Tag Archive | contemporary romance

Flawless, Fearsome Series Book 4, S.A. Wolfe

Flawless, Fearsome Series Book 4, S.A. Wolfe

Flawless: (Fearsome Series Book 4) by [Wolfe, S. A.]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah, women’s fiction: c’mon publishers, this category has no place in 2019. Men read romance, men write romance, stop trying to alienate a potential reader base.

So, the story appealed to me and I really admired Talia. Peyton was sex on legs too, and I should have been glued to the page but….I just wasn’t.
Its a long read, usually I’m all over that, really lets me get lost in a novel, gives time to get to know the characters but here, well, I just didn’t connect with the story.
I put it aside in case it was just my mood – that happens, but on second read it still wasn’t great for me. After the halfway mark I skim read the rest, just wanting to see how it finished rather than enjoying the journey through the story.
There are some terrific characters, I hadn’t read earlier stories but each are stand alone and I don’t think that had anything to do with me not really gelling with this book.

Its well written, has lots of detail, side plots, and characters feel very real. Somehow though for me it just lacked intensity, I’m all about the nasty characters, the angst, the drama, and though there were suggestions of it here for me it just wasn’t enough.

Stars: three, it was fun in parts, had some great characters but overall it wasn’t a great read for me.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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Discretion, The Dumonts Book 1, Karina Halle

Discretion, The Dumonts Book 1, Karina Halle

Discretion (The Dumonts Book 1) by [Halle, Karina]

Genre: romance, general fiction (adult)

Karina is one of my must-read authors, ever since I stumbled upon the wonderful experiment in terror series, and then of course her contemporary romances. Lately though, I seem to be on a different wavelength, I started but abandoned Maverick, and if this hadn’t been a review book I’d have done the same.

I wasn’t convinced in the insta-love Olivier had for Sadie, though its the kind of start I usually love. Then there’s the way she throws all caution to the wind and stays with him. Would you? I know some folk would, I just didn’t get that vibe from Sadie though, that she’d risk all on a stranger. Gorgeous, seems kind and filthy rich but a stranger non-the-less.
Throw in Olivier’s family, the sort of nasty characters I usually adore, and this should have been perfect for me. I just didn’t really understand why his mistake, his big secret, still affected him so much. Its played that letting it out would hurt his father and his sister, but his actions in abandoning that side of the family business seem to be hurting them more. Plus, he’s rolling in cash, folk like that are usually rolling in lawyers too πŸ˜‰ and I’m sure one of them could have found a way out of the Big Secret. Frankly, I didn’t think it was something that would particularly shock his family anyway….Throw in that towards the end the drama, the secrets, the whole story line goes a bit OTT, and this just wasn’t a book for me.

The romance between Olivier and Sadie does wrap up, sort of, though it takes til nearly the end. However I still didn’t really think the dangers had gone, it was a bit call-my-bluff, OK bluff-called, but the threats and risks were still there IMO, folk like his family don’t just give up.
I guess that’s for the later books, I’m not sure if the next book(s) detail more of their story, or go on to another family member. I don’t like the kind of ambiguous ending of this one, so think there’s more to come from them, but I could be wrong and their story finished.

Stars: Two and a half, there were bits I enjoyed, Karina’s writing style works well for me but this book seemed a little OTT and choppy somehow. Much depends I guess on the next book, that may make me feel differently about this one, depending on what it contains.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Nothing But This, The Broken Pieces Book 2, Natasha Anders

Nothing But This, The Broken Pieces Book 2, Natasha Anders

Nothing But This (The Broken Pieces Book 2) by [Anders, Natasha]

General Fiction (Adult), Romance

I usually enjoy Natasha’s books, but the first in this series just wasn’t one for me. However I was intrigued by the taste we had of Libby and Greyson’s story.

