Tag Archive | contemporary

Last of the Summer Moët, Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët, Wendy Holden

Last of the Summer Moët: A sparkling rom-com that will make you laugh out loud (A Laura Lake Novel) by [Holden, Wendy]

Genre:, Women’s fiction, General fiction (adult)

Women’s Fiction? Once more – why? Why alienate a good section of possible readers.

My bad, I missed that this was a part two, and that I’d read the previous book about Laura. That was a three star for me, and I noted that though I enjoyed Wendy’s stories years ago either her writing or my tastes have changed.
This story is if possible even more OTT, frenetic and at times plain silly. There’s a point when poking fun at a selection of folk in humorous, and then there’s trying to ram fun down readers throats( you Will laugh!! Everyone else has… ) that’s the vibe which came across here, I like subtle humour, what this book delivers is a thin story peppered with not just oddball eccentrics, but totally off the wall unreal characters, and situations that are so extreme as to be impossible to believe. If that’s what you like in a story good for you, you’ll love this book. I don’t. I gave up at about 40%, skimming through to see if there was any change but not finding enough to hold my interest and continue.

Stars: Two, a DNF for me. If you like overdone humour and situations that are really OTT you may love this story, I can see others already do. My taste doesn’t run that way though so it was a fail for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

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Hollywood Heir, Westerly Billionaire Book 4, Ruth Cardello

Hollywood Heir, Westerly Billionaire Book 4,  Ruth Cardello

Hollywood Heir (Westerly Billionaire Book 4) by [Cardello, Ruth]

Genre:, Romance, General fiction (adult)

I didn’t notice til about to write my review that the blurb classes this as comedy – and I can’t recall finding any of it comedic, unless you count things like Sage being a plant psychobiologist and Eric being a huge film star but slap on a fake scar and he can go unknown….

sadly this book was a fail for me. I did finish it but it was a hard slog. That’s not the book’s fault, its just not to my taste. I found the plots sounded good but in practice were thin, and the characters were frankly dislikeable. Sage is a bit of a doormat, Eric is a bit self obsessed, distrusts everyone and came over as pretty cold and big headed. As for Delinda, his grandmother, she’s a rich, manipulative awful woman. I know she appears to have the best interests of the family at heart, but its what She feels is best, not necessarily what actually IS best.
I got so annoyed at Sage, got away from shallow parents and creates her own way, and yet lets Eric walk all over her. This idea too that she’s walked away from serious money, has an ad hoc income where she can barely meet rent and yet lives as if she’s got money was strange. If you’re short on rent, short on cash its something that you’re aware off constantly, everything you do has an eye to can you afford it, and yet Sage came over as never really considering her cash situation, a rich girl playing at poverty.
Eric and the disguise, wouldn’t work. Then he tells her the names of his four siblings, and given they are worldwide famous that should have been a giveaway.
I loved Reggie though, he was the comedy element I guess, but for me he was the star of the book! The bat-cave, I want one!

Stars:Two, sadly a slog to finish, maybe if I’d liked the characters it would have been different. As always that’s just my view, I can see others love it, and you may too.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

Martinis and Memories, A.L. Michael

Martinis and Memories, A.L. Michael

Martinis and Memories: A fun, feisty novel of love and chasing your dreams (Martini Club Book 3) by [Michael, A. L.]

