With ‘The Roommate Arrangement’ Jae has captured my heart yet again. She doesn’t put a foot wrong as she tells a beautiful and tender story, with characters I cared for.
Stephanie Renshaw is a struggling stand- up comic . She has decided that it’s time to stop going on the road and concentrate on making it in LA. She needs an apartment near the comedy clubs and the one she wants won’t rent to roommates or singles. She has to find someone willing to be her fake girlfriend. Rae Coleman is an ex-cop and now works security at a L.A. comedy club where Steph has been trying to get a chance to headline. Having been injured on duty, her life as a cop had to end and she is trying to just get through each day the best she can. Her need for an apartment close to work is for a different reason, but she’s not about to open up and tell Steph, or anyone else, what that is. When Steph suggests they share and explains the need for a fake relationship Rae agrees. Can they pull it off without the landlord finding out?
It’s slow and sweet as they get to know each other. Jae gives them time to realise that they are both worth loving, to get past things that have been holding them back. Steph was a joker, but underneath, so kind. Rae was a bit of a wounded soul and seeing her respond to Steph was beautiful. Claire and Lana from ‘Just for Show’, also a fake relationship story, turn up. I loved that she brought in characters from other stories she has written. It works. I really enjoyed it.
Melissa Brayden writes beautiful romances that never fail to be tender, loving and hot. ‘Back to September’ is no exception. But this time she went that little bit further. Hannah and Parker’s story had me gripped and I thought my heart would break in two. Here were two characters that needed to be together, but it wasn’t going to be that easy.
Hannah liked her life to be fairly predictable and ordered. She was not overly concerned about romance. If it happened it happened. In walks Parker Bristow to her life. She’s smart and sexy and full of positive energy and Hannah can’t help but fall for her charms. Parker is a world-famous romance author and just having her visit Hannah’s store makes a huge impact. When they are together it’s adorable and unexpected, but can it ever really work out? Long-distance relationships are hard enough, but other issues get in the way too.
I really loved Hannah. She was loyal and kind and seemed to blossom when Parker was around. Parker was wonderful, and who wouldn’t love a romance writer anyway? But it was her struggles that tore at my heart. I just wanted everything to come right for her. I wanted her to see she was worth it, worth loving. As with all of Melissa Brayden’s books I got my ‘aaah’ moment though. It was so beautifully written and love always wins.
Maya’s former best friend, Nina, is getting married and she’s going to be a bridesmaid. The problem is, she’s in love with her and it’s not reciprocated. Things between them ended badly, but Maya thinks going through with her wedding duties will help her get over Nina once and for all. Nina is marrying, but she doesn’t seem that keen. Her overbearing snob of a mother and deadly boring fiancé have her under the thumb. Life for her is all about doing what other people expect. Will she ever be able to be her own person?
This story had characters that were relatable and true and made me root for them. I could feel the emotions, the longing and the passion. And it gripped my heart. K.D. Williamson showed us that loving someone so much that it hurts just to think about it, can be heaven or hell. Maya’s pain was obvious and I wanted her to get her happily ever after. I wanted Nina to speak up for herself, to be the great woman I knew she could be. The boyfriend Drew was truly insufferable as was Nina’s mother. It was going to take a great deal of courage on Nina’s part to get out form under that. I really liked her cousin Rachel. She was sassy and forthright and the kick up the backside both Maya and Nina needed.
I loved the sarcastic humour. KD Williamson used ridiculously funny situations brilliantly and showed the truth of relationships through them. It was about finding strength to be yourself and not living for other people. It had a lovely vibe and some beautifully tender moments – as well as some very hot and sexy times. A great read.
Destiny of hearts by Karen Klyne is a fitting end to a wonderful series. It was good to be back in Caysher and meeting the women we got to know in book one, ‘Parallel Lives’. I didn’t realise how much I’d missed Berran. I even missed old vinegar tits herself, Salin! Kaitlin is back and with news that Berran will not like. It was never going to be an easy reconciliation. Karen Klyne managed to deal with some deep emotions and let us see more facets of each character. There was also some very thoughtful questioning of how the society should continue in the future. Should they remain so insular or go out into the world more? The relationship between Kaitlin and Berran was tortured at times but the heat was always there. And I found myself really rooting for them – even though I have been a big fan of Tannus throughout. I really enjoyed this story and was so happy that it concluded in a beautifully satisfying way.
Greengage Shelf by Emma Sterner-Radley is the third story in this series. It is set in a wonderfully quirky island, chock full of eccentric characters. Our heroine, Kit Sorel, is the local librarian and an incomer to the island. She has a gift for sorting out other people’s problems, and because of this, local lady, Widow Caine, asks her to look into a puzzling problem. The mysterious case of the missing book has Kit and her girlfriend Laura embroiled in all sorts of happenings – and finding out things about their neighbours they’d probably rather not know. Ms Sterner-Radley has a delightful writing style that has a gentle humour woven with lovely descriptive elements. She sees the ridiculous in every situation and her use of footnotes in this novel had me giggling. The island is the place that time forgot and is old-fashioned and endearing. There is a lovely cosy feel about the whole series and I must admit to enjoying cosy. It really works as a well rounded mystery and romance and I was delighted to be back spending time in Greengage.
