Review of ‘Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes by E.V. Bancroft

‘Warm Pearls and Paper Cranes’  is the wonderful debut novel from E.V. Bancroft. It’s a story told over two time periods, with two couples. Starting in  pre-war 1939, Maud and Bea find love at a time when lesbian relationships were completely taboo. How can they find a way to be together when the world is against them?  In the present day Hannah may be open in some areas of her life, but convincing the woman she loves, Suki, to do the same is not easy. It seems prejudices remain and they can be hard to push back against. Maud and Bea are now old and forced apart in different nursing homes. As the two stories intertwine, the women must fight those who would keep them apart – and fight their own pre-conceived ideas. 

 I was surprised this was a first novel, as the storytelling was so skilful and appeared effortless. The prose flowed beautifully and the characters were believable and brought truth to the story. It was the most compelling story of love, of fighting to be see and heard. I went through so many emotions reading these two love stories, each with problems to be overcome. The writing was powerful, emotional and exceptional. 

I left it feeling happy and joyful. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘The Fair Botanists’ by Sara Sheridan

‘The Fair Botanists’ by Sara Sheridan is the standout novel of the year for me. It’s the wonderful story of two women and the connections they make in Edinburgh in the early 1800s. Elizabeth is a widow moving to Edinburgh to live with her husband’s family, and hoping for a better life. Her interest in botany and especially illustration, brings her into contact with those working at the new botanical gardens. The imminent flowering of a special tree has the city fascinated, as has the expected visit of the King. Belle has a secret identity and a plan for the future. She knows her present career will be short lived, so is using her interest in botany to ensure her comfort later. These two very different women find a common bond, forming a friendship that defies society’s expectations .

Elizabeth and Belle’s stories weave in and out with those of other prominent and not so prominent members of Edinburgh society. It is this that captured my attention and did not let go until the last page.  Sara Sheridan builds each layer, and connects each strand, with beautifully written descriptive pose. It’s  a story of life, of friendship and of love.  Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Home Is Where The Heart Is’ by Jenny Frame

I loved being back in Rosebrook Village. This time we are with dapper Archie Archer, a townie who loves her job, but wouldn’t want to live there. When she falls for the romance-loving country-phile Ashling, Archie has to decide what she really wants in life. Can she change her ways for the love of a good woman? And will she be able to give Ashling the storybook ending she hopes for?

There is conflict from the start for this pair. They seem to disagree on everything. But it’s obvious for anyone to see that they are made for each other. They might just need a little push in the right direction. As they are forced to work together more closely, the sparks start to fly. I adored the growing romance between Archie and Ashling, and could feel the passion jumping off of the page. The dynamic was wonderful. This age-gap, enemies to lovers story swept me off my feet. And the wonderful family-feeling of the village made it so special. Every person wanted to be there, and they were all behind the couple, cheering them on. I can’t wait for the next one and finding out what happens next for Fox, Clem and the gang.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Big London Dreams’ by Clare Lydon

I have read every book in Clare Lydon’s London Romance series and enjoyed every one. ‘Big London Dreams’ is the best so far. As well as love and romance, we are taken back to the 1950s, and to a time where girls were expected to find a nice young man and settle down. For Eunice Starling and Joan Hart that’s not so easy. Neither have been able to find a man that remotely interested them, and when they fall in love everything seems to click. But this was the late fifties and it took more than love to keep them together. Sixty years later they meet again and tell their story. Will it be happily ever after for them at last? You’ll have to read this wonderful book to find out.

‘Big London Dreams’ was the most heart-wrenching love story. A story of it’s time. But it was also joyful and heartwarming. Clare Lydon told the most amazing tale of true love, where time could not diminish the passion the women felt for each other. It was also beautifully written and the descriptions of London were so evocative. I could imagine it all so well. So much effort was put into making it just right. Although I knew there would be heartbreak, I could not stop reading. I knew that love would conquer all, and Ms Lydon did not disappoint. The fact that it tied in with my favourite romance series and the friends I had come to love, made it all the more special. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Under A Greek Moon’ by Carol Kirkwood

Carol Kirkwood has taken me on a wonderful journey, full of romance, Hollywood glamour and summer loving. ‘Under a Greek Moon’ is the story of Shauna Jackson, a beautiful  film-star with a secret in her past.  When her life changes unexpectedly, she feels a desire to return to the Greek island where she lost her heart many years before. Demetrios Theodosis appears to have it all, but he has regrets and feels it’s too late to change. Trying to control his headstrong daughter is not working out well. Will he push her away? Or find a solution they can both live with? Life on Ithos is about to get very interesting!

I loved this story. There was love and romance, but there was also heartache and regret. It had heart and warmth and characters I grew to love. Ms Kirkwood gave me everything I wanted in the perfect summer holiday read. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘A Fae Tale’ by Genevieve McCluer

‘A Fae Tale’ is the story of Dovana, a human saved as a child in Lithuania by Roze, a fae. Every year the pair exchange letters and gifts, even though Dovana has moved with her family to Toronto. They have a bond; one that no-one else in Dovana’s life can match. But as time goes on Roze becomes increasingly worried about the future – one that she has never divulged to anyone. Dovana feels the pull to Roze and wants to see be in contact with her more than just once a year. As she begins to look into doing so, she finds out a lot more than she bargained for.

