Tag Archive | deception

The Missing Pieces of Us, Eva Glyn

 

The Missing Pieces of Us, Eva Glyn

The Missing Pieces of Us: The most emotional and gripping page turner of 2021! by [Eva Glyn]

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

First, darn, women’s fiction Again…Why? Its 2021 not 1821. Men read romance, men write romance..

So, the book. I was really intrigued by the description. I know from reading that actually what we remember as The Truth isn’t necessarily what happened. There have been many studies around police witnesses to prove this. So I wondered how things would play out in the story. Plus I’m a sucker for second chance romance.

I liked Robin, as a young man and now as someone older. He’s been through a lot and has learned so much about himself, he seems reasonably secure in who he is but…Izzy. She seemed to spend an extraordinary amount of time belittling him, in subtle and not so subtle way, and he just took it. She didn’t seem to notice she was doing it. I liked her at the start of the book, and I think that core of her remained inside. Now widowed, suddenly, she’s clearly got issues of her own that she’s ignoring, and that’s affecting those around her. There’s still a strong bond between her and Robin but she needs to have more respect for him IMO.
Claire was the star, just 16 but so good with her mum and Robin. Yes she has the teen outburst at times, but that’s normal. Considering she’s just had her dad die suddenly, her mum’s old lover/boyfriend turns up on the streets and is now in their home she’s amazing.

The theme of memory and truth is strong here. I didn’t really take that in and when I read something Izzy recalled that didn’t match what I’d read Robin say I was confused, flipped back to check I’d read it right, and was more confused when I had. It all connects eventually, just go with it.
There were a few times I needed to check who was talking/remembering/thinking, as it wasn’t clear but I assume final edits will sort that.
I enjoyed the story, its not one I’d reread and the romance side was really only a small part of the novel

Stars: Three, I enjoyed it but at times it was a little hard going, and Izzy frustrated me.

ARC supplied by 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

Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes, Elizabeth Lim

Six Crimson Cranes by [Elizabeth Lim]

Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy, teens and YA.

Well, re-tellings are a bit hit and miss for me, some I’ve adored and others…well, lets just say I didn’t. This story though, based on the old Grimms fairy tale, pulled at me. I adored Grimms as a kid, any fairy stories but especially those, and I’d read them over and over.( Mum used to say “Jeannie, you’re too old for fairy tales.” I’d have been maybe 9 or 10….) I’m much, much older now – frankly, you’re Never too old for fairy tales 😉
I remember this one so well, the poor sister spinning and knitting sweaters out of nettles…

Elizabeth makes the sister a princess, and the brothers princes. Sets them in a beautiful Eastern setting, with woods that stretch for miles, huge snow covered mountains, harsh dusty roads. There’s a very pronounced master/servant divide that works so well for the story.
The closeness of Shiori and her brothers grows, she’s always been loyal to them, loves them, but they’ve grown apart over the years. Now though, forced into each others company, depending on each other to break the curse, they grow back as one unit.

I loved this book, loved the addition of dragons, loved the fantasy elements that were still true to the original story but changed to fit this new one. I enjoyed the way Eastern beliefs and myths were woven into an essentially European fairy tale. It all added to that overall roundness of the story, made it feel believable.
I really liked seeing the day to day life, the little things like Shiori struggling to work for the lady she tried to steal the boat from. There were some great characters, harsh ones, kind ones, and of course my favourite, the cruel but clever, wicked ones.
Shiori grew so much in this book, from a sweet but selfish princess, into a much more rounded and understanding character. I enjoyed the gentle romance that grew towards the end, loved the way poor Shiori and her brothers seemed to take one step forward and two back. Those setbacks all added to the story, pushed her and her brothers into devising even more ways to try to break the curse. Kiki though, Kiki really was the star for me. I loved her, and can’t wait to see where Elizabeth takes her and Shiori on the next adventure.
This story is complete but…there are seeds sown for a follow-up that I’d love to read.

Stars: Five, a fun read for all ages, not just teens and YA.

