At the young age of eighteen, tragedy and a dark secret force Lara to flee all she has known and loved to start a new life. Now years later, with a new identity as Amy, she’s finally dared to believe she is forgotten—even if she cannot forget. But just when she lets her guard down, the ghosts of her past are quick to punish her, forcing her back on the run.
On a plane, struggling to face the devastation of losing everything again and starting over, Amy meets Liam Stone, a darkly entrancing recluse billionaire, who is also a brilliant, and famous, prodigy architect. A man who knows what he wants and goes after it. And what he wants is Amy. Refusing to take “no” as an answer, he sweeps her into a passionate affair, pushing her to her erotic limits. He wants to possess her. He makes her want to be possessed. Liam demands everything from her, accepting nothing less. But what if she is too devastated by tragedy to know when he wants more than she should give?
This is erotic romance with a twist and it’s the suspense and mystery that draws me to this story. Amy is running, as she has for most of her adult life because her mystery ‘saviour’ says she must. I connected with Amy’s character immediately. Her past life, once happy and normal, is now tragic. Liam is the typical erotic male lead, rich, intelligent and predatory, he has secrets in his past that define him and make him impossible to resist, for Amy.
The erotic romance between Amy and Liam is as you would expect, in a novel of this genre, although this first book isn’t overly graphic. The power Liam exerts over Amy is a little unrealistic at times but he plays on her vulnerability, by sharing his own susceptibilities. His obvious sexual prowess makes him hard to say no to.
Mystery and menace, surrounds Amy as she comes to terms with her new life. Her elusive new boss, the overly friendly Meg and Jared, her temporary neighbour; is he her friend or something more sinister?Amy’s flashbacks, since the tragedy that started her running, are vivid and easy to imagine,
The ending is a cliff-hanger and leads nicely into book 2. ‘Infinite Possibilities’, which I am tempted to read to see what, happens next.
I received a copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Forgiving yourself can be the hardest task of all.
Dr Peter Florin is the sexy bad boy of St Steven’s hospital. Despite his love ‘em and leave ‘em attitude, every woman still wants him – and nurse Jenny White is no exception. For one night she thought she saw the real Pete, but ever since then he’s kept his distance and so she has kept hers…
Only Pete is a man haunted by a dark childhood and a tragic loss, and as she watches him spiral down into despair, Jenny realises she might be the only one who can drag him back. So she does – at the risk of her own, already bruised and battered heart. For no matter what she tells herself, such a man is surely impossible to change – and even more impossible to resist.
‘The Summer We Loved’ is medical romance with a twist, which makes it uniquely memorable and poignant. A chance meeting between Jenny and Pete sets the scene and from the first chapter you realise Jenny is telling this story for a purpose but what is it?
The characters are deep and realistic. Jenny is dedicated to everything she undertakes, almost driven and as her story unfolds it’s easy to understand why. Drawn to Pete, the antithesis of everything she believes in, yet too reticent to do anything about it; until she realises he needs her, even if he doesn’t realise it yet. Pete is complex and dark. He hides his demons and plays the fool and because of this is hard to empathise with until Jenny unpicks his barriers and reveals the frightened little boy hiding behind them.
The plot takes many turns but is so interesting you can’t stop reading. The emotion is raw and sometimes painful to witness but there is nothing gratuitous in this story, every tear counts and adds to the rich fabric of the tale Jenny recounts. The ending is full of angst, maintains the emotional pressure and completes the story beautifully.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Nineteen-year-old Gwendolyn Hooper is newly married to a rich and charming widower, eager to join him on his tea plantation, determined to be the perfect wife and mother.
But life in Ceylon is not what Gwen expected. The plantation workers are resentful, the neighbours treacherous. And there are clues to the past – a dusty trunk of dresses, an overgrown gravestone in the grounds – that her husband refuses to discuss.
Just as Gwen finds her feet, disaster strikes. She faces a terrible choice, hiding the truth from almost everyone, but a secret this big can’t stay buried forever . . .
An atmospheric story with strong characters, well researched historical detail and honest insight into the prejudices of the between-wars era.
