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.

Naughty or Nice – Rachael Stewart

Welcome back everyone, after a fake dating story last week we’re onto a hidden romance set in the lead up to the Christmas period. With 24 days to go until Christmas is here, how many more Christmas themed books do you think I can squeeze in?

With Rachael being the author, I knew I’d be in for some explicit sex scenes, yet I found it wasn’t as full on as I was expecting. Yes, there was still some graphic sex but nothing that made me too uncomfortable while reading on the bus. Because of course the sex scenes start when you get on the bus and end just before getting off in peak hour.

I mean, why couldn’t they have the decency to happen when I’m at home alone where no one could potentially read over my shoulder? I’m not complaining. Just making a comment that every book I read that has sex scenes seems to be timed to be explicit when I’m on a packed bus in peak hour.

The book itself kept me captivated (I read it in 3 days, and the third day only needed like 30 mins to finish the book) and kept me thinking about how tricky family and business relationships can be. Yet the one message that really stood out (there’s always a message for me in Rachael’s books) was men’s reactions to women.

Specifically, there was a scene where Eva left a part to go to the bathroom assuming Lucas would follow, and he did. When we changed to his perspective after the encounter his thoughts included references to the look she was giving him that was filled with lust and desire and that she wanted him to follow her.

In a world where SJW (social justice warriors) run rampant I can imagine how many women would be jumping up and down shouting “#METOO” and all sorts of other nonsense (I’m not against the movement, but I do believe SOME people take it too far) along the lines of “how dare he assume that’s what she wants?!”. Yet all I could think in response to that thought was “these actions are going to kill the behaviour men exhibit that is so sexy and masculine. Those women are going to push the scale so far to the other end that men are going to be scared to even look us in the eyes in case they get persecuted.

I believe there is a time and a place for those movements and thoughts. One of the times where it’s not appropriate is in a romantic setting. So long as the guy listens when a girl says no then I’m all for the kind of behaviour Lucas displayed when seducing Eva. It was hot, masculine and sexy as hell. A guy who knows what he wants and goes after it while respecting her boundaries is awesome and should be celebrated!

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing the sequel to Single All the Way by Elaine Spires. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Rachael Stewart adores conjuring up stories for the readers of Harlequin Mills & Boon and Deep Desires Press, with tales varying from the heart-warmingly romantic to the wildly erotic.

Despite a degree in Business Studies and spending many years in the corporate world, the desire to become an author never waned and it's now her full-time pleasure, a dream come true.

A Welsh lass at heart, she now lives in Yorkshire with her husband and three children, and if she's not glued to her laptop, she's wrapped up in them or enjoying the great outdoors seeking out inspiration.

Giveaway - Win an e-copy of Naughty or Nice by Rachael Stewart (open internationally)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative 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 will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

The Dating Charade – Melissa Ferguson

Welcome back everyone, after finishing a book with a different take on the female anatomy we’re into a different take on dating.

I mean, who ends up with 6 children between two people anyway? And volunteering for them too!

I know right, that sounds completely crazy right? Especially for childless and happy me.

But seriously, I don’t understand the urge to look after kids. I’m lucky to have the urge to look after my nieces (not so much my nephews!) but they are amazing, and they come running to me whenever I come near them. So that’s easy.

What these two go through. OMG!

That’s some love dedication to those kids. And trying to date during those times? Isn’t it hard enough to date as a 30-year-old, let alone adding in the difficulty of kids?

Ok, I’ll try to be over the kids’ stuff and move onto the topics of the book.

The writing style felt like good fun. We swapped between Cassie and Jett each chapter and got involved in their thoughts, feelings and everyday actions.

It was set from like Thanksgiving (when is that BTW?) through to like Valentines Day. I don’t know if you’d classify it as a holiday romance. But it’s still got a bit of that feeling since most of the story is set in and around the Christmas period. And isn’t that all the rage at this time of the year?

Luckily it embodies everything I love about the Christmas period and just imbues you with everything you want to feel in the Christmas period. I love that feeling. But I also know it wasn’t as enrapturing as it could have been.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing Naughty or Nice by Rachael Stewart.

A Forgiven Friend – Sue Featherstone

Welcome back everyone, we’ve got the final review for October with a Rach Random Resources tour.

First off, I want to note that this book is written by two authors which might explain one of my problems with the book. Before I go into the negatives though I want to talk about the positive points!

Rather than being a romance (like so many of my other books) it’s a straight up story about the friendship between two women. There aren’t too many books that explore this dynamic, so it was interesting to read this, especially since both points of view are written.

Unfortunately, other than the writing being well written there’s not much else I can say that’s good about it.

I wasn’t drawn into the story, although I think this has more to do with this being the 3rd book and there was no set up or recap at the start to tell me who’s who. It felt like each other had chosen a character each and written their side of the story without checking that they were writing the same thing when they wrote about the same interaction from both sides. There were at least 2 instances where this happened and the phrases they said differed, and even their reactions and movements were different for each character.

