Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman – Wareeze Woodson

Welcome back everyone, I hope you’ve been enjoying my posts so far and I’d love to hear what you think so please comment!

Now this post will be a little bit different to my other posts since I didn’t fall in love with this book like I did the others I’ve reviewed.

I like the idea of this book. A young mother that’s been mistreated by her dead husband and his sister tries to protect her young son who’s inherited his father’s title but has a guardian who’s only interested in protecting his ward and his wards interest. And because it’s a romance novel the mother and guardian have to fall in love and live happily ever after.

Now on paper that sounds like a great story, however the way it’s written disappointed me a little. The guardian Adron comes across the mother Laurel and her son Jamie as she’s on her way to visit her aunt. However her carriage overturns and Adron offers his help except he ends up taking Jamie and leaving Lauren in the wrecked carriage. Essentially abducting Jamie without explanation to Laurel.

What I don’t like about this though is that Laurel ends up being smitten over the fact that Adron shows interest in Jamie and ends up sleeping with him no matter how awful he is towards her. In this day and age, with domestic violence being a big issue and trying to prevent it from happening in future generations I found myself disappointed that this book felt like it condonned that kind of behavior.

In my job I hear people who are experiencing domestic violence and what they go through trying to get out of this situation and need help. To then read a book that essentially says it’s ok for people to treat others like dirt, like lesser beings and that the one that’s not treated well will just fall in love with them and end up devoting their life and happiness to them.

Although this wasn’t the main story of this book it was the main message I took out of it. I don’t know if that’s because I hear about how domestic violence affects others on an almost daily basis and I work with people who are creating new ways to help us support our customers who are affected by this. But I don’t feel like we should be allowing this message that it’s ok to treat people in a degrading way to be out there. Because I can see some people reading this book and seeing nothing wrong with this treatment.

I will acknowledge the fact that Wareeze raised the issue that Adron’s treatment of Laurel was despicable and that it’s inescusable no matter what point of view you take. However I feel there was more they could do to ensure this message got across. I know in the time that this book was set (regency times) that this kind of behavior was probably common place. However that doesn’t mean we should be writing about this issue as if it’s ok. I feel that in this case there was more Wareeze could do to help us change the perception of domestic violence to help prevent it in the future.

I know we live in the day and age where I’m sure there are going to be social justice warriors wanting to jump at every little thing and maybe some will criticise Wareeze while others will criticise me for thinking this about this book. But with an issue like domestic violence I think we need to err on the side of caution and support those experiencing this or know someone who is.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence lease use the links below to get the support you or them need, I have provided links for Australia, England and the US. If you live outside these areas please contact your local support groups for assistance. Please note that I’m not affiliated with any of these organisations and I found these from Google. If you feel there are other support systems available for those affected please comment links below.

Australia: https://www.whiteribbon.org.au/find-help/domestic-violence-hotlines/

England: http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk

US: http://www.thehotline.org

Now I’d like to end this review on a positive note which is that Wareeze was able to write in such a way that I was captivated throughout the book. If you feel that you could overlook the domestic violence stuff the mystery of who killed Jamie’s father and is still threatening Laurel will be a thrilling read!

From the first little bit of the next book I’ve read it’s looking up, so I look forward to seeing you again for my review of “Winning the Duke” by Jenn Langston.

Finally, I’m hoping to hear from you about how you find my blog. Whether you like the types of books I read or not I really want to hear what you think about my blog. So please comment so I know what you think of my blog. If you like my blog please share with your family and friends.

Night Embrace – Sherrilyn Kenyon

Hi All, I’m not sure what happened but my draft of this post disappeared so it didn’t go up yesterday as planned. So I apologise about that! I hope you enjoy reading this even though it was delayed.

Ok so let’s jump into this one. My first thought when I started reading this book and discovered it was following Talon was “Hey that’s a good way to do a series without following the same character the whole time. Swap to another character we’ve met previously! Cool!” Unlike Julian and Kyrian, Talon isn’t Greek. Which had me wondering how he made it into the series. Up until this point in time I thought Artemis could only enlist those of Greek decent since that was her pantheon. So this tripped me up a little since Talon was a Celtic tribe leader.

Our other main character, Talon’s love interest is Sunshine. An artsy, eclectic and forgetful, very VERY independent and health conscious modern woman. Which had me wondering how on earth Talon could work with Sunshine, and how they could possibly meet. Well it turns out they meet because Sunshine is lost and witnesses Talon being run over by a float leading up to the Mardi Gras parade. Sunshine being the kind person that she is picks him up and takes him home to try and help him. Why she didn’t just call an ambulance and keep in mind her own safety by letting the professionals take care of him still amazes me.

