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The Clover Chapel, Devney Perry

The Clover Chapel, Devney Perry

The Clover Chapel (Jamison Valley Book 2) by [Perry, Devney]

Genre: Romance

I loved the sound of this read, and was eager to get started, and what a great beginning. It unfolded into a story I enjoyed but wasn’t gripped by though. A one off read, I felt some events were a little overdone, didn’t feel completely real.

There were some great characters here, and some humour to lighten some of the darker moments. I loved Emmeline and Nick and was rooting for them, but though most people seemed keen for their reunion to succeed there were a few who weren’t.
Emmy needs an explanation from Nick as to why he left as he did, and I wasn’t entirely convinced by either his and her actions now chasing that explanation, or that it was actually a strong enough reason. Still, I guess Nick’s past meant he was a little more on edge about it than others may have been.

Its not just a story of a second chance romance though but one tied up with some past and present issues and injustices that bring Emmy into danger more than once.

There’s some nail biting suspense towards the end, and the perpetrator was someone I really didn’t expect.

Stars: Three. Its a story I enjoyed but definitely a one off read for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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#Moonstruck, A #Lovestruck Novel Book 2, Sariah Wilson

#Moonstruck, A #Lovestruck Novel Book 2, Sariah Wilson

#Moonstruck (A #Lovestruck Novel) by [Wilson, Sariah]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), romance

I enjoyed book one and was pleased to see a fleeting appearance of Chase and Zoe here 😉 I love when that happens.

So, Maisy has a dilemma, she’s a Rule, No Musicians – Ever….and yet now she and her brothers are on tour with Ryan de Luna she’s struggling.
It was pretty easy at first, he has a reputation as a man-whore and jerk, she knows his type and it wasn’t hard to brush off his advances. That seemed to shock him, usually he only has to glance and the Pleeches ( Maisy’s term for the type of groupies that follow him) are desperate to shed their (minimal) clothes, do whatever he wants so he’s a bit intrigued by Maisy and her indifference.

To start with I thought he was a jerk too. In a way when everyone around is pandering to you, telling you what they think you want to hear, not whet you need to hear it must be difficult to be “normal”. Ryan’s trying to change though, tired of that rep, tired of doing the same music just because it sells, but his label love it because it brings in the money.
He loves the way Maisy treats him just the same as anyone else, no special treatment, not afraid to call him out, tell him he’s wrong.
As she gets to know him she can see beyond the face he presents and when he asks for her help she agrees. By then she’s pretty much been sucked in by his charm and just wants to help him achieve what he wants with his music.

I liked Maisie – and her brothers. They’ve had a tough life, work hard with their band to create and play the music they love, and all have other jobs to support the family, keep their home, and pay their mothers health costs. This gig is the chance of a lifetime for them, pays really well and hopefully could lead to financial security, so they’re a little worried about what happens if Maisy and Ryan split. Will they lose the gig, can they afford that risk? They can see that both have feelings for each other so the “fake” girlfriend thing isn’t going to stay that way for long.

Its got some great drama in, and like book one has a nice twist at the end. I thought I’d guessed that – I was wrong, it wasn’t who I thought but someone I’d never imagined. Like I said before I love to be surprised.
I did think Maisy over-reacted a bit but the story needed that to create the drama, and given the type of person she was and her fear of Ryan being like her father, it wasn’t that much of a stretch to believe she would have done that.

Stars:Four, another fun and real feeling read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The Story After Us, Fiona Perrin

The Story After Us, A heartwarming tale of life and love for modern women everywhere,  Fiona Perrin

The Story After Us: A heartwarming tale of life and love for modern women everywhere by [Perrin, Fiona]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction (Adult)

This is one of those books that’s well written but which I didn’t really enjoy. I wanted to like it, but was expecting a second chance style romance, or at least A romance, when what we get it the disintegration of one and a possibility of another. If the genre was in the Romance section I’d have felt a little less disappointed. To me a romance is a HEA or at least a solid HFN.
So, Ami and Lars were so in love, where did it go wrong? Sadly that happens to lots of marriages, so busy with work and family that the romance, the love, gets lost. I felt so sad for them.
Yet Ami annoyed me, I felt sorry for her at first, Lars just didn’t want to recognise there was an issue and I felt she still loved him dearly, wanted their marriage to work and was prepared to put in the effort, where Lars was just either ignoring the issues or blaming her for nagging. Familiar story? Of course it culminates in a massive row and Lars leaves.
I wish we knew more of Lars, his thoughts, his personality, but we really only see what Ami thinks of him. The one insight when he was talking to his friend I did feel sorry for him, but still felt he was being unfair to Ami.
The main thrust of the book is Ami’s life separated from Lars, and she seems to veer madly back and forth, one moment missing what they had, the next declaring she was happy without a man. Of course it doesn’t help that she’s got money issues, a new business and young kids to worry over. Given that she is now a single parent responsible for the kids, Lars is always away anyway, she somehow manages to have a remarkable amount of free time. In the real world it isn’t that easy to go out for an evening, just saying 😉 I did love Ami’s bag campaign, excellent idea and fit with the theme of the book really well. I loved Ben, but had to wonder just what he saw in Ami at times 😉

As I said its a well written story but I really didn’t like either Lars or Ami and for me that’s a huge issue, and added to that I was expecting a Romance so this book wasn’t a hit for me. That’s a personal view of course, and I’m sure others will love it.

