Tag Archive | romance

A Madness of Sunshine, Nalini Singh

A Madness of Sunshine, Nalini Singh

A Madness of Sunshine by [Singh, Nalini]

Genre: Romance

I love Nalini’s Guild Hunter series and her contemporary romances. I so wish I could enjoy the psy-changling series, so many books I haven’t read. Maybe I’ll give them another go 😉

This time the story is as much, maybe more, suspense as romance. Its a slow burn relationship, it’s more getting to know each other tentatively and maybe starting something, than a full on romance. I enjoyed it even though I was expecting more romance from the tag.

The background of Golden Cove, and the issues of past and present was excellent. When Nalini writes there’s always that extra touch, scenery is always so descriptive I can mentally see it, characters that I feel I know, understand, even things like the coffee, I can smell and taste it from her words.
The suspense was cleverly done, a couple of main possible suspects stand out, and yet there are things thrown in that made me wonder “ but what about? Could they? ”
Its cleverly wrapped up, proper ending. I hate it when I finish a story and am left wondering what happened after, wondering about certain characters.
The reason both Will and Anhara were in Golden Cove were believable, I really felt for them both. There were other characters already there too that had some nasty shocks, life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, sometimes its just damn windy and stormy. Life’s like that for us all sometimes, throws in unwelcome surprises, things happen beyond our control, someone does whats right yet still ends up poorer for it. It made the story feel very realistic for me.

Stars: Five. I was pleased at the way things worked out in the ending. I like that kind of finishing the story and giving a hint of what happens to them in the future.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Unexpected Lessons in Love, Lucy Dillon

Unexpected Lessons in Love, Lucy Dillon

Unexpected Lessons in Love: What happens when ‘I do’ turns into ‘I don’t know’? by [Dillon, Lucy]

Genre: Romance, Women’s fiction

Oh Dear, Women’s fiction again – why on earth do we still use this outdated genre category. Men read romance, men write romance, why exclude them?
Anyway, the book. I was sure I’d read and enjoyed some of Lucy’s previous novels but when I checked just before writing this I haven’t – yay, more books to enjoy from a new to me author!
This is classed as romance and…well… it is but its kind of a tenuous connection, and is more the possibility of romance than an actual one.
I love the characters, Jeannie of course and her lovely parents, Andrea, Dan’s mum, Owen, his best friend and then there’s the dogs and the connections they bring. Its a serious problem here in the UK, only yesterday I read of yet another recently shut down in our local paper, where three people had made around £300,000 in two years, and the dogs that were rescued were in much the same state as the ones Rachel takes in. Makes me furious. Always ask to see parents, check that dogs seem happy and secure in the environment, that they haven’t just been placed in a house to appear to have come from there. There’s lots more advice online but the crux is if we’re more careful, demand and profits go and that’s the best way to stop the trade.

The story is so horribly real, I could imagine it happening just the way it was written. Poor Jeannie, so happy and then that last minute concern. Was it bride’s nerves or more, should she go with her head or her gut feelings. Then that crushing feeling of guilt. Then That happens, but while Dan is recovering things come out that don’t quite add up.
The dogs, they were real showstoppers, and of course the Brides Dress Revisited, ( what a fabulous name) added so much extra to the story, that while I’m a romance lover through and through, this was one of the stories I love that has little actual romance, but so much more to the story that I am totally engrossed. Its a fabulous read, I loved it and will look at Lucy’s other stories now.

Stars: Five, a wonderful, all round story it’s a promise of future romance.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publishers

The Captain and the Best Man Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain and the Best Man Catherine Curzon, Eleanor Harkstead

The Captain and the Best Man (Captivating Captains Book 4) by [Curzon, Catherine, Harkstead, Eleanor]

Genre: LGBTQIA, Romance

I haven’t read the earlier books in this series, but that’s fine, each are stand alone. Its one of those series connected by character type rather than the characters themselves.
Its was a fun story, very easy to read, with some fun characters.