I found this one a much better fit for me, and really enjoyed reading about Greyson’s desperation to win back Libby and Clara.
From the first book I was astonished at Greyson’s actions, and remember thinking he’d have a heck of a lot of grovelling to do. Could you ever get past what he did, what he accused Libby and Harris of? I’m not sure I would. Yet even feeling like that about him, as the story moved on I began to understand him, see just what made him the way he was. The parallels between him and Tina when it came to making friends, set against Libby and Harris’ easy camaraderie, the way talking to others came so naturally to them made sense of the way they all were as individuals, and made their actions more understandable.
I wasn’t entirely convinced Greyson could just relocate his business, suddenly have all this free time, but maybe he was just time filling before rather than actually busy, that it fitted his excuses for avoiding Libby.
Still, it worked, and gradually things began to move forward. As always though it was one step forward and two back, and I was with Libby all the way when she really made him work for it.

Stars: Four, If it was just Libby and Greyson I think this story wouldn’t have anywhere near the impact, but seeing the two couples and the way each person had separate issues, made the story far more enjoyable.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Horse Dancer, Jojo Moyes

The Horse Dancer, Jojo Moyes

The Horse Dancer: Discover the heart-warming Jojo Moyes you haven't read yet by [Moyes, Jojo]

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

Ah no….usual moan 😦 Why, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Why assume men won’t/don’t read romance – they do, they write it and read it.

….anyway, the book. Its my first Jojo Moyes read, I was put off after reading that Me before You had a sad ending – for me I like a happy ending. But as a lifelong horse addict I felt I needed to read this book. I’m a real dressage lover too and the Spanish Riding School and the Cadre Noir were my childhood dreams.
The horse parts were well done, very believable and I know there are little backyard stables such as the one where Sarah kept Boo. The legal stuff, I’ve seen some criticism of that but to back up Natasha’s character and actions we needed that in a certain amount of depth.

The issues I has were that for a long time we had three stories, the initial one of Henri and Florence, then Natasha and Mac, then Sarah, and it was well into the novel before the three converged and made sense to me. I didn’t really like the characters either, Natasha, I felt for her and what she’d been through but she was very closed off. Mac, I guess he also was affected and sometimes tragedy brings couples closer, sometimes they fall apart, I just found it hard to believe that such a strong attraction, how two such intelligent people could let themselves drift away. Sarah, I wanted to like her, she’s been through so much, but I guess that made her what she was, and I found it hard to warm to her.

Its a well written novel, not the dumbed down type that so often dominates, but I need to feel a connection to the characters and I just didn’t. The story seemed incredibly slow too, I like long novels but so much of this just felt like filler to me, made me lose attention. On top of that long, drawn out story I then felt the ending was way too brief, rushed almost, and I didn’t have time to mentally adapt to all the changes and accept the turnaround.

Stars: Two and a half. Loved the horse interactions, and Mac’s photography, but just felt the main part of the novel and the characters didn’t really connect with me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Once Upon a Bad Boy, Melonie Johnson

Once Upon a Bad Boy, Melonie Johnson

Once Upon a Bad Boy: A Sometimes in Love Novel by [Johnson, Melonie]

Genre: Romance

Melonie is a new-to-me author, I tried Smitten by the Brit and was ambivalent about it, but decided I’d try one more before deciding her writing style isn’t for me. Like Smitten, this was well written, but it just didn’t wow me, didn’t make me feel I couldn’t put it down. Not a bad book, just not to my taste. Others will, and do, love it.

I wasn’t really gripped by either character, they were pleasant but I didn’t feel particularly strongly about either of them.
Sadie seemed to just shut off any thoughts of Bo after their break-up, and I found it hard to believe after they’d been childhood friends, then teen lovers, and she could just not give in to temptation to take a peek at what he was doing? Or that she didn’t question him more when they broke up, things were fine and then within half an hour at Prom they’re over? Would someone in love accept that, however hurt they were? And Bo….the break-up reason. Really? It was hinted at throughout the novel, a big secret reason, hinted at constantly, but I’d pretty much guessed it from the clues, and was saddened to be proved right. I was underwhelmed by the reason 😦 I felt it just didn’t fit him. Likewise the secret Sadie holds was pretty easy to guess at, though I really felt for her the way things played out.