Good thing is Sunshine’s family looks out for her and checks in on her and stays with her until they can determine that Talon won’t hurt her. Sunshine’s mother was the one with her when Talon woke up and had to try and explain why being in the sunlight was deadly to him, and his excuse is pretty silly sounding but I guess in a pinch it works. In typical Sunshine fashion she destroyed most of Talons belongings that survived the float leaving Talon with no clothes. So he used her phone (that needed to be fished out of a kitchen drawer) to call Kyrian to go to his house and grab him a change of clothes, a new phone etc so that he can get back to his life. While he waits he “enjoys” spending the  day with Sunshine which results in Talon being dressed in only a fluffy pink towel that barely covers his ass when Kyrian and Julian arrive.

Boys being boys. they relentlessly tease Talon about this sad fact is quite amusing given Julian was in a similar situation in a green towel in Fantasy Lover, and Kyrian had to be wheeled through a hospital handcuffed to Amanda in Night Pleasures!

Anyway fast forward a bit and Talon is being tricked by “Acheron” the Dark Hunter leader compared to the orders others are receiving. Part of this is to keep Sunshine and Talon together to allow them to fall in love. Throughout this period I was so confused as to what was happening, why another Dark Hunter Zarek was so violent towards everyone and yet was so kind and gentle. During this time we find out there are two “Acheron’s” out there, one is the true Dark Hunter leader while the other is there purely to make the Dark Hunters hate Acheron because he hates his twin brother.

That’s right. You read me right. Acheron has a twin brother who hates him! How could this possibly be true?! From everything that we know about Acheron all I could think was “noooo….. how could Acheron’s brother hate him?” once I’d come to grips with the fact that he even HAD a brother!

So let’s fast forward through Talon and Sunshine’s oddly melding, love fest and the revelation that Sunshine’s soul is the same soul as Talon’s human wife’s soul. Which explains why they are drawn to each other. Anyway, during the final showdown we finally find out that the necklace Sunshine’s mother gave her is a protective medallion of the Morrigan. This is important because Talon made a mortal enemy of the Morrigan’s famous enemy while he was still human. This same god is so vengeful that he came back purposely to torture Talon again by killing his reborn wife’s soul. The little glitch in that plan was the fact that Sunshine was under the Morrigan’s protection.

And to further that glitch the Morrigan actually comes to protect Talon and Sunshine since Sunshine is actually the Morrigan’s grand-daughter and is therefore immortal. They end up getting their happily every after while we discover an odd fact that suggests that Acheron is more than just a Dark Hunter when he can overpower and scare 3 gods and an immortal into submission. We also discover that he has a demon thing that Artemis is scared of that he controls. But I will leave more explanation of that for another post since I had to wait as well!

The main thing is I got to appreciate how such a strong independant woman like Sunshine could find happiness in a marriage with an old fashioned kinda guy. Which made me feel better at the time I was reading this because I have quite a dominant personality and I am extremely independent and I hate having to rely on others for anything. So knowing that she was able to find love and happiness definitely made me feel that I’d be able to do the same. Because at the time I first read this book I was not in a great place when it came to relationships. That has changed since then so now to me this book is a lovely reminder that opposites can work together, so long as both are willing to give a little to demonstrate their love of each other.

The Sheik’s Son – Nicola Italia

Welcome back, I’ve been looking forward to writing this review pretty much since I first started reading this book because it combines two things that I really love. History and books. Not only is it a book steeped with history, but it’s also filled with iconic individuals from history writing about their thoughts and experiences and then discussing these in salons.

This book is set in Paris in 1788, less than a year before the French Revolution began in earnest. As soon as I saw the date I started scrambling back through my memories of high school history when I studied the French Revolution to remember when it began, how it broke out and how quickly it impacted the French high classes. Thinking back on these memories I found myself eager to jump in and find out what exactly this book could be about, especially since the title suggests there’s an Arabian prince involved.

I quickly discovered that this book was going to be a typical romance novel, however it would be set in a specific time in history which would also impact what would happen throughout the book. Sophie, our main character, is a young Parisian woman who is educated more than most women in that time who’s grandmother has been trying to marry off for the past few years. However Sophie doesn’t want another Parisian dandy man. She wants an intelligent man who isn’t afraid of the fact that she is educated and he needs to be able to challenge her intellectually. Which in that time is difficult to find.

While Sophie is resisting marriage due to the difficulty of finding someone that will complement and challenge her, she is introduced to Madame Necker and her salon. Madame Necker is a well known French woman who ran one of the most celebrated salon’s in French history; if you Google her you can find her fairly easily. By taking part in this salon Sophie is constantly thrust into the same space as Sebastian, our other main character who we also hear from throughout the book. While pushing Sebastian away Sophie is also trying to educate herself about any topic that comes up in the salon’s that she doesn’t know much about.

Sophie’s drive to educate herself further really struck a chord with me as I tend to do the same thing. Maybe not to the same degree as Sophie does, however I also found that just like in Sophie’s case there are many people today that will criticise and judge those that seek to further educate themselves. I don’t know if people do this out of fear of being left behind or being made redundant by someone who likes to educate themselves. And I certainly hope people can rise above these thoughts, because in France’s case it ended in a Revolution that changed the country forever and I’d hate to think that it could take similar radical changes to allow people to grow and develop.