‘ A Heart This Big’ is the story of down-to- earth city-farm owner Nina and her fight to save her farm from litigation. When a child is hurt while riding on her property, his mother brings a law suit against Nina, threatening to ruin her. The farm is her life. In an attempt to save the farm she needs to convince high-flying lawyer Leigh Willioughby to represent her. Leigh is everything Nina is not. She’s sophisticated, well-dressed and not at all keen to take on the case. But Nina intrigues her and when she decides to go and see the farm for herself I so wanted her to help Nina.
I loved seeing how Leigh changed and how she saw the farm, as an outsider at first. The community aspect of the business was inspiring and Leigh began to see that there was more to life than money. Nina was a wonderful character. She was selfless, caring and responsible. The setting of a farm on the outskirts of Sydney was interesting. It was like an oasis, a peaceful, beautiful escape. The developing relationship between the two women felt natural and true. There was a hint of angst throughout but it was pitched perfectly. The story was about love and belonging and finding the right balance. I liked the friendly dynamic between Leigh and Nina’s daughter, Phoebe. It worked really well and let us see a different side to each of those characters. I really enjoyed it.
Jae is the Queen of wish fulfilment. I knew exactly what I wanted to happen in this story and she granted my wish. I completely and utterly adored Ashley and Sasha’s story. It was the most romantic, emotional and beautiful story of love, belonging and joy. I was smiling from ear to ear and for the rest of the day after reading this.
Florist Ashley is as far in the closet as it’s possible to be. She is terrified her parents will find out she’s a lesbian and can’t face the reaction she suspects will come from the townsfolk. Baker Sasha has no desire to be tied down to anyone and her fear of commitment has been part of her life for so long. But when the pair begin to spend time together working on their friends’ Leo and Holly’s wedding, it becomes harder to stick to old ways. They are so obviously perfect for each other. And I found myself wishing and hoping it would be a happily ever after for them!
Jae increased the happiness level by bringing in characters from her other books – Leo and Holly – and others I’ll leave as a surprise. Having these wonderful women interact was wonderful. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.
‘The Pet Boutique’ is a heart-warming, romantic and healing story that left me with a happy feeling. It is the first novel I’ve read by Suzie Carr and won’t be the last. The author really sees people and what makes them tick. She brings this understanding to her writing and I found myself loving the story more and more as it progressed.
Taylor is a successful author with a serious case of writer’s block. When her friend Maya suggests she help renovate a store with her, it seems this might be the distraction she needs. Maya’s niece Lexie, another helper in the quest to open a Pet Boutique, brings out something in Taylor she didn’t think possible again. Their story was slow and gentle and beautifully written. I loved the coterie of characters around the whole project – especially Lexie’s dog, Cashmere. She had a calming and steadying role and seemed to be at the centre of everything good and positive in everyone’s lives. Both Taylor and Lexie had issues from the past they had to overcome. I enjoyed finding out how they dealt with their problems. I especially appreciated the positive representation of bisexuality. An excellent story and highly recommended.
‘Colette’ is the story of a woman facing her past and finally deciding what she really wants in life. The main character, Colette, moves back to Paris for a while after many years in the States. She sees her sister for the first time since she left and painful memories begin to surface. How she deals with them and the all too real disturbing presence of her brother-in-law form the basis of the novel. But it is about more. It is about love, desire and admitting the truth. It is also about realising that sometimes we have to put ourselves first, even after a lifetime of being there for others.
I liked the fact that R.D. DeLisle chose to focus on older women, older lesbians. That in itself is very unusual. I have read her first book, ‘Miranda’, and it is useful though not entirely necessary to read it to understand some of the background to ‘Colette’. In some ways this book was gentle and romantic, but there is also a storyline which deals with a figure from her past and that is quite brutal. Colette chose to deal with this in a particular way that I found infuriating but it was true to the character. She wouldn’t have done it any other way. I liked the story and the concentration on the more mature woman.
‘Alice’ is one of those books that surprises, engages and takes the reader off in unexpected directions. It is the story of a young woman trapped in an awful marriage. When she decides she can take no more and leaves, her life becomes one of secrets, new friends and a fight to keep her new found freedom. Sam Skyborne made me feel an affinity with Alice. I felt as if I was along for the ride and worried about her as she became more involved in her new life in Cape Town. A PI, Toni Mendez, is sent to track her down and her part in the story opened up a whole lot of other issues. This book had so many layers and was intelligently plotted. I could never have guessed the twists and turns and I take my hat off to the author. Bravo!