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Cottage on a Cornish Cliff, Kate Ryder

Cottage on a Cornish Cliff,  Kate Ryder

Cottage on a Cornish Cliff: Don't miss this heartwarming and emotional page-turning story by [Ryder, Kate]

Genre: women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah, women’s fiction…men write romance, they read it too, so I hate this category. Sexist and outdated.

I hadn’t read book one so borrowed it via KU.
I enjoyed it though I had a few reservations, especially the way Oliver is so – well – spineless. He lets Sylvie walk all over him, he lets Deanna run their lives and when he meets Cara he finally takes something for himself but he still hasn’t sorted out his marriage and the ending I thought was so sad.

I was so hoping in book two he’d finally step up, man up, be responsible. When he was with Cara he seemed a different man, and I loved him, then he’d get depressed again and just let events happen. I know depression is hard, but its not just him suffering, its his family, children, and of course Cara and her family. He knows he has an issue – I just wanted him to try to take steps to deal with it. He seems to use it as an excuse…. “the Grey Mist descended” and he just lets it.
So I was really hoping for good things for Cara in book two, wanting her and Oliver to be together. When he was with her he really seemed a better man. I didn’t like Deanna, his wife, felt that she wanted the celebrity aspect, the wealth and benefits more than she really wanted Oliver. He seems almost like an afterthought in their marriage. Maybe it started differently but now they’ve become two separate people held together by the children.
Cara’s art career is blooming, helped along by Greg. I did not like that man, he just seemed so sleazy, being overly touchy with Cara even when his publicly beloved wife was dying. Inevitably Cara gets swept along by the changes he says she needs to make to reach the top in her art, but I kept thinking did she want that or was it Greg? She was happy painting, selling online and in her gallery, and now the pressures built was she still happy. Had her art become more burden than pleasure? It certainly appeared that way.

There’s the same mix of secondary characters as in book one but somehow I didn’t enjoy this as much as that one, even though I didn’t like the way book one ended 🙂
Its kind of a sad story here, no-one seems really happy, Oliver is back with the family but its clear things aren’t right there, Deanna is stretching out picking up her career, but doesn’t want full independence, doesn’t want to lose Oliver – or at least I felt she didn’t want to lose the lifestyle, Greg is carefully grooming Cara but I felt it was more for the career prestige of discovering a new top artist than for herself, and Cara misses Oliver badly, and seems to be taken in by Greg and his advice for her art even though its not making her happy.
I found most of the story a bit hard going, even though its perfectly written. I was so convinced Oliver was leaving it too late, that Cara was going to move forward with Grey. Deanna? Well, TBH I never liked her so I wasn’t bothered what she did as long as she let Oliver move on. In both books there are odd snippets of precognition, or the supernatural and I felt it jarred rather than added to the story.

Stars:Three, a well written book, but a story that just didn’t connect closely with me.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

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Christmas at the Lakeside Resort, (The Lakeside Resort Series), Susan Schild

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort, (The Lakeside Resort Series), Susan Schild

Christmas at the Lakeside Resort (The Lakeside Resort Series) by [Schild, Susan]

Genre: Romance.

I loved Susan’s Sweet Southern Hearts, so was eager to get stuck in to this. Sadly in the romance genre stories seem to interpret Romance as being only for the young.
Hurrah for authors like Susan, who show that the older generations want romance too. Not everyone gets their HEA when they are younger and accidents, divorces, just plain old Life means many folk past their thirties are still looking for that special someone.

