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Archive for the ‘Romance’ Category

Title: Out of Mind

Author: Kendall Talbot

Genre: Romantic suspense

Opens:

From the moment Holly climbed into the helicopter, a sense of foreboding plagued every thought.

Blurb: Holly knew the romantic helicopter ride up to the remote peak of Whisky Mountain was a bad idea. But she never expected it to snatch her fiancé from her—or destroy her life. A few fiery seconds turn a postcard-perfect morning in the Canadian Rockies into a snowy hell, thirteen thousand feet above sea level. And in the midst of grief and agony, Holly catches sight of a scene in the ice that will haunt her until she can return and discover the truth. Oliver Nelson could see the stranger had a mystery inside her. The scars on her face, the pain in her eyes, the insistence that he teach her completely alone—no one needs to learn rock climbing, or so he thought. But the more he gets to know her, the more he admires her drive, her ingenuity, and that little edge of recklessness. If she can trust him with her story, he’s ready to follow her wherever her heart takes her. But nature’s deadly beauty isn’t the only danger waiting for them on Whisky Mountain. To survive, Oliver and Holly will have to move fast—and think faster . . .

My thoughts: Kendall Talbot is one of my must read authors, OUT OF MIND is the second book in the Maximum Exposure series, a sequel to OUT OF REACH which I reviewed here; and it is just as good. In fact pick a book she has written, any book, and you will not be let down.

When Holly’s multi-millionaire fiancé and his son die in a chopper crash he leaves her, the sole survivor, his fortune. Her fiancé’s ex-wife, left nothing, accuses Holly of being a gold-digger and the media frenzy picks up on this and hounds Holly. So with disfiguring scars, and broken in both body and spirit she hides away in a small town where no one can find her. While Holly was waiting on the mountain for rescue she saw a couple frozen in an ice cave next to where she was lying. Watching a documentary about cold cases one evening she sees the couple she decides to go back to Whisky Mountain and find the couple to give their next-of-kin peace of mind. With this plan she starts to put her life back together.

Holly meets Oliver when she demands that he teaches her to climb – private lessons so she doesn’t have to appear in public with the scars on her face. She also goes to a nearby ski field to learn how to ski. These two skills will be needed when she returns to the mountain.

Gradually Holly learns to trust and love again and tells Oliver about her past – and what she wants to do. She isn’t instantly cured – but now she has someone to help her continue on the recovery road. They head off to the Canadian Rockies to carry out her mission. A simple matter you would think – but there has been a seemingly unconnected story bubbling along in the background about a young teen called Regi; he gets caught up with a Crime Boss because of one stupid mistake, and now his life consists of heavy beatings as he is forced to work for to pay off that mistake.

When Holly and Oliver arrive on Whisky Mountain to carry out their mission the pace suddenly cranks up to full ‘edge of the seat,’ ‘can’t put down’ and ‘cook your own tea’ pace!!! The two stories finally make the connection and Holly and Oliver need to fight hard to get off the mountain alive. The build up to, and the actual, climax will leave you breathless and is written beautifully. There is a lot going on in the story, but author Kendall Talbot never drops a thread and cleans all the loose ends (even ones you didn’t know where loose) by the last page.

OUT OF MIND and OUT OF REACH can each be read separately, and there is a third as yet untitled book coming out in the not too distant future.

Rating:

Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it

With thanks to Kensington Books and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review

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Winter Signs by Sarah Gai

Title: Winter Signs

Author: Sarah Gai

Genre: Romance

Opens:

There’s always that belief in life, even from a young age, that as you grow up you will always have a “forever” friend. Whether it’s someone from school or the kid down the street, somehow, someway, you will remain by one another’s side and take on the world together. Nothing, nor no one, can break the bond you have; throughout life you will always remain close—forever and ever.

Blurb: Winter Harris had everything she ever thought she needed – a soulmate, a best friend, and the one person in this entire world who made life worth living. He was her everything – until he was ripped from her life.

Nolan Reed never thought he would lose his heart the first day at his new school, but he had no choice the moment he laid eyes on Winter Harris. The only problem was, she wasn’t his to love.

