Tag Archive | contemporary romance

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

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

The Getaway, A holiday romance for 2021 – perfect summer escapism!, Isabelle Broom

The Getaway, A holiday romance for 2021 – perfect summer escapism!, Isabelle Broom

The Getaway: A holiday romance for 2021 - perfect summer escapism! by [Isabelle Broom]
Genre: Romance, women’s fiction ( adult)

Bah humbug, women’s romance again. I hate reading that in categories, so outdated.
|Anyway, this was fun. Poor deluded Kate, after a disastrous 30th birthday she’s going through a break up of epic proportions. She’s been with her ex for 8 years and the end blindsided her. Her friends, parents don’t know how to help get her out of the mire she’s in, depressed, in tears. She’d just lost her job too, not that it was something she liked but it was a job. Big brother Toby comes to the rescue, takes her off to Croatia to help him and his husband Filippo with the new hostel, and they seriously need that help!
I loved Toby and Filippo, loved the island of Hvar and the people. Kate finds that she’s not the disaster she thought, she does have talent and discovers a field she enjoys and is good at. I loved her personal growth, her build up of self belief, the way she was able to look back and see she wasn’t the person her ex portrayed.
Of course she meets someone new. The gorgeous Alex, who’s not without his own problems. I did find the coincidence of their meeting and what she knew a tiny bit hard to believe….but its book-land! I also found that once there she was able to let go of the past 8 years with her ex pretty quickly. I didn’t want her to wallow but I did feel she moved on faster than I expected. Maybe that’s just book timing, its set over a short period but for me I was a little surprised.
There’s fabulous descriptions of life on the island, great characters, and lots of twists in the story, some of which had me cheering and yet tearful too. I enjoyed reading this story, it didn’t keep me gripped to the page, I did read over a few periods, but that’s me not the book.

Stars: Three, great holiday read, sweet romance, and great portrayal of personal growth

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Play For Me, The Balefire Series Book One, Tam DeRudder Jackson

Play For Me, The Balefire Series Book One,
Tam DeRudder Jackson

Play For Me: The Balefire Series by [Tam DeRudder Jackson]
Romance
Genre: romance, general fiction

Well, rock/film star romance is my catnip – but there’s an awful lots of it around and much is just No, No, No for me so I’m cautious. However this was a fun read and I enjoyed it, but sadly it lacked the magic spark to make it into a great read for me.

I liked Clio and her friends, they were very clearly written, I could feel the bond between them.
Jack and the band though? They should have been such a big part of the story but I felt they were lacking, too one dimensional in the case of Jack, and the band barely featured and yet it was such an important part of Jack’s life. Without the band its just another romance with a guy who puts his career first it feels.
I enjoyed her parents role, felt very real – until the end. That didn’t fit for me.

I would have liked more about the actual pregnancy, her struggles to decide what to do. More about Jack as a father, more about his heritage, otherwise why mention it?
I was really confused that Clio didn’t get more upset about the events towards the end of the novel when Jack’s away, I’d have been far less forgiving that he just seemed to drop everything. Who can’t find time for at least a daily text? I felt Clio had been so strong til then and she just rolled over. “ Oh, you were away doing important manly stuff of course, its fine, I’ll just mind the baby, sort out finances, deal with work on my own” – that’s how I felt her reaction was, like a caricature of a 50’s housewife. Or maybe I’m just too judgmental 😉

The novel had so much potential, a good story line with the separation of her and Jack and the angst that caused, the support of her friends and her struggles to cope, her parents and the pregnancy issues, but I just felt that it needed a bit more edge for me. But of course others don’t need that, will love it as is. Horses for courses.

Stars: Three and a half, its a fun read but I wanted more edge from it.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

A Secret Scottish Escape, Julie Shackman

A Secret Scottish Escape, Julie Shackman

A Secret Scottish Escape: The most heartwarming and feel good read for women of 2021! by [Julie Shackman]
Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

Arrgghhhh, women’s fiction Again! Why? Its an outdated category IMO.

Anyway, the book. Its billed as romance but in reality there’s very little. In fact for most of the book the male lead doesn’t even seem to like Layla.
Layla herself drives very close to the nosey and interfering, rather than concerned neighbour. Its needed for the story, but there were times when, like Mask, I would have been intensely irritated by her actions.
Mask was very rude to her, I was amazed she continued to try to help him. I did understand why when all was revealed of course, but until then he came over as some surly, rude guy.