Stars: Two and a half, there were parts I liked and it was well written, just that I didn’t like it enough for a three.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The Backpacking Housewife, Janice Horton

The Backpacking Housewife,  Janice Horton

The Backpacking Housewife: Escape around the world with this feel good novel about second chances! by [Horton, Janice]

Genre: general Fiction (Adult)

A mixed read for me, there were parts I really loved, but others that didn’t sit quite right for me.

Its a read that starts off with a bang, poor Lori making a horrible discovery when returning home earlier than expected. She grabs her passport and bag and ….she’s off, to the destination furthest that’s available Right Now.

I would have liked to know a bit more about her home life, kids, mum etc, so I could see how much Lori had changed. I loved the traveling, loved the scenery, the people she met, the places she went and especially her time with the turtles. It made me feel part of her trip, as if I was there with her it was so well written.
It was quite hard though to separate it out into an actual fiction novel rather than a kind of travelogue….and it was fiction I wanted. I wanted Charles to get his comeuppance, to see what he’d thrown away in his arrogance, wanted the best friend to see what she’d lost in Lori, and I did find it a bit hard to believe that someone like Lori, devoted to her family could just up and leave them, with so little contact, so little worry. She seems to tell herself, boys grown up – they’ll be fine, mum’s got her friends…and doesn’t really worry about them or let them know where she is. It just didn’t feel quite real there, if it was just her and Charles yes, but she has her two (grown) boys who she loves, has her mum who she’s on good terms with and I didn’t feel she would have been happy to have just left them like that.
I loved Ethan, a true gentleman, loved how he was with Lori, loved his enthusiasm for life and everything in it. I was supposed though how abrupt the ending was, it seemed to be a little rushed, a bit brief when I expected more. Maybe that’s just me though and my romance/HEA addiction. There’s certainly promise of a HFN here.

Stars: Four, a wonderful read and escape, made me wish I was there with her, but which felt a little unreal in parts.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Islands in the East, Jenny Ashcroft

Island in the East, Jenny Ashcroft
Island in the East: Two great loves. One shattering betrayal. A war that changes everything. by [Ashcroft, Jenny]

Genre: historical, Romance

I loved Jenny’s previous book, and this one is even more special for me.
I really felt I was there with the characters, I could see the colours, feel the heat, smell the exotic and the not so pleasant scents.
So much felt real that I actually skipped some of the wartime scenes, as I’m a little squeamish. There wasn’t anything particularly graphic but being the wimp I am I found it hard to imagine characters I’d come to love in that situation. I don’t really enjoy reading about the reality of war anyway, so I skimmed just looking for mention of the characters to get an overview of what was happening.

It set back in the late 1800’s and the 1940’s and reads as two stories with connected characters but its how they connect that’s the puzzle. Slowly as each story continues in alternating chapters we see them begin to join, see how they relate to each other and it made for a wonderful, escapist read.
From the early chapters I had an idea of what might have happened, but not why, or who was responsible, I an idea of how it played out but as it happened I was way off track.
Its a vivid story, the closeness of twins brought up with a sense of shame at being illegitimate – how harsh and judgemental humans can be on others. Some delight in others misfortunes, and the Mems certainly found fodder for their gossip in Mae and Harriet.
I so felt for the girls when things started to go wrong, they didn’t really stand a chance in the mans world they lived in.
Then the later section of the story with Ivy, Kit, Alex and those from the past and the present I wasn’t sure how it all fit together. Again I had ideas about some characters but how they got there, what actually happened eluded me. And when the truth came out it was incredibly moving.

