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Undone, Kelly Rimmer

Undone, Kelly Rimmer

Undone (Start Up in the City) by [Rimmer, Kelly]

Genre: Romance

I’ve enjoyed a few of Kelly’s stories, but hadn’t read the first two in this series, I didn’t realise there were earlier books. The story is stand alone, though if you’ve read the other two I’m sure you’ll enjoy catching up with the characters here.

Jess, I didn’t dislike her, but just didn’t understand her and found her actions confusing. When part of her background came out I felt for her, I had the exact same thing happen at the same tender age, and I understood how you never get past that, it colours your whole life. For her though the tragedy went further and that impacted upon her relationship with Jake. TBH I couldn’t really understand why she took the position she did, what she came to realise by the end was blindingly obvious from the start, and I hated how her actions hurt both of them so badly, and yet she continued even knowing how she would hurt Jake again.
Jake – well, he was just wonderful, so clearly in love still with Jess, and so confused about her reactions. I felt the poor guy was treading on eggshells, bending over backwards, and still getting blamed for things he couldn’t possibly understand. I was happy when finally Jess took a look at herself, at Jake, and saw what everyone else did, but so frustrated it took so long. But then we wouldn’t have a story if she saw it straight away….
I just feel that for me her actions didn’t quite fit how I could see she felt, that she was forcing herself, and that brought the story down a bit for me. I hovered between empathising with her, wanting to hug her at certain points, and – more often – wanting to shout at her to stop thinking only of herself. There’s two in a relationship, I just felt rather than being equal as she wanted, she was putting Jake way way behind her needs.

Stars: Three, parts I loved, parts I was really sad, but too often I just wanted to shout at Jess, tell her to think of Jake as a person not a stereotype.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

A Southern Girl Re-Belles, Sharon Brown Keith

A Southern Girl Re-Belles, Sharon Brown Keith

Genre: Romance, General Fiction ( adult)

I was intrigued by this one but it was a fail for me.
I didn’t like Abby right from the start when she gets her very pregnant friend to say she was driving as Abby had been drinking. I hate stuff like that, and it put me off her. I could understand why her best friends husband doesn’t like her. As the story continued, more came out about Abby and she felt to me like one of those folk who blame everything on to others, and never look at themselves.
I was looking forward to seeing Bo too, but I’ve read to 25% and he still hasn’t appeared ( I checked, its at 38% he first comes in). I just don’t like Abby enough to continue with the story, I can’t bring myself to wait to see what happens to her. What I know of her grandmother didn’t endear her to me either, I found her antics annoying rather than humorous. Maybe I’ll pick this up another time and try again, maybe I’m just not in the right mood but for now this is a DNF.

Stars: Two, just not one for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Serendipity Game, A Romantic Comedy, Teagan Kearney

The Serendipity Game, A Romantic Comedy, Teagan Kearney

The Serendipity Game: A Romantic Comedy by [Kearney, Teagan]

Genre: Romantic comedy

Well, I love a “good” B itch in a book, and had hopes Elena would prove to be one so was keen to read this. It was a fun, easy read, but very slow to start.

Apart from a quick incident in the first few pages, we don’t actually meet Jake until a third of the way through the book. Not at all, and for me that let the story down.
I expected there to be some kind of interaction between him and Casey before then. Once the do get together it was a fun read, quite light, not a deep dark, intense read, but a very surface based, light one. Sometimes that’s what you need though, a book you can read between other things, one you can put down and when you pick it up again you don’t have to restart to remember where you were.

I liked Casey and her friends, but at times she did over labour the differences between her and Jake. I loved Jake, such a romantic man, but also very thorough in ensuring everything involving Casey is taken care of, not leaving things to chance. I want a Jake of my own.
I’m OK with insta lust, and could feel that between them, but for me I like the love to have a bit more time to develop. In this book all the action takes place in a little over a week, apart from the very end of course. I found it hard to believe Jake especially would plunge straight in after being burned in marriage first time round.
The paparazzi parts were excellent, they really do dive in after pics regardless of how they can ruin lives, its all a game and money to them. I really felt for Casey when she got caught in that situation, and was so glad she had her friends to help.