Jenny thought she’d found that, and then the jerk calls everything off. She’s struggling through the aftermath of that when she gets another blow, her home has been sold and she’s a couple of weeks to find somewhere new. Sometimes things like this make us look at life and that’s what happens with jenny, she decides she’s just marking time, doesn’t love her job, her life, so takes the opportunity presented by her fathers legacy to make a huge change.
Of course it doesn’t all go smoothly, but that’s part of the magic, if it did it would be a dull read. I loved Luke and Alice, adored Benny and Bear, and as a horse lover how could I fail to be entranced by Levi. My old mare Muska thought she was a person, was always trying to get into the house, but being somewhat bigger than Levi it didn’t really work….
I loved reading about the renovation, about the jerk Douglas and his new lady ( hiss, boo….I really wanted him to see just what he’d lost. I hate guys – or ladies – who behave as he did )., about Alice her her dating issues and of course Lovely Luke. He was such a wonderful guy, quiet, strong, unflappable and his was a sad story.
I liked the slow burn of their romance, though maybe a little more action would have been nice 😉 Its not one of those where they get together after a couple of chapters, in fact it takes pretty much most of the book before they get to a first kiss. You can feel how they both are attracted and yet they both weigh up what they would lose, should they move forward, is the time right, are they ready? They’re all questions Real people have, most of us are cautious by nature and this book felt so very real in the romance side. The renovations? Well, in contrast to the romance a lot happens in a short time 😉 . I’m not so sure it would work like that in real life, but it made for a really enjoyable story, and the endings was just so perfect.
My only reservation is that for me it seemed a slow start, I felt like I was reading but not actually getting to the meat of the story for some time. Its all scene setting though, its easy to criticise and others will love that gentle, gradual progression.

Stars: Four, a really magical Christmas story.

ARC supplied by author

By Virtue Fall, Carrie Elks

By Virtue Fall, Carrie Elks

By Virtue Fall: the perfect and heartwarming romance for Autumn 2018 (The Shakespeare Sisters Book 4) by [Elks, Carrie]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult)

I love Carrie Elks stories, have read almost all of them now, and she writes in a way that’s perfect for me.
In fact looking through the ones I’ve read I’ve just decided of a reread of Love in London 2, Broken Chords. Fix you is another favourite that’s been reread a few times…so I was eager to get into this.

I loved (five star loved) the first two in this series, somehow missed book three, and expected this to be another five star read. And yet…it wasn’t. Its got Carrie’s perfect pacing and story line, some great characters and some you love to hate. All things that make a book perfect for me and yet somehow it just didn’t pull me in, keep me gripped.

I’m not sure why, I loved Juliet (London!) and Ryan, the kids were perfect and brought some wonderful levity, the school mothers, oh haven’t we all met those types? There’s one scene with Ryan and Juliet and The Mothers that I just loved!
The way they both are attracted right from the start yet hold off, Juliet because she’s still dealing with divorce issues, the betrayal from her husbands affair, and doesn’t feel ready, and Ryan because he knows he’s only here a few months, that he’ll be off again soon, and he too isn’t looking for love. Yet it has a way of sneaking up on us slowly, catching us out.
Love never waits for the perfect time – life just isn’t that neat, rarely do Life events and Perfect Time meet up!

Its really well written, finishes off the series neatly, (Cesca, she’s still my favourite and I had a little lump in my throat picturing her in That Dress). For many readers I’m sure it will be exactly what they want, but for me it just didn’t have that magic of the first two, of almost all Carrie’s other stories I’ve loved. That happens, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and all that..

Stars: Three, a well written story that fits the series but didn’t quite hook me in as Carrie’s stories usually do.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Fight or Flight, Samantha Young

Fight or Flight,  Samantha Young

Fight or Flight by [Young, Samantha]

Genre: Romance.

Well, I’ve read lots of Samantha’s stories now, On Dublin Street is still my favourite, she does the Scot guys so well. Usually. This one, Caleb, well, he’s a shallow jerk. I was infuriated at his arrogance, his lack of manners, his overall high handed, judgmental self. I almost stopped reading, he was so obnoxious.
Luckily Ava kept me going….I loved Ava, she seemed like a typical “blonde” stereotype, pretty, always well dressed, full make-up, perfect hair, and yet she’s so much more. Awful parents, betrayed by her two childhood best friends, yet she’s got herself a good job, her own home, and a few good friends. Harper, her best friend, is wonderful and I hope we see more of her in a later book. There seems to be an opening later in the book with someone….

