Recommendsday

May Quick Reviews

It’s the first day of June – but it’s also a Wednesday so it’s time for some more quick reviews. This is a somewhat shorter post than usual this month (who knew that was even possible) because I’ve already talked about so many of the books that I read that weren’t rereads. But I have still managed to find some books to talk about! However I would say this is very much a post of books where I have a but in my thoughts about them!

Jumping Jenny by Anthony Berkeley

So this was one I started when I was working on the British Library Crime Classic post and didn’t get finished in time because I got distracted by rereading Vicky Bliss! Anyway, this is another Roger Sheringham mystery (the next in the series after Murder in the Basement in fact) and is quite hard to write about without giving more spoilers than I should. Roger is attending a fancy dress house party where the theme is murderers when the horrible wife of one of the other guests is found murdered. Berkeley enjoyed playing with the genre and genre conventions – and if in Body in the Basement you spent a lot of the book trying to find out who the body is, in this he is playing with another aspect of the genre. I didn’t find it entirely satisfying and it’s not quite playing fair with the rules of the time either and that’s about all I can say – but if you read it you’ll probably be able to work out what my issues are. Aside from the spoilers issues, I’m not sure that Berkeley really liked women, but there are quite a few like that from his era so that’s not entirely unexpected.

Set on You by Amy Lea*

I read this in an incredibly busy week of new books so this got skipped at the time because I didn’t love it the way that I loved Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting or Book Lovers. Crystal is a successful curvy fitness influencer, Scott is her gym nemesis. But when her grandmother announces she’s getting remarried, it turns out that Scott is about to be part of the family. In the run up to the wedding the two grow closer, until the internet threatens to tear them apart. This is a romantic comedy where I liked the characters and I liked some aspects of the way their romance unfolded – but the start of the novel where they’re irritating each other didn’t work for me – and some of the resolution of it didn’t work for me either. But we know I have issues with pranks in novels (see previous reviews for some of the early Christina Laurens) but in between there was flirty, romantic fun with a main character who has more going on that just the romance, and a hero who is just about adorable once you find out what he is really like. Also I really liked the extended families. I will definitely watch out for more from Amy Lea.

Hotel Magnifique by Emily J Taylor*

I also just wanted to give a mention to Hotel Magnifique – which was not for me but I’m sure will suit other people. Jani and her sister get jobs at the magical Hotel Magnifique because Jani thinks it’s the way to a better future for them and an adventure as it moves from place to place each day. But behind the doors of the hotel, things are not what they seem and soon Jani is fighting to free herself, her sister and the other staff from the Magic. I was hoping for something similar to the Night Circus but YA and although it starts like that, it’s not how it carries on. I found the heroine quite hard to like, the magic is hard to understand and it all gets a bit brutal. The closest I can get for a description is the closest I can get is Dystopian YA Magic. And that’s still not quite right. I see some people comparing it to Caravel but it’s hard to tell without having read that. This has reminded me thatI really do need to try and read Caravel…

And that’s your lot. It’s a bank holiday here tomorrow, but you’ll get your stats as usual.

romance, women's fiction

New release: Book Lovers

I said on Tuesday that last week had been a good one for reading new stuff, and it was because here I am again with a new release that’s perfect for reading while sitting on a beach – or more likely in the garden (if the sunshine lasts).

Emily Henry’s new novel is about a New York book editor, who keeps getting dumped when here boyfriends go on business trips to small towns and fall in love. Nora is the before woman. When her sister drags her to a small town in North Carolina to spend a month, she encounters Charlie – her work nemesis. He’s the editing equivalent of her, but he turned down her biggest novel and she’s not over it. And they keep bumping into each other…

And it’s delightful. As you can probably tell, it’s a book for people who love reading romances and seeing someone do something different with the tropes and archetypes. It’s a romance, but it’s closer to the woman’s fiction end of the spectrum because Nora has some issues of her own to deal with and that along with her relationship with her sister takes up almost as much time as the romance does. It will probably make you cry, you will probably worry if there’s going to be a happy ending but it’s worth it in the end, even if I wanted a slightly longer epilogue (what’s new!).