I also found Teri hard to relate to given she was so self-obsessed. But then again, I guess that lack of self esteem and her personality as a result was one of the things the authors wanted to explore. Instead I constantly found myself wishing I could bitch-slap her and yell at her to calm the F down and let other people get on with their lives without her needing to be the constant centre of attention.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, on Monday I’ll be reviewing #Jerk by Kat T. Masen. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.

The pair, who have been friends for almost 30 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage), before deciding to turn their hands to fiction.

The first novel in their Friends series, A Falling Friend, was released in 2016. A Forsaken Friend followed two years later, and the final book in the trilogy, A Forgiven Friend, published on November 19.

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, and the most ‘gorgeous granddaughter in the whole world’, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

Check out their blog Book Lovers Book List

Sue's Twitter

Susan's Twitter

It’s Not PMS, It’s You – Rich Amooi

Welcome back everyone, it’s been a busy week and I’m ending it with a book that I believe has some great points. Although I’m not sure how I feel about getting so analytical about a book…

I grew up with a mum who works in a male dominated industry. I spent time in her office, hearing how the men talked to each other, and the women in the office. Rich has done a great job of accurately writing how awful these kinds of workplaces can be. While I’m not happy about these workplaces existing, and men still being Neanderthals when it comes to women being better than them.

Any woman that can work in that environment, day in and day out, is a champion. But I also hope they don’t suffer silently like Ruth does. The only reason I’m ok with Rich openly talking about this type of work is to highlight how wrong it is.

Not only do we see how high-strung Ruth is, the impact it’s having to her physical and mental health and her relationships, both with herself and others. We also get to experience her life changing realisation and her journey of change with Dee and Nick.

The whole way through the book I felt like I was on the dates with Ruth, with her as she broke through the walls she’d built up and began to let those emotions through again. I’m surprised a male author could achieve that given there’s no way they can truly understand what women go through in male dominated workplaces. But he did good!

My only problem with how well he’s executed this is that I don’t think many men read romance, which means our ability to change this behaviour is limited. Unless men learn about these impacts they don’t know to change. They don’t know the impact it has to the woman they work and live with. Without getting men involved in these conversations nothing will change.

Yet somehow, I don’t think women are the only one to suffer these effects of suck toxic workplaces.

Other than the political, sexist etc crap in this story, I loved reading about how Ruth let herself go, found relaxation and had that shift of priorities that many people struggle to have when they are workaholics.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing A Forgiven Friend by Sue Featherstone. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Rich Amooi is a former radio personality and DJ who now writes romantic comedies full-time in San Diego, California. He is happily married to a kiss monster imported from Spain. Rich believes in public displays of affection, silliness, infinite possibilities, donuts, gratitude, laughter, and happily ever after.

Giveaway - Win a $25 Amazon Gift Car (open internationally)


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*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative 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 will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Christmas Kisses on Hollywell Hill – Jackie Ladbury

Welcome back everyone, even though the last week’s read wasn’t solely based around Christmas, it had some Christmas moments. To make up for that we’re back to a Christmas book! Yay!

Kirsty and Jake are one of those cute couples that meet by running into each other in the supermarket. I mean, how does that even happen?!

I don’t even know how to talk about this book because one of the issues in the books, the cheating of Jake’s ex-wife, hit home to me while I was reading this. Until reading this book I’d never met anyone who’d been cheated on so the “I can’t believe someone would do that to someone else” was all hypothetical.

The emotional impact of discovering that the person you love with all your heart, who you thought loved you back, is cheating on you is incomprehensible. The lasting impact of this is what Jake is going through — the mistrust, the need to drown your sorrows and the feeling that you’re not good enough for the one you love — and we see this in how he interacts with Kirsty.

I didn’t have much left of the book when I found out about cheating and it put a whole new spin on how I perceived Jake’s actions. I went from thinking he was overreacting and being a bit of a dick, to wondering how he’d stayed so calm and could handle starting a new business and starting a new business.

Writing this review has me thinking about what I found out and I can’t help but feel horrible about that situation. I can truly say I loved this book. Yet at the same time it’s going to be tainted with that memory forever because of the emotional impact it’s had on me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing It’s Not PMS, It’s You by Rich Amooi. Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Jackie Ladbury writes heart-warming contemporary and historical women's fiction that is always guaranteed a happy ever after. From spending many years as an air-stewardess and seeing that it really is love that makes the world go around, she determined to put the same sparkle and emotion into her stories. Her life is no longer as exotic (or chaotic) as it was in those heady days of flying as she now lives a quiet life in Hertfordshire with her family and two cats, spending her days making up stories and finding excuses not to go to the gym.

To find out more about Jackie Ladbury, check out her socials:

The Perils of Autumn – Rusty Blackwood

Welcome back everyone, after a few false starts I finally got here with this review!