Stars: five, A tear-jerker read, full of angst and emotion, and with an amazingly realistic setting.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The King’s Witch, Tracy Borman

The King’s Witch,  Tracy Borman

The King's Witch by [Borman, Tracy]

Genre: Historical Fiction

I have an occasional foray into this genre, Tracy Borman is an author new to me but I’ll look out for more of her novels. When I’m reading an historical work I want the personalisation, the feeling I understand the characters, to see them in day to day action, and Tracy did that perfectly here for me. I don’t work a work of fiction that reads like a text book, but I do want the events and maybe some of the characters surrounding them to be presented as they happened more or less.
Its pretty horrific how we treated people in history ( and sadly in current times too). It never ceases to amaze me how inhumane man can be, how inventive with torture. Reading a reminder of the penalty for treason gave me the usual sick feeling, that people would do all that and expect the result to be genuine, threaten and expect to get the truth. Though really I guess it wasn’t truth they wanted, just a list of names to prosecute/persecute. Seeing what happened to Frances and how she came through shows how the system was so skewed against truth.
As well as charting the end of Elizabeth the first and the succession of James 1st (of England & NI) this story covers the persecution of witches, and the still difficult question of religion. No such thing as live and let live then, it was each man out for themselves mostly, with political figures changing stances on everything according to the current climate. A very insecure time to live, especially of someone powerful in court held a grudge.
I loved Frances and her family, her love of healing and helping, her compassion but when witchcraft was being pursued so heavily, with people taking the chance to play out old grudges it was a very dangerous time to have knowledge of simple healing. I’ve always been attracted to natural remedies and how we discovered them, how people found what worked, how they did things that we would see as plain idiotic and yet they derived strength from them. Sometimes I think we have an innate need to believe in Something, Anything to help with pain, illness, things out of our control.
When it came to making a decision over Tom and his compatriots, whether to do one thing or another, I so felt for her. Each course of action held danger, each held things that went against her nature and it was a very hard decision to take.

It was a fascinating read, felt very true to time period but with that personal touch that makes a story easy to read for me.
I hadn’t realised it was a trilogy so look forward to what next for Frances and for England.

Stars:Five, a great read, very real characters, a writing of real events in a way that well could have played out.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Coming Home, P.E. Kavanagh

Coming Home,  P.E. Kavanagh

Coming Home (Friends & Lovers Book 2) by [Kavanagh, PE]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I hadn’t read book one, didn’t realise that these books were connected, I guess Lucas and Ramona were secondary characters in that. Maybe I’d have felt closer to them and the story if I had read the first.

I understood the sizzle when she first met Lucas again, but wished I knew if they’d ever been more than just Good Friends, as that seemed to get heated very quickly. Then once Ramona found out about the engagement I didn’t see why she was still with him, especially when he just refused to answer or even consider answering any of her questions. I’d be saying “right, I’m off” and the person I feel Ramona was would too. Yet she doesn’t, doesn’t ask questions even while telling herself she deserves answers, just carries on in the same way.
I didn’t really get why Lucas was with his fiancee. ( Annabelle? I’ve even forgotten her name and its only a day after reading…) the whole secrecy bit, reasons, excuses, nothing really added up IMO, and then at times it delves into what could be some deep drama but jumps out just as quickly without anything really happening.

I was irritated too at the fact Ramona hasn’t been back for ten years, and yet soon as she’s here its as if she has a monopoly on grief, she’s busy blaming her brother for not being around enough because of his career, even though he lives locally, while conveniently forgetting she’;s been away ten years!

Stars: Two, sadly a story that didn’t work for me. As ever though others love it, I guess its one of those reads that suit some readers, not others. You can’t please all of the people all of the time etc.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

More Than Us, Dawn Barker

More Than Us,  Dawn Barker

More Than Us by [Barker, Dawn]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Parenting and Families

This was a fascinating read. I started thinking I’d just read a few chapters, and many hours later…..
I love books that make me think “what would I do if…” and here I fell quickly into feeling with Emily, adores her family and just wants Cam to be happy- and its clear he’s not. Problems are rarely in isolation though and its family issues that can play a big part in them, Cam’s issues play on family and create friction, Paul’s career comes to an end with injuries finally spelling the end and he reacts by spiraling into addiction, creating even more problems for Emily and stressing the family structure further.

When it comes to a head I so felt for them all, Cam so unhappy, tilly reacting as many pre teens would by controlling one of the few things she could, Paul and Emily both just wanted the best for their family, for their children to be happy and healthy but found themselves in very opposing views.
Would I do what Emily did? I don’t know – I suspect I would. What about Paul, he seemed to be doing what was best fort the family but it took him down what could be a dangerous road – and its one that’s very real, one I’m very cautious about. I can’t say more without giving things away but I could see how what seemed like the answer to a prayer, a great help could easily take over lives.

The only real issue I have with the story is that the ending felt very, very rushed and I wasn’t really convinced things would be different. Paul’s thoughts seemed to have taken a 180 overnight. I just couldn’t see him letting go of something that had him gripped as the answer to his family. It is possible, but it felt a little like St Paul on the road to Damasacus. ( Oh – same name, maybe that’s some clever allusion that missed me?)

