Christmas at the Lakeside Resort, (The Lakeside Resort Series), Susan Schild
I loved Susan’s Sweet Southern Hearts, so was eager to get stuck in to this. Sadly in the romance genre stories seem to interpret Romance as being only for the young.
Hurrah for authors like Susan, who show that the older generations want romance too. Not everyone gets their HEA when they are younger and accidents, divorces, just plain old Life means many folk past their thirties are still looking for that special someone.
Jenny thought she’d found that, and then the jerk calls everything off. She’s struggling through the aftermath of that when she gets another blow, her home has been sold and she’s a couple of weeks to find somewhere new. Sometimes things like this make us look at life and that’s what happens with jenny, she decides she’s just marking time, doesn’t love her job, her life, so takes the opportunity presented by her fathers legacy to make a huge change.
Of course it doesn’t all go smoothly, but that’s part of the magic, if it did it would be a dull read. I loved Luke and Alice, adored Benny and Bear, and as a horse lover how could I fail to be entranced by Levi. My old mare Muska thought she was a person, was always trying to get into the house, but being somewhat bigger than Levi it didn’t really work….
I loved reading about the renovation, about the jerk Douglas and his new lady ( hiss, boo….I really wanted him to see just what he’d lost. I hate guys – or ladies – who behave as he did )., about Alice her her dating issues and of course Lovely Luke. He was such a wonderful guy, quiet, strong, unflappable and his was a sad story.
I liked the slow burn of their romance, though maybe a little more action would have been nice 😉 Its not one of those where they get together after a couple of chapters, in fact it takes pretty much most of the book before they get to a first kiss. You can feel how they both are attracted and yet they both weigh up what they would lose, should they move forward, is the time right, are they ready? They’re all questions Real people have, most of us are cautious by nature and this book felt so very real in the romance side. The renovations? Well, in contrast to the romance a lot happens in a short time 😉 . I’m not so sure it would work like that in real life, but it made for a really enjoyable story, and the endings was just so perfect.
My only reservation is that for me it seemed a slow start, I felt like I was reading but not actually getting to the meat of the story for some time. Its all scene setting though, its easy to criticise and others will love that gentle, gradual progression.
Stars: Four, a really magical Christmas story.
ARC supplied by author
By Virtue Fall, Carrie Elks
Genre: General Fiction (Adult)
I love Carrie Elks stories, have read almost all of them now, and she writes in a way that’s perfect for me.
In fact looking through the ones I’ve read I’ve just decided of a reread of Love in London 2, Broken Chords. Fix you is another favourite that’s been reread a few times…so I was eager to get into this.
I loved (five star loved) the first two in this series, somehow missed book three, and expected this to be another five star read. And yet…it wasn’t. Its got Carrie’s perfect pacing and story line, some great characters and some you love to hate. All things that make a book perfect for me and yet somehow it just didn’t pull me in, keep me gripped.
I’m not sure why, I loved Juliet (London!) and Ryan, the kids were perfect and brought some wonderful levity, the school mothers, oh haven’t we all met those types? There’s one scene with Ryan and Juliet and The Mothers that I just loved!
The way they both are attracted right from the start yet hold off, Juliet because she’s still dealing with divorce issues, the betrayal from her husbands affair, and doesn’t feel ready, and Ryan because he knows he’s only here a few months, that he’ll be off again soon, and he too isn’t looking for love. Yet it has a way of sneaking up on us slowly, catching us out.
Love never waits for the perfect time – life just isn’t that neat, rarely do Life events and Perfect Time meet up!
Its really well written, finishes off the series neatly, (Cesca, she’s still my favourite and I had a little lump in my throat picturing her in That Dress). For many readers I’m sure it will be exactly what they want, but for me it just didn’t have that magic of the first two, of almost all Carrie’s other stories I’ve loved. That happens, you can’t please all of the people all of the time and all that..
Stars: Three, a well written story that fits the series but didn’t quite hook me in as Carrie’s stories usually do.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Hard Truths, Alex Whitehall
Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance
I thought I’d read books by this author before – but I haven’t – so lots of new to me reads to enjoy 😉 I loved this read, heartbreaking at times and sadly, so very,very real.
I loved Isaac and his sister, Sue. They’re very close, which is good as his parents are…well, my age but I feel a million miles from them.