I liked Guy and Josh, Guy seems universally liked by his flight crew and the islanders. He seems one of those genuinely naive guys who somehow glide through life untroubled. Yet as we learn more about him we find its not been quite that easy for him. Then there’s Josh, one moment he seemed very young, and the next it was like he had an old head on young shoulders. There’s a real attraction between the two that came through the story quickly.
The story itself hinges on Josh’ best friends wedding, a tropical island and of course a storm, and not just with the weather….it was kind of easy to see where the story was going, see what was going to happen from about halfway, but maybe that’s me, maybe I’ve just read too much….
I guess my big issue with the story is that the main thrust takes place over a couple of days with the whole mostly complete in a week, and I just found that insta love too much. That’s my personal issue, I need to be convinced characters are in love, not just lust and when every interaction is so new, so coloured by sex then I’m not persuaded that its actually True Love and worth all the sacrifice. Though this wraps up so well that actually there’s very little sacrifice 😉

Stars: Three, a fun, easy read, but its just too time condensed for me to really get mentally involved with the characters, and invested in what happens.

Arc via authors

Izzy’s Christmas Star, Berni Stevens

Izzy’s Christmas Star, Berni Stevens

Izzy's Christmas Star: A perfect fun and heart-warming Christmas romance for 2019 by [Stevens, Berni]

Genre: Romance

Well, this was a fun read, one of my favourite genres, the rock star trope and of course choc-lit always deliver for me so I was looking forward to this.

Its an easy read, nothing too dramatic, a simple story. I really liked the characters, and the Santas added a quirky touch, but the lack of real drama made it a four star for me, not the magic five.
I was reading through, hooked onto what would happen next and about the three-quarter mark I was waiting for something to go wrong, as it usually does. Sadly for me its one of those reads where it doesn’t, it just charts the track of a sweet romance.
Izzy is a sweet character, felt like someone I could know and like. Seth too was past the rock star bit, and finds Izzy refreshing, not the shallow type he’s so used to. I loved the Christmas gifts too and the little touches like the impromptu Christmas concert. I love books set around this time of year, there’s something special and its easier to believe in a little supernatural help from Santa 😉
There was the potential for some fireworks with an ex that won’t let go, but rather than any huge whizz-bangs its more of a wet sparkler effect. That could have developed into some real dramatics, and I was hoping, but doesn’t 😦
Still, that’s me, I do love some drama and heartbreak in my happy stories, though of course they need to end well or I feel cheated 😉 It has the perfect happy ending.

Stars: Four, a read I enjoyed,perfect to curl up by the fire and read on a wintry day. I’d need a bit of extra drama and heartbreak for a five, but four is well deserved.

ARC supplied by publisher

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall, Alison Sherlock

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall, Alison Sherlock

Moonlight Kisses at Willow Tree Hall (The Willow Tree Hall Series Book 4) by [Sherlock, Alison]

Genre: Women’s fiction, Romance

Gah, I hate Women’s Fiction as a genre heading, so outdated. Men and women can read the same books….its 2019, not 1919.

Anyway, after having read the first three books this one was like meeting old friends again, with new ones in Jack and Lily. Although all the stories are connected you don’t have to have read them, each are stand alone romances, but if you have read them it adds a bit extra to the stories, seeing how couples are doing some time on from when we left them.