Due to Sophie educating herself she goes from writing radical pamphlets about women’s rights to revolutionary pieces that criticise the French monarchy and it’s upper classes. This results in a power hungry inspector going after Sophie to gain confidential information to blackmail other people. Later in the book we discover that not only is he blackmailing his way into a position of power, but he also murdered his wife and last lover due to her cheating on him. I don’t know about you but I can’t believe he managed to murder 2 people and dispose of their bodies alone without being discovered. Especially because he works for the French law enforcement!

While the inspector is going after Sophie she pretty much forces Sebastian to marry her to give herself more protection against the inspector. Sophie thought just because he worked for the English Ambassador that it’d give her more safety from him. What I don’t understand is that Sebastian knew how much danger Sophie was in and so married her to protect her. Yet waited until the inspector tried to kill them both to suggest moving to Arabia? And for all their friends and family to leave France? Like really, if you think a country is about to break out into an all out Revolution wouldn’t you want to get the hell out of these ASAP to avoid the bloodbath and ensure you don’t accidentally get caught up in it? That really irked me and took a little bit of joy out of the overall story because I spent so much time fixating on why they didn’t just move to Arabia. But it certainly didn’t stop me from thoroughly enjoying the read.

Thank you and I look forward to seeing you again next week when I review “Conduct Unbecoming of a Gentleman” by Wareeze Woodson. I will come back to the next book in the series in the future, so keep an eye out for that one!

Night Pleasures – Sherrilyn Kenyon

So when I first read this I thought it would be a continuation of Julian and Grace’s story, however I was pleasantly surprised to find that instead this book was focused on Kyrian (of Thrace) and Amanda. At the time of starting this book I had NO IDEA who or what Kyrian was, however I was pretty sure Amanda was related to Grace’s best friend Selena. The only thing that suggested Kyrian wasn’t pure human initially was the prologue, which talked about Kyrian of Thrace’s reputation and how he is now weirdly enough immortal.

We start the book with Amanda and Selena chatting about her ex and bagging him out while Selena does a tarot card reading for Selena. Later that night Amanda does yet another favour for her twin, Tabitha, and while doing so is mistakenly kidnapped! Good news is when she wakes up she’s not alone. Weirdly though, when this guy wakes up it turns out he’s so allergic to the sun he starts burning straight away. Like smoke and everything. To get them out Kyrian calls a friend who’s a coroner and gets them out, and to the city morgue, much to Amanda’s embarrassment (I think for this one you really need to read how Sherrilyn tells this story, it cracks me up every time!).

One this leads to another, which leads to Amanda and Kyrian being attacked by evil vampires and Kyrian desperately trying to protect both Amanda who doesn’t believe in the occult even though she’s surrounded by it, and Tabitha who believes that all vampires (or I should say, fanged people) are evil who both make his life difficult.

At the end of Kyrian and Amanda’s first day together Kyrian gets the surprise of his life when Amanda takes him to Julian to get their handcuffs removed. Julian and Kyrian have a moment of “holy crap, am I really seeing what I’m seeing?” since they fought together back in ancient Greece. Before Julian was locked in a book as a sex slave, and before Kyrian was executed.

Over the course of the book we learn the Amanda is one of many in her family who has supernatural powers and she begins to learn to harness them. While Kyrian gave up his soul when he died to Artemis to had 24 hours to exact revenge on those that were responsible for his death to in turn kill Daimons (evil vampires) to release the human souls they are eating. Yea…so the vampires in this series eat human souls rather than blood and the only way they can take possession of the souls is to kill the human. And the souls start dying as soon as the Daimons eat them, and the only way to release them is to kill them with a stab through the heart. Which is where the Dark Hunters (including Kyrian) comes into thing. To hunt and kill the Daimons freeing the human souls so they don’t die. To help them achieve this they are made “allergic” to the sun to make the fight fair, with many of the same traits as the Daimons, including having fangs.

Those fangs are what cause Kyrian grief with Amanda’s twin Tabitha. Cue a whole lot of in-fighting between Amanda and Tabitha over Kyrian and you have the drama for the book. Which I personally found quite entertaining. Sherrilyn’s writing style is always guaranteed to make me laugh in these types of moments in her books. And although Kyrian didn’t make it easy to like him to begin with his constant need to protect Amanda (including making her horrible ex look and feel like a right douche bag) making sure she feels special does end up winning you to his side.

And finding out how he was betrayed causing his death, by his whoring wife, really does make you feel for him. And he ends up being the hero we will wish we had. Yea he kinda sucked at protecting Amanda, she ended up saving his ass. But she ruined her hand and had to pretend to be under a spell to free him. Given that Kyrian is from ancient Greece I felt for him having his masculinity ripped to shreds, but at the same time I definitely liked that for once the girl saved the guy from something other than emotional trauma.

