Review of ‘It started With A Kiss’ by Clare Lydon

‘It started With A Kiss’ by Clare Lydon is a smile-inducing sapphic romance, with passion, sexual tension, and the author’s trademark British humour. Gemma and Skye meet in a bar in Cornwall and share the most amazing kiss either have ever experienced. But the strangers part, never expecting to see each other again. When they later end up working together, both agree that business and pleasure don’t mix well. But can they keep to their promise? With an attraction this strong it’s going to be a tall order.

I loved the connection between Skye and Gemma. It was intense, powerful and hot. Their chemistry was off the scale. But Gemma especially was determined that they could not let their feelings progress to the next level as long as they were working together. It caused tension between them – and not always of the sexual variety. 

As ever, Clare Lydon writes characters we can identify with. I could see where Gemma was coming from, but I so wanted her to change her mind. Skye was a woman dealing with hurt, but ready to find a way out of it. They were the right people at the right time for each other. They just had to get to the point that they could see that. This was a passionate, romantic, feel-good story. I loved it.

I was given this ARC to 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 ‘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 ‘Highland Whirl’ by Anna Larner

‘Highland Whirl’ by Anna Larner is the third book I’ve read by this particular author and I’ve loved every one. Although this is a follow up to ‘Highland Fling’, there is no need to have read the previous story as it works as a standalone too. In this novel we spend time with Roxanne Barns, best friend of Eve, who is paying a long anticipated visit to Inverness, and Alice Campbell, stepdaughter of Moira, Eve’s partner. The pair did not hit it off at all when they first met in Leicester a few years before, so when Alice is asked to host Roxanne for the night, neither are happy about it. Roxanne’s apparent nonchalance regarding women and relationships annoys Alice no end. And Roxanne finds Alice stuck-up and immature. Can either of them get past that now? As a growing attraction builds it becomes more difficult to keep to their own corners. 

I was so glad to be back in Newland, with Eve, Moira and their neighbours, especially Angus and Elizabeth. Life had moved on and there were new issues to deal with involving all of them. The tension between Roxanne and Alice was skilfully done, as was the story involving the whole group. The writing was beautifully descriptive and one could almost imaging being in the Highlands with them. The setting was perfect and the characters exceptionally well imagined. Anna Larner writes in a gentle, kind and loving way, and I look forward to every book she brings out. A wonderful story.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘Two To Tangle’ by Melissa Brayden

‘Two To Tangle’ is the second in the Tangle Valley Romance series by Melissa Brayden. I loved being back in Tangle Valley, with a wonderful group of friends, and a new romance to wallow in. This time, chef Gabriella Russo is the focus of our attention. As she works towards opening a new restaurant in the vineyard, her life becomes complicated with the arrival of gorgeous contractor Ryan Jacks. Gabriella has decided that romance can go on the back burner, as she concentrates on her career. But however much she tries, and despite locking horns with Ryan on numerous occasions, she finds it increasingly difficult to resist her.

I adored Gabriella. She was beautiful, insanely talented and had a mind of her own. This was one woman who would not put up with any BS. And Ryan would realise her mistake is she didn’t put Gabriella first and take her seriously. I loved Ryan too. She might have come across as a player at the start, but her vulnerability was endearing. As they get to know each other, sparks fly. The love scenes were romantic, intense and hot. I wanted this couple to work and I warmed to their relationship more and more as the story progressed. It had a wee bit more angst than I was expecting, but ultimately had me swooning. Melissa Brayden has a winner with the Tangle Valley series. I can’t wait for the next one.

I was given this ARC to 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 ‘The Thing About Tilly’ by G Benson

Do you know how difficult it is to write a review with happy tears streaming down your face? Well, I found out today. ‘The Thing About Tilly’ by G Benson is hands-down my favourite book of the year. Tilly runs away – a lot. Throughout their friendship, Ellie has had to accept that she would. But she’s never known why. Finding herself unexpectedly pregnant, Ellie needs to be able to rely on her friends. She can rely on the third member of the triumvirate, Sean, but Tilly’s another matter. There are so many secrets between them, secrets that stop them living their lives to the full. Will they find a way to be honest, to say what needs to be said? 

