this, I’m so glad I did , its a wonderful story.

Stars: Five, a perfect read, very different than just the usual reunion romance. I just wish there was more of an ending.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The House at Greenacres, Darcie Boleyn

The House at Greenacres, Darcie Boleyn

The House at Greenacres: An uplifting, cosy Cornish romance by [Boleyn, Darcie]

Genre: general fiction (adult), women’s fiction

Once more, women’s fiction. Why, why alienate men? They read books like this too.

Well, I wanted to love this book, it sounded perfect for me but….it wasn’t a bad read, but it wasn’t one that filled me with excitement, one that kept me reading.

Somehow when everything came out I felt sorry for Rich, but I didn’t feel that it was a valid reason for what he did. Likewise I found it hard to believe Holly would leave her loving family, even her grandfather who she adored, simply because he may disapprove.
It all just added up to a tale I found hard to credit, and so I didn’t really get pulled in to the story. That’s me though, as always others will and do feel very different. Reading and enjoyment of stories is very subjective.

Stars: Three, a story that fell a bit short for me but which may be perfect for you.

Arc via Netgalley

Mona Lisas and Little White Lies, John Herrick

Mona Lisas and Little White Lies, John Herrick

Mona Lisas and Little White Lies: An "Artfelt" Romantic Comedy You Won't Want to Miss (John Herrick Collection Book 7) by [Herrick, John]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction.

Well, this is written by a man and Still classified as Women’s Fiction – I just don’t understand why we try to exclude men we should be encouraging readers not discouraging them 😦

Anyway, my first read by this author. It was well written, and the story flowed well but…..maybe In was just over-expecting. I love the fame/non fame romance trope and with the famous lead being an artist, ( such a change from the usual rock/film star leads), and being an artist myself I was hooked. Throw in that Lily isn’t a primped and pampered lady but one that works as a mechanic and I thought I’d love this.

So what went wrong? Well. Its not the writing but the story-line. I didn’t understand why the first 30% Lily and Ryder had barely met, and she was involved with Evan. Unless maybe it was to showcase her insecurity in her looks? Lily is lovely but not bursting with confidence, even though her friends tell her she is beautiful, she just can’t see it. And of course her job isn’t one that springs to mind as feminine even though she’s good at it and loves it.
I loved that Ryder inserted himself and Lily into so many paintings after only meeting her once, though I’m dubious that he could paint her so exactly without and reference pics ;-). still, artistic licence all round! Once his paintings start becoming famous and seen everywhere though the hunt is on, who is the mysterious lady in his work. They meet after Lily sees one of these works….and it doesn’t go too well. Ryder isn’t letting her go though, six years he’s been thinking of her and now he’s found her he’s not letting her disappear again. I guess this is where my expectations and the book parted ways. I expected more of the fame aspect, more of the hounding the media do to people.
The breakup was a shock, it just didn’t seem real even though I suspected it would happen that way. I felt they needed more of a reason to part, and that Ryder was wrong. I did like that it wasn’t one of those break up and two pages later make up books. I like my drama to wallow, to really feel “will they get back, or has too long passed?” A side effect of the break up was a revelation about someone that caught me out, and yet looking back all the clues were there but I missed them. I love that kind of surprise, clever planning.
I’m not sure why its billed as comedy though? That has me mystified, and I had to go back and check the description but yes, comedy is there in the blurb. I didn’t find it though…..

Stars: three a half, a fun read but a one off only for me.

ARC via Netgalley and publishers

The Wrong Kind of Love, The Boys of Jackson Harbor, Lexi Ryan

The Wrong Kind of Love, The Boys of Jackson Harbor, Lexi Ryan

The Wrong Kind of Love (The Boys of Jackson Harbor Book 1) by [Ryan, Lexi]

Genre: Romance,

I’ve read a couple of books from Lexi, one I loved, the other not so much but I really liked the sound of this one…

I love the writing style, love the way the story unfolded, and of course the Jackson family and the folk of the town…there’s something about small town romances that calls to me. Sadly though I didn’t like either of the main protagonists and that coloured the book for me.
Nic, how much more of a wimp could she be? I understood why, felt for her past but at some point you have to make changes, but she just keeps on making the same mistake over and over, letting useless men walk all over her while she gives up everything. It seems she’s been like this since school, falling in love with men who let her down, and of course having given up all dreams of education she’s kind of lost. She thinks she’s found love once more with Marcus, who asked her to marry him after two months, and six months on its her wedding day…and then THAT happens. How can your twin DO that? Seems Ronnie has done that all her life though, Nic gives and Ronnie takes.
She doesn’t stop being like that though when she meets Ethan, lets him take from her, and then when she discovers he’s her boss she still lets him take. Ethan was a real jerk to her, I kind of understood his reactions but he needed to suck it up, take responsibility for his actions. Instead he’s laying blame with Nic.
Given she’s supposedly heartbroken from Marcus I found it hard that she fell in love with Ethan so quickly, and that he fell for her. If there had been more time, say several months I might have believed in it but this all happens in a few short weeks, about a month I think, and it was just too insta-love for me, given Nic’s past inst-loves and Ethan’s determination not to get into a relationship, certainly not with his daughter’s nanny.
The denouement is pretty much expected, and I understood the anger, but once more its over so quickly. And Ronnie…really? Nic’s still playing sucker?

The story is good, the characters great, but its the timing that’s the big struggle for me, I find it hard to believe Nic is really in love given her history of falling in love at the drop of a hat. Ethan, part of me loved him, part of me hated him, he really was an obnoxious jerk to Nic and she just took it….

I do want to read more in the series, I’m hoping its just this book, these characters and the whole time issue that’s not worked for me. I’m keen to read Teague’s story ( hopefully?) and some of the Jackson family’s futures, but not Ronnie. I don’t want to read a story that will make me like her 😉 She’s just done too much to Nic for me to get past.

Stars: Three, potentially great read for me IF the timing had changed, events took longer, and if I could be certain Nic had developed some self respect.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Holeshot, Motocrossed Book 1, M.A. Parker

Holeshot, Motocrossed Book 1, M.A. Parker

Holeshot (Motocrossed Book 1) by [Parker, M.A.]

Genre: Romance

I love books like this, a bit of fame element and all the jealousies that brings. I enjoyed this book, well written plots that fall into place easily and characters that felt real. Somehow though it didn’t grip me in a can’t-put-down way, and I did actually put aside a couple of times for something else.
Though its a potentially real story I felt the drama in it fell short for me and maybe that’s why I put it down, I just didn’t feel the barriers were strong enough for the plot, that there was really a reason for them not to be together.
Then the ending, that felt very rushed after the long set up, over in a few short pages of fait accompli, when I want the drama and the answers to really fit the length of the story. I felt as if I’d got to last part of the book and suddenly it was bam, bam, bam, everything neatly sorted and boxed up.
As always we all want different things and the parts where I felt it fell short could be what makes it perfect for you.

Stars: Three, a fun read but not a keeper.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Pieces of You and Me, Rachel Burton

The Pieces of You and Me, Rachel Burton

The Pieces of You and Me: The new heartfelt and uplifting love story for 2019 from bestselling author Rachel Burton by [Burton, Rachel]

Ah Darn, women’s fiction again – and why assume men don’t want romance 😦

I loved Rachel’s The Things We Need To say, and really expected to love this one too. I didn’t. though its beautifully written and tackles some tough subjects. As someone who has CFS myself I understood how ill Jess felt at times, and how others simply can’t understand that overpowering fatigue.

I loved Jess and Rupert as people, and indeed there were some great secondary characters. It was just the main thrust of the story, the break up and getting together, that didn’t work for me.
I didn’t really understand why they parted, and felt when they resumed their relationship they still didn’t understand themselves what went wrong. I felt like I had all these questions about it, and I was waiting all through for answers but never really got them. In contrast to TTWNTS I felt there wasn’t any real focus for me in this story, that it just didn’t have anything I could grip, any hopes of solutions, just unanswered questions. Without those answers I wasn’t sure if the same thing would happen all over again to them.
Relationships take work, and somehow I felt for these two to have a permanent HEA they needed to do so much more.

Stars: Three, a well written story, but it just didn’t work for me. Could be just what you want though, reading is incredibly subjective.

ARC via netgalley

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm, Julie Houston

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm, Julie Houston

Coming Home to Holly Close Farm: Addictive, heart-warming and laugh-out-loud funny. Perfect for fans of Katie Fforde and Jill Mansell by [Houston, Julie]

Genre: general fiction (adult), women’s fiction

Once more, women’s fiction. Why, why alienate men? They read books like this too.

Anyway, I’ve loved all Julie’s past stories, but this one wasn’t a great fit for me. It could well be living circumstances, I’m between homes, living in my daughter’s conservatory so getting “lost” in a book hasn’t been easy. I may reread this at a later day and feel very differently.
Its full of the usual realistic characters and events, and peppered with Julie’s trademark subtle humour. I’m always nervous when a book promises to make me “laugh out loud” as too often I fond that really means the forced, very unfunny humour I hate. Julie’s style isn’t that, is much more soft and clever humour, not pushed-in-your-face stuff .
So, the story, its kind of in two parts, and I found I loved Madge and her backstory more than I enjoyed the current time romance. Madge had such a tragic past, I loved her stoic, never give in mindset, but found it hard to believe no-one knew about Holly Close Farm, how a property so valuable would have no evidence that family would have picked up on linking her to it. No bills from the council? No demands for utilities etc? It’s possible but a bit hard to believe given that now I seem to get bills from the council in numerous duplicates constantly! Her daughter Nancy was a bit weird, and I couldn’t see her missing out on any stray info that would lead to reward for her.
I wanted to like Charlie, felt so much for her over Dominic, sadly things like that happen, and people can be horribly plausible about absences. I just found it hard to really feel for her after that, she’s a little too me, me , me for my taste. Like I said, maybe its my mindset, and I’ll feel differently at a later date.

Stars: Three, a good story, great characters, but fell a bit short for me of Julie’s others five star reads.

Arc via Netgalley

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