The humour is quite subtle, very low key but I’d rather that than the forced in-your-face comedy so many books contain. I did snort very unbecomingly at the Casey/Elena and the vomit scene…perfect.
I did expect a bit more from Elena, she’s part of an overall plot but I was hoping for a bit more interaction between her and Casey, some nicely chosen verbal barbs, some manipulation of events. She’s really – well – nuts is the only way to put it. Bats-hit crazy. That shows when the final plot comes to a head, but I think she could have had a bigger part in the story, rather than a behind the scenes mostly appearance.
I’m not sure I’d class it as a Cinders retelling, but it is an easy, fun read.

Stars: Three and a half. I’ve dropped a half for that very slow start where we don’t meet a main character til almost a third into the book. For me I need to have them engaged in the story earlier, preferably with the other MC, but a behind the scenes peek would have helped.

ARC supplied by author

The Disheveled Duke, (A Little Bit Cupid Collection), Catherine Curzon,   Eleanor Harkstead 

The Disheveled Duke, (A Little Bit Cupid Collection), Catherine Curzon,  
Eleanor Harkstead 

The Dishevelled Duke: A Little Bit Cupid by [Curzon, Catherine, Harkstead, Eleanor]

Genre: M/M Romance, Short story

Confession time: I don’t read short stories usually but when I was offered this for review I had in my head the next book in the Captivating Captains series. My bad. I should read emails properly.

Still, it was a fun read, I adored Charlie and the dogs, Delia and Nigel – named for the chefs I assume? Wonder what the pups will be named…I love that Charlie is so laid back, especially when we find out more about him. He had a wonderful way of putting his background into perspective.
Billy’s lovely too, like so many he’s taken a chance on London, which has spat him back out. As an artist I know so many talented painters, photographers, textile artists etc and they produce incredible work, but getting it seen in galleries and thus sold is hard. Its catch 22, galleries need the commission so don’t often take a chance on new artists, and without that exposure artists don’t succeed often.
The internet has leveled that to a degree, but its still very difficult, and I felt for Billy. He’s clearly an amazing talent, but facing the harsh reality of trying to make things work, get a career. Most of us are artists, and like Billy actually marketing, getting work seen isn’t one of our talents.
How they finally get together is a wonderfully romantic and sweet story. Even if I didn’t realise it was a short!

Stars: five, a fun read, sweet and cute story, lovely characters, and of course, dogs. I always wanted an Irish wolfhound. Anyone who loves dogs can’t be bad 😉 and Charlie and Billy adore them.

Arc via authors

Glissando, A Story of Love, Lust and Jazz, Debbie Burke

Glissando, A Story of Love, Lust and Jazz, Debbie Burke

Glissando: A Story of Love, Lust and Jazz by [Burke, Debbie]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction.

Bah! Women’s fiction. Its 2020, men write romance, men read romance. Outdated category.

So, I did see that Ellie was attracted to a married guy, but hoped there were going to be some mitigating circumstances…y’know, wife still, but divorce on the way, wife is a nasty woman, and there are reasons, valid reasons why they don’t part. Sadly though Ellie decides before knowing anything about the wife that she wants Vince, and what she wants she gets. Having been in that situation herself and devastated by it, I just could not understand how she could do it to someone else.
The story starts where Ellie is maybe late twenties/ early thirties perhaps, then suddenly it shoots forward to where she’s fifty-five, and meets Vince. I found that odd, not really knowing what happened in her life between then and now.
I also found that the writing style, very much an inner light into Ellie’s constant thoughts, rather than dialogue based didn’t work for me. I’m not a fan of stories told via inner monologues. That’s me though, as always you may feel very differently about this book.
I’m not sure whether this is meant to be a stand alone of part of a sereis, certainly the very last line hints at a series, or more to come anyway, but there isn’t any easy to find info. I won’t be continuing anyway.