In summary, reading this book had my laughing a fair bit, surprised at the type of vampires Sherrilyn had created and loving the fact that history was woven in throughout the book in so many interesting ways. And not just factual history, but taking advantage of myths and legends to create an amazing world.

His Fair Lady – Kathleen Kirkwood

Welcome back! This week we will be looking at a book set in medieval times back when England still owned part of the land we know to be owned by France now. I found this book slow to start compared to a number of other books that I read, however once I got about half way through the second chapter I felt myself engaging with the story a lot more and starting to look forward to my reading time.

We start of with our main characters at a young age when a village has been attacked and Royce’s knight leads their regiment to stop and assist the village. Royce being the eager, new squire that he is gets sent out of the bloodbath scene to compose himself and discovered Ana (Juliana) hiding under a boat with no memory of her past. At this stage I was sitting there thinking “Great, what have I gotten myself into? This feels like it’s going to be a very boring book to read”. I felt like this because I didn’t remember buying a book that was all about battle, trauma and death. And also because Kathleen has written this in an older style of English I found I had to concentrate a little bit more than normal to fully grasp the story that was being told.

That is until I got into the second chapter where I was then left wondering what had happened. Why were we jumping forward 10 years? And why had the portrayal of the book swapped to Ana? I found the switch in the portrayal to Ana odd as most medieval books I’ve read are in either the guy or the girls point of view. And it doesn’t typically swap between then. However Kathleen has done just this. She swaps between them enough that I feel like I understand bother characters, but not so much that it feels weird. I also think I’d adjusted to her writing style a little bit easier than I had with Bleddyn Hall which allowed me to begin enjoying the book more rather than spending my energy trying to figure out what was happening.

While Royce battled Ana’s insistence that she wasn’t the heiress he believed her to be, he held back telling her that he was her squire not knowing how she would react. Not realising that Ana was in love with the squire from her memory of 10 years past. And this continued to happen even after it was proved that Ana was the heiress until the time when Royce brought Ana’s foster parents to England to help her feel more at home and welcomed. Ana struggled at first adjusting to a different way of life, different duties, different responsibilities and different expectations of how she should live her life. Royce was doing what he could to assist her but at the same time was trying to marry her off and establish his own property while also gaining influence at court to work to help all.

I felt that given there was only a few months before an engagement for Ana needed to be announced, Royce could have done more to help her adjust to her new life and a smoother transition rather than just shoving her into that role and expecting her to figure it out. Yes Ana didn’t do everything she could have to help herself, and resisted this change as she didn’t believe she was the heiress. I could understand her reservations and wanting proof that couldn’t be argued with before accepting her new position as a lady of England. I know myself that when I’ve had my job role changed and haven’t received support to be able to make this transition that I resisted the change and made life difficult for my managers. And I at least had the choice to leave, whereas Ana doesn’t. So I can really sympathise with how she’s feeling, but I get the feeling that she’s still very immature and quite selfish by not considering how her actions could be impacting those around her.

Needless to say, when she “sinned” and sought confession and penance I was happy that the Friar used this penance to get Ana to learn her role as a lady properly and to treat Royce with more respect. From this she began to apply herself to her lessons and discovered that being a lady wasn’t all sitting around looking pretty, embroidering etc. And that the work she needed to do to keep her estate running smoothly took just as much energy and effort as it took the commoners to execute these tasks. And this came just in time!

After Ana and Royce go through a turbulant time trying to foil some French guy claiming to be Ana’s cousin Ana is able to use these new skills to succeed. When this guy was introduced my first thought was “O cool! Ana has more family! That’s amazing!” But then when we went to Ana and she was instantly scared by this guy and his scar seemed to make her think of blood and death I started to feel a bit skeptical. What kind of cousin would make her think of her horrible past?

When said cousin kidnaps her and threatens to kill her we learn he was the one responsible for the death of her mother 10 years prior and the village. And this is when the adrenaline pumping chase begins! Royce chases after them when he realises that she’s been kidnapped and tries to save her from certain death. Kathleen really draws this out because it seems like Ana is safe, except then she’s not, and then she’s even more not safe! Only to have Royce arrive to save the day, except then he’s in trouble too… and then we don’t know if the “cousin” or Royce has survived the battle. While I was reading this series of event’s I felt like I’d held my breath because it feels so intense.

As is normal with romance books, there is a happy ending. And in this case it’s even happier because as a formal wedding present the king gifts Royce with funds and knights to rebuild his dilapidated estate, while he then gifts Ana with her father’s property which coincidentally had the last owner die leaving the property without an owner just recently. I’m not sure if I’m happy with the ending, purely because it feels like coincidentally too many things “just happened” to fall exactly in a way that made it feel like an even happier ending than it would have been otherwise.

Overall, I felt like there were sections of the book that were amazing and really kept my attention. Whereas there were other sections that I felt were a little bit lacking and I found myself loosing interest until the next exciting thing happened. I also felt like it dragged on a little bit. I felt at times that I was sitting there going “Really?! I’ve been reading for days and I’m only 50% of the way through?!” but I still enjoyed reading it so please don’t let this turn you off. Just be prepared that it’s a long book!

