Hideaway in Iceland – Victoria Walker

Anna is a hot shot PR professional based in London, she knows who she is and what she’s worth and she makes sure things go to plan. Being a strong, independent woman; she’s capable of facing off any challenge to make her life the best it can be.

Ned has just left the boyband he’s been a part of for the past decade and he’s figuring out what to do with his life now. Leaving behind everything he’s known before; he’s taking the time to figure out how to navigate life and relationships without a team of people and his bandmates there to support him. All the while trying to keep out of the paparazzi’s way.

Anna and Ned run into each other at the wedding for one of Ned’s ex-bandmates while still in the UK. After the events surrounding the wedding, both Anna and Ned find their way to Iceland where they bump into each other again.

When the chance encounters continue to happen, they decide to explore the attraction they both feel. Over the span of a few months, with a few bumpy points along the way, they figure out exactly what it is they’re feeling between themselves.

I had such an amazing time reading this. The descriptions of Iceland and Reykjavik were so magical I just wanted to hop on a plane to visit.

As I was reading this, I got the sense that Rachel and Jonas had had a book of their own prior to Anna and Ned’s story, and I was right. So, if you do like these fairly sweet but emotionally complex romances set in beautiful scenery, then you might like that (judging by how much I liked this book). While you don’t need to read Rachel and Jonas’ book to enjoy this, if you like to read a series in order, just be aware that this isn’t the first book in the series.

While there were a few things that I confused me (Brun and Olafur for instance, took me ¾ of the book to realise they were two different men!), overall I just had a great time enjoying the romance in a beautiful location.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Victoria Walker has been writing romantic fiction since a visit to Iceland in 2014 inspired her first novel. As well as writing, she spends her free time dressmaking, knitting and reading an inordinate amount of contemporary romance, occasionally punctuated by the odd psychological thriller and saga.

In the past she has worked as a cinema projectionist, a knitting and sewing tutor and has owned a yarn store, all things which will no doubt appear in her books if they haven’t already.

Victoria lives in the Malvern Hills with her husband and occasionally her two adult children.

Two for Charging – Lasairiona E. McMaster

This book contains:

  • Divorce
  • Adultery
  • Teenage pregnancy, including father walking away
  • References to drug use (steroids).

Elliott is the coach of the Snow Pirates and has been for quite some time. After attempting to make it to the NHL, he came home in his 20s to coach and develop the next generations of hockey players. After discovering his wife was cheating on him and that she never wanted children, they got divorced leaving him in a sad apartment trying to move on with his life.

Clare is a single mum of two kids by two different fathers. While her daughter was the result of a high school pregnancy, she thought her son would be raised with his father, her husband in the picture. Unfortunately, he cheated on her with his secretary and apparently had been doing so for most of their marriage, so Clare is left just trying to keep the family running with little time for herself.

Elliott and Clare reconnect after two decades apart, and while they both seem to have an interest in the other, they each have their own reservations about when and how to proceed. As they muddle through relationships when there are children involved, they also need to cope with their individual family dramas and how to navigate those when there’s another party wanting to be included in their lives.

I’m really glad Las changed this book from Seb to Elliott. Not because I’ve got anything against Seb, just because Elliott and Clare’s story had so much depth and emotion in it that it was just the perfect ending to the Snow Pirate’s series.

I really enjoyed the flashbacks from Elliott’s perspective as it gave us insight into what happened to them in their past, even if it meant one of my guesses about what happened was wrong. While Clare had her own moments of flashbacks, I feel like I got more of an emotional understanding about Elliott from his than I did about Clare in hers.

Also, I clearly misinterpreted what Kenzie’s home was like based on the descriptions of Clare’s. Given how close it sounded like they lived, the lack of yard etc for Kenzie, I honestly thought they were in like little town houses, side by side duplex or condos (I know in my mind what I mean, in Australia we’d call it a town house or unit). Yet Clare has a full-on yard, two story house and a laundry big enough to get busy in. So clearly, I was wrong!

Overall, a great end to the season and I’m really looking forward to Two for Taco’s that comes out in December!

Hot Desk – Zara Stoneley

This book contains:

  • Depicts life after COVID-19 lockdown
  • Minor unwanted advances appropriately handled and stopped
  • Minor child custody dispute.