Stars: Two, just not one for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Bromance Book Club, Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club, Lyssa Kay Adams

The Bromance Book Club: The utterly charming new rom-com that readers are raving about! by [Kay Adams, Lyssa]

Genre: Romance

Y’know, so very often books promise “you will laugh out loud” or maybe “gut clenching humour” and I find that actually they don’t, the humour is forced and more slapstick than comedic. This one promises nothing and yet was incredible. Clever subtle humour at times that had me smiling gently, and at other times ? I was snorting at the mental images.

Wonderfully written, you feel for both characters, and I adored them even if I could see where they were harsh with each other in expectations and of course, saying just the wrong thing at the wrong moment!
Gavin, he was wonderful. Top baseball star, dad of adorable twin girls, and thinks he has the perfect marriage and then….That comes out. Poor guy, all this while he’s been thinking he’s keeping his wife happy sexually, and then suddenly he finds out she’s never reached the big O. He (IMO) over reacts, a mix of feeling humiliated I guess, and feeling that she’s lied to him the three years they’ve been married.

Thea, suddenly found herself pregnant early in her relationship, and twins demand all your time. She loves Gavin, that’s clear, but feels an outsider in his closed Baseball world. I can see that, many wives/partners grow up alongside their partner, from junior ranks to the big time but Thea got dropped straight in, and it feels like she’s always trying to blend in, to belong, and yet never really fits. Of course there’s the classic mean girl, the type who says one thing while making it clear its not praise but an insult, Rachel, wife of one of the other stars, and I do love a character like hers. I wish she had a bigger part. I love the drama that follows people like her.
Then with the arrival of the twins Thea’s own career has ground to a halt too. She adores Gavin so how do you say “actually Gav, you’ve not hit the spot” and when? Once you’ve let that magic, hidden moment pass its gone. How can you respond when he says “why didn’t you tell me before?” and so it becomes a long secret.
The book club guys, they were just wonderful. I love First Rule of Book Club, you don’t talk about Book Club. The sheer silliness of modern day men, bug Alpha males, taking tips from fictional Regency Lords and their problems. And yet it was working…I guess times never really change. I love the way they convinced themselves the book was relevant to modern society, the way they used words to parallel it to modern feminism…and of course the wonderful Regency style insults and phrases that pop into Gavin’s head. It was the little touches like that which add so much depth and fun to the story
Its one step forward and two back for Gavin as both he and Thea learn slowly about the issues from their own pasts that have influenced their marriage. If they had dated for longer then maybe they wouldn’t have had issues, would have known more about each others triggers but…the twins came.
I think my favourite bit was the night Gav was looking after the twins and the book club lads had a meeting at his house. Thea and sister Liv came home early to find decorated beards and hair, big burly guys with painted nails, and of course The Russian and his stomach and flatulence issues. I actually had tears of laughter at the mental images in my head.
Its a great read, lovely romance with incredible humour that was just perfect for me, fitting to the story, not squeezed in regardless for a cheap laugh as in so many books. I look forward to the next in series.

Stars: Five. A wonderful read, romance, humour and sharply modern issues that were helped with ancient advice….

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Captain & the Squire, (The Captivating Captains 5) Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain & the Squire, (The Captivating Captains 5) Catherine Curzon,
Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain and the Squire (Captivating Captains Book 5) by [Curzon, Catherine, Harkstead, Eleanor]

Genre: Humour, LGBTQIA

Well, I’m late to this series and have only read the previous book. I struggled with that so was hoping this would suit better – and it did. It was timing in last book that was wrong for me. I don’t really gel with books where everything takes place over a few days, but this one is longer, still short, just a month except for the epilogue, but it worked so much better for me.

