Posted in Book Review

Poppy’s Place in the Sun – Lorraine Wilson – 4* Review

Sometimes you need to lose yourself to find your way home…

With only her trusty dogs Peanut, Treacle and Pickwick by her side, Poppy Kirkbride could be forgiven for having doubts about her move to a quiet village in rural France. But as the sun shines down on her ramshackle new home, Poppy knows she’s made the right decision. A lick of paint, and some TLC and her rustic farmhouse will be the perfect holiday retreat – Poppy’s dream come true.

Poppy is welcomed by her fellow villagers, except for brooding local vet Leo Dubois, who makes it clear Poppy isn’t welcome in his village – or his life! Leo might be gorgeous, but Poppy won’t be told what to do by an arrogant Frenchman – no matter how kind and gentle he is to her dogs!

Determined to stay, Poppy tries to understand the enigmatic Frenchman better. But as the two get closer, Poppy sees another side to Leo – a man with heartbreak of his own. Falling in love with Leo is easy, but can he ever return Poppy’s love? And what would this mean for her dream life and place in the sun?

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My Thoughts…

Poppy is a likeable, independent character who makes her dreams reality when she moves to France. Things don’t go to plan, and she finds herself alone in a French village she knows little about, in a property that requires renovation and with a neighbour who makes no secret of the fact he wants her gone. Not the most auspicious of starts but Poppy is determined to succeed and sharing her journey with its ups and downs is a pleasurable read.

Well researched and with a precise local knowledge you learn about village life in France and its history in entertaining conversational bites, the detail is there but cleverly interwoven into the story without inhibiting the pace or the character development.

The book’s stars are the animals, the loveable dogs and quirky donkeys, they have individual personalities which bring them to life, and they provide many of the story’s comic and tender moments.

Another favourite character is Joanna who Poppy helps even though she is running from something. We learn Joanna’s secrets, but she is worthy of her own story and happy ever after too.

Romance is a major theme, and Leo and Poppy have a tempestuous relationship, which is often passionate with realistic, sensual love scenes that underpin the couples emotional development. The ending is believable and happy and makes a satisfying conclusion.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

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Posted in Book Review

A Year of Taking Chances – 4* Review – Jennifer Bohnet

Life is about to change forever…

When best friends, Tina and Jodie, make a drunken New Year’s Eve vow to change their lives before they hit the big 3 – 0, neither expected to end the year with much more than another hangover…

Twelve months later, Jodie is married and living in Provence – and Tina is exactly where she was a year ago (although now her rent is double). Tina can’t help but feel a little bit left behind, but as Jodie reminds her, she’s not thirty yet, there’s still time to quit her job, start her own literary agency and sign the man of her dreams!

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My Thoughts…

Closer to thirty than twenty, two friends make New Years Eve resolutions that they will change their lives for the better by the time they are thirty. For Jodie, the chances come sooner than she imagines and she spends the next New Year on honeymoon. When Jodie moves to the South of France Tina is left behind in London. She wonders if life will change too. 

A Year of Taking Chances follows both women’s lives which diverge and connect as they take the opportunities offered them. Jodie has to adjust to life in a different country with a man she doesn’t know well. Still hurting from tragic loss, she makes new relationships and discovers hurtful secrets as she forges a new life in France. Tina takes a courageous step to change her life, which reconnects her with Jodie and opens up the possibility of the life she wants and maybe someone to share it with but it’s complicated. 

The plot is fast-paced and absorbing; there are lighthearted and touching moments as the women follow their dreams.Sharing the women’s hopes and dreams is a rollercoaster ride but they are both likeable characters, and you want them to succeed. A story of family and friendship and being brave enough to take a chance even when you don’t know the outcome. An easy read, perfect when you want to escape for an hour or two.

I received a copy of this book from HQ Digital via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

Ottercombe Bay#3 – Raising the Bar – Bella Osborne – 5* Review

Daisy Wickens has returned to Ottercombe Bay, the picturesque Devon town where her mother died when she was a girl. She plans to leave as soon as her great uncle’s funeral is over, but Great Uncle Reg had other ideas. He’s left Daisy a significant inheritance – an old building in a state of disrepair, which could offer exciting possibilities, but to get it she must stay in Ottercombe Bay for twelve whole months.

With the help of a cast of quirky locals, a few gin cocktails and a black pug with plenty of attitude, Daisy might just turn this into something special. But can she ever hope to be happy among the ghosts of her past?

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My Thoughts…

Part three of Ottercombe Bay – Raising the Bar sees Daisy finally opening her multi-purpose business in the old Railway building left to her by her Great-Uncle Reg. Daisy is joined by some quirky characters who she manages to employ on a part-time basis, now all she needs are the customers.

Romance is also in the air, but it’s not without its complications. Bug, the pug, provides a constant stream of amusement even though he did leave Daisy marooned at the end of part two. Daisy’s problems aren’t over yet, she has uninvited guests, things go missing, and the circumstances around her mother’s death remain mysterious.

This episode ends with a cliffhanger, so I’m looking forward to the fourth and final part of this humorous, yet poignant series.