Alice is excited to return to work after the second COVID-19 lockdown. She’s desperate to return to some form of normalcy and gain some of her own space back. She’s the second youngest of four sisters who lived under each other’s feet until she finally moved out after uni. At which point she moved into a share house with 4 roommates, got a boyfriend who didn’t mind rearranging and disposing of her possessions and her younger sister kept helping herself to her clothes.

Jamie is a bit of a mystery to us. He sits opposite Alice every day at work, seems to irritate her no end and has questionable tastes in women.

After the second COVID-19 lockdown, We Got Designs has returned to the office. Unfortunately, they’ve lost several clients and things are tight financially now. They make a deal with another company to share their office space and have their staff job share their desks with a hot desk policy.

They’re pairing up staff to share a desk on alternate days to help reduce costs without laying off staff. For Alice, she’s been assigned to share a desk with Jamie and lose yet another bit of personal space.

My first thought is that this is THE FIRST BOOK since the COVID pandemic started that actually talked about it. While I know it hasn’t been easy for people (my city has been in lockdown for more than 260 days between April 2020 and November 2021, when I wrote this review, yes I know, major delay in writing this and releasing it, sorry!), I can’t believe that by November 2021 this is the first time any book I’ve read has mentioned the pandemic. I mean, it’s a GLOBAL pandemic that has affected million and millions of people in all sorts of unimaginable ways.

How has no book before this even mentioned masks, social distancing, forced working from home, mass deaths or just generally the way our lives have changed?

I love that the whole premise of this romance was how COVID impacted us, changed us and what we’ve learnt about ourselves and our loved ones. While I know there are lots of ways to address this, I loved how this based those learnings on something that almost all of us can relate to.

Being forced to stay at home for a period of time due to a pandemic. Isolated from everyone except those we share a home with. Not to mention the fear and panic I’m sure many of us felt during this time. It was so refreshing and I’m so grateful we’ll have at least one book out there that depicts the realities we’ve all faced over the past two years.

Meet Me on Platform 3 – Zara Stoneley

This book contains:

  • Mention of abortion
  • References to and discussion about the death of a loved one/parent.

Millie and Joe both grew up on the Moors in Northumbria (northern England region) but dreamed of moving to London and being successful. While Millie pursued London despite the setbacks that seemed to make it as difficult as possible, Joe was supported by his family every step of the way.

As a writer, Millie’s security in London is only as good as her last piece of work. And recently that’s been questionable. Joe on the other hand works in a more solid industry where contracts often run longer than initially intended but working for a company that contracts him out means he could be sent somewhere other than London at the end of any project.

Millie, literally, walks into Joe and has such a sweet meet-cute she has to include meeting him in her next weekly column. She just needs to make it funnier.

As it turns out, readers of her column love the meet cute and want more of Joe which means Millie’s now on a mission to find Joe again even though she has no idea what train he was getting when she bumped into him, if he regularly gets the train on a Thursday or Friday (if at all) and if there’s any chance of seeing him again.

I smashed through this on holidays (while recovering from being horribly ill, who needs that on a holiday?) enjoying almost every minute of it. The little bit’s I didn’t enjoy so much are the bit’s you’re not meant to, because they add drama. So, it was totally fine!

Not only were both characters highly cute and sweet, but they also had depth in their flaws as they tried to find a way to work together. Since I’m not usually a fan of sweet romances, that depth and complexity added the little spicy-ness I needed to truly enjoy a romance set on the train lines of England.

I think the only thing that confused me a little as I was reading it was how the train systems worked. Sometimes if they didn’t get their train it meant they’d be without a ticket for a later train, but other times it was fine if they just waited for a later one?

That little detail probably wouldn’t be so obvious if I didn’t pretty much read the entire book in one sitting, but I did so I noticed it. If those tiny little things don’t bother you as you read your latest romance fix, then you’ll be totally fine to enjoy a sweet but complex romance.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

USA Today bestselling author Zara Stoneley was born in a small village in the UK. She wanted to be a female James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up.

After many (many) years, and many different jobs, her dream of writing a bestseller came true, and more than half a million copies of her books have now been sold worldwide.

She writes about friendship, dreams, love, and happy ever afters, and hopes that her tales make you laugh a lot, cry a little, and occasionally say ‘ahhh’.

Two for Tripping – Lasairiona E. McMaster

This book contains:

  • References to and descriptions of statutory rape/assault and their after effects
  • Minor discussion on the effect of teen abortions
  • Slut shaming (calling out and not allowing this behaviour to continue).