When a tragedy occurs, lives are changed in ways they can never come back from. Will the years gone by be enough to fix the shattered pieces of Winter’s heart? Can Nolan ever be enough to help heal it?

My thoughts: WINTER SIGNS by Sarah Gai is the second book in the ‘Season Names’ series. We first meet Winter at the age of seven when she meets her brother’s best friend Connor, this is when he learns she is deaf, and this is when their perfect love starts. Winter may have been deaf but she was certainly not helpless. Connor learned sign language so he could communicate with her and they went from being ‘insta’ friends to being an inseparable couple and planning their future together by the end of High School. Winter’s father dies just before she goes to High School and this hits her for six, especially as her mother starts to reject Winter. All she has left for support is Connor, and her brother Charlie.

Then Nolan arrives in town he is instantly attracted to Winter, but when he learns she is Connor’s he makes no move towards her. Interestingly, although her heart and soul belongs to Connor, Winter is not indifferent to Nolan and she has feelings for him which puzzle her. When Winter loses Connor she is inconsolable; her sorrow is so overwhelming that she feels that she had nothing to live for and retreats within herself. With no support from her mother, Winter decides that the only way she will be able to get out of the dark hole she is in was to go away from everyone she knew and start over. She leaves town and moves in with her aunt and eventually learns to live again. A few years later, at Christmas, her brother gets engaged and asks her to return for the wedding and me the Maid of Honour. Nolan is the best man, he is still single, and still attracted to Winter hoping that time has healed the wounds that she carries.

I have had dealings with deaf children in only a periphery way – part of my English studies at University was to design and present a picture book for deaf children. It is so hard to comprehend how not being able to hear affects the lives of the deaf. At the school it was jaw-dropping to see these kids signing away to each other as a group. They taught me how to sign a few swear words too! But at school with a deaf unit they are among their peers – when they leave school and go out into the world and are a sole deaf person in a group and people around them talk so fast that they cannot read their lips – then they become isolated and frustrated. This happened to Winter on more than one occasion when people forgot in the excitement of the conversation.

SIGNS OF WINTER was full with emotion – loss of loved ones. rejection and mental abuse from a parent, sadness and sorrow. But is in no way a depressing story because after a loss comes recovery. After the tears Winter healed, and learned to move on with living and to reach out for happiness. And her friends are all there to help her. The story is beautifully written and had me hooked from the very first page.

Rating:

Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

I wish to thank the author Sarah Gai for my copy to read and review.

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Title: Whitsunday Dawn

Author: Annie Seaton

Genre: Romantic Suspense/Historic

Opens:

The Front Street shopping precinct adjacent to the Marina was abuzz with activity and noise.

Blurb:

When Olivia Sheridan arrives in the Whitsundays as spokesperson for big mining company Sheridan Corp, it should be a straightforward presentation to the town about their proposed project. But when a handsome local fisherman shows her what ecological impact the proposal will have, Olivia is forced to question her father’s motives for the project. Struggling with newly divided loyalties, Olivia is thrown further into turmoil when she is mistaken for a woman who disappeared more than sixty years before. When it becomes clear that Captain Jay (aka Fynn) is also keeping secrets, Olivia realises that there is more to these sunshine–soaked islands than she ever expected. Seeking to uncover the truth, Olivia is drawn into a dangerous game where powerful businessmen will stop at nothing to ensure their plan goes ahead, even if that means eliminating her.

My thoughts: Oh my goodness! I just loved this book! AND, I just loved the cover!! This was the second book I read with a dual timeline narrative, seemingly with no connection between the two women other than both falling in love and both being in danger. Olivia Sheridan is one of the women, the other was Aunt Tat’s sister, Lili, who disappeared during WWII and was never been heard of again. Aunt Tat is very frail and her mind is not quite all there anymore – but she is positive that Olivia is her sister returned. Olivia plays along to keep Aunt Tat calm.