I received a copy of this book from Avon UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

The Sapphire Widow – Dinah Jefferies – 5*Review

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A Bride for the PlayBoy Prince – Sharon Kendrick, Sandra Marton, Maisey Yates – 5*Review

 

Designer Lisa Bailey knows she doesn’t belong in Prince Luciano’s world. Yet when one stolen encounter leaves her unexpectedly pregnant, Luc is determined to claim his queen!

Prince Draco Valenti wears his icy exterior like a suit of armour…. until he meets lawyer Anna Orsini. While they’re at odds in business, in the bedroom Draco’s desire for Anna melts his defences.

Matchmaker Jessica Carter arranges marriages that work. And that’s exactly why Prince Stavros Drakos has hired her. Yet no other woman ignites as intense a passion in him as Jessica does…

It’s time for these rebel princes to meet their match!

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 My Thoughts…

Romantic royal weddings are on trend at the moment, and these three romances capture the essences of the 21st-century royal romance. With a nod to Cinderella, the heroines aren’t princesses but, independent, professional, successful women, who seek passion rather than love because they don’t want to risk their hearts. The three princes are duty bound to marry well, all have well-publicised love lives but meeting their unlikely Cinderella’ makes them want to marry for love rather than obligation.  The fast-paced stories have passion with humour and poignancy. Each story highlights, the drawbacks and commitment of royal life with strong conflict both external and internal but they all have fairytale endings.

Crowned for the Prince’s Heir

This is fashion designer Lisa and Prince Luciano’s story. Before honouring an arranged betrothal, Luciano seeks out the only woman to reject him after a brief affair. Lisa’s emotional scars make her protect her heart at all costs. The second time around doesn’t end well for the couple, but it does leave a legacy that has consequences and leads to conflict and confusion before any chance of a happy ending. 

The Ice Prince –

A wrangle over land and a case of mistaken identity throw lawyer Anna and Prince Draco together. The heat created is undeniable but family loyalty is at stake, and there is little trust between the two. I like this story least of the three, but it is full of passion and has a satisfactory ending.

At His Majesty’s Request –

A 21st-century matchmaker and a prince seem an unlikely combination but neither is conventional, and both hide their true feelings from the world.  Jessica and Stavros’passion sizzle before they acknowledge it.  Stavros has put his country before his well-being, and Jessica’s disastrous first marriage has left her scarred.  This is the most romantic of the stories, and Stavros is my favourite prince. If you like passionate romance with a distinctly royal flavour, this trio of royal romances will be a worthwhile read.

I received a copy of this book from Mills  & Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

5*Review – Letters to Iris – Elizabeth Noble

Gigi and Tess aren’t the most obvious of friends. Gigi is a grandmother, Tess is pregnant for the first time. But when they meet, each one is coping with their own secret sadness. Tess is writing letters to her unborn baby with no one else to turn to, and Gigi has reached breaking point in her marriage. Little do they know how much they will come to mean to one another as both of their lives are turned upside-down.

Their story is about love in all its forms: the love between a mother and her unborn child, between a grandmother and her granddaughter, between spouses and between friends. Tess and Gigi will find what they need most in the place they least expect, and learn to understand the future by unlocking the past . . .

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My Thoughts…

Believable, humorous and poignant ‘Letters to Iris’ is a  beautifully written life study of three women and their families. 

Tess and Iris are granddaughter and grandma, and they have such a strong bond that transcends Iris’s dementia. Grace or Gigi as everyone but her father-in-law knows her comes into Tess’s life serendipitously. They meet when Tess needs someone impartial and caring who knows the traumas associated with losing a loved one to dementia but as you read on you find even more serendipity in their meeting.

A story about everyday life and its momentous occurrences. The characters work well because they are realistic, full of flaws, indecision, selflessness and fear. Love is the overriding theme in this story, what happens when you’re not brave enough to grab it and the pain it can give you when it ends but the message is hopeful, and the story’s cyclic pattern makes the ending happy if tinged with sadness.

There is frustration, laughter, poignancy and tragedy but love is the mainstay of this lovely story which is sure to touch your heart.

I received a copy of this book from  Penguin UK – Michael Joseph via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Posted in Book Review

A Grand Old Time 4* Review Judy Leigh

Evie Gallagher is regretting her hasty move into a Dublin care home. She may be seventy-five and recently widowed, but she’s absolutely not dead yet.

And so, one morning, while the rest of Sheldon Lodge is asleep, Evelyn walks out the front door and never looks back. So begins a road trip that will take Evie first to Liverpool, then on to Brittany, where she buys a camper van and heads south on a Great Adventure.

But not everyone thinks Great Adventures are appropriate for women of Evie’s age, least of all her son Brendan and his wife Maura, who set off in pursuit, following a trail of puzzling text messages.

But when Brendan and Maura finally catch up with Evie, there are shocks in store for all of them … because while Brendan may have given up on life and love, Evie Gallagher certainly has not.

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 My Thoughts…

It’s always good to find a story with an original premise. Starting a whole new life at 75 definitely qualifies.