Will is the older brother of Molly and best from of Finn from Two for Roughing, and after that book, it’s hard to think about how we could possibly want to root for Will to get his own happily ever after. If you haven’t read that one, you really need to read it before jumping into this one otherwise you won’t get the full emotional impact Lasairiona gives us in this roller coaster.

Quin is a character that’s been referenced in previous books, but not someone we really know anything about just yet. While we find out that she’s confident and knows what she wants out of life, she’s also highly conflicted in ways that don’t quite make sense until we get to know her better.

Quin saves Will from random girls hitting on him while at her weekly karaoke session, and unintentionally falls into “bed” with him. The guy she’s had a crush on for a few months but somehow lost his number after he gave it to her and so thought he was gone for good.

Only problem is, Will goes on to slut shame her and since it’s not his first offence, things seem pretty dicey until we get to know Will better. As Quin can’t keep herself away from Will, we inevitably learn more about him and somehow we go from hating his guts in Two for Roughing, to somehow rooting for him, disbelief at what he’s gone through and a sincere hatred for an unexpected character.

I really enjoyed this, despite not wanting to. While I was warned from Lasairiona’s emails that we’d like Will by the end of this book, I was sceptical coz I just didn’t think anything could make up for how Will had behaved previously. And yet, she pulled it off!

We also got such a cute little throw back to Austin which made my heart sing just a little. I loved his character from Two for Boarding (the previous book), so reading him make the appearance he did made me happy. Even if it was only for that very short moment in time!

But you should also be prepared for either tissues or a punching bag to get out all the emotions you’ll feel by the end. If you don’t have those handy, I don’t recommend going past like… the first third of the book?

It’s an amazing read, breaking stereotypes while also highlighting the very real and scary side of society and what humans can be capable of. I also highly recommend reading Lasairiona’s acknowledgement at the end to understand why Will’s character was so important to her.

Two for Boarding – Lasairiona E. McMaster

This book contains:

  • Domestic violence
  • BDSM – pleasure Dom (see Goodreads for description of what this includes).

Kenzie is a kick ass, strong, confident woman who’s joined the Snow Pirates as their team physio. And yet, her past that no one really seems to know much about has shaped who she is now and has left lasting emotional scars that she has to try and overcome on a daily basis.

Austin is a quiet guy who keeps his private life private, while still being there to support his teammates however he can. His last Sub left him unexpectedly leaving him unsure of himself with his confidence severely beaten, not that he’ll let anyone else know.

Kenzie and Austin meet at the rink and instantly have a connection almost straight away, not that they do anything to explore it at the time. When Kenzie’s friends bring her to a BDSM club for a fun night out, Austin happens to be there at the same time, and they spend some time chatting. While Kenzie’s innocence is hard to miss, Austin does his best to explain the rules of BDSM and the club without scaring Kenzie.

As time goes on, Kenzie and Austin connect and slowly get to know each other while exploring Austin’s BDSM preferences while finding out what Kenzie enjoys as well.

One thing Lasairiona doesn’t shy away from is the various ways in which couples can enjoy each other. In every book she writes she includes these details, and in this case, the intricacies around BDSM.

I’m sure by now most of us know about 50 Shades of Grey, and therefore have a particular view as to what BDSM is all about. Well in Austin’s case, he’s nothing like that!

By exploring BDSM through Austin introducing Kenzie to it, Lasairiona shows us a completely different view that I think is much healthier for everyone involved. Not only is Austin able to explore his own emotional vulnerabilities, but he’s also able to support Kenzie through her own challenges in a way that ensures she’s safe and loved while coming to grips with her own trauma’s.

If you’re not info sexy books or public displays, you might struggle with elements of this book, but I still think you should read it. It left me with such a powerful feeling at the end, one that I can’t quite describe but still left a lasting impact, that I think you should read this to explore those themes.

Two for Roughing – Lasairiona E. McMaster

This book contains:

  • References and discusses domestic violence against a child
  • References and discusses death of a child
  • References and discusses the impact of grief.

Molly is the little sister of the Snow Pirates captain who we’ve met in the previous two books. She’s outspoken, she’s confident and she doesn’t apologise to anyone about who she is and who she’s attracted to. The only problem she has that she struggles with is that she’s in love with Finn who’s totally, 100% off limits since he’s her brother’s best friend and also on the Snow Pirates.

Finn is set to graduate college and the Snow Pirates are on track to win the season. Except it’s getting harder and harder for him to hide his love for Molly who is absolutely off limits since she’s his best friend’s sister. His best friend and his family took him in when his parents couldn’t cope with the death of his brother (something he still struggles with today) and he definitely doesn’t want to lose the only family he has left.