I loved the relationship dynamics, the longing and the angst. There were so many layers and stories to be told and I couldn’t put it down. It was wonderful. G Benson certainly knows how to make her readers feel. It was heartbreaking at times, and joyful at others.  And being a G Benson novel, it was also very funny. The intensity of the emotions was breathtaking and so beautifully written. I adored ever last word. 

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘The Real World’ by Kathleen Jowitt

‘The Real World’ is the second book in Kathleen Jowitt’s Stancester series and was a joy to read. I purposely made myself slow down when reading it as I wanted to stay part of this world, of Stancester, for a while longer. There was something familiar and soothing about being with Colette and Lydia. I loved finding out more about their lives and the decisions they were having to make. This is a book about people, about communities, and just happens to involve those of various religious persuasions.

Lydia wants to become an ordained minister, but that is problematic as the Church of England will not allow gay clergy to marry. How will Lydia and Colette navigate that particular issue? Colette is part way through her PhD, and dealing with that is about as much as she can handle. How will she deal with being the partner of a vicar, if that were ever to happen? This is a book about realisation, about finding answers to the questions we all have. Sometimes it takes time to know exactly what we really want. It’s a book to savour. The writing is exquisite, and the characters have depth and realism. I loved it and hope this isn’t the last we’ve heard of Lydia, Colette and their friends. 

I was given this ARC to review.

Review of ‘Entangled’ by Melissa Brayden

Who doesn’t jump for joy at the prospect of a new Melissa Brayden series? I was delighted to find out I could wallow in some new stories and new characters from one of my favourite romance writers. ‘Entangled’ is the first in the Tangle Valley Romance Series and is set amongst the vineyards run and owned by Joey Wilder. She knows where she wants to go with her business and it doesn’t involve intrusion by corporate America, in the form of the new Jade hotel. She likes the local town, Whisper Wall, just the way it is. And she’s determined not to cave to the charms of the gorgeous hotel manager, Becca Crawford. But the best laid plans……

This novel has a group of friends, women and men, who are going to become part of my reading life for the next few years. I can see wonderful things coming. The setting is cosy and friendly and makes me wish I could visit. In this story we meet Joey, who has had a difficult time and is not open to relationships. But when you meet someone who takes your breath away, it’s not easy to resist. Becca was ambitious and smart, but it was her kindness and caring nature that appealed to me most about her. They were meant to be together. I loved seeing their feelings for each other grow. The people around them were instrumental in helping it happen. It was a feel-good story, with the perfect setting, adorable characters and Ms Brayden’s beautiful writing. I can’t wait for the next in the series.

I was given this ARC for review.

Review of ‘One Golden Summer’ by Clare Lydon and T.B. Markinson

‘One Golden Summer’ is a sweet romance with an idyllic English seaside setting. Kirsty McBride is almost fifty, single and owns her own wine shop. She insists she’s happy being on her own, but as the big 5-0 approaches those around her insist she would be so much happier attached. Her resistance is sorely tested when famous lesbian film star, Saffron Oliver arrives in town for the summer, in a bid to get away from the Hollywood lifestyle. Saffron has been a star for half of her life and can’t go anywhere without being noticed. She would love to blend in as a local – and maybe Sandy Cove is the place for that to happen. If she can just stop her overbearing agent exposing her whereabouts.

I loved the easy attraction between Saffron and Kirsty. They seemed to find something in each other that had eluded them with other partners. Saffron was forever on the defensive, thinking that everyone wanted something from her. But with Kirsty it was different. Or so she hoped. I liked Saffron. She might have been a big star, but she was human, just like the rest of us. She wanted to be loved for herself. And she wanted more from life than the superficiality of Hollywood. Kirsty was a woman happy in her own skin. After a painful divorce in her forties, she knew what she wanted and what made her happy. Meeting Saffron was the icing on the cake. She made her feel complete. But there was always that niggle in the back of her mind – what would a famous film star see in her?

I adored the vibe of the seaside town of Sandy Cove. It was relaxed, friendly and the perfect place for Saffron. Kirsty fitted right in. ‘One Golden Summer’ is the perfect book to put sunshine and joy in your life. Settle down in the garden, with a long cool drink and wallow in this romantic and happy story.

 I was given this ARC for review.