Gwen is a naive, privileged young bride, with no idea what to expect from her new life. The story captures Gwen’s emotions perfectly. The reader follows her character development and increasing maturity, during her tempestuous marriage. Laurence, an attractive widower’s past life holds many secrets that can cause pain to his new bride. The most poignant scenes occur when Gwen becomes a mother. The choices she faces are terrible and life-changing.
There are mystery, romance and an interesting insight into life on a Ceylonese tea plantation. The historical details enhance and authenticate the story. The story has many strong female characters despite the prejudices of the time. ‘The Tea Planter’s Wife’ reflects the beginnings of female emancipation. It illustrates the courage and suffering of our female ancestors believably. The racial discrimination at the centre of colonialism is also highlighted and explored, as is the religious differences prevalent in Ceylon during the 1920’s and 1930s. Prejudice in both these forms force Gwen to make a tragic choice, which is pivotal to the story.
The plot is simple but effective and allows the dramatic, historical setting, powerful imagery and memorable characters to shine.
I received a copy of this book from Penguin Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
On the beautiful island of Capri, a royal princess begins a secret love affair, oblivious to the dangers that surround her. Internationally renowned novelist Kitty Pilgrim chronicles a modern thriller based in the historic volcanic region of Southern Italy. Her characters, archaeologist John Sinclair and oceanographer Cordelia Stapleton, team up once again for a tale of glamour and romance that spans every level of society—from the dangerous criminal underworld of Naples to the jet set of Europe.
‘Summer of Fire’ reads as a standalone, even though it is the third book in the ‘John Sinclair Mysteries’. If you enjoy adrenaline packed thrillers, this one is for you. The writing is atmospheric and the pacing fast, some of the volcano scenes take your breath as you read.
John Sinclair and Cordelia connect a diverse group of characters and scenarios, which pull the reader into the world of a royal princess hounded by the paparazzi, an organised crime network and a series of volcanic eruptions, which give the book its name. There are plot twists to keep you guessing but it is the gangsters and the volcanoes that make this story worth reading.
In contrast, to the action, John’s and Cordelia’s romance is gentle. Their emotional journey is implicit rather than detailed, presumably because it started at the beginning of the series?
I am intrigued enough to want to read the first two books in the series.
This story is action and imagery rather than character driven but is definitely worth reading.
I received a copy of this book from Greenleaf Book Group, River Grove Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
June 1963, Clematis Cottage, Stoke St. Mary, Herefordshire
I am really not sure why I am writing this. A foolish whim by a foolish old lady and it will probably sit in a box unread and decay much like its writer when Death makes his careless decision.
But perhaps someone will find it. Someone will care enough to read and somehow I know that will happen.
April 2000, Clematis Cottage, Stoke St. Mary, Herefordshire
Tired of her life in London, freelance illustrator Rachel buys the beautiful but dilapidated Clematis Cottage and sets about creating the home of her dreams. But tucked away behind the water tank in the attic and left to gather dust for decades is an old biscuit tin containing letters, postcards and a diary. So much more than old scraps of paper, these are precious memories that tell the story of Henrietta Trenchard-Lewis, the love she lost in the Great War and the girl who was left behind.
Rachel finds ghosts, history, mystery and romance, when she leaves London and escapes to the rural idyll of Herefordshire.
Enchanted by Clematis cottage, she finds all is not what it first appears. When she moves in, drastic renovation is necessary for the bricks and mortar to match up to the cottage’s perfect outlook. Employing the local builders is the only way and they come highly recommended. Gabe is very easy on the eye, he compensates for the dust and the disruption but he is so different from what Rachel’s used to. Will he fit into her ordered world? The passion between Gabe and Rachel simmers, before it boils over but can they learn to celebrate each other’s differences, or are they doomed to crash and burn?
Rachel is determined to make her new life work. The villagers are interesting characters and their interaction is vital to her character’s growth and development. I particularly like Stan and Sheila, who in their different ways, both offer Rachel more advice and encouragement than her own parents.
The cottage’s former owner Hetty, now deceased, has her own story to tell and when a journal and fading letters are discovered, Rachel and the reader are flung back into the early twentieth century and the tragedy and illusions of ‘The Great War’.