My copy came from NetGalley, but Book Lovers is out today in paperback – it came out on Kindle and Kobo on the 3rd – because release dates are confusing and annoying. Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, romance

Book of the Week: Count Your Lucky Stars

Did I finish this on Monday? Yes. Am I breaking my rules? Absolutely. Is this perfect? No, but it’s a lot of fun and the issues I have will the last quarter are not uncommon. So this weeks BotW is Alexandria Bellefleur’s Count Your Lucky Stars

This is the third in the Count Your Lucky Stars series – which I’ve read two of now and have the first one waiting to be read at some point in the Misty future when I remember about it. Anyway, this is a second chance romance between Olivia and Margot, who were best friends in high school that turned into something more for a week and then… wasn’t. Now a decade later they meet again because Olivia is planning Margot’s best friend’s wedding. And then Margot accidentally offers Olivia somewhere to stay after Olivia’s apartment is flooded and then it all gets complicated.

Now as I said at the top, for 75 percent of this I was all in. A lot of Margot and Olivia’s issues could be solved by a proper conversation and they had that and I was looking forward to the big finish and then… they had another big misunderstanding/problem that could have been fixed by having a conversation but the author decided to make that impossible. And I get it, I do. You need tension and a final resolution, except that it sort of already felt like a final resolution had happened and I was wondering if the book was going to have a preview of another book as the final ten percent because it felt like it was wrapping up. But it wasn’t. And it still left a plot thread sort of hanging in the resolution. And I realise that now I sound like I didn’t like this, but I actually did. There is witty dialogue and a fun group of friends and an amusing cat. I just wanted them to have a conversation to sort stuff out!

Anyway, I know that usually I’m complaining about romances wrapping up too quickly and here I am sort of grousing about one that doesn’t do that, but hey, I’m allowed to be inconsistent. This is a fun contemporary romance with a nice group of central characters and a cat. What’s not to enjoy.

My copy came from the library, but it’s out now on Kindle and Kobo and in paperback – Foyles even have it in stock in some stores.

Happy Reading!

Book of the Week, romance, romantic comedy

Book of the Week: Roomies

Back with contemporary romance this week, because it’s only been two months since Death Goes on Skis was BotW so I can’t do Nancy Spain again yet, but don’t worry I will find a way to talk about Poison for Teacher, and this Christina Lauren is a good one too!

The heroine of Roomies is Holland, a MFA graduate who finds herself somewhat adrift after her muse deserts her. Instead of writing she’s working for her uncle, who has written the latest Broadway smash, and has a huge crush on a guitarist she’s heard busking in the subway. When Holland helps Calvin to get his big break, it turns out that his student visa is long expired and his chance to shine may be out of reach after all. So Holland offers to marry him, and so begins their attempt to keep him in New York and fool The Powers That Be that theirs is a genuine relationship. But as they live together in Holland’s apartment and find out more about each other, who is actually fooling who and is this relationship turning real?

Marriages of convenience are one of my favourite historical romance tropes, but you don’t get a lot of them in contemporary romance, so when you find one it’s a real treat. This is a bit slow to get started – I think because Holland’s infatuation with Calvin before she knew him made me a little uncomfortable, but once it does click it’s a lot of fun. There is a good group of supporting characters – Holland’s uncles are lovely and her boss is awful – and watching Holland figure out who she is and what she wants is a good counterpart to the romance. Christina Lauren’s books can sometimes be too cringe or have leading character that are too unprofessional for me to deal with, but Roomies manages to stick on the right side of that – just. It all wraps up a little quickly, and I wanted a little bit more closure on a few things, but all in all it was a lovely way to spend an afternoon.

My copy of Roomies came from the library, but it’s out now and you can get it on Kindle and Kobo and the paperback looks like it may be relatively easy to get hold of.

Happy Reading!

book round-ups, Recommendsday

Recommendsday: March Quick reviews

Another month, another batch of mini reviews. I’ve already written about so many books this month, I was almost surprised that I had anything left to write about, and yet here are three more…

Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomons

Ari is a weather presenter at a Seattle TV station. Russell is one of the station’s sport reporters. Both of them are being driven mad by their bosses. Ari wants Torrence – the station’s star meterologist – to give her more mentoring but Torrence is too distracted by fighting with her ex husband – the station’s news director Seth. Russell wants off the college sports beat and onto pro sports, but Seth is paying too much attention to his fight with his exwife to take him seriously. After a disastrous Christmas party, Ari and Russell decide to team up to try and get Torrence and Seth back together. But over the course of their plan, the two of them end up spending a lot of time together too… I liked this a lot more than I liked the first book in the series – for some reason the romance in this just clicked for me. Ari and Russell make a great couple and each of them have valid reasons for avoiding relationships, but they work through them like sensible people (for the most part) rather than having dramatic Big Misunderstandings all the time. I also loved the fact that it had a Jewish hero and heroine – which is something I’d like to read more of! Lots of fun – would probably have been BotW if I hadn’t read Better Luck Next Time the same week.

