Tag Archive | love story

Love Disregarded, Rachel Blaufeld

Love Disregarded, Rachel Blaufeld

Love Disregarded by [Rachel Blaufeld, Pam Berehulke]

Genre: Romance|R

I’ve mixed feelings about this book. I loved Bex, but when it came to Aston she was a bit of a doormat. I loved Aston too, it was clear how he felt about Bex but…he let money and revenge guide him. That was OK ish when they were young, we all make mistakes, especially when young. We haven’t yet had enough life to assess whats important. When they reconnected though that first time Aston did it again, without the excuse of age. Then after years he decides he wants her and now….and she really just rolls over. Yes, I got that they had a Grand Passion, but the hurts of the past were still there. They had that passion then, this time they’ve both got others to consider, not just themselves. If I was Bex I’d have made him work Much Much harder the third time.
I felt for Seth, he was just there. Used TBH and though Bex came to love him – sort of – it wasn’t the passion she had for Aston. Poor Seth could never live up to that. Never the less he’s a good guy, really steps up even when faced with unwanted surprises. He got a hard time IMO.
Milly and Mike, loved them. Hope things worked out for them.
The kids, all of them, were great. Really well balanced considering all they went through.
Aston’s parents, weak mother, vicious and cruel father. It kind of excuses his actions a little IMO, but only a little and only when he was younger.

Overall its a mixed book for me. I loved the passion, the so strong feelings between Bex and Aston. I loved the angst, I can never get too much of that, and would have liked it to last a bit longer. I hated that she let him get away with so much, and even up to the end he was just steamrollering his way through, expecting everyone to fall in line with his plans. It doesn’t matter if they were good plans, I felt for a solid future Bex needed to make him understand they were a partnership, she had equal say, not just let him carry on as before.

Stars: Three and a half, a good read but I had quite a few reservations about parts.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

Just Saying, Sophie Ranald

Just Saying, Sophie Ranald

Just Saying: An absolutely perfect and feel-good romantic comedy by [Sophie Ranald]

Genre: Humour, Romance,

My first Sophie Ranald read, and what fun it was. I really enjoyed this, laughed at parts and had tears at others. Its a very apt book with the #metoo still causing notice, and of course stories from the Windrush generation. .

I loved Alice, she was like so many people I know, internalising hurts, showing one face to the world while feeling very different inside. I think what I found so, so sad was her reaction to what happened, to blaming herself for not doing anything to stop it. That doesn’t make her complicit, its a natural reaction to shock, and yet still something used as a defence far too often. Victim blaming – despicable defence.

When Alice met Joe it was a perfect match. Joe is wonderful, solid, dependable, a true support to Alice, and when she loses her job and starts at the pub he’s very supportive. It means though that their work hours conflict and they see little of each other, just at the time their new, gorgeous lodger, Zoe, Joe’s ex, the girl he says he loved and broke his heart, has moved in. Zoe is stunningly attractive, a great chef, and Joe loves to cook. Alice enjoys eating but cooking isn’t her thing. Slowly it feels like its Joe and Zoe, rather than Joe and Alice, she’s always there, laughing with Joe over their shared past, reminiscing over old mates, singing along as they cook, and of course enjoying the garden. The one Joe and Alice had such plans for but never found the time to do so. Poor Alice, Joe assures her they’re just friends when she moves in, but its hard seeing that toned body parading around in sexy, skimpy nightwear. Does she want Joe back ? That’s what Alice fears, and feels “less” in comparison to the gorgeous, talented Zoe.

Then there’s the pub ( and that picture – I could just visualise it!! I loved Shirley’s poem too, Princess Diana has that reaction for some people…). There’s Alice’s brother Drew, her best friend Heather, landlady Shirley and the locals, and of course handsome Archie, who owns the craft brew shop next door to the pub. They all form a tale that’s is cleverly woven together, along with a secret burden poor Alice has been carrying for far too long. Its a fabulous read, well written, paced out just right and

Stars: Five. A great read. Has a perfect blend of romance and jealousy, topical issues, things that affect real people, us with our imperfect lives. And of course a HEA, a romance isn’t right without that for me.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

Something Like Perfect, S.C. Stephens

Something Like Perfect, S.C. Stephens

Something Like Perfect by [S.C. Stephens]

