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 ‘Footprints’ by Ali Spooner

I must admit to being a huge fan of the Strong Southern Women Series by Ali Spooner. ‘Footprints’ is book 4 and follows the story of Sandy, the youngest of the family. She has looked up to her older sister Cam, and hopes to be as good as her some day in helping run the family businesses. When floods endanger the people of Baton Rouge, Sandy and Cam volunteer with the Cajun Navy and help save those affected. 

I loved reading more about Sandy, and seeing her as a grown woman. The whole family come together to keep their way of life going in the Bayou. I felt a part of their lives for a while, as the writing flows so well. The descriptions are wonderfully vivid and the emotional and romantic lives of the sisters so true. A great story.

I was given this ARC for review. 

Review of ‘Love At Leighton Lake’ by Samantha Hicks

‘Love at Leighton Lake’ is a lovely romance with two very endearing characters. Tally returns to the place of her childhood holidays when she needs time to recover from a serious injury at work. There she becomes reacquainted with Caitlyn, the daughter of the owner. Caitlyn has continued to live there, helping her mother and swimming in the lake everyday. But as they spend time together it becomes apparent that secrets have been kept from Caitlyn. Together they aim to find out the truth.

I loved the Devon setting and the relaxing vibe that came from spending time there. I could see why Tally wanted to be there, and why Caitlyn didn’t leave. Their growing feelings for each other felt genuine and I wanted it to work out for them. Working together to find out why so many secrets were being kept brought them closer and it had a healing effect. This healing was a major part of it for both of them, but in different ways. The love and passion came so naturally. An enjoyable read.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Three Mile Cache’ by Jen Silver

I’ve read most of Jen Silver’s full length novels and enjoyed them immensely, so was looking forward to this new novella. She does not disappoint. ‘Three Mile Cache’ may be shorter than her usual work, but she manages to capture so much regardless of the length of the work. Carolyn Wells is an archaeologist and travels the world most of the time. Her relationship with Sydney Detective Inspector Alex Graham suffers as a result. When Alex is wounded in the line of duty and goes to the Australian outback to recover, Carolyn realises just how important their relationship is, and flies there to be with her. But Alex’s wandering eye hasn’t stopped just because she is injured. Is there still enough worth between them? And will they realise how they feel about each other before it is too late? Meanwhile Alex has been poking her nose into some mysterious goings on in the area and she might have bitten off more than she can chew.

I was impressed by how much character development Jen Silver got into this novella. I felt as if I knew these characters so well and wanted to know more. The story started off as a romance, but there was an exciting mystery involved too. It was a good story with interesting characters, in a setting we don’t usually get to read about. I loved the finding out about the Outback and the Flying Doctors Service and, like Jen, I too was a fan of the 80s TV series. A very enjoyable novella. 

I was given this ARC to 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.

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 ‘Chemistry Lessons’ by Jae

Regan and Kylie have been friends forever. It seems everyone else can see they are perfect for each, but they claim they can’t see it. Chemistry teacher Regan decides an experiment is in order. If there is chemistry between them, then her little test should show it. However much they deny it, every little touch sends shivers up their spines. But are either of them willing to risk the friendship for more? 

‘Chemistry Lessons’ is sweet and has the most adorable characters. They were the perfect couple and were closer than most romantic partners, but just couldn’t see what was right in front of them. The mention of characters from Jae’s other books was fantastic. The connections are wonderful and make the reader feel as if they are in on a little secret. It makes them feel a part of this interconnected family of characters. The story was heartwarming and made me so happy.

If a writer can make their readers feel that way, especially in these unusual times, I am thankful.  I really appreciate that Jae does not feel the need to throw too many spanners in the works. Low angst is what I want and I can rely on her every time. Just perfect. 

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 ‘Lying With Lions’ by Annabel Fielding

‘Lying With Lions’ is a historical family saga, starting in the Edwardian era. Agnes Ashford is an archivist for the Bryant family, an important and influential family, thanks in part to the money from Lady Helen’s dowry. Whilst combing through the family’s papers she uncovers a secret.  With this information she becomes invaluable to Lady Helen and her life changes for the better.  But in order to hold onto that life Agnes must make uncomfortable choices. 

I enjoyed reading about Agnes and her life, in a time where single women without family had difficult choices to make to survive. We see how society changes during the Edwardian era and into the new era of George V. The family Agnes works for has to change too. Their lives have been pampered and regimented for centuries, but the new era begins to break down the barriers between the classes. And the Bryants and Davenports were not prepared for that. The romantic elements of the story were handed well, as they were written with subtlety and a gentle touch. There’s a gothic touch to the story too and this added an extra element.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘A Woman To Treasure’ by Ali Vali

‘A Woman to Treasure’ is a cracker of a story. It’s an adventure, a mystery and a love story all rolled into one. Levi Montbard has loved history her whole life, and goes all over the world in search of antiquities. Her fascination with the Templars is particularly important, and when some writings come into her possession, the adventure really begins. Yasmine Hassani is a university professor, with a special interest in women’s studies. She’s an unusual woman in her culture, as she has so far resisted the expected marriage and children route. When she becomes aware of Levi’s quest she has to decide to take a leap, in more ways than one. 

Ali Vali has written a wonderful mystery, with well-researched historical detail and a heart-warming romance at its core. It has beautiful settings  in various parts of the world, with a fantastic group of characters. I particularly loved Louisiana and Morocco, and getting to know Levi and Yasmine’s families there. The story was brilliantly plotted, with stories and revelations that made the hairs stand up on the back of my neck. The romance was sweet and endearing and gave me such feelings of joy when they as much as held hands. It was lovely to see the characters grow and change as they got to know each other, becoming who they were meant to be. An excellent book and one I can highly recommend. 

I was given this ARC to review.