With Love from Rose Bend by Naima Simone*

Owen is a former football player in hiding from the world after the accident that caused him to call time on his career. Leo is hiding from adult relationships by being constantly busy running her family’s business. Leo wants Owen to judge a contest at a town festival – but when she turned up at his house to ask him, she realises he’s the man she has a steamy one night stand with a year ago. And it gets slightly more complicated than that as a fake relationship element is added to the mix too. I’ve mentioned before that I like a sports romance and I also like a competent heroine and this ticked my noses in that front. Lovey weekend afternoon reading!

Sex Cult Nun by Faith Jones

Now this is a weird one. I’ve included it here because I think some of you will have seen it on my lists and known exactly why I was reading it – my ongoing interest in weird religious stuff -and wondered why I haven’t written about it’s so now I am and here is your answer: it is brutal. It’s bleak. It’s filled with child abuse, child sexual abuse, sexual abuse, neglect. But it’s also not as well written as say Educated and I don’t think the author has really come to terms with what happened to her, so it doesn’t actually really get you anywhere or give you a takeaway at the end. So it ends up just being a lot of really grim abuse without as much breaking away from it as you want/expect/hope.

And that’s the lot – and I know that’s a bit of a downbeat note to end on, but I couldn’t make any other order of the reviews feel any better!

Book of the Week, romance

Book of the Week: A Thorn in the Saddle

I mean it’s only a few weeks since I wrote a whole post about romances on ranches, and here I am recommending another one! You wait ages for a a cowboy and then a while load of them come along at once!

Lily-Grace and Jesse went to school together, but she skipped town for the bright lights of tech startups as soon and she could and he stayed at home to help run his family’s luxury dude ranch and look after his siblings while his parents were away acting. Jesse has never really had time for relationships – and the ones he’s tried have gone badly – but he’s been approached to run for public office, so that single status might have to change. Lily-Grace is back in town after a breakup and after Jesse decides that Lily-Grace’s dad can’t date his grandmother she gives him what for. But when she sees his shy and awkward side at a community event, she offers to help him. And you know where this is going!

This is the third in Rebekah Weatherspoon’s Cowboys of California series and this one is a Beauty and the Beast sort of thing, with a side order of a sexually inexperienced hero to boot. I was a bit worried at the start with where it was going with Jesse’s anger issues – but actually it’s more boundary issues and the fact that he’s had to take on a parental role to everyone and never had the chance to have any fun. I really enjoyed the way his nurturing side came out as his relationship with Lila-Grace continued.

This at the higher end of the middle of Rebekah Weatherspoon’s steam and peril range. Yes I know that sounds confusing. I would say this is closer to the heat levels of Rafe than the other books in the series as and it also has a little more of a suspense-y peril element, but no where near as dramatic as her actual suspense stuff. But mostly it’s just a fun way to pass a few hours reading about a couple of people falling in love in a low-key money is no object sort of way. Oh and there are horses. And that was just what I fancied last week.

My copy of A Thorn in the Saddle came from the library but it’s out now on Kindle and Kobo and in paperback – although I suspect if you want it in paperback you’re likely to have to order it from Amazon.

Book of the Week

Book of the Week: The Family You Make

As I mentioned in Friday’s bingeable post, I read the new Jill Shalvis last week and although I finished it at the start of the week, somehow I knew it would be the pick, so I wrote this. And thank goodness I did because: covid.

