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Isn’t it Bromantic?, The Bromance Book Club is back … it’s time to find out more about our favourite Russian! Lyssa Kay Adams

Isn’t it Bromantic?, The Bromance Book Club is back … it’s time to find out more about our favourite Russian! Lyssa Kay Adams

Isn't it Bromantic?: The Bromance Book Club is back ... it's time to find out more about our favourite Russian! by [Lyssa Kay Adams]

Genre: Romance

Vlad, I think we all adore him. He’d got a lot of hidden depth, he’s supportive, emotional, loves animals…and his wife. Yep, at the end of the last book we met Elena, and discovered Vlad has been married for six years! How do his best mates not know that? How do we not know that? So many questions.
Its a fun read, as usual the boys kind of bumble through, correcting each others mistakes, using romance books as their guide. Wish more blokes would do that!
Vlad has stayed away from them for months, making excuses, avoiding them, almost ashamed to admit he loves his wife, but she wants to go back to Russia. He’s been waiting so long for his happy ending, and when he finally cracks the lads are determined with their help he’ll get it.
Its a fun read, so much going on that actually at times I felt there was almost too much happening. The whole Elena’s father mystery and repercussions was just a bit too much for me. It fitted but I think it would have been better without it almost, or to have that as a very thin background story. But…that’s just me.
As always the characters are fab, Vlad and the lads, their wives and girlfriends, The Losers, Neighbour cat and Neighbour dog, and my favourite – The Cheeseman. Oh I loved the idea of the underground cheese movement! I loved the book within a book too, and how the lads used past books to analyse and help Vlad not only with his romance with Elena but the romance book he’s writing. Of course its full of those double entendre lines too, that made me smile so much.
I’m so glad Vlad finally got to the bottom ( smirk) of his digestive issues….made me laugh in earlier reads but he needed to get it sorted for him and everyone around him.
It has a kind of manic, slightly rushed ending but as ever all ends well, the guy gets the girl and everyone is happy. That’s what I want, I like some angst along the way but a HEA is why I read romance.

Stars: Four, another fun read. I was half in love with Vlad before, now its all the way 😉

ARC supplied by netgalley and publishers.

A Good Day for Chardonnay, Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay, Darynda Jones

A Good Day for Chardonnay (Sunshine Vicram) by [Darynda Jones]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy

Well, I saw Darynda’s name and requested. I adore the Charley Davidson/Grave series, and stupidly didn’t realise until part way through this that there’s an earlier book. I think if I’d read that I’d have got “into” this story much quicker, instead of trying to puzzle out who’s who and how they fit it. Darynda does give enough info that I could work out the gist of earlier events, but I think I’d have got more from this if I’d read that one.
I reread the CD/Grave series recently and enjoyed the earlier books even more now I know how the story goes. I’m a fan of rereading good ( to me) books and adore a whole series to go through.

Anyway, what a great cast of characters. Sunshine reminds me so much of Charley, that same quirky sense of humour that appeals to me, the way she does the right thing regardless of personal cost. It always ends right, but via a somewhat tortured route, and brings in some chaotic events.
Levi ( swoon) feels like Reyes ( swoon again!!) and Aurora could be Amber. They share so many characteristics. I really enjoyed the story, a mix of humour, sensitivity, dangers and the pathos of growing up.
I adored Cruz, and the relationship between him and Aurora, he was so protective. And of course Sunny’s Parent talk, Mr Penis and the Devils Doorbell had me in stitches. I could just imagine poor Aurora’s face.
Under the humour and zany actions though are real events, dangers, bad, greedy people and then a bit of heartbreak at the end with Cruz’, beautiful poem and the way he read it. That gave me a tear.

Its a series I’m going to continue with, less pressuring in a way that the Grave books, no supernatural baddies popping up but of course humans can be pretty nasty too.
And book one is definitely going on my list of reads too. I think I know most of the background but I’d like to see it play out in real time.

Stars: Four, though I do think if I’d read book one it would have been a five. Its a great read, solid mix of plots, life events and humour.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Missing Pieces of Us, Eva Glyn

 

The Missing Pieces of Us, Eva Glyn

The Missing Pieces of Us: The most emotional and gripping page turner of 2021! by [Eva Glyn]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction.

First, darn, women’s fiction Again…Why? Its 2021 not 1821. Men read romance, men write romance..

So, the book. I was really intrigued by the description. I know from reading that actually what we remember as The Truth isn’t necessarily what happened. There have been many studies around police witnesses to prove this. So I wondered how things would play out in the story. Plus I’m a sucker for second chance romance.