Intrigued, Rachel’s tendency to obsess make her determined to find out what really happened in Hetty’s life when the journal and letters leave her with more questions than answers. The sojourn into the past has parallels to Rachel’s present and with some supernatural encouragement she is determined to find out the truth. Rachel’s emotional journey is what makes this a feel good read and the ending is truly magical.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The last story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore! The perfect novel for reading in the sunshine … and falling in love with London.
Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?
Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.
Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.
But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?
Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is?
Matt Reilly is a complete, unbelievable bastard and I’m going to make him pay, Zoe Harper vowed as she pounded the gold lion-head knocker against the door of his exclusive Knightsbridge residence.
When there was no response, she switched to thumping the glossy black wood with the side of her fist.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Answer. The. Door.
Utter fury was squeezing her chest so tight it felt like her ribs were suffocating her lungs and a horrible pressure was building behind her eyeballs, the sure sign of a tension headache.
Where the hell was he? She stepped back to gaze up at the impressive facade of the town house, which had to be at least four storeys tall including the basement area below her. The top two floors were exposed brickwork but the ground and lower floors were painted white, decorated with manicured window boxes. The property screamed refined wealth, as did the beautiful leafy communal garden area in the middle of the square. He must have paid extra for the property, which sat back from the road slightly. It was one of the only houses with off-road parking.
She turned to look at the gravel driveway. Someone had to be in, there were three cars parked up; a garish, canary-yellow convertible sports model, a sexy low-slung black supercar and a more modest silver Prius hybrid.
Thudding the door again, there was still no answer.
If she was some kick-ass action movie heroine she could bust the door down, flatten whichever of the selfish idiots was inside (although both at the same time would be preferable) and just be done with it. But at five foot seven, as well as pounds lighter than she’d been in years, she hardly looked or felt the part. Still, if there was anything guaranteed to bring out her fighting side it was protecting her younger sister Melody. She was her only proper family left apart from their Great Aunt Ruth, who’d always been distant and had all the affection of a watermelon.
What it came down to was that anyone who hurt Melody deserved justice. But she didn’t really believe in violence, and ruining her beautiful nails with their miniature stars and stripes design on every tip didn’t appeal either. The manicure was a present from her ex-boss Liberty, named after the statue of. It was something to remember New York by, a city she’d come to love. But better not to think about that, or what else she’d loved and lost.
Where the heck was Mr. High and Mighty Reilly, or for that matter, his younger brother Stephen? Surely they had enough staff to answer the bloody door for them. A girl could die of heatstroke out here. The midday sun was ferocious and prickling heat along the back of her neck. It was sure to be scarlet by dinner time.
Thud. Thud. Thud.
Her hand was never going to be the same again. Then she’d be suing the sods for personal injury as well as emotional trauma for Melody. Her sibling had been crying so hard at Jemima’s flat in multicultural, packed Holloway that Zoe hadn’t been able to get the full story on arrival from Heathrow. There’d just been a lot of mumbling and sobbing around swollen red eyes and handfuls of soggy tissues. Still, what she’d figured out had been enough to instantly trigger her big sister reflexes. The stale, stuffy black cab had made for a nightmare journey across London but the sunlight glinting off the windows had matched her heated, murderous thoughts perfectly. She’d avoided direct eye contact with the chatty driver, jaw clenched as she replayed the fragments of her sister’s story in her head.
Fell in love with Stephen… Matt ended it, fired me… kicked me out without notice… never see the kids again… looked after them for three years!
How dare he? It was bloody outrageous and unbelievably unfair. How could anyone be so uncaring that they’d do someone who trusted them out of a relationship, job, home and salary all on the same day? So here she was outside of his posh, rich-guy’s, I’m so fabulous home, fully intending to grab her sister’s belongings as well as telling Matt Reilly exactly what she thought of a guy who’d treat a naïve twenty-two year old like dirt. If she could grab his brother by the scruff of the neck at the same time and give him a good shake for helping break her sister’s heart, she’d do that too. He had a lot of explaining to do as to why he wasn’t answering Mel’s calls.
Bloody men. They were a faithless lot at the best of times, the reason she’d left the States after five long years. But her sister’s boss had reached new levels of bastardom, if that was even a word.