So, I ploughed on and slowly began to understand Caleb, but though he has a past that made me understand why she initially judged Ava, he’s human, we all fail and make mistake, he seems to continue to judge her in little ways even when he knows her better.
I did warm to him but I can’t say he’s my favorite person in Sam’s writing. I enjoyed the story but again its not one to really tug at the heart, I felt sad about what had happened to Ava, was sad for Harp when things went wrong for her but it didn’t have the huge drama I’ve come to expect from Sam. Having said that when things did go wrong it was really well done, drawn out over a period of time, lots of angst and wondering, lots of will they make it through ( yes, I know they will but I still need to feel as if the possibility is there that they won’t). so many books wrap the break-up and getting back in just 2 or 3 pages and for me that just doesn’t cut it. I want my characters to really feel devastated, to really hit the bottom and here both Ava and Caleb do. Ava is so brave when she faces her fears and tells Caleb how she feels, and then gets That reaction, but by now I understood Caleb more and it made me angry but not as furious as it would when I started the book. Even Ava understands why he has that reaction, but she’s grown so much in confidence, she’s heartbroken but knows that its not her fault, compared to how guilty she felt over Nick and Gem.
Some reviews mention the Scots accent. I hate written dialects for just this reason, done badly they can ruin a novel. I’ve seen too many Doona, dinna, nay lassie, och the noo etc….and so often they use language that would have been common a couple of centuries back but now, no way. I’m from Norfolk (UK) and we know that when a TV series features folk from here they all speak in some kind of generic Summerzet accent.
If I’m reading a novel and I don’t notice the accent, except that it reinforces a characters background, then I know the author has it right. Sam’s a Scot, she does that accent well in her writing IMO, it adds to and not detracts from the story.

I’m finding it hard here to put a rating, it started badly for me, but the drama of the ending really was perfect.
I still think the actual story holding things together was a bit flimsy, I felt it wasn’t really strong enough to hold the whole novel. Maybe if we[‘d seen it a bit more in a past time-frame, from Ava’s POV it would have more impact, but I felt for her but with the “ horrible folk, awful thing to do but move on now Ava”, rather than being so upset I understood why it coloured her life so much. Sometimes it is tiny things from the past that impact on us, but we need to see just how awful an effect those words or actions were to understand properly.
Stars: Well, hmmnnn…tough one. I think its going to have to be a three, not my favourite of Sam’s books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

Hard Truths, Alex Whitehall

Hard Truths, Alex Whitehall

Hard Truths by [Whitehall, Alex]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I thought I’d read books by this author before – but I haven’t – so lots of new to me reads to enjoy 😉 I loved this read, heartbreaking at times and sadly, so very,very real.

I loved Isaac and his sister, Sue. They’re very close, which is good as his parents are…well, my age but I feel a million miles from them.
They’re old fashioned, with sadly outdated views. Mum is desperate for grandchildren to spoil, even though, as Isaac muses, she never wanted to spoil him or Sue. Dad is one of those I’m-head-of-family, my word is Law types, the sort where clear lines are drawn, he’s The Man, brings in the dosh, and housework, childcare etc is Not His Province, women’s work.
Despite the weird parents Sue and Isaac love them, just hate the way every family occasion leads into nagging about marriage and children.
Desperate one Thanksgiving Sue brings home a date, a fake one, just to shut mum up. He’s big, burly, tattooed and ….coloured, and she knows her parents will hate him. She’s asked him to be polite but play up the stereotype, so he is guarded about his job, hinting at freelance, letting them think the worst, and true to form they are reasonably polite but Not Happy and make it clear.
Isaac is shocked though when Logan discreetly makes a pass at him…til he finds out the truth. I loved that family meal!