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

I didn’t realise this was part of a series of connected books, though each are stand alone. I think maybe if I’d read the first two maybe I’d have got more from this. As it was its a sweet story, made me wonder a bit about life, coincidences, the six degrees of separation thing, and what I would do in the same situation.
Its got some great characters, I loved how we see Bel’s mum from her thoughts and memories and then seeing her differently, passage of time, through Sam’s eyes etc its like two sides of the same person. I loved Bel, slightly brittle with all her “darlings” and insistence on sweetness and light and sparkle and glitter ( I’m with her on the sparkle and glitter – always makes life brighter). I was heartbroken for her when it looked like everything was going to fail….and yet Practical Me was saying “ where’d she get the money for all this revamp when she was wondering if she had enough to even continue as it was?” I don’t like things like that, even if we knew she was getting a loan or something, but to believe that someone struggling with a business can just revamp like that without telling me where funding comes from feels somewhat unreal. And it was the Realness of the book that I loved so that let it down.
On that Realness, that was what gave the book an edge for me, those characters with their problems were like friends to me, we all have issues, have to struggle with life and I enjoy reading how people make it through those struggles. Apart from the financing, the rest of the changes were perfect, where Bel let the others put forward ideas, and the way they were a little cautious at first, as if past Bel would have just dismissed their ideas as not on-brand or something.
There was lots to like in this story, but it wasn’t a tale that grabbed me, made me devour the book. More one of those where I read a few chapters, put aside, and come back to when I want something real but light to read.

Stars: Three, a good book, and enjoyable story but not one I’d re-read

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

The Plus One, Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One,  Sophia Money-Coutts

The Plus One: escape with the hottest, laugh-out-loud debut of summer 2018! by [Money-Coutts, Sophia]

Genre:  Women’s Fiction, Romance

Gah! Once more “women’s fiction”, and as usual I have to have a quick moan – why do we do this – cut off potential readers? Who says men won’t/don’t read romance, they certainly write it, so why exclude them this way?

So, the book. A debut novel and one that’s really well written, and I loved the dry humour, and the realness of it.
Loved Polly and her friends, her job at the magazine, very typically British Tatler style 😉 Poor Polly is approaching 30 though and feels that her time is running out, she wants a husband and family, but fears she’s destined to be the mothball scented, elderly, maiden aunt…especially now her bestie is getting married and she’s Matron of Honour and doesn’t have a Plus One.
I loved her relationship with her mum, and her support when her mum gets ill, the fears they both have that anyone who’s been ill can understand.

Its a fun read, made me smile in parts, sad in others and very very typically British. As a Brit I love that, we seem to have a slightly different sense of humour and the more subtle approach as here worked so well for me.

Sadly the about turn at the end didn’t work for me, I didn’t feel it was real, hadn’t got a sense of it coming throughout the novel, and TBH really let it down for me. With a different ending, the one that I kind of felt had been building I’d have given this a five, but as it is that change really let the story down IMO. Not the resolution I wanted 😦 I felt kind of unsatisfied, and cheated of what I’d expected it to be. Surprises are good, this one was just too much of a shock, IMO, and didn’t gel with the rest of the story.

Stars: Three and a half, a terrific book right up to that turnaround at the end!

ARC by Netgalley and Publishers

 

 

In Too deep, Dani Collins

In Too deep,  Dani Collins

In Too Deep (Blue Spruce Lodge Book 3) by [Collins, Dani ]

Genre: Romance

I haven’t read book one ( but will sometime), really enjoyed book two and we got a hint about Trigg and Wren there. I was hoping they were next, and it proved to be a fun read, with some very real characters and situations.

I really felt for Wren, she’s been a parent to Sky since she was little more than a child herself, and her parents were not any help. They dealt badly with the death of Wren’s brother when he was a child, and her father became an awful, violent man. Wren now hates confrontation, has mental scars from the beatings she took. Yet all that, plus the loss of her loved sister Mandy, Sky’s mum, and she’s still a lovely person, and has given so much up for Sky.

Sky’s an obnoxious pre-teen, but TBH many of them are. It’s like a rite of passage for some, my own daughter made a calendar when she was 12 listing the days til she was 16 and could move out, and religiously crossed off each day. Of course poor Wren gets the “if my mother was alive…” jibes, and harassment about Sky’s father, with Sky desperate to meet him. When they up sticks and do just that though its not all fairytales.

Trigg is a household name in snowboarding circles, and a rich playboy to boot. Having a 12 year old daughter has come as a shock, he was just 17 and Mandy had said she was having an abortion. Now he meets Sky and she’s not some sweet, adoring kid, but a bundle of confusion, irritation and resentment.