As stated in the blurb, Olivia works for her father’s company and has arrived to present the proposal for the company’s plans for coal mining in the area. She meets fisherman Fynn James who, like most of the people in the area, dead against the construction of a coal loader in the pristine waters of the Whitsunday’s. While Olivia is aware that her father is ruthless she had no idea he would throw her to the sharks, and when she is sent a file with true details on the proposed complex she realises how ruthless she is – especially as he will not hesitate to kill her to protect the truth. But Fynn is there to help, and her mother and grandmother give her the emotional support to deal with her father’s betrayal – corruption is only the tip of the iceberg – and the files will reveal all – if she can stay alive.

At the same time we read about Lili and Jack and their blooming love in the Whitsundays during WWII – I learned so much about the Japanese threat to Australia. I know they bombed Darwin – and I know that mini subs were found in Sydney harbour and amazingly down in Hobart as well. But was unaware of their Whitsunday activity. Life for Lily and her family on this Whitsunday Island was not easy – but so tranquil, a slow pace of life. Until danger threatens. And now danger threatens again – but this time it is not an invading army – it is greed and corruption and the pursuit reaping as much money now as they can with no thought of future consequences.

It took me a while to realise how the two stories were going to join into the modern day – as other that being Aunt Tat’s sister there were no connections, but author Annie Seaton does it brilliantly. Overall Whitsunday Dawn has it all – History, conservation, romance, suspense, pathos and drama. An interesting look at family dynamics – those who do anything to destroy and those who do anything to preserve.

Rating:

Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to Harper Collins Publishers and the author for my copy to read and review.

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Title: The Lost Pearl

Author: Emily Madden

Genre: Historical/Women’s Fiction

Opens:

If Charlie Florio could relive one moment over and over again, it would be the instant he laid eyes on Kitty McGarrie.

Blurb:

Honolulu, Hawaii 1941. On the evening of her sixteenth birthday party, Catherine (Kitty) McGarrie wants nothing more than for the night to be over, even though the opulence of the ballroom befits the daughter of a US Navy Rear Admiral. Then she meets Charlie, a navy officer from the other side of the tracks, a man her parents would never approve of. As rumours of war threaten their tropical paradise, Catherine and Charlie fall in love. But the bombing of Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941 changed their lives forever. Seventy–five years later, addled by age and painkillers, Catherine tells her granddaughter Kit her story and reveals the tale of a long–lost treasure. Can Kit uncover the secret and reunite her family? Or will the truth tear them apart?

My thoughts: Living in Darwin where we remember the Bombing of Darwin each year in February, the Pearl Harbour bombing is very familiar. Because each year we are reminded that we were bombed only 10 weeks after Pearl Harbour – and the squadron that bombed us was led by the same Japanese commander who bombed Pearl Harbour. In fact the total number of bombs dropped on Darwin was two-and-a-half times more that dropped at Pearl Harbour. So I was overjoyed to get my grubby little hands on this book as it is a period of history that I can relate to. THE LOST PEARL has, for the most part, a dual timeline with two stories, the war years and modern day. Catherine dies in the first chapter and just before she dies she is speaking to her granddaughter Kit and mentions a lost pearl and the name of someone who is not Kit’s grandfather that she loved – but no further information than that. Kit wonders what, and where, the lost pearl is – her grandmother loved pearls and has given Kit lot as birthday and Christmas gifts. Kit decides to look for the lost pearl. When her grandmother’s will is read – Kit has been bequeathed her grandmother’s house. As Kit cleans the house of her grandmother’s belongings she decides to try and track down her grandmother’s secret. THE LOST PEARL then follows Kit’s journey to discovery. However, at the same time the reader is taken back to the bombing of Pearl Harbour as Catherine tells us her story. So for a while the reader knows more than Kit – but not everything. Some things the reader finds out at the same time as Kit. It is impossible to tell you some of the things that happened to Catherine as to do so would really spoil the storyline. Suffice to say my heart went out to her, and was angered at things that happened to this young girl.

While the story is fictional it is based on a lot of fact – and the customs of the day are recreated perfectly. The settings are brought alive on the pages – both in Hawaii and Australia. Another area well reproduced are the social divisions – class, colour and attitudes to women – which only goes to show that we really haven’t progressed all that much today. A young single woman today does have it so much better than a 1940s young miss, more say in her life than Catherine did. Author, Emily Madden, poignantly described the events which took place in Crown Street Women’s Hospital, Sydney – brought tears to my eye along with a thankfulness that my daughters and granddaughter do not have to worry about this. There is eventually a happy ending – and mysteries revealed. A very satisfactory read.

