‘Sliding Doors’ by Karen Klyne is one of those surprising books that makes the reader ask “What if?”.
Gemma Tennant is so unhappy. She hates her life and feels worthless with no way out. When she’s offered the chance to change all that, through a sliding door to a parallel existence – will she take it? This intriguing start really piqued my interest . I wanted to see where the author was going with it. The unfortunate woman who ends up swapping lives with Gemma, Alex Gambol, doesn’t have a clue that it’s going to happen. Let’s just say she’s none too happy. Her own life had been pretty mundane and if she thought about it, she was just going through the motions. Nevertheless, swapping lives with someone against your will is going to cause some problems and a certain amount of resentment.
I must admit I did not like Alex at all at first, but by the end she was my favourite character in the book. Ms Klyne’s skilful storytelling took me on a journey where my preconceptions were turned on their head. I really liked Reece too. She was sweet and understanding and her kindness really shone through. I really enjoyed seeing how each of them adjusted to their new lives. And changed for the better. It’s a fantastic story that had me on the edge of my seat at some points. It’s about second chances, being true to yourself and finding a way to live that feels right. It was a wonderful story, full of magic and wonder and mystery. It was also, ultimately, beautifully romantic and I defy anyone not to have a wee tear in their eye. I absolutely loved it.
‘Uprooting’by Suzie Carr is moving and emotional and above all, thought-provoking. It is the kind of book that makes the reader take stock, re-evaluate. I really enjoyed it. Harper Ray has had a difficult start in life, and it’s amazing that she has managed to keep control and become a functioning adult. Some very good friends have helped with that too. She worries about her sister though, and moving back to her home town to help Tess is what she feels compelled to do. But she never gives up on her dream of being a musician, and meeting Ivy might help her do that, even in a small way. Ivy is a life coach and green witch. She’s had a blessed life, unlike Harper, and wants to help the gorgeous musician any way she can. She’s kind and thoughtful and has great empathy. She’s exactly what Harper needs. Will she be able to help Harper heal – and at the same time bring some closure to a painful part of her own life?
Suzie Carr has a very mellow style, one that makes the reader feel relaxed. Through Ivy we begin to see problems in a different way. We begin to believe that there is an answer, if we are open to it. Harper and Ivy’s story is one of attraction and joyful friendship. When it becomes more it feels right. But the novel is about a whole group of people and how the interaction between them brings healing. Ivy is the catalyst. This book is exactly what I needed to read at this time, when family and friends are apart and we crave contact with our loved ones. A lovely story.
‘Silver Beasts’ is the story of four teenagers chosen to represent their respective counties at the Hall of Explorers, a prestigious training academy. Their aim is to learn all they can before they leave for new lands, where they hope to find a way to escape the silver beasts that threaten their very existence. Cavarra has been blighted by these insects, mutated into metal by absorbing magic. Avelynne, Hale, Sabina and Eleksander must work hard if they are to save their people. Do they have what it takes? And is everything quite as clear cut as they are lead to believe?
This story had impressive world-building, magic, a steampunky vibe and mysteries and secrets that kept me engrossed. But it was also about finding out the truth and discovering who they really were and what they were capable of. The young people began to learn their strengths and weaknesses. I liked seeing how they they grew in confidence and changed as they got to know each other. The writing was skilled and imaginative and I really enjoyed being in Cavarra for a few hours.
It’s obviously the first in a series and left me keen to find out what happens next. I hope Emma Sterner-Radley doesn’t keep us waiting too long.
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.