I loved the way Tarquin and Chris are at odds from the moment they meet, and yet that magical thread of attractions pulls to them both. That meeting should have clued me to what sort of story this was going to be, but it took me a few more pages to realise that it really was tongue in cheek stuff, perfect schoolgirl humour that somehow I’ve never outgrown!
Chris is new to the area, although his family and Tarquin’s have been in Bough Bottom for generations. Tarquin is a long standing resident, local farmer, with the most horrendous fiancee, Petunia. She was so perfect in the book, adding a nasty edge to the spice and nice 😉 along with her boss, the awful Bryan.
If you’re thinking Romance, sensuality and emotional story – well, the emotion you’ll be feeling is tears, but tears of laughter. At times this feels like a Brian Rix ( now I’m showing my age) farce, it’s slapstick type comedy, so overdone that it works. There’s a fine line between slapstick funny and in your face OTT jokes, and the authors have found it perfectly.
From the countryside squire Tarquin portrays, trilby, tweeds and tractors, very typical stereo-type, Chris’ wide boy city financier, Petunia’s grasping, greedy social climber to the real star, Orry, otherwise know as The Oracle, cleverest pig on the planet its all so silly that it somehow works, and had me sniggering at the unlikely events.
Of course there’s a serious side in that Tarquin is engaged – to a woman, and his other inclinations go unknown, and what will come of that. Then there’s the terms of Chris uncle’s will, Chris has only a short window to act if he’s to keep the house and money, and it not go to his elderly uncle’s latest floozy… And just what did happened between the Hardcastles and the Boughs all that while ago?

The boat race and Orry’s actions – wonderful writing, had me sniggering at the though of super intelligent pig racing with a priceless antique dildo to help…..
Then there’s the semi serious side of the looting of precious historical artifacts in other countries, that’s a reality that sadly happens too much, and was good to see mentioned in the context of dealers and collectors. Some people have no morals, fortunately Chris and Tarquin do, and all ends well. Wish real life was like that.

Stars: Five, Its a wonderful, sniggering farce, with a spicy and sensual romance wrapped up in it. I thoroughly enjoyed it. A fun read to drive away winter blues.

Arc via authors

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You, Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You: Deliciously romantic and utterly hilarious - the funniest romcom of 2020! by [McFarlane, Mhairi]

Genre: Romance

I loved this book, romance, humour, pathos and drama, loads of drama, the stuff of tears, long lasting not the two pages on all is well type. All the ingredients for a five star read from me.

Laurie, poor Laurie, she’s reached that age where the baby decision is looming, and thinks Dan, her partner since uni, is there with her. And then he drops the bombshell, its not just a baby he doesn’t want, but the whole life he and Laurie have created.
She’s heartbroken, gutted, and although he does the “its not you its me, of course there’s no-one else, I wouldn’t do that to you”, she’s nitpicking her way through their past interactions, trying to see where she went wrong. Because of course it must be something she did, or didn’t do in her eyes. Her friends tell her no, things happen, and she fast discovers that the mutual friends they have soon divide off into his and hers….
Its made worse by the fact they work together, Dan asks her to keep their breakup quiet and she does, sobbing silently in the loos when it gets too much. Only her best friend Emily knows the truth.

And then – Dan comes to see her, the man who wasn’t ready for a baby yada, yada, yada, to tell her his new GF is pregnant and of course Laurie starts counting just how long they’d been together, was it all lies he told her. She’s gutted, stricken, heartbroken just when she was getting on with life without him.
She gets stuck in the lift one evening with Jamie, a man from the office she only knows by rep, and that has him as a classic jack-the-lad Lothario, and sees he’s not quite as he’s portrayed. He’s a little younger than her and devastatingly good looking. He’s ambitious too, and wants to make partner despite his age, but has been given the hint that if he had a steady partner it would help. He proposes a fauxmance, he’ll impress the bosses, Laurie gets to keep her head high in the office, and stick it to Dan. Win win.
Of course it never works out that easy and along the way to happiness lies some real angst, tears, embarrassment and soul searching. Both Laurie and Jamie learn a lot about themselves.

The office politics was played perfectly, offices always seem to be hotbeds of gossip, taking every little hint and embellishing it “in confidence” of course, and there’s always an office gatekeeper who takes his/her role very seriously and has favourites. I loved that Bharat wasn’t put in that overworked, tired, bitch queen role, but was instead a loyal, funny and sharply intellectual man. He had wit but not the cruel type gays so often get tarred with. Laurie being mixed race is dealt with well, those questions “ where are you from”, “ Yorkshire”, “ no I mean where are you from…”.
Emily, her best friend, had her share of woes in the story, and we see just how friends support each other, and that’s one of the things that made this such a special read for me. It was about people, real folk we meet day in day out, not some book trope caricatures. The humour fell naturally, there were subtle little quips that had me sniggering, then the next line would be something that had me on the edge of tears. There one section towards the end, that being me had me really happy, a feeling of reap what you sow schadenfreude! Loved it.
We learned so much about what made the main characters the way they were, about why they were seen a certain way, and of course what their hopes for the future was. Its a wonderful read, I love Mhairi’s stories, had a little hiccup with Don’t you forget about me, but this one is anther solid five star keeper.

