Posted in Book Review

The Duchess Deal Tessa Dare 5* Review

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My Thoughts…

‘The Duchess Deal’, is the first Regency romance I’ve read in a couple of years. A clever mix of humour and poignancy laced through with sensual romance, Ash and Emma’s story is the perfect weekend read.

The Duke of Ashbury’s reclusive life is disturbed when desperate seamstress, Emma demands payment for his ex- fiancee’s wedding gown. From their first meeting, you can tell that Emma is a strong, independent woman, ready to defy convention and risk all to ensure her survival. Ashbury believes her intrusion to be serendipitous and wastes no time in making her an unlikely offer, he is brusque, haughty and hurting and the marriage of convenience he proposes riddled with rules designed to protect his already battered heart and self-esteem.

The couples unlikely romance is aided and abetted by Kahn, the butler and Mary, the ladies maid and indeed the whole of the Duke’s staff at his London residence. They want to see the Duke happy and believe Emma is the perfect match for him.

Painfully disfigured from a horrific war injury Ashbury’s prickly nature is exacerbated, he shuns society and human contact and has only allowed the marriage of convenience to get an heir; enabling him to honour his father’s memory and fulfil his duty to his tenants. Emma sees the man beneath the scars, moved by his sense of responsibility and caring nature. Falling in love will make her vulnerable and is something she can’t afford to risk, but is it already too late?

The plot has good pacing, the necessary twists and lots of humour, which counterbalance the angst the couple experience, as they battle their internal demons and external nemeses to get their happy ever after.

Emma’s friendship with an unusual set of ladies gives her courage as she fights to understand her complicated husband, I look forward to reading about their lives in later books.

The Duchess Deal is an engaging, lively, sensual Regency romance with delightfully flawed, likeable characters and a lovely balance of laughter, kisses and tears.

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

 

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Posted in Book Review

Prosecco and Promises A.L.Michael – Blog Tour: Extract and 5* Review

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Mia’s dad has always been her idol. Now, she faces losing him, and he is insisting that she leave England to visit her mother’s family on the Italian island of Ischia.

Arriving on the island, Mia is embraced by the warm, crazy relatives she hardly knows. Despite her doubts about the trip, it is in Italy that Mia discovers connections to a part of her life that’s been missing, and during the sun-soaked days and steamy nights Mia falls for handsome local Salvatore. But as the day of her departure draws nearer can she risk having her heart broken twice in one summer? 

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Prosecco and Promises Cover

Extract from Prosecco and Promises…

‘My father had booked the flight and had sprung for business class. I knew he’d probably have tried for first class, but Marjorie would have reined him in, talking about how pointless physical objects wouldn’t make up for my emotional loss. For once, she was right. Plus, it was amazing how I managed to feel guilty about absolutely everything. I felt guilty when I enjoyed the taste of the coffee in the terminal before my flight, the smooth, rich espresso going cold as I hovered around drinking it. Dad loved espresso. Loved.

I felt guilty about my comfortable seat on the plane whilst my father lay in his bed in pain. I felt guilty about the glass of prosecco and the movie I laughed at multiple times before remembering why I was travelling in the first place. I felt guilty at the sheer joy of knowing I had handed in my notice at the make-up counter, because I hadn’t known how long I’d be away for, and they couldn’t wait around – saying goodbye to that place had been a relief.

In the end, all that guilt and remembering to be unhappy was exhausting, and I fell into a dark, dreamless, uneasy sleep, waking up to that jolting feeling as my stomach stuck in my throat and the wheels of the plane extended.

‘Ladies and gentlemen, signore e signori, welcome to Naples.’

As I stepped off the plane into the warm sunshine, I took a deep breath. Not just to rid me of the chemical, ‘fake’ air circulating on that plane for hours, but to see if any memories lingered on the Italian breeze.

‘Every country smells different when you step off a plane, Mia,’ my father had said, a lifetime ago, ‘and soon, when you’ve been on enough journeys, you’ll get off a plane and you’ll smell home.’

Home smelled like wet summer grass and cool air. This smelled like dry air, like sand kicked up by salty seas, sucked into the atmosphere and whipped up in the wind. It smelled like the promise of juicy oranges and crystal waters. It smelled like coconut suntan cream and ice cubes on sticky fingers. But it didn’t smell like any memories at all. Just the warmth before summer began.

The last time I’d been to Ischia, it had been just after Mum died. My dad bought her ashes back to her home; he felt it was where she’d want to be. I’d met all these dark-haired people with clucking voices and sad looks. They’d stroked my hair and pinched my cheeks and paused their bursts of frantic Italian to call me a ‘poor little thing’. We spent a few weeks there, my dad hollow and echoing as he tried to show me the island, but was haunted by memories. He met my mother on Ischia. Stole her away back to England. Sometimes we’d walk past someone or some house, or he’d stop and pick up a shell on the beach, or stare past the pink sunset, like he wasn’t really there, but was back in the memory with her. It wasn’t the best time. And now he was sending me back, to the place I had been dragged to after my mother died, as my father drowned in his memories.

Now I would drown in mine.’

My Thoughts…

Mia is giving up on love, she lost her mother when she was just a child and can hardly remember her. Now, she is losing her precious father, who has always been there for her. Determined to be strong and stay with him to the end, he makes her promise to visit her mother’s home and meet her maternal family whilst he lives out his remaining days without her.

Anger is Mia’s dominant emotion, she’s furious with her father, her young step mum and most of all herself. Italy proves to be just what she needs but there is a great deal of angst, poignant discovery and forgiveness to be lived through before Mia appreciates this.

I love Mia she is such a beautiful mess, full of fear, guilt, self-reproach and the need to belong. She’s afraid to love, believing she will only experience the pain of losing again, Mia doesn’t feel she’s worth loving and so pushes everyone away. Her maternal family are loud and loving and they slowly get under her skin. Mia learns about her mother and finally feels that she has roots.  As her new family relive their memories of her mother, Mia begins to heal, and when her father dies, she finds that life does go on, even though she is devastated.

Meeting Salvatore is unexpected and it’s not love at first sight, he is rude and she is angry but when they find a common goal, they each see something they like in the other and sparks of a different sort begin to glow. The love story is gentle and realistic and lovely to read. A thoughtful, memorable story which is perfectly paced and hard to put down.

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

 
A.L.Michael

A.L. Michael is hurtling towards the end of her twenties a little too quickly. She is the author of 10 novels. Her most recent collection of books, The Martini Club Series, started with Cocktails and Dreams, to be followed by Prosecco and Promises, and Martinis and Memories. She likes to write about difficult women. Well, they say to write what you know. Andi works as a Content Writer, as well as a therapeutic facilitator. She has a bunch of degrees in stuff to do with writing and wrote her MSc dissertation on the power of creative writing in eating disorder recovery. She truly believes stories can change your life.

Twitter: @AlMichael_

Facebook: A.L. Michael

Website: A. L. Michael

Posted in Book Review

Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera 4*Review – Jennifer Bohnet

 

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A summer of taking chances!

Rosie Hewitt’s dream of opening a little French café on the Riviera is finally coming true. She’s giving up on love and instead chasing her own perfect recipe for happiness…

Only, she never expected the oh-so-sexy, award-winning chef, Sebastian Groc, to set up a rival restaurant next door – or for his freshly-baked croissants to smell quite so delicious.

But with just a few days until she opens her doors and all her sugar-coated dreams crumbling around her, Rosie isn’t prepared to give up without a fight!

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

The perfect read for a rainy afternoon, the setting is vividly described and you can imagine you are sitting on the terrace of the Riviera cafe. There is an interesting mix of characters all of whom have suffered some degree of tragedy in their lives.  Their stories are separate but they connect through the cafe, which is a good focal point. 

The story’s pacing is good, with just enough detail and conflict to make the plot interesting. The focus is on the female characters, all of which are strong women, who manage to rebuild their lives out of adversity.

 A lovely, holiday story with well-written characters in a feel-good setting.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

A Part of Me and You – Emma Heatherington 5* Review

 

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You always think you have more time…

Juliette always thought she’d have more time. But as her fortieth birthday approaches she is dealt the deadliest of blows – she has just weeks to live. As the terrible news sinks in, Juliette’s only concern is for her fifteen-year-old daughter, Rosie. Who will take care of her precious child? Who will love her daughter with the same fierce love? The answer lies in a secret Juliette hoped never to reveal…

Devastated at the loss of her own baby daughter, Shelley is barely managing to survive. Consumed by her grief, she has pushed everyone away – including the man who loves her the most. With her once happy marriage now in tatters, Shelley has nothing left to live for.

But as the lives of these two women collide, could Juliette’s secret be the key to solving Shelley’s heartache? And could Juliette’s death give Shelley one final chance to live again…

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

Most mothers have two greatest fears when it comes to their children and ‘A Part of  Me and You’ tackles them both in an amazingly poignant story about Juliette and Shelley. Juliette is terminally ill and her greatest fear is what will become of her fifteen year old daughter Rosie when she dies. Shelley’s three year old daughter Lily died in a tragic accident, which she blames herself for. She is emotionally dead and  has merely existed for three years since Lily’s death.

Juliette is a strong, vibrant character, her support network is failing because they can’t see their way forward without her but she remains determined to enjoy her remaining days and make sure her daughter has lots of positive memories to draw on when her mother is no longer around. 

A serendipitous meeting between Shelley and Rosie changes all their lives and tentative threads of hope draw them together as they support Juliette’s last plan. The characters in the coastal town bring the story alive. Coupled with the charismatic setting you can’t help but empathise with Juliette’s choice for her last holiday. This is a character driven story but the plot is interesting and varied and amidst all the angst and love there is a mystery to solve.

The ending is tasteful and beautifully sad. The reader is left with tear filled eyes but a strong belief that love will prevail.

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

 

 

 

 

Posted in Book Review

The Legacy of Lucy Harte – Emma Heatherington – 5* Review

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‘Sometimes time is all we have with the people we love the most. I ask you to slow down in life. To take your time, but don’t waste it….’

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My Thoughts…

Reading this book is an emotional experience but so worth it. 

Maggie has a second chance at life when she receives a donor’s heart. She feels a unique connection with her donor and longs to connect with her family to thank them.  Seventeen years after her transplant Maggie’s emotional well-being is threatened she feels she is on borrowed time but seems set on hastening her demise.

Maggie is a strong character with a supportive network of family and friends, but she pushes them away, as she battles with the ever-present survivor guilt and her tumbling self – worth issues. I like the serendipity of the letter arriving just when Maggie is teetering on the edge of self-destruction. Lucy’s legacy forces Maggie to focus on the gift of life she has been given, and the story takes on a hopeful theme from this point. There are many slip-ups and misunderstandings, but  Maggie realises her life’s purpose.

A well-paced plot full of vivid characters and unexpected adventures is both poignant with many lighter humorous scenes. The importance of love and living life to the limit, whatever this may be for you, is reaffirmed.  Reading it is like riding an emotional roller-coaster, but the overall feeling that remains is of hope and love and the importance of giving the gift of life.

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

Posted in Book Review

The Traveller’s Daughter Michelle Vernal – 4* Review

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Her mother’s secret…

For fifty years Rosa kept the secrets of her past hidden from her beloved daughter, Kitty. The hurt and pain, the guilt over what she’d done, was something she could never face. But now the time has come to share the truth of Kitty’s heritage…

Her daughter’s discovery…

Kitty never knew anything about her mother’s early life. But after her death, the discovery of Rosa’s journal opens Kitty’s eyes to a whole new world—a family she’s never known and a love she’s never dreamed of…

The fate of a family…

Now Kitty must travel to her mother’s homeland, but after fifty years, can the sins of the past be forgiven? Or will history repeat itself? With a decades-old family feud threatening her future, can Kitty put right what once went so wrong?

Join Kitty on her journey as she follows in her mother’s footsteps from the south of France to Ireland, discovering who she is along the way in this beautiful tale of forbidden love and fancy cupcakes!

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts… 

I loved the originality of this story and the echoes between the past and the present and different generations. The travellers’ way of life isn’t overly romanticised, which often happens and there are lots of interesting characters.
There were elements of this story that detracted from it. The pacing of the story was problematic at times. The step back in time with Kitty’s mother was very slow. Conversely, the relationship between Jonny and Kitty lacked depth for me. I appreciate the love at first sight idea, but it seemed rushed for its outcome.
Overall it was an enjoyable read, with well-described settings and vivid characters.

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

Posted in Book Review, Sampler

The Endless Beach – Jenny Colgan – Two Chapter Sampler – 5* Review

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My Thoughts…

The first two chapters of ‘ The Endless Beach’ give the reader a taste of the island of Mure and its inhabitants, through the eyes of Flora, an Islander, who has returned to Mure after working in London. Despite the allure of the bright lights, the island called her home, and she sees it with new eyes, delighting in its natural beauty and people.

For most people, seeing a whale would be a memorable experience, and Lorna agrees but knows the island’s people are superstitious, and see a whale sighting as bad news.

This story has an air of mystery and intriguing characters.

Will Flora and Joel take the next step in their relationship? What happens on Flora’s visit to London? Does the whale signify bad luck? Is their romance on the island for Lorna?

I can’t wait to read the rest of the book to find out.

I received a two chapter sampler of this book from The Little Brown Book Company UK Sphere via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

 

Posted in Book Review

‘That Girl’ Blog Tour – Kate Kerrigan Extract – 5* Review

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 Extract From ‘That Girl’ Kate Kerrigan

Chapter one

HANNA

Sligo, Ireland, 1961

‘It was her first visit to Dr Dorian Black’s surgery, and Hanna liked him straight away.

She had only been living in Killa for a few weeks at the time. After her father died suddenly, two years before, her mother Margaret decided they needed a new start and rented a small cottage in Killa, a fishing village on the north-west coast of county Sligo. Margaret hoped proximity to the sea would help heal their ongoing grief. Indeed, Margaret’s spirits lifted as she began a new life among people who knew little or nothing about her, fitting easily into the friendly new parish. Hanna, just thirteen, had settled well into the local convent school. Their home was at the end of the pier, and Hanna developed an appetite for the fresh, salty air, spending hours sitting on the front wall reading and watching the sea. However, this time spent in the chilly air had also resulted in a nasty cough. Margaret, overly protective of her only child, had brought her straight up to the local surgery where she had been greeted by this kind, handsome Dr Black.

‘Now, we’re going to have to take a little look in your mouth, Hanna. Can you open wide for me?’

Hanna opened her mouth widely and he peered in. He smelt of soap and she felt strangely pleased to be in the company of a nice man, even if he was only their doctor. Most of the men they knew from home were farmers, rough and ready, smelling of manure or beer. This man was clean and gentle, like her father. She missed him. It had been two years now and Hanna had started to find it hard to call his face to mind.

‘Now, that doesn’t look too bad.’ Dorian leaned back and took his stethoscope from around his neck. Hanna smiled at him. His accent was refined, barely detectable as Irish. She reminded him of a Jane Austen hero, handsome and dapper like Darcy, but friendly and open too, like Bingley.

‘Well, young lady,’ he said, ‘I think you’ll live.’ Hanna laughed.

Then he turned his attention to Margaret. ‘But, I am writing you a prescription for some antibiotics to clear this nasty cough.’

‘Thank you, Doctor,’ Margaret said.

‘Please,’ he said, smiling, ‘call me Dorian.’

‘Thank you, Dorian.’

Hanna noticed her mother blushing. Margaret was taken with him and, for a moment, Hanna felt pricked with possessive irritation. She reminded herself that her father was dead and it was nice, after all, to see her mother smiling.

As they were leaving, Dorian signalled Margaret to stay back for a private word. For a split second she had a dreadful feeling that there was something wrong with Hanna. After losing Liam, she knew she had become unnaturally attached to her daughter. There was just the two of them now. She couldn’t face it if Hanna were sick.

‘I was wondering,’ Dr Black said, his eyes downcast in shyness, ‘if you would do me the honour of allowing me to take you and Hanna out to dinner this evening.’

*

Over the coming weeks, Dorian courted Margaret. It was like a dream. This charming, erudite man had come into their lives after all the pain, hurt and shock of the last two years. She could hardly believe her luck in finding love again and, although she was as head over heels as a schoolgirl, it was Dorian’s kindness towards Hanna that truly won Margaret’s heart. Most men would have baulked at taking on another man’s daughter, but every time they went out for a drive, to a nice hotel for dinner or to a movie theatre, he always made sure to invite Hanna. Even when they went to Dublin for a weekend, Dorian insisted she and Hanna shared their own room in the Shelbourne rather than have Hanna enduring the upset of her mother being with another man.

That, he said, was the reason for his marriage proposal just two months after their initial meeting.’

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You can escape a place. But you can’t escape yourself.

Hanna flees the scene of a terrible crime in her native Sligo. If she can just vanish, re-invent herself under a new name, perhaps the police won’t catch up with her. London seems the perfect place to disappear.

Lara has always loved Matthew and imagined happy married life in Dublin. Then comes the bombshell – Matthew says he wants to join the priesthood. Humiliated and broken-hearted, Lara heads to the most godless place she can find, King’s Road, Chelsea.

Matthew’s twin sister, Noreen, could not be more different from her brother. She does love fiance John, but she also craves sex, parties and fun. Swinging London has it all, but without John, Noreen is about to get way out of her depth.

All three girls find themselves working for Bobby Chevron – one of London’s most feared gangland bosses – and it’s not long before their new lives start to unravel.

Amazon UK

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My Thoughts…

This is a well- written character driven story, set against the background of the ‘swinging sixties’ in London. There’s crime, fashion and sex but this all takes second place to the stories of the three Irish girls Hanna, Lara and Noreen. Their courage, humour and tragedies keep the reader enthralled, empathic and shocked in this page-turning read.

The  girls share a common heritage and their lives become increasingly interlinked as the story progresses with devasting consequences for one of them, The setting of a gangland club in Chelsea, captures the vibe of the sixties and the unique mix of fashionable and sordid which made this time in London iconic and a honey trap for naive  girls.

The story doesn’t shy away from abuse and violence because this is integral to the plot but it is sensitively written and ensures the reader empathises with the heroines instantly.  The ending is suspenseful, as you begin to wonder if everything the girls have achieved will be lost.

This is a memorable story, punctuated with vivid imagery and believable characters, not to be missed.

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

 

 

 

 

Kerrigan_KateBio Kate Kerrigan

Kate Kerrigan lives in County Mayo, Eire, with her husband and children. Her novels include Recipes for a Perfect Marriage, shortlisted for the 2006 Romantic Novel of the Year Award and Ellis Island, which was a TV Book Club Summer Read.

Kate Kerrigan Contact:

Twitter: @katekerrigan

Facebook: @KateKerriganAuthor

Website: www.katekerrigan.org

Links to Buy:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2kJHqN3

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2kg4gwo

iBooks: http://apple.co/2Bvc9FJ

 

 

Posted in Book Review

The Wife- In Sickness and In Health #3 M.L. Roberts- 5* Review

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Michael and Ellie are that couple.

The ones who have it all.

Success, charm, trust…but no relationship is perfect, and the events of the past cast a shadow over their charmed life together.

When lecturer Michael starts to mentor a new student, Ellie fears that history is repeating itself. As paranoia takes its ugly hold, it’s clear some things just can’t be forgotten…or forgiven.

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Amazon

My Thoughts…

The psychological tension is ramped up in this penultimate episode of the serial. Book 2 – ‘In Sickness and In Health’, ends with a life-changing event for Ellie, although not entirely surprising from the reader’s point of view. Is Michael the true villain of this? Or is it all in Ellie’s troubled mind? Maybe Liam isn’t the selfless, knight in shining armour Ellie believes him to be?

Ellie thinks she is in control but is she? There are so many questions in this third book, which has a dark, sinister ethos. Ellie is in danger but is she her own enemy or is there someone else controlling her life for their own ends.

There is a shocking ending to book 3, but I’m not convinced everything is as it appears to be. Can’t wait for the finale of this gripping, emotional serial.

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

Posted in Book Review

The Wife – For Better, ForWorse – #2 M.L. Roberts – 5* Review

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Success, charm, trust…but no relationship is perfect, and the events of the past cast a shadow over their charmed life together.

When lecturer Michael starts to mentor a new student, Ellie fears that history is repeating itself. As paranoia takes its ugly hold, it’s clear some things just can’t be forgotten…or forgiven.

Amazon UK

Amazon

My Thoughts…

So book 1-  ‘To Have and to Hold’, intrigued me with its skilful buildup of psychological tension and in book 2 – ‘For Better, For Worse’, the story continues. Ellie’s tragic past is revealed, which explains much about her current state of mind and motivation. The story is told entirely from Ellie’s point of view, but the actions of others, who touch her life are important to this story. There is a profound, if not unexpected ending, making reading book 3 – ‘In Sickness and In Health’, essential.

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