Review of ‘An Art To Love’ by Helena Harte

‘An Art To Love’ by Helena Harte is the heartwarming story of Lauren Gray, a non-profit CEO with big ideas. She has always wanted to make a difference, and in pursuit of her dreams, she left her home town and her family. When tragedy brings her back from Boston, she must face whatever it is that she has been avoiding all these years. Does she have everything she wants and needs? Or is there more to life than ambition? 

Jamie Nelson seems happy with her life as the town’s cemetery groundskeeper. Her artistic talents are a hobby and she has no desire to take them further. When the object of her schoolgirl crush returns to town she has to decide if she can take a chance and let her feelings be known. Lauren was so out of her league in High School, but maybe it is time to act on her feelings. Lauren can’t understand the lack of ambition of Jamie and those around her in the town. Should she push them? Or is there something to be said for being happy with what you have? 

I liked Lauren. She was kind and caring and determined to help other people realise their goals. But why did she feel the need to cut her family and her home town from her own life? She had a blind spot when it came to her own behaviour. Could Jamie make her rethink? Jamie had reasons of her own for living a safe life. Would their feelings for each other spark something new in both of them?

Helena Harte’s writing is insightful, romantic and passionate. She seeks out a deep emotional intensity in her characters. And makes me love them. I could see both points of view in this story, but ultimately I wanted them to find the missing piece in each other. A wonderful, life-affirming story, sure to put a satisfied smile on any reader’s face.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Let Love Be Enough’ by Robyn Nyx

With ‘Let Love Be Enough’ Robyn Nyx has taken her characters into some of the most depraved corners of society and brought them out the other side. Madison Ford is an award winning journalist whose work ensures she has enemies all over the world. Her articles require her to take risks and come into contact with the worst elements of society. Elodie Fontaine is Hollywood’s darling and at the top of her career. But it is her humanitarian work that interests Madison. When she gets a chance to interview the star, she finds an attraction she was not expecting. An investigation into organ trafficking brings them together and with the danger comes a closeness that neither can deny. 

The story is well written, engaging and powerful. The subject matter deals with disturbing issues and extremely distasteful people. Nyx shows how damaged some people are by the start they get in life. Some escape, others do not.  There is appalling violence, and those who spiral further into the darkest depths show no mercy.

The light comes from the growing relationship between Madison and Elodie. They are passionate, intense and reach extreme heights of sexual compatibility. Finding your person will do that. I really enjoyed their story.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Dead Pretty’ by Robyn Nyx

‘Dead Pretty’ by Robyn Nyx is a fast-paced, tense and exciting thriller. Normally assigned to cold cases, FBI Special Agent Dak Farrell is helping the local Salt Lake City police investigate a serial killer. A brutal and cruel series of murders is baffling the local PD, and they need Dak’s expertise to stop the killer before anyone else dies. C.J. Johnson is a reality TV star, back in town when her show gets cancelled. She is a mortician who uses her skills on TV to make the dead look good again for their open casket viewings. Yes, it’s a truly bizarre concept, but so is much of the weird and wonderful TV these days. Neither of them is looking for anything serious, but will a fling be enough? As they become closer, CJ’s life is in danger. It seems the ‘Artist’ serial killer does not appreciate her reconstructive work on his victims.

‘Dead Pretty’ is a well written and exquisitely plotted story. It is unusual and perplexing and kept me hooked, as I tried to solve the mystery. I didn’t guess the outcome at all. I enjoyed finding out Dak and CJ’s backstories. It made them much more interesting, and I could see why they were the people they were. Their connection was powerful and extremely hot.

‘Dead Pretty’ is crying out to be made into a movie. It is head and shoulders above many of the scripts we see brought to our screens. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

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 ‘Nero’ by Valden Bush

I love sci-fi, so getting the chance to read a new voice in the genre thrilled me. And I was not disappointed. Valden Bush has imagined a fascinating universe of worlds and peoples, with a brilliant twist, in her debut novel, ‘Nero’. Stele Hosun is an outcast on account of her black eyes. In her culture on Nero those with this characteristic are banished, as are those women who love other women. Stele is angry and volatile, but who can blame her? When Colonel Kian Ray offers her an outlet where her skills may be useful, she has to decide whether to let go of her anger and take a chance. She also has to find a way to live without her love, Ariane. But when pirates invade Nero, Stele has to use everything she’s got to find a way to save the woman she loves and the society than shunned her.

‘Nero’ is a beautifully written story, with exquisite world-building, an intriguing mystery and a passionate love story. The connection between Stele and Ariane was powerful, enduring and intense. The mystery of the coloured shards in Neroan culture made for an engrossing tale, captivating my attention until the very last page. I loved this book and hope there will be more of these characters and their stories in the future. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Scripted Love’ by Helena Harte

‘Scripted Love’ is a sweet romance and slow-burn. This is one of my favourite tropes and can be so good if done well. And Helena Harte does it very well. Rix has her own production company and is about to turn Layla’s precious books into a series of films. Layla knows how she wants her books to be adapted – and is not reticent about making that clear. When she meets Rix there’s a spark, but working together and pursuing a relationship could cause big problems. The women also have very different ideas about love and romance. Will they be able to reconcile their differences? 

I liked Rix. She was a sensitive butch, with a social conscience. Not at all what one would expect from a Hollywood producer/director. Layla really appealed to me too. She was new to the Hollywood scene and it was interesting seeing it through her eyes. I found the Hollywood lifestyle and industry stuff fascinating and enjoyed the fact that it was shown from all levels of participation. There was plenty of sexual tension with a teensy bit of angst. But ultimately it was very romantic and sexy.

A lovely story.

I was given this ARC to review.