Genre: | General Fiction (Adult), Romance

Well, Thoughtless, S.C.Stephens debut book was one of my earliest kindle reads, and I loved it. Even then though the cheating aspect made me a little uncomfortable, I know its fiction, but I’m pretty strong on cheating – don’t do it. In real life that is 😉 In a novel I can excuse it if the characters at least try to avoid it, make some real effort. So, seeing this book included it made me pause, but I decided she’s such a great writer it was worth trying. After all I loved Thoughtless and the other stories that followed.
Its a quick easy read, sweeping the reader along with a host of emotions. I could feel the connection between Valerie and Jake from that first coffee shop meeting, and could imagine her shock at that family dinner. What a nightmare.
It puts them both in a difficult position but wisely they both decide to do the right thing and really do make a solid effort. And then….something huge happens that changes things. I wasn’t expecting that, and I can see that its got its lovers and haters. Yes, it is a little far fetched, but things like this do happen in reality, life can be far fetched at times and I just went with the flow and enjoyed it. I understood what happened and why, I think in those circumstances most folk would have acted the same.
Then of course comes the later part of the story where they’re both struggling in their lives, Val loves her sister, Jake feels guilty and doesn’t want to hurt his girlfriend and it looks like a story where no-one will be happy. I feel this was one of the best parts of the novel, drama abounds, emotions and tensions are high and I felt for all three of them. They were all heartbroken, and it looked like none would get a happy ending. I liked that this took some time to resolve, I hate reads where characters are heartbroken one page and all over it by the next page. I want the characters to hit bottom, I want to wallow in their pain….and then when it comes right I am so happy.

Stars: Five, its a quick, light read, a wash of emotion. Its not one I’m likely to re-read but I really enjoyed it.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

Party of Two, The brilliant opposites-attract rom-com from the author of The Proposal!, Jasmine Guillory

Party of Two, The brilliant opposites-attract rom-com from the author of The Proposal!, Jasmine Guillory

Party of Two: The brilliant opposites-attract rom-com from the author of The Proposal! by [Jasmine Guillory]

Genre: Romance,

I didn’t realise this was book 5 in a connected series til I’d finished it, so you can read and enjoy without having read earlier ones. Like most character connected books though I suspect it will read even better if you’ve knowledge of some of the side characters from earlier reads.

I really enjoyed this, it wasn’t a five star for me, but a solid four. I loved Max and Olivia, I understood why she was a planner, not a spontaneous jump right in with both feet character. She puts it down to her life experiences as a black lady, but some of us are just that way without any real reasons. I did feel her reactions were very deeply entrenched, and I understood the fear that she felt about being in the spotlight with Max. That’s his life though, not just his job but his passion, so how are they to get round things?
Max was just adorable, loved his impulsiveness, even though, like Olivia, that would scare me. I can’t understand how people can just make decisions on the fly like that. He was so in love with Olivia, that came over really well, but were the differences between them insurmountable or could there be a way through.

When things come to a crux I felt for both of them, I understood Olivia’s horror but at the same time could see exactly why Max did what he did. He just wanted to help someone, and it seemed to him putting two folk together could do that. And maybe if there weren’t a few hundred eyes on them at the time it would have been fine…..

I can see the author is in a position to understand racial issues more than me, though being naturally dark skinned I was bullied as a kid because folk assumed I was coloured, and then when I married a Zelos…..that assumption became more prevalent. However for me I felt I didn’t need the constant reminder Olivia was black, I’m interested in her as a person, and of course being black affects that but its not all she is. She’s an intelligent, talented businesswoman, a good sister, a great friend. She’s more than *just* black, and I felt that the reminders all the way through that being black had affected her was a bit OTT for me. That’s just a personal feeling though. I guess its a book where the race issue counted but when I’m reading I don’t really think of people as being black or white, blonde or dark, fat or thin, they’re just people to me.

When things went wrong – perfect, I loved that drama, and they seem to be in a position where I couldn’t see how they could meet. Sometimes Love just isn’t enough, but thankfully Jasmine found a way through, saw what could change where I couldn’t see how they could get there.

The food – oh wow, loved all that, though being UK not US I have never had yellow cake with chocolate frosting? Unless yellow cake is just some kind of Victoria sponge? Sometimes English as a language used by different countries can be very confusing. And pie. Strawberry rhubarb sounds horrible to me, give me apple, apricot, blackberry, raspberry but not strawberry/rhubarb. (Rhubarb, my late husband loved it. I once made a crumble for him and a friend of mine who was also a rhubarb addict, but forgot the sugar….. My poor friend said it was really eye watering)

Stars: Four a fun read, good story with real issues between the couple that I wondered how the author could resolve. Good job I’m a reader not a writer as I couldn’t see a way through.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

The Little Teashop in Tokyo, Julie Caplin

The Little Teashop in Tokyo, Julie Caplin

The Little Teashop in Tokyo: A feel-good, romantic comedy to make you smile and fall in love! (Romantic Escapes, Book 6) by [Julie Caplin]

Genre: General Fiction (adult), Romance.