Rating:

Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Harlequin Mira and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes

Title: The Artisan Heart

Author: The Artisan Heart by Dean Mayes

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Opens:

High on the emergency-Department wall, a large digital clock flashed 6:00 p.m.".

Blurb:

Hayden Luschcombe is a brilliant paediatrician living in Adelaide with his wife Bernadette, an ambitious event planner. His life consists of soul-wrenching days at the hospital and tedious evenings attending the lavish parties organized by Bernadette.

When an act of betrayal coincides with a traumatic confrontation, Hayden flees Adelaide, his life in ruins. His destination is Walhalla, nestled in Australia’s southern mountains, where he finds his childhood home falling apart. With nothing to return to, he stays, and begins to pick up the pieces of his life by fixing up the house his parents left behind.

My thoughts:

The Artisan Heart is a page turning and, at times, very gritty story set against a background of reconnecting with your roots and making a new start. Hayden is a pushbike-riding paediatrician who is so good at what he does that his sometimes unorthodox methods are overlooked. Like all ER staff he works long hours and is dedicated to his work, his patients coming first. This does not sit too well with his ambitious wife, Bernadette. She is building up her PR business and expects to be a high-flyer very soon, she expects Hayden’s full support – tiredness and sick and/or dying children are not considered a reasonable excuse to miss supporting her events.

The story opens with two emergencies – Hayden’s emergency is a child who has been badly burned and Bernadette’s emergency, and just as important to her as Hayden’s patient is to him, is being asked to make a last minute presentation at a political business dinner. If it goes well she will win a major government contract and she will have made it into the big time. After an earth shattering series of event surrounding the burnt child, meaning he misses the event, Hayden gets home hoping for comfort and understanding. What he gets is the vision of Bernadette getting her comfort horizontally with her advisor.

Hayden is overwhelmed by the two traumatic events, has an emotional breakdown and runs. He runs to his old family property in the mountain community of Walhalla, he has not been back since the recent death of his father. Hayden is rock bottom and broken, he needs time to heal and think about his future. As Hayden grew up here, and knows most everybody, he is welcomed back into the small community as if he had never left. Then he meets Genevieve, certainly not a resident he has met before. And no, she is not the love interest, she is a child – a deaf child – who has been playing on the property and has a whole ‘family’ of toys living there. It is Genevieve’s mother, Isabelle, who he knows from his school days where she would bully Hayden mercilessly. Isabelle has also returned to heal from dramas in her life, and is starting up her own bakery in Walhalla.

Gradually Hayden and Isabelle start to get close, barriers breaking down, but before they can get their happy ever after two impediments arrive in town on the same day. What follows had me on the edge of my chair. Twists and turns, along with hand over mouth events unfold before all is revealed, and even once the immediate danger was over there were no guarantees the story would end the way I thought it should end.

I loved Hayden’s character the most, Isabelle didn’t come quite as alive for me as Hayden did – but each had their baggage that influenced the choices they made in the course of the story. Also the setting of Walhalla is a real – a place that I have been to, staying in one of the old cottages in the town. I have travelled the Walhalla Goldfields Railway through the most amazing scenery, and while I don’t remember there being a bakery, there was a café that sold cakes and pies that tasted fabulous – so as I read it I had these memory in my mind. This is the first book I have read by Dean Mayes and it won’t be the last.

Rating:

Excellent Stuffa real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

I wish to thank the author Dean Mayes for my copy to read and review

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Title: The summer of New Beginnings

Author: Bette Lee Crosby

Genre: Romance

Opens: When Lila married George Briggs, she believed they would settle into a lovely little house, raise a family, and live happily ever after. She was partly right.

Blurb: Aspiring journalist Meghan Briggs has always been the responsible one in the family. So when her father passes away unexpectedly, leaving behind his at-risk business, she steps up to save his legacy—even if that means putting her own dreams on hold. Tracy couldn’t be more different from her sister. She’s always been the rebellious type, without much direction in life. But in the wake of her latest romantic disaster, she finds herself moving back home as a single mother. As both sisters navigate unexpected challenges and exciting new relationships, they’ll find that putting the past to rest can make way for beautiful new beginnings.