Thankyou again for reading, next week I will be reviewing “The Sheik’s Son” by Nicola Italia.

Bookworms Unite at ClunesBookTown

Clunes town pub

Hi All;

Today I got to enjoy my first experience with Clunes Book Town Festival 2018. I gota say, it was better than I was expecting! Especially for only $10 entry!

I haven’t been to Clunes since I was 14 and I spent 8 weeks living there as part of a school camp designed to try and make us grow up and prepare us for living on our own. I’m sure this worked for some people, but not for everyone! I was kinda a hit and miss success for this program and my time at Clunes had both good and bad memories. However it was great to be back there and remember the good times I had here.

Now I should probably mention that I kinda dragged my partner along with me so I would have someone to talk to while I was there. But he’s not a reader, so the poor guy got to sit on the curb while I poured through stall after stall searching for my goldmine trophies. Which given my limited budget had to be pretty special.

We arrived into Clunes coming over a picturesque little bridge with willows overhanging the river. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of this side however there’s a picture of the other side of the bridge for you below, hopefully that gives you an idea of how pretty this spot of the town is. Not that I remembered this from my time here 13 years ago.

Bridge into the town

We found a park in the first street we came across and made our way to the entrance to the main street of Clunes where the festival was set up in. As we made our way inside we were given a guidebook and I was immediately starstruck by all the book stalls and all the books piled up for sale. I pretty much immediately turned to my partner and said “and this is why my parents put me on a leash when I was a kid, so they wouldn’t loose me in amongst all the books”. To try and help me acclimate to all the books I found myself surrounded by we headed to the bakery I remember for having amazing rabbit pies. Unfortunately my dad’s request for a few went unsatisfied as it turns out they don’t make them anymore. Which immediately put me off having lunch there since I couldn’t get my customary rabbit and steak pie 🙁

However we got ourselves settled in with a hot chocolate for me and a cappuccino for my partner to plan out what we (me) wanted to do that day and what I wanted to try and achieve. This resulted on my inability to make a decision being shown yet again, so I settled on just walking up and down until I felt that I had seen everything I wanted to.

My first stop was with an author I hadn’t heard of before, C.E. Sundstrom and he told me a little bit about his books. It wasn’t enough to draw me in then and there however I couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d said about his books for the rest of the day. So much so that I HAD to see him again before I left for the day to grab a copy of his first book “Awakenings”. I will review this in the coming month and I look forward to finding out about the 2 women this series follows as I read it.

After speaking to Sundstrom I continued diving into the piles of books available in each stall and somehow managed to get a copy of Gone with the Wind for $2 and Wilbur Smith’s newest book, Pharoh for $5. Gone with the Wind I found in some tiny little stall at the very back of the classics pile and was pleasantly surprised when the woman running the stall only asked for $2, I was prepared to pay up to $5 for this one given it was second hand and a little worn. Whereas Pharoh REALLY surprised me for it’s price given it only came out last year and I paid $20 for it on my Kindle at the time it came out. But I needed a copy to go with the rest of the book series on my bookshelf.

Some of the books I bought

At this stage I decided to let me partner control the speed of what we were doing by finding some food for lunch. And boy did he find a winner! Not only did he find a traditional Vietnamese food stall for him to get an amazing pork bun roll, but he also found a paella stall for me. Unfortunately people were a little too eager for the paella and so they started selling it before it was actually ready, but let’s not focus on the food since we’re here to focus on the books!

The paella on offer for lunch

I was able to dive through all types of books to find the ones that really stood out for me. So if you’re thinking you’d like to go and see what they have to offer know that they have fiction, non-fiction, historical encyclopedia’s, books and novels as well as a range of kinds books and cookbooks among other themes.

After being allowed to trawl through some more books I decided it was time to treat my partner who’d had to drive me 2 hours there to ignore him and then drive me 2 hours home. So we went to the pub which we’d discovered earlier in the morning had an amazing beer garden, and we hung out there for a bit before we went on a Historical Tour of Clunes. This tour although not about books was pretty cool and I’ve got some pictures for you had some pretty cool facts about Clunes that made it really interesting. I’ve put a couple of photo’s below for you but to see the full range check out my Facebook page wher they are all uploaded for you to see.

The beer garden of the Clunes pub

If you’re interested in hearing more about the festival just comment your questions and I will happily answer them for you!

The Seven Steps to Closure – Donna Joy Usher

Welcome back, this week I read The Seven Steps To Closure by Donna Joy Usher. I started this book while on the plane back home after finishing up Bleddyn Hall and I wasn’t sure what I was going to make of this book because I’ve never read anything that started off with a heartbroken woman. But this was a surprisingly great book and had me hooked in so bad I stayed up until midnight two nights in a row even though I needed to get up for work at 6am. It was worth it though! It was worth crashing and being ridiculously tired the day after I finished the book at midnight, just so I could finish the book.