Similar to the other book for me the story just felt a little flat, unreal and yet already there are rave reviews. It really is a case of the book not being right for me, not that there’s anything wrong with the story. We all have different tastes, what makes it wrong for me could make it perfect for you.

Stars: Three, I enjoyed it a little more than smitten but I guess Melonie is an author who’s style doesn’t work for me.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Dating by the Book, Mary Ann Marlowe

Dating by the Book, Mary Ann Marlowe

Dating by the Book by [Marlowe, Mary Ann]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

I loved Mary Ann’s first two stories, but this one wasn’t as good for me. It could be my personal circumstances. I’m STILL in temp accommodation, seven months now, and that means my usual schedule is on hold. Finding time to get totally absorbed in a book when you’re alone is easy, but when you’re living with a busy family isn’t so simple. It may be that if I re-read this in a few months time I’ll feel differently.

Maddie is lovely, as are most of the cast here, and I adored the setting, book/cafe and book club. She really brings folk together through her work and the club and I enjoyed reading about them and the issues they faced.
Maddie is still struggling a bit I felt, and with her relationship ending like that who can be surprised? Suddenly though it seems would be suitors go from an ambiguous possibility at some time in the future, to a shed load of them on her doorstep – and at the other side of her PC. Add in that she’s got a fast approaching deadline for her next novel, another that’s just been released and then her beloved Mossy Stone, which despite her hard work is struggling financially. Of course only her close friend knows about her book, she’s written under a pen name and not told others.(Against her advice she just can’t help reading reviews- I’d be like that!)
That’s a lot to contend with but we see her ploughing through.

I enjoyed meeting the different characters, getting to know them, seeing them in the store, at the book club and watching for which one might prove right for Maddie. I found myself putting the book aside a few times though, having to remind myself who was whom, and how they connected. Usually with a book I love I can’t put it down, engrossed in the story to the point I feel I know the characters, and certainly that was my experience with Mary Ann’s first two novels.

Stars: Three and a half. A good story but I didn’t enjoy it in the same way as the first two of Mary Ann’s novels. As I said though, its likely me and circumstances, and perhaps a later read will change that.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Exquisitely Broken, A Sin City Tale 1, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Broken, A Sin City Tale 1, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Broken (A Sin City Tale Book 1) by [Granberry, M. Jay ]

Genre: Romance, multi-cultural interest

The story is told in three parts; today, four years in the past and ten years in the past. At times that was irritating, frustrating, there’d be something climatic happen then next page we’d be in a different time period. I don’t really see another way of telling the story though, other than giving it all away at once, and that wouldn’t make good reading πŸ˜‰

I wanted to know what happened to split them up, after all six years together is a long time. I know he cheated, Sin tells us that, but I wanted to know exactly what happened, why, how long etc. When I did find out what went down I was a bit confused. Why? Was it a one off or ongoing? Was that the only time? There had to be a reason, was Jake just getting cold feet? Was he just arrogant thinking he could do it just because? I feel that part of the book needed more work, more fleshing out.
It was such a huge part of them and the story but kind of glossed over. β€œoh, he cheated, right, on to next plot.” It wasn’t treated with the awfulness cheating is, and Jake didn’t seem to appreciate just how his actions affected Sin, it was as if he felt it was in the past, she should forget it. I’d always worry though, if he could do it once, he could do it a second time. It made Jake into a person I didn’t really like, and it took a while for that to change.
Sin is so loyal to her friends, has worked hard for her success but her heart is still with Jake, she hasn’t really got over their break-up, and now she’s within his sphere again he wants her back. I was a bit undecided though, was her really worthy of her? I guess without knowing what went wrong I wasn’t convinced it wouldn’t happen again. Sin though is stronger now, and not just going to roll over.