When Levi Cutler gets stuck in a ski gondola in a snowstorm, his only companion is a mysterious stranger called Jane. When he calls his parents to say goodbye, he can’t bring himself to do it and instead lets his mum think he is happily settled and Jane is is girlfriend. But they survive. And now Levi’s family want to meet this girlfriend that he’s so happy with. Thus starts a fake relationship and off we go on one of my favourite tropes! Jane had a traumatic childhood and keeps people at a distance – that’s why she’s a travelling nurse who moves from trouble spot to trouble spot, stopping only to work the ski season near Lake Tahoe. The only person she has let get close to her (even if she won’t admit it) is Charlotte, her landlady and another fiercely independent woman who likes to keep other people at a distance. Charlotte definitely doesn’t need any help from anyone – especially not her annoying neighbour and co-worker Matteo…

I absolutely raced through this – it’s one of my favourite of Shalvis’ for a while. I haven’t always loved her Wildstone series, but this felt much more my sort of thing. I liked the primary and secondary romances and thought they both got about the right amount of time – too much plot in not enough time has been a recent problem for me with Shalvis – and and I liked the parallels between Jane and Charlotte’s lives and attitudes to relationships. And their different heroes are pretty good too. Plus Levi’s family is entertaining side show – I mean who doesn’t love meddling relatives – and it all ends on a nice heartwarming note. Plus it’s a ski resort romance that *isn’t* set at Christmas – which is a really rare find! There’s a sequel out at the end of June and I’mooming forward to reading it already.

My copy of The Family You Make came from the library, but it’s out now on Kindle and Kobo and paperback, although as ever I’m not sure how easy the paperback will be to find – Foyles have it available to order (but not click and collect) but it looks like a supermarket sort of book, but I haven’t been into a big Tesco for a couple of years right now, so I guess we won’t know until it turns up in The Works in six months time (or not)!

Happy Reading!

binge reads

Bingeable series: Fool’s Gold

I finished the new Jill Shalvis this week and it got me to thinking about reliable romance authors, which got me thinking about when the next Susan Mallery is due out (turns out there was a woman’s fiction novel that came out on Tuesday and there is another non-series title out in May before the next wishing tree in October) which made me think that Susan Mallery’s Fool’s Gold series makes for an excellent binge read. And so here we are. You’ve had an insight into the way my mind works, so now on to the books!

Fool’s Gold is a small town romance series set in a community at the foot of the Sierra Nevada hills. Across the series you’ll find an above average number of world class athletes living there and also that it’s big enough to have its own radio station – but this is small town romance, all such things are allowed. In the first in the series, the town is short of men and heroine is a city planner brought in by the town’s Mayor, Marsha (who is a great recurring character through the series, a bit like a fairy godmother), to try and bring things around. There are 20 books in the series and they come in groups. So in the first book you get meet the character who will feature in the next couple and then you move to a fresh group of people. You get the idea. It’s charming.

Looking back through my reviews, there are more pregnancy/baby plots that I would usually go for, but they are all still fun. I think my favourite set are the three books about the Hendrix triplets, but I also like the set about the ex NFL players and their business. Anyway, there are 20 full length books to chose from as well as about the same again in novellas – all of which means you can have a good old binge on them. And it looks like they’ve all had a bit of a cover redesign since I last read them too – I suspect because of the success of Virgin River on Netflix and people looking for similar books to read.

My goodreads ratings for these are fairly consistent – I’m not giving any five stars, but they’re mostly threes, with a few fours and they only drop off towards the tail end of the twenty. In fact romance series like this make for a perfect binge to be honest. When I was writing about Sookie Stackhouse last week I talked about spotting the formula. Well you don’t have that problem with a series like this – because each book is about a new couple and you can do different tropes each time. You don’t even need to read them in order because it’s different characters in each book. The only thing that’s going to happen is spoilers for previous books when you encounter them in their happily ever afters – but as you know from the blurb of a romance that they’re going to end up together, that’s not much of a spoiler really! As long as the writing and the characters are good you’re all set for many happy hours of reading.

book round-ups, Recommendsday, romance

Recommendsday: Romances on Ranches!

Now I said in yesterday’s post about Better Luck Next Time that it is not a romance. And I absolutely standby that. But I know that a lot of people who read my blog read romances, so for Recommendsday today here are three books set on ranches that *are* romances!

