‘ 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.
I’m just back from my first ever Bold Strokes event in Nottingham. What a weekend! After a delay getting there (due to a cancelled flight and subsequently four cities in a day to make it), I attended the ‘Meet and Speak’ at the Five Leaves Bookshop in the city. As soon as I was through the door I was greeted by a sea of friendly faces – Brey Willows and Robyn Nyx, Valden Bush, Carol Hutchinson, Isabelle Lonitz, Anna Larner and her wife, Jen Silver, Jane Fletcher and her lovely wife Joanie, Jody Klaire, Em and Ferb, Sam Skybourne, Lise Gold and her wife, Anne Holt and many more. After listening to some wonderful readings a few of us headed off to the Pitcher and Piano for drinks and chat. We sat outside in the warm night air until the early hours talking until we realised we had an event to get up for in the morning and headed off to our various hotels.
Saturday morning started with a welcome from the lovely Brey Willows. The room filled up quickly and we were treated to some fascinating panels – Challenging the Norms, Flowers and Wine, Playing with the universe, It’s a Writer’s Life and reading from the authors. I found hearing the authors read their own work made me want to buy more books. We were all able to mingle throughout the day and chat to the authors and get our book purchases signed. The After Party at the Pit and Pendulum nearby gave us a chance to socialise more. As we moved around the tables we all got to know some new people. The banter was fantastic.
Sunday brought some more panels, readings and a hilarious quiz. We all headed off to The New Foresters bar afterwards for a BBQ and lots of chat. Hours passed quickly as we met new people and old friends. The conversations brought us all together and made us realise just how much we all have in common. Getting to spend time together was energising and affirming – and I cannot wait for next year to do it all again.
I love it when an author makes all my dreams come true in a novel. M Ullrich made me laugh, she made me cry – and she had me swooning over and over again. ‘Pretending in Paradise’ is the story of travel blogger Emma Morgan, a woman who takes advantage of everything on offer on her work trips – and that includes romantic dalliances. But this time it has backfired on her and her boss insists she takes new P.R. Exec Caroline Beckett as an insurance against any further bad behaviour. The only problem is, Caroline comes across as repressed and so tightly wound that Emma is dreading sharing a trip with her. But as they get to know each other – due to the fact that they are visiting a couples resort and have to fake a relationship – it appears the might just find they like each other.
I really loved Emma. She was fun, gorgeous and had a very caring and considerate side to her nature. She wasn’t at all what I expected. Caroline may come across as prickly and uptight but I just wanted to hug her. I could see why Emma was so drawn to her. The setting of a brand spanking new couples resort in Florida was wonderful. I want to go there! I enjoyed seeing it through Emma’s eyes – as a seasoned professional blogger. Caroline’s perspective was very different but let me see how a rookie traveller would experience it. The romantic element was sweet and taken slowly but that was exactly how it needed to be. And the sex – oh my! It was hot and inventive and very, very naughty. A wonderful story – and another M Ullrich novel to add to my list of favourites.
‘Write Your Own Script’ is absolutely perfect! It is romantic, sexy and endearing – and had me rooting for Tamsyn and Maggie all the way. Tamsyn is a famous actress who has spent her whole life in the closet, for fear of losing her career. When she has had just about enough and needs some time away, she retreats to the quiet of the Norfolk countryside. Maggie is a writer with a serious case of writer’s block. She hopes some time away will make her want to write again. Their meeting is one of those beautiful instances when you just know that soulmates have come together. It feels right. A.L. Brooks gets into the minds and souls of her characters and as a result she makes me love them. The emotional impact is intense and the sex is off the scale amazing. It is hot and heavy and utterly exquisite. But the main strength of this exceptionally well-written book is that she makes me care. I cared that Tamsyn was terrified about coming out. I cared that Maggie had to be true to herself. And I cared that their love would find a way. A truly uplifting story and highly recommended.
Aurora Rey writes the yummiest stories – and in this case I mean the food as well as the romance. ‘Recipe for Love’ is the story of hard-working farmer Hannah Little and new chef in town Drew Davis. Set in the beautiful countryside of Upstate New York, with its fields of delicious produce, the setting is an integral part of the whole. I really want to go there now. Hannah can’t quite believe big city Head Chef will ever fit in. Drew arrives with the attitude that this will only ever be a stop-gap. But when they start becoming more to each other than friends, hard decisions may have to be made. I would find it hard to pick who was my favourite between Hannah and Drew. Hannah was kind and conscientious and had obviously found her niche in life. Drew thought she knew exactly what she wanted but meeting Hannah was not in the plan and seeing her deal with that made me love her all the more. The supporting characters were so well drawn and I especially liked Hannah’s sister, Clare. Through her eyes we saw so much of what was going on. It was a lovely romantic story, with just the right amount of will they-won’t they. It was also incredibly sexy. One particular element of the love-making was hot, hot, hot. But you’ll have to discover for yourself what that was! I adore Aurora Rey’s writing and will never get enough. She transports me to beautiful places, with beautiful women and I can guarantee I will have a happy, satisfied smile on my face by the last page. Highly recommended.
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.
Reading a Rivers series book is like coming home. I feel as if I know all of these characters so well and I always enjoy being in their company. I will never tire of them. There are so many layers to the Rivers story and ‘Love To The Rescue’ adds another fascinating one.
Brody Clark moves back to town after a decade away. As the new helicopter medic at the hospital she comes face to face with people she would much rather avoid – and with some issues she has avoided. Val Valentine left town for the big city but finds herself back helping a friend who saw something in her and influenced her career. The two women were never really in each others’s spheres at high school but as adults they find an attraction that makes them rethink the future. I liked the connection between them. Sometimes we have to meet someone at the right time, for only then will we be truly ready for each other. Radclyffe pitches it just right with this story. I loved every word. She makes us believe in love and romance and,of course, the sex is so hot. She weaves various threads seamlessly and yet again left me wanting more of this series. Excellent!
‘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.
‘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.
I enjoyed this sweet and inspiring story of a town coming together to try to save the company that keeps them all afloat. Love stories abound in ‘At Last’ and I was especially enamoured by one in particular. Perfume company owner Gene has yet to find the love of her life – but if she opened her eyes she would see love was there in front of her all along. Outsider Quinn comes to town to try and sort out supply problems for her employers – but ends up finding out more about herself. I think the town of Grady had quite an impact on those choosing to spend time there. Powerful circumstances made people reassess their lives. Love, family, romance and loyalty were the themes that drew me into this story. I felt myself rooting for the characters – be it in their love lives or in business. An enjoyable read.