Stars: Five, fantastic read, great mix of life, people, drama and humour, and a wonderful HEA.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

This is Not How it Ends, Rochelle B. Weinstein

This is Not How it Ends, Rochelle B. Weinstein

This Is Not How It Ends by [Weinstein, Rochelle B.]

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction.

And my usual moan, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Men read romance, men write romance. We call out for equality and then slap in this outdated and ludicrous category 😦

Anyway, my first read by this author so I didn’t know what to expect, but I really liked the sound of the description. It proved to be a book that was way above what I anticipated, a thoughtful and moving read.
There were times I found myself irritated with Phillip, when he was away so much even though he knew Charley was upset by it, when he never offered to take her. I didn’t feel he was the sort for an affair – he adored Charley and I couldn’t see him ever wanting anyone else, but why wouldn’t he suggest she come with him? Why did he keep going away for work when financially he didn’t need to, and it ought to have been clear his absence was causing issues between them. As I got further into the book all became clear and made me love him even more.
Then there’s Ben, and what a wonderful guy he was too, and he’d been through such heartbreak. Circumstances put him and Charley together so much, and I was torn for what might happen, and in tears when I got towards the end. Its not a conventional love triangle, though there is such a lot of love in the book, its tempered with incredible sacrifice too. Its does have a HEA among all those tears.

Stars: Five. It was incredibly moving, a story I really didn’t anticipate enjoying as much as I did. Those characters, Phillip, Charley, Ben and the secondary ones with stay with me for a while.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Love Lettering, The Charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go, Kate Clayborn

Love Lettering, The Charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go, Kate Clayborn

Love Lettering: The charming feel-good rom-com that will grab hold your heart and never let go by [Clayborn, Kate]

Genre: Women’s fiction

Gah, I hate this genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.

So, I started eagerly, as an artist I so admire those who can do wonderful lettering. I wish I could but alas, my lettering as abysmal 😦 Yet, for the first quarter maybe I was floundering, not really sure what was happening, where the thrust of the novel was going – and waiting for the romance to start. It seemed Meg and Reid were certainly not going to be together, they barely seemed able to look at each other. Then slowly it coalesced and I began to be gripped, by Meg’s ideas, by the way Reid seemed to slowly come round to understanding them and they way he pulled in to help. Yet they were still edgily polite to each other, ultra cautious, each expecting the other to say “ that’s enough now”. Neither was willing to put themselves forward in a big way, but they inched their way closer and it was wonderful to watch, with me desperate to know if they would take that magic step into couple-dom ( yep, I succumbed and took a peep at the end . For me it doesn’t spoil the story, just lets me enjoy it without that awful worry of It Might Not Happen)
I loved the way her and Reid’s walks took in parts of the city others wouldn’t notice, how she taught him to look beyond the obvious, to seek out hidden gems. I loved both of them, and yet Reid’s caginess about himself, his work, his moodiness spelled caution, for Meg and me. Then when it all comes out, well, instead of the gentle romance I’d been reading it was Drama, Drama, Drama all the way. I do so love that, so it was perfect for me even if possibly not overly true to how things would run as others seem to feel. I have no idea in real life so I just went with the story and looking back I could see, as could Meg, all the little hints where Reid was struggling.
Its a beautiful read and the way Meg’s writing and business was described was wonderful, seeing the way she got inspiration, seeing what got her down – not another Bloom where you are planted. I hate those overused, trite, twee expressions too…. Stick with it if like me you flounder a bit at the start. Its worth it.

Stars: Five, a lovely story. Slow burn romance with some beautiful moments.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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