Soon Logan and Isaac are together but each family meal means Logan stays away, and Isaac gets more lectures on finding The One and grandchildren. I felt so sorry for him, for too many families this is life. It shouldn’t matter who we love, so long as we’re not harming others, parents should just want their kids happy, not set conditions on happiness and love.
Of course the inevitable happens and Logan wants to be with Isaac all the time, not tucked away from his parents like a dirty secret. Its not hard to see the way things would go, although it was stronger than I expected, and once more I kept thinking “this is how life is for so many kids” Awful isn’t it? I can’t conceive of being that sort of parent, though I can see faint echoes in how my parents would have reacted.
In between Isaac and his family issues there’s the deal of Logan and his friends and Isaac and his, both close knit groups who react differently to new people, to pressures and events. I get the feeling Logan is more confident, outgoing, able to accept others where Isaac is a bit like me, diffident, cautious, careful of feelings. There are times when he isn’t sure if his friends are pushing him aside, when in fact they’re probably just busy, and I can empathise with that think the worst outlook.
When the big Fallout hit its dual pronged for Isaac and I so felt for him, and Logan of course. The way that drama played out, really let emotions flow, let Isaac’s thoughts run riot was just perfect for me. I love to wallow in the sad parts, and then feel uplifted when all ends well.

Stars:Five, a very real feeling drama with the perfect HEA.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

#HardTruths #NetGalley

The Last Relicuin, Hargus Montgomery

The Last Relicuin, Hargus Montgomery

The Last Relicuin by [Montgomery, Hargus]

Genre: General Fiction, Sci-fi and Fantasy

I was really intrigued by this book, a mix of future worlds and past one but sadly gave up at 30%. I found it too confusing and just wasn’t gelling with the story.

We’re in the 22nd century, where life for the vast majority of the population is lived in a secure and safe environment, behind glass, where everything is germ free. No touching another person, life is lived in a very solitary way so obsessed are they with germs and sterility. Its a strange existence but for them its the norm, the living museums, where they get glimpses of the past, seem an abhorrent way of life to them. Eating foods that’s been grown in dirt? Talking directly to, touching, standing near another person? Risking germs by breathing in unsterile air? Life for them is very safe, very regulated and they can’t imagine a world where people touch each other, breath ordinary air, grow food, gather in groups, and as for sex, horrible thought that, messy and unsanitary…..
Alex though, son of a prominent senator, isn’t so sure about this life, rebels in small ways and then decides he wants to be one of those studying the past, museum dwellers living life as it was in certain periods of history.

I was really intrigued by the idea of this story but in practice I found it confusing, and sadly it was just going over my head. I didn’t understand What was happening and Why, never mind the Who and How….
It soon became a story focused on a mystery, secrets and lies, a struggle for power where the protagonists are determined to keep the past hidden.
It’s a story with strong minded and power hungry characters, set against those who think we have a duty to keep the past alive. There were so many characters I found it difficult sorting out who was who, and how they fitted in. I did like the section dealing with the practicalities of the past, loved for example the bit where Alex smells spring for the first time, his puzzling over what it is, and where he and other students are entranced by falling leaves. I felt sorry for those doomed to live the “safe” life, but I wasn’t pulled into the story enough to continue with it.

Stars: Two, I’m sure for others its a terrific read, but the content just didn’t gel with my taste. One of those stories where its book v reader and we just don’t match.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series, Katie Reus

Hunting Danger, Redemption Harbor Series,  Katie Reus

Hunting Danger (Redemption Harbor Series Book 5) by [Reus, Katie]

Genre: Romance

I’d only read book three in this series, each are advertised as stand alone and that one I loved, didn’t feel I’d missed anything by not reading first two books.
I haven’t read book four but when I saw this I expected to feel the same as I did with book three, that it would be complete on its own. It is….and yet I think I’d have got far more from it if I understood more about the whole group of characters, their dynamics and interaction. As it was, apart from Brooks and Darcy they were just names and I didn’t feel the connection between the characters that I know would be there.