I liked Robin, as a young man and now as someone older. He’s been through a lot and has learned so much about himself, he seems reasonably secure in who he is but…Izzy. She seemed to spend an extraordinary amount of time belittling him, in subtle and not so subtle way, and he just took it. She didn’t seem to notice she was doing it. I liked her at the start of the book, and I think that core of her remained inside. Now widowed, suddenly, she’s clearly got issues of her own that she’s ignoring, and that’s affecting those around her. There’s still a strong bond between her and Robin but she needs to have more respect for him IMO.
Claire was the star, just 16 but so good with her mum and Robin. Yes she has the teen outburst at times, but that’s normal. Considering she’s just had her dad die suddenly, her mum’s old lover/boyfriend turns up on the streets and is now in their home she’s amazing.

The theme of memory and truth is strong here. I didn’t really take that in and when I read something Izzy recalled that didn’t match what I’d read Robin say I was confused, flipped back to check I’d read it right, and was more confused when I had. It all connects eventually, just go with it.
There were a few times I needed to check who was talking/remembering/thinking, as it wasn’t clear but I assume final edits will sort that.
I enjoyed the story, its not one I’d reread and the romance side was really only a small part of the novel

Stars: Three, I enjoyed it but at times it was a little hard going, and Izzy frustrated me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Love you to Death, Reily Garrett.

Love you to Death, Reily Garrett.

Love You To Death: FBI Romantic Thriller (Moonlight and Murder Book 6) by [Reily Garrett, RE Hargrave]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romantic Suspense

I really enjoyed this. I think much of that comes from having read some of the earlier books, I’m familiar with the characters and how the team works. The only issue I had was that Dylan was a major romance lead when its only been months since his love was killed. I find it difficult to believe someone can fall in love again so quickly – but that’s just me, its not an issue for everyone of course, and didn’t spoil the story.
I loved Dylan in the last book, Deadly Interception so was pleased he’s the male focus of this one.
Taylor is ambitious, fresh out of probation and working along with her dog Magnum, she’s been given the job of looking into cold cases of missing girls. Out in the woods she gets a terrific break ( and OK its fiction right, so go with it. Strange things happen even in real life) when the latest would be abduction goes wrong and the victim escapes. She meets Dylan with Amelia, the victim, and another man, both helping but also very suspicious of the other, especially Dylan. We know his background but Taylor doesn’t so she’s immediately wary of both.
Gradually the team become involved, Taylor is wary but can’t deny the results, and her supervisor Trenton seems to know and approve of them all so goes along with it. It beings her right into danger several times, and I enjoyed trying to work out along with her so was behind this. There are some interesting clues, some I missed at first of course, that always seems to happen….I’ll get better one day at finding them. I’m in awe of how authors think of all these thinks, think of how to set up little signs that aren’t obvious until it all comes together. Reading I love, writing had never been my forte though! I just don’t have that kind of imagination.
I was still puzzled by the motives though, even when the person behind the abductions was revealed, and then there’s a lead in to the next book which shows that its actually not all over yet. They have one of the major players captured but it looks very much like there is another, so of course the motive is yet to come 😉
Trenton seems to be involved in the next story, I hope he’s the male lead. He’s kind of on the fringe of the group right now, but has some good talents and connections and could give much to them.
As always the dogs ( and Keiki’s drones) play a major part, and I love that they’re brought in that way. Dogs in real and fictional crimes don’t get the recognition they deserve very often!

Stars: Five for this one, a really gripping and entertaining read. I look forward to more on this story.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Queen’s Spy, Clare Marchant

 

The Queen’s Spy, Clare Marchant

The Queen’s Spy: A new and gripping Tudor historical fiction novel for 2021 by [Clare Marchant]

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

aaaand Women’s fiction again. Why? Time to lose this genre.

Well, this was a fabulous read, one I was totally lost in, reading “ just one more chapter” til way too late….
I loved the past best, though enjoyed the present story too. I enjoyed how what seemed like two totally separate tales slowly began to meld.

Mathilde was such a defensive, prickly character, when Rachel was hoping for an open loving sister. Its hard though, one of them always knowing the other existed, whilst living an idyllic childhood, but poor Mathilde having spent her life thinking her dad was dead, and living as an itinerant. No fixed home, always being moved on, with a mum that’s badly traumatised by the past, its no wonder she’s so closed.
Slowly though Rachel, Fleur, Rachel’s five year old, and the house begin to weave some magic around her and she starts to open up. Of course the delicious Art Historian Oliver helps too!