I honestly thought going into this that the story would have more emphasis on Duff Taylor and his past. I swear I re-read the blurb when I wasn’t far into the book and it had more emphasis on Duff than when I read it on the back cover of my jacket after finishing. Yet the entire story revolved around Autumn and her relationship with Cyril.

As a romance story, it’s quite good. Autumn goes through quite a journey, has ups and downs, moments when it feels like Cyril and Autumn wouldn’t make it. Which is the typical arc of a romance story so that’s all good. Yet there was nothing about this book that really drew me in and kept me in.

If you’re looking for a book on the side, or maybe you don’t have a lot of time to read some having something you can read a little bit of as and when you have the time, this book is perfect for you.

In terms of the writing, I think the way the dialogue is written is one of the ways I couldn’t fall into the story. My dad was about the same age as Autumn in the same years and yet he doesn’t sound anything like Autumn or any of the other characters.

The dialogue felt really stilted, formal and more like it belonged in the 50s or earlier. Speaking to my dad he doesn’t remember the feel of how people speaking feeling formal back then. But he did admit he doesn’t really remember (granted that was almost 50 years ago) so he’s not 100% sure. Yet, when I think on how a lot of the movies, I’ve seen set in the 60s, 70s and 80s speak, they are all a lot more relaxed than this was written so I’m really not sure.

All I know is that I enjoyed it, I just didn’t love it or feel like I just had to keep reading at any point in time. Even when I knew I had less than 12 pages left.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, tomorrow I’ll be reviewing Christmas Kisses on Hollywell Hill by Jackie Ladbury. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

Top ranking romantic fiction author Rusty Blackwood, who chose her plume de nom by combining the colour of her russet hair with her husband's great, great, Scottish grandmother's maiden name, was born in St.Thomas, Ontario, Canada on October 5th, and grew up on her paternal grandfather's farm in the County of Elgin, located in the south-western portion of the province of Ontario.

She acquired her love of literature while still in elementary school where she entered her original compositions into county fairs, school contests, and whatever venue allowed participants in the writing field. She has carried that love ever since and has put it to use many times since becoming a professional writer in 2001.

From the time of youth she has loved the Arts in their many unique forms, she is a graduate with honors in Interior Decorating & Design. She spent many years on the south-western Ontario stage performing with her family's country music band: The Midnight Ramblers, followed by the country - rock - blues band: 'MIRAGE' as an accomplished vocalist, bassist, and rhythm guitarist. She now resides in the cultural city of St. Catharines, Ontario.

Check out Rusty's socials on BookBub and the ones below:

Giveaway - Win an autographed and inscribed hardcover copy of The Perils of Autumn (US and Canada only)


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Rusty Blackwood will be awarding an inscribed and autographed hardcover copy of "The Perils of Autumn" to be given to a randomly drawn winner (US/Canada only) via rafflecopter during the tour.

Magic Under the Mistletoe – Lucy Coleman

Welcome back everyone, after the sad story that surrounded the Christmas period we had last week, we’re moving on to a much (mostly) lighter hearted Christmas story.

Although the characters were briefly in my homeland, Australia, leading into Christmas we didn’t get to see any of the country. We join Leesa and Cary on their flight back to England. Given how Leesa was describing Cary at this point I was pretty sure it was going to be an enemy’s to lover’s trope, and I was right. But it didn’t happen in the normal way this trope plays out.

For those of you who aren’t regular book blogger readers or otherwise haven’t come across the term “trope” before, that basically just means a classic story style, and there are lots of different ones!

I loved how practical these two are, in a way the way their relationship developed is quite like how my relationship with my partner started out. I loved how they didn’t need to be constantly talking to each other or being with each other for their relationship to develop. In the snippets of time we read about over a 12-month period it does feel like the key defining moments in their relationship.

We’re not weighed down by the everyday interactions. Instead, we can focus on those subtle shifts and changes that happen at significant times. Like when something happens in someone’s life. Seeing this from Leesa’s point of view only helped me feel more in the moment. I do like seeing how the other person is feeling, but I don’t get quite as emotionally invested when they’re written that way.

The only real downside to this story was that the dialogue felt a little bit stilted. Like when you over think the exact wording you want to say. Or when you’re trying to keep your thoughts so PC it reverts to like an 1800’s style of speech. It just didn’t feel as natural as it could have to me.

Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review, next week I will be reviewing It’s not PMS, it’s You by Rich Amooi. Continue to read further down to find out about the author and any extra giveaways available.

Author Bio

From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton - who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman - says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’

Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and is excited to be writing for both Aria Fiction (Head of Zeus) and Harper Impulse (Harper Collins); she’s represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.

When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden.

Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK's Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards.

Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic.

Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. She writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

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*Terms and Conditions –UK
entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The
winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and
will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7
days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative
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
will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the
prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the
data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.