This is an unusual tale, but a very enjoyable one. It’s funny and a bit kooky, but very sweet and romantic too. I loved the settings of Lithuania and Toronto. It’s refreshing to read a story set somewhere different. I also enjoyed the folklore of Lithuania and mixing it with present day Canada. Genevieve McCluer writes great humorous prose and I found myself giggling out loud a few times in the course of reading this book. Her characters are well defined and fun, and she makes her secondary characters come to life as much as the main protagonists. An enjoyable read. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘What A Tangled Web’ by Melissa Brayden

‘What A Tangled Web’ is the third in the Tangle Valley Romance Series, and is the perfect end to a wonderful series. Focusing on winemaker extraordinaire, Madison, and her chance at love, it is heart-warming, sweet and intensely passionate. When Madison is advised to start investing some of her money, she’s delighted to find that her favourite local breakfast place, The Bacon and Biscuit, is up for sale. And the thought that it’ll give her an excuse to see a lot more of Clementine, the manager, is an added bonus. Clementine has had a difficult life and managing the Biscuit had given her focus and purpose. Just when she’s about to make an offer on the cafe, Madison swoops in and buys it from under her. The entirely oblivious Madison would never intentionally hurt Clementine, so how are they going to deal with each other while Clementine is so devastated? 

This story had all of the feel-good factor of the previous two in the series and a whole lot more. The two main characters were adorable and I found myself seeing Madison in a new light. She had moved on from the injured feelings of ‘Two To Tangle’, and we could see who she really was and how she ticked. Clementine was brilliant at her job, but her confidence levels were precarious. One knock and she was likely to topple. I wanted to hug her. I wanted this relationship to work and was cheering them on throughout. But they had to learn about themselves as individuals before they could be together. 

This was the happiest ending to the most amazing trilogy. Melissa Brayden pulled all of the elements together, wrapped them up in a bow, and presented the reader with Happily Ever After to the max!

I was given this Arc to review.

Review of ‘Royal Family’ by Jenny Frame

‘Royal Family’ by Jenny Frame is book four in her Royal Series. I’ve enjoyed them all, and it was lovely to be back with some of my favourite characters. This time we follow the romance of Clay, a royal protection officer, and Katya, the new nanny. Clay has reached her position despite a rocky start in life, and is now dealing with grief after the death of her mother. She’s not ready to trust the new nanny, but can’t quite put her finger on why. Katya left her native home as a child refugee and is determined to pay her adopted country back for the good life she has now. She finds Clay attractive, but is not ready for any kind of relationship. Guarding her privacy and her heart is too important to her. 

Katya and Clay’s story was a slow burner. Their backgrounds made them wary and they needed time to open up. I really warmed to Katya as I got to know more about her. Her backstory was fascinating and I enjoyed finding out about her. Clay’s story was worlds away from that of Katya, but they found in each other something that was missing. Something that made them whole. Jenny Frame ties the threads from previous books in the series beautifully, and the family element really came through. It felt welcoming and inclusive. I love Queen George and Queen Bea and their growing family. The fact that they make their friends and close staff part of that family enhances the series. There’s a warmth and affection woven throughout the story and I hope there will be more tales of this particular Royal Family and their entourage.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Detour To Love’ by Amanda Radley

Melting an Ice Queen is a trope I must admit to being partial. And Amanda Radley does it so well. In ‘Detour To Love’, her first novel for Bold Strokes Books, she has hit the jackpot. Beautiful settings, adorable characters, and a love story to set the heart a flutter, make for a perfect read. 

High-flying businesswoman Celia Scott is on the way to Tokyo to accept an award she does not want. She starts the day off in a foul mood, and things go from bad to worse when her travel plans go south. Talented artist Lily Anderson is on the same flight, hoping that her online friend might turn into something more. The two women rub each other the wrong way, but sometimes wonderful things come from unlikely beginnings.

I loved the crankiness of Celia. Who can resist the sexy older woman, especially one who gives off an abrasive vibe? Lily sees past the icy exterior. She sees something in Celia worth waiting for. Each woman brought something to the other that made them a better person. It was a fantastic story and captured my heart.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Sealed With A Swim’ by Sam Skyborne

‘Sealed With A Swim’ by Sam Skyborne is the second story set in Skala Eressos, Lesvos. This time we follow the story of Carol, high flying business woman and Lisa, sports coach and tour guide. Carol is back home on the island for a hen party for her friend. Whilst staying at the resort owned by her family, her mother attempts to pull her into the business more. That would be bad enough, but interfering in her love life is even worse. Meeting Lisa changes everything. Lisa is involved in trying to save the soul of the island from unscrupulous outsiders – and when that is linked to the resort Carol’s mother runs, there’s bound to be trouble. There was tension and angst, and a baddie to get the hackles up. But there was also community and hope and joy.

I loved the links to the first book ‘Sealed With A Kiss’, and hints of the past. The setting is wonderful and beautifully described. I could imagine it so well and hope to hear more of these tales in the future. I really liked these characters and could feel the passion and love. The story is multi-layered and kept me up until the early hours reading. 

I was given this ARC for review.