Review of ‘The Sweetheart Locket’ by Jen Gilroy

‘The Sweetheart Locket’ by Jen Gilroy is the heartwarming story of a family of women, told between two time periods. In 1939, Maggie Wyndham is in wartime London, and has defied the wishes of her family who want her back home in Canada. Instead she signs up to help the war effort. Her love for an RAF officer goes against the class conventions of the time, but Maggie is determined and brave enough to decide for herself. When life throws her a few curveballs, she has to make some difficult decisions. Decisions that will impact her whole future and that of her descendants. 

In 2019 her granddaughter Willow has taken a DNA test and, along with her mother, has been given some very interesting and unexpected results. She has long treasured the sweetheart locket left to her by her English grandmother, but is now faced with the reality that her grandparents may not have been all they seemed. What is she to believe? Her quest to find the truth leads her to London and research that may uncover some uncomfortable truths. 

I liked that the story was told over two time periods. It alternated between wartime Europe and the present day, when Willow began her research into her grandmother’s past. I loved finding out about Maggie’s time in London, and how she helped the allied effort to beat the Nazis. She made lifelong friends, and it was these relationships that helped shape her future. Her love for two different men was a situation lived by many women at the time. And who knows how any of us would have reacted in the same situation. 

Willow’s story was one of discovery – not just about her grandmother, but about herself too. She realised that sometimes we have to take a chance. And her grandmother’s courage gave her the impetus to consider change. 

‘The Sweetheart locket’ was about love, friendship, secrets and sometimes lies. It was heartwarming and made me feel some powerful emotions. I laughed and cried with  Maggie, Willow, Millie and Vi. I felt invested in their stories and left them feeling happy and satisfied. I loved this book and heartily recommend it.

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Her Royal Happiness’ by Lola Keeley

What happens when a Princess of the Realm meets a feisty education specialist who has no time for the Royal Family? Sparks – that’s what! Princess Alice has never met anyone quite like Sara, a south London single mum with a mind of her own. When it become clear that Sara can help Alice’s family with a delicate matter, the pair pretend to date in order to keep the secret from the press. But will they be able to keep it strictly business – or will their feelings for each other make that impossible?

First of all I must thank Lola Keeley for writing a beautiful love story with the lowest angst possible. In these stressful times that’s exactly the kind of book I want to be reading. It made me smile and it made me very happy. I loved Princess Alice and Sara. Alice was strong, capable and loyal. Duty was important to her and she had spent her life doing the right thing. But she realises that there is more to life than duty. Spending time with Sara made her see that. Sara was accomplished, clever and principled. She was also a fantastic mum. Would she be willing to change her life for Alice? It would mean rethinking everything, and taking her daughter on a different path too. I enjoyed seeing her work through that decision. 

Lola Keeley made everything seem so real. She made the Royal Family accessible. In this story we see that wealth and status do not shield anyone from problems. I loved every minute of it. The love story was sweet and tender, with humour and poignancy. Ms Keeley was on top of her game.  Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Misfit Christmas’ by Anne Hagan

‘Misfit Christmas’ by Anne Hagan is a lovely Christmas themed romance. Sophia is a social work student who volunteers time at a recreation centre in Denver, helping disadvantaged kids. When Lacie is sent there to finish her community service the pair clash. It appears they have different ideas about how things should be done, and about life in general. But they both realise that they are there to help the kids and that must come first. Will the magic of Christmas bring them together and will they be able to give the community a holiday to remember?

I enjoyed finding out about the community they were helping. It brought into focus the true meaning of Christmas. Seeing the women change and realise what they wanted in life was sweet and romantic. But ultimately it was about being honest and being true to oneself. About accepting love and happiness. A perfect Christmas read.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Ignis’ by KJ

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I love KJ’s writing. But this one surprised even me. It’s absolutely wonderful. Completely different from anything I’ve read from her before. It’s a gripping, chilling, and at times scary, mystery. 

Felicity is the headmistress of Rawson Girls Grammar school, and lives a controlled life, where she calls the shots. But she’s no Ice Queen. She’s kind and charitable, but just doesn’t shout about it. When disturbing events begin to happen in her vicinity, Inspector Tal Diamandis is assigned to the case. As they work together to find out why, secrets from the past threaten to surface. And an attraction between them flares, forcing  Felcity to rethink her self-imposed rules. 

I love mysteries, so was thrilled that KJ has decided to dip her pen in this genre. Is there anything this woman does not excel at? She blended a brilliant story with romance and passion perfectly.

‘Ignis’ is compelling reading and I couldn’t put it down. It’s an excellent story, full of heart. It has pain, hope, love and power. The best KJ book so far. 

I was given this ARC to 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.