They’re old fashioned, with sadly outdated views. Mum is desperate for grandchildren to spoil, even though, as Isaac muses, she never wanted to spoil him or Sue. Dad is one of those I’m-head-of-family, my word is Law types, the sort where clear lines are drawn, he’s The Man, brings in the dosh, and housework, childcare etc is Not His Province, women’s work.
Despite the weird parents Sue and Isaac love them, just hate the way every family occasion leads into nagging about marriage and children.
Desperate one Thanksgiving Sue brings home a date, a fake one, just to shut mum up. He’s big, burly, tattooed and ….coloured, and she knows her parents will hate him. She’s asked him to be polite but play up the stereotype, so he is guarded about his job, hinting at freelance, letting them think the worst, and true to form they are reasonably polite but Not Happy and make it clear.
Isaac is shocked though when Logan discreetly makes a pass at him…til he finds out the truth. I loved that family meal!
Soon Logan and Isaac are together but each family meal means Logan stays away, and Isaac gets more lectures on finding The One and grandchildren. I felt so sorry for him, for too many families this is life. It shouldn’t matter who we love, so long as we’re not harming others, parents should just want their kids happy, not set conditions on happiness and love.
Of course the inevitable happens and Logan wants to be with Isaac all the time, not tucked away from his parents like a dirty secret. Its not hard to see the way things would go, although it was stronger than I expected, and once more I kept thinking “this is how life is for so many kids” Awful isn’t it? I can’t conceive of being that sort of parent, though I can see faint echoes in how my parents would have reacted.
In between Isaac and his family issues there’s the deal of Logan and his friends and Isaac and his, both close knit groups who react differently to new people, to pressures and events. I get the feeling Logan is more confident, outgoing, able to accept others where Isaac is a bit like me, diffident, cautious, careful of feelings. There are times when he isn’t sure if his friends are pushing him aside, when in fact they’re probably just busy, and I can empathise with that think the worst outlook.
When the big Fallout hit its dual pronged for Isaac and I so felt for him, and Logan of course. The way that drama played out, really let emotions flow, let Isaac’s thoughts run riot was just perfect for me. I love to wallow in the sad parts, and then feel uplifted when all ends well.
Stars:Five, a very real feeling drama with the perfect HEA.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers.
Love You S’more, Beth Merlin
Genre:Woman’s fiction, romance
First a quick rant – why “women’s” fiction? Why exclude 50% or readers….men write romance and read it.
I hadn’t read book one or two, two was on KU so I read that and the synopsis of book one. I think I’d have enjoyed this even more if I knew the full backstory from book one, but even without its a story I loved.
Some fabulous characters, and lots to ponder. For me the big one was Why? Why did Perry just ghost her when he moved, when they were so close, so in love? I really needed those answers.
I loved Gigi and Jamie, though occasionally I do feel the Gay Best Friend is becoming a little overused in romance. Still, he fitted in perfectly here and did add much to the story. I adored all the dress designing info, a world I know nothing of. Fashion for me means finding some clothes that are not paint stained…I’m an artist and invariably everything gets an addition of unintentional colour. Last seasons clothes are fine for me, tomorrow I’m attending a christening in an outfit that’s probably 20 years old. It suits me so shy not is my reasoning. Still, I adore reading about the world of fashion, the creation of beautiful outfits ( all that beading, fabrics and beading are a real weakness of mine – tomorrows outfit is an Indian silk printed shalwar kameez, with a lovely glittery copper running through). I love the way something as simple as clothing can become so important, so much depending on it and I was completely sucked into Gigi’s experiences designing Victoria’s outfits.
Alongside that is another world almost foreign to me, Theatre. I was entranced by the whole set design, setting music to scenes, creating a story from history. I could see why Perry was so hooked on the world, why it was so important to him. I still just kept having the thoughts though “why Perry, Why?” He seemed such a great guy, just didn’t seem the callous type. Then there’s Gideon, and he was wonderful too. So very down to earth, so hard working, determined to make his ancestral home pay its way and stay in the family. We’ve a few like that in the region I live, some owned by NT but others where the families work hard to keep everything in the family, even when it means letting the public into your home. I’d find that hard, but when the alternative is losing it? Knowing a few people of his type I felt the scenes with Gigi and his friends and family were very real. The top echelons of UK society can be very insular, do reject those not quite whom they regard as Like Us. U and non U is still very much alive.
So there were Gigi and Gideon, so in love but could the US career girl fit into
UK Society, was love enough? What about Gigi’s career?