All that was so real, and the way the other characters reacted to Sky’s moods and rudeness felt very genuine. Its easy to say “she’s a teen, ignore it, she’s been through a lot”, but harder to actually do just that when she seems to be going out of her way to be difficult. Of course poor Wren feels guilty for that too. She moved there as Sky wanted to get to know her father, and now she’s wondering if it was the right course to take.
There’s a slow turnaround, some really funny moments, some issues that were very emotional, and of course the characters’ stories from earlier books continue. I loved the way there’s not a moment when I can pinpoint Sky’s mood change, but that its a natural progression, that Trigg slowly became a caring parent, loved Sky and was key to understanding her.

Trigg wasn’t the greatest to start, knows nothing of bringing up kids and this rude ball of fury comes as a shock. He’s inclined to blame Wren for everything, and she already does enough of that herself. Slowly things change, he begins to feel like a dad, and of course the attraction that’s always been there between him and Wren simmers.

As well as the romance there’s the story of the Lodge, the characters that live and work there, and the issues they’ve been having with accidents that are beginning to seem like deliberate sabotage. Someone doesn’t want the lodge to succeed but who? And what can they do about it? It comes to an explosive climax, with some sharp edged actions, and made this story have that edge over just a simple romance. I really enjoyed it.

Stars: Five, a great fun read, terrific real characters, and the story of the Lodge and the sabotage added such a lot.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

Bad Reputation, Stefanie London

Bad Reputation,  Stefanie London

Bad Reputation (Bad Bachelors) by [London, Stefanie]

Genre: Romance

I hadn’t read the first book, in fact haven’t read any of Stefanie’s novels, however this series is connected via characters and theme but each are stand alone reads and easy to follow, even if like me you haven’t read book one.

Remi, oh I loved her. Let down so very badly by her former lover and employers she’s given up her dream, moved to a new country, seems content tutoring dance where she used to love ballet, always striving for top place.

She is still incredibly talented and when Wes catches her dancing alone one day he knows she’s the star her needs for his new off-off Broadway production. Its very non traditional, a gamble really and goes against his very traditional style of ballet his parents teach in their school, where he formerly worked.

Persuading her isn’t easy, and added to that there’s a white hot spark of attraction she says must stay closed if she agrees.

Wes is a fabulous man, so very fair, so full of dreams for his show, so caring about his team of dancers. He really wants the best for everyone, wants his show to be a success, and wants the dancers to enjoy in it.

Its so unfair when against all the hard work he’s done, against all the striving for fairness and equality the bad bachelors reviews are doing such harm. Its not that they criticise him, far from it, he’s praised, has a reputation as caring and a real gentleman, its just…well…size that gets attention, and given his family’s fame the media jump on the story, potentially scaring off his backers.

Its a great story, fabulous characters, good guys, fence sitters and bad ones, just as in real life.

There’s a mix of plots, from Remi’s cautious return to the world of dance, from the fabulous and innovative show Wes is producing, the harm the media and websites can do to reputations, secrets and -well, not lies but omissions of truth, romance of course, and the trials of friendship.

It makes for a multi-layered story and towards the end I just couldn’t see how things could work out for people. Rock and hard place for Wes in the decisions he needed to make, love or heart break for Remi, and of course the whole Bad Bachelors thing and the devastating secrets revealed.

Whichever way I worked I just couldn’t make everyone happy, but Stefanie does, wraps it up perfectly and in a believable way that made a terrific ending.

Stars: Five, a one off read but one which was great fun with some real surprises for me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers

 

The Lost Letters, Sarah Mitchell

The Lost Letters, Sarah Mitchell

The Lost Letters: Absolutely heartbreaking wartime fiction about love and family secrets by [Mitchell, Sarah]

Genre: historical fiction, Women’s fiction

*..sigh…* women’s fiction again, I so hate that category. Why rule out men, why decide they won’t like this story. Its so short sighted.

Anyway, the story…well, I expected to love it, it sounded perfect but somehow it didn’t quite sparkle, didn’t have the magic that I anticipated.
I found myself putting it aside and reading something else several times when with a book that really interests me I’m glued from start to finish.