So many things about this book resonated with me, I share Lily’s List addiction, I have lists for everything. I don’t have Lily’s control issues though, I understand why she does but it makes things hard for those around her and in the early days at the Hall it makes it hard for the family and for Lily. She means well but its simply not working out.
I loved how all the characters pulled together, how the villagers rallied round, how Hazy Memory and the wonderful Alex were included in this story, not family but almost family by adoption.
Rose – I want to be here when I’m older! I adore her. When she’s talking about her Tinder dates and her sex life and grandnephew Sam makes an abrupt turn for fear of hearing more….Arthur, still the benevolent patient Earl, who sees beyond the obvious, who’s at much at home in Bert’s shed as he is in the stately grounds of the Hall.
Jack and Lily, a couple who are perfect but have past issues to get over first. Their backstory affected how they were today, the needed to look at that, understand it, before moving on.
Its a lovely story, full of little side plots and issues, of everyone pulling together for a common cause, of mishaps and mayhem, of the struggle to make the Hall profitable, or at least self supporting, of such wonderful characters, I felt as if I knew them personally.
Its chic-lit at its best, an easy read, some gentle romance, and a story to just sit and relax with. Of course normal things like Health and Safety, Food legislation, insurance etc have to be forgotten…. There’s no way today’s Red Tape would let half the things happen that do in this book. No selling cakes without inspections of kitchens, certificates, data sheets on every ingredient and traceability of it. No running a fete or launch without endless risk and safety assessments, signs everywhere warning of xyz, insurance to cover every possible event. I’m in favour of H&S, it has saved lives but somehow I feel we’ve gone too far the other way and where events like this were common when I was a kid everything get stacked against them now. The traditional British country fair is getting certificated out of existence, and as we see here it can benefit so many folk. It was wonderful to read things that I recall actually happening. I need to mention the apples though, 20-30 per tree is a pretty poor harvest. We used to get around 12-1500 from my four apple trees…
Lily’s family are struggling, all of them in a tiny cottage, her, mum, dad and granddad, and her dad has just given up on life, after his amputation. I found that a bit sad, life isn’t necessarily like that, most folk pick up and forge a new life as he is beginning to at the end of the book, but it was annoying to read at first, everyone mollycoddling round him, not expecting more. If that happens to you or yours don’t be like Lily’s family, don’t just assume for them life is over. I’ve been there, it isn’t!

Overall its a lovely relaxing read, full of country air ( I’m a country girl at heart), terrific characters, some slightly manic times, its a book perfect for a holiday read, or to escape real life for a few hours.

Stars: Four. Great relaxing read. Meeting the family again was like coming home.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Exquisitely Hidden, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Hidden, M. Jay Granberry

Exquisitely Hidden: A Sin City Tale by [Granberry, M. Jay]

Genre: Romance

I enjoyed this read, liked catching up with the characters and seeing some of book one’s events from a different angle. There’s lots of drama for the band here at times, at others it just kind of plods along. I did find myself skipping a little then which is why its four, not five stars.
I love this kind of read where one person is out and proud and the other…well, not. That’s Seth and Adam, Seth had been out for ages and doesn’t like being kept hidden like a shameful secret, but Adam doesn’t want to be the Poster Boy for Gays.
I can understand that, somehow its typical that we see folk who are different from the average person in terms of what they are, rather than who they are. I’m an amputee, I also paint. I want to be remembered for my art, not my disability, but whenever there’s been any media publicity about art shows I’ve been involved in guess which gets the focus? 😦 yep, the missing leg, and I’m more than that, just as Adam is more too. Gay is a part of him, what he is, but not all he is.
He’s got lots of other issues too from his past, some of which Sin is aware, but even his best friend doesn’t know everything. They’ve an uphill task if ever they’re to find grounds for a relationship.
I enjoyed the will they won’t they, on and off nature of their connection. Its hard, I so understood how Seth felt, and at times I dd get irritated with Adam, but such is the course of love, and I do like the downsides in my reading to cover a decent part. None of this its all off and heart break, then two pages later its all good stuff for me!

I did get confused over how the foster carer he had could be in her eighties? A bit extreme, it would make her in sixties when she had the kids in her care, I can’t see that happening. Likewise the issues over Tori, one moment its all in the air, then next he’s off on tour and we don’t know where she is. There were quite a few typos and grammar errors too that niggled, but I’m hoping that’s because I had an ARC and they’ll have been corrected for final edition.

Stars: Four, a read I enjoyed, and I especially like Adam’s Big Gesture at the end. Seth deserved that, he’d put up with a lot from Adam.

ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher

To the Stars and Back, A Glittering Romantic Comedy, Camilla Isley

To the Stars and Back, A Glittering Romantic Comedy, Camilla Isley

To the Stars and Back: A Glittering Romantic Comedy (First Comes Love Book 4) by [Isley, Camilla]

Genre: Romance

Well, this is book four in the First comes Love series, but each book is a stand alone although part of an interconnected series via the characters. I’d not read any of the others, but really enjoyed this as it was so don’t worry if like me you’ve just dived in and not realised there are earlier books.
I love this type of read and enjoyed this novel, but there wasn’t any gut wrenching emotion or drama from the nasty characters that I do love to find in this trope. Everybody is so nice, and while that’s good to read, I’m the sort of person who wants a few of the mean girls in. Not everyone does though, we all want different things.

I loved Christian, so unassuming, so genuine, and yet he’s been famous and wealthy for so long he has lost touch a bit with everyday life. ( The handbag, perfect example). Lana is a bit the other way, very in touch with day to day issues, a fervent environmentalist, she sees Christians spending as frivolous excess. At times that meant he’d tried to be thoughtful, but his actions were misunderstood, not always appreciated. There’s a balance, and though I agree with her on so much, at times she did come over a bit self righteous and judgmental.
I liked that she was unaware of who he was, so blasé about fame. Like her I don’t have a TV, I read, not watched TV for years now so fame and famous people only comes to my knowledge via online news, and TBH I don’t bother reading most of it.

I wasn’t entirely convinced they fell in love quite so quickly, she’s just come out of a long term relationship which had admittedly run its course, and he was decrying Love as a fantasy at the start of the book. Its a fun story, very real at times, with great characters, including the secondary ones, and I did enjoy it.

Stars: Four. Not heart-stopping drama but an entertaining afternoons read.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Dirty Letters, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward

Dirty Letters, Vi Keeland, Penelope Ward

Dirty Letters by [Keeland, Vi, Ward, Penelope]

Genre: General Fiction (Adult) , Romance

I love the ***** trope, but was wary as I’ve only read one other from this duo and it wasn’t a great fit for me but…. I loved this! So now I need to check more of their works. ( stars because I found this bit out from another review but its not in the description, don’t want to spoil it for those who’d rather not know)

What can I say about this? Well, it made me laugh so much ( Furbys! Happy meals! You’ll never see them in the same way again..) the characters were terrific.
Griffin, he’s just wonderful. Sensitive and caring, but life has changed him and he’s always been resentful of how Luca just stopped writing to him out of the blue, didn’t answer his letters, just dropped him like a brick. In a drunken rant he writes once more, eight years after his last letter, and what he gets back guts him.
Luca didn’t just drop him like a hot potato but went through a really bad trauma. He feels bad now about his drunken rant, writes back apologising, and the letters start again. But they are older now, each are curious about the other and the letters become decidedly sexy – and funny – see Furbys!!

Luca is curious about what Griffin looks like now, wants to exchange photos but he wants to keep the secrecy for a bit longer. Knowing more about Luca and her issues now he knows them, he’s scared she’ll find it hard to accept him as he is now….but curiosity eh? Gets them both…..

The there’s Doc, Luca’s friend-therapist-honorary granddad. He’s retired but sees Luca and has really helped her. Now its taking all of his skills and knowledge to push her that bit further, he knows she’s ready, she needs this if she’s to really get the most from her life. Its tough though, her fears are very real, the panic attacks crippling, and the journey through them to her future takes in the countryside, birds (Doc is a real bird-watching fan) and Griffin. He needs to adapt too, his life and Luca’s are at opposite ends, not just of the country but of life, and they both need to compromise.

Its a wonderful story, in tears one moment from laughing and the next from sadness. Luca’s issues were handled with sensitivity and explained really well, and Griffin, I understood exactly why he was tired of the life he was leading. I loved the story and will happily reread sometime.

Stars: Five, fabulous read full of emotion

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

 

Summary

 
She had yet to meet him but had never forgotten the British boy who’d warmed her heart.

As childhood pen pals, Griffin Quinn and Luca Vinetti couldn’t have been more different. Over the years, through hundreds of letters, they became best friends, sharing their deepest, darkest secrets.

Until one day it ended.