My thoughts: The thing I enjoy most about ALL of Bette Lee Crosby books are that she writes about ‘real’ people. People whose lives you become part of as you read the book. You can laugh with them, grieve with them, worry about things together and share their joys as well. And even though there are some tough issues dealt with in THE SUMMER OF NEW BEGINNINGS such as death, sacrifice, disability and domestic abuse; these are counter-balanced by love, support, selflessness and laughter.

At the start of the story George, dies and leaves a Lila a widow and their two daughters grieving his loss and to pick up the pieces. Meghan, closest to her father, gives up her dreams to take over the family business, however she feels that her father may not be fully gone and is still there guiding her. Tracy rebels without her father’s firm and loving hand and runs off to another state with her boyfriend’ Lila, his wife, has lost her reason for being and is struggling to find out what her role is in life now – she was happiest cooking huge meals – but with only two at home now she is at a loss. Tracy returns home with her baby boy, Lucas, her dreams broken. Her return is the turning point for a family that is merely existing – not living. Lila now has a purpose in life – being a grandmother – and cooking gain. Just after Tracy’s return, Meghan rescues a drowning puppy from the lake when a sudden storm blows up – and so Sox comes into their lives. He plays an important part. Through him they discover that Lucas has a medical problem and Meghan meets the local vet who becomes a love interest.

The two sisters start to work together for a common goal, helping Lucas. There are squabbles – come on, they are sisters after all; lessons are learned, chances taken and slowly the story works its magic. By the end, there is the hope that each of the Briggs family will get their happy ever after. But this is the first of the Magnolia Grove Series so no matter that most of the threads have been tied, there is a ‘wait, there’s more’ for one of the family members. I can hardly wait until October when the next book is released.

For more about author Bette Lee Crosby – Click Here

A – Excellent Stuff – a real page turner and hard to put down. I carved out extra reading time just so I could finish it. This book got carted into the bathroom with me, read over meals, read at work, and/or kept me up late at night. If this author has more work, I will certainly read it.

With thanks to the author for my copy to read and review via Lake Union Publishing and Netgalley.

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Title: Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found

Author: Emma Davies

Genre: Romance

Opens: It was late night opening at the library, and Lucy Picklescott had a whole thirty-five minutes to herself before she was due back for the rest of the afternoon shift.

Blurb: Twenty-four-year-old Lucy needs a fresh start. Forever single, frustrated with her studies and dreaming of writing a novel she can’t start, she gives up everything to run home and get a job in a little library in the leafy village of Tilley Moreton. Lucy loves reading books almost as much as she loves fixing other people’s problems, so starting a book club seems like the perfect opportunity to do both. As she meets her new members, it’s clear she’s going to have her work cut out for her. One by one everyone at the book club starts the journey to their happy ever afters – even Lucy.

My Thoughts: The subtitle for Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found is ‘a heart-warming feel good romance novel’, and that’s exactly what this book is. Lia, Hattie, Callum and Oscar all turn up at the library to join the book club. Each of the characters take it in turns to tell the story so it is a good way for the readers to know what is going on in each life before the rest of the cast do. Lia is the sole carer for her mother who has Alzheimer’s; Hattie is a single mum whose daughter has just started school and she wants to make friends; Callum wants to make something of his life but his family and lack of confidence is holding him back; while Oscar (who was my favourite character) is a widower missing his wife. Their stories all intertwine as the group becomes friends and each of them hits a low point before realising they don’t have to face this alone, that they have their book club friends to lift them up and help them crawl back out of their pit.

Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found is a wonderful feel good story with depth. It covers quite contemporary issues such as caring for the sick and elderly, broken relationships, single parenthood and unemployment. Each of the sub-plots have closure although happy ever after is not necessarily riding off into the sunset. Overall, five strangers become five good friends and I certainly recommend the book, and will read more of Emma Davies’ work.

For more about the author – Click Here

B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.

With thanks to Bookouture Publishing and the author via Netgalley for my copy to read and review.

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