I’m not really sure what the issue is/was. The characters were great, the time lines felt very real but I did feel the book was very slow to start.
I enjoyed the past sections more than present day, somehow I was so gripped in the story of Connie and Sylvia. Reading about the wartime experiences too, seems so unreal and yet it was life for so many. Houses and workplaces bombed, nights in air-raid shelters, kids evacuated. An awful time, so desperate in many ways. Could I evacuate my kids? I don’t know, all loving parents want their kids safe but would they be?
My mum was evacuated from Norfolk to Wales for a year, her mum went with her, they stayed with the family of someone granddad met in Army. Imagine just packing up for a year or more with total strangers, must have been hard but at least she had her mum, so many kids didn’t.
That harsh time spun the beginnings of some huge and complex secrets that spilled forward to the present day, and when they came out I had to do quite a bit of mental back tracking working out who was who and how they connected.
It was well done, and I could see just how that could have worked out, everything was so muddled and chaotic back then. Tough choices, and how heartbreaking for the people involved.

I did enjoy this story, but wouldn’t re-read it, and its one of those hard to rate books. Its perfect for those who like slowly unfolding stories but at times the pacing was just too slow for me.

Stars: three. A good read but a little flat in parts for me. I enjoyed the past more than the present which surprised me.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.

Lightning Boy, (A Taboo Love Story 2), Amy J. Heart

Lightning Boy, (A Taboo Love Story 2), Amy J. Heart

Lightning Boy: A Taboo Love Story by [Heart, Amy J.]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Romance

So I’d read the prequel and really enjoyed that, an brief insight into L’s background, and heartbreaking in that what happens to him happens to so many kids. I was keen to read this story and see what transpired for him and Eden.

Eden, Eden, what an amazing girl. She’s young in years yet through her life experiences she old too. Yet not jaded, still believes there’s a way out, still believes she can get her happy. Then she meets L. Its not an auspicious meeting, she’s on one her her awful jobs for dirty ex cop Coop, being watched, voyeur style by three creepy guys and L, well he’s Angry, Seriously Angry. Its clear he doesn’t want to be there, doesn’t want to be with her, and I kept wondering why he was there, it clearly wasn’t money motivation him.
Eden was tasked with what seemed impossible, make L want her, the wrong sex to turn him on so Coop and the others think, convinced he’s gay. It takes a turn none of them expect when she tries gentling L, and he, shocked that its the girl he saw years before, lets him.
In short-story-land that would be it, but here its like real life, forward one step and back two. There’s a long way for them both to go yet.

L is confused, he’d convinced himself sex could only be via pain and hurt with men, keeping his emotions back, just going with strong control, giving pain and abuse, and getting that brief physical release. I so felt for him, he’s still young and yet been through so much. I love how he got his nickname, its so perfect, he owns what he’s doing by that, sticks it to his abusers by his actions.
Could he make things work with Eden? Would he try?
For a while its back and forth with him being a complete jerk in between torrid, sensual encounters with her.
Coop, dirty ex cop Cop. How many lost kids are caught by guys like him, how many guys a( and ladies) are like him too I wonder – too many I guess. I really wanted to know what he held over them both.
I was a little bewildered by Eden’s reasons, wanting her farm back didn’t really seem strong enough to do what she was to me. But then the farm held a special significance to her, a memory of happier times and maybe getting it back was a kind of lifeline to her.

Sex: yep, there’s a lot here, and some of it is violent, abusive, what was done to him and by him by other men, and yet the tender moments with Eden balance it , keep the book firmly in Romance Land.