If the Boot Fits by Rebekah Weatherspoon

A Cinderella retelling with a downtrodden PA and an Oscar winning actor who have a fraught first encounter when she accidentally takes his goody bag – containing his statuette – home with her and then end up at the same wedding at his family ranch. I wanted more comeuppance for the villain of the piece but enjoyed the dancing around about whether Sam and Amanda are just a fling or if they want it to be something more. The first book in this series – A Cowboy to Remember was a BotW just over two years ago and that’s just as much fun – even if it does have an amnesia plotline which is usually something I hate – and there’s a third book in the series that I haven’t read yet, but have on my watch list.

Black Hills by Nora Roberts

I haven’t read a lot of Nora Roberts, but I read Black Hills for the 50 states challenge in 2020. This is a romantic suspense with a long slow build and a resolution that happened a little too quickly for me after the build up. But how often have you heard me complain about romances wrapping up too quickly? Yeah, I know, a lot. When they were kids living on neighbouring ranches, Lil and Coop found the body of a dead hiker. Now they’re adults Lil is running a wildlife reserve and Coop is back in town taking a break from his life as an investigator to look after his grandparents. When pranks on the ranch turn into the killing of a cougar, the two start investigating only to find that the trail leads back to that body from long ago. Can they find the culprit before a killer finds them?

Summer Nights with a Cowboy by Caitlin Crews*

This isn’t out until later in the month and it’s *slightly* cheating, because although it is in Crews’ Kittridge Ranch series, our hero Zack is running away from the ranch and rebelling by being the town’s sheriff. The heroine is Janie, a travelling nurse who has come to Cold River to find out more about her family’s past. Zack is suspicious of Jamie’s reasons for being in town and Janie can’t work out why she’s so drawn to the glowering guy who lives across the road. There are charm lessons and a hero who has to come to a reassessment about what he thinks his parents’ relationship is about. Probably the least ranch-y of this group, but worth a look.

NB: these are all contemporaries because historical romances in ranches are Westerns and I just dont really do westerns – and not just because so many of them are mail order bride stories… If you want one though, go read one of Beverly Jenkins’ ones – like Wild Rain.

book round-ups

Recommendsday: February Quick Reviews

This was quite a hard post to write this week because February is a short month, I have already written about so many books and have also done so many rereads. What a problem to have. Anyway, here are a couple of quick reviews to end the February content!

Well Matched by Jen De Luca

This is the third in book in Jen DeLuca’s series about the people who work at a Renaissance fair in Maryland – and yes I know this is the second time this month I’ve mentioned this series. This time our heroine is April – the single mom elder sister of Emily from Well Met and Mitch, the hot guy in the kilt who teaches high school gym during the months of the year when he’s not working the Ren Faire. This is a fake relationship and older woman and younger man romance but also deals with April trying to figure out what she wants her life to look like having spent years focusing on the idea that as soon as her daughter goes to college she’s moving away from their small town. It’s a delight and it was a lot of fun watching the two of them – even if I did sometimes wonder why April was being so stupid!

Death by Intermission by Alexis Morgan

So one of the things that happens when I try to do the fifty states challenge is that I try a lot of different cozy crime series that are available on Kindle Unlimited as they’re set all over the place. Anyway the next two both fall under that. Death by Intermission is the fourth book in the series – and is the first one from the series that I’ve read – as it is the one that was in KU. Anyway our heroine is Abby and our corpse is a local insurance agent who is found dead in his deckchair as Abby is helping tidy up after an open air cinema screening. Her mum’s beau is one of the suspects so of course Abby starts investigating. This is an idea is good, execution is a bit patchy, mostly when it comes to the relationship between Abby and her mum which is very angry and shouty and escalates fast. But the solution to the murder was neat and I liked Abby’s boyfriend Tripp, although there were a few too many ex-special forces soldiers around for my general liking.

Prologue to Murder by Lauren Elliott

Another cozy crime, another good idea with less good execution. Addie runs a bookstore in a seaside town in New England where the locals are bizarrely and incredibly rudely hostile. When the local librarian is found dead, Addie investigates to try and clear her name because the local newspaper gossip column keeps hinting that she is responsible. This is the second in the series and I felt like I’d really missed out because I hadn’t read the first to understand why the whole town hates Addie so much. It’s a little bit high school mean girls and not enough cozy mystery of that makes sense. Which is a shame, because the eight book in the series comes out in April so I could have had a good binge!

Anyway this three is your lot for this month – stats coming up tomorrow and a Series I Love post on Friday.

Happy hump day!