Molly and Finn’s history spans years. Right back to when they first met back in high school.

With a mix of how they’re handling their attraction now, and flashbacks to the past to explain how and why things are happening now, we watch them come so close but not quite get together. Until they do and then hell seems to break lose as they try and navigate whether they even work without Will finding out and ruining their good thing.

While I really loved this book (forbidden romance is always interesting to me), there was one element I wished was explored more. Molly is very sexually open and happy to explore limits, and Finn loves her as she is and has his own fantasies. Yet this is really only very briefly explored in the very last chapter/epilogue in the most basic way.

I kinda wish their sexual freedom and kinks had been explored more within the story. I got a sense that rather than allowing them to be who they were, they were being pushed to stay in the “mainstream” idea of a relationship. Which given how adamant Molly is that she lives her life how she wants, it just felt wrong in a way.

That’s not to say that their relationship development wasn’t awesome. I just wish the sexual side of the relationship had have reflected who it felt like they were a bit better.

The Only Exception – Claire Huston

This book contains:

  • Serious cardiac event of a minor character
  • Invasion of privacy (online/background search).

Lucinda is a chef with her own catering business with serious doubts about the concept of love even though she’s previously been engaged (to the man she’s still sharing a house with). And yet, for all her convictions, romance seems to find its way into her life at every turn.

Alex is an actor living with his girlfriend who annoys him to no ends. And yet, he can never bring himself to do anything about it.

Lucinda and Alex meet in an elevator where a freak cardiac event draws them together in ways they couldn’t expect. While Lucinda is trying to keep her business running smoothly after losing a key client, Alex is trying to get over some unwanted notoriety and extricate himself from his tiring relationship.

I had such a strong feeling for a significant portion of this book that cheating was going to happen and I was really nervous about that. I really didn’t want it to happen, but at the same time it felt like Lucinda and Alex needed to be together.

Luckily that never happened, so no need to fear there!

Instead, I was treated to a “will they – won’t they” feeling romance as they navigated their complicated situations while trying to save both their careers and domestic lives. The nervous adrenaline I was feeling as I read this meant I skipped uni work just to find out what would happen because I knew I wouldn’t be able to focus if I didn’t find out.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Claire Huston lives in Warwickshire with her husband and two children. She writes uplifting modern love stories about characters who are meant for each other but sometimes need a little help to realise it.

A keen amateur baker, she enjoys making cakes, biscuits and brownies almost as much as eating them. You can find recipes for over a hundred sweet treats at clairehuston.co.uk. This is also where she talks about and reviews books.

It’s a Widow Thing – Karen Booth

This book contains:

  • Description of a deceased spouse
  • Description of an active heart attack and some of the recovery.

Sabrina is a successful businesswoman running her own make up company. Two years after the death of her beloved husband, she’s still going strong but can struggle when people talk about her husband or his death.

Michael is a flirtatious, successful finance guy who works on Wall Street in a job he hates. Yet, after having a health scare, he’s changed his mind about relationships and hopes he’s found the right woman to match him.

Sabrina and Michael live down the hall from each other and ride the elevator together every morning. After a fateful kiss, they need to figure out both separately and together whether a relationship is what’s best for them. Not to mention tackling ongoing work challenges that will continue to put pressure on their relationship!

In so many ways I really loved this love story. Michael was so considerate of Sabrina’s need for a slow pace and then everything he was doing to try and put her at ease once he discovered she’s a widow. That consideration is something every person should be able to extend to another.

There was one particular moment where I felt for Sabrina SO MUCH! As I was reading that scene, I was desperately holding my Kindle wishing for a particular outcome to happen.

That ability to captivate your attention and sucker you in until you feel like you can will a certain outcome to happen is exactly what you want from authors. You want to feel as if you’re part of the story and you can influence. But we also know it’s already written, and we can’t.

I think this was the first romance I read where the widow was under 50 and I loved the different take on how it impacts your life.

Continue to read further down to find out about the author.

Author Bio

Karen Booth is a midwestern girl transplanted in the South, raised on ’80s music and repeated readings of “Forever” by Judy Blume. Karen writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, almost always about the dreamy guy you never thought you’d get. Her stories are full of breathless kisses, tearjerker moments, family dynamics, and more than a few things she’s glad her grandmother never read.

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