Well, wow, I adored this story. I didn’t realise it was one of those complete stories, but connected books series, so I’m off to find the rest when I’ve time. It didn’t matter that I hadn’t read the others, but I can see for those who have, getting snippets of the characters in their updated lives will be fun.

Fiona, what a lovely lady. Lives with her widowed mum, its been just the two of them for so long, her dad dying when she was small. Her mum is clearly a bit of a hypochondriac, and even though Fiona is 28 still treats her as if she’s 8 much of the time. Fiona understands, chafes at it sometimes, but has found a way to manage her mum’s anxieties. Of course now she’s off to Japan for two weeks her mum is terrified for her. Fiona is determined not to be put off though and bravely marches in. this could be the makings of a whole new career for her, and will work well with her travel blog.

What she doesn’t expect though is Gabe. The man who’d been booked has had to cancel and Gabe is taking his place. He’s a well known man, top photographer, and certainly no second rate substitute but……Fiona has a history with him, from when she was 18 and he was taking a half term class at her school. Its didn’t go well, she’s been affected by the events ever since, and this throws her. Gabe doesn’t recognise her, and she’s not sure how she feels. That incident affected her ever since, changed her whole way of life and yet he seems t have forgotten it….how, she thinks, can something that was so big for her be nothing, forgettable to him.
,
Gabe was such an obnoxious man to begin, clearly not happy about mentoring her and it shows. Slowly though he changes and became a man I fell in love with a bit too.
The ladies she’s staying with are amazing, and teach her so much, taking her in as part of them, showing her some of the traditional Japanese way of life. I loved those parts, could taste the food, smell the teas, see the beautiful kimonos, and the wonderful relaxing garden. It sounded magical, and Fiona really grew in her confidence with their help. She was like a different person at the end, more confident but still with her amazing fascination and enthusiasm for life.

I hated a Certain Person but was so glad she was in the book, I love that sort of character.
I loved that when things fell apart it wasn’t a quick solution, that it lasted for some time. I hate when its all off one page, and all on again the next.
I guess my only minor criticism would be the time span, its just two weeks and for the first couple of days they really don’t like each other, but then if I take into account the history and how things were then, it makes up for it. A bit. I just have trouble with insta love. Lust I can believe in, love takes a bit longer IMO

Stars: Five. A wonderful, engaging read, transporting me to a country I’ve always wanted to visit.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Wedding, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen

The Wedding, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen

Genre: Romance,

I loved book one, The Album, and this one catches up with Gabriel and Ariana, while focusing on Heather and Harrison, and is another riveting read.

I loved that Heather and Sebastian gave Ariana a hard time when she came back. Hayden and Harrison are content in that Gabriel’s happy, but Heather and Sebastian can’t get past the hurt and damage she caused so easily. Heather thought they were close friends, and Ariana just dropped her, ghosted her, didn’t answer her calls or texts. Plus of course they had a ringside seat to Gabriel’s heartbreak and devastation. That felt so very true, the anger and loss came over very realistically. Heather, Sebastian and the Yoko convo 😉 that felt very real and I could picture it.
In the middle of Ariana’s return its Harrison’s birthday, and he proposes to Heather, his long time girl. They’re like an institution, nothing can shake them and marriage – well its just icing on the cake. Until it isn’t, something terrible happens that affects the whole band, and causes a massive, humongous rift between the two.

This kind of angst and heartbreak is what make a romance novel so special to me. I love this kind of plot, where someone does something totally unexpected, and that causes issues. Very big issues, and I was sucked in to the drama, the unhappiness, the problems, the heartache that befell them all. In the midst of all this poor Heather is running her new and incredibly successful fashion line.
I loved this story, loved that the problems set in quite early which left lots of time to explore them thoroughly, see what could work, what would work, what and who is behind the issues, and whether given time they could be overcome. For a while, even though this is book-land and its going to be a HEA, I really felt that it was possible that actually Love couldn’t conquer all, that perhaps some things are just too devastating to get past, to forget.

Its handled wonderfully, and the solutions are not quick fix, instant everything’s OK now, type answers. That we see them working so hard, and yet still there are problems. Real life is like that, there are no magic fixes, its a slog getting past something like this and not everyone can do it.
I especially liked that when things are finally resolved, there’s another person that got caught in the crossfire and had their life turned upside down, but they weren’t forgotten, they were helped to resolution too.
I can just imagine how vicious the fans were, in this day of instant tweets and posts things spread like wildfire, and some folk hide behind anonymity to say the most appalling, cruel things. We – and I’m one – often blame the media for the intrusion in people’s lives, but if we -as the public- didn’t buy the papers and magazines, didn’t salivate over the photos, there wouldn’t be a demand for them. Its a two pronged fault, the papers and media for chasing and intruding, but the general public for creating the demand.