Part of her wished that when confronted, Matt might admit he’d made a terrible mistake, beg forgiveness, tell Melody that of course she was good enough for his brother, and ask her to come back to them. But the text that had just pinged on her mobile meant the idea was a non-starter.
Appreciate the support Sis, but
please don’t cause a scene and
DON’T try and get my job back.
I’m never going back there.
Zoe didn’t really want her sister anywhere near them anyway. Still, an apology from Matt, an opportunity for Melody to say goodbye to the kids properly, pick up her belongings and be offered some kind of compensation for the notice pay she was surely entitled to would be something. Along with some explanation as to why Stephen had gone AWOL and seemed to be letting Matt make all the decisions. Perhaps he didn’t feel able to stand up to him? Or maybe he was intimidated by his older brother’s success.
According to the tabloids, Stephen was abroad a lot of the time, a playboy who basically partied and shopped his way around Europe with the family money. Why her sister had fallen for him she couldn’t understand. At thirty, Matt was older by seven years, a famous music producer who was hardly ever out of the press, despite his attempts to evade the spotlight. Snapping pictures of his children was a rabid hobby for British journos and there were rumours of a new girlfriend every week, although you couldn’t believe everything you read in the papers. She and Melody were close, despite the vast miles that’d been between them, and Melody had told her a lot about Matt’s children via Skype and text messages but nothing about any of his personal relationships, respecting her boss’s right to privacy.
Not that she’d got any thanks for that loyalty and professionalism.
‘Picnics in Hyde Park’, the final story in the ‘Love London’ series, is the longest and encompasses all that is good in the first five novellas. With more angst, humour, poignancy, romance and sensuality; this is the perfect ending to the chic, contemporary series.
Zoe is likeable; from the moment she appears, hammering on Matt’s doors to avenge her little sister. Her actions say so much; she is fearless, opinionated, loyal and more than a little guilt ridden, after her five year sojourn in New York but I connected with her immediately.
Matt is delectable, although he does hide it well, under his brusque and detached manner. Like Zoe, he is dependable and full of remorse for past actions. In many ways they are emotionally similar.
Emotionally invested in Matt and his children, Zoe is ‘caught between the devil and the deep blue sea’. The chemistry between Matt and Zoe has a forbidden thrill, which makes the outcome inevitable and sizzling hot.
This story is more than the romance between Zoe and Matt. There is her nurturing of the forgotten children and her complicated relationship with her Aunt to explore. Reunited with old friends provides the readers with pertinent insights into what makes Zoe tick. Finally there are ‘Picnics in Hyde Park’, the importance of which, I will let you discover for yourselves.
I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
A Dorset girl and social media addict, Nikki Moore has a HR day job, two kids and a lovely boyfriend to keep her busy alongside the writing. She was in the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme for four years and is now a full RNA member. Nikki was a finalist in several writing competitions from 2010 including the Elizabeth Goudge trophy and Novelicious Undiscovered, before being offered a publishing contract.
Published mainly by HarperImpulse, she’s the author of the #LoveLondon series, which has attracted four and five star reviews on Amazon, with some of the novellas featuring in the Top 100 short story charts on Kobo and the Top 20 in the Amazon UK bestsellers Holiday chart. The last in the series, Picnics in Hyde Park is due out in August. She has a short story in the bestselling RNA/Mills & Boon anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply. Her debut novel Crazy, Undercover, Love was shortlisted for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award 2015 (for new writing) and she is a strong supporter of aspiring authors.
Check out my reviews of Cocktails in Chelsea and Strawberries at Wimbledon
and my recent interview with Nikki Moore by clicking on the image below:
THE VIKING PRINCESS is not your typical Disney princess. This story sizzles. Morgaine LeFey is King Arthur’s half-sister and she has a Viking Prince for her lover–and who needs a Knight to come to your rescue, when you have a Viking?! But England and Scandinavia were at war – so this is one romance that nearly tore two kingdoms apart: They met on a battlefield, poised against each other, but their attraction was more powerful than any sword, stronger than any warrior and more magical than Merlin.