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

Sleepless, Romy Hausmann

Sleepless, Romy Hausmann

Sleepless: the mind-bending new thriller from the bestselling author of DEAR CHILD by [Romy Hausmann]

Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

I loved Dear Child, so was eager to get into this but….while the writing is excellent the story just failed for me. I did put aside a few times, restarted and managed to finish, purely because I’d got the the point where I had to know how it played out but I really didn’t enjoy this read.
I found the tale confusing, different time lines, characters that seemed to have two very different stories. Eventually they began to join but I found the co-incidences of how characters were connected too much to believe, and I do believe a lot in random chance but this just didn’t feel right. Then there’s Laura, supposed to be Nadja’s friend according to the description but actually they’ve not spoken for a couple of years at least.
I felt for Nadja, horrific childhood, but really didn’t understand her willingness to help Laura. All of the characters were selfish to some degree, Laura and her husband very much so. Nelly was probably the most likable, poor little deluded girl, seduced by a practiced man….even she put out of her mind what her head was telling her.
I finished it, but it was a struggle, and even now I’m still confused about certain aspects, why, how, when of certain characters and events…

Stars: Two, I didn’t hate this book, I was just disappointed in the story, but as usual others adore this read. We all look for different things, this just wasn’t a fit 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

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

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job, The hottest new debut of 2021 – WARNING: this is not your typical rom com, Lizzy Dent

The Summer Job: The most feel-good romcom of 2021 soon to be a TV series by [Lizzy Dent]

Genre: Romance, General Fiction

I’ve read a few like this and found them great fun, and hey, with Covid dominating our thoughts fun and fluff is much needed.

I really didn’t like Birdy at first, she seemed careless, selfish, and ready to possibly drop her best friend in it, to “borrow” the job for which she knows Heather has worked incredibly hard. Sommelier – Heather has spent years working at it, studying, building a steadfast reputation, and yet her supposed best friend is ready to risk her career, risk her losing all that?
Yes., Birdie is in a hole, but thinking she could just step into Heather’s shoes was naïve to say the least, selfish in my eyes.

As the story moved on I did come to understand Birdie a little better, and see that she had a good heart, though I still felt she did a horrible thing to Heather.
There were funny moments, serious problems, heartbreaking sadness, and the food…..wow, that was some of the best part, visualising that. One of the best parts, one that showcased Birdie’s talents, was the big food/wine event she presided over. That was just perfect.

The romance. I expected more, and TBH its really just a potential romance for the most part of the book. I’m not sure I was wholly convinced either.

Its a fun read if you can get past the issues of betrayal of her friend, and of course risking the whole hotel’s renovation that hinges like all businesses, on getting the money in.

Stars: Three, an OK read, made me laugh at times but I was irritated by Birdie’s actions too much, with her lack of concern for others.

ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers

The Midnight Bargain, C.L.Polk.

The Midnight Bargain, C.L.Polk.
Magic meets Bridgerton in the Regency fantasy everyone is talking about…

The Midnight Bargain: Magic meets Bridgerton in the Regency fantasy everyone is talking about... by [C. L. Polk]
Romance
Genre: Sci-fi and fantasy

I wasn’t sure about this book at first, but quickly became hooked and I loved it.
Its a mix, a magical world, but historical in the sense that women are property, and horrors, no matter how talented magically once married they lose that. As spirits can enter unborn children and take over women have to wear a collar to lock out their magic and therefore lock out any harmful spirits. Not just while they are pregnant, but from their wedding day to the end of their childbearing years. Beatrice is horrified, she is talented, thinks the system unfair and would fair rather keep her magic and remain unmarried. However her families future depends on her making a good marriage, thanks to some poor investments by her father, a fact she’s only just become aware of.
Poor Beatrice, stuck between a rock and a hard place. Her only hope is to continue her magical education in secret and get good enough to convince her father she can help mend the families fortunes that way…
There are some great characters here, a lovely mix of friendship and the usual Mean Girls, as Beatrice isn’t quite from the top drawer. I was surprised how things with Ysabeta developed, loved it, it wasn’t what I expected. Ianthe, who couldn’t love him. One of the few forward thinking men of the time, who was prepared to try to understand what Beatrice had issues with. Like most of us, whats accepted as norm isn’t questioned, and though he knew Ysabeta has problems with it he hadn’t really though about it from a woman’s view. Of course he’s in the minority, and his mother certainly doesn’t share his views.
The star for me was Nadi, the luck spirit. I adored her, she made the book really special, her relationship with Beatrice. They both cared about the other, where convention said spirits needed to be kept in place, and didn’t have those sort of feelings.
Its a gentle romance, beset with society problems and a really fun read. I loved the magic, loved the problems that cropped up, loved the gentle mean girls stuff. It ends neatly, everything wraps up with a neat epilogue, and I’d love to read more from this world, see how the things develop with these characters and maybe others a couple of years down the line.

Stars: Five, a really magical read and I love this world. C L Polk, please write more!

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

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