We meet Jake’s family too, his dad isn’t so bad but his mum, what a piece of work she is. That’s fine by me though, I just love a nasty character on a book, makes the story so much more interesting πŸ˜‰ I did feel though that Jake needed to stand up to her more, to stand by Sin, to tackle his mum about her past actions and her current attitude.

There’s lots going on in this story, some terrific characters and its a great debut read, but for me it needed a bit more – I needed to feel that Jake really regretted what he’d done. I felt he was sorry for it only in that he lost Sin because of it, not that he actually saw anything wrong in his cheating. There’s an important difference there, and its the one that makes me certain it won’t happen again.
I needed him to stand up to his mum too, to tell her to not interfere in his life, for him to stand up for Sin, rather than just let things play out and – kind of – apologise foe his mum after she’s been her usual unpleasant self.
Stars: Four, a great debut read. A few parts that didn’t work so well for me but I’ll be looking out for M Jay’s next book.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

More Than Anything, The Broken Pieces Book 1, Natasha Anders

More Than Anything, The Broken Pieces Book 1, Natasha Anders

More Than Anything (The Broken Pieces Book 1) by [Anders, Natasha]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction (Adult)

I’ve enjoyed a few of Natasha’s stories now. Sometimes I just want an easy, non taxing romance with a HEA and her books usually fit the bill. I didn’t enjoy this one much though, it wasn’t a bad book, I just found I couldn’t really relate to the characters or their problems.

I love an under-dog, and Tina seemed just that. She had an awful experience at 18, but unless she was incredibly naive I find part of that plot hard to believe. Likewise staying celibate for next ten years? Why? Still hating Harris for what happened even though as a close family friend they seem to be in constant contact some way? Then there’s the crux of that issue, her weight, but she doesn’t seem to be anything more than an attractive, curvy lady.
Though I like the underdog character I want them to have some spirit and Tina just came over as whiny at times, no backbone, just constantly blaming everything on Harris, when they guy didn’t know half the story.
Harris, I didn’t understand why he didn’t ask why Tina was so cold to him after The Event. He knows what happened, its not hard to guess why Tina was friends before and blanked him after. Why didn’t he just apologise, ask her why she was so different? I just found the idea of adults holding a ten year grudge hard. I’d just move totally away if I felt that strongly, but Tina seems to have had contact via family but kept on silently with the recriminations.
Then after a ten years of holding in that grudge its over quickly, and that didn’t feel right. Her friend Libby and Greyson too, their issues being the secondary plot-line, was kind of over and done without any real justification of the resolution. If I was Libby I’d have been gutted at what happened, it would take a lot of hard work to forgive and I’m not sure that kind of accusation could be got past.
I didn’t understand why her family were so harsh on her, it seems to have been almost since birth, and the failed businesses were just an anomaly in the book IMO. They didn’t add anything to the story, just filled pages and gave her supposed close family something to beat her with.

There’s another part of the story that did make me feel really sad for her, and having experienced something very similar I could understand a bit of her reaction. Again though, she has the money, she’s been to counseling, and when its affecting her friendship with Libby it needs dealing with.

Stars: Two and a half. I liked the premise, usually enjoy Natasha’s stories but this one just didn’t cut it.

Arc via Netgalley

Summer Season on the Seafront, Katie Ginger

Summer Season on the Seafront, Katie Ginger

Summer Season on the Seafront: The perfect feel-good romance for summer! by [Ginger, Katie]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Ah no….usual moan 😦 Why, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Why assume men won’t/don’t read romance – they do, they write it and read it.

With that off my chest, on to the book. I hadn’t realised there was an earlier book, I think if you read that first the relationships in this one will be clearer, but if like me you haven’t it doesn’t matter, its still a very easy to follow story.