Its billed as romance, and it is but for me the romance fell second place to the suspense. Its a tightly written novel, well paced, well set out, but the romance side takes a while to warm up – its very much each likes the other but hides it, and seems as though that’s been going on a long time. Now they’re thrown together, in danger, and emotions run hot at a time like this. Its a question of what happens once that cools down, when they’re thinking with clear heads once more.

Its an interesting story but I felt a bit disconnected from it, as I said I think even though its a stand alone it would work better if I’d read all of the others.

I do occasionally get tired of the “quick computer hack” that takes care of everything, tells where folk are, what they’re doing, spies on them remotely – even when there hasn’t been time to set up cameras…and of course knocks out those cameras who see what we don’t want them to.

Its not just in this book, but a growing trend in many suspense reads. PCs can do lots, are a huge asset but they are machines, not miracle cures and I felt here that it was something a little over-used.

Stars: Three, a good read but would have been a great one if perhaps I’d read all the earlier books.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Love You S’more, Beth Merlin

Love You S’more,  Beth Merlin

Love You S'more (The Campfire Series Book 3) by [Merlin, Beth]

Genre:Woman’s fiction, romance

First a quick rant – why “women’s” fiction? Why exclude 50% or readers….men write romance and read it.

I hadn’t read book one or two, two was on KU so I read that and the synopsis of book one. I think I’d have enjoyed this even more if I knew the full backstory from book one, but even without its a story I loved.
Some fabulous characters, and lots to ponder. For me the big one was Why? Why did Perry just ghost her when he moved, when they were so close, so in love? I really needed those answers.

I loved Gigi and Jamie, though occasionally I do feel the Gay Best Friend is becoming a little overused in romance. Still, he fitted in perfectly here and did add much to the story. I adored all the dress designing info, a world I know nothing of. Fashion for me means finding some clothes that are not paint stained…I’m an artist and invariably everything gets an addition of unintentional colour. Last seasons clothes are fine for me, tomorrow I’m attending a christening in an outfit that’s probably 20 years old. It suits me so shy not is my reasoning. Still, I adore reading about the world of fashion, the creation of beautiful outfits ( all that beading, fabrics and beading are a real weakness of mine – tomorrows outfit is an Indian silk printed shalwar kameez, with a lovely glittery copper running through). I love the way something as simple as clothing can become so important, so much depending on it and I was completely sucked into Gigi’s experiences designing Victoria’s outfits.
Alongside that is another world almost foreign to me, Theatre. I was entranced by the whole set design, setting music to scenes, creating a story from history. I could see why Perry was so hooked on the world, why it was so important to him. I still just kept having the thoughts though “why Perry, Why?” He seemed such a great guy, just didn’t seem the callous type. Then there’s Gideon, and he was wonderful too. So very down to earth, so hard working, determined to make his ancestral home pay its way and stay in the family. We’ve a few like that in the region I live, some owned by NT but others where the families work hard to keep everything in the family, even when it means letting the public into your home. I’d find that hard, but when the alternative is losing it? Knowing a few people of his type I felt the scenes with Gigi and his friends and family were very real. The top echelons of UK society can be very insular, do reject those not quite whom they regard as Like Us. U and non U is still very much alive.
So there were Gigi and Gideon, so in love but could the US career girl fit into
UK Society, was love enough? What about Gigi’s career?
And then into all that drops the scandal and poor Gigi once more goes from cream of the top, Lady of the day into Most Despised Person.
I so felt for her, she’d done nothing, it was Perry who really should have copped the blame but as usual the woman gets it ;-( The British press are merciless, and I so hate their desperation to cook up a story, parade lies as truth when it comes to celebrities. There’s a saying they never let the truth get in the way of a good story and its so true, and why I’ve not bought a newspaper for years.
Its a fabulous, engrossing read, transporting the reader into the world of fashion married with High society, and showing just what an impact simple decisions can have on careers and lives. The ending – well, I loved it, perfect for me. I may well go back and read book one sometime, and two and three once more.