From the past there’s Tom, what a wonderful character. Fled England as a child and now as an adult finds himself trying to take refuge here. Tom was taught herbal lore and remedies by his adoptive mother, and it stands him in good stead. His problems mean so many jobs just aren’t available to him, but by chance he comes to the eye of Walsingham, and those make him the perfect spy for Elizabeth 1.
I so enjoyed this historical parts, the days to day issues, the remedies, the thread involving the vanilla plants that ran through the current day story too. Seeing Tom painting his triptych as his life unfolded was magical, and then finding it later and seeing Matty, Oliver and Rachel trying to find out the story was interesting. Art really does tell a tale and before photography was one of the only ways of recording events in a visual way.
There were some happy times and some tragic ones, along with a view of how little choice most folk had in their lives, how one moment you were secure and in favour, the next in prison, possibly facing the scaffold. Its an interesting period in history, one I’m reasonably familiar with and I really enjoyed seeing how the Babingdon plot may well have played out.

Stars: Five, A lovely tale, gentle romance but for me the magic was this historical side, and seeing how eventually Tom’s story came to light.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

No More Words, Kerry Lonsdale

No More Words, Kerry Lonsdale

No More Words: A Novel by [Kerry Lonsdale]
Genre: general fiction ( adult), women’s fiction

Sigh….women’s fiction yet again. Outdated, publishers, lets get rid of it.

Anyway, the book. Well, its Kerry Lonsdale, I love her writing.
She delivers a story that I can get engrossed in, that’s full of twists and surprises and keeps me guessing. And wow – this book did all that and more.
I didn’t realise it was a trilogy when I requested, but I’m not ready to leave this family yet so I’m really glad there’s more. As this story does end but there are lots of unanswered questions, I assume it’ll be Lily and Lucas that are main characters in next books, that we see the story from their pov maybe? That will fill in some of those blanks.

When we first meet them we can see their family is one of those perfect on the outside, dysfunctional on the inside, where appearances and money are all. ( what my Nan would call silk purse and no knickers….)
We see them as children, with parents that really want the perfect family image wise, but not the actual bother of raising them, although Olivia’s dad seems to adore her, and give her time he won’t spend on her siblings. Even so they get dropped off/dumped on family friends for the whole summer at a very young age. Lily is only five the first time we meet them, being left with near strangers for six weeks! Maybe that’s less shocking in US where summer camps are popular, but in UK that’s certainly unusual.

Then we meet them years later, Olivia mainly, and Josh, Lily’s son. He really was the star, his part so well written it was easy to believe in him, to feel his frustration, his fear for his mum, he really was a joy to read.
I liked how we see them change, how slowly Josh starts to trust Olivia, how she goes from wanting no-one in her life, to rely only on herself and yet by the end she and Josh are so close. It was good too seeing how her past impacted on her life, understanding why past actions of herself and others affected the person she is now. I hope we see that in the next two books, I’m really puzzled over Lucas, and of course I want to know where Lily and Josh have been all these years.

Stars: Five, another Kerry Lonsdale Classic and a real treat to read. Kept me engrossed, guessing ( wrongly mostly), on a mix of giddy highs when things went right, and tears when they didn’t right til the end.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

An Endless Cornish Summer, Phillipa Ashley

 

An Endless Cornish Summer, Phillipa Ashley

An Endless Cornish Summer: Escape with the perfect, heartwarming and uplifting new summer book from the Sunday Times bestselling author by [Phillipa Ashley]

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

ah,ahh Women’s Fiction again….its 2021 people.

Well, its a sweet story, stretches credibility to think Rose could find her donor that easily, then just find the perfect place to stay, make new friends etc, but -its fiction. It makes for a sweet read, gentle romance, and of course the Cornish setting is beautiful. There’s a few bits of drama creep in but nothing very heavy, its very much a gentle beach read.
I really liked Rose, she’d been through so much. She still worked hard though, and got into her chosen field, and now she’s off exploring more of history. Nigel and the YouTube links – that made me laugh. There are people like him everywhere, convinced the answer to everything is on a conspiracy site, and that people who’ve studied a subject in depth are simply wrong, misguided, simply need showing the error of their beliefs. Primary source materials, peer reviewed papers, all pale into comparison against a website set up by someone’s cousin’s, friend’s, brother, who knows absolutely whats right because he went to evening classes in extra terrestrials…or math. Something like that 😉 Covid has brought loads out!
Characters are like-able, Cornwall is gorgeous and I want to go out on a boat. Preferably with a lovely handsome man of course!