Kitty’s Top Ten Books of 2020

We’ve all relied on distractions this year. I know I have. Books have been a lifeline and have taken us to other places, far away from the world we’ve had to live in.

I have read so many wonderful books over the past twelve months, so choosing a Top Ten has been extremely difficult. Only three have been pure romance and each of the three were exceptional. Two were mystery and crime stories and among the best I’ve ever read in that genre. The remaining books on my list veered into other genres – science fiction, fantasy and the supernatural. I needed some escapism it seems. 

I recommend each and every one and hope that you will have a look at my reviews and maybe try them for yourselves. Here are my Top Ten, in alphabetical order

Finding Jessica Lambert by Clare Ashton

The Lost Temple of Psiere by K Aten

The Thing About Tilly by G Benson

Never Too Late for Heroes by A.L. Brooks

Spirited by Julie Cohen

Alsea Rising: The Seventh Star by Fletcher Delancey

Without A Trace by Mari Hannah 

Christmas in Mistletoe by Clare Lydon

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Whispering Wildwood by Emma Sterner-Radley

 

Review of ‘Treacherous Seas’ by Radclyffe

Radclyffe made me smile again. Going back to Provincetown and to some old friends, was exactly the tonic I needed in these difficult times. As Reese Conlon and her wife Tory await a much anticipated birth, the town faces an unknown threat. Andy Champlain, a rookie cop, is working the busy summer months in Provincetown. Sometimes it seems she’s trying too hard to prove herself. But to whom? Encountering the new PA at Tory’s clinic, Laurel,  certainly brightens her day, and she has no complaints when a mysterious outbreak on a berthed cruise ship keeps bringing them together. 

I loved how all of the main characters were brought together to deal with the outbreak. Seeing their work and home lives mingle was fascinating. And it made the story more real. The writing is such that the reader feels an affinity to these characters. We can identify with them. Radclyffe manages to engender a feeling of belonging, of being home. I enjoyed the romantic elements immensely, but the mystery aboard the cruise ship piqued my interest even more. I love a good mystery – in this case a medical mystery. Seeing how they all coped made me think it might turn out OK for us all in the end. A fantastic read.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Hayefield Manor’ by Jody Klaire

Hayfield Manor’ is a beautifully written mystery romance, with enough twists and turns to keep any reader up until the early hours. You won’t want to put it down!

Morgan Lloyd, medically retired from a high-flying career in the police force, takes on her first role as a private investigator. As a favour to a friend she agrees to take over the security at Hayefield Manor, in an attempt to find out why bodies keep appearing on the grounds. Suspicion has fallen on lady of the manor, Sophie Haye. Cold, hard and terrifying she may appear to those outside, but as Morgan finds out, there is more to Sophie than first impressions imply. As evidence mounts, can Morgan trust her instincts, or is Sophie playing her? 

Sophie is one scary woman, but I really warmed to her. She had that irresistible ice queen vibe, but Morgan slowly chipped away until she could see something more, even if no-one else could. Jody Klaire’s writing is wonderfully descriptive and so impressively clever. Just when I thought I knew where it was going, I was astounded again by the ingenuity of the plot. I love it when an author can do that to me. She flipped my perceptions. The story was very cleverly crafted and layered.  It was one helluva ride with surprises and  revelations galore. Absolutely fantastic 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Beautiful Dreamer’ by Melissa Brayden

‘Beautiful Dreamer’ is a joyful, happy, romantic story. Set in the picture-perfect Dreamer’s Bay, it is home to a woman who positively radiates sunshine, one who sees the good in everything and tries to see it in those she meets. Elizabeth Draper runs an odd-job business from her garage and is exactly where she wants to be in her life – except she has no-one to share it with. When Devyn Winters comes back to town to deal with an emergency situation, the pair find themselves spending more and more time together. Back in their high school days they did not move in the same circles. Devyn was part of a mean girl clique, while Elizabeth was the one involved in organising groups to help her fellow students. They might both be lesbians, but that doesn’t mean they can get past who they used to be and become friends or more. 

Yet again Melissa Brayden had me immersed in the most beautifully romantic love story. One where I rooted for Elizabeth and Devyn from the start. Devyn was a high-powered real estate broker and had no time for relationships. Her life ran like clockwork, thanks to the various assistants she employed. But she wasn’t happy, and slowly began to see that there was another way. Elizabeth surprised her every day and opened her eyes to new possibilities. The story was endearing, addictive and hot. I loved Dreamer’s Bay. It was idyllic and I could see that Devyn would be so much happier there, rather than her rat-race life in Philadelphia. And by the end, not a dry eye in the house. Romantic happily ever afters are Melissa Brayden’s speciality after all. Highly recommended.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Not The Marrying Kind’

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. 

I was given this ARC for review.