Griffin never understood why Luca disappeared. She was special. She knew the real him like no one else. He writes her a drunken letter, an angry one, never expecting her to write back.

Before they know it, they’re right where they left off. This time with heat.

But as playing catch-up goes from fun to flirty to downright dirty, Luca wants more. She wants Griffin in the flesh. That’s where it gets risky. Because when they meet, the mystery will be over. And once they really get to know each other, there’ll be no going back.

EXCERPT: Dirty Letters by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward

The small dining room table had a pile of mail. I’d had Dad’s mail forwarded to my house, so mostly it was just catalogs and junk. Once a month, Mrs. Cascio sent me everything that arrived, even though I’d told her it wasn’t necessary. I mindlessly fingered through the pile, not expecting to see anything worth keeping. But I stopped at an envelope addressed to me—well, not me, but Luca Ryan. That was a name I hadn’t heard in a long time. In second grade, my teacher, Mrs. Ryan, started a pen pal writing program with a small town in England. We weren’t allowed to use our real last names for safety reasons, so the entire class used her last name—hence I was Luca Ryan. I checked out the return address for the sender’s name.

G. Quinn

Wow, really? It couldn’t be.

I squinted at the postmark. It was from a PO box in California, not England, but I didn’t know any other Quinn other than Griffin. And the handwriting did look pretty familiar. But it had been close to eight years since we’d exchanged letters. Why would he write now? Curious, I ripped it open and scanned right to the bottom of the letter for the name. Sure enough, it was from Griffin. I started at the beginning.

Dear Luca,

Do you like scotch? I remember you said you didn’t like the taste of beer. But we never did get around to comparing our taste in hard liquor. Why is that, you might ask? Let me remind you—because you stopped answering my letters eight damn years ago. I wanted to let you know, I’m still pissed off about that. My mum used to say I hold grudges. But I prefer to think of it as I remember the facts. And the fact of the matter is, you suck. There, I’ve said it. I’ve been holding that shit in for a long time. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not obsessive or anything. I don’t sit in my house thinking about you all day long. In fact, there have been months that go by when thoughts of you don’t even enter my brain. But then some random thing will pop into my head out of the blue. Like I’ll see some kid in a pram eating black licorice, and I’ll think of you. Side note—I’ve tried it again as an adult, and I still think it tastes like the bottom of my shoe, so perhaps it’s that you just have no taste. You probably don’t even like scotch. Anyway, I’m sure this letter won’t find its way to you. Or if by some miracle it does, you won’t answer. But if you’re reading this, you should know two things.

1. The Macallan 1926 is worth the extra cash. Goes down smooth.

2. You SUCK.

Later, traitor, Griffin

What in the hell?

 
Author Biographies
 

Vi Keeland is a #1 New York Times, #1 Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author. With millions of books sold, her titles have appeared on more than one hundred bestseller lists and are currently translated into twenty-six languages. She resides in New York with her husband and their three children, where she is living out her own happily ever after with the boy she met at age six.

 

Penelope Ward is a New York TimesUSA Today, and #1 Wall Street Journal bestselling author of more than twenty novels. A former television news anchor, Penelope has sold more than two million books and has appeared on the New York Times bestseller list twenty-one times. She resides in Rhode Island with her husband, son, and beautiful daughter with autism.

 

Together, Vi and Penelope are the authors of Dirty LettersHate Notes, and the Rush Series. For more information about them, visit www.vikeeland.com and www.penelopewardauthor.com.

Social Media Links

Vi Keeland Website: https://www.vikeeland.com

Vi Keeland Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorViKeeland

Vi Keeland Twitter: https://twitter.com/vikeeland 

Penelope Ward Website: https://penelopewardauthor.com

Penelope Ward Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

Penelope Ward Twitter: https://www.facebook.com/penelopewardauthor

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Room to Breathe, Liz Talley

Room to Breathe, Liz Talley

Room to Breathe by [Talley, Liz]

Genre: General fiction (Adult), Romance

I really enjoyed this. Its good to read romance from someone older than twenties. Its just a few little niggles that let it down for me, stopped it being five star, things like Ellery pretending to be her mum in emails, Clay, the notorious man whore, wanting more, things that didn’t really feel true to character. Overall though its a great read.