Stars: Five, a wonderful follow up and I can’t wait for the next book.

Arc via author

One Last Verse, The Encore: Book 2, N.N. Britt

One Last Verse, The Encore: Book 2, N.N. Britt

One Last Verse (The Encore Book 2) by [N. N. Britt]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction.

Gah, women’s fiction again…men write romance, men read romance, lets get with the 21st century.

So, book two. I loved the first book, but if anything, this was even better. The issues facing Frank and Cassy aren’t just the publicity, the media and her job, but the way Frank is coping with his injuries.
When they finally go public, the timing is bad, because within a short time Frank’s problems have them at odds once more. Poor Cassy, it feels like she’s always struggling, trying so hard to help Frank, and when he’s not drinking he’s wonderful. Caring, thoughtful, generous and the perfect man, but then – as anyone who’s had dealings with an alcoholic knows – the reverse side of this person is bitter, angry, cruel, and when the hangover is worn off, they’re sorry, won’t do it again. Its a continuous cycle.
Cassy saw all that with her dad, how her poor mum was ground under by it, and always vowed she wouldn’t be like that. She loves Frank though, she feels for him, understands some of why he’s so angry, upset, and in this book the bad parts get really heaped on Frank driving him t the edge. It was superbly written, having lived with an alcoholic I can vouch that part was spot on. The ups and downs, the highs when everything is wonderful, and then the sudden crash, often over the most trivial things.
I did feel for Frank, but as Cassy tried to tell him, he still has so much, but all he could see was what he had lost. His career was his life, and he’s lost if he can’t perform so he’s pushing himself, using drugs and alcohol to numb the pain so he can continue. He can’t see any other future, won’t admit he simply can’t do it. Its turning him into someone Cassy can’t continue with though, she loves him but can’t accept the person he is in the bad times.

I loved the drama in this, so intense, so perfect for me. Drama in a book is what I adore, proper drama, not the angsty, pseudo drama that many romances feature, but real, gritty, relatable stuff. I loved that Frank struggled, let people down, pushed Cassy away. His anger was palpable, I could feel his despair, even while I was so angry with him for letting others down, for his awful behaviour to Cassy. I loved that the drama lasted, wasn’t over in a few pages, but took a good chunk of the book to resolve. That made it feel real, I couldn’t get behind someone who claimed to be past the problems if they hadn’t used time to actually change their life. I so felt for Cassy, she was such a hard worker, looked after her family, tried to help Frank, and even Dante at times. She’s one of those folk that are good at heart, won’t hesitate to step up when its needed.
I loved her brother too, he was a typical teen, and really grew through this book. And of course Levi, her work partner for the past seven years.
Its not a rock star on the road type read, thankfully its not an alpha male, grunting, monosyllabic read, those ones that run “ you feel me?” “ I feel you” and that’s about the extent of a conversation. Its not a Kylie Scott or Kristen Callihan humour filled rock star read, they’re both Queens of Rock for me, but it is a superb book about fame, drama, human frailties, and lets N.N. Britt join that precious group, Queen of Rock Reads, for me. Its one that I know, along with the first book, will become one of my re-read staples. Right now, along with N.N. Brits other two books, they are on KU so a great time to read them.

Stars: Five, terrific read, a rock star romance, with so much extra in the story, full or drama and reality.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

Final Serenade, The Encore: Book 1, N.N. Britt

Final Serenade, The Encore: Book 1, N.N. Britt

Final Serenade (The Encore Book 1) by [N. N. Britt]

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction.

Gah, women’s fiction again…men write romance, men read romance, lets get with the 21st century.

Anyway, rock romance, I love it, and this features characters a little older, which is great for me. Teen angst can be fun, but its much nicer to find characters that have a little more depth.
I loved this book, loved it. So much in this genre features ( as above) teens, lead females that swoon as soon as they are looked at, forget all their principles when the MC approaches them, or MCs that are little more than monosyllabic, shallow males, who demand everyone falls at their feet.
Frank(ie) came as a real treat, and of course Cassy isn’t one to fall over, legs akimbo just because her teen crush looks her way!