Great characters, and hurray, a bit more of the wonderful Ariana, oh I want to be her! I was gripped by the story, alternated between feeling so sad for L and then berating him for being a jerk to Eden. She was so patient, so incredibly careful of him, so forgiving, I really felt their connection was meant to be, transcended ordinary love. L too, I so felt for him, that sad kid, taken from happy to horror to nightmare. No wonder he was such a jerk, only way to protect himself.
And Coop, a man I loved to hate. Oh I love it when authors create characters like that, bad through and through, pulling the strings of others, such a contrast from all the sweet and cute, strong but lovable people. We need these bad characters too to keep things interesting!
Its all put together so well, drawing the reader in, bringing us down, lifting up and then crashing again. I went through so many cycles reading it. Will things work out for them? How? What about Coop? How will they get away from him? What about the hold he has on L? I had so many metal questions while reading and at times felt I was racing through to find answers….I’m not known for patience.
I’d have liked it to be just a little longer, there’s an awful lot happens in a short space at the end of the book. A perfect wrap up but could have done with being spread out just a little more IMO. Its intense and a lot to take in, but of course that’s just my feelings. I need a HEA in romance, and this was perfect.

I’ve read too many “romance” novels recently where the only romance is in the last tow chapters and the HEA doesn’t exist expect in some future with maybe someone else. That’s not what I want, I need these characters I’ve come to love to get what I think they deserve.

Stars: Five, A great read, and now my occasional misunderstandings and confusion in the first book don’t mean so much, I can understand more the reasons its written the way it was.
This story, especially when both books read together, really pulls at heartstrings, and is incredibly emotional.

ARC supplied by author

 

Fallen, (Billionaires of Manhattan 1), Natasha Grace

Fallen, (Billionaires of Manhattan 1), Natasha Grace

Fallen (Billionaires of Manhattan Book 1) by [Grace, Natasha]

Genre: Romance

I do like a romance with some luxury in it, the kind that comes from unimaginable wealth. Real escapism. I enjoyed this story but wasn’t riveted to the page though, it didn’t have that must-keep-reading feel.

I was a bit puzzled by Sam’s quick recovery from Jason’s death. Yes, she finds out he’s been cheating on her, possibly for most of their marriage but she was so in love, so devoted and it was as if that just switched off.
I did like the times she was looking back at events, at how and why she’d changed, and seeing that Jason did have quite a pervasive influence over her, but it was so carefully done she didn’t actually notice how much she had changed, had left behind things, habits, people he didn’t like or approve of.
Luke, he was one of the truly good guys, and he’d been carrying a torch for Sam for so long. I did wonder though why he was so close with Jason when they didn’t seem to have anything in common, and he knows about the constant cheating.

I wanted to shake the pair of them at times, Samantha wondering if Luke really wants her, Luke wondering if Sam really wants him….it became a bit frustrating.
When they did get together they were perfect and the heat was sizzling and well done. Sometimes that part gets so OTT it overtakes the story and I hate that, but here it fits perfectly.

Of course running a billion dollar company isn’t easy and with the recent changes they all need to be on their toes, and I did like that snippet of business insights we got.

Inevitably there was The Crash, the bit where the romance goes sour and I felt that was pretty weak, it didn’t really add up for me, didn’t feel genuine. I like some real depth to a story, some top highs and lows I can wallow in for a bit and I felt that for much of this story it was just mid-line. Perfect for others, just not for me.

Stars: Three, a decent read and one many will love, but a little short on drama and depth for me.

 

Rock Legend, (Nothing But Trouble 2), Tara Leigh

Rock Legend, (Nothing But Trouble 2), Tara Leigh

Rock Legend (Nothing but Trouble Book 2) by [Leigh, Tara]

Genre: Romance,
I love a good rock star/film star romance, but though there are thousands of them on amazon most just don’t work for me. I had Tara’s first book in this series Rock King, from Netgalley and really enjoyed it so I took the plunge and actually bought book two. Between netgalley, free reads and KU I don’t buy many books, only those I think I’ll re-read!
I really enjoyed this, wasn’t sure if I would as TBH I didn’t really take to Piper in book one. As always though good authors can turn that around and when I learned more about her past and upbringing I understood a bit more way she was the way she acted when she first met Delaney again.

Its a great read, very emotional in parts, and Landon and Piper have a lot to go through before they can be happy. I loved the inclusion of Adam too, he made a nice side touch and a believable sub plot.

Stars: Four, a fun read, not a simple rock star adoration, bland, smutfest, but a genuine plot and characters and sensual heat.

 

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