Stars: three, Its a fun read, easy to follow but a little light for me.

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers

Sleepless, Romy Hausmann

Sleepless, Romy Hausmann

Sleepless: the mind-bending new thriller from the bestselling author of DEAR CHILD by [Romy Hausmann]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

I loved Dear Child, so was eager to get into this but….while the writing is excellent the story just failed for me. I did put aside a few times, restarted and managed to finish, purely because I’d got the the point where I had to know how it played out but I really didn’t enjoy this read.
I found the tale confusing, different time lines, characters that seemed to have two very different stories. Eventually they began to join but I found the co-incidences of how characters were connected too much to believe, and I do believe a lot in random chance but this just didn’t feel right. Then there’s Laura, supposed to be Nadja’s friend according to the description but actually they’ve not spoken for a couple of years at least.
I felt for Nadja, horrific childhood, but really didn’t understand her willingness to help Laura. All of the characters were selfish to some degree, Laura and her husband very much so. Nelly was probably the most likable, poor little deluded girl, seduced by a practiced man….even she put out of her mind what her head was telling her.
I finished it, but it was a struggle, and even now I’m still confused about certain aspects, why, how, when of certain characters and events…

Stars: Two, I didn’t hate this book, I was just disappointed in the story, but as usual others adore this read. We all look for different things, this just wasn’t a fit for me.

ARC supplied by Netgally and publishers

Unforgettable You, Marci Bolden

Unforgettable You, Marci Bolden

Unforgettable You by [Marci Bolden]
Genre: Romance, general fiction ( adult), women’s fiction

Sigh….women’s fiction yet again. Outdated, publishers, lets get rid of it.

Anyway, the book. This type is like catnip for me so I really expected to love it. Maybe my expectations were too high but I was underwhelmed. Its a good read, don’t get me wrong, just not the glued to the page story I expected.
The plot is neat, has a good mix of characters, though Carrie must be superhuman to do all that mostly alone AND look after her mother in law who has early dementia….having worked in B and B’s as a kid I know how much work is involved. Carrie needed more help!
I liked Carrie, she was so caring, and I understood how close she was to mama. Will was lovely too, and the attraction between the two was obvious. I did like that there was heat without the inevitable endless sex scenes often found. I like sex scenes as much as any other reader but sometimes they just overtake the story. It’s nicely balanced here. I loved that we had a couple of unpleasant characters too, they always add an edge to the story, though I’d have liked to see a bit more nastiness from them!
Its hard to say just why this wasn’t a five star for me, all the elements were there but it just didn’t grip me, didn’t keep me glued to the page. Then when things go wrong, well, I didn’t understand why either of the characters acted as they did. Will especially, head in the sand or what? It didn’t feel right after him having been so caring and supportive. I would have expected Carrie to phone too, not just afterwards, but before there was an issue. It just didn’t gel with the characters I thought I knew.

Stars: Three, a good book, just not one that lit real sparks for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Chasing the Italian Dream, Jo Thomas

Chasing the Italian Dream, Jo Thomas

Chasing the Italian Dream: Escape and unwind with bestselling author Jo Thomas by [Jo Thomas]
Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance, Women’s Fiction,

Sometimes a book ticks all the right boxes but for whatever reason just doesn’t fit. That happened here for me.
I went in expecting to love this story but wasn’t convinced by the romance, didn’t understand how they could let so long go between them when both felt so strongly. I didn’t really understand why the need for the competition, but that could be because the women’s place in this story felt as if it had come from the fifties.
Maybe Italy in the rural areas really is like that? It just jarred me though, in the same way as yet again that outdated category of Women’s Fiction does. Why? Why alienate a huge swathe of potential readers. Men read romance, men write romance…

I wasn’t really keen on either main character, Lucia annoyed me so much at times, she was high handed and seemed to see everything for how it affected her. In contrast some of the secondary characters ere really interesting and lifted the story for me. The food descriptions were mouth watering, and I could smell the pizzas, the sharpness of lemons, and the bittersweet Limoncello – I love that stuff. Those parts kept me reading, Lucia didn’t. I wasn’t convinced by the ending.

Stars: Three, a pleasant read, some good parts even if Lucia annoyed me 😉

ARC via Netgally

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