I loved that it wasn’t just Cassy meets Frankie, but that both had a lot of other things going on in their lives. That made them feel real, made the story so much more interesting. Cassy was great, determined to stay professional even when faced with her teen dreams. I loved that she tries to help her mum and little brother, even though he’s a typical at times obnoxious teen….That is mirrored in so many people’s families, we love our parents and siblings even when it feels like they are going to drive us mad.
Frankie, Cassy ( and I) had so many questions about his return. Why now? Is he touring? And When? Why has it taken so long? Is he well enough or hiding something?
Then there’s his band-mate Dante, who at first seemed a decent guy underneath the rock star ego, but then we learn more and he’s not quite like that.

I understood why Frankie worked so hard to keep their relationship secret, the media are relentless, and Cassy’s career will be shot to pieces, so while they’re seeing what’s between them he tries to keep things covered. And yet I also felt for Cassy, she knows this is for the best, but at times her imagination runs away…I think most of us would be like that.
And that ending, Gah, I hate those, but luckily for me I’ve been approved book two, the conclusion of their story. I hope we get to hear more from the band, from the other members, its such a treat to get characters in their thirties 😉 This duet is on KU right now too.

Stars: Five, terrific read, a rock star romance, with so much extra in the story. One I’ll happily re-read.

Arc via netgalley and publishers

A Wedding in the Olive Garden, Leah Fleming

A Wedding in the Olive Garden, Leah Fleming

A Wedding in the Olive Garden by [Leah Fleming]

Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance

Women’s fiction again….sigh, its 2020, why do we have this outdated genre heading?

Anyway, I thought I’d love this book, an escapist read, romance and sunshine. I liked it, but sadly didn’t love it as I expected 😦
I loved the Greek setting, the sunshine and sea, the food, the local flavour that made it feel real. What I had issues with were some of the characters, especially Griff and Sara. I understood why she did what she did, what I didn’t understand was why she felt bad about it, why she kept it a big secret. Still, I guess a big chunk of book would have gone if she didn’t – it just didn’t feel right for me though. Griff was a lovely guy but he and Sara are really prickly to each other at first, she is rude to him on first meeting, shocked I get but rudeness once explained? Griff too is hiding, escaping, keeping things quiet and I understood that. You don’t tell all the world your history when you first meet but when it was clear he and Sara maybe getting closer, perhaps a hint of the past would help? I don’t know, it just seemed there wasn’t that magic connection between them.
I loved Mel and Spiros, and the mother in law ( forgot her name). They were so real to me, especially when MIL goes all Mafiosa towards the end! There were some other great secondary characters too, and Sara’s fledgling business provided some great moments.

Stars: Three, a good read, just some parts felt a little not-quite-right for me. As aleays though, reading is subjective and others will – and do – love this story.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen V2

The Album, A Cruise Control Novel, Sian Ceinwen V2

Genre: Romance, Women’s Fiction

OK, start with my usual moan. Women’s Fiction – why? Men write romance, men read romance., ’nuff said…

So, this trope is a real favourite of mine and I really enjoyed Sian’s writing style. I had a few issues with the way the story was delivered in the first version. As Sian has continued the series, this book has been rewritten to make it fit the rest of the series better, and I’m pleased to say that past/present format that I struggled with has gone.
For me the new version reads SO much better, and I began to understand Ariana more. I think before all I could see was Gabriel’s heartache and it coloured me to Ariana’s feelings. Now I can see them clearer, with the heartbreak being kept to the later part of the book.
The ending now feels much more fitting to the book, not rushed or hurried but allowed to play out naturally. It was absolutely perfect, angst and heartbreak just as I love.

I didn’t notice in the first book, maybe I missed it or maybe its new but Ariana has taken steps while they are apart to deal with her issues. That was one of my complaints, that – and I see this over and over in romances – sadly Love Doesn’t Conquer All. If a couple have problems – and Ariana and Gabriel do – ones that separate them, they can’t get a HEA unless they take steps to address those issues. Just getting back together and proclaiming We’re In Love to the world doesn’t mean its all going to end well, chances are its not. I’m much happier when, as here, those issues have been addressed, and though Ariana is always going to feel scared of the fame I’m confident she can now deal with it.

Some great characters here, I haven’t mentioned the other band members but they are an interesting bunch, feel very real, and took Ariana to their hearts. Not only Gabriel was upset when she left, and its going to be interesting seeing how and if they accept her again. I Loved, Loved the mean girls, the b itchy groupies, I was hoping their manager would prove to be a bit difficult too- one of the reason I love this trope is the potential for jealousies, back stabbing and some real b itchy characters. I’m glad they stayed in the re-write.

Stars: Five, I rated this four when I read the original version, but now the issues I had have gone its five, five all the way.

Rewritten Arc via author

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