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, breathtaking in places with superb pacing, keeping me glued to see just what happened next, wondering if there was a way this lovely, loving family could stay together, get through the problems they had.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Perfect Husband, Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband,  Buffy Andrews

The Perfect Husband by [Andrews, Buffy]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Writer K.J. Charles wrote a blog post recently about what is and isn’t a romance novel. She says romance needs to have that happy ending, a HEA or at least a HFN between the two (or more) main characters and that’s exactly how I feel. This ISN’T romance, its a great read, I really enjoyed it but romance it is not. I’ll skip my usual moan about women’s fiction 🙂 For me this book is better categorised as General Fiction, Drama/Dark fiction.

It starts well, that careful meeting when adults are thrown back into the dating field, after death, divorce, break-ups. Shelley meets Eric and her best friend Jackie and her workmates all agree he’s the perfect man. Even at this early stage we can see one of two red flags but Shelley, blissfully immersed in Love Land misses them.
How easy that is, how we make excuses, tell ourselves “he/she didn’t mean it that way./its understandable, I shouldn’t have…/well he/she had past issues that make that reaction normal for them.

Eric’s like a whirlwind, and Shelley is so in love, feels so treasured, so taken care of, even though she is perfectly OK at taking care of herself. Everyone loves a bit of pampering, a little special treatment and I could see so much why Eric appealed, such a contrast to her ex.
And before she knows it they’re moving in together, and of course it doesn’t make sense to keep her stuff when Eric’s is so nice, and he says he’d rather not have things from her life with Scott. Some of the things were hers alone though, and he’s all “well, of course if you really want to keep them we can change things round, make room somewhere…” sounding like he’s doing her a favour almost. She knows he doesn’t really want anything of her past in their new home, and she loves him, she wants what he wants.
Suddenly she’s married, and the cracks start to appear. Sadly this is real life for so many people, men and women, and it’s so easy to say “just leave” but by the tome things are that bad all confidence in the victim, in Shelley, has been lost. Life becomes just a constant struggle to watch out for anything that might make Eric angry, and then after pretending she accepts his remorse, his words of “you need to try harder Shelley, I don’t like having to get angry at you” That’s a classic, turn the blame around, and something abusers are so good at.

The real kicker is can she escape, will she find the strength, will he let go? The drama parts of this novel were superb, so carefully done its easy to see how outgoing, attractive, confident Shelley becomes a shadow of that person, and yet all the while presenting a front of the perfect marriage. I was so rooting for her.

I moaned about genre classification, and if I was a solely romance reader I’d have been so disappointed. Happily though I’m an eclectic reader. Its a fabulous read, not romance by a long shot but an incredible dark, ( not as in horror dark thankfully) psychological suspense, mirroring what is real life for many people, sucking us in to Eric and Shelley’s world, wondering how it can all end.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, breathtaking in places with superb pacing, slowly revealing the real Eric.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Queen of the North, Anne O’Brien

Queen of the North,  Anne O’Brien

Queen of the North by [O'Brien, Anne]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Historical

I love historical novels such as this which take real events, real people and weave a story of how things may have unfolded. History was a tough time for females, regarded as first fathers property, then belonging to husband, and for those like Elizabeth, with Royal blood, and connected to the current monarch they were his property too.
Politics back then was ever changing, those who supported the king could be traitor soon as the next contender the the throne wins through. It was a time when ambition ruled, when the house name was all and Elizabeth has been brought up strong in the sense of the Mortimer claim to the throne, and genuinely believes her nephew(s) has the right to be king now that Richard is dead. Henry is her cousin, and she believed his claim that he just wanted to reclaim his lands, taken by Richard, and is shocked when he breaks his sworn vows and deposes Richard. For a while the Percy star is high with Harry and his father being supporters of Henry. Slowly though the usual cracks break through, Henry admires what Harry has done, commands him into battles, and yet the financing…well, the royal coffers have other calls.
I adored Harry ( Hotspur as he’s fervently known) – he inspired such love and loyalty in his people, was very honest in what he believed, didn’t thrown in his lot and change with the wind as so many did back then. He and Elizabeth were a great couple, both strong headed, both ready to put their views forward, both brought up since babies with a certain destiny in mind, and supporting the family names. They clashed, heatedly, repeatedly, but the making up showed how truly they were in love, how much they respected each other even when they didn’t agree. When Hotspur finally fell in battle I cried, even knowing it was coming, even though he died centuries ago. These characters felt so real to me, and their stories played out making me feel as if I was there with them, wondering what course of action was best next, what they could do to move things towards the destiny they believed was right.

Stars: Five, a wonderful read, transporting me back in time. Its my second Anne O’Brien novel, and I’m looking forward to catching up on some of the others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

 

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