I really didn’t like Nate when we first met him but as we learned more of his backstory I understood his actions more and loved him. Sarah of course, is attracted but the media are full of salacious stories and poor Nate is in a situation where he cant defend himself from the, I really hate that situation, and its one repeated time and again in British media who seem to want the story at any cost, and aren’t too worried about the truth. Caught out they’ll print some tiny retraction tucked behind other stories. They just want the name, the headline and the sales.
Sarah is lovely, been through a tough time but is gaining her confidence and then her past comes along to throw a spanner in the works. She’s attracted top Nate – who isn’t? She’s also had a long time crush on colleague Finn though, and he seems to reciprocate her feelings. I loved Lottie and Sid, and of course Gregory and Cecil, and could imagine the story unfolding ss if it was really happening.
The romance here is very understated, a secondary story almost, with the main plots being about the characters, their friendships and of course the Theatre and the play they are doing. With it being classed as a romance read I did expect that part to be stronger, but I guess that’s down to my expectations, not the book. I was just a bit disappointed to not get more romance in the story. The main cast of characters show just how a disparate group can form close friendships, can work together even if there is friction at times.

Stars: Four, an enjoyable holiday type read. One to relax with and just imagine you’re there with the cast.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Summer at the Art Cafe, Sue McDonagh

Summer at the Art Cafe, Sue McDonagh

Summer at the Art Cafe (Choc Lit): A wonderful happy-ever after romance! by [McDonagh, Sue]

Genre: RomanceΒ ,Β Women’s Fiction

Ah no….usual moan 😦 Why, why do we have women’s fiction as a category? Why assume men won’t/don’t read romance – they do, they write it and read it.
Anyway, other than that moan I loved this book. I find that Choc-Lit books almost always work well for me, fun and easy to read but not a dumbed down romance. Sometimes I want a simple romance, not a deep, dark, heavy one but I still want some solid characters, believable plots and choc-lit delivers that.
As an artist myself I loved reading about Lucy’s artwork, and the lovely finds she brought into the cafe. The idea of cakes and art sounded wonderful, and the beach-side setting just perfect. Of course on a rainy November day its not so good but πŸ˜‰ Its fiction, and in romance land its always sunny summer or crisp snowy winter, no grim and gloomy days allowed!
I loved Lucy, so talented, so kind and warmhearted but married to an absolute pratt of a man. It makes me wonder – and Lucy – how did things change, was he always like this and she blinded by love. Sometimes we’re just too much in the thick of things to see the real truth and that’s what seemed to happen to Lucy, it wasn’t until it was thrown in her face she realised how cruel and awful Gerry had become. Still, I like a character I can hate on so all’s good πŸ˜‰ and of course when she masters all the things he belittles her for and makes a huge success of life without him, that’s just so, so satisfying.
Speaking of people to hate, Sarah was perfect too, one face to Ash and a very different one to Lucy. I love manipulative characters like that, bring in a real challenge to the story, and of course she was determined not to let things work between Ash and Lucy.
There’s some great humour in this story, a lovely plot encompassing not just romance, but growth, Ash growing to trust in love and Lucy learning to trust in herself and her talent, lots of new friends all round, Nic and Richard from the cafe, TV Tom, the Biker Girls, Ed and co from the bike shop, even the pupils Lucy first learned her CBT with.
I adored Daisy too, she made a fabulous character in the story, a wonderful young lady, and of course she ( and I) loved all the rescue animals. I’ve seen ex battery hens in jumpers too while their feathers grow in πŸ˜‰ and Ash was so open hearted taking in all those animals.
What makes a romance perfect for me though isn’t just the build up, but the crash down, the angst and its really well done here, lasts a while not just over in a couple of pages, and that’s just what I need. Real life is like that, and when things go right again it feels so much more satisfying. Love, real love, needs that challenge to last IMO.

Stars: Five, a gorgeous read, perfect for holidays and beach, or when you just want an escape to a happy place for a few hours.
Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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