And then into all that drops the scandal and poor Gigi once more goes from cream of the top, Lady of the day into Most Despised Person.
I so felt for her, she’d done nothing, it was Perry who really should have copped the blame but as usual the woman gets it ;-( The British press are merciless, and I so hate their desperation to cook up a story, parade lies as truth when it comes to celebrities. There’s a saying they never let the truth get in the way of a good story and its so true, and why I’ve not bought a newspaper for years.
Its a fabulous, engrossing read, transporting the reader into the world of fashion married with High society, and showing just what an impact simple decisions can have on careers and lives. The ending – well, I loved it, perfect for me. I may well go back and read book one sometime, and two and three once more.
A quick point, well a couple of them.
We don’t say Fall, its Autumn. Certainly coming from a landed and titled family Gideon would Never use a US term like that when talking about how booked up Badgely Hall was becoming.
Victoria, future Queen of UK, supposedly lets her husband know of his impending fatherhood by asking for sparkling cider instead of champagne. Here in the UK there is both Still and Sparkling cider, each very alcoholic. There’s no way a future Queen, UK born and bred would request cider, meaning a non alcoholic drink, she’d be asking for water or fruit juice most likely. Sparkling cider is a US/Canadian term only.
They’re small points and usually I could ignore things like that – it happens when writing about other cultures and countries, but these two points are very major ones IMO.
Stars: Five, a fabulous read, engrossing story, real characters and plenty of drama.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
#fireflyhillpress, #Love You S’more, #Beth Merlin, @fireflyhillpress, @Love You S’more, @Beth Merlin
What Becomes of the Broken Hearted, The most heartwarming and feelgood novel you’ll read this year, Lisa Hobman
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, this story…I’d loved Lisa’s A Year of finding Happiness, the only other book of hers I’d read, and was hoping for something similar, romance, with a solid story and some drama. I did get it but…in a much more muted way.
I couldn’t see why Cassie ever thought she was in love with Seth in the first place, he was clearly so arrogant and supercilious, and when he’s caught out his reaction is exactly as you’d expect. I also wondered why Seth was with Cassie. Did he ever love her or did he just want a complaisant wife he could mould, as he clearly was already shaping Cassie’s day to day behaviour. I like to think he loved her at the start at least, and just maybe it was Cassie’s low self esteem that let her stay with him when clearly he was trying to change her.
Then That happens, and Cassie’s off. Wow girl, you go! I was cheering her on even while I could feel her heartbreak, and up til now things kind of went as I expected.
When she reaches the new home though she’s really a first class b itch to Mac, she’s hurting I know, but it wasn’t Mac that hurt her. They have a few not so good interactions, but slowly she opens up, and Mac tries for a fresh start and to help her. He’s a genuinely kind man, one of the good guys, and for all Cassie’s rudeness he sees she’s hurt and still looks out for her. I loved Mac. And his uncle Rab, they felt like people I’d love to know. Cassie – well, I so felt for her at first but she was so outright rude to Mac I got cross with her. I hate plain rudeness.
Looking back at A Year of ….I can see what I enjoyed about that, and its the drama and the unpleasant ex that topped the story for me. We’ve both of those here, but Seth somehow didn’t engender the same feelings. I guess I felt the drama in the later part of the book just didn’t fit the character I felt he was, whereas in A Year of it was exactly what I would expect Alice to do. The actual drama itself was fine, added to the story, and worked to move things forward.
I adored Rab, was so emotional over him, the village setting and characters were perfect, Mac was just wonderful, Cliff gets a special mention, and an extra helping of imaginary dogs treats 😉 I guess its just the Cassie/Seth relationship and the actions that sprung from it that didn’t work so well here for me. Its a good read, but unlike a Year of, it was one I could, and did, put aside at times for other things. I did love the ending, kitsch, but still just perfect and left me feeling a little choked. The magic moment all we romantics dream of!
Its a perfect beach read, or one for those times when you need a story you can pick up and put down for a while, but it wasn’t a must-keep-reading five star for me.
Stars: Three and a half, some really great elements let down for me but a few things that felt out of place. As ever though, that’s just one opinion, it will be perfect for others.
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
One Thousand Stars and You, Isabelle Broom
Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance.
Usual moan, women’s fiction – why? Why alienate half a potential readership?