An adult fairytale inspired by Danish folklore, which adds a different perspective to the English tales of ‘King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table’. Morgaine, the King’s sister, meets her match on the battlefield. Viking Holger discovers she has many secrets and skills, which enthrall him and make him risk all to possess her. The writing style reflects this story’s folk lore origins; there is a sense of a narrator retelling events they have witnessed, which adds to the ambiance and authenticity.
The attraction between the Viking and the Sorceress is immediate and passionate, leading to erotic love scenes, which demonstrate their love and commitment. Merlin, seen through Holger’s eyes is sinister and possessive of Morgaine and Arthur appears easily led by those around him.
The powerful ending paves the way for the next chapter of Morgaine’s story.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’m getting married.
It’s a disaster.
Meet Lily Wilder – New Yorker, lawyer and the luckiest woman in the world. She has a dream job, friends who adore her, a family full of charismatic and loving women, and a total catch of a fiancé.
Also? She has no business getting married.
Lily’s fiancé Will is a brilliant, handsome archaeologist. Lily is sassy, impulsive, fond of a good drink (or five) and completely incapable of being faithful to just one man. Lily likes Will, but does she love him? Will loves Lily, but does he really know her? As the wedding approaches, Lily’s nights – and mornings, and afternoons – of booze, laughter and questionable decisions become a growing reminder that the happiest day of her life might turn out to be her worst mistake yet.
There’s nothing sweet about Lily and yet she makes an instant impression that deepens as her story unfolds and despite her lack of tact, questionable morals and other faults I ended up liking her.
I like to escape to another world, when I read and this book certainly delivers. I’ve never visited New York but the characterisations and ethos appear realistic, as you might expect from someone who lives there.
‘I Take You’, is deliberately controversial. Lily enjoys sex and fails to be monogamous even when she is supposedly in a committed relationship with Will and many readers of RomCom and Chick Lit may find her difficult to empathise with, or even understand. I let the story flow over me, laughed at the ribald humour and read the story in a few hours.
The pacing is fast, except for the last couple of chapters, which slowed down the story and didn’t deliver any surprises. The ending too is a little anticlimactic, although romantic. The characters are vivid, I especially liked Freddy. Will is harder to like, read the story and see if you agree.
I received a copy of this book from Vintage Books Random House via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A man is walking down a country lane. A woman, cycling towards him, swerves to avoid a dog. On that moment, their future hinges. There are three possible outcomes, three small decisions that could determine the rest of their life.
Eva and Jim are nineteen and students at Cambridge when their paths first cross in 1958. And then there is David, Eva’s then-lover, an ambitious actor who loves Eva deeply. The Versions of Us follows the three different courses their lives could take following this first meeting. Lives filled with love, betrayal, ambition but through it all is a deep connection that endures whatever fate might throw at them.
The Versions of Us explores the idea that there are moments when our lives might have turned out differently, the tiny factors or decisions that could determine our fate, and the precarious nature of the foundations upon which we build our lives. It is also a story about the nature of love and how it grows, changes and evolves as we go through the vagaries of life.
Three stories, separate, yet cleverly intertwined at significant times for Eva and Jim. One ordinary occurrence causes a serendipitous meeting, or almost meeting and what happens as a result of this.
Easy to read, the three stories allow Eva and Jim’s characters to develop in differing scenarios. Each story shares the same support cast of players but they take on different significance. Although Eva and Jim’s lives are different in each story they touch at some point.
The story starts when Eva and Jim are nineteen and dips into each succeeding decade until 2014. The research into distinctive events and trends of each time period is evident and enriches the story. Similarly the references to the art, literature and media of each decade are pertinent and give the stories a realistic, diary like quality.
It’s easy to understand what motivates Eva’s decisions, throughout the book, she is a perfect women’s fiction heroine and whichever version of her you’re reading you feel her happiness and sadness and want her to succeed. Jim is not such a strong character but though I didn’t always understand his choices, I did empathise with him.
The general tone of all stories is dark, there is a tendency to focus on the sadness and the tragedy and a little more attention to happy events would have made for a lighter read. The versions of the story share a poignant ending, which imprints the characters and their possible lives on the reader, after the last page is turned.
I received a copy of this book from Orion Publishing Group W&N via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars