The Good in Goodbye – Lasairiona E. McMaster

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Welcome back everyone, after that slightly odd Christmas “romantic comedy” last week we’re back to Lisa Miller! Remember her from Intimate Strangers?

I feel like I need to go into some spoilers with this review, so if you don’t want spoilers, make sure you skip that section!

We pick up Lisa’s love story with AJ like a month and a bit after she had to leave him back in the US. She’s discovered something pretty life changing and she’s coping with it pretty well until tragedy strikes. Luckily, she’s home in Ireland so she’s got her childhood best friend and her parents with her to help her through this time. Not to mention a few new friends she makes in this book.

Overall, it felt like this story had a different feel to it than the first one. The first one was very much a romance, whereas this one felt more serious and addressed a few sensitive topics. Mental health, unplanned pregnancies, trauma, heart break, moral choices and various other topics. And I’m not sure it does it very well.

It felt like it was trying to address too many things and ended up losing it in a few places. Most of the book was great! I felt connected almost all the way through. But the last couple of chapters just didn’t feel right for the characters.

The choices made felt like they’d been done to create drama rather than to honestly have the characters develop further. I feel like I want to read the next book to see if it kinda corrects those issues. But at the same time, I’m also worried it might go further down the path of not feeling natural.

SPOILER TIME! DON’T FORGOT TO CHECK OUT THE REST AFTER THE SPOILERS!

AJ having bipolar feels like something that should’ve come out in the first book. Putting it here makes it feel like it was a “o what’s a way we can add in mental health awareness? This works!” and bang it went in. I’m not trying to say it wasn’t portrayed well. I just feel that setting it up a bit more in the first book would’ve worked better. Specially coz AJ said the Docs could tell Lisa everything when he was in the hospital and there was no mention of bipolar meds then. Just feels a little bit contradictory to me.

Lisa’s thought processes towards the end of the book bugged me as well. I get grief can do strange things to our minds, but to decide you don’t want to be with your guy as soon as he’s on the place home feels a little bit out of left field. Given how into open and honest communication they’re into, surely she’d talk to him about her concerns?

Finally, that last bombshell of Ana’s feels like it should be a set up. If the start of the next book isn’t a “we did this to see how you were coping” kinda thing then she’s like the most insensitive person ever! I mean. Lisa lost her baby at 12 weeks old. Why would you feel it’s OK to turn up on her doorstep claiming to be 12 weeks pregnant when she has little to no support system around her and she’s barely coping as it is? #horriblefriendmoment #shitfriend

I don’t know why I did that, but it felt appropriate.

WE’RE PAST THE SPOILERS NOW!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Give me a Christmas by Zoe Ann Wood. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Lasairiona McMaster grew up dreaming of an exciting life abroad, and, after graduating from Queens University, Belfast, that is exactly what she did - with her then-boyfriend, now husband of almost ten years. Having recently repatriated to Northern Ireland after a decade abroad spanned over two countries (seven and a half years in America and eighteen months in India), she now finds herself 'home', with itchy feet and dreams of her next expatriation. With a penchant for both travelling, and writing, she started a blog during her first relocation to Houston, Texas and, since repatriating to Northern Ireland, has decided to do as everyone has been telling her to do for years, and finally pen a book (or two) and get published while she tries to adjust to the people and place she left ten years ago, where nothing looks the same as it did when she left.

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Single All the Way – Elaine Spires

Welcome back everyone, after a busier November than I’d anticipated I’m kicking off the Christmas month with a book set over Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

This one ended up being a bit of a disappointment to me. I went into it expecting a romantic comedy and was left quite underwhelmed. The story itself was mostly fine. It was the delivery that didn’t quite do it for me. However, as an inspiring, life lesson kind of read this is amazing.

The first thing I need to say about this book was that its chapters were “days”, meaning some chapters took me an hour or so to read. I think this could have been done better if the days were “parts” to the book, and the character’s points of view were the chapters.

I think this would give the reader a cleaner point where they could stop reading rather than hoping they remember what was said when they put it down halfway through a conversation because you don’t know when the next natural break is.

The next point I was to talk about is the amount of characters used. Usually, the books I read follow one or two characters and might alternate their points of view between those two characters. Or, you might have a few other characters thrown in, but the point of view sticks to the main two characters.

In this book I couldn’t figure out who the story was meant to be about and (if I can remember correctly) the point of view alternated between 10+ characters. The only other book I’ve come across that uses to many characters is Game of Thrones, and George R.R. Martin has a chapter to each character, titled as the character’s name, making it easier to follow. In this case the character changes happened at mini breaks in the chapters and because of the amount of characters used, I often struggled to figure out who I was reading about.

The final thing I want to mention is the feel of the book. When I finished this book, I left it feeling like “romantic comedy” is the wrong way to market it. Instead, I think it should be marketed as a story that shows the trials and tribulations people face in their everyday life. The key messages I felt resonating with me were that of acceptance and love for all — including yourself, forgiveness, honesty and communication.

Even though it wasn’t quite the fun read I thought it would be, I finished it with more of a life lesson, key take away kind of feel. If you want to read about how different people face a range of issues (sexuality, grief, guilt, family secrets, being single later in life etc) then this is an inspiring read I urge you to read.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Lasairiona E. McMaster’s The Good in Goodbye, the sequel to Intimate Strangers. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels.

Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series - Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea.  Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series.

Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019.  Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019! 

Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.

A Christmas Kiss – Eliza Scott

Welcome back everyone, getting into the Christmas spirit for me involves a lot of Christmas lights, heat, bars and enjoying our porch or pergola with my partner. Yet for most of the Western world it involves snow, roaring fireplaces and cold.

This book for me gave me everything I’ve ever wished for at Christmas. A small rural town, a cosy cottage, enough snow to toboggan and make snow men and of course a gorgeous dog. At some point in my future I want to spend a Christmas in a town and cottage just like Livvie and Zander do.

With both our characters running away from their pasts and coincidentally running into each other before being snowed in it gives us the perfect backdrop for a nice, cosy, romantic Christmas love story. The drama that’s in this story were quite predictable, as with many romances, yet still enjoyable.

I’m sure many romance readers out there would agree with me, when we read a romance you anticipate that there’s going to be some predictability in the story since they all tend to follow the same formula. Yet, the great part isn’t in not knowing what’s coming, it’s in how the author build the suspense, draws you into the story emotionally and then reveals it bit by bit. Eliza did this well by setting the scene, revealing bit by bit what we kinda knew was going to happen.

OK. I’ll admit. When the first twist happened, I actually thought it was going to be the other person. Yet when Eliza stopped, swapped to the other character and revealed one tiny little clue I realised my mistake in assuming which twist it was going to be. Which gave me that little bit of surprise I wanted. What more can you ask for with a romance?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Eliza lives in a 17th-century cottage on the edge of a village in the North Yorkshire Moors with her husband, their two daughters and two mischievous black Labradors. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found with her nose in a book/glued to her Kindle or working in her garden. Eliza also enjoys bracing walks in the countryside, rounded off by a visit to a teashop where she can indulge in another two of her favourite things: tea and cake.

Eliza is inspired by her beautiful surroundings and loves to write heart-warming stories with happy endings.

Check out Eliza's socials, including BookBub:

US Author Page

UK Author Page

A Lord’s Inconvenient Vow – Lara Temple

Welcome back everyone, after finishing up another month we have just two more left to the year. What a year it’s been! I’m pretty sure this is one of the last, if not the last, regency/historical romance I’ll read this year.

Unless of course I give in to my cravings and read another one anyway!

I’ve read a couple of Lara Temple books since I first started blogging, unfortunately I missed out on the second book of this series. Which I think contributed to me finding it hard to connect the first book, The Earl’s Irresistible Challenge, to this story.

I found myself constantly looking back and trying to remember if the first book mentioned a little sister. If it mentioned time in Egypt. If it mentioned the family dynamic. Because I honestly couldn’t remember it.

In typical Lara Temple style, I found myself drawn into the characters. Although there were a few concerns about how quickly they got together, how they reunited etc that really bugged me. I was completely drawn into the adventure of the story.

Yet I was still left lacking in the emotional build up. Yes, I got the connection and the drama. But it’s not the same as the build up over several chapters. If not, most of a book.

Yes, of course the HEA ending really did suck me in But I felt like I was missing a little something in the meantime.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing A Christmas Kiss by Eliza J Scott. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Lara Temple writes regency romances about complex individuals who give no quarter but do so with plenty of passion.

After moving around the world as a financial analyst she returned to her childhood love of making up stories, and was surprised to discover that other people don’t mind reading them. She lives with her husband, two children, and Lord Oscar the pooch who are all very forgiving about her taking over the kitchen table when she’s writing.

US Author Page

UK Author Page

Author Page

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Zapata – Harper McDavid

Welcome back everyone, we’re going from a cold Cornish winter setting to Mexico! I already feel warmer just thinking about Mexico.

Well the first thing I want to say is, when you get to about the 70% mark put on a full-on action movie like John Wick 3. Why do you ask? Well, I spent some time on the couch reading a good portion of the last third of the book while my partner watched John Wick 3 and the fight scenes perfectly matched the intensity of what I was reading.

To give you an idea, this is the This is War of books. This is the type of book I can see made into a movie and becoming a date night favourite. It has enough romance for the girls, while being action packed enough for the guys to love it, while also not over the top to the enough that the guys hate it.

Yes, I’m stereotyping couples. But that’s coz I’m thinking of my relationship and the types of movies we can truly enjoy that satisfy both our preferences.

Yes, the book includes kidnapping, human trafficking, the sex slave trade, drug use, various other criminal activities and unthinkable circumstances. So, if any of this triggers you, avoid this book! And I really do mean that!

If you love the excitement, not knowing what’s going to happen and those full-on action-packed stories that make you feel the adrenaline pumping through your body. Then you’ll probably love this.

For a debut novel I am amazed at the quality and I can see myself (and my partner who doesn’t normally read much!) loving her novel! I likened this to Matthew Reilly to him, but where the writing is a little bit more mature and the content is DEFINITELY more mature. But just as fun, action orientated and engaging as his books.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing #Jerk by Kat T. Masen. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

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As a child, Harper McDavid watched her mother ride the roller coaster of writing books, swearing she’d never do it herself. But some things are just hardwired, and luckily for Harper, the world has moved on beyond typewriters and ten-pound manuscripts.

Harper’s gritty romantic suspense incorporates her own background in science and engineering and work experience along the border. The result is a collection of hardhat-wearing heroines that occasionally employ the use of the little black dress.

Harper is the mother of three daughters and lives in the foothills of Colorado with her husband, two dogs, and a fat cat. Her free time is spent traveling the world in search of that next story and perusing her local library for funny book covers.

Give Me a Day – Zoe Ann Wood

Welcome back everyone, today I’ll be reviewing the sequel to Give me a Dream. Each book within this series is a standalone book with no characters appearing in the following books, so don’t feel like you need to read the whole series if only one or two books sound good to you.

I was a surprised at how Sebastian and Lori met, and the ongoing strife caused by how they met. Although, I was impressed by how much Lori was considering her safety while travelling alone in a foreign country.

Throughout their time together they slowly build up to a full-blown romance which appears to be going along at a natural pace. But of course, the characters personalities get in the way of things working out which then makes it hard for them.

I did find the ease of access to someone else’s bank records and the willingness to share it a bit weird. That might be my banking background going “NOOOO!!!! NEVER SHARE THOSE DETAILS!!! AND HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET A HOLD OF SOMEONE ELSE’S BANK STATEMENTS?! ISN’T THAT ILLEGAL?!?!?!”

My stress levels got a little bit of a hit, but it did calm down quickly.

Without spoiling the ending, I was robbed of the planning phase that makes it so special. But at the same time, it was kinda sweet, but kinda presumptuous of what the answer would be.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing The Summer of Going Topless by Liz Davies.

Project Duchess – Sabrina Jeffries

Welcome back everyone, after reviewing Zoe Ann Wood’s first sweet romance I’m on to my first approved NetGalley review! Which means I need to tell you that I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review (I always give honest reviews but I don't want to get in trouble for not explicitly saying this).

I’m pretty excited about this one because it’s the first one I requested to read and got approved for. The other’s I’ve requested I got rejected for, so this feels like a milestone for me. And the story was a pretty good milestone one as well. It would’ve sucked if my first approved book wasn’t great.

Luckily it was good!

A scoundrel who isn’t a scoundrel. An innocent who isn’t so innocent. A murder that’s possibly not a murder. There were a few different layers to this book that I found really engaging. Although there were a couple of moments where I wasn’t sure which story was meant to be more prominent. The romance or the murder?

The story is written in third person from either Grey’s or Beatrice’s point of view. However, there were a few points where we seemed to shift mid chapter. Mostly it only switched characters at the end of a chapter. Or if it did change mid-way through there was an obvious break in the chapter to show the change. Which made it a bit weird when it swapped part way through.

I quite liked this, but for those wanting a pure romance, you should be prepared for the murder investigation aspect. Unfortunately, I was left hanging at the end. I didn’t get the closure I wanted as to who murdered who and why.

On the romance front, however. The ending was very satisfying. So much so that I’ve gotten a copy of the sequel which is due for release in February 2020. So make sure you come back to find out if that carries as well!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Monday I will be reviewing When you were Mine by Lisa Swift.

Ms Sommersby’s Second Chance – Laurie Benson

Welcome back everyone, after a very busy couple of weeks we’re back into a nice routine of two reviews as week. Today’s novel is taking us back to regency Bath, which is interesting because I don’t think I’ve ever read a book set in Bath before.

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I have a habit of picking up regency/historical romances partway through or near the end of a series. This one is no exception. How do I keep doing this to myself?!

Luckily, I tend to do it with stories that have enough separation that it doesn’t ruin it. That is also true of this one. Although I did think it was going to be raunchier than it ended up being right at the start. I mean, Laurie did set us up with Clara and Lane fantasising about each other when they first met. So, it’s safe to assume it’s not going to be G or PG rated (I’m thinking Australian standards with those, I think the US is more relaxed than us with their ratings so not sure what the equivalent is, sorry!). Since they're an older couple than normal (not that like 40 is old) it kind of explains why it went that way so quickly.

I loved the romance that was built and how they got to know each other in such a relaxed, informal and natural way. Sometimes these can feel a little forced. But I loved how Laurie had them running into each other. Or remembering little details and so trying in the hopes they’d see the other person. It gave it a sweet feel that many regency romances lack but really worked for their story.

The one thing that frustrated me was the development of the business side towards the end. If I say much more, I’ll totally spoil it for you, but I do think it could have been done better. I honestly felt like I was screaming in my head for them to do what they did coz it was so obvious. Both times!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review; on Monday I’ll be reviewing Give me a Dream by Zoe Ann Wood. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Laurie Benson is an award-winning author who writes flirty and frisky Regency romances. She began her writing career as an advertising copywriter, where she learned more than you could ever want to know about hot dogs and credit score reports. Now, she is happy to put that behind her and spend her time writing stories that take her and her readers on a romantic adventure. When she isn’t at her laptop avoiding laundry, Laurie can be found browsing antique shops, going on ridiculously long hikes, or sitting in her car on the school pickup line. She lives with her husband and two sons in a house filled with testosterone—even her bunny is a boy.

You can find Laurie on Pinterest and various social media channels.

Giveaway - Win 2 paperbacks of His Three-Day Duchess by Laurie Benson (open internationally)

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entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The
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will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7
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winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as
part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be
shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This
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Sunshine over Bluebell Castle – Sarah Bennett

Welcome back everyone, after a hectic schedule last week with my July Wrap Up and 3 reviews going live, you’ll find this week to be much quieter. A lot like today's book.

Following on from Spring Skies over Bluebell Castle we’re now into summer and following Iggy. I think I’ve picked up a trend that the love interests for our characters will be coming from London and discovering the delights of a quiet countryside town and castle.

I kind of get Will’s behaviour but in a way also feel like this rings very true of the media attention Meghan Markle has been getting. We don’t really know who the real Will is in a lot of situations, while others are quick to judge, and blame based on potential lies others are spreading.

I enjoyed his childlike humour, fun and excitement. But I also admired his wisdom in knowing when to leave a woman alone to figure out what’s happening in her head compared to when to push and tell her the truth.

I feel like the mystery of “who leaked Will’s presence to the media?” was a little obvious, and surely the family should’ve figured out who it was before they did. I feel like that could have added more mystery with tension arising between the couples Iggy and Will and Arthur and Lucie. From how Arthur behaved I feel like he would have been defending their mother and fighting for her to stay while Iggy and Will would have been adamant that she was a bad influence.

But that’s my take on it and I don’t know yet if it happened this way to set things up for Tristan’s book or not. I mean, I’m assuming that’s coming yea?

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Mrs Sommersby’s Second Chance by Laurie Benson. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Sarah Bennett has been reading for as long as she can remember. Raised in a family of bookworms, her love affair with books of all genres has culminated in the ultimate Happy Ever After – getting to write her own stories to share with others.

Born and raised in a military family, she is happily married to her own Officer (who is sometimes even A Gentleman). Home is wherever he lays his hat, and life has taught them both that the best family is the one you create from friends as well as relatives.

When not reading or writing, Sarah is a devotee of afternoon naps and sailing the high seas, but only on vessels large enough to accommodate a casino and a choice of restaurants.

Sarah is the author of the Butterfly Cove, Lavender Bay and Bluebell Castle trilogies, published by HQ Digital UK.