We started off with Tara who is heartbroken a yr after she left her husband after finding out he was cheating on her. With her cousin. At this stage she’s just had her 30th birthday and finds out her husband is already engaged to before she’s even received any divorce papers. What kind of a guy cheats on their wife, let alone with her cousin who she had previously been really close to?!

To try and help her get over Jake and allow her to regain control of her life, her 3 girlfriends encourage her to complete the 7 steps to closure from an article in Cosmo. Tara is a little hesitant to do this not thinking it would help. However she realizes that she needs all the help she can get at this stage an agrees to complete all 7 steps to closure. I’m sure most of us have been there at some point in our lives. And it sucks. The fact that she’s got 3 awesome girlfriends there to support her and help her get over her ex is amazing, and more than some people have when in similar situations.

The first 2 steps are really quite simple and I was surprised Tara hadn’t already done this as many woman will get a new haircut and wardrobe after a breakup to allow themselves to feel better and more empowered. But I gota say, I was surprised by step 4! Have meaningless sex. This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea and can go against some peoples beliefs and values so it can be really tricky. Plus if you don’t do this with the right type of guy it can even be detrimental to the healing process. So I’m kind of surprised that Cosmo would recommend women have meaningless sex!

Luckily Tara doesn’t sleep with just anyone and passes on a few guys that sounded really creepy. She is however committed to having meaningless sex and so goes out to have drunk meaningless sex. By the sound of what she remembers she found the right type of guy to do this with. And she seems to have held up well the morning after which was a relief to hear.

At this stage her friends give her her passport back so she can organise step 5, which is to take an adventurous holiday! Here I was thinking she’d be jetting off in like 3-6 months because that’s normally how long I’d spend organising a holiday since you need to get time off work, flights, hotels etc. I guess having one of her best friends as her boss meant she had more flexibility than most and could organise a holiday to head off in a few short weeks. Now me personally could never do this. My OCD and need to control details would leave me a stressed out wreck trying to organise a holiday on such short notice. But Tara manages it and jet’s off to India to stay with her ex-brother-in-law who also happens to hate Tara’s ex Jake.

Fate seems to have kicked in and on the way to India the guy sitting next to her keeps bumping into her, looking at her and overall making her feel uncomfortable. Until he tells her that he was her one night stand. At which point she becomes mortified, which had me feeling mortified along with her. Having to face your one night stand and having to admit that you couldn’t remember them aren’t exactly easy things to do. Luckily he seems pretty cool about it and even proposes that they do some sight seeing together. I started to get a little skeptical about Tara’s safety at this stage. Because to me this seems like a silly thing to do. Although that might just be because of all the crime based tv show’s I’ve watched where the careless girl inevitably gets kidnapped and/ or killed by the hot friendly guy she barely knows.

Good news is, while out with her ex-brother-in-law it turns out Matt is also friends with him. So he can’t be that bad! And after a turn of events Matt ends up having Tara tag along with him to see some of India’s sights. Along this trip there are some cringe-worthy moments where I really feel for Tara and I feel like she had to have ruined any chance of ticking off step number 6, have meaningful sex, with Matt. I mean, she got food poisoning and spent a night on the toilet which is bad enough as it is. To then have Matt offer to slide her book to her since she’s likely to be there and offer to put the TV on really loudly so she doesn’t feel as self-conscious has got to kill any feelings in that department, surely right?

And if that didn’t, you’d think tripping and landing on a pile of cow shit would definitely do it! Nope. Tara is one lucky girl where none of these things turn Matt off of her. And I sat there thinking, I couldn’t even get a kiss out of my partner when I went through this for almost a day and she gets sex and a relationship within a day of having food poisoning? Life is definitely not fair, and I found myself a little jealous that Tara could just jet off to India, meet a cute guy (ok technically it’s re-meet) on the plane and get to have her very own tour guide take her around to all the best places on just a few weeks or days notice!

And then when they got back to Sydney it all falls apart. And I gota say, I was secretly happy that this happened. Then started to feel bad when I found out that she had to publicly watch and hear how both her ex’s were moving on with their lives by getting married to other women.

With some encouragement from her friends, Tara ends up trying to crash Matt’s wedding to object to the marriage. Except she rocks up just a little bit late to then be hit in the leg with a golf ball from her ex husband Jake, to then swallow a bee who stung her tongue when she falls to the ground. Which meant that she needed an ambulance since her tongue and face became quite swollen. This really shows that she seems to get hit with the unlucky stick quite a lot. Which really allowed me to feel like I was her. Because I felt so similar to her.

And if she can get her happily ever after, maybe I can as well. Even if I am hard to get along with at times, seem to get hit with the unlucky stick quite a bit and that I don’t always find it easy to express how I feel and would rather withdraw and get away from what’s hurting me. So maybe I can learn to let go of my control like Tara did to really make the most of my life.