Evie thinks moving to a care home is the right thing to do when her husband dies; she realises as the youngest there both in years and outlook it’s not for her. She needs to escape before it steals away her remaining years. Evie is feisty, good-hearted and independent and likeable. Evie’s adventure depends on a lucky break, but that’s the beauty of escapist fiction. Her experiences span three countries, countless unlikely friends and an iconic campervan.

Brendan, Evie’s only son, is her antithesis, he is dour, dependant and downtrodden. His life doesn’t live up to his expectations, but he seems helpless to change it. His relationship with Maura, his wife, is in a rut and he jumps at the chance to leave his life behind when his mother goes missing, and he is duty bound to find her.

This story has many comic moments mostly related to Evie, but there are there are also some slow passages, which make the story drag a little. A charming autumn romance, an excellent assortment of characters, vivid and easy to visualise and beautifully described settings make this a worthwhile read. This hopeful, humorous and poignant story explores life, love and relationships.

I received a copy of this book from Avon Books UK via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

Posted in Book Review

The One-Maria Realf – 4*Review

Lizzie Sparkes should be the happiest girl in the world – she’s three months away from marrying The One in the wedding of her dreams! But then The One before the One walks back into her life with a bombshell.

Alex’s unexpected return changes everything, and now Lizzie faces an impossible dilemma. Because how can you leave the past behind you, when it’s standing right in front of you…asking you for one more chance?

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My Thoughts…

‘The One’, is an emotionally intense story. From reading the blurb, I imagined a romantic comedy but there’s more angst than humour, and this increases as Lizzie’s wedding draws relentlessly closer.

In the beginning, Lizzie is happy finding the wedding dress of her dreams, but she cannot silence the echoes of her past life. The story counts down to her wedding day but chapters from her university life more than a decade ago are also explored, informing her current actions and state of mind.

Reading this story, Josh does not seem like the ideal partner for Lizzie, he has good qualities but doesn’t seem willing to let Lizzie be her true self, so even before Alex comes back, she has doubts. As the story progresses you discover her break-up with Alex is not straightforward.

Vividly written, the flawed characters compliment the realistic storyline perfectly. The believable ending is hopeful, if not happy and leaves you a little sad but satisfied.

I received a copy of this book from Harper Impulse via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

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Conquering His Virgin Queen – Pippa Roscoe – 4*Review

Six months ago, their marriage ended…

He has twelve hours to claim her back!

Odir Farouk is about to become king—but to take his throne, he needs his errant wife by his side! Odir denied his hunger for Eloise, refusing to compromise power for passion. His rejection drove her away. Now Odir has until news of his succession breaks to win back his queen…and pleasure will be his most powerful weapon!

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My Thoughts…

A little escapism is always lovely. Internationally themed, this contemporary romance allows the reader to see what life is like living with a prince and it’s not as romantic as it first appears.

Eloise accepts an arranged marriage because she likes Odir and believes they could grow to love the other. Odir, bound by duty ignores her after their marriage and finally sends her away when he thinks she has forsaken her marriage vows. She runs away, but now he finds her and wants her back, but she has other ideas.
Odir is afraid loving Eloise will weaken him and threaten his kingdom. Eloise will only be his wife again, without compromise and their rekindled passion seems doomed to fail.
I like the structure of this novel; each chapter covers an hour in their reunion, the sense of time slipping away from them increases the story’s dramatic tension and makes it fast-paced.
Character-driven, past tragedy and heartache are explored, making their actions more understandable. Loyalty and duty rule both their lives, everything they do is for others. To achieve the love they both desire, they must consider what they want as individuals, and at times this seems to be unlikely.
Sensual love scenes echo their poignant journey. Complex characters, both Eloise and Odir negotiate a problematic emotional path full of angst and pain before they realise what is truly important to them.
A fascinating snapshot of the professional and personal faces of a royal romance, which doesn’t stint on angst, drama and romantic sensuality.
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

Unmasked -4* Review Stefanie London

 

Lainey Kline has one goal before she leaves Melbourne forever: transform herself into a sexy siren, sneak into the season’s most glamorous masquerade ball and seduce Damian McKnight. Only there’s a teeny little problem — one deliciously hot night isn’t nearly enough. Now Lainey wants more. But while getting naked is one thing, taking off their masks is quite another…

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My Thoughts…

Masquerade balls evoke images of mystery, romance and secrets, ‘Unmasked’ encompasses all of these elements in a contemporary setting.

Lainey is leaving Melbourne and her friends for a fantastic career opportunity, but is she taking the next step in her future life or running? Her teenage crush on her best friend’s older brother grows into love, but he doesn’t see her that way? Damien has a failed marriage and hidden self-esteem issues, at odds with his successful career. Damien’s attraction for Lainey is inconvenient and something he is not going to explore despite her provocation.

The chance to act out her greatest fantasy before he leaves is something Lainey must do, and so she gatecrashes an ‘A’List, charity ball that the object of her desire is attending. The love scenes are sensual and explicit, but in keeping with the ‘Dare’genre and mirrored by the emotional intensity of the hidden feelings, Lainey and Damien have for the other.  There is a lovely ‘Cinderella’ like twist after Lainey’s night at the ball.  Passion, romance and steamy moments make this an enjoyable, fast-paced, sexy read.

I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.