A quick point, well a couple of them.
We don’t say Fall, its Autumn. Certainly coming from a landed and titled family Gideon would Never use a US term like that when talking about how booked up Badgely Hall was becoming.
Victoria, future Queen of UK, supposedly lets her husband know of his impending fatherhood by asking for sparkling cider instead of champagne. Here in the UK there is both Still and Sparkling cider, each very alcoholic. There’s no way a future Queen, UK born and bred would request cider, meaning a non alcoholic drink, she’d be asking for water or fruit juice most likely. Sparkling cider is a US/Canadian term only.

They’re small points and usually I could ignore things like that – it happens when writing about other cultures and countries, but these two points are very major ones IMO.

Stars: Five, a fabulous read, engrossing story, real characters and plenty of drama.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

#fireflyhillpress, #Love You S’more,  #Beth Merlin, @fireflyhillpress, @Love You S’more,  @Beth Merlin

The Anniversary, Hilary Boyd

The Anniversary,  Hilary Boyd

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Woman’s Fiction.

Gah, Woman’s Fiction – I hate when we dismiss a whole sector of readers. Why do that? Why shouldn’t men read this? Ah well, rant over.

I’ve enjoyed a few of Hilary’s stories now. They’re for readers who want to think about a book, want some depth, want to really get to understand the characters. Sometimes I want a fluff relaxing read, others I want one like this, that makes me really think “what would I do? How would I cope?”
Its incredibly moving, I cried at parts, so felt for all the characters. There weren’t any I didn’t like, but really loved the three main ones, Jack, Stella and Eve. They were treated so in depth I felt I knew them, felt their emotions and understood their reactions.
I empathised with Stella so much, had a similar experience and it really does affect people so much, strains relationships, shapes the rest of people’s lives. I so understood how she’d been even as I yearned for her to be closer to Eve.
Jack I adored, he and Stella has a real soulmates relationship- until they didn’t. Can you ever leave that though. Can they both move on? They seem to, both have other partners, but this summer tests all those bonds.
I could write so much about this book, there was so much I loved, the way events unfolded, the realism of the characters and what happened, the huge emotions I felt but I’m afraid of giving too much away. I’ll just say this, if you want a solid story, a book that will make you cry but which has an ending that makes up for much of that, if you want characters that are real, flawed like the rest of us, if you want plots that mirror real life read this book.

Stars: Five, perfect read, depth, plots, characters, emotions all so real.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

I Invited Her In, Adele Parks

I Invited Her In, Adele Parks

Genre:Mystery & Thrillers

I enjoy books like this, they challenge me to think “what would I do?” At first I was interested but I did get tired of the way the story was told, via inner thoughts, when for me dialogue based works better, where we have a slip back in time to see events as they happen. Well, see from that persons POV anyway 😉 Later in the story we do get some of these but the start nearly made me give up. Works for some readers that way though, but like me, not all.
I could see where Mel wanted to give a good impression to Abi, everyone is proud of their homes and family and want others to see them at their best, but couldn’t see why she didn’t simply ask her how long, set a time limit in the visit especially as Ben isn’t happy about an open ended stay. Its not like they’ve been close for the past 17 years, even if they were Bfs at uni. It seemed a bit strange, and then of course I started to put things together, though I wasn’t certain.
Its a fun read, very real characters, events that I could see easily working like that in real life. I didn’t like Abi, not one bit, but even so hadn’t guessed exactly what her angle was. I was shocked by events, thought I liked the ending and then, those last couple of pages….Nope, I didn’t want that even though they are not real characters. They felt real to me and I cared about them as if they were real.

Stars:three, I guessed a chunk of the plot, enjoyed the story and was surprised by other parts but I did get tired of some daily trivia that didn’t add to the story, felt repetitive.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
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