The plot flows along nicely, there’s the tragic death of Layla’s fiance at the start, and the awful situation it happened, but it left her free to pursue setting up her dream, which of course involved her dad and his band-mates, and led to another story line with them.
I did feel she managed to set the club up incredibly easy, IRL of course there’s be endless council inspections, licenses to sort, building regs and appeals to get round….but book land is different thank goodness. Sometimes I wish real life was more like that, innovation gets stifled by the constant legal issues…..

As the story continues it gets more complex , with another story line popping up. I felt that was pretty real but they way it was resolved felt wrong, I just couldn’t see it happening that way after the long while the grudge had been held. Still, as ever others won’t bother about that – we all have different opinions.

The romance almost doesn’t happen until the end, but the story itself is fun. I would have liked a bit more romance, we get a nice epilogue but for me I needed more in the story itself.

Stars: Three, its a fun mystery but a bit thin as a romance read.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Echoes of the Heart, L.A. Casey

Echoes of the Heart, L.A. Casey

Echoes of the Heart by [L.A. Casey]

Genre: Romance, general fiction ( adult)

I’ve enjoyed several of this authors books, and of course the rock star romance genre and second chance stuff always hooks me. I enjoyed this but not quite as much as I expected.
My heart broke for young Risk, and for how good Frankie was with him. Then when they were older I understood Frankie’s reasons for pushing Risk away, I agreed with them even, and yet somehow it irked me. I couldn’t understand how Risk didn’t see it, why he was so resentful.
He was all about everyone leaving him, very focused on that even years later. Still, you need to walk in someone’s shoes to truly understand their actions. Both Risk and Frankie were still clearly very much in love.

The big thing that breaks them was something I struggled with, I really didn’t see why it was such a problem. Though of course there has to be something doesn’t there or we’d get a very bland romance, and I’m all about the break up dramas….

Frankie’s mum, Michael, and the problems they had with her illness were heartbreaking. Its such a cruel disease, so hard on families more so than the person affected. Living bit not living, her mum, his wife and yet not that person. Tough and they were so good with her. For many its just too much to deal with, but they stuck by her no matter how hard.

I loved the other lads in the band, the band issues, the drug problems and the rabid fans. For me they all belong in a proper band read, and make the book stand out.

Its a fun read, just didn’t quite grip me as much as others I’ve read. I loved the setting, Southwold is about 50 miles from e, and a place I’ve holidayed at many times. It was fun to read it as the setting for fiction romance.

Stars: Four, a fun band read, great characters, brilliant setting!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

Under the Italian Sun, Sue Moorcroft

Under the Italian Sun, Sue Moorcroft

Under the Italian Sun by [Sue Moorcroft]

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

Sigh… Usual moan, women’s fiction. 2021. not 1821. Men read and write romance. They probably did back then too!

Anyway, Sue Moorcroft, fantastic author, writes books with multi layered plots, realistic folk and situations and depth. I love all that and this story was a real treat.
I could feel poor Zia’s heartbreak and I was so angry at her ex. Sadly the way he looks at his cheating isn’t uncommon and I was glad Zia stuck to her guns. Cheating isn’t acceptable, and he needed to e sorry, not to make excuses.
So she and bff delve off to Italy on a quest to find out more about Zia’s past. She finds family there but her search isn’t without problems, and of course the people she’s staying with also have problems. Zia by now has made friends with them and helps out, and helping them helps her, gives her somewhere to stay and more time to decide what to do. Of course staying is also a factor in her fledgling relationship with the Delicious Piero, who also has issues with his family, and his fathers scheming girlfriend.
All these threads, problems make for such interesting reading, taking me down trails I didn’t image but thoroughly enjoyed. I was shocked at the initial Vicky/Tori revelations, but they were just the start, there was lots more surprises to come.
I loved Harry and the descriptions of his time with Vicky, a real 70’s feel about that, and I can imagine how Vicky’s somewhat staid and conservative parents felt. They were very much like my own parents – when I told them I was pregnant mum’s reaction was “ Oh no! What will the neighbours think?” and rushed to bed….Pretty average reaction for mid seventies. At one point in early 8-‘s my sister in law and I toyed with the idea of renting a large house between us and combining both families, very much as Harry and Vicky did.

Stars: Five, Another fabulous read from Sue, taking the reading out of this day to day dull and into sunny Italy with a delicious romance too

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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