Review of ‘A Shot at Love’ by T.B. Markinson

‘A Shot at Love’ is what happens when an American political speech-writer finds herself unceremoniously dumped from her high-stress, high-stakes job and realises her life needs to change. Josie Adams has had it with the backstabbing and slimy world of politics. And Upper Chewford is a million miles away from that. Spotting a beautiful woman in the quaint Cotswolds village takes her breath away – but is she ready to change everything for love? Harry runs the local newspaper, after escaping the rat-race in London. She’s been unlucky in love and can’t believe someone as gorgeous and accomplished as Josie would ever love her. Seeing how they navigated through their insecurities kept me reading, desperate to know how it would all pan out. The other characters around them made it a well-rounded story. I found Josie’s mum, Eugenie infuriating at times – but her uncle, Clive, was endearing and really rather sweet. The book is romantic, sexy and funny. It is the perfect first book in the series, which will soon be followed by stories by Clare Lydon and Harper Bliss. It is such a feel-good story. It made me happy and I love T.B. Markinson for taking me to such a wonderful place and letting me be a part of it. 

I was given this ARC for review.

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Review of ‘Say You’ll Love Me Again’ by Kiki Archer

This is the tenth and final book by Kiki Archer. And boy, will we all miss her- especially after reading this. It was quite a rollercoaster of a ride and the perfect story to sign off with. Piano teacher, Sophie is distraught after splitting from her soulmate, Jazz, a comedienne. Apparently straight up until setting eyes on Jazz, she fell hard. She tells the story of their relationship to her friend Laura who is training to become a life coach, the latest in a long list of jobs. Laura’s attempts to get the story out of Sophie were hilarious, but then Ms Archer surprised me by taking it off in a very different direction. The story is slowly revealed as layers are peeled back. One minute I was laughing out loud and scaring the neighbours, the next I was surprised at the depth of emotion. The funny moments were hilarious. Her description of a character having a ‘breast ledge’ took me back to high school and one of my teachers who had the aforementioned ‘breast ledge’. I was mesmerised by it, as was half of the school. The heat level was scorching between Sophie and Jazz. It was certainly not vanilla and will have you blushing. But Kiki Archer’s trademark humour had me in stitches even at these sexy moments. I loved it. And when I read the words ‘Say You’ll Love Me Again is Kiki’s 10th and final novel’, I shed a tear.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Love’s Portrait’ by Anna Larner

‘Love’s Portrait’ is a perfect mixture of love, romance and belonging. Molly Goode is a fine art curator in Leicester, wishing to bring more diversity to the museum where she works. Georgina Wright is an important benefactor, albeit a reluctant one. She comes across as a bit of an Ice Queen but spending time with Molly begins to thaw her cool exterior. When Georgina needs help to research a painting in her collection, Molly is instructed by her boss to take on the task.

I liked Molly from the start. She was sweet, a bit ditsy and completely unaware of how wonderful she is. She worries about saying and doing the wrong thing and I found her completely adorable. Georgina was a woman in pain, dealing with grief and hurt, and I had high hopes that Molly would be the woman to see her through that. I felt compelled to follow their story. The mystery behind the painting drew me further into the story and I loved the historical aspect of it in regard to the research on the painting. Anna Larner’s writing has a gentle beauty to it, an engaging tone throughout.  Her characters feel real to me and she makes me want to know more about them. This is the second book I have read by this author and I must admit she has become a favourite of mine. A lovely story.

I was given this ARC for review by Bold Strokes Books and Netgalley.

Review of ‘Meant To Be Me’ by Wendy Hudson

‘Meant To Be Me’  is a heart-thumping, nerve-jangling, suspense story that had me glued to the page. Inverness-based engineer Darcy has a stalker and finds it hard to let her guard down, even for a second. Her loyal best friend Anja is always on hand with support and work keeps her sane. When she literally bumps into an early morning jogger, Eilidh, she dares to hope that things may be looking up for her. Will the two women ever be able to find a way to get together? Circumstances and interference conspire to put stumbling blocks in their way. But there is much more to it than that.

I have read Wendy Hudson’s first two novels and found them seriously impressive. But I believe this is her best so far. She knows just how to ramp up the tension and this story had a psychological suspense element that had me on the edge of my seat. Just when I thought I knew where it was going I was surprised again and again. It was scary, perfectly pitched and did not let up. The baddie in the mix was so plausible and I wanted to scream out to Darcy. ‘Meant To Be Me’ is beautifully written and one that I can see me re-reading. Highly recommended.