I loved Daphne, pregnant at 16 she married Rex and made the best of things. They’re both devoted to their daughter but over the years Daphne and Rex grew apart, and then divorced. Daphne’s career has grown and daughter Ellery works as her PA, having failed to get the internship she’d set her heart on.
Its easy to see why Ellery is selfish, both Daphne and Rex have done everything for her since she was tiny, indulged her, let her think the world revolved around her and her wants. She’s now 23 and they’re still doing it, and Ellery just assumes they should, that they’ll continue to pay her rent, pay her credits cards…but of course outside mum and dad the world is harsh, Ellery isn’t central. I really disliked her, and understood why Gage saw her as spoiled princess type.
Ellery doesn’t have many true friends, maybe her selfishness bleeds through and that’s why. That may also be why she pretended to be her mother in that strange pen pal relationship. TBH I found that part of the story odd, didn’t really fit as I never really understood why she did it, why she continued. It was an integral part of how things developed though so I guess I’ll have to suck it up 😉 Ellery has a fiance though, Josh, who’s in med school, and whom she lives with. We don’t really see much of him though, he’s always studying and though I felt for Ellery when she tried to carve time for them as a couple and got rebuffed, I felt she still saw things only in terms of how they affect her.
When Ellery gets wind of the issue with Clay and her mother she goes berserk. She was a first class bitch, and I do so love it when characters are like that. It creates drama in spades and I love that. Its not like she wants Clay anymore, she’s still sore from him dropping her after just a couple of dates, and of course she has Josh. Its more that like so many spoiled kids she sees her mum as always being mum, doesn’t see her as a person in her own right. If mum has to date it should be someone age appropriate, someone Ellery can approve of.
Rex the Ex, ( nice term that!) was a typical jerk man of a certain type, happy when Daphne was running the business with him, so long as she kept in the background and let him take the success, he couldn’t deal when she got her own successful career. He was obnoxious – in the best way of course. Good books need someone like him as a foil, offsets all the good.
Then there’s Evan, he was just wonderful, and his nephew Gage was also. Loved those two, and the whole vineyard experience.

Stars: Four, Its a fun read, fabulous characters, some terrific drama, some great surprises, and a satisfying ending.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

Tangled Up In Christmas, Lisa Renee Jones

Tangled Up In Christmas, Lisa Renee Jones

Tangled Up In Christmas (Texas Heat Book 2) by [Jones, Lisa Renee]

Genre: General fiction (Adult), Romance

Well, having read several of Lisa’s books now this one caught me out. I’m used to her hot and sensual, suspenseful and edgy reads, and this one – well it felt like Lisa Renee Jones does Mills and Boon. It was a fun read and I enjoyed it but I didn’t love it.
Maybe if I’d read the previous book I’d have got more from it, although they are stand alone reads. I might try the truth about cowboys and see.

Roarke, wow, what a man, hot and sensual he drips sex with every word. And horses, he helps horses, so how could I not love the guy. Yet I didn’t feel his excuse for not coming after Hannah was really enough. I also wasn’t convinced by her running away – did she love the guy or not? That though does get a proper and plausible explanation later in the story.
Of course poor Hannah is still in Hate Roarke mode, and yet deep down she still harbours feelings for him, something that’s obvious to the whole town, and which Roarke makes full use of. They end up having some steamy encounters, so maybe its M&B racy version 🙂 I did like that there was lots going on in the novel, not just Hannah and Roarke, but little side plots that added to the enjoyment for me.

Its a fun read, easy to follow, but although there was a lot going on it lacked real depth for me. I felt the past issues were glossed over too easily, especially with regard to her parents. I’m not sure I could be that forgiving.

Stars: Three and a half, more than just a simple Good read, but not the drama I look forward to in a LRJ novel that makes for four and fives.

Arc via Netgalley and publishers

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