The next review will be for “His Fair Lady” by Kathleen Kirkwood. I look forward to seeing your then!

Feel free to comment below with your thoughts or feedback on this blog!

Bleddyn Hall – Amanda L.V. Shalaby

Bleddyn Hall is the first book in quite some time that I’ve read a historical romance novel. And pretty much all of these books have followed the same these. Girl is reluctant to get married because it puts her in a man’s control and her family have always allowed her freedoms most woman in that age (most of these books I read are regency romance ones) were allowed. However they meet/ reconnect with someone that loves them for themselves and they go through their courtship only to meet an obstacle (usually some silly rumour or misunderstanding) to then work things out and get married and live happily ever after.

Bleddyn Hall definitely doesn’t follow this theme! Yes, it has a girl who doesn’t want to marry for money or social standing. BUT Isabel is a very typical regency age woman. She strictly believes in polite society, social norms and is against anything that might be looked upon as “improper”. The only thing that makes her different to most regency age woman is that she wants to marry for love and is willing to marry down or to a poor man to ensure that she is loved.

Yet somehow the most handsome and eligible bachelor of the season falls almost immediately in love with her. How dos this happen? I can count the number of times I met the hottest, nicest guy of the night and had him fall instantly in love with me. Precisely 0 times. It just doesn’t happen! And what really frustrates me about most romance novels is when this happens without any real life drama.

The good thing Amanda has done here is that while writing from Isabel’s perspective and the occasional change to Tresham’s perspective is that neither want to fall instantly in love. Their internal dialogue (done from a third person perspective which I found weird and tricky to wrap my head around for the first quarter of the book) shows us that they admit there is an immediate attraction and lust between them. But neither of them want to jump into anything. Instead they get to know each other by talking, flirting and teasing one another. Which is something many people don’t do in this day and age, and it’s something that my partner and I get criticised for.

Over a series of weeks (because everything marriage wise seems to only need a month or so to decide upon in that age) Tresham proposes to Isabel and she accepts. As their families are celebrating the news, Tresham receives word that his father has suddenly passed away. As such he heads home the next day while his mother and twin younger sisters work on convincing Isabel to join them when they leave in a few days.

Now, I’m used to the usual sort of regency romance books was sitting there looking at the fact that I was only about a quarter of the way through the book thinking “what the hell could happen to throw a spanner in the works that is going to take 3/4 of the book to get over?” Because normally you don’t reach this stage until about 3/4 of the way through the book!

Boy was I in for a surprise! Turns out that there was a murder mystery underway at Bleddyn Hall and Tresham was the main target for. As Isabel was being ignored by her previously loving fiance I was left wondering why she would put up with it and why she wouldn’t just go back to her aunt and uncle in London. Surely if Tresham really loved Isabel he wouldn’t be so mean to her, even if he is distraught after the death of his father?!

I was proved wrong after Isabel and Tresham’s younger brother Clement started investigating what was happening themselves in secret after they discovered that a long forgotten brother Ewan was the cause of both murders. And surprisingly in the end it turns out Ewan is actually Tresham’s twin brother and had locked him away and was masquerading as him. Which explains why Tresham had been acting so odd compared to everything we knew about him up until his fathers death.

After a bit of planning, Isabel and Clement manage to get the key to Tresham’s cell and work to break him out. But not after two sinister encounters with Ewan where they needed to pretend like they didn’t know it was actually Ewan, and not Tresham. The first encounter with Ewan was Isabel taking breakfast in a sun room where Ewan unexpectedly joined her. Unfortunately, although Ewan starts of well imitating a gentleman he inevitably reverts to his nefarious ways and attempts to rape Isabel. Luckily Isabel is able to fight him off long enough for Clement and a couple of servants to come rushing in and ensure her safety in that moment.

After that encounter, Clement stays with Isabel and they rush to Clement’s father’s study to get the key to Tresham’s cell and then on to free him. Except as is normal at this point of the book, Ewan has a spy following them and quickly learns that they are in there and so anticipates something is happening. Luckily Clement knows of a secret tunnel from the study down to near the stables and helps Isabel fit through the passage.

This is where I found myself starting to really get into the book. I admit, up until this point I was only mildly interested in the story, however as soon as Isabel started to really solve mysteries my interest was piqued and I found myself drawn in. I started resenting needing to follow through with my plans and drive myself to the airport because I just wanted to know if they managed to save Tresham!

Good news is that they are successful. What I found quite amusing and found myself feeling smug about, as that while Isabel and Clement were freeing Tresham and Ewan was chasing after them. One of Ewan’s creditors finally catches up to him and kills him! Therefore making Isabel’s and Clement’s rescue of Tresham so much easier.

Then I was given a bit of a heart attach when Tresham calls Isabel to his study to discuss their engagement. The way he was talking I thought for sure he was going to end the engagement and mean that Isabel stayed, figured out what was happening and suffered his crazy brother for nothing! Luckily Tresham is just so proper he was trying to be understanding of what Isabel has gone through and give her the option to leave if she wanted.
Luckily she didn’t want that and they got married a few months later to then chaperone the twin sisters the following season to be reunited with their chosen men.