So, my first read by this author and what a fabulous story it was. A solid romance, though more in the building stage, that first breathless does (s)he or doesn’t (s)he….the gorgeous slow burn of attraction rather than full on sex fest. If you want that this isn’t your book, but for me it was perfect, fitted the story so well.
I loved the characters, flawed and so very real I felt I was with them, experiencing what they did, the descriptions of the places, the food, the history were so vivid.
Alice, poor Alice. We can see just how she’s subjugated herself to fit the mould that keeps everyone else happy, she’s squashed Real Alice down until she’s simply a pastiche of the girl she should be. That’s so sad, happens so often though, when we want to please others and in this case Alice feels guilt for the accident when she was a child. It wasn’t her fault though, she was a kid, and accidents do happen. Now her parents and her boyfriend want her safe, all day, every day, and she’s reduced to sneaking out every now and then to dive off the highest board at the local pool, just to let some of the repression out. If they knew she knows they’d be horrified so it stays another guilty secret. I wanted to dislike Richard, but he wasn’t dis-likable, just that he and Alice really weren’t a compatible couple, what they wanted from life were different things.
Then on holiday Alice and her two friends meet a couple of men also out for fun and adventure, and the spark between Alice and Max is there right from day one.
It isn’t a cheating book though, Alice is open about Richard but the attraction they both feel has them pulling together constantly and it does get noticed by their friends.
Max is an amputee, and as an amputee myself ( I have no left leg) it was a real treat to see Max’s issues, and I so understood what he was feeling. The sores, the sweaty skin issues, the fitting of the prosthesis, how hard it is to actually walk, the stress it puts on the body, I’ve had all of those issues. Even the dreaded sex gets a mention – and why not? It is important, and we do wonder what its going to be like, how we’ll manage.
I want to say a huge Hurrah to Isabelle for researching properly and making Max someone so real, too often disabled people in stories either are figures of sympathy – the Poor You, life is over type, or are portrayed in totally unrealistic ways. ( The horse whisperer – as a horse rider what happened there is not physically possible, I know, I tried ) You think its a matter of a missing leg, but in fact its so much more, the whole body becomes involved and for poor Max he had PTSD to contend with too.
It was a story that was a real treat, I adored the settings, the descriptions, the characters and the very real circumstances, From Alice’ issues awith her parents, boyfriend and brother, to Max and his problems. I love a story where I feel events could have happened, where its fiction but could be true and this one was just perfect. One I will re-read.
Stars: five, a real cracker of a story, so real, with great characters and settings.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Cold, Hard & Heartless, M.V. Ellis
well, in book one it was London’s looonng metal monologues that I found off-putting and now its Arlo’s….that’s just me though, its a niggle that I find irritating, but that others may be indifferent to or even enjoy. I do enjoy a bit of introspection, it lets me feel and understand a characters actions, work out why they do things a certain way. From the outside Arlo could look like a man-whore jerk, but from his thoughts I can see he’s more. I loved him in book one, and I’m glad I read that first as he doesn’t seem quite a likable here, somehow his actions come across as very selfish here, certainly his past with Marnie, even when Luke warns him he’s being a jerk and unfair, whereas I don’t remember feeling that way in book one.
This story really just covers the ground of book one, but from Arlo’s POV, there’s nothing I noticed that was new there, and I think if the two books had been combined into one it would have worked better for me. Maybe one of those alternating POV stories? So that though I’d be reading stuff I knew already it would still be fresh, and I could meld each POV and see the actions from both sides as it happens.
I love the way he realised he was in love with London, though somehow although the period was covering several weeks/months somehow that didn’t translate as well as in book one. It felt they went from meeting and the chaos of that to a kiss, then nothing until suddenly its weeks later and he’s planning how to continue with her in his life. It feels like there’s a gap in the middle were she keeps house but they don’t seem to interact much, and then he’s In Love…..
Book three should be interesting, hopefully they’ll be a bit more action as they’re on tour. I hope 😉 I love Tour books, with all the mayhem, bustle, music, traveling, groupies and chaos they bring. It would be good to get to know the other band members too.
Stars: Three and a half, didn’t quite like it as much as book one but it is a good read, though quite short. Melded together, so I got both sides at the same time they would have made a perfect five star, single book for me.
ARC supplied by Author
In Too deep, Dani Collins
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
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
Rock Legend, (Nothing But Trouble 2), Tara Leigh
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.