Review of ‘Crossing Over’ by Karen Klyne

I so enjoyed book one in this series, ‘Parallel Lives’, and have been eagerly awaiting the release of ‘Crossing Over’. I was certainly not disappointed. Kaitlin and Tannus are now lovers and are expecting a baby. They decide to cross back to Kailtin’s home world and to her family in Cheshire. How will her parents and brother react to her fantastical story? How will Tannus and Carray react to a world so very different from their own. 

Seeing our world through the eyes of two people from a simpler, more cut-off existence was very interesting. It was also fascinating looking at romantic relationships from Carray’s point of view, as she was heterosexual and lived in a completely lesbian society at home. A clever device that made me think. I worried about Kaitlin’s father and brother as she had been far from complementary about them in the first book. Would they surprise me? The issue of Tannus’s illness was always there in the background and I lived in hope that a cure could be found. There was so much riding on the year they planned to live in our world and it made the story very emotional and compelling.

By the end I knew that I wanted more from this series. In a good way. I will be counting the days until book three comes out. I have grown to love these characters and want to find out what happens next. How will the characters from each world interact? A highly enjoyable story. 

I received an ARC of this book from Global Wordsmiths in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Review of ‘You’re My Kind’ by Clare Lydon

Clare Lydon certainly played with my emotions on this one. ‘You’re My Kind’ is the story of Justine and Maddie and their road to love after splitting ten years previously. Justine has never been able to get over it and professes to hate the very mention of Maddie’s name. But when she unexpectedly turns up again on an already awful day, Justine is forced to start confronting her feelings.

Now, I was determined to hate Maddie too, on Justine’s behalf. But she crept up on me. I wanted to resist her, but I just couldn’t. I felt myself wavering and letting her in. The story was thoughtful and sad at times and really touched my heart. It was also hilariously funny and I almost spat my coffee across the room at ‘vagina cupcakes’! Clare Lydon writes romance like no other. I ached for the pair of them and when they had sex, it was so much more than that. It was everything; it was remembering and wanting and needing. 

The Bristol setting was wonderful. I could picture so many of the places mentioned. The constant mention of cakes might have made me dash for the mixing bowl too! An excellent story and highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Wooing the Farmer’ by Jenny Frame

This is the book we Axedale fanatics have been waiting for. At last Quade gets a chance at love – but the woman she has set her sights on is not going to be easy to persuade. Penelope Huntingdon-Stewart is a famous food blogger and member of one of the most famous families in Britain. She retreats to Axedale after an embarrassing and traumatising incident and is in no mood for romance. Can Quade get past that frosty exterior and win the heart of the fair maiden? 

We’ve known for a long time that Quade wanted to settle down with the woman of her dreams, but she thinks no-one would want to be a farmer’s wife. She has no idea just how gorgeous she is or how appealing the rugged butch farmer vibe is. I loved seeing a new side to Quade, and the protective and caring side of her nature really came out. I also really appreciated Quade and Penny’s story interweaving with that of Harry and Annie and of Bridge and Finn. Penny is the polar opposite of Quade and that is why it worked so well. Penny’s secrets made her hold Quade at arms’s length but when the wooing started it was sweet and tender. But hey, this is a Jenny Frame book, so there were also the most delicious hot and sexy scenes that we have come to expect.

Jenny Frame writes the most amazing characters and this whole series is a masterpiece. But where she excels is in writing butch lesbians. Quade is the ultimate butch and she is a dream. I can’t imagine anyone being able to resist falling in love with this particular ‘Sexy Farmer’. Every time I read a Jenny Frame book I think it’s the best ever, but time and again she surprises me. She has surpassed herself with ‘Wooing the Farmer’. 

I was given this ARC by Netgalley and Bold Strokes Books to review.

Review of ‘The Life and Times of a Very British Man’ by Kamal Ahmed

kamal

Kamal Ahmed has a wonderfully engaging and easy-going writing style and it is shown to great effect in ‘The Life and Times of a Very British Man. He weaves the story of his family and his upbringing with the story of post World War 2 changes to British society . He is the mixed-race son of an African father and British mother and his experience of Britain from the 1970s onwards was fascinating to me as I grew up at the same time with many of the same cultural highs and lows – but from a different background. As immigration begins to expand and people come from all over the world to settle in Britain he shows how it affected him as an individual and the wider community. I enjoyed reading about his family and how he saw himself fitting in or not with those around him. His perspective was enlightening and really made me think. Seeing events of the recent past from his point of view was an eye opener. An excellent account that kept me enthralled..
I was given this ARC to review.