Now there are a number of other twists, cool facts and family secrets I haven’t mentioned. So if you like romantic murder mysteries there is still plenty of things for you to work out as you read the book.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this review so please comment below!

And the next book out of the rank is “The Seven Steps to Closure” by Donna Joy Usher.

Thirty-Eight Days – Len Webster

This book got me in so many ways that very few books do, and I love that it didn’t give me the typical happily ever after that so many romance books strive for. Which makes it unexpectedly engaging for someone like me who normally guesses what is going to happen before it happens. So let’s jump into the book now!

We start of with a memory of a young Noel and even younger Clara, as innocent as can be and as sweet as can be. At this stage I guessed the book was a boy (Noel) meets girl (Clara) and when they are older they move into a romantic relationship and live happily ever after!

Fast forward 15 yrs and we get to Noel who now lives in Boston and has been living in America since he graduated high school. At the time we get to him he’s preparing to take an 8-week holiday back to Melbourne, Australia with his best mate Alex. That is until Alex calls to tell him he can’t make it and wants Noel to go back to Melbourne as planned, but now he wants Noel to stay with his little sister to make sure she’s ok since going through a bad breakup. Noel ends up accepting for the sake of his best friend, since he has to stay in New York because of a court case he’s caught up in.

Then we move to Clara, and we will keep switching between Noel and Clara throughout the rest of the book. When we get to Clara we find her finishing up her final uni exams for the yr and looking forward to going home to wallow in her self-pity at being newly single. We find out that Clara considers herself a loner with no friends even though Annie, Stevie and Jarrod try to get her to open up to them and accept that she is a part of their friendship group.

Next thing Noel has arrived in Melbourne to sweltering heat and meets Liam while heading in to Clara’s apartment building. Liam chats to Noel and they hit it off as buddying bro-mance straight away. Liam mentions that there is a hot brunette living on the same level as Noel’s “mate” and Noel’s sexual interest is immediately peaked. Then of course, because Noel is a typical Aussie bloke, he puts his foot in his mouth because he hasn’t seen Alex’s little sister since he left for America. And turn’s out Clara has turned into a beautiful woman that Noel is instantly attracted to.

For the first half of the book Noel and Clara are fighting their attraction to each other and avoiding the other as much as possible. The final straw for this was when Noel forgot about Clara’s birthday after having a great dinner with her and leaving her to pay the bill herself and then walk home alone from Lygon Street while he catches up with his ex and then taking said ex back to Clara’s apartment to have sex with her while Clara ends up sleeping outside in the courtyard to avoid hearing them.

This mistake does however tip Clara over into being mad at Noel and that forces Noel to kiss Clara as an explanation of why he’s been so awful to her for so long. Now I don’t know about you, but if I was yelling at the guy I like coz he’s been a complete ass hole then I’d be even more pissed off if he then tried to kiss me. And yet Clara has the poise and control I don’t, and she simply turns around and walks out of her apartment to get away from Noel.

The next 30 odd percent of the book seems like everything is going well once Noel rescues Clara from a dive bar. They are super in love, doing cute dates, Noel even goes out of his way to show Clara how much he loves her by finding a trinket he bought for her before she was even born. The final 2 days before all hells breaks loose we know Noel spends the day making phone calls. Now they never actually confirm what these calls were, but I think that they were calls to his boss’s in America to resign, to his landlord to end his lease and to organise for all his stuff to be moved as well as to start the search for a job in Melbourne.

What we do find out at the end of the following day is that he organised a custom-made engagement ring for Clara that truly represents their love. Only to have Clara end it because she won’t let Noel explain what happened when she was told a lie by a spiteful ex and saw another ex kissing Noel for a split second. We get to hear how both Noel and Clara handle this heartbreak and I found myself wondering how and when they’d make up as I crept closer and closer to the end of the book. By the time I got to 90% complete with Clara dating Liam and Noel planning to ask some new girl in Boston out I found myself wondering what miracle would happen to bring them together for their happily ever after.

Only to find out that they don’t have one in this book! My first thought was “thank god! It’s not another sappy love story. It has a girl too afraid to really let people in who just want to be her friend, let alone want to love her. And she’s learnt how to protect herself from others”. However, at the same time I couldn’t help but feel that this resonated with me.

I’ve always been fearful of letting others in, of sharing secrets about myself and who I really am in case these get used against me to hurt me. And it made me reconsider if Clara is only setting herself up for more pain by doing this. Whereas Noel was ready to open himself to this pain and got burnt. But he accepted this and is doing the best he can to move on and mend his broken heart. And this is what I will take from this book.

But stay tuned for book number 2! Because turns out this is just the first book and Noel and Clara’s story isn’t over yet! But next week I will be reviewing “Bleddyn Hall” by Amanda L.V. Shalaby.

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